Warm It Up Moloko-plus my little droogies – I could teach you, but I’d have to charge

mister-mayhem-415x248In another fine mess, the University of East London contributes to the escalation of madness that also saw Will Hutton foolishly pontificating against G20 protesters on the BBC two nights ago as part of a series of suits trotted out to do defensive work in anticipation of the coming protest. Lovely of the press to do this kind of warm up stuff when this kind of one-off event comes around. It adds a certain frisson.

People have asked me if I will be protesting against the G20 on April 1st, and I want to stress that I protest against them every day, and against the G50, G100 and any Gee whizz propaganda scam cooked up by the executive committee. I’ll be about of course, though I am also interested in building political outlooks and alternatives for more than a one-day carnival-cum-police training exercise in crowd containment. This 1 in 365 fractional theatre is no doubt striking, you’ve got to love these occasional stage-managed inversions of the bourgeois order, repleat with boarded up shopfronts, bankers wearing trainers, and anthropology professors outrageously suspended for giving puffed up interviews to local tabloids (its clearly mockery, viddy the picture, read the article). That said, the idea that the G20 protest might turn into a velvet revolution is intriguing, so do bring a snack for the lock down. There surely does need to be an alternative to this rotten, corrupt and unequal system – and although its going to take more than a street party on April Fools day, if we thought about it in terms of larger fractions and what is needed to win we might be getting somewhere (a party organization, overturning of class divisions, open borders, anti-racism that is more than wearing a badge, end of the arms trade, free education [hence this post's title - warm it up] and more). G20, G19, G18, G17… – how many days would it take to get all velvety? Arise comrades, another world is necessary.

In the meantime, Chris Knight needs to be re-ininstated, this sort of reaction is just mad. Again, check out the photo from the article that caused the furore – its clearly pantomime. And the ‘Guardian’s’ intrepid reporter seems to have a bit of the Will Hutton’s about him too – if you compare the ‘Evening Standard’ original article on Chris Knight – see comment one below for the text – I think you can clearly see that the process of escalation is carried out here too. Richard Rogers to the rescue. AwaY. With friends like these, who needs enemies…

Professor suspended over claims he incited G20 violence

• Interview creates trouble for anthropology expert
• Protest organiser revels in ‘perfect storm for enemies’

The G20 Meltdown protesters intend to converge on the Bank of England from four directions. Each group will march behind one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.

Richard Rogers The Guardian, Friday 27 March 2009

One of the leading organisers of next Wednesday’s Financial Fools’ Day protests was last night suspended from his role as Professor of Anthropology at the University of East London, on full pay.

Chris Knight, who has been a lecturer in anthropology at the university since 1989, and professor since 2000, was informed of his suspension yesterday evening, and was told it was because of an interview he gave to a newspaper this week in which he is quoted as “inciting criminal action, specifically violence against policemen and women and damage to banking institutions”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Knight was pictured with a placard bearing the slogan “Eat the bankers”, and quoted as saying: “If they [the police] want violence, they’ll get it”. He is also quoted by the Standard as advising bankers that on April 1 “if you’re thinking of coming in, my advice is don’t”.

Knight, along with fellow UEL anthropologist Elizabeth Power and former Liberal Democrat councillor turned activist Marina Pepper, set up the G-20meltdown.org website and began to host meetings to which they invited other green and anarchist groups.

Knight told the Guardian last night that he was doing everything possible to make sure there was no violence next week. He said he had set up the protest group with theatrical rather than violent aims.

“I’m doing everything possible to make sure that all the anger of the middle classes doesn’t turn into violence. That’s why we do all this play-acting. We’re being nice to the bankers – we’re burning them as effigies. Of course we don’t want violence. If there’s a huge ruck, the press will photograph it, and our vision about a different planet will not get reported.”

He added: “But it’s going to be hard. The message to police is ‘if you press your nuclear button, I’ll press mine’. It sounds like a threat? Well, yeah – don’t do it. If you want violence, you’ll get it.

“I know I’m in my own bubble. But in my bubble I’m predicting we’ll have a velvet revolution in the next week or so …The police, backed up by the army, will try to hold the ExCel centre. While they hold that, they will lose London. Then I think Gordon Brown will go.

“It’s a perfect storm for our enemies,” he added. “I cannot believe my luck. It’s happening 800 yards from my campus … The media are doing all our work for us.”

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  • john hutnyk  On 27/03/2009 at 6:43 am

    The Evening Standard article looks a bit like a press release for Chris. No matter. You’ve got to love their title – clearly they get its performance:

    Meet Mister Mayhem
    David Cohen
    Evening Standard 25.03.09

    The revolution begins in ­London on Saturday night. Ideally it will be peaceful, but if G20 demonstrators meet police aggression, they will respond with violence. This prediction comes from anarchist, Chris Knight, a 66-year-old professor of anthropology at the ­University of East London, whose group is at the heart of a series of high-profile actions planned to start across the capital this weekend.

    Knight, whose house in a south ­London street known as Millionaires’ Row serves as the unlikely headquarters for the G20 Meltdown group organising the siege of the Bank of England on 1 April, intends to “harness the rage” of social action groups and wants to use “Earth Hour”, a worldwide “power down” planned by the World Wildlife Fund to express solidarity against ­climate change, to target City firms that fail to turn off their lights at the appointed time of 8.30pm on Saturday night.

    “We are expecting up to one million people on the streets of the capital on Saturday afternoon and just before sunset thousands of us will fan out across the City to enforce Earth Hour,” he says. “We’re focusing on Canary Wharf but every office block in London with lights on will be fair game. We will go to the building and demand they switch off the lights. If they refuse, our agents will find ways to enter the building, even if it means knocking down doors and ­windows to break in.”

    Is he advocating violence? “Not against people but I’m not too bothered about damage to property,” he says brazenly. “Let’s just say we prefer to avoid it and expect to be invited in by cleaners and janitors. But make no mistake, we’re prepared to go the whole way. One way or another, those lights will get switched off.”

    Knight “strongly suggests bankers should stay away from the City next week. If you’re thinking of coming in, my advice is don’t’. People are incandescent about your bonuses and the way you’ve destroyed their lives. We plan to lay siege to the financiers who have brought us into this recession and who continue to pursue policies that are destroying our planet”.

    As for the police, “if they want ­violence, they’ll get it”, adds Knight, a former member of Labour’s extreme Left-wing Militant Tendency who now calls himself a revolutionary communist. “We intend to be peaceful but if they press their nuclear button, I’ll press mine. It’s called mutually assured destruction’. If Gordon Brown deploys his riot police, or sends in his agents provocateurs to start trouble as an excuse to attack us, all hell will break loose.”

    Knight’s incendiary rhetoric may be nothing more than bluster but the authorities are taking it seriously. The Metropolitan police have mobilised more than 2,500 officers and cancelled all leave in an operation expected to cost £7.2 million. The head of security at Canary Wharf yesterday called Knight on his mobile phone in an attempt to prevent the area around One Canada Square turning into a battle ground.

    There is no doubt that the G20 Summit, which sees the arrival of the leaders of the world’s major economies to tackle the credit crunch as well as the first visit to London by President Barack Obama, is a boon to hardcore protesters and ­rabble-rousers seeking to orchestrate a Seattle-style week of protests. Until now, few had heard of Professor Knight and his coterie: Camilla Power, an anthropology lecturer at the University of East London, and Marina Pepper, 41, a former Playboy “playmate of the month” who has taken up placards reading “Eat the Bankers”.

    They met through Knight’s Radical Anthropology Group (RAG), which explores the origins of society from a Marxist standpoint and pays homage to hunter-gatherer groups such as the Bushmen whose societies are “communist and egalitarian”.

    Knight, educated at the Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells and University College London, says they relaunched themselves last October as an anti-banker group called “The Government of the Dead”, the name inspired, he says, “by the hunter-gatherer belief that our ancestral spirits should rule us rather than our obsession with money”. Since then, they have been busy. Knight’s garden is awash with home-made props, including bloody effigies of dead bankers to be hung from lamp-posts when protesters converge on “the belly of the beast”, the Bank of England, on 1 April.

    Such props make a strange sight among the flowering magnolias, especially on this wide suburban road in ­Lewisham where houses go for up to £1.3 million.

    My interview with the professor, a father of three who eschews marriage, takes place in his cluttered spare bedroom. He sprawls on a futon on the floor, dressed in old corduroy trousers and socks and tells me he earns £35,000 a year as a lecturer but is not interested in money. “I don’t own this house, I rent it for £1,000 a month. In fact, I’ve never owned anything. I’ve got a battered old banger, a 15-year-old Ford Mondeo that’s worth about 20 quid, and that’s it.”

    When I ask about his 48-inch widescreen television in the living room that doubles as the headquarters of G20 Meltdown, his assistant, Camilla Power, quips: “It’s because the revolution will be televised — yeah, in digital high-definition.”

    Knight himself vacillates between a dry sense of humour and a spiky anger that explodes intermittently, especially at mention of “New Labour”.

    Back in 1981, he says, he and two others set up in his kitchen the Labour Briefing group that orchestrated Ken Livingstone’s coup to take control of the GLC and wrest power from the conventional Labour leaders. “Now we face a similarly critical moment,” he says. “The G20 Summit will be a fiasco for Gordon Brown. We’re on the brink of a Velvet Revolution that will be triggered by the collapse of the banks.”

    Indeed, as Knight keeps reminding me, “the revolution begins on Saturday”, organised from his living room and spread by lurid anti-banker pamphlets, word of mouth and Facebook groups.

    He’s vague on details but says: “If we succeed with our revolution in the capital in the next week, that will immediately spread to Strasbourg where our anti-globalisation colleagues in France and Germany will stop the Nato summit scheduled for 4 April. Our revolution will spread out across Europe so that, come June, my prediction is that planet earth will be one country. There will be no borders. What we are about to witness is the world turned on its head.”

    In Knight’s parallel universe, he will become general secretary of the Labour Party, while John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, replaces Mr Brown as leader. When I ask if he has informed McDonnell of his plans, he says: “John is a friend of mine, has been for years. He’s a socialist, as I am, but increasingly he’s moving towards direct action. He’s talking at the Alternative G20 Summit we’re holding at my campus on 1 April and together we’ll be looking forward with glee to the collapse of the financial system.”

    Knight expects the coming week to be like a massive exciting general strike. “A bit like Seattle in 1999 although not quite as big or international as we haven’t had as long to organise it.

    “The whole thing will be spectacular. There are plans afoot, not organised directly by us, to dump tons of sand outside Downing Street and turn areas of the City into giant sandpits. There could also be a rebel raft regatta, using inflatable dinghies and rafts to access the City via the Thames. So many groups are involved. It’s the biggest coalition ever.”

    On his living room wall is a rudimentary chart in black ink, the blueprint for the action on 1 April. It shows four arrows converging on the Bank of England. It seems unreal that something so crude and half-baked can cause the police, and Londoners, a £7.2 million headache — and that’s assuming it all passes off peacefully.

    WHO IS PROFESSOR CHRIS KNIGHT?

    CHRIS Knight was the eldest of five children of a father who gave up his career as a school teacher to follow his romantic ideal and become a self-sufficient farmer in Somerset and then Devon.

    The farms failed and the family frequently moved around, so much so that Chris attended 13 primary schools and three grammar schools. He did A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry but decided to pursue an arts degree, with the only option being Russian literature at Sussex University in 1961.

    Barred from spending his third year in Moscow because of the Cold War, he went to Paris and lived with “Russian emigrés”. He completed a masters degree, became interested in anthropology and more involved in “revolutionary politics”.

    As a student he spent a week in Norwich Prison for occupying an American airbase and worked as a Post Office van driver and a teacher at a south London comprehensive.

    By the early 1970s he was a member of the Revolutionary Community Party and claims he organised a picket of an electricity sub-station in Neasden in the 1980s in solidarity with striking miners.

    Later involved in the “reclaim the streets movement”, he backed striking Liverpool dockers in the 1990s and the first large anti-capitalist protests in the City in 1998.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23666748-details/Meet+Mister+Mayhem/article.do

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  • paul josling  On 28/03/2009 at 2:13 am

    last week i saw someone suffer at the hand of the philistines at uel. i would rather be dead than live without art, so therefore i loved this person.

    ken livinstone says on tonights radio four pm that left meetings were routinely shadowed by police in the 80’s and still are (if i remember correctly). at last weeks rag there was an investment banker, and she was not there to instruct herself or verify, she was there, or should ha’ been “to kneel where prayer has been valid”(ts eliot). after the embarresing news coverage (“chris knight, middle class, white haired wouldn’t hurt a fly” said the irish reporter, paddy.no wonder the prof knight put him right: reminded him it was a very english revolution (something knight doesn’t beleive in, but the man was ineducable- on his wages) this reporter should put away these childish things now and be a man a result of meeting our great man.

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  • uel  On 31/03/2009 at 10:15 am

    THIS IS URGENT!!

    Please sign immediately at

    http://www.petitiononline.com/openUEL/petition.html

    Dear friends

    the University of East London (UEL) was supposed to host an alternative
    summit on April 1st in the context of the upcoming G20 meeting on April 2nd.
    Following the media and police hype about possible disruptions to the city,
    the University withdrew its support for the alternative summit.

    Subsequently, management of the University decided to close down the
    university all together on April the 1st and 2nd, cancelling lectures and
    closing the library, effectively trying to turn the university into a
    wasteland in the very moment when the university should instead be up to the
    task of hosting critical debate and be a hub of creative energies.

    As the text of the petition makes clear, this is not just about UEL, but
    about reclaiming universities and education in these times of crisis.

    PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY — PLEASE SIGN URGENTLY.

    Open UEL now collective

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  • paul josling  On 14/04/2009 at 2:45 am

    I should like to say that the killing of the man on g20 vindicated prof knight and he should ha’ been instated at the coppers suspension. either that or chris knight was clairvoyant (“if they think they can go around killing people, like they did with that young man in greece and if they think they’ve seen violence…” etc. paraphrase).
    it seems to be golden bough nil, special branch 2.
    but :

    “This is the use of memory.”

    Your Liberal Friend,
    Paul Josling.
    London Liberals,
    Liberal Party of England.
    Freedom First!

    Liberal Victory: Self Sacrifice, Service.

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