Just wrote this over at Facebook about the protests today…I went down to Whitehall about 6ish before the Treasury occupation to have a look. Not much was happening, kids were standing around outside the kettle, burning placards and changing NWA Fuck the Police slogans. Sirens have been going off all day, and helicopters – surreal, last time it was like that was 7/7 – or the Poll Tax riots.
Love the responses by the armchair reactionaries – and at points in the past I have been one – but somehow become experts on violent protest when they’ve never been to a fucking protest in their life. Those who didn’t bother to even go down and see the protest, or read much of the articles like this one they just swallow the BBC/state line…the reality on the ground seemed more complex, and less hard cut than violence = bad or the anarchic few stereotype. It’s harder to think that the sons and daughters of middle class Torygraph and Daily Fail readers might have been in that melee…
The kids are angry, and rightly so…doesn’t make them all bad, nor even rule out the voices of those that were violent, nor make their points less pertinent, if not in a form that we deem acceptable. After all we as a society taught them this is the only way – or shut off the other ways by not listening to them, not teaching them rhetoric or discourse, kept them dumb. What the fuck do you expect? What you’re seeing is a whole generation trying to find it’s own way politically – and it doesn’t really need adults telling it what to do.
I’m proud of the ones building bridges on the tube lines, stopping the angry ones from going too far on previous protests, the Whitechapel Anarchist Group who lead a local grilling of the community against their councillors over the cuts…a lot of this is being done organically, instinctually…no leaders, these are schoolkids and kids from the estates who were never taken on the anti-war marches or cause celebres and taught how to wave a placard like Emily and Tarquin…so of course they’re learning on the job, so to speak. Mistakes will be made…throwing rocks and smashing windows is pretty dumb, if understandable. But it’s not the issue at hand – have you noticed how people get outraged when a shop gets trashed or a window smashed? Shopping truly is the new religion…..depressingly.
(picture by East London Lines)
The ‘violence is bad mmmkay’argument is a straw man. The more important thing is do they have a point? What are they saying? And what do we do to change this awful system to be more fairer to them the next generation, and us, and take control away from a government and banks who don’t care? If you focus on the Daily Mail ‘OMG THEY SCARED CAMILLA’ (which is a priceless image and well worth all the hassle – keep going all you’ve even got the establishment scared now!) and the pre-thought image of anarchist yoot then I really can’t help you, you’re an old reactionary and should shuffle off to the grave sharpish. Go on, and take your copy of Daily Fail with you.
A good balanced article about the dualities I saw on the ground is here, and pictures here and here but really look around because the best and most shocking yet true pictures were the ones from the people in the march, shared on services like Twitpic like this one of police pulling disabled Jody Macintyre from his wheelchair. Also interesting was the live Google map from the UCLOccupation people, which anyone could update – an important use of the new technology. I think we are seeing a new Wikipolitick, a new responsible Flash mob political activity which I’ve been talking about here for a while, nice to see the usually inane Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps and YouTube et al used for good as with the Iran protests.
This is the crossover with Wikileaks, and why activism on the internet and mobile is becoming more important…as previous G20s have shown the crowd can act all the more quicker using these tools, react or even resist kettling or police action or change strategy as with the dayx2 protest almost immediately. It’s a new era of protest online and off, and the tools are enabling that, although as Wikileaks have found the cloud can be dispersed by the US Government almost as quickly, meaning that for real political ends the likes of Paypal and Amazon’s cloud must be avoided…and such tools have to be carefully (ab)used and chosen with backups in place.
And SHAME ON YOU Met Police for keeping protesters kettled on Westminster Bridge til going on midnight in nearly zero temperatures…and ignoring their requests for medical assistance.
Also to bring this back to music, apparently the Sound of the Revolution was dubstep…and grime. As someone said on twitter it’s bigger than hip hop hip hop….unless it’s NWA, y’all.
May I also suggest King Blues, from when they were radical, this came on by chance on DJ Charles IV as I walked down to Whitehall, the lyrics seem really appropriate for how I feel about the 16 and 17 year olds who are either fighting Wikileaks censorship or fighting on the streets for their and our future:
I see them coming for the youth, and me say “No Lord”.
I see them coming for the youth, and me say “No”.
They riot through the night in Burnley,
We have another kind of mashup party here in Hackney.
They come to take away my liberties,
But round here we nah want no stinkin’ B.N.P.