I certainly can’t claim any direct causal link, but it’s certainly nice to see that people in Lewisham seem to agree with my thinking on the idea of occupying libraries. (Lewisham anti-cuts campaigners are clearly not short of good ideas, since they also pioneered the tactic of occupying council meetings.) As I predicted, the novelty of this specific form of protest has already led to decent media coverage. The official write-up from Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance is here, and there’s a personal account here, which makes the whole thing sound encouragingly spontaneous. Although, having said that, either at least a few people were planning this beforehand, or there’s someone in Lewisham with amazing speed-banner-making skills (edit – see the comments on this post for confirmation that this was, in fact, just a very well-made short-notice banner):
One quote from the BBC article sums up some of the reasons why this kind of action is so important, not just for the specific issue it’s formally about but also for developing people’s awareness of their ability to change the world: “There is always a buzz when people cross over a little line and do something for themselves. It makes them feel empowered. The libraries are a big issue anyway but this shows that people can do something more. I just hope that this is the start of something rather than the end.”
It’s still pretty much impossible for one person to provide anything near a complete overview of developments in Egypt, so I won’t try, but I think this piece on the Cairo Commune is worth a read. Of course, it’s extremely unlikely that this form of participatory democracy will last – whether power stays in the hands of Mubarak or is seized by some kind of opposition, no state could tolerate the existence of an autonomous democratic body for long – but it is heartening to have a contemporary example of spontaneous self-organisation from below.
Looking to the future, Leeds/Yorkshire folks might want to consider attending this event:
and I’ve seen a call-out for a network-X-style gathering called “Workers don’t need bosses” at the Cowley Club in Brighton on the 12th and 13th of March, although there doesn’t seem to be any material up on the internet about it yet.
So, yeah, in the short term, as well as thinking about attending those events, I’d encourage anyone reading this to make their local library look like New Cross; in the long term, we should be aiming to make our local town squares look like Tahrir Square.