First off, apologies to anyone confused by the formatting screw-up on my previous post, which should now be fixed. That ECAP story was good, but not so good that I needed to turn my entire post into a big link to it, which seems to be what I accidentally did. Oops.
By now, I imagine almost everyone* must know about the heavy police clampdown over the last few days. As far as I’ve been able to find, the most comprehensive round-ups are on indymedia and Fitwatch. Fitwatch’ve also produced a good piece of commentary on the situation. (By the way, I’m not really convinced that the Great Cull of political facebook profiles is actually as sinister as it may seem, since as far as I can tell all the profiles were of groups taking the form of individual profiles, not actual pages. Without wanting to seem like an uncritical apologist for facebook, they do make it pretty clear that profiles are meant to be for individuals and organisations have to use pages or groups. Naturally, you or I might think that the importance of spreading our ideas might trump facebook’s terms and conditions, but I don’t think it’s that shocking or unreasonable if they don’t see it that way. If it turns out that any “legitimate” pages – or, for that matter, profiles that actually did just belong to individuals – have been deleted despite playing by fb’s rules, then that’s a different matter, but I’ve not yet seen anything suggesting that that’s happened.)
For my part, I’m mildly proud of having pointed out what a massive waste of the time the whole idea of an anti-wedding protest was months ago, even before it became clear that it was going to be the pretext for a major clampdown. However, I did make one major mistake, by assuming there would be some kind of connection, no matter how loose and vague, between reality and the story the media and police came out with. In retrospect, that was very naive. Despite the complete lack of interest in the whole spectacle shown by most anarchists – as expressed by North London Solidarity Federation and Guy Smallman, among others – the imaginary plot against the wedding managed to trigger a very real set of raids and arrests. If I was better at being a situationist, I’m sure I could probably find a Debord quote about the spectacle that’d describe this situation perfectly, but to be honest I don’t think it’s really necessary – no-one needs to read a quote from a dead theorist to see that it’s crazy for actual real people to be arrested because of a conspiracy that only exists in the heads of coppers, journos, and maybe a handful of impotent fantasists, that should be obvious.
While all those arrested deserve our total support, I do still think it’s worth being openly critical of the role Chris Knight played as a useful idiot for the police and media. Of course, the real blame rests elsewhere, and if Chris Knight didn’t exist the media would either find another irrelevant self-publicist somewhere else, or just invent someone, as I can’t help suspecting the Evening Standard did with their amazing Guardian-sporting black blocker, but still, anyone who openly went along with the media’s hysteria rather that point out how silly it all was deserves to take some of the blame. Just as we should support groups like the Leninist-initiated HSBC 3 Defence Campaign and Glasgow Defence Campaign** in their struggles against state repression, while still being critical of their organisers’ fondness for repressive states abroad, we can demand that the charges against Chris Knight should be dropped while still being honest about the fact that his big mouth helped put him – and, more seriously, other people – in this situation. Still, all that being said, as we head out to celebrate International Workers’ Day, the holiday that started after the Chicago police arrested eight anarchists for being anarchists in 1886, we should make a point of stressing how, 125 years later, the police here are still doing the same thing. Admittedly, none of those arrested over the last few days are likely to face death the way the Haymarket martyrs did, but we shouldn’t be grateful that the state no longer kills our comrades for their ideas, we should be angry that they’re still attacking them at all.
So, outside of police cells and the lurid imagination of cops and hacks, what actually has been happening recently? That’s a pretty big question, and luckily I don’t have to answer it myself: here’s a pretty impressive round-up of events in East Asia, here’s some promising news from Egypt (more here), and Truth, Reason & Liberty has a good general overview of recent developments in the class struggle both at home and internationally.
Looking towards the future, anyone in London bothered by the recent clampdown might want to consider going to this. Monday the 9th should be a busy day, since it also sees this promising-sounding Commune meeting on building workplace organisation for the 30th of June and beyond, and the start of the national week of action in defence of benefits and against ATOS Origin.
Finally, just to end on a sour note: is it just me, or has anyone else involved in broad-based anti-cuts groups noticed the Labour, Green and Trot activists involved becoming very thin on the ground lately? Of course, I’d probably be criticising them whatever happened, since if they were still centrally involved I’d be complaining about them attempting to impose their agenda on the group, but it’s still annoying. At least it’s slightly more consistent coming from the Labour and Green Party members, since they’re officially reformists so it makes sense for them to prioritise this shit. To see “revolutionaries” who formally recognise that parliament is just a mask for the dictatorship of capital and that the only answer is to build mass movements outside of the existing system neglect a real, genuine chance to build that kind of movement in favour of wasting time losing their deposits is considerably more frustrating. Still, it’s only a few days till the elections, so soon enough we’ll have them back with us, at least until the next time they see a chance to build their parties and get distracted again.
* that is to say, everyone reading this blog because they’re interested in the politics I discuss, rather than just stumbling on it while looking for something totally unrelated. This blog is often angry and vitriolic, but at the end of the day I have the ideas I have because I basically love people, and I’m always impressed by their ability to do things I could never have predicted. That doesn’t just go for the big things like Millbank or May ‘68, but also things like the person who found my blog searching for “someone who is cautiously fun”. I can only wish them good luck, whoever they are.