21 Dec 2010
Dave Mellows 'truly amazing'/ Revolution Dub
Dave Mellows is a member of Green Left, he has kindly let me blog his thoughts on the protest movement.
Personally I really fear for my children and I have been getting quite depressed, the USA government seem to be working quite hard to build hell on Earth and the power to do the wrong thing is very strong. Our economic system is not fit for purpose. The Con Dem government are making our future far less secure, the right wing media in the UK has a virtual monopoly.
However resistance is growing and it does inspire me, and it inspires Dave, so over to Dave.
Oh and enjoy the dub step above!
For me the past couple of months have been truly amazing, since I joined the first UK Uncut protest on 27th October. I am retired so have been able to be involved in the main anti-fees protests in London - Millbank on 10th November, Whitehall 24th November, Trafalgar Square 30th November, and Parliament Square on 9th December (when in the evening I had the surreal experience of coming face to face with Camilla in Regent Street).
It is too soon to make any judgements about what is happening. There is a real sense that this is just the beginning. But I have some brief reflections.
So far the movement is fairly free from the sectarianism of the previous generation of activists. A significant reason for this is the non-hierarchical way of organising, using direct democracy and consensus decision making. Last Saturday I found myself with about fifty people occupying HSBC Express in Oxford Street. The decision about what to do next was made using climate camp style consensus decision making, including wavy hands! Not only is this very effective, and difficult to control by any faction, it completely confuses the police, because there is no "leadership" to negotiate with.
A distinction has been made in the media between peaceful and non-peaceful protestors. In fact in Parliament Square on 9th December the vast majority of protestors were cheering on those who were directly and forcefully confronting the police.
Especially since 24th November I have been struck by the number of pre-university students involved. When on 30th November they thought they were going to be kettled in again in Whitehall, they ended up spontaneously splitting into at least five different large groups who went in different directions. I talked to one of the most prominent "leaders" of the current movement, and she was delighted that these very young people did not need to be "led".
At every stage in these protest the students have completely outwitted the police, for instance on 9th December the main body of protestors declined to take the agreed march route into Whitehall, and pulled down the barricades closing off Parliament Square so the square could be occupied. This is so different from the closely controlled and stewarded Stop the War marches. Basically on all the big protests of the last weeks the stewards have been ignored - another indication of the non-hierarchical nature of these protests.
Clearly we are entering new and unpredictable territory. Will the momentum continue? Will the broader (and older) left movement be able to make the transitions necessary to enable this to develop into a mass movement? As a 65 year old who marched in support of the miners, with CND and against apartheid, and have more recently been involved with Climate Camp, I find the current situation the most exciting I have witnessed since 1968.