Class War hits the streets of London - Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!


Last Saturday, 26 March saw up to half a million take part in a TUC organised anti-cuts protest in London.  In the aftermath of the protest there has been much controversy about the 700 strong black bloc that broke away from the protest to throw paint at and break the windows of banks, luxury car dealers and the 4,000 a night Ritz hotel in Central London.  Workers Solidarity's Australian correspondent Sean Matthews argues here that a few broken windows was not violence but a legitimate display of class anger and that if anything this was a welcome distraction from the speech of the Labour leader Ed Miliband whose party initiated and imposed cuts and privatisation of public services over the last decade.

The only high-jackers evident on last Saturday’s march in London were not ‘anarchist extremists’ as the mainstream media suggests but opportunist politicians and toothless trade union bureaucrats who are part of the establishment and merely want to divert and co-opt the movement away from the root cause of the problem which they are inherently part of.

It was the  Labour party in their ideological crusade of neo-liberalism over the last decade which initiated and imposed cuts and privatisation of public services. It was quite ironic current Labour leader Ed Miliband in his Hyde park speech trying to claim the mantle of the suffragette and anti-apartheid movement considering they embarked on a campaign of civil-disobedience and direct action breaking laws in the process.

It was also a weekend where the words ‘anarchism’ and ‘direct action’ achieved significant media exposure and thrown about like wild fire without any real explanations apart from a few so-called ‘security experts’ and journalist hacks. Even BBC Radio Ulster’s Steven Nolan devoted an entire show on the London riots and anarchism. For the purpose of the reader I think it is worthwhile rewinding to the politics of direct action and what it actually means for anarchists.

  In a nutshell, direct action means working people taking action themselves without relying on intermediaries such as politicians and trade union officials. Direct action, to use Rudolf Rocker's words, is "every method of immediate warfare by the workers [or other sections of society] against their economic and political oppressors. Among these the outstanding are: the strike, in all its graduations from the simple wage struggle to the general strike; the boycott; sabotage in all its countless forms; [occupations and sit-down strikes;] anti-militarist propaganda, and in particularly critical cases,... armed resistance of the people for the protection of life and liberty.

A few broken windows was not violence but a legitimate display of class anger and is nothing in comparison to the extreme violence being inflicted on our class. Cut backs in education, healthcare and welfare, growing homelessness and pensioners being left with the choice of heating their homes or eating is indicative of a system which puts profits before people.

Governments and their media pundits will easily ignore thousands of people marching from A-B, listening to a few boring speeches by men in grey suits and then going home. We only need to remember the anti-war marches nearly a decade ago whenever the Labour Government which incidentally preaches peace but practices war through its crusade in Iraq and Afghanistan, ignored wishes of the vast majority of the population.

Attempts by the media and sections of the anti-cuts movement to play the card of good protestor vrs bad protestor must be resisted which only justified the police brutality and repression, allowing the state to impose their remit of struggle and the dead end of the parliamentary circus.

Militant demonstrations and occupations need to compliment not replace a mass movement that opposes every cut, every attack on our living standards with direct action and solidarity such as occupations and strikes. Building on the type of movement which engulfed massive layers of the young people and students late last year across Britain. The task of anarchists is to help build such a movement which will rock the very foundations of the status quo by getting active and organising for resistance at your workplace, community and college.

We do have power, not in elections but in the fact that we are many and they are few, as it is we the working class who produce the wealth in society. Withdrawing our labour and the point of production and exchange, grinding the economy to a halt, must be the first step in the fight back and will strike fear into the ruling class more than a few broken windows.

It is only than when we begin to build up our class confidence and pride that we can bury this rotten system and its apologists which underpin it.

WORDS: Sean Matthews

For a somewhat different point of view see the future for the Black Bloc and the 'anti-globalisation' movement

Workers Solidarity Movement position paper on Pacifism, Terrorism and Beyond