Sunday, December 18, 2011

Occupy St Pauls (1887 style)

Hat tip to Hayes People History post on an early anti-capitalist protest and "occupation" at St Pauls Cathedral by the Social Democratic Federation on 27 February 1887.

"In 1886 and 1887 the Social Democratic Federation conducted a broad campaign of agitation among London's unemployed. The church parades were a form of this agitation, practised in early 1887. It was an attempt to address the unemployed from the pulpit. One parade, on 27 February 1887, took place in front of St Paul's Cathedral. During the sermon, parade participants proclaimed socialist slogans. After the service the Social Democratic Federation held three meetings in the streets, the speakers including John Burns, George Bateman and Fielding".

However, just like today's "Occupy Movement" there was some controversy and dare I say "splitting". A certain Friedrich Engels attacked the protest in a letter on 10 March 1887 "Over here the unemployed agitation by the Social Democratic Federation has also proved to be a complete flop; the church parade in St Paul's was a silly attempt to ape the Chartists and was likewise a flop, in short nothing has happened yet. Next autumn things may get better; It would be desirable if, in the meanwhile, the rascals at the head of the Social Democratic Federation were to fade away and disappear".

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