Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The students revolt as the media hunts for demons

Today has seen protests, walkouts, sit-ins, and occupations by students all across the country. Some are still ongoing, and at least one occupation looks to be bedding in for the night. This was "Day X," and by all accounts it was a riotous success. Pun intended.

In Liverpool, there was a sit-down blockade of roads in the City Centre, whilst reports from the Solidarity Federation also suggest that there was a takeover of Liverpool Guild of Students - Liverpool University's student union. This latter is interesting because it follows LGoS President Josh Wright condemning those who occupied Millbank Tower two weeks ago, and demonstrates that many students are discontent with their so-called "leaders."

In London, the 10,000-strong student march - intended to finish outside Liberal Democrat headquarters - was kettled at Whitehall. Al-Jazeera reports that "after an hour of being "kettled", a containment tactic that has drawn criticism in the past, anger broke out within the crowd."

The Socialist Worker adds that  the police kettle was "aggressive," with "clashes" between the two sides. In the middle of the kettle, a police van was sprayed with graffiti and smashed up, whilst on the other side mounted police charged the trapped crowd, and attacked those outside their cage with batons. Clearly, the law was the main agitator in this instance.

The media, however, were most concerned about the poor, defenceless police van. It was, it seems, a horrendous act which far outweighs charging at students on horseback or randomly twatting people with a big stick because they're in your immediate vicinity.

Luckily, as the Telegraph reports, "student" Zoe Williams put herself between the van and the "anarchists" attacking it, saving the poor thing from further pain as it whimpered softly. She's now been declared a "hero," and may well receive a medal for "services to vehicles whose owners are beating the shit out of human beings."

Meanwhile, we should all thank the Torygraph for its juxtaposition of "student" and "anarchist." Without its less-than-subtle propaganda, how would we know that holding libertarian views makes you an incompatible "other," to be looked upon with suspicion and dread?

Back in the real world, the headline-grabbing moments have passed, and most of the students in London have been dispersed. But buildings and spaces have been occupied on a broad scale - following the occupations in Manchester and Sussex that maintained momentum between the last protest and today's. This is where the real flexing of muscle begins.

The flash and bang of a riot always gives the establishment a scare. But as its fire fades to glowing embers, it is our ability to enter and occupy the realm of private property with only our physical presence that is our real power. Everybody doing just that right now deserves our solidarity.