Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Risque Joy of Students

There seems to be a move in the media and some sections of the political classes to say those who occupied the Tory HQ yesterday were not 'real' protesters. I have to say they looked pretty real to me. I think what they mean is that they don't agree with their methods, but choose to express this in such a way that delegitimises those they disagree with rather than engaging with their argument.

It's also palpably false.

I thought the Young Greens statement on the protests was spot on. We should not define a whole protest 'violent' because of one broken window and an inappropriate fire extinguisher. It is not uncomplicated to say that damage to property is violence, although when the Tories destroyed the mining industry, for instance, it did involve a fair amount of state violence to achieve that.

Some people. who can crop up in the most unexpected places, dismiss the couple of thousand protesters outside Millbank as rent-a-Trots but it's simply not so. By the way how much is it to hire a Trot and do they charge by the hour, or is it more sort of piece work?

There is a growing student movement that's becoming more confident and ready to act and we should, I think, support that without insisting that everyone goes about things our way, not that I'm sure we have a single way.

It's perfectly legitimate to have differences of opinion or doubts, or to get frightened on a demo, as this excellent post illustrates. However as Jamie outlines here the student train is leaving and we ought to wave them off with a smile not allow side issues to derail that support. The coming years are going to be tough, and evidently some of us are going to have to harden up otherwise they'll be very inconsistent friends.

Students are right to be angry. Students are right to protest. If anything we need more energy, not less, in these movements to help them show the rest of us the way. For the first time in ages I'm feeling hopeful, and for that I'd like to thank those students who took things up a notch.


Anonymous said...

Agree. Thats it!

Adam Ramsay said...

Great piece Jim, and thanks for your comment on our statement.

Penny Dreadful said...

It's refreshing, in the midst of all the media mythology that is speedily being woven around the events of wednesday, to hear from someone who is not only not hysterical but also fairly optimistic. cheers :)

DocRichard said...

The anger is understandable, but violence against people - which includes the police - is unacceptable for Greens.

PB0001/7: 7.We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.

And from the 10 key values of the US Green party: We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

And from the Global Greens Charter: 9.6 Will help strengthen existing peace programs and forge new programs that address all aspects of building a culture of peace. Programs will include analysis of the roots of violence, including inter-familial violence, and the issue of mutual respect between genders; and support training in non-violent conflict resolution at all levels.

IN demonstrations, it is important for us to engage the police in friendly dialogue, as far as possible. The police are vital. They are disaffected themselves, or will be when the cuts start to hit them. Governments change when they discover that the police and the Army are not prepared to obey orders to attack their demonstrating fellow citizens.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but non-violence is an important historic Green value, and we must uphold these values, especially in uncertain times.

Jim Jepps said...

Thanks all.

Richard, I agree that the police are people and violence against people is a bad thing. I don't agree with the idea that this was a particularly violent protest or that smashed windows etc should have us all running around in panic.

Greens do look for non-violent solutions and they are not pacifists. Both those points are in the constitution and neither one has *much* bearing on what happened on Wednesday.

For me Greens base their politics on our roots in movements and communities - and I think we need to be careful if and when we have criticisms to ensure that they are in the context of supporting progressive aims.

I've no problem with the idea that we promote non-violent direct action but when you're part of a movement things are more messy than that and we need to keep things in proportion and look to causes and solutions as well as actions.

Derek Wall said...

Spot on Jim, much appreciated, do flag up the legal support blog here, there are going to be a lot of angry people and we have to support and show solidarity.

Nov 10th defence committee here, please spread the word

Anonymous said...

"I agree that the police are people?"

you fucking cock

how thick and pretentious do you sound?

Jim Jepps said...

Anon: I was responding directly to Doc Richard's point about the police being people. I'm not surprised you posted this anonymously though.