On May the 29th, 2012, three HSBC representatives paid Occupy Central a visit to see if they could interest us in an informal deal to evacuate the premises. Claiming to be members of the charity and law (a rather odd combination, indeed) department of the bank, they informed us that we were on privately-owned property, and that our presence was preventing them from holding the ‘charitable events’ that the HSBC basement is usually designated for. To entice us to consider their offer, they offered us assistance if we were considering leaving.
Following this rather strange encounter, the bank issued a request to the High Court on June the 22nd, appealing for an order that would formally permit the basement to be cleared on the grounds of proprietary right. We received a stack of documents related to this appeal on the same day, and discovered that three middle-aged men, loosely related to the movement, had been summoned to the High Court for infringing upon HSBC’s hallowed ground, as well as an anonymous band of ‘occupiers’, whose ‘names remain unknown’. This category, we imagine, includes anyone who has ventured into the space for any amount of time.
We would like to declare, without any hesitation whatsoever, that we have no intentions of leaving.
From the 15th of October, 2011, we have made it clear that we have no regard for the strictures of property that HSBC invokes. In this space, we have created a laboratory in which a different form of life can be invented and elaborated upon, a rehabilitation centre in which the casualties of capitalism can exchange experiences, ideas, laughter and friendship. We have created what we would like to call an ‘impossible space’, one that exposes and demonstrates the elementary point that space, when liberated from property laws and freed for common use, opens itself up to new possibilities, encounters and experiences. Prior to the occupation, bodies would course through this passageway, a continuous surge of bodies in transit to their office cubicles, to their automobiles, to their claustrophobic apartments. Now, we have established a point of convergence that attracts all of the explosive energies that resist the unstoppable flow of alienated life, so that a collective form of thinking and acting can crystallize.
Sometimes, it is difficult for passers-by to understand that this space, having been freed from every concept of property, private (which would mean that it is owned by a person or a group) or public (which would mean that it is owned by government authorities, its use defined and policed by the state). This space is common, which means that everyone who has sat down with us and shared it with us, whether they have attended a general assembly, taught a course in our Free School or held an event in the occupation, has had a hand in determining the way it is used, experienced and imagined. Others make use of the couches, the library and the guitars on their lunch breaks, and we have given shelter, cheer and company to countless couch-surfers and wanderers passing through this sad and bewildering city.
All of this sounds very romantic, but we are well aware that along the way we have made a good number of mistakes, some of which are irreparable. Occupy Central has not issued any demands, for the simple reason that its form is not determined by any predetermined content. It is not a ‘protest’ movement, if you think of a protest movement as being ‘about’ a specific issue (for example, certain tendencies in Occupy Wall Street have transformed an open and dynamic experiment into a lobby for the regulation of the finance system and the introduction of measures like the Tobin Tax). For us, the form is the content and the medium is the message- to occupy is to seize direct control over the space and the time that capitalism has taken from us, so that we can find new and collective uses for them. Ten months later, we remain at the beginning of this vast adventure, one which we would like to spread across the urban fabric. Maybe this all sounds rather vague, and we can’t really help that. What is absolutely clear, however, is that we cannot abandon what we have built. We will not allow the rich sense of possibility that has opened itself up in the heart of this city to be sealed up again.
So, we would like to declare once more that we do not accept the bank’s suggestion, and we refuse any ‘assistance’ that they might extend to us. We are well aware that this act of diplomacy, this pathetic pretense of ‘dialogue’ that HSBC are offering us is shot through with undertones of violence and coercion. We are prepared for the eventuality of a confrontation, and would like to state that any use of force on their part will not dissolve the immaterial bonds that we have formed over the last ten months, nor will it discourage us from beginning once more, from nothing, just as we did last October. We would also like to announce our decision, as the clandestine and anonymous band of ‘occupiers’ whom HSBC has summoned from the shadows, that we will NOT stand trial before the law on August the 13th. Besides the fact that we have nothing but contempt for those who would presume to judge us, as well as the institution that they derive their authority from, we have much better things to do than spend our evenings probing the law to discover faults and loopholes. We only have so much time and so much energy, and it would be much more worthwhile for us to carry on playing music, conversing, sharing knowledges, skills and experiences, forming a nucleus to strike against this monstrous order with all the humor, irreverence and imagination that we are capable of… just as we have been doing the last 300 odd days.
As always, we are anxious for you to join us. Consider this an open call to collaborators and conspirators everywhere, all of you who refuse to allow this break in space in time to disappear, swallowed up into oblivion.