Anti-cuts protesters have invaded a government building in London and a bank in Glasgow this week, showing a glimpse of the kind of determination we need if we’re going to win this one. Obviously, storming a building for a few hours isn’t going to transform society, but the psychological effect is important: in order to function, capitalism needs most people to accept the idea that we’re powerless to affect anything, and that the decision-makers in society are completely cut off from you and me. (Obviously, that’s a massive over-simplification, it also relies on, among many other things, the illusion of freedom offered by elections, ineffective liberal protests, consumer choice and so on. But that’s less relevant to what I’m talking about right now.) When people step out of line, disrupt business as usual, and get away with it, they start to demonstrate that we really do have the power to affect things, and equally that the great and good are a lot more vulnerable than they like to admit. That’s a vital lesson to remember if we’re going to win. (And, in case anyone had forgotten, the fight against the cuts isn’t just a fight against the Tories, it’s also got to be a fight against the lefty politicians who claim to be on our side and then attack anyone who might take any action that might actually be effective.)
Continuing my tradition of forgetting to mention demos until the day before, good luck to anyone going to the Radical Workers’ Bloc in London tomorrow, or any of the other anti-cuts protests up and down the country.
Remember, if you intend to kick off, then do it properly: think about it in advance, be realistic about how many people are likely to join you and what you might achieve, come up with a plan based on that, and do it at a place and time where the cops aren’t expecting it (which I’d argue would usually mean not doing it at a demo at all). If you don’t intend to kick off, then don’t posture as if you are going to, because that’ll just get you kettled, stopped, searched, photographed and put on a police database for no reason. Instead, focus on actually trying to communicate your ideas to the other people there.