Our normal walking around town in Edinburgh was a bit more colourful on Saturday. We normally walk through St Andrews Square Park on our way to George Street and on occasion when the sun is shining we may even stop for a coffee.
This week however the park was very busy. It also had a number of those flip up tents pitched and lots of people were milling around including some policemen. We weren’t going to let our normal route to be hijacked so we strolled through. The protesters seemed to fit into two categories. Schoolies/students or professional protestors. They had draped banners over the statue base in the middle of the park and were having discussions and sharing thought etc.
This was of course a protest based on the Wall Street and St Pauls versions. Anti-capitalists. Anti big business. Anti what’s fashionable to be seen to be taking part in this week. I’d imagine that all of those present owned their very existence to capitalism and the fact that they will eat, have drinkable water, clothes on their backs and a warm home to go back to all provided by the capitalist system may have escaped their notice.
To a degree I am not entirely happy myself with “big business” and it’s fairly obvious that our capitalist system has been hijacked and could do with a bit of a make-over to say the least. But the basic premise of capitalism seems to work pretty well for us all. We sell our labour and buy such goods and services as we see fit with the resulting wages. I’m not anti Tesco for example, since I can choose where to shop. I choose to spend money as I see fit and on things which I enjoy.
Of course choice goes out the window when we come to taxes and all the other add on charges, which the state forces on us all. I didn’t notice any banners suggesting that smaller and more accountable governance would be worth considering. That would fly in the face of the controls these protestors undoubtedly would require to make sure capitalism was contained as their vision of the future requires.
Everyone should have the right to an opinion. If group A stop group B sharing their opinion then they have become fascists, even if they started out as communists/socialists and the same is true of the extreme right if they are subdued unfairly they become less right than those who subdue them. It is important that these protestors make their point as long as it doesn’t impinge on anyone elses rights.
So the demonstrations will go on. St Pauls should not have to close its doors due to the protests. Whilst it’s in the financial district there are other places nearby with adequate space to pitch your tent and get on with rubbishing capitalism.
However, having rubbished capitalism the biggest question is “what would you replace it with?” I’ve not heard any sort of alternative, which has worked or sounds as if it will work. Centralised economic planning? Like the USSR? I don’t remember that working. Self sufficiency, self drudgery more like. Tilling the soil takes up a huge amount of time and nature isn’t co-operative.
As I’ve said before, if anyone doesn’t like capitalism, and thinks we aren’t green enough then go and live somewhere where you can actually live the way you think would be ideal to meet your beliefs. Try parts of Africa. No power, dirty water, ineffective mosquito control, very limited medical facilities, droughts, wars, high infant mortality rates, reduced life expectancy and on and on and on. Big business will be to blame for those as well though I’d imagine. Not the UN or the large numbers of charities, which have not been able to solve the problems and help the local populations after years and years of trying?
At St Pauls the protestors use their mobile phones, use the toilets in local coffee shops and buy their food and drink in them as well. The protestors in Edinburgh do the same or similar. Is that not just a wee bit hypocritical?