Friday, 29 April 2011

Bread, circuses, and repression

I didn't see the wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton. I had better things to do, namely going door-to-door delivering anti-fascist leaflets in Anfield. But the repression that preceded it - indeed that it gave pretext to - should concern everybody who wishes to live in a free society.

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police launched a "pre-emptive strike," in anticipation of "trouble" at the wedding. They arrested twenty people in raids of London squats, their only crime as far as I can tell that of being "anarchists." They were amongst a wider group of 90 people banned from going into central London on the day of the wedding.

The eccentric Chris Knight was one of three people arrested for planning to behead effigies of the royals. A crime of the same severity (one would have thought) as burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on November 5th.

In Cambridgeshire police arrested Charlie Veitch, of the Love Police, "on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance." That is, for planning to speak into a megaphone in a way not entirely flattering to the British monarchy. Heaven forfend. Indeed, this is surely a greater crime even than murdering an inanimate object. If you would like to speak to the custody officer holding Charlie and ask why his voice is considered a threat, please feel free to call (+44) 845 456 456 4 and ask for the custody block.

But as if the death of effigies and a man's voice weren't obscene enough, as the wedding procession was underway police saw people (gasp!) assemple and put on masks. This horrendous act of terrorism justified the invocation of Section 60 of the Public Order Act. Police established a royal wedding "exclusion zone" within which they could stop-and-search without discretion and ask anybody to remove masks or face coverings. One man was arrested for singing "We all live in a fascist regime" to the tune of We All Live In a Yellow Submarine. The "clash" that followed this should be read as "the police being arseholes and starting a fight." A total of 45 people were arrested.

All of this comes on the back of a wave of media hysteria. The London Evening Standard was particularly absurd with its claim that "up to 1,500 hardcore militants plan to storm buildings around Trafalgar Square and The Mall, displaying obscene banners and obscuring the London skyline with billowing smoke as images of the wedding are beamed to millions of viewers around the world." Not least because of the ridiculous contents of their "anarchist organiser's" backpack. But they were far from alone.

Indeed, the coverage offered by the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, et al has bordered on the insane. But it has also hit the right note of hysterical fear-mongering. Perhaps the most obvious comparison was the first red scare of 1919-20, with its almost demonic charicatures of anarchism.

Even coverage of the planned protests by Muslims Against Crusades (since called off) spent most of their word count going on about "anarchists." It is coming to something when even the Mail will dedicate a considerable chunk of an article about the rabid lunatics of the Islamic far-right to "anarchists" and "troublemakers" of the left.

But then, MAC are just lunatics using the wedding as a convenient focal point for another attempt to piss people off. Anarchists, on the other hand, recognise that "it's capitalism, not feudalism, that is ruining the lives of working people." Our intention is to "continue to focus our energy and resources to support workers in struggle, get active in our own workplaces, and build a sense of community that transcends commodity relations and nation-states." Hence unlike MAC - who have faced no pre-emptive raids or other repression - we are a genuine threat to the established order and must be stopped.

The mask of liberalism is slipping, and that must be considered a good thing as more people awaken to the true nature of the state and its relation to capital. But this inevitably means that those in power will be more willing to exercise the state's monopoly of violence with little discrimination. We need to watch our backs, but always continue to organise dissent and challenge established power.