It’s been fascinating to watch the way that the media narrative of the Fuck Parade has been created. To recap, the estate agent Marsh & Parsons got its windows put through, while the worst the cereal cafe got was a bit of paint and cereal-shaking.You might think that the only possible way to report on this story would be something like “angry mob attacks estate agents, stops off at cereal cafe for a bit of particularly aggressive piss-taking”, but instead it seems to have become “angry mob attacks cereal cafe, who are these cereal-hating maniacs and why do they hate cereal so much?”
This has led to a weird inversion of reality, where a demonstration that involved an actual direct attack on the property industry has led to patronising articles explaining that, believe it or not, people angry at gentrification should oppose the property industry. The many pundits who are now claiming that they’d be so much more sympathetic if only Class War would pick the right targets were a lot quieter when they were mounting their lengthy campaign against the poor doors at One Commercial Street, or earlier this year when the Fuck Parade started off at the poor doors and then visited council offices along the way before ending up in Soho Square.
Constructive criticism is one thing coming from people who’re genuinely willing to get involved with, or even just support, activities that they see as being well-thought-out, but coming from people who totally ignore Class War when they go after the “right” targets but are happy to attack them for going after the “wrong” ones it seems totally dishonest. Considering how much publicity this incident’s got, compared to the previous two Fuck Parades, not to mention other housing/gentrification protests like the Focus E15 campaign’s recent march against evictions, all those people saying that Class War have picked the wrong target seem to be saying that the only good protest is one that they can totally ignore, unless someone can point me to the mountain of thinkpieces praising the march against evictions for choosing the right target and not bothering any hipster cafes?
On the subject of misrepresentations of the day, it’s worth briefly taking up the widely-circulated eyewitness report from Posh, Broke & Bored. Clearly, someone who writes an “international luxury lifestyle blog” is never likely to see eye-to-eye with Class War, but it’d be good to get some agreement on the basic facts of the night. The PBB account talks about seeing “a little dog…, absolutely terrified and trying desperately to escape the mob who were kicking at it, throwing cans of beer at it, and trying to rip the poor creature apart with their bare hands.” I don’t want to call someone I’ve never met a liar*, but this sounds very curious to me: as anyone with any experience of the anarchist movement/scene can testify, anarchos tend to be a deeply soppy lot about animals, and anarchists – particularly the kind likely to be drawn to something like the Fuck Parade – have long formed the backbone of the hunt saboteur movement.
For anyone reading this with no experience of the kind of scene I’m describing, I’d recommend a quick look at Rabble, a site that, while not officially affiliated with Class War, certainly shares a similar general approach, where posts promoting the Fuck Parade and previous Class War events sit comfortably alongside posts like “120 hens liberated from cages” and “daylight lobster liberation”. As a general rule, it’s safe to say that you can’t swing a cat (if you’ll pardon the expression) at anarcho events without hitting a vegetarian or a vegan, and so the idea that a protest so heavily attended by the kind of people who spend their weekends getting up very early on Saturday mornings so they can trek long distances out into the countryside to save foxes from being hunted or badgers from being culled would descend into some kind of dog-killing frenzy seems very odd to me. While I understand it’s difficult to prove a negative, I would appreciate any further eyewitness accounts that could help to shed more light on this allegation – if true, it’s worth having a discussion about what to do about dickheads who do pointless antisocial shit on demos, if it’s false, then it should be publicly refuted.
Having said all that, it is worth quickly restating that real change has to be rooted in our day-to-day lives, and transform the way that we relate to bosses, landlords, housing agencies, jobcentres, the council and the like when we come up against them in our own lives, and one-off protests won’t do much to change that – Class War’s big days out might be more exciting than the People’s Assembly’s, but that doesn’t mean they leave much more of lasting significance behind.
Still, at the end of the day, there are some moments in life where you have to choose which side you’re on, and I’d take the likes of the Fuck Parade over the cereal profiteers, Boris Johnson, and the army of defenders churning out articles and tweets about why protests are only ever OK if they can be totally ignored, any day.
*even if they’re someone who can’t even write a three-word description of themselves accurately – the first and third may well be true, but broke? Really?