From speaking to activists over the past few days, it is interesting, and slightly concerning, to note some news emerging from the Occupy movement.
Spreading from Occupy Wall Street, a series of similar occupations have occurred internationally. In the UK this has included an attempt to occupy the London Stock Exchange, and events in regional cities like Norwich and Birmingham. Opposition to the disastrous decision to bail out banks on the verge of financial collapse has now found a degree of articulation.
There are of course issues and debates around this. Speaking to Anarchists like Ian Bone at the Anarchist Bookfair yesterday, there were concerns that the importance of the Occupy movement was being greatly overstated, usually by sympathetic activists who want it to be so many things. It's particular form has also been criticised, whilst the vagueness of its anti-capitalist message has been condemned by libertarians, who draw a distinction between what they see as capitalism and corporatism/crony capitalism.
A more serious debate is now on-going about how to deal with the presence of conspiracy theorists at occupy events. The financial crisis is naturally something easily explained by the likes of David Icke, who has been vociferous in his condemnation of what he sees as Rothschild-Zionism. To Icke, no discussion of 9/11, or the financial crisis, can be made without reference to this conspiracy. Such nonsense makes all protestors easy targets for media exposes, hit-pieces on their 'racism' or their portrayal as addled thinkers. The serious questions raised about government economic policy, capitalism, our financial system and government relations with it, are in danger of being ignored in place of arguments about anti-Semitism or the sheer oddness of certain protestors.
There is only two responses to this. I discount ignoring them, because they will not go away, and numerically will form a significant number of the protestors in many cities. For such thinkers, the financial system is one of the issues - they certainly will not abandon it. Icke has been calling on the human race to get off its knees for so long, when they actually see it happening, their movement is energised
One response is to allow the Icke types to dominate. To walk away and do something else instead. The second response, which I know many are now turning to, is to try and counter them. This is difficult, not because their arguments are so strong - they are not - but because arguing with people full of Zeitgeist or Icke thought is not an easy process. They have been exposed to an absolute truth. Those who do not follow it cannot be allowed to simply disagree with them, but become part of the problem as soon as they disagree.
It is neccesary to attack Icke's anti-Semitism, his ludicrous reptilian fantasies and to ask what Icke has proved in twenty plus years of 'exposing' the system. Other than improving his bank balance - the answer is nothing. Events like the banking crisis and 9/11 are actually very simple. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for attacking New York, and the evidence for US or Israeli participation is nil. The banking crisis occurred because the banks gambled lots of money, and governments who had long dropped any pretence of regulation, bailed out their mates with our cash.
Keep it simple. Because it is simple.