Filed under: war-machine | Tags: austerity, capitalism, cocktail, crisis, fortnum & mason's, london, march 26th, occupied london
From Occupied London:
Far from a report on the day’s demonstration – of which plenty circulate around the web – this is a semi-fictional account perhaps to be read as a piece building on Hackney Algeria, Occupied London #3. More to come, hopefully.
The eternal sunshine of London’s March 26th, 2011 (Or: places move – the people merely move along with them.)
Her aircraft slowly descending into London’s sea of cloudy mist, she was expecting to find everything else in its place too – the buzzing streets, the hushed dwellers… But no. From early on, it was clear that things were going to be very different this time round. Stepping into the tube train she was hit with the first revelation: gone were the silent tube carriages with mute book-readers, this was by now a time when passengers would actually look at one another and could even, in extremis, engage in casual conversation.
At the train platform she saw no designated busking spots and she ran into panhandlers jumping in and out of tube trains instead. Out on the streets, and she was sure it wasn’t just her, people were walking in some slower pace. She overtook one passer-by. Then another one, and another. What on earth was going on? It was as if Londoners weren’t Londoners anymore, as if the ground they inhabited had somewhat moved under their feet to a more slow-paced, relaxed location – and for the fear of losing that ground Londoners had moved along with it. Londoners were not in London any more, and neither was London itself.
(and then came Saturday.)
It had been dubbed the largest demonstration in years, a show not to be missed – and of course she could not resist the temptation. It is early morning. Outside Holborn station, the usual manic procession of commuters was nowhere to be seen. An eerie feeling in its place. The people were still there, even more so – they were there in the thousands. But they were in no rush to go anywhere; just happy, for once, to be there. For all the anger venting for the cuts the procession had this peculiarly joyful feeling, the feeling of discovering the city from scratch, of rereading previously familiar sites, buildings, crossings along with so many others doing exactly the same. And the police? She could see in their faces that they were too few, too lost. In this new place they were out-of-place.
For thousands and thousands of people around her it felt as if the official demonstration route never existed. She quickly found herself in Oxford Street. The usual crowd hurling shopping orders at the counters of a myriad stores was, still there but so was another crowd, mingling and co-existing with it. A crowd not often seen around here, now swirling from a storefront to another. Smashed shop fronts standing next to shops still welcoming bemused consumers – the peculiarities of crisis capitalism.
It is late evening at Piccadilly. She has been walking up and down central London all day. The short strip of land between Fortnum&Mason’s (the luxury department store occupied by UK Uncut) and Piccadilly square plays host to near-choreographic clashes between police and the bodies of protesters that resist being contained into any kettle. A few hours into the stand-off, some people a few meters from her pull a badly wrapped molotov cocktail out of a bag, light and throw it in the direction of the police, the gigantic Coca-Cola sign still flashing in the background. It strikes her, right then: these people do not carry the experience of London in taking this action. There hasn’t been a molotov cocktail thrown in London in years.
But is this London? As the light dims, the city starts moving. London is now in Turin, where the tourists enthusiastically signing Bella Ciao are from. London is in Athens, in an alleyway setting up barricades to stop the Delta motorcycle police from crossing through. London is in a city after another, it becomes a series of images flashing before her eyes, a cinematic reality where she expects someone to scream, “CUT”. But no. There are no cuts here. She looks around: the molotov incident has passed unnoticed in the sea of Piccadilly frenzy.
Welcome, she thinks to herself, to the London of the real.
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anti-austerity, broken, fire, london, police, riot, smashed bank, UK, violence, window, yellow vest
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anti-austerity, capitalsim, london, police, riot, UK, violence
According to the Telegraph:
“Police fought mobs of masked thugs who pelted officers with ammonia and fireworks loaded with coins.
The anti-capitalists started fires and smashed their way into banks, hotels and shops, bringing chaos to Britain’s busiest shopping street.
The violence began as Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, addressed a TUC rally of at least 250,000 peaceful protesters in Hyde Park who had marched from Westminster to demonstrate against government spending cuts.
As he spoke, an apparently co-ordinated attack began on shops and police in Oxford Street as a mob tried to storm into shops including Topshop, BHS and John Lewis.
MPs and retailers said the scenes damaged Britain’s reputation around the world.”
Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: austerity, crisis, interview, madison, milwaukee, normal, scott walker, wisconsin
Q: “How has the situation in Wisconsin changed, if at all, in the weeks since you initially conducted the interview?”
A: It’s certainly devious in how imperceptible that change is and was, both for when there was a “change” and after. You had to seek it out or you have to have been effected, forced to pay attention. Most areas of life were on the surface in no way effected by “the events in Madison.” They were too easy to ignore. And this imperceptibility demonstrates the immense power of the apparatus that keeps everything the same and also the weakness of a struggle that either must change everything or will return to normal.
I’m tempted to compare the situation of seeming powerlessness, the general strike that was threatened and existed in many minds as a slumbering yet awakening beast of a bygone age, and which remains present in many minds specifically as a lack, to a phantom limb. We feel, and are witness to the presence of our absence of power.
What I can share are frustrations, and a kind of shock that corresponds with any subservient march back to work, and that forgets the most important fact of these events, which is that it was not the unions or politicians which made us something to be feared. It was the constitution as a force, however briefly and however foolish, that shocked many, especially those who participated, with fear. Where else did the constant calls for non-violence come from? A million tiny failures repulse us with the horror of our powerlessness, specifically after we glimpsed or dared think otherwise. Not only time will tell how well we will retain this dream, because within a world that has every interest in our forgetting, it would sooner have never happened. Either we will feel the shame of taking part in our own forgetting or we will have to fight and through conflict remember more and more what is at stake in the present.
So yes, a lot has changed, but if one weren’t part of it then it’s as if nothing has and never did. It’s a news story. It’s a protest to be ignored. Life goes on. Now instead of a general strike, or strikes, or sick outs, or walk outs, what remains overwhelmingly are recall campaigns, and talk of electoral politics, which channel and subdue these events into processes that manage them, contain them, count them, and include them in the calculus of the democratic party. One must wait for their turn to put a piece of paper in a box and then go back to work, go back home, go to the mall – all places which we’ve been produced to fit perfectly within. Our presence within them contests nothing, and where contestation is ignored politics hides – the beast slumbers.
Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: clouds, general strike, milwaukee, poster, scott walker, strike, the bill, unlimited, wild, wildcat, wisconsin
Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: anti-prison, burn all prisons, control, enraged, fireworks, good time, jail, no control, prison, scott walker, wisconsin
From Milwaukee Indymedia:
“The night of March 15th, a group of roughly forty students, workers, the unemployed and other uncontrollables marched to the Milwaukee County Jail, carrying banners and black flags. The banners at the front of the march read “Burn All Prisons” and “No Control”. Upon arriving at the front doors of the jail, demonstrators chanted “Free them all” and launched dozens of fireworks through the air in an effort to communicate with those locked inside.
The demonstration was called for by participants in the occupation of the Theatre building at UW-Milwaukee as a part of the ongoing struggle against the “Budget Repair Bill”. The bill, proposed by the hated governor of Wisconsin, contains a provision that will institute a Truth-in-Sentencing policy. This measure removes the possibility for those locked away in Wisconsin’s jails and prisons to qualify for early release for good behavior or ‘good time’. For inmates this means a dramatic increase in the time spent in jail – more time in captivity, kept away from their families and loved ones, kept in abject misery and isolation. The Truth-in-Sentencing provisions of the bill highlight specifically how the economic attacks on working and unemployed people throughout the state goes hand in hand with the criminalization and imprisonment of the working class). The economic system that exploits our labor, deprives our benefits, and throws us on the street is the very same system that keeps us in cages and behind barbed wire.
In the past weeks of resistance to Walker’s austerity measures, the politicians and police unions have been remarkably silent about this provision. They’ve built a mythology that “we’re all in this together” or that “they’re on our side”. It is more convenient for them to simply ignore the ways that the bill they purportedly oppose dramatically expands the prison system they faithfully defend. It’s no coincidence that the bill both extends prison sentences while also protecting the Police Union from the elimination of collective bargaining rights. The role of politicians and the police is to maintain the dreadful economy and the prison system necessary to it. It should come as no surprise to us that those who fail to criticize this system are the same who encourage us to continue working and scold those who step outside the lines they’ve defined.
It is time for new lines to be drawn. On the one side: the governor, politicians, police, bureaucrats, professional activists. On the other: prisoners, workers, students, the unemployed, the enraged. If the spontaneous struggle against this bill were to generalize and become a movement against this economic system and its prisons, it would mean that those affected by the bill would need to extend their actions and gestures of solidarity through all the walls that separate them. December’s historic strike by prisoners in Georgia shows us what such action could look like. For us, this means that the strikes, occupations and sabotage – the generalized disruption of the economy – needs to spread through the walls of the prison, to generalize, and to intensify. In this, we need to build complicit relationships and revolt inside and outside those walls.
Towards an unlimited strike, for a world without prison.”
Filed under: Milwaukee area, war-machine | Tags: austerity, capitalism, general strike, madison, milwaukee, strike, students, unions, unlimited, unlimited strike, wildcat, wisconsin, work, workers
General Strike – \’jen-rəl ‘strɪk\ (noun) A mass strike in all trades, sectors, and industries in all parts of a city, state, or country.
Unlimited Strike – \un-‘li-mə-təd ‘strɪk\ (noun) An indefinite strike, which begins with no pre-established date for an ending, and will continue until the workers’ collectively decide on its conclusion.
Wildcat Strike – \’wɪ(-ə)l(d)-kat ‘strɪk\ (noun) An unauthorized strike that has not been called or sanctioned by the bureaucracy of a labor union.
In the face of orderly protests and permitted rallies, Scott Walker’s coveted bill has unsurprisingly managed to slink its way through the legislature. With only sanctioned protests on the horizon, appeals for calm are the only audible words to be heard, while a stifling silence has become the official response to any prospect for continued resistance. The union bureaucrats, who yesterday thundered demands from the podiums, now quietly ask us to return to work in the very same voice they use to whisper in a politician’s ears. Despite their various machinations to maintain passive consent and defeat, a specter continues to hover over the enraged state of Wisconsin: unlimited wild general strike.
In a strange mix of anger and excitement, we’ve watched each other change. As our confidence grew, we began to recognize a hidden potential we never thought we had. If anything was achieved in the past few weeks it was this – and be sure nothing this powerful could ever be conceived in a boardroom with an executive mandate. The storming of the Capitol building, the occupation of the theater, and the countless acts of sabotage were the undeniable manifestation of popular rage. Until everything around us reflects our newfound temperament, we’ll be forced to proceed with an ever-increasing fury. Each step forward makes turning back a more cowardly act of betrayal. Every sign leads in one direction: unlimited wild general strike.
Students, abandon your desks.
Employees, desert your cubicles.
The grand finale will be staged on a crowded boulevard.
Anyone who tells you “no” has joined the other side.
Unlimited Wild General Strike.