Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Occupy has left the building, so now what?

Monday evening saw the eviction of the Occupy protest at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. There were a few scuffles, and as dawn broke, the media was asking what, if any, legacy the Occupy protest had left.

On Sky News (yes, I know, I'm evil) there were the two usual opponents, one saying that it was good the group was gone, the legacy was negative, and thankfully the beautiful capital city could now get back to putting on a pretty face for all the tourists, St. Paul's could get back to business, the Olympic and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations would now also have a clean, unspoiled, backdrop. He mentioned that the two men of the cloth who resigned over the way the church was possibly going to handle the issue were the only real casualties and if these protesters hadn't settled in, these two men would still be in a job. Toe the capitalist line, and you'll have no trouble. He reduces the serious issues raised (even if poorly raised) by Occupy to an issue of 'keeping the streets clean' and everyone in line.

The other guy made some good points about the movement, saying it wasn't necessarily over, and has at least kept the issue of rampant capitalism ahead of other issues. He was not a protester, at least not the 'typical' protester that the media gets hold of.

The revealed striking difference in most of the conversations, debates in pre- and post-event analysis was not only the multiple worldview's of the opposing sides, but the gap in understanding, rhetoric and terminology. I'm not going to analyse this much, except to say that this gap manifested among Christians too.

Members of the Acton Institute disagreed strongly with the movement, saying that removing capitalism and it's enterprising nature was not a biblical response. Others used the opportunity to decry the entire capitalistic system as ungodly and that it should be thrown out asap, before it collapses on itself and leaves us all in a serious, supposedly preventable, mess. The gap was large, fuzzy and in many media forums the key issues were not dealt with in any great depth, and this was because the main issues were not agreed or understood. Enterprise is good. Providing for our families is right. Business is not bad.

The problem with rampant capitalism is the rampant bit. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" has not proven true, unless that hand is the greedy hand of business, corrupt government and powerful economists who have channeled and arranged for things to go their way. American Christianity's defense of this type of economy is untenable. Opposing capitalism does not automatically make you a communist, as some may think!

So what is the Godly way of maintaining balance? I would suggest the jubilee system. Without going into expansive details of it, you can do the leg work and then I would ask: how would a Leviticus 25 system be implemented today? Is it possible? Is it something worth striving for? What if Christians could actually get along, agree for once, and implement this style from within the church and watch as the yeast transforms the whole of society?

If we should do this, then we can do it.

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