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Critics reveal themselves as paid advocates of the privileged elite says Tom Sturrock.


The tent city in the shadows of St Paul’s Cathedral has flourished since appearing two weeks ago.

But, over the past week, vested interests have begun to deploy a one-two punch – obstruct and dismiss – mounting flimsy objections to the protesters’ presence and cynically hosing down the legitimacy of their concerns.

Apparently, the real outrage is tourists not getting a full quota of sightseeing; apparently, the right to protest may be trumped by the right to take happy-snaps. It’s bullshit.

Those hoping to dismantle the demonstration by pointing to the effect on St Paul’s visitors begin their statements, ”I agree with the right to protest but…”.

The sentence should end, “only unobtrusively and if the protesters leave when told”. How would the Egyptian revolution have fared had Tahrir Square been vacated as soon as tourists were inconvenienced?

Another approach of critics has been to dismiss the protesters’ message as unclear. That is a fallacy. The message is not at all cryptic.

It is not that corporations should be torn down, capitalism dismantled.

It is that sacrifices necessitated by the financial crisis are being extracted disproportionately from those least able to bear them; that, instead, the rich should pay more tax; and that the influence of corporate wealth on electoral politics is profoundly undemocratic.

Bear this in mind next time you see a TV talking head or a pub blowhard spluttering, “But what do these people want?”

This non-question is answered easily and irrefutably – the feigned incomprehension is merely an avoidance strategy.

The backlash against the protest is a symptom of anxiety – if Occupy’s grievances are aired more prominently, how many fair-minded people will disagree?

In essence, that is why the protesters claim to represent the 99 per cent.

Meanwhile, the rented toadies – politicians from both sides, but mostly Tories, right-leaning commentators, low-tax advocates, corporate spokespeople and lobbyists – who obstruct or dismiss the protesters identify themselves as favoured protectors of the wealthiest 1 per cent.

For them, the wrong side of history awaits.

 



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