One of the downsides to living through such exciting times is that it becomes totally impossible to keep track of everything that’s going on. Trying to provide some kind of round-up of all the different actions, and still find time to try and analyse the situation and predict what might happen next, and be involved in real life, and not let it take up my entire life, is pretty much an impossible task. Still, here’s a quick round-up of highlights:
First off, here’s an interesting critique of the NCAFC from a former member, which is worth reading, along with the debate and criticism that follows it. I’ve still not really had enough direct experience of the NCAFC to form a personal opinion on it, but I suspect the article may be overly pessimistic – it doesn’t seem like any one faction has gained total control over NCAFC yet, let alone the movement as a whole.
The action started on the night of the 29th, as a meeting of Lewisham council, where the Labour majority were trying to vote through a £60m cuts package, turned into a pitched battle between protesters and riot cops. There’s at least two indymedia reports on it (1) (2), and it’s been covered on various blogs, such as here. The Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance have issued a formal response. The police violence, while horrible, is nothing surprising; the real lessons to take away are that Labour have proved once again what a cynical, hypocritical shower of bastards they are, and that people aren’t going to let them get away with it.
Onto the day itself: As well as massive protests in Dublin and across Italy, new occupations broke out in the Slade School of Art (part of UCL, where another occupation is still going on), Nottingham and King’s College London, and Sheffield occupied again, having already been evicted once. But the most exciting features of the day were elsewhere: in central London, the protests managed to stay mobile and avoid being kettled, which is a massive leap forward in terms of escaping police control, and in Oxford and Birmingham council chambers were occupied, along with the Tory offices in Aberdeen. (See anticuts.org.uk, indymedia and libcom for more info.) The question of where power lies is a massive one, too big to tackle now but I hope to return to it soon, but it’s really good to see that people are no longer content to just demonstrate passively outside the centers of power, or even occupy relatively weak locations like universities, but are starting to confront the state head-on. Hopefully Lewisham, Oxford, Birmingham and Aberdeen are just the start and soon the list of council occupations will be as long as the list of occupied unis.