Posted by Left Luggage on May 8, 2009
A reader sent us a link to an event in London next week organised by Climate Camp and titled “Take Back the Power! The Importance of Direct Action Today”. He wondered what we thought about the strategies suggested in the promo material for the meeting. The group say:
Throughout history ordinary people have been responsible for all major social changes – women’s rights, civic rights and even democracy itself in many places can be said to be result of direct action. Taking action is the very first step in making big changes happen. Direct action is taken by people who feel that the political process is not working to address profoundly important issues.
Climate change is the most urgent challenge we’ve ever faced – and politicians are not showing the strength of character needed to actually address this problem. […] Climate Camp believes that people everywhere need to work out what they can do – and then do it. Taking action yourself to make the world you want to see is a logical response to a very serious situation.
Of course we agree climate challenge is the greatest threat to long-term human survival ever faced. Equally, we would take issue with the idea that politicians’ inaction is due to their lack of “strength of character”. But what of direct action?
Obviously it is true that “Taking action is the very first step in making big changes happen”, but is taking direct action also “the very first step”? It is true that direct action has been used by social movements throughout history, but it has been the initial or primary tactic of very few (successful) ones. (In this discussion, “direct action” excludes strikes and workplace occupations, which are in any case not on the agenda of Climate Camp or other anti-capitalist/environmental groups.)
Posted in Anti-capitalism, Direct action, Environmentalism, Strategy | 2 Comments »
Posted by Left Luggage on April 3, 2009
So, what comes next? This week’s protests over the G20 meeting in London’s Docklands have ended and the focus of discussion is on police tactics and civil liberties rather than any of the questions raised by protesters. Their recession has not become our revolution, it looks certain that we will pay for their crisis, and the streets were most definitely not reclaimed.
The violence, most of it clearly provoked by police, distracted from the message of the protests (although the message itself was somewhat obscure). The protests themselves distracted from the real, difficult tasks facing the left. The general public were well-prepared for the violent scenes and police brutality by a media that was stocked full of bombastic rhetoric from “anarchists”, as well as predictions of chaos and a “summer of rage” from police sources.
It’s difficult to gauge accurately the impression that the average person gets of these protests, although one imagines it is not one of positive identification. The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell, by no means hostile to the protestors, describes the crowd as follows:
“playful, peaceful, harmless group of protesters, including rappers, sax-players, jugglers, spliff-rollers, -Keep reading>
Posted in Anti-capitalism, G20, Strategy | 7 Comments »
Posted by Left Luggage on March 27, 2009
The G20 protests over the coming days will shine a spotlight on the state of the British Left that should make uncomfortable viewing for those committed to building a working class movement.
The media hype predicting riot, violence, and attacks on individual bankers is, of course, absurd and beneficial to the Metropolitan Police in conditioning the public mind for repression of the protests. It follows from a risible Guardian story last month, sourced from the Met, which predicted a “summer of rage” from the angry middle classes.  The talk is of “chatter on anarchist websites” as well as bluster from the likes of Class War, now fuelled by the vandalism of former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin’s house and the suspension of the anarchist Professor Chris Knight from his job.
Yet activists involved in preparations for the protests have not been shy of bombastic rhetoric either. Knight himself is at the far end of the scale, predicting, “The revolution is coming. This is our time, and I honestly believe that -Keep reading>
Posted in Anti-capitalism, G20, Strategy | 1 Comment »