Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Radical Workers’ Bloc makes its mark whilst an EDL flash demo fail to ignite Liverpool

As I said on Twitter today, "After a weekend of fighting fascists, promoting anarchism, and stomping across the city, I'm fucking knackered."

Thus, in the spirit of lazy blogging, I'll let the Liverpool Solidarity Federation tell the story of today's march;
Today, over 4,000 people braved wind and rain to march and protest against the Lib Dems and the cuts agenda. It was a demonstration of the level of anger people feel - but also the willingness of their "leaders" to merely act as a safety valve, defusing that anger before it reaches the ruling class.

People assembled by the Anglican cathedral to march down to the docks where the protest was held. There were a number of trade union banners, as well as the banners of the Solidarity Federation and Anarchist Federation, whose membership made up the Radical Workers' Bloc. Despite the rain, the huge turnout and musical accompaniments made it a lively atmosphere.

But whilst the spirit of the rank-and-file made the march vibrant, this was in spite the planning done by trade union leaders, not because of it.

The TUC simply accepted the police moving them away from the Echo Arena, though they later moaned about it to the Liverpool Echo. With the march. Rather than go through the main part of City Centre to the docks, the route may as well have been calculated to garner the smallest possible audience.

But we've seen this show before. Union leaders putting on the appearance of being oppositional to authority whilst following orders and acting as a conduit to get the working class to do the same.

It became farcical when the layout of the roads meant the march had to go past the point of protest and turn back upon itself to be able to feed into the rally. There was some laughter and cheering as the Radical Workers' Bloc simply bypassed this by crossing the road and ending up at the front of the demonstration, beyond even the police.

However, there were cries of "no anarchists" from the Liverpool Socialist Singers and the police rushed forward to overtake us. This protest against the government was going to do exactly as it was told by the state, every step of the way.

At the rally, where 4,000 trade unionists were all-but funneled into a protest pen, various cossetted union big-wigs took to the stage to offer a bark which is never matched with bite.

Merseyside's anarchists took this opportunity to hand out a pamphlet titled No War but Class War and make the argument for a self-organised workers' movement that could not be demobilised from above. The response was largely receptive, and we were able to distribute several hundred leaflets.

We then took the lead from many others who left the bureaucrats to their speeches and went to warm up in the pub. One thing that we have seen, time and again, is that ordinary trade unionists share our assesment of their leaders. But anarchists often consigned themselves to shouting from the sidelines and alienating those who would perhaps be most sympathetic. We wanted to break that mold.

All-in-all, bar a brief and largely pointless appearence from the English Defence League later on, the day was a good one. But it will only be a success if people are motivated to organise themselves against capitalism, and rid themselves of the chains of union bureaucracy.

You can download a PDF of the leaflet we distributed today here.
And, for more on the appearence of the EDL, Liverpool Antifascists;
Word reaches Liverpool Antifascists that the English Defence League made an appearance in Liverpool today.

Witnesses on the ground described the event as not up to much. Nonetheless, it presents a worrying precedent and a reminder to antifascists to remain vigilant.

In the early afternoon, thousands of trade unionists, socialists, and working class activists marched from the Anglican Cathedral to protest at the Liberal Democrat conference, against that party’s support for attacks on the working class. Liverpool Antifascists – as an autonomous group set up and run by ordinary people rather than politicians or bureaucrats – wholeheartedly supports this. Indeed, many of our members were present at the event under different banners.

What we do not support is the message the EDL offered in the same area, just hours later.

We are told that 20-30 EDL activists, including many from the EDL Merseyside Division, unfurled banners for what amounted to a photo op before retreating to the Baltic Fleet for a meeting. According to some who were present, one of the topics for discussion was the formation of a political party to contest elections. Though they didn’t seem optimistic about the political calibre of those present.

Soon enough, antifascists got wind of what was going on, and a few scouted the area to see that the police had them contained and under control. With that in mind, and better things to do, they left them to it.

It is clear that the EDL were just testing the waters today. They want to see if they can “conquer” Liverpool, but we’d advise against it. When they do it for real, so will we.

Whether that’s from the state, from Islamic extremism, or from fascists looking for a fight, Liverpool is a city that can defend itself.
All in all, an interesting day. Indeed, an interesting weekend. But, frankly, my legs are very glad it's over.