Skip to content or view screen version

Oct20: we got work to do ...

peep | 21.10.2012 13:07

Some thoughts on yesterday. To discuss ...

100,000, or however many, trade unionists shuffled to Hyde Park again. Following up so swiftly on the last great TUC demo just 18 months ago, the coalition government are sure to listen. The high point of the day was an effective blockade of Marble Arch by disabled activists and others, but we'll wait for analysis from people who were more involved in that. Elsewhere, a couple of hundred anarchos and other motley crew ran around Oxford Street, splintering and outrunning plod to reassemble and ... shout a few slogans at some shops. One woman was assaulted and arrested by TSG on Oxford Street at 3.30 pm (please contact Green & Black Cross if you witnessed that), otherwise there seem to have been few arrests.

On the whole, another damp squib. Anyone surprised? But let's take this opportunity to do some proper reflecting and think how we can do things better in future. Looking to the G8 in London next June. We CAN have an impact on the streets (which is one part, by no means the whole, of building up a real resistance). We can outwit the cops. We can make these our streets. But if want to have a future, we really do need to put some work in.

A few thoughts from the Oxford street side of things:

** This felt a lot like that last student demo before M26 (29 Jan 2011) where people evaded the kettles, outran the cops, split up and regrouped, and then did absolutely nothing. To be negative: what, we're right back there again? To be positive: we needed to get that confidence back that we could outrun plod, after post riots "total policing". Jan 2011 opened the way for M26, where people made plans and got prepared for action. Similarly, maybe people needed this experience of mobility to get things started again.

** On the other hand, mobility is great, but it's also a good idea to look behind you and make sure everyone else is keeping up. The breakaway from Trafalgar Square soon split in half because the front group ran too far ahead, and so lost its strength as a bloc. People seemed to be panicked by any cop movement. There is strength in movement, but maybe more strength in numbers. Don't panic! Look around you. Stick together and support each other.

** Don't panic, because “total policing” is really just a cock-waving posture: the truth is they don't have total resources. The 9 November 2011 student demo was an intimidating display of massive force, in which the whole demo was effectively kettled from start to finish. It worked, people got intimidated. (Not to mention the vicious riots sentencing.) But they can't pull that off every time.

** So if we can get mobility, and also keep blocks together, what do we do with it? Sometimes things happen spontaneously, amazingly. But more often than not, not. At least some people need to come ready with ideas, plans, something prepared. The disabled activists had something prepared. SolFed had their workfare shouting thing prepared. No one else did. Everyone else just seemed to be along for a ride, and no one wanted to drive.

** Sorry, this isn't meant to be a criticism of SolFed, but the workfare shouting thing wasn't enough. It played a good role on May Day, when nothing more seemed possible. But yesterday a lot more could have happened. You have a black bloc of a hundred plus, and lots more running with them and up for it, you run the cops a merry dance. If you want to shout at a few shops and block a few doorways for a bit you really don't need to go to all that trouble. You could just walk peaceably up to Oxford Street road and do it. If you go to all that trouble, get all that adrenalin up, then shouting at a few shops feels like a let-down. Again, this isn't to blame SolFed, it's not their fault no one else had any other ideas.

** The message: if you want stuff to happen on the streets, form affinity groups, talk and think about what you could do, and prepare in advance. You can prepare a mass action and advertise a meet-up point or whatever. Or you can just form a small group with the intention to start doing something, to spark things off as the energy spreads. In either case, you need to start something, and come prepared. And we could do with new ideas, new tactics, new ways to make flashpoints and spread rebellion and the passion for freedom. So let's start brainstorming now. Don't wait for someone else to do it. Do it yourself.