Saturday, February 19, 2011

There are no shortcuts

There is a bit of an internet flutter at the moment amongst activists. Inspired by the example of the Arab revolutionary movements and determined that opposition to the cuts will not become yet another succession of A to B processions to listen to Tony Benn, there is a campaign to stay on in Hyde park to act as a focus for resistance.
I think that, laudable as it sounds, this is actually a really wrong headed attempt at short cutting the long process of building the anti condem movement.
The focus of public protest in Egypt and other arab/north african rebellions on the holding of public space reflects the reality of state repression in those nations; holding these central squares was simultaniusly a direct challenge to the state, a point of attraction for other protesters, a safe place for demonstraters to gather in the glare of international press, providing protection for demonstrators throuth strength of numbers.
None of these criteria apply here:
Hyde park is not a central hub, protesters gathering and remaining there are not a direct challenge to the police and state- they can be easily ignored until the pressures of climate, hunger and economics disperse all but the most committed.
It is not as if this has not been tried before:

Brian Haw has occupied parliament square for the past 7 years, at times accompanied by quite large numbers of people, at no time has he been more than a mere, somewhat embarressing, irritant.
Like the poll tax protests, the only way in which to defeat the cuts agenda is to make the rich fear, make continuing their strategy too risky in the face of mass direct action, bring the spectre of the Mob to the leafy boulevards of the Bourgeoisie.

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