Monday 22 March 2021

Apologists for State Violence

Performative condemnation is everywhere. The Tories, the Labour front bench, the line is singular and uniform. It's claimed peaceful protest is sacrosanct, from a government determined to outlaw it. We see Labour politicians clapping on rioting coppers battering sit-down protesters. And, naturally, centrist Twitter pretending to have a stake in an issue they've shown scant interest in, save for likes and retweets. It's a pathetic spectacle in which oh-so principled political differences melt away and all are starkly revealed as outright apologists for state violence.

Pretty much the only sensible Westminster comment about Sunday's protest in Bristol comes from Nadia Whittome, but her nuanced and moderate take is a stand out. Nowhere do we find the establishment defenders of civil liberties. Freedom and the right to assembly must be respected. Peaceful protest is an inalienable right. That is up until the moment coppers raise their batons in anger. No quibbling, no questioning, the so-called liberal establishment gather up their condemnation and hurl it onto the bodies of protesters. They happily nod to the rhythm of every punch and every kick as the riot squad dish out the punishment to the despised outgroups, particularly the left, they'd dearly wish to rough up themselves.

The nauseating display comes after a brief period of discombobulation. Black Lives Matter have turned the spotlight on police racism in this country, and the disgusting murder of Sarah Everard brought to the fore the force's institutionalised misogyny. A point spectacularly reinforced by the police assault on her vigil just over a week ago. For the briefest of moments inbetween the Met's attack and the Tories passing the second reading of the police powers bill, cop legitimacy was openly interrogated and awkward questions were asked in polite circles. Labour were forced to do some opposition, and centrism had to pay lip service to the evidence of their senses. Bristol's police riot was their opportunity to clamp down on the uncertainty and unease, put away the second thoughts and resume enthusiastic cheerleading for the thin blue line again.

We're going to be seeing a lot of this over the coming years, if not later this summer. Mainstream politics is entering a strange kind of stasis. The Tories have their coalition of voters sewn up tight, and Keir Starmer's Labour are determined to demobilise and demotivate its support. The result is political marginalisation. Locking out the class interests of younger workers while both parties define and pander to the petit bourgeois horizons of elderly home owners is not without consequence. Before 2015, this manifested as an alienated abstention from mainstream politics - something politicians affected to care about. Once large numbers rudely intruded onto their turf they systematically drove them out again. With legitimate channels closed, the streets are open. Thanks to the Tories' efforts at criminalising mobilisation, what we are likely to see, much to the horror of current and future pearl clutchers, is a wider and deeper spread of radicalisation.

This is going to suit establishment politics for the time being. More police attacks spun as protester violence, and the vulcanism of frustrated disorder erupting against repeated provocations suits the Tories very nicely. Thanks to their cultivated generational war, they'll have little trouble convincing the support that their children and grandchildren need the smack of firm government to sort then out. But when their numbers start to dwindle, what then? Prediction is a mug's game, but it's doubtful tens of millions who've had their lives blighted by the Tory, Liberal, and Labour establishments are going to award them with a bouquet of thanks.

Image Credit


Phil said...

The Tweets linked in the first paragraph have both been deleted, although fortunately Toby Perkins' has been preserved.

[mutters] "a Labour MP - a Labour MP..."

Phil said...

Yeah, I spotted Toby Perkins' deletion this morning so fixed the tweet. As for Russ in Cheshire, no surprises there.

Defensor dux civitatis violentiam said...

SAGE are predicting the third wave will hit us over the summer, I do hope the police will stop being so soft with these reckless criminals who continually flout the very essential, necessary and important social distancing rules. But I guess that horse has bolted.

Frankly I am disgusted at how laissez faire the police and authorities have been with these reckless rule breakers.

This has been a total failure of policing and more to the point a total failure of the exchange system. Only communism, i.e. the non exchange system, can avoid the fundamental contradictions and antagonisms that capitalism faces in response to an event like this.

If you fall into the camp that wants to preserve exchange then I have news for you, you are living at the best possible time and in just about the best possible place in the history of human civilisation (well maybe rewind a couple of years). My message to this camp is to stop protesting, stop moaning and accept your position. Which to be fair the vast majority do.

To the people in the latter camp, those who want to abolish exchange; my message to you is that the billionaires, the police bill or some hyped up identity issue are the least of our problems. The problem is that for the vast majority of workers, the prospect of the end of exchange is no more palatable than the enclosure acts were to the peasants. Remember that the peasants were dragged kicking and screaming into the horror that was industrial society, and only a century and more of unparalleled brutality, horror, subjugation, and dispossession normalised being a wage slave. As Marx says capitalism came into the world dripping in blood, he forgot to add that the toddler years were no barrel of laughs either!

I fear that something as horrific will need to happen to drag the wage slave from capitalism and normalise the non exchange system, i.e. communism. And in the process rescue a good portion of the population from the idiocy of consumerist life.

This is why extinction rebellion were using the correct tactics when they attempted to disrupt the lives of 'ordinary' people, it is just a shame that they were forced to stop using that tactic due to the thuggish reaction of the 'ordinary' people.

We can thank the virus for taking up the baton, hopefully it can succeed where extinction rebellion failed.

Blissex said...

With an ageing population and with increased police powers our ruling class know that they can put down any protests and they won't have much of an effect; over 800 years of the UK ruling class doing from 1066 have proved that given the right conditions protests, riots and even local rebellions can be simply quashed. The new "Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing" bill contains draconian restrictions on the right to protect (including deportation of protesters that are not citizens), and New New Labour supports it only complaining it should be more draconian.

Jeff Thomas said...

You can stay silent and behave in the hope things will get better. History shows us that change comes from getting off your knees. When you protest video everything

Dipper said...

@ Jeff Thomas.

Change comes from voting. And winning. That last bit is quite important.

David Parry said...


Nah, if voting changed anything, they'd ban it. A cliché, I know, but it's a cliché for good reason.

JN said...


...and I'm sure who happens to literally own the mainstream media has absolutely no influence on that! Propaganda was (uncontroversially) a big deal in the first half of the 20th century but somehow it just stopped being important in 'the West' after 1945!