Melancholic Troglodytes' reflections on London Mayday 2000.
One day spectaculars – Melancholic Troglodytes
The first points I'd like to make refer to my discomfort with the movement which seems more and more to be built on a strategy of one day spectaculars. Some good observations were made on this in Reflections on J18, mine are more elementary.
There is a pressure that each Big Day must in some quantitative way (fun had, cops injured, £££ damage) be `better' than the last. This will never happen. Movements will always be knocked back, but they are built on firm foundations of ongoing resistance they will be able to take this.
It was highly unlikely alter J18 that MD2000 would be better and so as a result the wind has been taken out of the sails for a bit (in Britain at least). Having said this the 2-day conference was a big and bold step forward.
So much time and energy is used to plan just one day. No sooner is one over then the next is being planned – a consistent cycle of planning for one off spectaculars (as this is how they will appear to most people as contact between 'activists' and working class people is minimal, if at all existent). We're so busy organising, each other we can't take the time to explain to people on the 'outside' why we are doing it.
The second effect of the domineering nature of these protests is that a lot of very important political events have passed by with no effective resistance from anarchists. People were too busy before J18 to oppose in an effective manner the mass bombing of people living in Serbia and May Day 2000 saw the chance of any anarchist viewpoint of the mayoral election farce getting across to significant portion of London's population. And what an opportunity that was with so few people voting.
Likewise, recently the media and government have had a free rein attacking immigrants from Eastern Europe. We are paying a heavy price in pursuing this ‘one day spectacular' strategy.
Moving on, the lack of a firm set of political ideas may have worked in the past, but now has meant that Marxists have been accepted into the fold. This principle of inclusivity, which the environmental movement has had, works for so long as everybody involved considers everybody else their equal. But where a group or individual sees themselves or self — or some other as superior such an attitude is no longer enough. A hard line of total exclusion should be taken with people who have only a mouth and no ears!
Whilst we are on the subject of people with no desire to listen, does anyone still believe that it is worth having anything to do with the media? Capitalists aren't going to allow us to use their weapons to beat them with. Not that it matters as more and more the ways of talking about and referring to the real world used by the establishment journalists, police, politicians — are going to be not only irrelevant but meaningless to most people. The bridges between their world and ours — left wing parties and unions — have collapsed. Let us not replace them.
The various single issue campaigning groups and individuals who over the last few years have come together to form the anti-capitalist movement have progressed incredibly in terms of political ideas and brought a freshness and energy to protesting which is superb. But it must be realised that any kind of movement which hopes to destroy capitalism, will not survive, let alone grow to eventually carry out its task, if it does not have widespread working class support.
To begin reaching out and putting down some roots it must start focusing on things that matter directly to working class people while at the same time not regressing to single issues and reformism. We must attempt to get a revolutionary message out to the people.
A good development in this direction is CAGE where opposition to prison and police station building is both spirited and highly political.
Mindfulthuggery and the spectacularisation of drama
(This text comes from a leaflet distributed after 1 May)
Points worthy of consideration:
- This year's May Day demonstration had many novel features.
- The class struggle is entering a new, more intensified phase
- Different sections of the proletarian international are more readily learning from each other.
- The right wing of capital is encouraging the (limited) formation of a new left wing of capital to contain the proletariat more effectively. The revamping of 'civil society' is a moment in this strategem.
It was a good day to be alive! May Day 2000 was, in Vygotskian terminology, a ‘Zone of Proximal Development' (ZPD). The ZPD is the distance between what a person can do or understand independently and what they can potentially do and understand with the guidance of other capable peers. In short, it is a dialectical learning zone. Different sections of the proletariat brought their experience, competence and sense of humour to a glorious festival and learned to share them with other working class people. There are certain truths that are best decoded collectively. In the event, the hardened 'molotov-cocktail brand of revolutionaries' learned the value of psychogeographic urban landscaping from street reclaimers, the 'veggie brigade' understood that a gulf of blood separates us from the police, media and all sections of the state, the ‘theory freaks' came to know the joys of critiquing the law of value through unmediated action and the ‘fetishizers of spontaneity' came to recognise the value of mindful thuggery. Oh, yes, brothers, sisters and fellow hermaphrodites, May Day 2000 was a good day to be alive!
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds, and blown with restless violence round about the pendant world!
It was good that the proletariat ignored the Houses of Parliament, and attacked Ten Downing Street instead. After all, during the real phase of capital domination, it is the executive and not the legislative (or the judiciary) that reigns supreme. A Scottish prole began kicking the crowd control barriers outside Leviathan's residence. Soon, he was joined by a middle eastern giant of a man who was carrying his kid on his shoulders. They had an entertaining father and son routine. The son would throw bottles at the cops from above, whilst the father helped his Scottish comrade demolish Leviathan's lines of defence, from below.
It was good that the trafficking of commodities was brought to a temporary halt, by people deciding to picnic on the grassy concrete. The process foreground contours of power masquerading as innocent circulation. It was also good that the crowds dispersed in order to let a distressed pregnant woman drive through.
It was good that photographers were dealt with more forthrightly than usual. One cameraman was chased and beaten up by a small group, another thrown off the roof of a bus shelter. The simple precaution of acquainting the evil celluloid inside these infernal damnations with the purifying rays of Sol Invictus should now be added to our defensive repertoire, as a matter of course. It was also good that revolutionaries targeted professional image looters who work hand in glove with the state, and not every 'militant-tourist' armed with a cheap camera obscura.
It was good that a money exchange was set on fire. What better critique of 'yellowing, glittering, precious gold', than to torch the den in which all currencies gather to decide our fate? Likewise, it was a joy to see an establishment as anti-working class and unhealthy as McDonald's subjected to a spot of imaginative DIY redecorating. Contrary to media lies, at no time were the employers at risk from the demonstrators, although admittedly, french fries, burgers and apple pies were subjected to the ruthless dictatorship of the proletariat!
It was good that graffiti was employed as a form of communication. Since ancient Greece, proletarians have found graffiti a convenient method of by-passing official monologism. The media's spitefulness towards this form of discourse sterns from its obsessional need to regulate all information. It was particularly gratifying to find a detourned version of that anti-working class cunt, Winston Churchill, providing the festival with a suitable focus of contempt. Churchill was hated before WWII, tolerated as a necessary evil during the war, and kicked out of office at the earliest opportunity, after the war, by the British proletariat. May he rest in hell!! The defacing of the Cenotaph brought into sharp focus the contested nature of signs. For whereas, the bourgeoisie claims it as a sign of respect for the war dead, the proletariat sees in it a constant reminder of our defeats at the hands of the bosses. It was our weakness that allowed capital to initiate two world wars, and countless others, during the last century. Three commonalities have manifested themselves in all modern wars. First, they were fought for profit, resources, and land. Second, they ended up punishing and disciplining all proletarians irrespective of which camp they were forced to join. And, third, whilst the proletariat always does the fighting and the dying, it is the bourgeoisie that always reaps the benefit. The Cenotaph signifies and celebrates two mid-twentieth century victories: a) the infra-classist victory of old capitalists (Britain, USA, USSR) over upcoming capitalists (Germany, Italy, Japan); and, b) the inter-classist victory of capital over the whole proletariat.
As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.
Oh, but the generosity of the bourgeoisie knows no bounds! Having butchered millions of us in battlefields, they graciously provide us with reified monuments as a constant reminder of the dictatorship of capital. Adam Smith once advocated the teaching of a personal 'song of death' from childhood, to help acclimatise the proletarian rogue to his/her inevitable fate, as with native American ‘savages'. The Cenotaph is the stone of Kaaba which the Congregation must circumambulate ritualistically, to renew faith in bourgeois hegemony, whilst chanting their `song of death'. On May Day 2000, we sang a different tune, one that strikes at all nationalists and warmongers. We despise the scum who start wars for capital accumulation, cajole us into uniforms and force us to open fire on our proletarian brothers and sisters. We recognise no 'imagined communities'. We recognise no war, but the class war. The choice between fascism, liberalism, social democracy and Leninism is a false one. As false a choice as that between supporting a liberal prime minister, with social democratic tendencies (Blair), or a social democratic Mayor, with liberal tendencies (Livingstone). Large sections of the proletariat are superceding such deceits, hence, the bosses' fear.
Monster, I do smell all horse piss, at which my nose is in great indignation.
The state stratagem for containing the new generation of radicals, seems to be two-fold:
1) to escalate the usual modes of surveillance, classification, and punishment with a view to breaking our will to fight; and,
2) to allow a partially revamped left wing of capital (i.e., labourism in its social democratic manifestation plus a few Leninist organisations), to police and marginalize revolutionaries at future events.
British patriots associated with the industrial faction of capital have been emotionally manipulated to perceive May Day 2000 as a personal affront. In this context, the artificial conflation of cenotaph and synagogue, and the broadcasting of May Day nazi demonstrations in Berlin is calculated to confuse and mystify the politically naive. Violence is posited as a de-contextualised metaphysical entity, so that the media can equate the subversive violence directed against private property and the state, with the reactionary attacks of racists on blacks and asylum seekers. The dictatorship of the proletariat can he 'violent' or `peaceful', it can be ‘silent' or ‘deafening', it can be expressed 'individually' or ‘collectively', with a ‘frown' or a 'smile'. But it must always be out in the open, for all to see, debate and critique. And it must oppose thanotocracy (regime based on death) with life.
Whenever the bourgeoisie preaches morality from its pulpit so vociferously, two conclusions can Inc drawn: firstly, that the private-public spheres of behaviour are dangerously out of synch, and must, therefore, be brought into harmony with common sense; and secondly, this intensity of moral panic and indignation is usually a prelude for a new offensive against the working class.
As May Day 2000 came to a close, it became clear that what began as dramatic theatre (characterised by genuine antagonism, unpredictability, free-flowing and playful subversion), had metamorphosed into a spectacle (characterised by ritualistic confrontation with oh, so, predictable titles and outcomes). We will do well io look at the evolution of the medieval festival, which over centuries was gradually institutionalised in three directions: toward the fair (which commercialised the gift-exchange dimension of the festival); the circus (which used clowns and performers to sanitise the festival); and, the carnival (which after a period of retaining the spirit of rebelliousness, has been, more or less, 'cleaned up'). Unless we are careful, this is the fate the bourgeoisie has in store for our May Day.
‘Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the dictatorship of the proletariat.'
‘Proletariat is a rope, fastened between animal and overman - a rope over an abyss. A dangerous going across, a dangerous way faring, a dangerous looking hack, a dangerous shuddering and staying still.'
’Laughter is the social consciousness of all the people, and signifies the defeat of power, of earthly kings, of the earthly upper classes, of all that oppresses and restricts.'