The St Pauls Protest and the invisible hand’s own goal*

*Apologies for the mix of metaphor.

Rachel Mariner has definitely captured something with her proposal for a Winter Carnival and touring occupation around the Cathedrals of the country.

This sounds like a genius idea, but just a minute, how did we get from the intention to occupy Paternoster Square outside the London Stock Exchange to a tour of Britain’s finest ecclesiastical heritage?  Is this a sign of the end of the road for the protest or is it a journey right into the heart of the problem –one which will challenge the very idea of who holds the power in this country?

But first, a quick review of how the St Paul’s protest began as an accident. Legal action by the private owners of Paternoster Square,  aided by the Metropolitan Police kept the protestors out of Square but left St Pauls as the next best location.  (see Andy Worthington’s eye-witness account of its start)

For those of you who are sticklers for detail, Paternoster Square and St Paul’s Cathedral are neighbours – here’s the map…

I do believe that this protest outside St Pauls (and others to come, it sounds) has located itself as a piece of grit in the eye of a sleeping giant.  Those who make their fortunes as a result of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand may just have scored a Maradona-style own goal which goes on to stir up a protest which will challenge all the rules of how the power game is played.

I liked Paul Mason’s comment on the St Paul’s protest, when he tweeted, “it might not have started a revolution, but it does seem to be kick-starting a second Reformation”.

Hopefully, it will go further than that.

The challenge to the church (of all denominations) will not stop with the resignations we have seen so far. I believe that there is a profound challenge on its way to the church’s door. 75 tents on its doorstep or even some troublesome candlelit marchers on tour (although these are to be applauded and appreciated) are just the start. On its way, one hopes, is the indisputable revelation and the church’s own startling realisation that it is addicted to power, wealth and status and over the centuries has built itself a complex web of alliances with those powers which its founder came specifically to disarm.

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One thought on “The St Pauls Protest and the invisible hand’s own goal*

  1. Interesting observations. I don’t think it’s the end of the Occupation to tour the Cathedrals, just an acknowledgment that both the Church and the Occupation want to engage the 99% about issues of social justice and economic justice. Bringing the Occupation to a wider audience is crucial to avoid putting the movement in a ghetto. Thanks for your kind words about it in any event. I hope it works!

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