Friday, January 06, 2012

Auckland squatters

It shouldn’t have been like this.

Today Nigel had a meeting in the Auckland CBD, so I went along. I thought it was a good time to check up on the squatters at Aotea Square. The few folks remaining there are in open violation of a court order.

The photo at the top is what’s left of the squatters—roughly a third of the space they formerly occupied, but with probably about the same number of people actually staying there overnight. Those brown patches in the grass in the foreground of this photo were caused by the “occupiers”. We ratepayers will have to pay to repair this—after spending tens of thousands of dollars to establish the lawns before the occupiers ruined them. And we scarcely even got the chance to enjoy them before the occupiers took them away from us.

The photo below is of the damage the occupiers caused in one of the sections they finally left after the court ordered them to do so. This view looks back, basically, toward where I shot the above photo from.

I’m a good, old-time liberal. If the “occupy” people have lost me, and they definitely have, then they have lost their reason to continue, and that means it’s way past time for them ALL to go home.

What it comes down to is this: These people claim to be protesting on behalf of “the 1 percent”. Fine. But what they forget is that the 89 percent will be the ones who will have to pay for the “protests” by the—and I’m being generous here—bottom 10 percent. The 1% will never have to pay a cent, and neither will the poorest of the poor. The burden will fall, as it always does, on the vast majority who are between the extremes. We resent that, and the “protesters” fail because they cannot or refuse or understand that simple fact.

Damaged grass is a trivial thing for legitimate protest. But I don’t know a single mainstream Aucklander who sees the “occupy” people as in any way legitimate protesters. Instead, they are seen as spoiled, self-centred, naive and expecting to get a free ride through life with hardworking people paying for it. People who have to struggle to make ends meet really aren’t terribly interested in the self-important pontifications of a spoiled subset of this city.

And that, ultimately, is the worst thing of all: The people who call themselves protesters could have engaged all those shut-out by the ruling elites, they could have built a leftist movement that very well might have moved governments. Instead, they have alienated the very people who would be their support and natural allies, and in so doing have destroyed any chance for a broad-based leftist force. They have utterly failed, and they’re the only ones who don’t seem to know that.

Auckland’s “occupy” “protesters” have nothing in common with their American counterparts—the issues there are nothing like they are here, the objectives are totally different, and there is pretty much zero public support here. The vast majority of Aucklanders see them only as squatters—who we, the majority, have to pay for.

It shouldn’t have been like this.

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