First of all, it needs to be said just how brilliant yesterday was. Sights like this:
make my little red and black heart swell with pride. A quick round-up of some of the best reports I’ve been able to find:
And, as soon as I published this post, the AF wrote their report on the subject.
Beyond that, what else is there to say? First of all, it’s vital that we need to defend everyone arrested, either yesterday or in the days to come. There’s been a unity statement issued in support of the rioters here, and they have a facebook page here. While the statement is obviously worth supporting, I would advise people to think carefully about what they want to attach their names to, given that it’s public and, thanks to the internet, will be publicly searchable for the foreseeable future. If you’re part of a group then I’d definitely recommend putting your group’s name to it, though. Beyond that, I’d recommend giving money towards their legal costs, sending letters and postcards to anyone who gets sent down for it, and so on. (Oh, this looks worth keeping an eye on.)
Also, although a lot of us (including myself) missed out on the fun, we can we all be part of creating the culture that makes events like yesterday’s possible. Whenever anyone tries to condemn them, it’s important to speak up and be clear about the simple fact that, when dealing with complete and utter bastards, asking nicely doesn’t work, taking what you want does. The media will try and depict this as the work of a tiny group of isolated extremists, but we should all make it clear that they represented a vast tide of public anger. Every time you speak up about how great yesterday was, it empowers other people to do the same and makes our opponents less confident that everyone agrees with them. If you’re at a university or college, you should be arguing for an occupation.
Also, it’s worth thinking a bit about the age issue. Like a lot of people, I’m of the age when the massive, failed, peaceful protest against the Iraq war was one of the defining events shaping my political experience. A lot of these kids won’t remember 2003. A lot of people will have been on their first ever demonstration. If they get the impression that that’s what protests are meant to be like, and try to emulate it in future, the next few years might get pretty interesting.
Thoughts for next time: It’s great that the Tories got trashed, but the Lib Dems and Labour (who, apart from anything else, brought fees in in the first place) got off too lightly. Now that the NUS have made it clear that they’re not on the same side as militant students, Aaron Porter’s office should be a target as well.
Finally, I’ll admit that I didn’t expect it. I didn’t plug it on here, and t0 my eternal regret I didn’t go to it myself. I don’t think anyone really expected it. It certainly looks like not even the police expected it (well, either that, or they just wanted to get back at the tories over spending cuts). As even BBC news admit, it wasn’t the cunning work of an anarchist conspiracy – looking at the pictures, this obviously wasn’t the black bloc at work. I actually find the fact that I so completely and utterly failed to guess what was going to happen very comforting. One of the major differences between (most) Marxists and anarchists centres on the usefulness of knowing lots of history and theory. Both will agree that they’re useful, but anarchists think that any one individual or party can only ever have a very limited understanding, and the changing course of events will always leave even the wisest leaders behind. Most Marxists, on the other hand, will ascribe all kinds of mystical powers to a correct understanding of “scientific socialism”, and use their superior knowledge to justify their authority. Yesterday demonstrated, once again, how little political experts know. A lot of people will tell you not to trust any leaders except themselves, but I can confidently say that, as a leader, I’d be as crap as anyone else. The youth who attacked the Tory HQ didn’t need guidance from any vanguard, they just charged ahead and left the self-proclaimed revolutionaries struggling to keep up.