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Time to start winning again!

gnome | 20.01.2008 23:45 | Analysis | Free Spaces | Social Struggles

The original of this article was posted on the Bristol Indymedia newswire a few days ago, as a comment on the forthcoming speaking tour by Peter Gelderloos (How non-violence protects the state). It references some recent campaigns specific to Bristol, but the comments can be taken generally. The article is copied below for those interested, the original, with 'comments', can be seen here

Time to start winning again

We need to reflect on why we keep losing

Whilst this newswire contains regular inspiring examples of resistance to the forces of darkness (that’s capital and the state if you didn’t know), there is sadly a thread running through it that can make one despair – namely that despite the best efforts of some, ‘we’ keep losing. Of course where there is oppression, injustice and inequality, there is always resistance, and that gives us hope, but we don’t want to just resist all the time – we want to start going on the offensive, and start winning too.

Look as these few recent examples:
Cadburys closure of Keynsham factory – despite cross-party support and mass popular local opposition, Cadburys ditch their local workers and go abroad for a cheaper labour force/more profit. Global capital marches on.
Bristol International Airport expansion – massive opposition forces BIA onto the back foot in the planning process. So they start to try & subvert that very process via the backdoor, using their endless resources.
Tesco in Bathwick Hill – again mass local opposition and initial defeat of plans in the planning process is subverted by Tesco’s cash and likely friends in high places/government.
BAE – despite protests, occupations and even some mainstream media condemnation of their behaviour, fraud allegations against the merchants of death are dropped by orders from on high.
Deportations of refugees – strong refugee support & advice networks continue working away in Bristol, backed up by specific campaigns and direct actions. Yet the constant stream of racist government propaganda against refugees, backed up by rabid right-wing media co-operating in the absurd war on terror, ensures a continuing erosion of human rights & civil liberties for refugees, asylum seekers, and British citizens. Which of course creates more social disharmony and pushes new people in the direction of dead-end religious extremism.

It is clear global capital, backed up by the state, is in the ascendancy in the present time. They write, rewrite, bend and break the very rules they expect us to follow, and punish us if we don’t. By various means they exert control over how, when and why we may protest, and by and large we allow them to do so. They tell us that the way things are, and the way they will be, are inevitable, and that to think or do otherwise is pointless, and in any case will be punished severely.

They rip us off, steal our green spaces, play with our jobs and services, use our taxes to cover up their greed and mistakes, erode our rights, trash our planet, take us to war on lies, lecture us on freedom & democracy whilst dining & dealing with dictators & murderers, stuff their pockets and give power & wealth to their friends. Imagine one of us doing a Peter Hain and forgetting to mention that xtra £103k we’d got? And to all of this our response is, well, muted at best. A shrug of the shoulders, a wry grin, an oath or two, an acknowledgement that what will be will be and always has been, and there’s not a lot we can do about it. Well it wasn’t, it doesn’t have to be, and there is a lot we can do about it!

We need to break out of the restraints imposed upon us, and we need to break out of the straightjacket that our aims & practices have been contained within. Only ever being on the defence, only asking for small reforms or even just the continuation of what we have left, only seeking the moral high ground in the face of their unacceptable behaviour is not enough. What use is the moral high ground when we keep losing? We need to start winning, by any means necessary, using any tactic available and not discounting any. We need to seriously consider what we are prepared to lose or give up in order to win in the future.

So it seems an upcoming meeting on the 23 January may be most timely (see On the face of it the proposed discussion around ‘Tactics for social change’, and given the book image (cover of Gelderloos book), suggests a bunfight between those for and against the use of violence as a tactic (even a strategy!). But leaving aside the Americanised terminology and focus of the author/speaker Peter Gelderloos, a dig around beneath the surface suggests something a little more thoughtful. Whilst it does dismiss outright pacifism as a failed ideology that guarantees only defeat and no chance of social change or revolution, it also explicitly demands an acceptance of a true diversity of tactics – a full spectrum if you like, from letter writing and petitions to as far as is deemed necessary to win. It also digs deep into the psyche of the social activist - their class, race, motivation, political consciousness and desire.

A debate & discussion worth having methinks, or are we happy to keep losing?



Display the following 2 comments

  1. Indymedfia site needs improving too... — Busy Bee
  2. Why should Indymedia — not impressed