4 Nov 2008

Singapore-on-Thames

Thanks to Chris Cotton for this.....perhaps we will have a gulag named Dennis Thatcher soon....

Thought some of you may have missed this well-written letter in the
Financial Times!

Protests are not permitted in Singapore-on-Thames
Published: November 4 2008 02:00 | Last updated: November 4 2008 02:00

From Mr Alastair Green.

Sir, Emma Jacobs (Notebook, October 24) noted renewed interest in
anarchist, Marxist and radical thought in the light of the current
great crash of capitalism. Wondering about the absence of street
protest, she also asked: "So where is everybody?"

One part of the answer may be that the streets and walkways of Canary
Wharf, the locus of London investment banking, are treated as private
property. It is impossible to leaflet, picket, protest or march in
this citadel of high finance if the Canary Wharf estate owners
withhold permission, despite the fact that in almost every usual way,
Canary Wharf is just another public space, open to all. The publicly
funded buses run, double yellow lines prohibit parking, The Evening
Standard is on sale at the publicly owned Tube and Docklands Light
Railway stations, freesheets are handed out, shoppers congregate, the
public drives and walks through uninvited, and the Metropolitan Police
patrol.

Yet, when trade unions have sought to protest at working conditions at
Canary Wharf workplaces, the real police have massed in force to
assist the Canary Wharf security staff in chasing them out of this
financial "Green Zone", backed up by the courts. It is quite
remarkable that a TV news team cannot even turn up to film at this
little Singapore-on-Thames without prior permission and vetting by a
private company.

This is a rather naked example of what a Marxist might call the
"dictatorship of finance capital". Other more insidious and
little-noticed practices in the world of finance reinforce an
anti-democratic insulation of the banks and capitalism from popular
discontent or dissent. Companies regulated by the Financial Services
Authority probably employ 2-3 per cent of the British workforce, and a
much higher percentage in the London area.

Such companies routinely require that their employees tell them (in
advance, in writing) of any activity outside work, including holding
any position, whether paid or not, in a non-profit organisation, or
any political position, elected or appointed, or the delivery of any
speech or writing of any article or book – and obtain employer
consent
for such activities, on pain of summary dismissal for non-compliance.
The chilling effect of such stipulations on uninhibited political
activity, especially of a critical or unorthodox character, is
obvious. Perhaps this is what is meant by "market democracy"?

Alastair Green,
London N5, UK
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http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/81023b70-aa10-11dd-958b-000077b07658.html

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