December 8, 2010 by cosmoakacitizensmith
It was the day politics became like surprise sex.
Not as in a weird euphemism for rape. More like the sort of thing the happens when you head off for a few jars with mates after a day of it, then have a few more, then you head out to a club, bump into that person you’ve fancied for a while but never got it together with, have a dance and before you know it your back somewhere shagging like bunnies. Wild style.
Then you both wake up blearily the next day, make awkward small talk, head off in opposite directions and for the whole day you’ve both got a kind of unstoppable inner grin. Not to mention an outer one, too. And despite your tiredness, the stresses and strains of the day seem to wash off you like water off a duck’s back.
You know, surprise sex. Sex that is surprising. And nice. And nothing to do with anyone Wikileaking into anyone else. Allegedly.
Ok, metaphor strain. Stay with me.
The last few weeks seem to be a bit of a blur of gigging at the weekend at house parties, then back to Cardiff, recording, practicing, going to work, writing, and heading out to student demos. The demos have been kicking off for a while now. UK folk will have probably caught them in the media. There’s been a real momentum developing, like nothing I’ve seen here for ages.
At the one last week, Jim and I hoiked my guitar and amp off to the inevitable Nye Bevan statue meeting point in central Cardiff. Jim is my new housemate and stickman with local ska-punk dudes Dirty Revs. We found a crowd of about 300 students and others, placarded up and smiling despite the cold. There was an anger there, but humour too, and a charged up determination to fight back against the ConDem government austerity programme, this time directed at higher education.
After a few speeches, I set up and did a few tunes. There was an accordion player who jammed along, and a girl who was dancing got up and sung as well. After a while, everyone bundled up to the top of Queen Street and occupied Lloyds bank. There followed a game of cat and mouse with police and protesters and I struggled to keep up with all my gear on me. It was all generally good-natured except one arrest.
That day, the Welsh Assembly announced that it was not going to put up graduate fees, but will cut the costs from the staffing budgets. A victory, of sorts. And a causal link established between popular protest like we’ve seen and state concessions. I guess the challenge will come to see whether the students will link up with other public sector workers who will face the axe, but the Lloyds occupation shows that there is an awareness that this is a lot more than just fees.
All in all, lots to warm the shackles of an old veteran. That unstoppable inner grin came over me. Not too mention the outer one…. a bit like surprise sex, in fact!
For those new on the scene and recently galvanised, where is it going to take them? There are lots of groups waiting to claim souls. The hard left, (Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party), Labour party, (spitting noise), Trades Unions…all the usual suspects. Then of course there are the anarchists, the old libertarian left, the ones I rub up against, (oooo yes!!). Generally, experienced grassroots activists have been working well together to support the students and others.
But, as usual, anarchists have been getting it in the neck from all sides. It’s all the usual shyte like “How can you live without rules?” and “Why are you so violent?” Yawn. I’ll come back to those at some other point in some other post.
I remember after a bout of campaigning years ago, I thought, “Why are we always campaigning AGAINST things, why can’t anarchists do POSITIVE things???”
Well, the answer is we do LOTS of positive things. We are engaged in migrant support, education, co-operative businesses, housing, food co-ops, social centres, health co-ops, feminist issues, newsletters, academia, newspapers. You can guarantee that many of these initiatives will plug the hole crated by the withdrawal of state provision in the next few years due to David Cameron’s “Big Society.”
Which is not to be mistaken as an argument for the Big Society, of course.
Contrary to popular belief, lots of anarchists work. We make stuff. We do stuff. And we campaign as well as all that. We push boundaries, a lot of the time when others can’t or won’t.
Direct action in many forms is almost like a default position for anarchists. It does make some people squeamish, though. But in the argy-bargy of occupations or in the smashing of windows of Tory HQ, a kind of wild creativity is unleashed. Normal rules are suspended. Normal service is rarely returned to. A new canvas is offered up, and YOU are the artist! This is why many anarchists enthuse about this kind of activity.
It’s like, at the moment when you are most against something can be the moment you are most for something completely different.
Now before you mistake this for me saying, “Go out and trash everything in sight and drop fire extinguishers on anyone and everything you don’t like!!”, let’s just take stock for a cotton-pickin’ minute!!! A moment has opened up. It has possibilities. What are you going to do with it?
Right now, though, I’m too busy enjoying the unstoppable, inner grin. Not to mention the outer one.
Or maybe I should just go out and get laid a bit more often.