Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I predict a summer of rage

Senior police recently informed the media they were anticipating a 'summer of rage' from those discontented with a world of market chaos, war, racism and rising unemployment. It now seems, more and more, as if they are setting out to prove their own predictions right.

The police assualt on Ian Tomlinson, just 3 minutes before he collapsed (and shortly after died), was captured on video and has now been revealed by The Guardian. It is a shocking piece of footage, even for those of us with very low expectations of police conduct. It reveals the brutal contempt police had - on last Wednesday's G20 protests - for ordinary people. When they predicted a summer of rage, they perhaps had in mind the revolts of students and young workers in Greece. The trigger in that instance was police violence. While we are unlikely to see the same response here, we shouldn't forget the Greek example.

As the recession bites, we can expect to see more anger and more militant resistance - in the streets and in the workplaces. The noisy, vibrant carnivalesque demonstrations last Wednesday were a portent of what many of us hope to see in coming months. The occupations of the last couple of weeks - most obviously at Visteon but also the schools in Glasgow and the Defend Council Housing direct action (see previous post) - signal a new grit and determination in taking direct action.

It is also surely revealing that the best reception at the Put People First rally was for the magnificent and angry 'We are here to kill neo-liberal capitalism' speech by Mark Thomas. On the march itself it was the contingents of Stop the War supporters and students - many of them energised by having recently occupied their universities - that lit up the whole atmosphere. Indeed the Gaza student occupations could turn out to have been the first wave in a new era of resistance. I recall, also, just how upbeat, lively and inspiring the massive 10 January march for Gaza was.

An urgent priority now is the defence of our right to protest. We will not be driven off the streets, we will not be silenced. Anti-war protestors at the NATO summit in Strasbourg at the weekend endured tear gas and severe police repression. Across Europe the ruling elites are getting jittery, and increasingly willing to deploy the forces of the state against us. But this is precisely a symptom of their fear and insecurity, not their strength. It should inspire us to redouble our efforts in building our movements.

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