Date: Tue, 09 Aug 2011 18:22:43 +0300
Subject: (en) Britain, North London Solfed’s response to the London
To: en <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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With media sources blaming anarchy for the unfolding violence in London and across
England, the North London Solidarity Federation felt a response from an anarchist
organisation active in the capital would be appropriate. —- Over the last few days,
riots have caused significant damage to parts of London, to shop-fronts, homes and cars.
On the left, we hear the ever-present cry that poverty has caused this. On the right, that
gangsters and anti-social elements are taking advantage of tragedy. Both are true. The
looting and riots seen over the past number of days are a complex phenomenon and contain
many currents. —- It is no accident that the riots are happening now, as the support
nets for Britain’s disenfranchised are dragged away and people are left to fall into the
abyss, beaten as they fall by the batons of the Metropolitan Police. But there should be
no excuses for the burning of homes, the terrorising of working people. Whoever did such
things has no cause for support.
The fury of the estates is what it is, ugly and uncontrolled. But not unpredictable.
Britain has hidden away its social problems for decades, corralled them with a brutal
picket of armed men. Growing up in the estates often means never leaving them, unless it’s
in the back of a police van. In the 1980s, these same problems led to Toxteth. In the
’90s, contributed to the Poll Tax riots. And now we have them again – because the problems
are not only still there, they’re getting worse.
Police harassment and brutality are part of everyday life in estates all around the UK.
Barely-liveable benefits systems have decayed and been withdrawn. In Hackney, the
street-level support workers who came from the estates and knew the kids, could work with
them in their troubles have been told they will no longer be paid. Rent is rising and
state-sponsored jobs which used to bring money into the area are being cut back in the
name of a shift to unpaid “big society” roles. People who always had very little now have
nothing. Nothing to lose.
And the media’s own role in all of this should not be discounted. For all the talk of the
peaceful protest that preceded events in Tottenham, the media wouldn’t have touched the
story if all that happened was a vigil outside a police station. Police violence and
protests against it happen all the time. It’s only when the other side responds with
violence (on legitimate targets or not) that the media feels the need to give it any sort
So there should be no shock that people living lives of poverty and violence have at last
gone to war. It should be no shock that people are looting plasma screen TVs that will pay
for a couple of months’ rent and leaving books they can’t sell on the shelves. For many,
this is the only form of economic redistribution they will see in the coming years as they
continue a fruitless search for jobs.
Much has been made of the fact that the rioters were attacking their own communities.
But riots don’t occur within a social vacuum. Riots in the eighties tended to be directed
in a more targeted way; avoiding innocents and focusing on targets more representative of
class and race oppression: police, police stations, and shops. What’s happened since the
eighties Consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion
of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters
turn on other members of our class
The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not
involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the
sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone
those we don’t know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.
But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent.
Burning out shops with homes above them, people’s transport to work, muggings and the like
are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from
government “austerity” politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing
our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend
themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.
We believe that the legitimate anger of the rioters can be far more powerful if it is
directed in a collective, democratic way and seeks not to victimise other workers, but to
create a world free of the exploitation and inequality inherent to capitalism.
North London Solidarity Federation
- London resident squads in action (rt.com)
- Britain Ramps Up Security Efforts To Stop Rioting (npr.org)
- Hume: Do the London riots have any lessons for Toronto? (thestar.com)
- UK riots: don’t deal with them in the way Greece did | Matina Stevis (guardian.co.uk)
- UK PM recalls Parliament for London riot crisis (ajc.com)
- Getting to the root of the London riots (cbc.ca)
- UK PM recalls Parliament for London riot crisis (seattlepi.com)
- The UK riots and language: ‘rioter’, ‘protester’ or ‘scum’? (guardian.co.uk)
- It’s 1981 Again (caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com)