Some of us were old hands, some of us had never been to Climate Camp before. But we were definately all up for a week of direct action against coppers, bankers and other class enemies! We arrived at the site in rental vans and immediately jumped to work putting up the defensive fence around the peremeter of the camp, putting up the “Tripods”, and mucking in where-ever. In a short time people flooded in and we sat back (well, some of us sat back!) to watch as tents popped up over Blackheath common like mushrooms. We were pleased when our comrades from the Whitechapel Anarchist Group turned up with their banner and sound-system. We had been expecting hordes of caveman Met police but were pleasantly surprised just to be having a beer and meeting other anarchists from around the country.
As we sat around having a bit of a laugh we suddenly noticed that student-hippy looking types were escorting these cops into a tent by the WAG sound-system. Our feelings were the same — WHAT THE FUCK??! We surrounded the tent and told the scum inside exactly what we thought of their kind. Afterwards the media and liberals referred to “drunken, aggressive anarchists” but our reaction was more than political it was a personal reaction. Like many working-class people our relations to the police have never been good. How many of our mates, how many of us, have been banged up, harrassed, beaten up and fucked around by the Old Bill? Had these organisers, these “Police Liaisons”, forgot Ian Tomlinson so quickly? The cops beat a hasty retreat out of camp and the wankers who had let them in were left with some hard questioning. This incident was dealt with by members of Whitechapel Anarchist Group in the interview they gave on Dissident Island Radio, we just want to say we took part in this action, fucking hate all coppers and their apologists and will NEVER compromise in our attitude that there can be no peace between us and the police. (WAG Radio interview: http://whitechapelanarchistgroup.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/wag-climate-camp-debate-police-violence-class/ )
One thing that also got us angry was the media circus that decended on Climate Camp. On the first couple days as we worked putting up tents and pavilions we had to constantly tell reporters to Fuck Off as they tried to snap a picture of us swinging a sledgehammer or tightening a guy-rope! We have come to feel that there are strong organising elements of Climate Camp that are really obsessed with coverage by the mainstream media and “appearing respectable”. We felt the problem with the idea that playing to the mainstream media, and especially cultivating the liberal media (e.g. the Guardian), is that at most it just reaches out to middle-class liberals. If people think that Climate Camp is for respectable, Guardian reading types a lot will be put off. Being liberal peaceniks playing to the system in a time when working-class people are angry and disillusioned is shooting yourself in the foot. At various meetings like “Making our Workplaces Red, Black & Green” and “Green Authoritarianism” this could be seen, with people from the Left and the liberal wing of the Green movement taking statist positions denying agency to working-class people. Pandering to the status quo strengthens the status quo.
On Friday the 28th Cambridge Anarchists joined the march into the heart of Canary Wharf from Climate Camp. After giving police and private security a good run for their money, we stood outside Barclays bank shouting up to the bankers to top themselves! Then we took a tour of the yuppy wine bars and gastro-pubs, shouting the old slogan “Behold Your Future Executioners!” A typical coked-up bankster stumbled drunkenly in our path and we got him to prance in front of the cameras, confident that he’d wake up the next day with a massive hang-over and (hopefully) no more job. After marching through the sacred monuments of capitalism we left laughing, leaving a gaggle of striken looking toffs huddled in cafes. On the train back we started chatting with a guy sitting next to us (not from the protest, just taking the train!) who happened to be from St. Neots – In his opinion, as an unemployed construction worker, people were fucking angry and the time for polite protest was past and it was the time for smashing windows. A real sampling of genuine public opinion!
All and all, we have been enjoying the freedom of the autonomous camp but have serious problems with strong elements of the Climate Camp, liberal authoritarians. These people wish to use the state (the same state that battered them at Kingsnorth and at the G20!) to “save the world” from climate change. This is very dangerous for personal freedom. This enthusiasism for curbing working people’s access to resources and freedom of thought and action could lead to a stronger, more authoritarian capitalist system. The current system is in crisis and there is a strong tendency in the Green movement to simply offer a “Green New Deal” of increased state power. Nationalisation, taxation, austerity, surveillance and social control are offered as solutions to the ecological crisis rather than working-class self activity for a democratic, equal society. This may seem “sensible” but is just offering more power to a small minority above society — the same bastards who got us into this mess in the first place! As anarchists have been pointing out at the Climate Camp, the authoritarian solutions offered by influential figures in the Green movement (in Friends of the Earth, GreenPeace, Green Party, etc.) are not real solutions. Fear of impending ecological doom may lead us into a highly authoritarian society. Its not even as if relying on the state is realistic — its simply niave. In the ecological crisis the class war well and truly becomes a matter of “Us or Them” — the ruling class will NEVER voluntarily give up their privilege or power. The only options in front of us are revolution and working-class self-empowerment or a fascistic-fuedal system as the ruling class hordes the remaining resources and tries to escape the holocaust of climate chaos.
We cannot make up our minds if anarchists should stay within Climate Camp and argue for the politics of freedom, self-empowerment and social revolution or just leave. After all the people we need to be talking to are Sun readers, not Guardian readers, and ultimately Climate Camp may just be a giant lobbying spectacle. What we do know is we definitely want to focus on organising in our workplaces and communities. We need a anarchist movement that is relevant to the everyday lives of working-class people.
Despite our misgivings we hope to enjoy an action-packed last few days of Climate Camp!