Catriona Robertson

journeys at home and abroad

Occupy London Stock Exchange

OccypyLSX, St Paul's in the background

The Occupy LSX camp held an open multifaith event outside St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday – Sermon on the Steps.  How could I resist?

I live tweeted until I got too cold and went to find a cup of tea.  The camp is clean, tidy and well-organised.  There is a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

There were some big hitters among the speakers – Paul Oestreicher, Paul Nicolson of Zaccheus & Pax Christi‘s Bruce Kent – who ended with the words, “keep loving, keep living.”

There were contributions from the British Humanist Association, from Ekklesia’s Symon Hill, from the Jewish, Sikh, Catholic & Unitarian traditions and many more, including a 13 year old boy who asked for the protest to continue peacefully.

I’ve been trying to grasp what the global economic crisis, and in particular banking and the credit crunch, is all about.  I made a start (didn’t we all) in 2008 – Lehman Bros, AIG, Northern Rock, RBS – but lapsed.

John Lanchester’s Whoops! (YouTube clip) is a good start, but here are my top links on the subject (and the protest) from last week:

  1. Ken Costa, Financial Times Weekend (register or £) – Why the City should heed the discordant voices of St Paul’s.  “Resentment at asymmetrical rewards and risks is deep-seated and justifiable . . We are perhaps at a tipping point . . Put bluntly, businesses cannot work, banks cannot lend and societies cannot flourish without mutual trust and respect.”  The FT’s Gillian Tett is also well worth a read.
  2. The Bottom Line, Producers or Parasites? BBC Radio 4 programme, which asks financiers whether the sector is “creating genuine wealth, or is it essentially parasitic, finding clever ways of distributing other people’s wealth to its own workers?”  One participant admits “shareholder democracy doesn’t work unless you’re a major institution”.
  3. Andrew Rawnsley The protesters seem more adult than politicians and plutocrats – “with a few nylon tents and some amateurish banners, the Occupy movement has rattled the establishment.”  Rawnsley says it is united by “fury at corporate greed, resentment at lack of economic opportunity, concern about social inequality and alienation from a conventional politics that appears incapable of doing anything serious to address and redress public discontents.”
  4. Paul Hackwood, Chair of the Church Urban Fund, reflects on the events on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.  “This is a difficult thing to do – to be brave enough to ask difficult questions about what sort of world we want to live in and then see them though – and at St Paul’s we have seen just that.”

The tea tent (free, donations accepted) at OccupyLSX

St Paul’s Institute “exists to engage the financial world with questions of morality and ethics” & “to recapture the Cathedral’s ancient role as a centre for public debate” & “to foster an informed Christian response to the most urgent ethical and spiritual issues of our times.”

This would seem a good opportunity to move up a gear, from ticketed panel discussions to maybe something like the Kirchentag in Germany – ?

OccupyLSX is not necessarily coming up with solutions.

Just being there is prompting a far wider public conversation than the Stock Exchange and St Paul’s have so far managed together.

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This entry was posted on 31 October 2011 by in London and tagged , , , , , .
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