Broken Glass; perspective on March for the Alternative

Defending capital
Submitted by JoeMaguire on March 28, 2011

“The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.”
Emmeline Pankhurst, whom Ed Miliband likened himself to this weekend.

Riots are never ascribed to majorities, either in spirit or deed. And the weekends’ March for the Alternative captured that nicely. Everyone in the bourgeois press has been at pains to point to a hardcore break-away faction which was premeditated to go on the rampage. It’s a comment lifted from a Police press release and it’s repeated ad nauseam as an easy article filler. So now, every possible scorn and adjective is being born down on ‘self-styled anarchists’ for our part in the spectacle of the weekend’s demonstration. And you can tell we’re feeling the heat because those rather nice people at the Guardian have got in on the act too.

In-fact the only serious matter that seems to separate liberal from the right-wing view, is whether the TUC should be held directly accountable for the wake of destruction caused to a few high-end high street shops. And I can hazard to guess what leftists are saying; albeit their perspective is less marred with the ideological baggage of the rule of law and property, to one more concerned with political parochialism and dare I say it, conservatism.

The issue of whether we hijacked the TUC’s flagship event needs discussing in earnest. The response to this from Schnews is simple and decisive – “[I]t was hijacked by anarchists and it deserved to be.”
Sentiments appreciated, but I think it’s a little more complicated than this.

The fact of the matter is, to liberal darlings, trotskyists, union bureaucrats etc. etc. we’re pariahs, and they’re always going to be at pains to paint our excess as being alien to the labour movement. When fact is - nothing could be further from the truth. As well as being within and of the labour movement; the spectre of class violence and property destruction (which is not synonymous) is and will be a course for the oppressed for some foreseeable time to come. Whether we’re talking about history all the way back to the Luddites, or more recently the poll tax and the miners strike. We haven’t hijacked your demo, your political tedium and bankruptcy has simply given a few more of us a fresh lease of life.

That’s not to say those broken panes of glass, graffitied walls and trashed bank fronts are entirely with exclusive merit. Property damage is a tactic not a strategy. Black bloc is a tactic not a strategy. There should be few sacred cows within anarchism but the line of attack should be as clear as always. In all things we can be critical, but we will leave the condemning and talks of political hijacking to the hypocritical tabloids. The skill with which they remove an action from its context is truly without base.

Media and popular opinion may bite us, but everything we do should be assessed within what was talked about in ‘Meaningful Action for Revolutionaries’ by the Solidarity group all those years ago; are we bringing about confidence or alienation in what we do?; are we assisting or detracting from the general struggle? etc. It’s from these that we should assess the course of the events over the weekend, not sanctimonious liberalism.

In a weekend of intense actions there is going to be a lot of fallout and harsh things said. Our task should be unequivocally putting our words into action and getting behind those who have taken the risks and now face the full brunt of repression before them. Solidarity is the key.



12 years 6 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 29, 2011

you can tell we’re feeling the heat because those rather nice people at the Guardian have got in on the act too.

Not totally - see this.

So I guess that recuperating journalists are not a barometer for whether or not you feel the heat ( i say 'you' because i wasn't there, and had no ability to be there).


12 years 5 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by JoeMaguire on March 30, 2011

To try to make distinctions between a "peaceful" and a "violent" protester is inherently flawed. Dissent is a violent reaction. Saying "no" is resistance. To publicly condemn the "violent minority" is a betrayal of the cause you claim to fight for. David Cameron and NIck Clegg see no difference between protesters – and neither should you.

Actually a really good article. But my point was mainly aimed at leftists, who posted on the hijacked by anarchsits thread.

Class antagonism and class struggle is not linear, its chaotic, and every major class battle has its violent instigators. In the miners strike, some strikers were lobbing concrete slabs from bridges at scabs being driven to work! Do you seriously think they reflected a consensus? Or even the spirit of the strikers? Fuck if I know, but I can try and guess from the sanctimonious attitude of quite a few people by wading through that rather tiresome thread.

Part of the triumph of what happened on saturday is the black bloc, weren't claiming to represent anyone, which is a million miles from what the TUC and Ed Miliband were claiming to do.


12 years 5 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 31, 2011

I've got no argument with what you're saying here, as my comments (post 42 and 56 on the "Hijacked..." thread) show.
What I find insidious is the compatability of ultra-left-type articles as mentioned above with The Guardian and some of the rest of the media. These people want their career to be compatible with some form of opposition . The thrill of "rebellion" compatible with the security of a profession.If people feel it might be useful to participate in anything mainstream, they should begin by attacking the function of that mainstream media. And get angry about it. The content of the article might be ok, but it's what it misses out that's important. That's one of the ways recuperation works. It's like with Chomsky (he was interviewed on mainstream radio here in France a couple of days ago): this society presents the ideas of various intellectuals as its notion of what it means to oppose this society, whereas really radical ideas, like radical practice (I would include the window-smashing as an expression of that) doesn't pay a good salary.