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So what the hell happened today?

Cicatrize | 29.03.2009 03:02 | G20 London Summit | Analysis

photos & a question

how did the anarcho syndicalist bloc end up so separated?

it was an interesting march, not much shouting but an undertone of quiet anger.....

anyhoo here's a few crappy phone pics

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Hide the following 30 comments


29.03.2009 06:45

1. It wasn't an "Anarcho-Syndicalist" Bloc - it was a Militant Workers Bloc which had many anarchists participating in it.

2. The G20 Meltdown Bloc asked to join our bloc which they did. But because they were walking very slowly with their sama band they ended up slowly dropping behind - around 40-50 minutes behind to be in accurate.


London Anarchists


29.03.2009 07:17

Ah ok, fair enough.
Assumptions made from all the red n black (nice to see plenty out :)
didn't mean to mislabel...

Have fun in the week folks, ironically can't make it as I *just* started a new job I don't wanna risk :(


it was great demo, never seen such a amazed happy reaction from public

29.03.2009 08:23

smiles allover the place, we could have peacefully blockaded anything with the numbers we had, if there was more organisation & communication

Malcolm XXX

One Law for Them !!! Another Law for Us !!!

29.03.2009 08:28

The truth of the matter is: There are two teams, Us and Them, Our battle ground are the streets in every city, in every town and village around the globe, a choice has to be made, you have to decide which side you are on.
The Facists will have you believe that our problems are caused by the influx of people from Eastern Europe and from the African nations, taking jobs, taking less wages than workers here in the UK. The Fash chat utter shit, the fact of the matter is these people are actually being exploited as they have been for many years by the Capitalist system and from their friends on the far right.
The Bank of England are intending to start printing money, creating money out of thin air in an attempt to save the banking system that has exploited all of us for so long, bankers who've ripped us off, don't get arrested or taking before our courts, they're given six hundred thousand pound bonuses while the rest of us are given the middle finger, fuck you the worker, fuck you the pensioner, fuck you the family in hardship, fuck you the student, fuck you the homeless, fuck you all you who've saved throughout your working lives and lost your money, we don't care we're bankers, well FUCK THEM !!!
These bastards have shafted us all over again and again while we've sat there glued to the TV watching, mesmerised, hypnotised to the screen hoping that our Government will do something for us, they'll do fuck all for us other than continue to claim for second homes, who the fuck needs a second home only the bastard politicians who greedily rob us blind, with their false promises, they're all the fucking same, New fucking Labour, Tory and those other cunts right in the middle.
Yesterday throughout the march all you could see was those fucking twats calling out feebly "Socialist Worker" they are the biggest load of cunts on the planet, there they were still asking passers by to sign their petition, what a load of old shit, they jump on every band wagon going, just to sell that paper that would better be used for wiping your arses on. How many times has a trade union got you to go out on strike and then done a shady deal behind your backs and you return to work thinking something has been achieved, when really fuck all has. The RMT were there yesterday doing their bit for Comic Relief, I'd say to Bob Crow and his comedians that if you really want what you claim, then on April Fools Day, don't be a fool, have a mass walkout from every station and every traindriver just simply stop working and walk out and when the bosses start asking what the fuck is going on, GIVE THEM THE MIDDLE FINGER. If your a council employee, stop working and sit down, walk out and tell your chief executive he or she is a cunt.
The police will be out in force looking for a fight and sending their undercovers into the crowd, but they'll be spotted, just like they were yesterday.
When was the last time a cop got to you when you called them? They come speedily enough when its a coporate event, or be bouncers for the arms fair.
At the end of the day you can choose to sit on your arses and hope for change or you can take to the streets n make it happen.

The A Team

answers 2

29.03.2009 08:42

What I saw was different - I was near the front of the march and got to Hyde Park at 1.30pm-ish, the march was still streaming into the park for a while but after an hour there was no one on the road and I started to walk back, and then came across the second bit of the march, with the horsemen and the RMT and IWW. They seemed to be held back not by the samba band, but by the shoulder-to-shoulder line of police at the front of this section of the march, walking incredibly slowly and keeping that section at least half an hour behind the rest of the march. Odd...

In answer to the other post, I thought there was a reasonable atmosphere but not a readiness to blockade or take further action (I'm not talking about the militant blocks; I was stuck in never-ending stream of christians/marxists/Unite). Because the message of the whole thing was so dilute. The speeches could've meant anything. 'We need a shift to an economy that Puts People First!' 'The G20 leaders must deliver their promises and come up with a solution that helps everyone!' I'm sure with this ambiguous rhetoric, the G20 could spout any old shite and it might seem to the many confused participants of this march that they've 'delivered' it because who can tell unless you're a proper cynic and realist and know that there's no point appealing to our great leaders on a moral ground. anyway. Roll on Wednesday


I agree...

29.03.2009 09:38

...with A teams post, every word!


"answers 2" is only half right - this is what happened.

29.03.2009 10:19

The block started off with the big blue banner at the front, flanked by several anarchist groups' banners either side, carrying red n blacks and multi-coloured IWW flags - that was about 300 to 400 people. Behind that were several IWW branch banners and the national banner, so our main block along with twice as many assorted militants and libertarians made about 300 again. Behind that was the RMT.

Then chris knights horses came bang in the middle of us and like "answers" says, split our block. I think we probably grew as the march went along but by how much was hard to tell as the samba band opened a gap that was first filled by other marchers (nothing against them but they obviously didn't think they were on a block!) then by sod all, empty road. There was a mile gap at least. Later this was indeed facilitated by the cops who probably assumed it was some kind of attempt at a breakaway demo, and they formed a line at the front and made it walk at a snails pace. But that was well after we had already allowed a gap to appear.

I'm having trouble understanding why the samba band and the horse puppets thought it was ok to take the middle of our block, and also why they didn't warn us about the gap. We were easily the biggest political or even union block on the march from what i saw, but that is going to be increasing hard to argue or point out cos of the gap and all the random oxfam, SWP and NGO placards that wandered in due to it.

The block was not anarcho-syndicalist, it was simply a militant workers block - as in, all those who supported the idea of working class direct action, all comers. Thats a huge remit, and sure enough it was a huge block. But even then i fail to see the connection with horse puppets, drumming, and the G20 Meltdown event.

IWW organiser


29.03.2009 10:53

My memories of the samba people - and no offence intended - is that they don't like to work with other groups, because they value their independence. They are great at what they do, but when it comes to co-operation like this, dont rely on them, and in fact - plan for non-cooperation to be safe.


@ IWW organiser

29.03.2009 10:57

hmm, I was actually standing with the horseys & band while they were waiting to join the march, and I'm pretty sure their intention was to join behind the block.. so.. hopefully splitting it was not intentional. I jumped in with the workers bloc so they were behind me from the start, assumed they'd waited until the whole group had passed by...

We weren't exactly walking fast so it's still hard to see how such a big gap opened so quickly tho, unless it was at least facilitated by the cops.

Also noticed FIT seemed to be being a lot more sneaky & sniperish than the 'in yer face' approach I remember


Economical Karma

29.03.2009 11:03

The A team's comments are basically right.

However, it isn't just many wayward bankers to blame! Let's get this right. This Labour goverment was to blame to a large extent, plus even former Tory goverment, and, wait for it, most of Joe Public paranoicically developing a "must have" culture. I told my wife 10 years ago that this drastic recession would befall all of us. Without being to complex, I saw masses of folk spend, spend, spending, as if money was falling out of the sky like trillions of snowflakes every day.

Even the poorest of paid folk were buying new cars, swanning off to sun-kissed tropical beaches, and leading somewhat elaborate lifestyles. I didn't! Many didn't, but most did, the latter spending borrowed money, so easily doled out by greedy banks. Now, it's a sort of financial Karma coming round! And waste? Boy, the UK should really top the list for wastage. And all the groaning in the world isn't going to rectify this now global financial catastrophe, is it?

Francis H. Giles
mail e-mail:

@ Cicatrize

29.03.2009 11:28

Ok thats probably true - but you weren't behind it, you were smack in the middle!! Thats the problem with having a 700 strong block i guess.

I'm sure the samba band don't mean to be a hinderance.

IWW organiser


29.03.2009 11:40

True we are being`shafted`, ` we `number just under 6.million people in the u.k. that is the entire population,not just adults,so the brown administration uses 2 trillion plus of money neither he nor we have,on his messiah mission crap to help the economy recover.If `WE` were given the cash `WE` would all be millionaires,that would recover the economy double quick time. SO all this economic crisis is total bullshit. If they cannot fund wars why instigate them.,Just as an aside, if this is reality and there is a problem with the economy,A certain Mr. Bin Laden stated in the past that he could bring the west to its knees financially ,providing all the female knees were covered of course, looks like he`s done it.
Prime ministers /Politicians I shit em!


More Pics of Marble Arch Rally (Speakers Corner)

29.03.2009 13:57

See ya all on Wednesday & Thursday.

A Team, Good Luck with your action during the week.

Roger the Dodger (ACAC)

Bring it on!

29.03.2009 15:31

You can all come and hang out in the City for a day: we don't care, we'll have a day off (and be paid for it) anyway! You won't smash the banks, you'll be gone by next week and we'll still have all the money and all the power. I've paid more in tax than you lot'll ever earn.

A Banker

Concur with IWW organiser

29.03.2009 17:08

my recollections of the split parallel that of IWW organiser. They deliberately edged their way into the middle of the bloc.

I don't realy see what the samba were doing on the militant workers bloc, nor do i understand the presense of the 4 horses (either could have positioned themselves anywhere on the march) on the bloc. Beyond a bit of theatre, and beyond the fact we foolishly tolerate this sort of behaviour, they were both disruptive and divisive to the integrity of the bloc.

I really thought we had moved beyond 'radical' hippies riding our coattails.

Would the sambe please fuck off. For good.

Militant Workers Bloc organiser

Scummy money

29.03.2009 17:36

A. Banker, you are the scummiest pits!

Your greed-orientated arrogance must be making Jesus turn over in His grave! He will sort your sort out, and if He doesn't, some sort of divine intervention will! Millions of folk suffer, while you flaunt your oppulent, wealthy lifestyle. Your god is money! And it's truly sad there are those out there who protect your scummy-attituded sorts, via all their supportive hypocritical defense of your antagonistical utterings of power-wielding status you blatantly blurt out!

Francis H. Giles
mail e-mail:


29.03.2009 17:55

my thoughts on the Bloc were that although it was great to see so many anarchists and red and black flags there is still a long way to go. The anarchist blocs here in the UK are way way behind that of Europe. We had no chants at all, the few chants people were singing were more jokish than anything else. The bloc was additionally very light hearted and childish, don't get me wrong i am all up for people having a good time but there are times when we need to be serious and focused. In Germany for example the blocs are organised in a more militant and serious way, constant chanting with serious attitudes, no messing around. And, perhaps if we organise an anarcho block then we all need to dress in black otherwise the few that do can be easily picked out by the filth, we need to link arms because if we dont again we can easily be picked out. We need to be more unified! Also, since when do anarchists listen to coppers? The cops would tell us where to go and we did it! It is our duty as anarchists to travel and go to Europe as much as possible and learn the skills which are used to great success over there.


to Militant Workers Bloc organiser

29.03.2009 18:09

Samba band was great. You won't get a revolution if you just bore everyone to death with preachy talks. Getting less boring and dogmatic would do good, and samba band was definitely helping with it.

samba lover


29.03.2009 19:00

Yeah, I agree that our chants weren't that great - my fault too, couldn't think of anything. Felt like we didn't really articulate our ideas that well.

Ms Anne Thropy


29.03.2009 19:03

As one of the samba band I have to say that generally in marches I'm too busy playing samba to be aware of much else that is going on... You want to try marching for 3hrs solid carrying and banging a big drum whilst not tripping over or tripping up others, avoiding being split up by other marchers and paying attention to what you are being asked to play!
the 'bloc' and it's members on the other hand have full freedom of movement to go where they wish (police allowing), go at whatever pace they wish and I resent us being blamed for 'splitting up' the 'bloc'.
The band yesterday was made up of various samba players from various bands around London and the uk... some of whom are at UEL.. (where Chris Knight was a lecturer).
I never chose to have anything to do with Chris Knight but hey it's a public march and bloody horsemen will do as they please...
Grow up and practice some of that autonomy you hark on about why dontcha!


My thoughts

29.03.2009 21:37

It seemed like there were a LOT of us in the bloc, but that we didn't really do a good job of putting across our unifying politics at all, so it was of little use.
The open mic rally at the end was a bit of an ideological shambles, from what I saw - the guy from Whitechapel Anarchists going on about how "The Left" supports Hamas and other simplistic b*llshit was getting plenty of cheers and applause, and I just don't see how. Would have been better if we could all hear what the speakers were saying too... That said, at least we HAD an alternative rally, which was pretty impressive as compared to most large demos with auto/militant type blocs over the last few years.
All in all, we learnt some lessons by getting things right and getting things wrong. As long as we identify both of those categories, and continue to tirelessly put across our politics to other activists/protestors/workers/etc, our blocs should continue to grow and we should become more unified, realistic, and productive, as time goes on.


More detailed comments

29.03.2009 23:16

To the Samba band, what i want to say is that if you think you joined at the back of the bloc, then you're narrow minded! Above all, this ruined the fact we got a major union marching with us. If workers in this country are to fight back, we must get them thinking "Direct Action". This isn't about people being anarchists, or growing a black-bloc culture, its about encouraging what unions there are to see themselves as more capable of standing up and making a statement. Oh, and if you can't see what's happening, get scouts to do the looking for you, train them to know when to talk to the mestre-dude.

Don't use Chris Knight being from UEL to sound like you were doing anyone any favours. The guy is going to jail for being a complete stuck-up idiot. Self-appointed chief-fuckwit if you ask me. He's basically handed the police carte-blanc to smash people's heads on Wednesday. "We have intelligence people are planning to be violent" - well shocking that, since someone so kindly told the papers.

I think one thing people completely missed here is that the "Capitalism isn't working" banner, which was huge and colourful and cool, was really hard to move in the wind. If the group with it had taken it down for a bit, they could have sped the whole procession up. I found the line of police you describe, and their officer was telling them to stop and let the march catch up!

Yes, it would have been nice to have chants and linked arms and stuff, but don't start masturbating over ideas of some blac-bloc revival. This is a recession, and if we want to carry the population with us, we absolutely cannot move too quickly.

Yesterday was great because it proved we can be part of this movement, we can talk the language of major unions, we can bring people into our way of seeing things, and we will be able to move forward to clearer and better things. The mixed placards were a problem, but ho-hum, we'll live and learn. Unless some cop uses Knight's stupidity to excuse a mass murder.

Rebel W


29.03.2009 23:41

the trouble with anarchists is they can't get organised... but i guess they wouldn't be anarchists if they could



29.03.2009 23:48

Enough of these devisive comments, if you have an issue then we speak about it at the next meeting. We can discuss what happened, Strength/Weaknesses so as to be better next time.

Come on, we've come along way from where we were - we just need to keep doing this, have a process and common experience...etc.

The anarchist movement conference ( will be another key moment to develop politically and practically as a movement.

Another Militant Workers Block Organiser

Excellent footage of bloc

30.03.2009 09:56

here's some overhead footage of the whole march passing by.

Militant workers bloc starts about 2.54. You can see the four horses in the middle, essentially splitting the bloc in two. This was before the samba band joined.

Bascially if these 2 elements felt it necessary to join the bloc it should have been either at the front or at the back. If either group would have bothered to come to any of the organising meetings maybe that could have been established.

Anarchism is organisation minus the arseholes
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fuck samba

30.03.2009 11:57

Please excuse the rather blunt title but I think it's appropriate, tbh.

Samba bands on demonstrations are some of the most unpleasant, rude, pushy and generally obnoxious groups I've ever had to deal with (yes, worse than the SWP). I have been shoved, yelled and screamed at by "Sambaistas" for daring to step a little too close to the part of the march that they have decided is for them and only them. Similarly, as seems to have happened here, they can seriously dick things up for the rest of the march.

While I have no doubt their heart is in the right place, they act to drown out anyone else in the area - both visually and audibly - and essentially force themselves on the rest of the protest, often with "de-escalation" (read: subduing peoples' anger) in mind. Doubly a problem when it involves them barging into a bloc organised and publicised in advance by a range of people.

Music on protests can be done well - the Infernal Noise Brigade, for example - but samba bands in the UK do more harm than good in my experience.



a few points

30.03.2009 13:23

yay for setting up an alternative platform, should be at every rally as a previous comment has suggested.

in this context we don't have the element of surprise (see action of 6 at edo, raytheon 9 etc etc), surprise might have been there back in '99, but the police do their homework and take the movement more seriously than it takes itself

if we're going to encourage people to take risks against the state, we have to back it with pro-active solidarity (how much solidarity are the edo 6 - 2 in jail getting - from our movement? ran into one defendent leafletting the march but didn't see any other sign of it.

@ ex-prisoner


30.03.2009 14:11

a clarification from my previous comment:

I realise that the description given above does not apply to every samba group, and that many of them - both as groups and as individuals within those groups - work hard and have many positive aspects to them. However, as a non-"sambaista" I sometimes find them exclusionary, pushy and rude, as well as tactically dubious.



31.03.2009 13:07

60 million, just under, people in the whole of the U.K. Divide two trillion + by 60 million and the result is that we are being taken for the biggest fiscal ride in history.And paying a load of fraudsters to rip us off,when is it going to sink in ?
The previous comment under the heading `mineshaft` quoted 6.m.population,no one has the ability to comprehend the figures involved,proved that apathy has been administered by the state,no one challenges figures any more......its our non existent money not theirs .....Ours, not to spend on wars...Ours, not to pay for their porn...second homes...fuck em... get them OUT all of them !
If a person could not manage to feed their children were claiming benefit and sought work found it then worked for one day,they would be committing fraud and would be summoned before a court.
So politicians are above the law ? Surely a prosecution should be forthcoming on the majority,if not all, the house of commons.


Re: Clarification

31.03.2009 13:35

So you find the samba crew 'exclusionary, pushy and rude, as well as tactically dubious' -

that's funny cause that's exactly how many of us experience self defined workist anarcho-militants -
who adopt a holier than thou attitude - preaching at the rest working class how we should all unite behind their banners while wanking over of some imaginary white british male -stream 'ordinary' worker....

you guys really need to get over your self limiting identity politics and realise the working class is more varied and more resistant than you give us credit for

drop the attitude

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