So after a terrible night's sleep that probably comes naturally from spending 8 hours in sub-zero windchill conditions I've discovered that cigerettes, tea and friendship doesn't cure mild hypothermia. Biblical prose relates a stark truth of modern life “The poor will always be with us” as child poverty rises, real incomes shrink and unemployment hits unprecedented highs such sentiments have never been truer. Today's autumn budget policy bombardment was a skilfully executed media exercise to hide the central plank of the news today- The situation going to get worse, much worse.
Yesterday I was having one of my off days emotionally, as anyone knows who has filled in a job applications ad verbatim a hundred times, it teaches you that insincerity is bad for the soul. I noticed Occupy LSX had a lecture on moral determinism and therein a vaccine for my soul sickness. The lecture itself was pretty flawed, but if there's one thing that typifies Occupy it's variation. Ages, motivations, backgrounds, blue collar, white collar and no collar are all here. So, in such disorder I did what came naturally. I socialised.
A chronic smoker and an avid chess player I made friends more easily than most, with the general plan to find people who have, since day one, have lived there. The media elusive "full-timers" of occupy. So began three friendships- The thief, the addict and the veteran. Divided in age and circumstance but united by the ugliest of human experiences - deprivation. All their stories of largely self-inflicted misery certainly won't light up the sympathy circuits of everyone but they were all, in a very Christian tradition, penitent figures.
They didn't blame corporations, or the government for where they were but accepted their personal part in the destiny they've realised. Why then, I asked them, did they decide to come to the camp in the first place? The answer was uniform and so blindingly obvious. They had no where else to go.
These individuals make a up significant majority of occupy's “full-timers”. They have no life to leave and compared to their usual grind of hostels, squats and streets occupy is a paradise for them.
So we played chess, drank tea, had dinner, went to lectures, watched movies and even read together. Then my eyes almost rattled out of my skull in disbelief. I was actually having fun. The paradise wasn't relative, it was real.
My interest in politics is guided by the simplest of principals- to reduce the physical and emotional deprivations that characterise human misery. At Occupy LSX the hungry get fed, the cold get clothed, the ignorant get access to education. Everyone gets a place to stay if they need it and most of all they get an accepting community to be part of. The great deprivations that were an everyday reality for the occupy full-timers have, at least for a time, been alleviated.
The sniping of the lack of aims, focus and strategy for the movement are insignificant criticisms when you realise at the heart of what they do is feed, clothe and educate the homeless. There are of course the political posers, the career campaigners and the various hangers-on civil disobedience tends to attract to its fold. They aren't the real beneficiaries of occupy. The full-timers are.
The people of occupy are dug in deeply already. Their microcosm of society is one few among them would like to relinquish. This means the crack down next year likely to be before the Olympics, will be swift, ruthless and brutal.
The reality of this means the full-timers who made their home here will go back to their squats, shelters and streets and resume their lives of criminality, addiction and loneliness. Among them will be people who steal food to eat, wear clothes until they fall off and whose destitution will become absolute.
The feeding of misery is contrary to the natural law of humanity. This will be an inevitable consequence of the eviction at St Pauls. I cannot support it.
To those who occupy and feed, clothe and shelter London's full-time forgotten will continue to have my support, respect and empathy. To those who denigrate the movement for political reasons I say this- suffering is bigger than left and right. Occupiers are, at this very moment, trying to address that.
Political consensus is cheap and humanity is golden - Try above all else to value its contributors.