How intriguing — and refreshing — to read what London bankers have to say about Occupy LSX!
For those who wonder where I stand on Occupy, please see my posts on the subject as well as my economic meltdown series. In short, sit-ins and stink-ins aren’t going to solve the problem. Also, anyone who is earning less than £45,000 a year is being subsidised by the 1% making upwards of £150,000 per annum. They contribute 24% of our nation’s tax revenue.
Vice — which has several different editions around the world — is an edgy Gen Y online magazine which has been around for several years. (Yes, it’s an odd title for a churchmouse to read.) Last week, a reporter for the UK edition interviewed a few City types to find out what they thought of Occupy. It’s a cracking article complete with photos — well worth a few minutes of your time.
What follows are excerpts of what they had to say:
VICE: Hello banker, what’s your name?
And how long have you worked in the city?
What sort of banking thing do you do?
I’m an insurance broker working for a finance company.
Do you have an opinion on the Occupation?
Well I think it’s an easy thing to hit on the banks and the financial community. But it’s not very well informed, because everyone depends on what the City does. I mean, the UK in general benefits very much from having the financial centre here. Without it, a lot more people would be unemployed, plus we would pay more for stuff.
What do you think about the actual people camped out for the Occupation? Is it a problem them being there?
It seems a bit like in New York, I mean they’re all… I mean… they look like… hmmm…
Yeah! And in Madrid, and in Italy, as you would expect, it’s the militant anarchists out on the street beating up the shops. It doesn’t really help the cause. Just wait for the Germans to show up, they can be tough as well.
Did you ever go to any protests in your salad days?
No, not really. I signed a petition once. It’s the only petition I’ve ever signed in my life, against the Shah of Iran. I didn’t realise I was supporting this Ayatollah Khomeini, who was sitting in Paris at the time. After that I never signed anything again.
Next up is Zach:
Zach, do you think the Occupiers have a problem with being taken seriously, then?
Well, I don’t know about being taken seriously, but in the political world and in the Western world sitting on the floor outside a cathedral is not going to achieve anything. You need someone at the top with a proper voice … it’s very nice … but it’s not gonna achieve anything. That’s what I think, anyway.
What do you think of the jugglers? What’s the best trick you’ve seen?
Mate, I’ve been to Glastonbury four times, I’ve been to India, I know all about it, you know? I’m not a mug. I just happen to work in the City. At the weekends I dress like that.
You sound a bit defensive. Do you feel like you’re being victimised?
What, people who work in banks? Not me particularly, we’re small cogs in a massive wheel. We don’t see ourselves as ‘bankers’ as such, more people who work in a bank. We wanted a job when we left uni, we didn’t have anything else to do. If these companies were to leave and move to Asia, a lot of people would be out of work. This place would be a lot more depressing than it is now, I can guarantee you that.
Then there’s Leo from Spain:
Do you think the protesters will achieve anything?
No. I haven’t been down there, but I don’t think you have to go down there to know what they want. But, no, they won’t.
So people basically need to shut up and learn to just get used to it.
Well, I’m not sure about what the end result is going to be. I mean, there have been quite a few crises in the last 30, 40, 50 years. I think, more than anything, that it’s an exercise in responsibility that needs to be taken, and that takes more than protests and sit-ins in front of St Paul’s church.
Some of the Occupiers were talking about starting a new society, what do you think about that?
I think setting up a new society is fair enough. I mean people can do what the hell they want. But what is it that’s new about that society? What values are they trying to instil? What is it they’re trying to propagate as a set of values, as a set of rules, as a set of ideas? You know, saying ‘Oh yeah, we need a new society’ is great, but what is it gonna be like? It’s not a solution in itself.
Any advice for the people camped in St Paul’s square?
Maybe they can come up with some good ideas, if they do then good for them. In the meantime, they need to be saving all the money they can!
What do you think of the protesters themselves?
Well, are they on benefits? Who’s paying for those benefits? Probably our taxes. I’d be very curious to actually look at the demographics of who’s protesting, and see how many have full-time jobs. If not, how are they funding themselves?
Should the bankers stage a counter protest?
I don’t know, I think we just take it all and carry on. I’m just a normal person.
Vice‘s US edition asks whether Occupy can survive its lack of style. It’s stinky and makes 1990s grunge look like Chanel. But the article says this is more about how things are unfolding:
It’s easy to dismiss a bunch of unwashed, directionless ragamuffins chanting time-worn protest slogans like “the whole world is watching” (that is, if they’re not watching Hollywood real estate porn or Real Housewife franchises) or “shame on you” (which sounds a bit too much like a disappointed mother, especially when directed toward a cop in full fascist attire violently macing a clueless co-ed). It’s a bit more difficult to dismiss someone who has a fistful of brilliant manifestoes and a manifestly militant, stylish posture.
Yes, well, that we haven’t seen yet, thank goodness. After all, they have to expand the movement first, then in true leftist fashion, it will have to splinter into several different factions, each wanting complete control over the others.
We’ve been here before many times in historical events greater and smaller, from the Russian Revolution to now. But I would bet these kids wouldn’t know anything about that.