Sunday, 31 July 2011

Anarchists are in season once again

Yesterday, I was tweeted a link to the Project Griffin weekly briefing sheet. My attention was drawn to page 3 of the report;
Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local Police.
As Random Blowe points out, "leaving aside the rather limited definition of 'anarchism', [this] is another example of the attempted criminalisation of ideas." Not least because Project Griffin exists to "advise and familiarise managers, security officers and employees of large public and private sector organisations across the capital on security, counter-terrorism and crime prevention issues."

But there is more here than just routine fear-mongering from the state. Last week, the Independent on Sunday reported that "organisers of next year's Olympics believe there is a greater threat of disruption to the Games from anarchist protesters than Islamist terrorism." This, too, is a rather tenuous and pointless story, but given the experiences of this year alone (let alone prior precedent) we have to be wary of the motives here and on the lookout for a trend developing.

The IoS claims that "the Games are a likely target for anarchists because of the heavy corporate sponsorship of the events," but if this was true then every sporting event would be beseiged by anarchists. That is clearly not the case. Instead, most anarchists will recognise that "heavy corporate sponsorship" is a reality of capitalism and that workplace and community organising to challenge that system will have far more effect on this than stunts at the Olympic Games. As North London Solidarity Federation said when the same nonsense was swirling around the royal wedding, "our feelings on the matter are those of indifference."

However, it is the royal wedding that tells us what we could expect as we get closer to the Olympics. Then, too, we saw absurd scare stories about "hardcore militants," and it became the pretext for raiding squats, the pre-emptive arrest of the entirely harmless Charlie Veitch and Chris Knight, the invocation of section 60 of the public order act to prevent people wearing masks. 55 people were arrested and the only one who had done anything harmful wasn't an anarchist but a man who had sexually assaulted a 14 year-old girl.

All of this is in the wider context whereby "police resources have shifted towards anarchists and anti-government movements after the series of anti-cuts protests on the streets of London, and elsewhere in Britain, over the past 12 months."

Indeed, since the anti-cuts movement began, it is fair to say that Britain has been caught in the grip of another red scare. The point now is to make sure that we are alert to it, and in a position not only to counter the propaganda but also to defend ourselves and our comrades from the repression that follows alongside such hysteria.