Ever since Trump became President of the USA there’s been the prospect of him visiting the UK and the chance for direct action. Anarchist organising is not what it was in London just a few short years ago. I seriously doubt the capacity for bursting the official bubble and suspect that the main leftist counter demo will be the only alternative narrative on offer.
The mainstream left initially called on the government not to invite Trump to the UK when he first became President. This typical call to ban anything they don’t agree with was as predictable as it was lacking in imagination. You can’t ban fake news, let alone bad news and he is bad news in every conceivable way. Let’s have him here and challenge him in some way, even if we can’t get anywhere close.
There are many ways this can be done. His will be a spectacle dominating our national news for days on end. What we could do with is a variety of alternative spectacles for the news to highlight. The left’s aim for a massive peaceful jamboree is lacklustre but at least it’s something. We’re all at different levels of political activity and action and I don’t blame anyone for going along to something where they will have a nice time. We have to hope it might be a bit more exciting than this though.
I’m not sure that there is a black bloc in London anymore but emulating what happened in Washington DC on the day Trump was inaugurated would be a fine thing indeed. Damage to property was the order of the day highlighting the very real damage that trump and people like him do to people and the planet. Of course the black bloc faced some criticism for causing trouble but they also got space to explain why they did what they did and why it matters. Property damage is entirely justifiable and nothing compared to the damage he is causing to lives and livelihoods.
It doesn’t have to simply be black bloc activity either. There are a myriad ways in which the point can be made. I notice a crowdfunded activity to install a massive inflatable baby Trump above the capital for example. This might not achieve a great deal but it makes a point and maybe there will be people who are more willing to help that than to get their paint bombs out. It’s all good and while I think we should push protest down radical routes when and where possible we’re having trouble simply getting our own house in order so I’m not going to criticise anyone for actually getting something done.
I can’t underplay how much damage the rise of Corbyn has done to anarchism in Britain. It’s now clear that many people involved in anarchism over the last 10 years or so have moved towards constitutional methods for their politics. The argument that Labour is just as bad as the Tories doesn’t work for them anymore. In Labour, many see a chance for a transformational progressive government. I can’t help but assume that this is the reason for the lack of dynamism within the anarchist movement since 2015. These things perhaps run in cycles. The anarchist movement has been dominated by the green and peace movements before and maybe we’re moving to a period when they take the forefront again.
I’d love to be proved wrong though. There is a chance that through antifascist organising the weekend of Trump’s visit could present an opportunity to mobilise in large numbers. Whilst the Trump protests will take place on Friday July 13th, the following day sees a planned far-right demo take place in support of Tommy Robinson. Two fascists in two days? Well Trump certainly has fascist tendencies and he actually has power so I place him as more important than that wretched imbecile currently squealing ‘free speech’ while hoping he can one day paralyse all our vocal chords.
There is no doubt though that this could present a weekend like no other in terms of the possibilities for direct action, subversion and counter spectacle. Having opportunities and being able to take them are of course two different things. We’ve waited a long time for Trump to finally get his ass to the UK. Those that are able will mark the occasion I’m sure. Whether anarchists can puncture through all the official pomp and even the official counter pomp of Labour and their supporters remains to be seen but if they do there is the chance of inspiring a new generation of people on the margins of politics. Trump’s visit will give us a clear indication of the health of the anarchist movement and the direction it is taking in the UK.
Image: Trump Baby crowdfunder