Although we have been involved in the anti-war protests and actions and should have provided focus, these have mostly been disheartening, though local events have shown that support can be strong locally as well as worldwide. In particular, the domination of the Stop the War Coalition that did nothing to help the ‘anti-capitalist’ wing of the anti-war movement from receiving support left us rather isolated and relying on attempts to alter events that were simply not open to alteration. We had to endure a dilution of focus and action through their domination. The march of two million through the streets of London on February 15th was simply used by the state as a tool for their own moralistic arguments for the war (“I feel it’s right – just as the protesters feel its wrong”), subverting its meaning and turning it into a monolithic march to nowhere. Had this turned into a mass moment of civil disobedience the warmongers would have felt severely threatened; but the Stop the War Coalition and its liberal backers did everything they could to dilute the movement's politics. What could have been an achievable objective - stopping the war - became impossible through the STWC's pandering to liberal sympathies.
Another reason for lack of direction (or even wrong direction) is Mayday, which started promisingly enough but has now become little more than a depressing experience of self-imposed temporary imprisonment in London, mostly due to new the new police tactics of confinement. Mayday appears to take up a huge amount of time and resources for those involved in it. The police are now obliged by the corporate media to ensure that nothing happens after the non-riot of 2001 that saw Churchill receive a makeover. Our chances of ‘winning’ on a Mayday celebration/protest in London have been slim ever since. The fact that we have not had an overwhelmingly successful mass action since J18 seems to have helped prevent us from finding focus. By focus I mean the majority of activists and groups (or as many as possible) working together for a common goal, networking, learning new ways of organizing and acting, and then returning to ongoing struggles with a feeling that all of us can and have worked together to make something happen and a strengthened sense of identity and self-cohesion.
This is where DSEi this year seemed to bring about at least a part of that need for focus. Groups from around England (and from parts of Europe) came together for a week-long series of decentralized and not so decentralized actions to undermine the legitimacy of a market of death in the capital of one of the G8 nations capital cities. This seems to have been achieved despite the best plans of the police and state. The support of locals who honked their horns in support shows that our ideas are seeping (or have already seeped) into the minds and political/ethical views of others and bring promise for the future. In short, DSEi seems to have managed what Mayday has not. It had focus, it saw action in a variety of forms that confused the authorities, and it created new networks and new lessons for us to learn from. Mayday as it has operated for the last few years should be scaled back, decentralized (to other towns and cities) and given focus through more achievable objectives. The tradition of Mayday should live on, but the staged and all-too-expected disheartening effects of the 'celebration' need to be avoided; the conference that took place several years ago now seems as a good a place as any to start, as is the anarchist bookfair. As for future focus, as soon as the location of the G8 summit is announced or leaked, we will have focus – stopping the G8!
(And of course, there’s still DSEi to look forward to next year)