You’d expect the New Stateman’s scribblers to be at least somewhat sympathetic towards the monkeys at the ClimateCamp in Edinburgh, but I don’t get much sense of that from the picture painted by Laurie Penny for the Staggers blog.
Why does the revolution have to involve so much crap? I’m talking literally. When I arrive at Climate Camp after a six-hour journey by train, bus and a half-hour cross-country hike to the Edinburgh parkland headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, I plonk down my bags and ask if I might use the facilities. A helpful young man with a nice little beard brightly inquires – "Wee or poo?"
This is a question that hasn’t been put to me since I was in nappies, but it’s apparently important – in an effort to leave no trace of their presence on the land, the seven hundred climate activists gathered here for a week of direct action donate their separated excreta to local farmers. What this means in practical terms is a horrifying squat above a gusty, splintered wooden plank, trying hard to hold your breath whilst concentrating on the anti-capitalist slogans daubed on the inside of the door. Clearly, this weekend is going to test our dedication to the limits.
Dedication is the watchword here. By the time I arrive, several activists have already been arrested for breaking into RBS and loudly declaring their refusal to "pay for their crisis", with one having disguised herself as a banker and superglued herself to the front desk. On Friday, the atmosphere at camp is somewhere between a music festival and a military base. The park is full of unwashed students ambling out of tents, but painted signs make it witheringly clear that we are here to work, to exchange ideas and to entirely close down RBS’s base of operations on Monday via a series of democratically organised protest stunts whilst re-examining the links between our financial institutions and climate change: any fun that might occur is entirely incidental to the process.
And consider that RBS has a vast selection of large offices across Edinburgh from which to conduct its business while the soap-dodging Borg collective are flinging their shit at the Gogarburn HQ.