That interview with the Iranian News Agency retooled as an article for California and for translation in a Bengali paper.
Originally here on Dec 13th
The unrest in Britain is described in the media as about fees, but not a single student I have talked to, nor member of staff or other supporter of the anti-cuts campaigns, has failed to point out that its not primarily about fees but about a generalized attack by the neoliberal capitalist ruling class upon a very wide range of people.
The betrayal and hypocrisy of some politicians of course attracts some anger, but few people really have any faith that the parliamentary officials offer real alternatives – the chant on the streets is for ‘revolution’ – though of course there are many, many other chants. Some are personal – ‘Nick Clegg shame on you, shame on you for turning blue’ is one polite one – others are less polite. Some evoke the horrible days of Margaret Thatcher. Maggie Maggie Maggie, out out out! Possibly the most commonly mentioned reference points for current feeling in the UK are Thatcher’s Poll Tax riots, the 1930s anti-fascist actions in Cable Street East London, the Suffragettes fighting for the women’s vote at the start of the 20th century, the Chartists fighting for voting reform in the 19th century, or the support for the Jacobins (Coleridge and so on) in the 18th century – all of this is interesting, but in new circumstances with new tools. For example video sites and social networking as a mode of organising is well advanced. What the campaigns really need however is to link up more with international movements, such as those in Palestine, Iran, Nepal, South America and so on.
An analysis of why the Government are implementing these cuts now which is also very important in international terms. The deficit is not the largest the UK has had, but the neoliberal capitalists are taking the opportunity of a coalition government to implement a wide restructuring – a kind of structural adjustment – that will destroy the welfare state compact of the post WW2 period and further open the way for global corporations to profit, while ensuring increasing restriction and hardship for most. In some sectors this situation is also seen by Government as an opportunity to introduce restrictive and draconian – even proto-fascist – policies. This happens in several areas in different ways, and with different levels of party support. For example around immigration, using the justification of the imagined threat of ‘terror attacks’ – which of course is a racist coding, by an old imperial power keen to continue colonial politics where it can – the restrictions are cross-party, which is to say, each of the parliamentary parties is vying to see just how racist they can be. It appears to be slightly different on housing, which in the hands of the Con-Dem coalition is a sort of ‘ethnic cleansing’ programme for the reserve army of labour, who are to be consigned to the northern telemarketing work camps. On education and education funding specifically, as many have noted, none of the mainstream parties are truly unable to offer a progressive position. This is not yet to begin to address the scandals of banking bailouts, corporate bonuses and tax avoidance, rampant greed, the global mining and military industry death machine – and shareholdings in such – and other ruling class atrocities. The parliamentary path will not address such concerns, if anything is to be done they must be swept aside.
Police reaction to the students has been quite extreme, very violent provocation, use of horse charges, batons, beatings, very aggressive so-called ‘tactics’, named after kitchen appliances, but clearly designed to escalate tensions. In a time of cuts to all social services the police have an interest in making themselves seem useful. They have colluded with the press to find ‘front page’ sensation images, such as relatively insignificant anarchist actions, or the sacrificial offering of the Prince’s ride (the Royal vehicle) which was allowed onto streets in full knowledge that that was where militants were rampant. It can be assumed this was not merely a communications error, but rather a gamble that a dint in the rolls Royce would make a better cover story than the pictures of Santa Clause trying to break into the treasury (during, it must be said, a recession). Of course the violent attacks on students, the vast majority of them teenagers, was an error of judgement on the part of the police (as the BBC reporter quipped about the Prince, ‘heads will roll’), but the scandal of the Royal car was a fairly tame incident – it was not after all St Petersburg!, nor was it Cromwell helping execute another Royal called Charles in 1649. The repaint job done on the Prince’s ride has of course been seized upon by desperate politicians. Even the Prime Minister has been caught out in a lie about what was happening, saying that Police had been pulled from their horses and beaten at parliament – when video footage shows the policeman who fell from his horse was trampled by his own animal, with no students near him at all. The massive numbers of injured protesters – including one who had to have 3 hours of brain surgery – suggest the police have been the instigators of violence. I have witnessed this in person – in every protest it is the police that have been looking for a fight. As I suggested before, it is in their interests to seem to be needed.
The protesters are angry for sure – and the reasons are clear. Many accept the need for direct action, ranging from graffiti on state buildings, statues, occupations of colleges, to actions in shopping centres and commercial businesses, because this is proven to be the only way to be heard. 2 million people marched in London (1 out of every 30 Britons) against the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair did not listen at all – instead lying his way toward war criminal infamy. He will not be tried in the international criminal court until there is a mass movement demanding a different kind of Government in the UK. It may be starting here – Blair was Thatcher’s child and now his party is in power, disguised as a coalition, but dragging all politicos into exposure. An alternative is in the offing. It is certainly necessary – the only kind of democracy worth fighting for is the one that fights at home – not bombs other countries on suspect whim and because Jesus has chosen you for a sunbeam!