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Protesting Protest

Last weekend, and into the middle of this week, the People's Assembly, and various affiliates most notably some of the trade unions, visited Manchester with the notion they would somehow send the Tories a message. I wish this were possible. I would love to think that all it took to dethrone the wicked of Westminster was the voice of comfortable protest in the form of the People's Assembly and it's talking shop commentary carousel. Of course the Tories weren't instead, haven't stood down, and have, within their comfortable champagne drenched enclave, pointed, predictably, to their mandate from the election. 

I agree that mandate is paper thin, but it is a mandate and it's going to take more than a few well meaning student union dreamers organising another anodyne march through town. I watched the speeches on Youtube and it's the same faces saying the same platitudes, interchangeable with every speech made previously at other 'protests'. This is ridiculous. I despair of these people, even DPAC are starting to see through this as their cause - some of the bravest people in our society - is not being represented. 

Now I am not saying that Own Jones or Mark Steele or Mark Serwotka or Charlotte Church don't care about the disabled - far from it. I think they do care; more fundamentally I think they - vitally - the attendees are concerned with the issues of austerity.

But it's not fucking enough. 

Four years the People's Assembly Against Austerity has existed and in that time it's been one meeting after another, one comfortable little protest after another. The reason this is a problem is that it's offering false hope and is, in reality, nothing more than a talking shop. 

Don't get me wrong there's a place for this, but we need more precisely because the Tories are not listening. They don't care: look at IDS's performance, doubling down more on his crusade to disenfranchise the disabled under the guise of 'support', look at Jeremy Hunt's treatment of junior doctors, look at Osborne's desperate bid to reduce the state via austerity (he's setting his stall for the job of party leader and, he hopes, next PM). Look at what all these filthy scumbags are doing across the country and ask yourselves if a few shiny student faces, the same token though well-intentioned speakers, and the same speeches, are really cutting the mustard.

The tragedy of it all is that I agree with their speeches. I agree with the sentiments. I am pleased that people attend - it would be way worse if no one bothered. My problem is that it is simply. Not. Enough. The Tories will concede nothing, it will have to be taken; and by doing nothing the opposition to this madness has allowed the media to position protest in the public consciousness as something to be rejected outright. People have come to believe that strike laws are necessary, even though the Tory proposals (which very likely will become law) are obscene. People have been convinced that it is unthinkable to stop work, even for a day, and the longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be to organise a general strike, which I believe is the necessary first step toward taking back the power.

The week before Class War in the east end of London organised their Fuck Parade where they accrued some notoriety for chucking paint at, and intimidating, the people inside and working for the Cereal Killer cafe. I'll be honest, I don't think this was the right move, I think it smacked of ignorance and bully boy tactics by pushing the notion that a cafe selling bowls of cereal is somehow different from, and thus more ostentatious than, a cafe selling a traditional working man's bacon butty or fry up. This is ignorance. 

But as the Tory conference weekend pressed on it occurred to me that maybe, even though they'd targeted the wrong people (a pair of hipsters are not responsible for the gentrification of London, they are merely a soft target), they have the right idea. It's the notion that dare not speak its name: that protest needs to get tougher. I don't want to see violence, but we already have violence - the violence of sanctions, deprivation and destitution; the thuggery of poverty. These things will not be destroyed at their core through anything less than revolutionary struggle. Even the amiable resistance of the People's Assembly falls short of that which we need to transform society. We don't just need a soft shuffle ever so slightly to the left; we need a fucking charge!

Finally, even though the Tories do have power, i have already conceded the truth of their mandate; it is based on a thin majority. Even though, ideologically, they are highly resistant, and (more importantly) even though they have the media and the corporations (and the banks) on their side, they are structurally weak. The Tory membership is tiny and is actually smaller than the support that put Corbyn into the position of leader of the Labour party. When you consider this should be the honeymoon period for any government, the post-coital glow following an election, this is as good as it's going to get for this government. Therefore it is possible to defeat them, though it will not be easy. The problem is: does the People's Assembly have the stomach for Class War?


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