Time to Occupy
By Patrick Bond
2011-11-23, Issue 559
Patrick Bond makes the case for the occupation
take place in the city between 28 November
and 9 December.
There they fell during 2011, one after the other in
past-their-prime domino descent: Zine El Abidine Ben
Strauss-Kahn from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), Muammar Gaddafi from
football guru and sex-crime cover-upper Joe Paterno
Murdoch, soccer supremo Sepp Blatter, Syrian tyrant
Bashar al-Assad and Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh
looking decidedly shaky, too.
However, let's be frank: in many cases the courageous
push by the 99 per cent against these 1 per cent
personalities only dislodged the venal creatures, not
the system, so replacements crawled right back in.
Egyptian generals are just as vicious, as illustrated
are racist thugs worthy of CIA support. The new IMF
managing director, French conservative Christine
Lagarde, is being investigated by the Court of Justice
of the Republic for abuse of authority as finance
minister when she allegedly gave a $580 million payout
to an Adidas shoes tycoon close to the ruling party.
Greek's new ruler, Loukas Papademos, was formerly vice-
president of the European Central Bank, the institution
that joins the IMF as tormentors of poor and working-
class Europeans. In
Mario Monti, a former EU Commissioner with a brutal
On the other hand, Arab Spring political democrats and
Occupy economic democrats won't let up the pressure. I
central bank late last month; and Occupy
weeks ago; and the next day,
Zuccotti Park in
prior to the
of non-violent tent-residents.
In each case, the spirit reminded me of anti-apartheid
movement determination, heart-felt principles and
strategic clarity: no half-baked reforms like tri-
cameral parliaments to polish apartheid's chains will
satisfy the occupiers, who are demanding fundamental
system change, and who enjoy huge popular support.
Surprisingly perhaps, the argument to extend Occupy to
World Economic Forum and president of
Figueres, who is the brother of Christiana, the
executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change. He was asked by OneWorld TV last week
at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in
expressed your sympathies with the
Movement and called for an Occupy
that look like and what could it achieve?'
Figueres replied: `The riots of
Wall Street movement is a sign of the frustration felt
by many given that we are not addressing their economic
needs. So with respect to climate maybe we need an
Figueres wants to see `a sit in, by the delegations of
those countries that are most affected by climate
change, that are going from one COP to the next COP to
the next COP without getting positive and concrete
responses on the issues that they want dealt with.'
in the broader society, is there a potential for a
Climate Spring like the Arab Spring? `The history of
humanity shows us that it has always been a big crisis
that has made us move,' he responded.
That crisis is surely upon us, with more than 300,000
people dying annually because of climate change,
according to demographers. Might the UNFCCC live up to
global-governance potential - last realised in the 1987
hole - or instead will
Conference of Polluters, the place the
mechanism for binding emissions-cut commitments died,
while carbon trading remained the vehicle the 1 per
cent chooses for its climate gambling?
Even though Zurich's UBS bank last week predicted a
total collapse of the European Union's Emissions
Trading Scheme in coming months, it looks like we will
suffer the latter when COP17 closes on 9 December.
So in order to save the planet and people, the 99 per
cent should challenge the UNFCCC's for-profit
mentality. An interesting email hit my inbox on
November 10: `The Occupy movement that is sweeping the
globe shines a light on the unjust systems which
benefit a small group of elite individuals and
corporations, consolidating wealth and power for the
few to the extreme detriment to the majority of the
world's inhabitants and the planet as a whole.'
The COP17 will, according to the email, `do nothing to
address this imbalance of power and resources and
instead would give those same people and institutions
who have caused economic ruin control of our land,
water and atmosphere to trade as nothing more than
One response, wrote the anonymous emailer, is to
`Occupy COP17', and a website (www.occupycop17.com),
Facebook page (www.facebook.com/occupyCOP17) and
Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/OccupyCOP17 and
#occupycop17) are already operational. The Occupy
movement considers the UNFCCC to be `United Nations
Fools, Clowns and Carbon Criminals' and it's hard to
argue against that based on 16 past performances.
There are many South Africans with genuine grievances
who will be part of the anti-COP17 protest scene, in
part because of Eskom's mismanagement of energy (more
coal-fired power plants as Greenpeace dramatised by
blocking Eskom construction at Kusile recently) and
electricity (high-priced for the masses, low-priced for
Anglo American and BHP Billiton).
Others will show up just to make a fuss: Business Day
last week headlined on the front page, `Malema
supporters to "disrupt climate conference"' in the wake
of the thrashing the African National Congress
disciplinary committee gave the Youth League
For those more serous about climate justice, some of
the most interesting reflections of 99 per cent
thinking and practical alternatives will be at the
People's Space, which was recently moved to the
University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College campus,
starting with the Conference of the Youth (no relation
to Juju) on 25-27 November, and then open to the public
from 28 November until 9 December. A nightly teach-in
from 7:30pm at our Centre for Civil Society adds
academic rigour to activist passions. Delegates include
hundreds from the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
and the Rural Women's Assembly. A myriad of events can
be perused at http://www.c17.org.za.
All it takes to join People's Space, Occupy
the Global Day of Action march on 3 December is a
healthy degree of skepticism for what the 1 per cent
are cooking up inside the UNFCCC's smoke-filled ICC
rooms, and a genuine respect for the People's Power
that again and again rises in the least expected places.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Patrick Bond directs the Centre for Civil Society and
authored/edited two new books: `Politics of Climate
Justice: Paralysis Above, Movement Below' (UKZN Press)
the Earth' (Unisa Press).
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org.