‘BLACK BLOC WITH BRAINS’ OUTWITS COPS…….AND ME!

Who were those masked strangers? After arriving too late for their departure from Malet Street I finally managed to ‘head them off at the pass Tonto’ at Piccadilly. They were the Black Bloc….I’d heard they’d broken away from the main march and were heading up Charing Cross Road. I could only gawp in awe as they arrived – didn’t they look fucking fine and dandy – black and red flags all over, masked up, whooping, running, confident…and young! They charged – and the Bloc was big maybe about 600 at that stage –  headlong through the police line blocking Regent Street and I struggled after them but they were far too fast for the dodgy hip brigade. Anyway no one wants their grandad on a Black Bloc.That was the last I saw of them or any action all day. Kept getting reports that it was ‘kicking off’ here then there then here again…….but by the time we arrived the birds had flown.

The Bloc gave the cops the complete run around. Older hands described ‘a black bloc with brains’ a ‘Many Headed Hydra’  striking here and there and reappearing in unexpected places like the Viet Cong! Mobility….Mobility….mobility ……….the lessons were well learned and the targets exemplary. Mayfair was well and truly sacked. The Porsche showroom, The Ritz, Fortnam and Mason, Banks, Posh shops. The Fucking RITZ BLITZ – oh how I rue missing that. I saw sights to gladden an old man’s heart – ‘CLASS WAR- sprayed on smashed up posh shops. It was a Class War as the Ritz  diners COWERED over their silver knapkin rings. Cameron started it – we’ll finish it. No apologetics needed this morning.The Cops will be coruscated for yet another cock up. How long can old uncle Bob broadhurst survive?

In its own terms the Bloc was a great success. It’s not the job of the Black Bloc to sort out  the political strategies relating the anarchist movement to the social struggle. The Bloc is a tactical anarchist combat unit on the day. Then it’s gone. But by the criteria I layed down yesterday for the crossing of the Rubicon – well we haven’t. There is no occupied space still contested.No ground to be held. My Hyde Park occupation idea never got the legs it needed to take off. The cops attacked TrafalgarSquare without reason and cleared it heavy handidly. Has the movement moved forward – i doubt it. There was no relation/connection with the 400,ooo demonstrators in Hyde Park. The paper Class War used to provide some sort of bridge between the mass of demonstrators and the anarchists. We no longer have that connection – we need to find a way to build it again. 25 years ago after Stop the City we could have read the same newspaper headlines as today – ‘Anarchists Smash up city’……then J18 and so on. Are we back to the yearly event of the anarchist action – or can we buildsomething more tis time? If so – how?  We may havea month in the Sun with ‘Anarchists threat to royal wedding’ baloney but after the royal carriage is parked away – what are we left with? As at the poll tax riot there will have been many people on the main march who would have loved to join in what the Bloc were up to. We cant just run anarchist only actons. We need to find away in for the multitude comrades. For the rest of our class to take part in their war.

44 Comments

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44 responses to “‘BLACK BLOC WITH BRAINS’ OUTWITS COPS…….AND ME!

  1. lee

    Erm, scuse me, there was a clear and pressing reason the cops had to attack Trafalgar square last. The precious Olympic Clock had to be protected at all costs, didn’t it!

  2. John Serpico

    A brilliant day indeed. Occupying buildings was never an idea that I was going to run with though. What might be more valid is to not just keep these things to once yearly (if that?) London actions but to take the war home with us to our local communities, towns and cities. Whether it be alone, in crews or in mobs we need to explode now throughout the country. We should be in it for the long term and we should be in it to win.
    Well done to all involved yesterday. Fuck the EDL, the black bloc made me feel proud to British.

  3. James

    Mass occupations of closed libraries and community, health and care centres.

  4. Kelly

    If you can’t find an action make one happen. It’s always exhilarating to take part in a little joint demolition project or police baiting but lone activism is effective, 100% mole free and low risk in terms of getting caught. It clearly doesn’t extend the sense of community and collective action we want as anarchists but maybe lone action on mass is indeed collective action. I celebrate the smashing up of the Ritz but how about all of us, every week, perform a low key but nice one such as letting off a stink bomb or two in the local Green owned businesses, HSBC etc or if your in London the haunts of the rich , leave a little calling card in the style of milk tray with ‘your cuts stink/you cunts stink/tax evasion stinks/your fucking cuts stink you tax evading cunts…’ you get the picture… if loads of us did this it would be a powerful message.
    On another matter my mate on the protest with me yesterday wore black red and grey as a member of the OAB, old anarchist brigade, one for the not so young! 🙂

    • Carnera Dempsey

      this has been ignored for a while but a coordinated strategy of nationwide stink bombs can completely close places down

  5. James

    Image of officer EK148 at http://img860.imageshack.us/img860/1986/dsc0166z.jpg who cracked open a girl’s head outside Fortnum & Mason yesterday at the protest

  6. thebristolblogger

    For mass occupations and to explode through the country we need a mass movement.

    We have a movement but it’s not a mass movement. We need to get out there and sell our ideas, make our arguments and build that movement.

    Mind you, after yesterday, it’s hard to see where the majority of that 500,000 crowd intend to go from here.

    Treasury Minister, Justine Greening has told the Mail on Sunday: “We are going to stick with the course that we have set.”

    Nothing has changed.

  7. terry the shadow

    A strangely ruminative piece Ian! All those weeks of looking forward to Tahrir Square coming to London, mass occupation of Mayfair and solidarity with our brave comrades in the Arab world, when the reality is that by 10 p.m on the night of the revolution you’re tucked up with your cocoa chatting to Steven Nolan and writing sentences like “There was no relation/connection to the 400 000 demonstrators in Hyde Park”. To put it another way, at a time of heightened attacks on working class people, even those who have travelled overnight from Glasgow or left Wales at 6 in the morning think that, at best British anarchism is utterly irrelevant to them, and at worst an embarrassment and a bit scary. As you said to the taxi driver from Blackpool on the radio, you don’t represent people like him.

    Is it enough to be known as the people who just smash things up and intimidate caricatures of the ruling class (The Ritz, Henley, Notting Hill!). How about doing something truly challenging like providing a vision of what you’re actually fighting for (not against) and some kind of account of how that’s going to come about, and how it will work.

    In the overthrow of capitalism, how will production be organised? How will there be plenty for all? What will law and order mean? What will happen to the police and the army? Will I still be a wage slave? Will I still have a boss? Could anarchists even run a piss up in a brewery?

    No one on the Left seems to want to deal with these questions. Maybe it’s because they aren’t actually that serious about changing anything – it’s enough to herd 400000 people around the centre of London on a Saturday and think that, somehow, that’s enough to provoke change. Or if we can just occupy a few buildings in Mayfair and have a good ruck with the police then everyone, inevitably, will rally behind us and revolution is just days away, even if none of us has a clue what happens next and what it will look like. But at least we told those posh rotters that we were angry with them!

    Or is there a bit more to it than that?

    • Carnera Dempsey

      Anarchism wants to destroy the system. Socialists and commies want to co-opt the system. Ian Bone is an anarchist but has more in common with old-style radicals. He’s dsnt really want to be within the larger groups, and prefers to retain a ‘differing’ and fairly isolated ideology. As soon as ideologies threaten to merge…it causes resistance. Hyde park is one example. Libya being another. Ian’s stance on Libya was frankly ludicrous and is being proved so with each passing day of hegemony conflict.

      Having said that i must say i agree broadly with most of Ian’s politics.

      moving on..
      Many recognise the importance of the left and organization in leading towards our ultimate aims.
      Strategically atm we need to join with those lefties who are ‘genuinely’ pushing for demos, occupations and strikes.
      The demo yest was huge but the sobering reality is that that will only happen once in a blue moon. People still dont realise that walking to Hyde Park is NEVER going to do anything.

      London needs to be CLOSED. And having myself watched the shoppers weaving their prams and shopping bags through the flames and riot vans in order to get to the next shop …it reminds me of what a tall order we have in front of us.

      There are fellow radicals such as Simon Hardy, Clare Soloman, Mark Bergfeld etc who should be encouraged not perpetually run down for being Trotskyite or whatever…the facts are they influence alot of young people and we need then. Theres nothing we can do to make people angry if they arent already. We need to gather all the angry ones and unite with them.

    • Obliterator

      Christchurch NZ post-earthquake 2011 is an example of how communities tapped into their own strengths,when the state closed up shop (ie nil services/information provided to the citizenry on where/how to get hold of fuel/food/supplies) for weeks in the aftermath.

      After a few days of camping out in their back yards and garages what did people do?
      1. Figured out that that waiting for the government to come to their aid was a complete waste of time.
      2. Organised and acted together in groups. Students used social networking to organise clean up squads (to deal with the problems of liquification). Farmers pitched in too. Local church groups coordinated information exchange on where to get fuel / supplies.

      The state is an expression of ruling class power whose only function is to maintain the power wealth and privilege of a tiny minority of rich bastards (and that minority has been getting tinier and tinier for the past 40 years). The tipping point will come come when people wake up to this, realise their own strength and decide to act.

    • rab c nesbitt

      i run a business on anarchist principals.consequently we have more holidays higher wages and enjoy ourselves. i work with people i trust .its only my bizz in asmuch as i started it.we all own it now.

  8. One of yesterday’s banners read “This is so 80s”*

    But as Ian pointed out: ‘back then the paper Class War used to provide some sort of bridge between the mass of demonstrators and the anarchists.’

    During the miner’s strike the media span their usual bullshit about the violence of the miners (even though it was the MET who had invaded our towns) and a slow trickle back to work. Many left-wing papers tried to support the miners whilst distancing themselves from ‘the violence’, but Class War stood out and was widely respected even by those who didn’t consider themselves ‘political’ (most of my mates had Class War posters and calendars on their walls – sadly a lot of them were hanging next to pictures of Sam bloody Fox).

    It’s been said before here, but if anarchists/anti-authoritarians – of all persuasions – put their collective energy into creating a single regular quality UK publication (print and/or internet) that embraced the full spectrum of anarchist thought, was anti-censorship, had a policy not to condone ANY genuine anarchist endeavor, and was open to lively debate rather than sectarian point-scoring – then at least we’d have a good point of reference for any interested party who wanted to get beyond the stereotypes and bullshit media headlines.

    We also need more balance. Anger towards those who would enslave us – no matter how righteous – is just half of the story. The creative aspect of anarchist philosophy should be celebrated wherever possible. After all what are we fighting for if not cooperation, freedom and mutual aid? Principles which, for me, are best illustrated by small positive acts within working class communities than by headline grabbing incidents in London – but then I am a semi-rural, city-hating hippie at heart 😉

    *(this was my favourite though – http://twitpic.com/4dhro7 – wish she was my granny)

  9. ACAB

    Hey Ian, you seen the shite that that treacherous cunt Andy fucking Newman has published on his poxy site:

    “SMASHING UP THE RITZ
    The self-indulgent actions of a small minority of protesters yesterday in occupying Fortnum and Masons, and enagaging in vandalism at the Ritz and elsewhere was I believe tactically mistaken, and elitist. It deflected attention away from the hundreds of thousands of protesters elsewhere.

    But while it was tactically mistaken, and based upon incorrect politics, there is a trap here that the left must avoid.

    The real vandals are not these hot-headed anarchists, but the rich and powerful government of millionnaires wrecking havoc on our communities, destroying public services, and endangering our economy.

    What we must avoid is a witchhunt atmosphere that starts by condemning the hotheads, but is pregnant with the danger of escalation, so that not only those who took part are condemned, but also those who sympathise with them, or fail to condemn their actions, or who fail to condemn it forcefully enough.

    The young people involved are right to be angry at inequality and injustice. I believe their methods are mistaken and ultimately elitist, and it is correct that the official movement distance itself from any responsibility for actions by people over whom we have no control or influence.

    But we must be careful of creating a widening divide between the official movement and those young people exploring innovative forms of action, even if we disapprove of the choices they make.”

    Andy fucking Newman is a fucking outrage.

  10. INCUBUS

    I think that people understimate the power of what happened yesterday, since at least half of the march arrived in Hyde Park to an empty stage, a windswept field and signs directing people to go home- the TUC ensured their event was a dead one. Unison made sure the voices of their members would literally not be heard by handing out (highly unpopular) vuvuzelas to ensure nobody actually expressed any anger through chanting or singing…People literally ‘droned’ past Downing Street, barely noticing it as the seat of national political power. The message of the TUC was one of social and political passivity. They won’t be doing the same again for years to come, if at all…By contrast, the sheer vitality and positivity of the Blac Bloc, it’s youth, and ability to take the fight to the enemy was astounding. Many people across this country will not be suckered by the propaganda that Bloccers were ‘mindless’ simply because the targets were absolutely perfect- Banks, tax dodgers, corporations and the retail outfits of the wealthy. The Ritz was desperately in need of a long overdue proletarian make-over, Top Shop too (interesting to note that I saw that the cops were using the rear staff exit to process prisoners). The media is trying to separate the actions from the main demo -‘criminals’, blah, ‘not connected’ ,blah as a standard counter-insurgency technique- but the fact is, the direct attacks on capital and its symbols will put more smiles on people’s faces than Miliband’s “vote-for-me-in-5 years-time” speech…
    ‘Stay for 4 1 Day’ did not happen because of the sheer dilution of numbers (2000 spread amongst 500,000..)…sadly the ‘wooden horse’ didn’t quite make it over the gates at Downing Street…But it looked great…
    The cops went for softly-softly all day until the sun started to set, with coppers from Kent guarding Parliament, and the Met holding back for later in the day- Fear among the level 1 and 2, PO trained cops was palpable (so few vets of the eighties riots left…), but even the TSG were unable to keep up with the Black Bloc’s fleet footed guerilla tactics, and it seemed they were in real tactical disarray… (I can verify that the cops were reporting over their radio system that ammonia bombs were being used, and advising using copious amounts of water to wash it off -but whether they were actually being thrown is another thing altogether…).
    De-arresting was being used extensively and to great effect…
    Once night fell, the youth from the Estates came on to the streets, and they were either EMA students, down town for a laugh, or drawn by the news…This too will have a percolating effect, since the trades unions are determined to remain moribund, it will be the inner cities that lead the real resistance to the state in the coming months and years.

    Comrades, don’t forget that the entire International financial system is perilously close to collapse, (Portugal, Spain, contagion) and the unfolding nightmare of Fukushima is yet to make itself fully felt…Once the third largest economy in the world ceases to be a viable entity, Tory austerity will look like a Golden Age….

  11. Geoff

    What did that TUC march achieve – fuck all of course. There could have been a million of them yesterday doing (as Dora Kaplan calls it) the Hyde Park shuffle, and the government would still not change a thing.
    I don’t have any answers – in the long run we’re all dead and nothing matters.
    It’s ok to fight back with fury and it’s ok to meekly troop from A to B, but it’s only the former (and on a larger scale than yesterday) that will actually change anything.

  12. Stum

    I don’t like violence it scares the crap out of me. I’m in my late 30’s, with a disability and I’ve got kids to worry about. It’s the violence that stops people like me going. If there was no threat of people fighting with police and shashing shit up, I’d probably have gone. There could have been millions of people like me and if we had all turned up in London it would have made the powers that be listen. Surely sit downs could achieve something, blocking shop doorways or London streets by just sitting and singing would hit business, get news camera in front of you and tell the public why you are blocking their entrance and the public will listen. Smash the fucking shops up and I have to listen to the mad rantings of some of my family who now think all protests should be banned. Violence turns people off and the message gets lost. So I ask myself do you really want to change the system, or do you just want to ruck with the old bill?

    • Kelly

      Violence is really isolated and localised. It is focused on by media but if you came along you’d see that even if it did kick off you can stand to one side or walk away! Many people were taking part in sit downs outside the shops or occupations and there wasn’t violence. Of course it gets down to the well worn arguments of what is violence, I don’t think throwing some paint balls are but others may disagree. I’ve always taken my kids along to protests, demos and occupations and now they are grown up they go themselves. If you believe in something you have to get out there and show it in the way that suits you.

    • Stum I ain’t gonna slag u off, I can see your point – but two things: (1) smashing the window of a bank isn’t “violence” in my book – inanimate objects don’t feel pain; (2) as you would know if you’d been to a lot of demos, being completely “non violent” is absolutely no guarantee that there won’t be “a ruck with the old bill” anyway. Remember they are paid to be violent and they follow orders. The same cops who were joking and sharing cups of tea with the non violent climate camp protesters at the G20 in 2009 were the same cops charging them and busting their skulls in an unprovoked attack as soon as they got the order to do so. Actually, completely non violent protesters tend to catch more hell from the police than the “violent” ones cos nuff of them (police) are cowards and prefer to whack people who they’re pretty sure ain’t gonna try to whack em back. Also, see Ian’s post today re UK Uncut occupation of Fordham and Mason – obviously being “reasonable”, “non violent” and “co operating with the police” is no guarantee that you’re gonna be treated with any kid gloves.
      I don’t think more “militant” people should dismiss or condemn people like yourself (who after all are representative of the majority of people at the moment, if we’re honest) but nor should people like yourselves buy into the media hype and join them in condemning “mindless thugs” or what have you. Different strokes for different folks – get in where you fit in.

  13. Gitane

    Like many an oldie we ambulanced chased the activities that unfolded on Saturday. Two events stick in my mind.The first was outside Top Shop; by now splattered with paint and the MP heavies trudging towards us I witnessed an argument between a couple of Latin American tourists (my Spanish is adequate) one was carrying shopping bags and saying “I didn’t come here for this, let’s go to Carnaby Street” and the other, stood on a parking barricade opposite the entrance, taking photos on the phone shouting ” Fuck the capitalists, kill the cops!” and then went and joined the front line.
    The other incident was two young shoppers arguing about whether they should go to Trafalgar Square or not because “There’s something happening there look” and she pointed to her phone and off they went towards the Tottenham Court Rd end of Oxford Street.
    So bystanders are no longer the innocents the media would have us believe. Ian’s fears that the Blac Block activity was somehow dislocated from the prols is probably passe. The educated prols have long gone but there’s still a class war going on, we oldies may no longer recognise the new model as revolutionary.

  14. Peter Good

    Spent a couple of hours stood on the grassy knoll overlooking the entrance to Hyde Park. Felt somewhat sad for the marchers: their message too vague and predictable; the people they were protesting about not even listening; not a cat-in-hell’s chance that these well-ordered Trade Unionists would have stormed the House of Commons.
    As a member of the para-military wing of Age Concern I managed to limp up to Oxford Circus. And, for me at least, confirmed it’s a generational thing.
    Ever since the 70’s kids have been lost to fashion, drugs and music. Going to “uni” was the promise of jobs and money. Increasingly, many have worked it out for themselves that’s all lies. Really proud of those youths yesterday with their expertise in twitter and cyberspace playing out tactical games against cops rigged-up like space marines.

    On the press, here’s a quote from Landstreicher’s “Wilful Disobedience” (READ IT!): “We will never be able to win over the media or to be presented ‘fairly’ through them. So speaking to them on their own terms, using their moral rules as guidelines in determing how we speak about these matters and following their protocol when we speak to them is absurd. The best way to speak to the media on this question is shown by the action of three Italian anarchists – Arturo, Luca and Drew – who beat up a journalist who dared to invade their comrades funeral.”

    • Peter, I do not think the TUC march was Protest. Its bourgeois democratic legally organised sheparding, thats all. For it to be protest, it MUST disrupt (to register opposition it must have a material effect or it is just words) and preferably attack, but it failed to do either.

      The British Left (TUC, Labour parties, socialist orgs) is the oldest and most fossilised in the world. It is so politically backward it has no vitality at all, and that is one of the reasons why it is degnerating and losing the struggles.

  15. St. Paul.

    Exemplary behaviour from our youth. Reminds me of the war against Franco (not that I was there – too young). My heart felt solidarity goes out to them totally unconditionally. Love ‘um!

    Was in the middle of it outside Top Shop, Dot Perkins & BHS. Good work. Saw some retail workers a few stories up having a fag and loving the time off.

    The (Iberian?) Anarchist Youth will protect the purity of the movement. Fucking love ‘um. ‘Can I have some more please sir?’

    Beats getting massacred by Commie/Trot wankers any day!

    More of this kind of thing!

  16. alan back on tyneside

    Shortly after 10am I walked round the corner into Malet St. That Glasgow banner and a big bunch of red & black flags at the front of the march making a lot of noise. A hour later and we’re off stopping the traffic; young people march far too quickly and I can hardly keep up. The feeder marches join up and I miss the amalgamated feeder marches splinter march that takes its own creative route to Trafalgar Sq. We hit the main march on the Embankment: http://twitpic.com/4e1jyb

    Trudge along in the main march past parliament and the endless SWP stalls and spot somebody trying to sell copies of ‘Workers Hammer’ ffs. Then I catch up with the amazing wonderful horse; http://twitpic.com/4e1jbv Walking behind him I notice that he has balls – attention to detail in everything comrades! Hang around in Trafalgar Sq. waiting for 2.11pm; a firework ignites poor old horse’s head but is expertly extinguished by a can of lager.

    And then as I’m edging off to rejoin the march this black column with flags flying erupts from the square and screams off into the west end. ‘Now its going to kick off’ says one guy, rubbing his hands together; others say things like ‘FUCK’ or ‘SHIT’ or just stand with their mouths open; an utterly awesome, unforgettable sight, brilliant planning and execution. And less than a year ago I was looking at photos of Athens and thinking ‘if only it could happen here…’

    Nevertheless I quickly dismiss the stupid notion of hobbling off after them and continue to the Hyde Park occupation; I’ll do a separate post on that and on ‘what to do now?’ In the morning. I’m fucked, haven’t slept since 7am Saturday and my feet hurt.

    And why can’t I do proper links like everyone else?

  17. AS usual Ian you are calling it correctly. THE issue is our relationship with the developing mass movement as it confronts widespread job losses. We have to argue for united action across areas and sectors of industry/workplaces, and we must have community forums and publications where our participation proves itself locally. Then we earn the right to tear arse around London on the next big one:)

    As it goes, I was on the way home today and sat next to a woman with her kids who had been caught up in the ‘trouble’ and was expressing negative views about the protesters. She had a fairly coherent line on why the protests were futile. However, when I explained what it was about and why the targets deserved it she ended up by wishing me good luck on future endeavors! This doesn’t recruit in the first instance but it does enlarge furture possibilities.

    People are not necessarily as negative as they may first appear.

  18. although i must point out that there were TOTALLY a couple of grandads and grannies in the Black Bloc. Saw one transform ducked down in the crowd. it always makes me happy to see people who dont deradicalise with age, as it is often said we all will!

  19. bone's non-existent backbone

    Where were you at Hyde Park? tucked up in bed? Coward.

  20. Douglas Baumann

    The “black bloc” is nothing more than a childish, self-indulgent mob with a hard on for violence. You are nothing but scum.

  21. Greg

    Like others, left huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the energetic masked youngsters. Weird to see them with a Scotland flag at the helm. We went to Trafalgar square, joined a feeder march, -managed to escape again from the stifling moribund Embankment, and walked to Hyde Park. There it was 1981 CND dejavu, so left after 5 minutes and caught the tube back to Charing Cross where it was lively. Sitting in the PizzaHut across the road as HSBC was trashed to much cheering and photo taking by people walking by, we noticed that for every person ‘taking part’ in the actions there were 10 who seemed impressed or were cheering with what was going on. After tea (we were going to go in the Ritz, but it’s gone right downhill now) we went back to Trafalgar Sq where youngsters were just trying to have a bit of a party and it was the usual thing of police trying to eke out their overtime payments….

  22. alan back on tyneside

    The Hyde Park occupation. Ian says:
    “There is no occupied space still contested.No ground to be held. My Hyde Park occupation idea never got the legs it needed to take off. ”
    And in an otherwise excellent post, Incubus says:
    ” ‘Stay for 4 1 Day’ did not happen because of the sheer dilution of numbers”

    Well it did happen, and when I came up Park Lane on the coach home at 1pm on Sunday it was STILL happening. I have the distinct impression that some comrades who might have been expected to have organisational responsibilites decided that this was not going to be very exciting and fucked off. Shoot me down if I’m wrong, but one thing is certain: that while the horse & the black bloc tactic were spectacular examples of us doing things really well, this occupation was not. It was an organisational embarrassment.

    I got there about 4pm. The marquee is sort of up and there’s a sign on the front of it that says “TEA” but there isn’t any, nor any evidence of its imminent availability. Some people are standing about talking. I’m on my own and don’t know anybody and like a number of others in the same situation I’m wondering how to introduce myself and get involved. Basic stuff – there’s nothing in place to welcome people arriving for the occupation and nobody seems to have even thought that this might be a good idea.

    So I ask the guy who putting up the marquee if there’s anything I can do to help and he says no there isn’t. Deep breath. I suggest that I could get the tea going. This happens! There’s a sort of field samovar type of thing; a bunch of us get it going but there’s no tap anywhere for water supply and when I suggest going off to buy some water I get this long lecture about plastic bottles and water pipelines to the sahara. I go off to gather twigs for the samovar instead and when I come back the thing has been moved away from the marquee and is surrounded by a tight group of people; they have taken possession of it. End of public provision of tea – the sign on the marquee later disappears.

    Darkness falls and fires are made; I spend most of the next twelve hours foraging for the fires and talking to people standing about on the edges. There’s a great bunch of older persons from the midlands, not anarchists but well into direct action and obviously very active; they have brought their tents and they stay the night. There’s another camp to the south with a huge fire going which leads to the curious incident of the tree in the night time. People come & go, young people dressed in black & looking pleased with themselves drift in and out. In the early hours this young electrician turns up, her boyfriend has been arrested earlier in the night and she’s come to the occupation looking for kindness & friendly faces, which is exactly what she finds. A couple of hours later released boyfriend turns up and they are reunited. One of the great highlights of the weekend.

    It was a good experience; but a lot of those wonderful things that were talked about on the facebook page just didn’t happen. It was not a good advert for our ability to organise and the question is why?

    • Kelly

      Just wanted to say well done for staying Alan. I know what it’s like to go along on your own to places and face cliques rather than friendly comrades but glad you had some good stuff happen in the end.
      I know a group of 3 youngsters who were staying and I hope the experience didn’t disillusion them. I’m sad it wasn’t better, did people opt out? Maybe there wasn’t enough organisers to pull it off properly in the first place but the thing is people (especially young people) trust that if it’s there online, it’s going to happen and to some extent they got let down.

      • alan back on tyneside

        “I know a group of 3 youngsters who were staying and I hope the experience didn’t disillusion them.”

        Kelly, most of the young people who stayed seemed to have a good time sitting round their fires, talking, dancing, playing music, foraging & consuming a moderate amount of alcohol. It was great to see them just doing it for themselves. Later on I believe that a few rather half-hearted attempts at Shagging Under A Space Blanket were made in the marquee. Tut tut.

  23. What was achieved? Most of the people i saw in the Fortnum and Mason’s occupation were young, male and female and middle class waving anarchist flags – this is a new generation inspired by Anarchism that has evolved mostly independently from us ‘class of the 80’s’ types. This is an achievement and this is where ‘connections’ can be made; not with the TUC labourites.

    What we need to do if we are to grow this movement is to prove that Anarchism can provide an effective, tangible, and radical ‘alternative’ to capitalism and that it’s not just a daily mail stereotype of black block blokes smashing stuff up ( though we need to confront the state at all and every opportunity). Imagine Anarchist lead libraries, healthcare, childcare and education and housing (e.g Colin Wards ‘Self Build’ projects and the 80’s squatter networks that housed more people than the local councils) – We should take over and rebuild the collapsing social infrastructure; this will cause far more damage to the state than smashing a bank window (though that’s a good start)

  24. Mr. Jolly

    Although I though the black bloc actions were on target largely, didn’t quite understand the trashing of Anne Summers? There seems to be more than a hint of sexual puritanism and misanthropy there.

  25. INCUBUS

    @alan on tyneside-
    cheers mate, but what I meant, ( and to answer your question ‘Why?’) was that while the attending figures on the ‘Stay’ FB page looked impressive on virtual ‘paper’, when it came down to it, the same people scorching round Piccadilly and Mayfair who also wanted to be in Hyde Park, (including me, and I dipped in and out twice!) just couldn’t manage to be in so many places at the same time- Anti-authoritarians are still, sadly, in a minority, so in this sense we were diluted amongst the weight of numbers in central London on the day…This was also compounded by the sheer variety of targets, their geographical locations and the tactical need for mobility…The Radical Workers Bloc looked amazing on the demo, but it didn’t have the numbers outside Downing Street to halt the march and actually have an impact there… The disparate nature of the feeder marches and many smaller affinity groups on the march meant that a solid Anti-authoritarian gathering was not possible, and therefore became a strategic contradiction. Perhaps if there had been one big bloc of Anti-authoritarians on the march, then the foundation could have been laid for a stronger presence at Hyde Park ( of the ‘olds’ and less physically able), while others would have been free to act a marauding militia, using the park as a base, as originally planned…It’s pretty obvious, thanks to kettling, that the classic set-piece confrontations (Wapping etc.) are a thing of the past , and the way forward is to support those who are capable of greater mobility.
    If nothing else, as I said, the actions on Saturday will still inspire those working class communities which will feel the brunt of capital’s attack- especially the youth who look forward to having ‘No Future’…There is also the fact that The Millipede brought his speech forward by two hours for fear of being heckled and booed…

    And Crab is right, so long as an local occupation movement is not stymied by ‘Big Society’ types…( I have a mate who works in Libraries, and she has said that people have been coming in, asking staff if they can ‘volunteer’- completely oblivious to the fact that what they are actually saying is “I want your to do your job for free”!)…

    The pathetic whining in the press with their willful faux ignorance of what a red and black flag symbolises is hilarious, that, and Cmdr Bob’s admission that the old bill could’nt be everywhere at once (like us-although we were!), and could’nt protect ‘every business in central London’ means Saturday was a good day for us…They were running scared, incapable of arresting anyone on the day, barring most of the Fortnum occupiers, We were running free, with courage and righteous rage…
    Well… most of us were…;)
    “What, with these feet!?” (Norman Stanley Fletcher 1978)

    • alan back on tyneside

      “If nothing else, as I said, the actions on Saturday will still inspire those working class communities which will feel the brunt of capital’s attack- especially the youth who look forward to having ‘No Future’…”

      @incubus; exactly so! 9am sunday I got a call from a lad on the local estate; he’s taking an interest in what’s happening but not politicised or active. His analysis is that the march looked great but won’t achieve anything and that the black bloc/Fortnums actions are exactly what’s needed. I told him that I’m so slow that I would have been a liability running with the bloc and his response was, “Yes, but I wouldn’t be”

      Then he said something really thought-provoking; “are they doing it again today? That’s not the end of it is it?” That struck a chord for several reasons. We may not be in the same situation yet, but one interesting aspect of the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt & Libya was how quickly the police & security forces actually caved in when faced with persistant day after day assault.

      Another aspect of this is that if things do crank up a notch or two then, particularly up here in the north, we could find ourselves as a highly credible, (possibly the only), alternative to the EDL in terms of the allegiance of working class youth. Saturday was a massive achievement in this respect and it was not an unaligned, spur of the moment action like most of those that we saw at the end of last year; it was a large, highly effective and obviously anarchist squad; the kids will not have missed that. I was talking to an old Maoist at the camp; sharp guy & his view was that anarchism is now very clearly the most likely alignment for young people with any capacity for radicalisation, rather than the trots or other communist groups.

      On which, I wonder what the SWP are thinking now? They seemed to concentrate an inordinate amount of their resources on that endless string of paper/bookstalls with megaphone blather all the way along the route of the march. Will they be happy with what they achieved? I did hear a whisper that there are further splits rumbling to the surface, the cause of which is a proposed new SWP change of direction to support the Labour party. What a fucking gift if its true!

  26. INCUBUS

    I thought the Swerps were always pro-labour ‘without illusions’!? What about their limp call to occupy Trafagar Sq? I know the NCAFC were calling for this too, and the SWP are heavily involved with them….Like their banners with Cameron and Clegg being decapitated…an obvious rip-off of the Class War ‘Maggie’s axe’ cover…Desperate to gain some sort of credibilty…
    We need to ensure we don’t end up too like the Greek movement, who’s emphasis seems to be purely on street confrontations (correct me if I’m wrong!), it’s a tricky balance all round…but , yeah, inspiration to open revolt goes along way, and the sooner the Tories get a kick in the teeth from the inner-cities, the better. The unions will let us all bleed to death in the gutter in the meanwhile…

    [@Mr. Jolly-I thought the attack on Anne Summers was a bit naff too, with some guy spraying ‘Fuck Sexism’ on the window (all the female sex workers I’ve ever met are very empowered and libertarian feminist to boot!), still, the commodification of sex is always worth opposing, what with the utter tat they sell, made in sweatshops in the ‘Third’ / developing world, personally I was puzzled as to why the Victorinox shop got such a pasting…they’re handy things, those swiss army knives!]

    • Demolition

      What about the Black Bloc geezer slicing up Boris’s bike tyres with his shiny new Swiss Army knife 🙂 I wonder where he got that from 🙂

  27. smiffy

    interesting debate in the Indy … black bloc targets, and the reason behind them seems to be well understood

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/some-food-for-thought-from-inside-fortnum-amp-mason-2254756.html#comment-173244966

  28. INCUBUS

    @smiffy- I like this bit from that article-

    “Police officers inside the building thanked protesters for their cooperation and promised that they could leave together without interrogation. Outside, however, riot police pushed those who exited into a small area where they were unlinked by force, photographed, arrested and led away. The protesters, who spent the night in police stations around London, believed they had been duped.”
    (“This way for the gas ladies and gentlemen”…)
    Meanwhile those who stayed anonymised and mobile….

  29. Pingback: Dancing in the streets: Reflections on March 26th | Cautiously pessimistic

  30. John Serpico

    “It’s hard to see where the majority of that 500,000 crowd intend to go from here” says thebristolblogger, which is and always has been a classic cut-off point between faith in the system and the democratic process – and radical politics and radical action. When you come to realise that an A to B protest march like the one we’ve just had isn’t going to cause the government to react let alone fall then you’re faced with two options: acquiescence or a changing of tactics.
    Acquiescence means acceptance and support, whether through silence, passive grumbling or griping on The Sun newspaper’s website forum. It’s all the same. Stepping over into radical politics opens up the field completely and from there it’s each to one’s own and horses for courses. There’s more room to breathe and more room move – unless you join the SWP, that is.
    By the look of it (and from comments on Ian’s blog) there are still a lot of people around from the Eighties. We haven’t gone away. We’re still here. So also, however, is the system with its supporters and maintainers that we once came up against. And whilst most 80’s 0nce-radicals have hunkered down to the job of trying to provide for themselves and their families, their once-opposites have continued on their own merry way (in the form of New Labour) in driving the system whilst the Right have re-grouped and declared class war.
    What now then? Where now? Where do the majority of that 500,000 crowd intend to go from here? As I said: acquiescence or radicalism. More pertinently, where do we all go from here? As in all of us who are basically on the same side as Ian?
    As someone else pointed out, Bash The Rich (meaning Class War) never attacked The Ritz in the way it was on Saturday, so clearly there are things those ‘youngsters’ can teach us. Black Bloc type action is, however, but one tactic that by itself in isolation is not going to change the world which is why its important that its supported in a thousand other ways – it’s horses for courses again to how people choose to do this.
    I don’t believe that there is any critical mass point to be aimed for that will cause a government to fall or even for a policy to change. 200 people on a Black Bloc or 2000 people, the political and social effect wil be the same if it is in isolation from civil society. As Ian has pointed out in the past: our values ( as represented by Saturday’s Black Bloc, in my opinion) need to become the ‘common sense’ values. As I have said, we need now to explode throughout the country, in our own communities, towns and cities. Culturally, politically, in the media, in the streets, verbally, artistically, directly. The Whitchapel Anarchists are setting a good example.
    It’s not a question of numbers, there is no need to concentrate on building a mass movement. As my old Mum used to whisper to me when I was a child, as she tucked me into bed: “Remember, John. Let ten people meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence rather than the agony of survival: from this moment, despair ends and tactics begin. Despair being the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of everyday life.”

  31. AutonomousYoof

    The students and young autonomous radicals organised and continue to organise in a non-hierarchical way before and after christmas. Many self-define as anarchists or autonomous marxists. The ‘trots’ of the young left – Solomon and Hardy (who is a real non-entity) who have no pull beyond their own small cliques. Bergfeld is an excellent activist. These kids are organising in workplaces, communities, schools and practice anarchist and libertarian communist principles in a very organic way. And we are only 5 months in to this whole thing (post-Browne report). The future is bright.

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