Monday, 28 March 2011

Some additional notes on March 26th

Following on from my report on the ground in London, there are a few footnotes about the demonstrations on 26th March that I would like to draw people's attention to.

Firstly, of course, I was not the only person to do a write-up of the day. There are a number of different takes on events worth reading, especially from those who challenge the narrative of the mainstream media and the liberal/moderate left.

Political Dynamite is, over the coming week, running a series called What Really Happened on March 26th? It's aimed at gaining a broader perspective on the march by speaking to those directly involved, and it has thus far been instructive in debunking the lies from the media. At the time of writing, they have published a view from a bike, a view from Fortnum and Masons, and a view from the main march. More are to come, so it is worth staying tuned.

Other interesting first-hand perspectives come from as diverse sources as Josh White, UK Uncut, and the Whitechapel Anarchist Group. Both Laurie Penny and FITwatch tell the real story of violence from the day - that by police.

However, for an example of the profound stupidity of the argument that anarchists "hijacked" the march, we turn to UCU member Christopher Phelps;
These self-styled "revolutionary anarchists" are young and not, by and large, workers. They have at least enough money and privilege to risk a night or two in jail and to pay the fines. And they are as daft as Mr Block.
The most obvious point here is that Mr Block, the cartoon creation of the IWW, made a mockery (variously) of scabs and of those who refuted "radical" industrial unionism for mainstream trade unionism. That is, people like the self-righteous Mr Phelps.

Then there is the fact that anarchists aren't some preternatural "other," emerging from the shadows only to "hijack" demonstrations. We're workers, students, unemployed, old, young, and just as affected by everything that's going on now as anybody else is. The only difference is that we're under no illusions that marching from A to B and listening to a bunch of bureaucrats and Labour Party morons waffle at us will accomplish anything.

All of which is not to mention the irony of somebody who believes in the efficacy of passive protest sneering that anarchists "wonder why capitalist extremes continue uninterrupted."

At the other end of sublime idiocy, we have the "libertarian" blogger Old Hoborn, who spent the day trying to live-troll a 500,000-strong march. With a rather unimaginative banner. This, and his wafflings about "faux anarchists," place him squarely in the camp of the delusional. Trying to explain to him that anarchism wasn't just anti-state but anti-capitalism via Twitter was either a pointless endeavour or an act of self-torture.

But this was not the only absurdity that the "libertarian" right Tweeted, with more than a few self-styled liberty lovers cheerleading state violence. As Mr Civil Libertarian observed;
The concept of the “vulgar libertarian” is pretty well established amongst everyone but vulgar libertarians; those who proclaim to hold libertarian values, yet constantly confuse themselves between “capitalism” as a state supported economic system, and the “free market” they want to see. The type that will proclaim the wonders of corporate business, right up until some disaster like the BP oil spill happens, in which case the problem was “Ah, well the market is too regulated”. Much like the religious fundamentalist, to whom “God’s will” means those things that make God look good and “Free will” is those things that make him look bad, to the vulgar libertarian the positive elements of the modern economic system are the wonders of free market capitalism, whilst the negative results are either ignored as problems (massive inequality of wealth, etc) or are the fault of government intervention. Yeah, the same intervention that didn’t exist a minute ago.

But looking at my twitter feed today, I see something a bit more worrying than mere vulgar libs; I see a lot of people, and I shall name no names, who while proclaiming libertarian values generally, were more than happy to back the police in beating the shit of a few kids doing nothing in particular. Here we have libertarians who quite openly go against libertarian principles for those who don’t themselves profess the same, psuedo-libertarian values!

What to call such people? I propose they need something a bit stronger than just “vulgar”. How about “Establishment libertarians”? Those who are libertarian, as long as you remain within the established order. At least vulgar libertarians usually admit the faults of the status quo when pressed on the matter. This new type of “libertarian” seems to want to suppress any dissent they don’t approve of.
It would seem that there's some commonality between the libertarians and the liberal left after all. One side applauding state violence, the other pretending it doesn't happen so they can wring their hands over broken glass.

As a final note, for any such hand-wringers amongst either my readers or my friends, I would like to draw people's attention to this link (PDF). Maybe it proves your point. After all, even back in 1914 we had troublemakers distracting from the message of peaceful protest with their vandalism. I mean, it's not like those militant suffragettes ever achieved anything, is it?