June 22nd – the date of the ‘People’s Assembly Against Austerity’ which will take place at Central Hall, Westminster. The wonderful day when we can sit there and be lectured by the great and good of the British left as to how bad things are and most likely, how we can all fight back by mobilising for yet another mass trudge around London in October. Who couldn’t fail to be inspired to action by sitting in Central Hall and listening to the likes of Tony Benn, Owen Jones and numerous other luminaries of the wonderful political tradition that is the British left? Following on from that, there’s the irresistible prospect of yet another mass demonstration in central London come October where we can be shepherded by the TUC stewards as we shuffle into Hyde Park to listen in rapt awe to speeches telling us exactly what we were told at Central Hall on June 22nd.
Sod that for a lark! Seriously, if this is the best the left can come up with as the economy stagnates, austerity wrecks the lives of not thousands but millions of people and global economic and geo-political events threaten to usher in an era of conflict and chaos, they might as well give up because the powers that be simply will not pay attention. Did a million people on the streets of London stop the war on Iraq back in 2003? Did it heck – the government ignored it and carried on rushing us into war. Did the previous two mass demonstrations against austerity in March 2011 and October 2012 make the ConDem government stop their vicious assault on the working class? The harsh truth is it didn’t make a blind bit of difference – the government carried on as if nothing had happened.
Let’s look at the message that the ‘People’s Assembly Against Austerity’ and any subsequent action such as an October demonstration will be conveying – it will simply be a call from the great and good of the British left to vote Labour. Labour – a mainstream party that’s committed to making welfare cuts, just differently and possibly at a slower pace. All this mobilisation will achieve will be the election of a party that will still attack the concessions that the working class were given post World War Two in the form of the welfare state. Let’s remember, that’s what it was, a concession to take the sting out of any militant workers movements that were emerging as demobilised troops came home wanting the better world they thought they were fighting for.
With the continuous assaults that have been made on the working class and any notion of collectivity since the mid 1970s, the powers that be feel that we’ve been battered, divided and weakened enough to give them the confidence to tear up any concessions we were given. They ain’t going to listen to an assembly or take any notice of a peaceful mass trudge round central London as they turn back the clock to impoverish us in a desperate bid to save their rotten, parasitic, corporatised economy.
The message from us has to be loud and clear…time’s up! The economic system we had that could only keep staggering on through debt fuelled consumption and ruthless exploitation of people and planet is screwed beyond belief. A system that can only promise austerity, exploitation and the ever growing possibility of major war is one that is waiting to be swept aside. We don’t want some grudging concessions from a future Labour government in the form of a truncated welfare state that keeps us just about pacified as the economy limps on from one crisis to the next – we want something a heck of a lot better where mutual aid and solidarity will create a just, sustainable and free society that we all have a stake in.
There’s plenty of work that needs to be done in articulating that vision and quickly as the crisis of the current system worsens each day. For sure the fightback is already underway as we indicated in our piece – Where’s the sodding urgency?! – that we published on 10th February. While this is good, it’s not enough, more is needed… More people getting stuck into action, more experimenting and risk taking to see what does and doesn’t work, more willingness for groups and individuals to be flexible to join together for actions as and when the need arises and above all more militancy and certainly more momentum. A continuous stream of a diverse range of people and groups building, mobilising and taking action in a myriad of ways that will leave the authorities in a state of bewilderment is the key to building that momentum. From the ongoing student occupations at Sussex University (http://www.schnews.org.uk/stories/HAPPY-CAMPUS/) through the coming spring offensive against workfare to construction workers blockading Oxford Street in protest at blacklisting and the proposed autonomous action (http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/june-22nd-a-chance-to-create-an-anarchist-movement/) on June 22nd outside of Central Hall just to mention a few, the building blocks of something new and interesting are starting to emerge. 2013 is crunch year…let’s make sure we’re the ones doing the crunching!
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