Dark Matters

May 7, 2012

Gravity, they say, is a natural consequence of the presence of matter. What mattered, at first, was occupying the London Stock Exchange; and gravitate towards it we did. With society cast adrift on the rising tides of austerity, a dialogue born of civil disobedience would counter the current. What began as a protest of expression against economic injustice soon took physical manifestation in the camps and in the spaces we occupied, with an emerging point of definitional reference, both from within and outside of the movement, as ‘Occupy London’.

In the early days and dialogue of occupation, the articulations of Occupy London were outward-looking; towards what mattered in the first. The initial statement of Occupy London called for structural change, a shift toward authentic global equality and democratic alternatives to the current system. Subsequent demands for transparency of the activities of the City of London Corporation would add further depth to the outward-looking nature of the movement and refine its definition in tune with causes and aims. In so doing, these statements shed light on the inattentive ‘blind spot’ of mainstream media in its failure to articulate a purpose, mainstay, or suitable description of what many easily grasped as poetic dissonance between the City’s major financial hub and its merry band of would-be occupiers.

Perhaps it was inevitable that amid the oft-negative, politicianeering and profit-oriented statements about ‘Occupy London’, the currents of the camps’ own dialogue would become caught in the wake, turning inward. The commentary that initially circled the injustices encapsulated by the symbol of the stock exchange transformed over time into something multi-faceted, with distinct streams and currents focusing solely on the movement itself (not merely of camp-management, process and best practice, but expressions of internal definition and structure). To extend the metaphor of our physics lesson, we could say that with the camp outside the gates of the stock exchange showing no signs of retreat in the face of winter, the gravity of the situation was with us; we had become the thing that mattered.

With the roots of the movement tied down by guy ropes, an internal domain to ‘Occupy London’ was established that would play a role in forming the continuing, wider dialogue – its currents now shaped from within as much as from without.

In recent weeks, since the eviction of the camp at St. Paul’s, those with an ear to the ground will have noticed the emerging murmur of surplus discussion gravitating towards internal issues including: profiling of occupiers; the definition and scope of the movement; brand management; financial affairs; the nature and remit of autonomous participation, etc. While these are undoubtedly important matters, the stuck-in-the-mud impasse within which their seemingly unattainable resolve resides – with consensus and forward-progression proving so elusive – perhaps relates to what has become a predominance of inward-looking dialogue.

This ever-burrowing semantic life-form has gone so far as to throw up suggestions for a prolonged period of collective contemplation (complete with weekend seminars and supplemented motivational audio-tapes, perhaps) and further articulation to solve this so-called ‘problem of definition’ of the movement itself, from within the streams of its own internal dialogue and structural paradigms.

But perhaps herein lies the “Big Whoop” misnomer of a non-problem!

Perhaps a solution to this apparent ‘problem of definition’ will not emerge through the proposed articulation of the, as yet unseen, ‘dark matter’ at the heart of the movement. Perhaps, instead, the problem itself will dissipate if we make efforts to vacate this internal domain and the ripples of centralised and structured elements which there reside as our ‘matters’. In so doing, we may look once more beyond ourselves, to the elements, causes and tokens of the wider global movement. These offer far more in the way of definition than the amassed treasure-trove of our established kernel. In short: to disperse these dark matters to find our defining unity in what mattered in the first – and what matters still: our common causes.

The prospects for such a re-imagining of definitional treatment would seem to hinge not upon a reshuffle of the established structures of our whirring, internal commentary, or upon efforts to establish the articulation of a structured internal domain, but upon renewed efforts for all aspects of our dialogue to realign to the gravity of the causes of the movement, above and beyond the gravity of internal dynamics. All matters of unity and definition regarding the efforts emerging from Occupy London to challenge social, economic and environmental injustices – whether purely in discussion or actively expressive – could, in this sense, be perceived and measured in terms of their harmony (or disharmony) with the causes of the movement and our shared sense of gravity, process, best practice and the commons.