In defence of the Royal Wedding

I’d been meaning to write something about this for a few days now, but now that the Sun’s suddenly discovered the anarchist plot against the Royal Wedding (an article which has already been demolished by Rob Ray here), now seems like a good time to take the subject up. Calls to disrupt the wedding have been coming from sources as different as Ian Bone, Laurie Penny and Phil Dickens for a while now. However, at the risk of outing myself as a spineless liberal opportunist, I really don’t see what we’d gain from it. This isn’t talking about the threat of strikes by rail workers on the day, which I think makes perfect sense, but that’s not an act directed against the wedding so much as an act exploiting the wedding in order to put  maximum pressure on their employers. That makes sense to me, but most of us won’t be in that position – when you’ve been given the day off work anyway, not coming in is hardly a radical act. My argument in this article should also not be read as a criticism of the protesters who attacked Charles and Camilla – that was making good use of an opportunity that spontaneously fell into their lap, no-one had spent any time organising or building for that moment, and so it can hardly be called a waste of time and resources.
I understand, and completely agree with, the argument that says that the wedding is an irrelevant distraction from the real economic issues that we face. I don’t understand why that means we should focus our own attention on it rather than concentrating on the real issues, though. That sounds too much like the Trot logic that says that parliamentary elections are a meaningless charade, so we should stand our own candidates in order to expose them, instead of just refusing to participate in the whole shitty circus at all. When Phil Dickens says that “if we would pause a struggle against the ruling class out of deference to the distraction they have created, they have no reason to take us seriously”, he makes a valid point, but I think there’s a big difference between refusing to pay deference to a distraction and actively directing your attention towards the distraction, which is what calls to blockade the wedding ultimately come to. Not only is it a waste of time, I think the class politics of anti-monarchy events are actually less clear-cut than those of anti-cuts campaigns. On its own, getting rid of the monarchy wouldn’t end class society, and it wouldn’t even severely damage the ruling class – it’d just bring us into line with other liberal democratic republics, like the United States and France. Excuse me if I don’t find the prospect that exciting.
I’d just like to ask: what do we have to lose, and what do we have to gain? On the negative side, I’m sure there are a good number of workers who’re vaguely aware of their economic interests, and not enthusiastic about the cuts, who still have some sentimental attachment to the royals, or who, at the very least, don’t particularly give a shit about the royals but have a healthy respect for anything that gives them a day off work, and find the idea of disrupting a couple’s wedding day (and protesting against the event that gives them a day off work) to be mean-spirited and offputting. We will upset and alienate these people, many of whom might otherwise be won to our side. Of course, this argument could be levelled against any effective (i.e. disruptive) action, so we should weigh it against what we have to gain. Which is, um… well, what exactly? Are we hoping that we’ll be disruptive enough that we can physically stop the wedding from happening, and perhaps bring down the monarchy altogether? Because that’s not going to happen. Are we hoping that our actions will in some way decrease support for the monarchy and increase the popularity of the anti-cuts movement? Again, how exactly do people think that’ll happen?
If people are determined to hold anti-wedding events, I’d suggest that it’d make sense to try and organise events that cannot be interpreted as just the actions of mean-spirited killjoys. Instead of trying to fuck up someone else’s party, I think it’d make more sense to just use the day off to organise alternative celebrations of community solidarity. That might not be as exciting or dramatic as talking a load of sinister-sounding bollocks to tabloid journalists, but it’s also a lot more likely to actually have some appeal to people who aren’t already hardened revolutionaries. I am not a fan of the institution of marriage, and I don’t think it’s a choice I’d ever want to make for myself, but if there are any radically-minded couples in your area thinking of getting married/making a similar symbolic commitment around that time, you could hold a celebration of their relationship (provided that they’re up for it, of course), as a way of pointing out that a) it’s fucking absurd to hold a big public event celebrating a relationship between two people – but if the Royals get that treatment, why not the rest of us? and b) those two people have probably achieved more worthwhile stuff in their entire lives than Wills & Kate ever will.
Bottom line: if the Sun and Chris Knight are both getting really excited about something, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s a shit idea.

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
This entry was posted in Activism, Anarchists, Protests, Stuff that I don't think is very useful, The media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to In defence of the Royal Wedding

  1. Pingback: May 1886 to April 2011 – 125 years of repression | Cautiously pessimistic

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