I picked up the march just as it was leaving Parliament Square and heading down towards Victoria, seeing a site I’ve seen a thousand times before and feeling no less uninspired by it than previously.
As the march ambled past Scotland Yard, I think I was the only one who noticed the cops bedecked in body armour and brandishing machine guns guarding the old bill’s HQ.
Cracking open a beer, in contrast to the numbing sobriety around me, I decided to push forward to the front of the march to see who I could find and get an idea of the size of the thing. Dodging banners and peaceniks and ignoring the angry stares I finally made it to the front, passing the usual band of commies and trustafarians shouting ineffective slogans through cheap megaphones.
The march was larger than I expected, and longer, though this was largely due to gaps of empty road space ten of metres long dividing the increasingly sectarian groups on the march and engendering little in the way of feelings of solidarity and unity.
Everyone had their own cause to plugs, Greens and communists, Islamic groups and South American Socialists all failed to mingle on the road to indifference.
As we passed the palace, which was greeted by benign indifference, the only anger on show was from tourists jostling to try and get a glimpse of her maj’ and giving the cops a far harder time of it than any of the so called revolutionaries on the march could muster.
Turning into Grosvenor Place the cops ran a line of tape down the centre of the road, leaving half the road free for traffic to pass by. Thinking that this looked a likely flashpoint for some fun and games I sat down at a bus stop and waited for Rhythms of Resistance and the handful of anrchos present to turn up, who as usual were trailing behind.
Turn up they did, and I was relieved to see a smattering of familiar faces. I busied myself amongst the leaping kids surrounding them, desperate for at least a whiff of the old civil disobedience. Untying the tapes from the bollards I moved onto the other side of the road, where cars sped past me, some seemingly in a frantic rush to send me flying back into the ‘designated protest zone’.
Feeling disempowered by marching next to a constant stream of traffic I beckoned wildly for people to join me. The smattering of cops present had me in their sites but I had a look in my eye that kept them at bay. My blood was boiling now, tho’ my anger began to be directed at the marchers rather than the old bill who couldn’t believe their luck at the lack of courage and rebellion of those on the march.
"what’s happened to us" I asked of one of the drummers "is this what we’ve become?"
"the band can’t always lead" she replied "it’s down to the march" a fair enough response I guess but only highlighting the pitiful inadequacy of those present, happy to be corralled and shunted about by the state lackies.
I briefly considered dragging the cones out in front of the traffic myself and offering myself up for arrest in the hope that that would engender some ferocity and passion, but felt vaguely that my arrest would only provide a curiosity to the unintrepid bunch, something to chat about in the pub later..
There was no mood in the air for direct action of any kind and I felt I would have had little support, so I stayed at the edge of the road, pissing off cops and motorists alike for no real reason.
It was at this point I began to think of the late, mighty Chris Groner and the fun we had stopping the traffic and narking off the cops the night they invaded Iraq … and it was then that my anger dissipated and a mood of melancholy and deep sadness washed over me.
Moving forward from the over excited teenagers I pushed forward, deciding to get to the square as quickly as possible. Remembering another friend who died recently, and who I had seen for the last time at one of the early STWC marches, my eyes moistened and I really began to wish I’d stayed in bed.
At the square I bumped into friends, drank some more and began to cheer up, as we regaled each with dispiriting tales of the lack of any kind of effective resistance in London these days. As we talked the speakers spoke, the trots clapped and nothing changed.
As ROR arrived in the square the mood of their assembled dancers and hangers on was joyous and celebratory, leaving me thinking what are you so fucking happy about.
When we take a road, blockade a motorway that’s the time for rapture, not some boring statist affair, which is actually about the slaughter of hundreds of thousands worldwide in the name of the dollar.
Anger was sadly lacking along the whole of the march, the only genuine passion I saw was from groups of young Muslims, who were alone in their heartfelt dissonance, as the middle class, well heeled marchers seemed to think the was some fun day out … politics lite and a chance to flog some pamphlets.
The main call of the day was ‘impeach Bush, Blair resign‘, as if that would make any fucking difference, neatly side stepping the real issues and casting the day firmly into the party political arena allowing Galloway to spout his guff about his inept political party.
As twitchy cops began to encircle the square people trailed of into various Soho boozers as the cold and the lack of creativity on offer became too much.
Lying bastards the SWP will claim this day as a success, dishonestly attempting to claim numbers of 100,000 when anyone with a shred of integrity would admit that even the police estimate of 15,000 was generous.
This day was far from a success, showing the failure of people in this country to provide any kind of fierce, effective resistance and as we bleat about the almost daily removals of our civil liberties it should perhaps be time to consider the old axiom that you get the government you deserve.
This day was a failure for the anarchist movement as well, loathe as I am to say it, who once again failed to capitalise on the thousands of young, political but confused people on the march. Whether this was due to many staying in bed and ignoring this pointless charade, or those present not having the nerve to precipitate any kind of direct resistance, instead towing the party, statist line, it seems sad that in the city where we once rocked Trafalgar Square with repetitive beats all day long, that nothing could be mustered up to enliven this grim affair … our time was then … I guess,
I wanted to write a funny, sardonic response to the day, and apologise for the lack of jokes in this piece …
… but frankly it just ain’t funny anymore.