In 2015 let’s smell the fear of the ruling class
The struggle for radical change can leave us feeling burnt out, isolated and on the run. It’s an uphill struggle most of the time in which the agencies of the state and the hierarchies that it supports, including a grossly unjust economic system, appear to be forever in the ascendency. In 2015 we need to put the struggle we face in perspective and see some of the actions we take as the progress they surely are. We might not be victorious but we have won some battles and each win should spur us on.
When we think of some of the actions taken against us it can be bewildering. In recent times the state has helped arm the police to new levels. They have the power to infiltrate movements and gather intelligence like never before. We’ve recently learned of their tendency to steal the identities of dead babies in order to infiltrate groups and disrupt campaigning. Meanwhile the state continues to legislate away communal existence and spaces. Bands of workers have been undermined by successive pieces of legislation whilst trade union bureaucracies now personalise struggle with the rise of individual casework. Neoliberalism is now a feature of the left and it affects the weaponry in its arsenal.
Austerity has exacerbated our feelings of hopelessness as vital lifelines for people have been cut. Issues of housing, health and welfare have come to the fore as those at the margins of society suffer and the attacks protrude inwards towards the majority.
Despite all of this our struggle continues; because of it. In fact, our struggle seems in fantastic health. We are hitting back. There is so much going on in terms of groups campaigning for those on benefits, fighting eviction, environmental issues and a host of other concerns that it’s hard to keep up.
To add to this on occasion we’re winning. The Poor Doors protests, supported by Freedom News, have seen developer Redrow on the run. There has been some success too for the New Era estate campaign. Well planned and executed industrial action also gets results, such as the 3 Cosas campaign and other small scale activity.
Sometimes you can even sense the fear of the ruling class. I recently telephoned a businessman on behalf of his workforce who he owes money. The last thing he was expecting was this simple phone call requesting negotiations. An individual with power over livelihoods came across as timid and scared simply because there are more of us than there are of him. His voice trembled and he stumbled over his words. It was empowering and it’s an experience I’ve had time and time again when I’ve come up against bosses not used to dealing with union activists.
When the Tories talk about limiting union action further it’s because they fear collective action. The fact that we face the full force of the state at times is exactly because we have the power to exact radical change. When the police infiltrate a group it’s because they are fearful. And they should be fearful because we stand to change their cosy way of life. We should take heart from the fact that they fear us and will do anything they can get away with to harm our chances. It’s frustrating, dangerous and it can be demoralising but ultimately it is proof that we’re on the right tracks. So, whilst we should take heart we should not embrace it. It’s simply proof that people operating democratically and collectively still actually means something.
The Poor Doors protests were a classic example of something starting small and getting more and more important. It built up from a handful of people to becoming a weekly street party with people dancing to the bands that turned up and ultimately it got recognition from the people with the power to make changes to the building (and there should be news on that front soon).
The recent example of the love Activists taking over a disused RBS building near Trafalgar Square in London saw a classic example of ruling class fear. The organisers simply wanted to use an empty building to provide free meals to the homeless of Christmas Day. Instead they were illegally evicted and then barred from re-entering the building, contrary to a court ruling. They were then hassled and harassed on the street by the authorities, hell bent on preventing this fundamentally brilliant thing from taking place. It seems that capitalism can’t even allow collective good will at Christmas. See how quickly they move when people expose injustice and inequality. See how quickly they move when people simply try to provide the poor with some food.
Obviously, the fact that we face such hostility means that we need to carry on organising effectively. We don’t win every battle and the general trend of neoliberal economics backed up by pliant politicians will continue for some time. But when we band together and we carefully choose our tactics we can sometimes pierce the neoliberal bubble.
In 2015 we will know when they’re scared; it will be when they are acting against us because we are awesome.