Bank of ideas – what a brilliant idea!

Posted on November 19, 2011


Like many this week I read with absolute delight the news of the latest adventures of the Occupy London Movement.  In the early hours of Friday morning, members of the movement managed to gain entry to an unoccupied office block not far from St Paul’s.  The target – A property owned by Swiss bank ,UBS.

While this is a clever coup, what makes it more so is the name the Occupiers have given their new site: The Bank of Ideas, ‘trading in creativity rather than cash’.  The building has been vacant for several years and its choice highlights the contradictions inherent in The City: extraordinary wealth abutting deep poverty; wealthy banks being able to afford to leave buildings empty for years, whilst complaining that measures such as the Tobin Tax will spell disaster for them.

I am excited by this new development, not because it involves an obvious game of cat and mouse with the Police and the UBS over asserted right of the Occupiers to squat in the City, but because it symbolises and indeed actualises a new era in economic exchange.  Could a bank of ideas in reality be something which we all need?  Could we re-embrace forms of exchange that is not solely about financial gain?

Meanwhile, we are on the eve of another European country facing a change of government.  Spain is on the verge of electing a new government, and like other countries, they are facing the dilemma of austerity measures, versus growth priorities while trying to manage its debt.

Perhaps we need to leap forward to a time when Eurozone has indeed collapsed, if this comes to pass.  What then? Does the Occupy Movement’s stunt look more realistic as an alternative way forward, or will we live in countries in which this kind of creative approach to protesting is deeply punished by anxious governments and their security forces?