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Cop Advisors Admit Anti-Cuts Protests Can Win!

Sun Tzu | 03.05.2011 20:53 | Health | Policing | Public sector cuts | Workers' Movements

Policy Exchange UK published a You Tube video of a symposium in which policing experts and former police infiltrators offer frank assessments of government responses to the threat they face from anti-cuts protests. These experts advise that the protests can succeed, and their primary advice to the government is to "kettle the political debate as efficiently as the Met kettles rioters". What strategies can protestors adopt to make sure that doesn't happen?

Today's announcements that (quoting the BBC TV news text service) "the government is scaling back plans to use the private sector to deliver public services", and the announcement of the unlawful killing verdict against Ian Tomlinson's killer, Metropolitan Police serial-thug PC Simon Harwood, are the latest evidence of the deep impact that anti-cuts protests are having on the coalition government, and of how portable video cameras and citizen journalism are helping to undermine the authorities and to empower protest movements. In January 2011 Policy Exchange UK published a You Tube video called "The Rise of Street Extremism", documenting at a symposium in which policing experts and former police infiltrators discussed (according to the video description) "riots over student tuition fees, the forcible closure of high street stores by flashmobs and... growing demands for industrial action to undermine the Coalition administration". The video warrants analysis as a serious, direct and frank assessment by major State / capitalist players of government responses to the threat they face from anti-cuts protestors.

Speakers at the conference were: Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM, former Head of the Counter Terrorism Command and former Police Borough Commander in Brixton during the "1995" (presumably 1985) riots; Rt Hon David Maclean, former Tory Minister of State at the Home Office and Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Superintendents Association; Paul Mercer, former CND infiltrator, author of Longman's Directory of British Political Organisations and political advisor to un-named corporations; and Henry Robinson, community activist and former IRA prisoner (someone who's not best placed to offer moral judgements about alleged extremists). Paul Mercer's quip that injuries sustained during "six days of skiing in the Alps had actually caused more injuries than 29 years of attending riots" (8:00) sums up alot of this video, and what the video refers to as the "feral underclass" (10:35) are what everyone else refers to as the poor.

Paul Mercer confirms that on demonstrations the ability of the police to use kettling to "contain large numbers of people using considerably smaller numbers of police officers"(11:28) relies on the police's ability and willingness to (quote) "hit people" (11:54) - in other words, to commit criminal assaults (based on the unspoken assumption that in the past the police used to be confident they were immune from prosecution under the laws they ask everyone else to follow). The video confirms that police effectiveness is being seriously eroded by protestors using camera phones (12:55), whose use means the police know their actions are likely to be filmed, and know therefore "they will be prosecuted if they do something wrong" (13:00).

The video description states that "there are increasing signs that significant sections of the extreme left have little intention of confining their opposition to Coalition policies to peaceful, democratic protest", omitting to mention (either in the video or its description) that the Climate Camp protestors the police brutalised at G20 were not "extreme left", and that the assaults carried out against them were neither "peaceful" nor "democratic" (not to mention the police killing Ian Tomlinson, assaulting disabled protestor Jody McIntyre and nearly killing Alfie Meadows), and omitting to mention the role that police thuggery plays in pushing protestors towards greater militancy or (to use their language) "extremism".

Former Tory Police Minister David Maclean asks "will law breaking, direct action and violence succeed?" (15:30) and (bearing in mind my own belief is in non-violent direct action) his honest assessment is "YES IT CAN" (15:40).

Having stated that the ability to continue effective kettling is vital to police attempts to stop protests from succeeding, David Maclean goes on to advocate aggressive policing and a "decapitation strategy" (18:50) for ring-leaders of disruptive protests (ie - recommending they be arrested promptly) in order to combat perceptions of State weakness and to pay lip-service to the idea of facilitating peaceful protest. In doing so David Maclean neatly avoids the point Paul Mercer made about how kettling doesn't work when police feel they're no longer free to hit the people they're "facilitating" and/or free to break their own laws!

Most interestingly, David Maclean goes on to say that the government must "KETTLE THE POLITICAL DEBATE as efficiently as the Met kettles rioters" (23:05), meaning that, in order to avoid "another Poll Tax defeat for the government" (23:45) the State must prevent the anti-cuts movement achieving "critical mass" by crossing-over and engaging the majority of members of the public who aren't previously active in or traditionally sympathetic to activist culture or sympathetic to militant protest.

The specific group David Maclean discusses are lorry drivers, because their protests have the ability to paralyse basic infrastructure (and it's interesting that some Trades Union activists have, very unwisely, been hostile to lorry-drivers as they're often non-unionised and self-employed, while the only group to have targeted lorry drivers and self-employed working-class people specifically have so far been the BNP). One of the main reasons we're all protesting is because the largest group of disaffected "ordinary" people are (like ourselves) the nation's NHS users - an enormous group, and this fact suggests a self-evident strategic focus for the anti-cuts movement.

The lessons we can learn from the Policy Exchange UK symposium are...

1. To remind protestors that (with the obvious caution to NOT publish videos of protestors faces online) we all need to use camera phones and hand-held video recorders against the police at every demo, and that protestors need to keep moving, keep watching out for police forming-up behind them and never get kettled. The citizen journalism that documented the death of Ian Tomlinson has exposed a killer cop whose crimes would have been swept under the carpet without video evidence, and that video evidence has kept the G20 protest in the headlines years after the State hoped all talk of it would die down; but, even in less serious cases, making sure the police know their actions are being filmed can be an effective deterrent to police brutality even if the images and videos aren't given to the media or posted online (in fact, I've even managed to get protestors de-arrested by pretending to film cop ID numbers with a camera whose battery had gone flat).

2. If anti-cuts activists are willing to shed the ideological baggage and LISTEN TO (rather than lecture) non-radicals in context of mutual dialogue, we can prevent the State and right-wing media from politically kettling us into the confines of activist culture, and we can cross-over to achieve critical-mass in alliance with mainstream society. No disrespect to anyone who has strong ideological positions, but please, for the time being at least, leave the Communist and Anarchist flags at home - we need the TV and newspapers to show images of uniformed Nurses protesting against these vicious cuts, not uniformed Black Block. As protest movements become increasingly successful the State WILL try to discredit protests by trying to encourage the most naive and politically inexperienced among us to acts of violence or (if they can) even terrorism, so, no matter how angry you are, DON'T fall for any violent bullshit pushed by undercover journalists and State agent provocateurs. WE CAN WIN.

Sun Tzu


Hide the following 25 comments

The Art of War

03.05.2011 21:08

"Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of positioning in military strategy, and that the decision to position an army must be based on both objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective beliefs of other, competitive actors in that environment. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions..." _



03.05.2011 21:26

1. All successful movements need effective PR and advertising, so I'm not saying no-one should ever publish video or photos of protestors' faces on-line - I'm saying people should not publish faces of people who've been filmed or photographed committing offences (of vandalism, of defending themselves against cop attacks etc)

2. Advocating non-violent direct action does not mean that protestors should not defend themselves, but self-defence should be proportionate and conscious of the uses to which reports about it are likely to be used by the State and media

Sun Tzu

I Call Bullshit!

03.05.2011 23:32

Idealistic vision of humanity: “As protest movements become increasingly successful the State WILL try to discredit protests by trying to encourage the most naive and politically inexperienced among us to acts of violence or (if they can) even terrorism, so, no matter how angry you are, DON'T fall for any violent bullshit pushed by undercover journalists and State agent provocateurs.”

Real world facts: “Former Tory Police Minister David Maclean asks "will law breaking, direct action and violence succeed?" (15:30) and ….. his honest assessment is "YES IT CAN" (15:40).”

Force, property damage and even violence are part of any real struggle. I think bearing in mind your “own belief is in non-violent direct action” you are letting your politics cloud reality. I don't think planning tactics on the basis of what you might think will be 'inoffensive' to 'the public' is desirable – a mass movement on the streets/closing shops for a few hours will do nothing to corporate/government power, just look at the Iraq war!

See the FT article for more real world analysis about what works against the types we are fighting:

Normal Guy

as far as my opinion is worth two pence,

04.05.2011 00:40

guns and bombs are the way forward: the PLO, IRA, Shining Path, Fatah, Hamas, FARC and countless others, not to mention July 22nd Movement, Lukid Party/Zionists, 'jihadists/mujahadeen', have all proved you can get what you want, or at least some of it, by killing and maiming.....history shows us this.

PS. before anyone jumps on my comments like rabid trolls, please bare in mind over 120 'uk' soldiers were killed by 'zionist militants' before 'britain' pulled out of 'palestine' and helped create the modern israel - fact.
IRA actions helped create catholic political majority in Ulster- fact
fatah, hamas, and the general PLO helped create 'disintegrating' 'self-governing' for palestinians in the occupied terrotories - fact
July 22nd movement (fidel castros group before the over throw of the batista regime) helped create modern cuba - fact
need i carry on........?
i think we all know guns and bombs work.......

PPS my mention of the above groups is in no way an 'endorsment ' of what each one stands for or fought for, i am merely showing that history proves that violence helps to get you what you want, just ask america, over approx 8 million people dead because of its military operations SINCE THE END of ww2 - its a super-super power....why do you think that is, or rather, HOW do you think that is??

violence is the way forward, in my opinion, which like i said, is only two pences worth.......


Between the lines

04.05.2011 04:43

Prepare for the worst

While I support armed resistance when it is really necessary, I would not enter this realm lightly. Once you pick up any sort of weapon, make sure you are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to go all the way and also be prepared to suffer any negative consequences. The opposition will respond in like manner and they are well trained and prepared.

Any community or society is composed of many temperaments and points of view. While I also respect pacifists like Charlie Veitch, he is playing his role in life, but there are other roles that need to be played also.

Self-defence is a natural human right and the people are under attack from the capitalist tyrants that unfortunately control this country at the moment. Notice how the 'Royal Wedding' was a full on Military Parade and many of the male participants, including Prince Phillip, William and Harry were all wearing military uniforms. The warmongers were flaunting there militarism. I don't have a TV but watched some of the sickening spectacle on the internet and noticed that the newsreaders repeatedly talked about how there were snipers on the rooftops and armed guards in plainclothes mingling with the crowd. This is how they operate.

I like the way that the SAS are organised, in small squads of four or five people that make decisions by mutual consent. Each member of a squad arms himself with as many skills and knowledge in different subjects as possible. Squad members will always allow the one with more knowledge on the immediate topic or terrain to take the lead until the situation changes. They are always in contact with other squads who can offer backup when required. This method of operation is very well suited to anarchists and has the added advantage that each squad is completely self-contained and does not need to share too much information with other squads, making it next to impossible to infitrate or destroy. the network and thus the movement.

Keep things in perspective, and only use appropriate force when necessary. It needs to be kept in mind that gaining and keeping public support is essential to ultimate success. We do not want to become that which we hate. Always consider other options and stratagies. When you only have a hammer in the toolbox, every problem looks like a nail.

We are growing in numbers each day.



Criticism from someone who hasn't read or understand what was said

04.05.2011 09:25

"Normal Guy" says "force, property damage and even violence are part of any real struggle". It's risible to suggest you are in any position to dictate what constitutes "real" struggle mate, but to some extent I agree. As I said, my “own belief is in non-violent direct action” and that can (if and when necessary) include a degree of force, property damage and even proportionate self-defense... yet again I'm rebutting criticism from someone who hasn't taken the time to either read or understand what was actually said. Real struggle also includes lots of other strategies.

I do think planning tactics on the basis of what will be acceptable (rather than your pejorative term 'inoffensive') to 'the public' IS essential. The public don't deserve to be placed in inverted commas by your discourse. You may have noticed in all your years as a seasoned political activist that the public are the same people who are affected by austerity, and they are the same people whose involvement determines the success or failure of all protest movements! As for the argument about the Iraq war, yes the Iraq protests failed, yes the Poll Tax protests succeeded, and yes that success did come about as a result of protestors rioting, but those riots would have failed if protestors had resorted to terrorism.

What "Normal Guy" seems to be advocating is some sort of pseudo-Leninist vanguardism, where a violent minority surge ahead, oblivious to the feelings of the people around them, naively believing that simply because they're being violent therefore they're automatically going to win. What's going to happen pal is that you're going to sacrifice the success of anti-cuts movement to your own ego. If and when the war you dream of comes down on you, you will find that the Army is better trained, better equipped, and far more ruthless than you will ever be, and many people (including yourself) will suffer because of your stupidity.

Sun Tzu

None of the groups this idiot mentions were actually Anarchist

04.05.2011 09:27

As for this bullshit from about how "guns and bombs are the way forward" - clearly "Normal Guy" and "Family Guy" are the same same muppet trolling Indymedia, so thanks for confirming that what you're really advocating is outright terrorism. What do the PLO, IRA, Shining Path, Fatah, Hamas and FARC all have in common - first, none of these groups were Anarchists, second THEY ALL FAILED.

None of these movements liberated the people they claimed to represent, and the original generation of IRA fighters now overwhelmingly support peace. Let's also mention a few other violent movements - the Red Brigades, CCC, Action Directe, Baader Meinhof. Remind us how many of these groups liberated their people?

Arguably violent Zionism and Jihadists/ Muhajadeen succeeded, in establishing the State of Israel and in (temporarily) establishing the Taliban as the Afghan State... are you arguing for movements that LIBERATE people, or are you arguing for the use of terrorism to establish STATES (you might have noticed Anarchism is opposed in principle to the very existence of States)?

Sun Tzu

Agent Provocateur

04.05.2011 09:46

Cop advisors admit anti-cuts protests can win, if activists cross-over and engage the general public. Hey presto, troll surfaces on Indymedia advocating terrorism. It doesn't take a genius to work that one out!


FT article

04.05.2011 10:06

If you bother to read the newspaper article cited above, what it argues is that protest marches don't change anything (bear in mind this is an opinion of The Financial Times) but that letter writing might succeed. Not exactly the glowing endorsement for insurrectionary violence our friend here seems to think it was

"If you actually want to change things lawfully, you don’t march; you campaign; you write to your MP. Politicians pay quite staggering attention to their postbag. A lot of letters on a subject is all it takes to worry them and their definition of a lot is, well, really rather little ... A dozen letters will do it" (what the FT didn't consider is that marches help create the activist base that creates other forms of campaign)

As for "guns and bombs are the way forward", do you have any guns? Or are you fantasising? If you have got guns, then you're either a/ willing to use them, or b/ a hypocrite. If you havn't got guns, then please shut up. Let's all vote - who thinks this guy actually has any guns? Who thinks this guy just has internet access?


@ Sun Tzu

04.05.2011 17:20

Your paranoid nonsense about me and 'bombs and guns' guy being the same person is totally untrue. I am not a 'state agent' just because I disagree with you! I did not talk about terrorism nor do I support it.

It is actually you talking like a vanguardist as you are the one telling people what type of struggle is acceptable. I put the public in inverted commas because you clearly view them as some sort of distinct group. We are part of the public and our fight is self-defence to protect ourselves not some vanguardist struggle to tell the masses they need to join us and become free! We are here representing no one but ourselves!

You also seem to see the public as a single group that will see one type of action as acceptable and others not. This is similar to authoritarian communists or even nationalists that see 'a people' rather than the many individuals that make it up! What one person hates another will love, I think many of the public that would be happy in a black bloc would not be happy in a 'uk uncut sit-in' or the other way round.

What I am suggesting is as anti-authoritarians we leave it to the individual to decide how they defend themselves against the state, whether that be being part of a black bloc, standing on a picket line or occupying a shop. I said force, property damage and even violence are part of the answer not all of it and I agree real struggle also includes lots of other strategies.

Normal Guy

@ Sci-Tech

04.05.2011 17:28

The article suggests letter writing is a legal way to effect policy, as there is very few legal ways to change the government policy this is partly true – it has some small effect as opposed to no effect. But for those of us who are not legalists the key message it illegal direct action does work a big admission from the opposition themselves, the elites and capitalists at the FT.

Normal Guy

Good, we agree then

04.05.2011 21:15

To respond to Normal Guy - if I regarded the public as being "some sort of distinct group" I wouldn't have used the word "we", repeatedly. On the one hand you say (quote) "force, property damage and even violence are part of any real struggle", presuming to define what constitutes "real" struggle, then (with inverted logic) you have the cheek to accuse someone who picks you up on that arrogance of being "vanguardist". Finally, to cap it all, you say (in direct contradiction of your earlier statement) that as anti-authoritarians we should "leave it to the individual to decide how they defend themselves against the state"!

I agree people are not State agents because they disagree with me, people are only State agents if they serve the interests of the State, so I'm very glad to hear you don't support terrorism, because that would be serving the interests of the State. I'm also glad you concede the point about pursuing other strategies.....

Sun Tzu

@ Sun Tzu

04.05.2011 23:02

The reason I said any real struggle involves violence/property damage is because if a group of people are being repressed then at least some of them will use that tactic providing they are physically able (there maybe exceptions to that rule but I was speaking generally). I was not saying everyone in real struggle uses those tactics, just some do within that struggle. It's also not vanguardist to have a view on the value of different struggles or a view on what constitutes struggle, telling them what they should do is. But seeing as this one sentence is such a big deal, I will retract it.

What is vanguardist is telling people exactly what is acceptable protest; you said “No disrespect to anyone who has strong ideological positions, but please, for the time being at least, leave the Communist and Anarchist flags at home - we need the TV and newspapers to show images of uniformed Nurses protesting against these vicious cuts, not uniformed Black Block. As protest movements become increasingly successful the State WILL try to discredit protests by trying to encourage the most naive and politically inexperienced among us to acts of violence or (if they can) even terrorism, so, no matter how angry you are, DON'T fall for any violent bullshit pushed by undercover journalists and State agent provocateurs.”

That is telling people how to defend them selves against the state attack on us.

Someone is also not a state agent because you feel they 'serve the interests of the State' a state agent is someone deliberately working for the state, like a cop or grass – and you have no right to suggest that without proof.

Normal Guy


05.05.2011 00:15

I suspect that beyond each of us wishing to clarify what the other really meant by our respective words, there's more agreement than might at first be apparent between our different views here. Having said that, on a point of semantics, my offering an opinion about what I believe are or aren't tactically sensible strategies in particular political and cultural circumstances is not "vanguardist", it's just having an opinion. Vanguards are political leaderships who impose their tactical decisions, rather than discuss their tactical opinions, often using violence to silence dissent within their own movements. This sort of vanguardism is often characteristic of terrorist groups. I apologise if you're genuinely not "anarcho-revolutionary-family-guy" (but if you are that person, I don't apologise), still I stand by my opinion that people should not fall for any violent bullshit pushed by undercover journalists and agent provocateurs. I'm not arguing what sort of struggle is or isn't "real", I'm arguing what strategies are actually likely to WORK

Your belief that "a state agent is someone DELIBERATELY working for the state" (emphasis added) is, sadly, naive - again we could argue about the precise definition of the word "agent", but many of the activists in the Red Brigades were state agents without even knowing it - genuine (albeit ideologically misguided and psychotically violent) Communist idealists, who were totally unaware that their group had been infiltrated and was being directed in its brutality by the State, in order to ruin the credibility of a genuinely popular radical workers movement in the eyes of the Italian public (and if you know your political history, similar tactics were also used very successfully to wreck IWW campaigns in the USA)

Sun Tzu


05.05.2011 00:29

On the subject of who really controls terrorism, the founder of the Red Army Faction (aka the Baader Meinhoff Gang) was neither the famous Andreas Baader nor Ulrike Meinhoff, but a German lawyer called Horst Mahler, who most recently worked for the German Nazi party the NPD, meeting with for instance UK Fascist leader Nick Griffin. Maybe he always was a Nazi? Check out *On Terrorism and the State* by Situationist writer Gianfranco Sanguinetti

John P

@ Klamber

05.05.2011 11:54

Dear Fellow, No Offense Intended, although I have to completely disagree with you that anarchists are fighting because 'gaining and keeping public support is essential to ultimate success', as you profess in your comment: As a serious revolutionary group hell bent on attacking the powers that be will have to ignore the public sentiment if they are to carry out their aims.
As SFOANGTTMM states, the movements that have sprung up and into action over the last one hundred years did not wait around for public opinion, and it was actually one member of the fidel castro militant group that proposed - in his essay's - that if the conditions for complete 'mass' revolution do not exist, then it is essential for those wishing for it to go and make it happen. That basically means that if the police and soldiers of the UK state are not kicking in doors of completely innocent people - there by offering public sympathies on a plate to the rebels - then the rebels must target the state and military in such a way to make sure the army kicks in doors of innocents and then it goes full circle. The IRA, REAL, OFFICIAL OR PROVO always knew this and utilised public support in this manner. For example, if person IRA kills person UK soldier, then the army raid two hundred homes, which is obviously disproportionate power being flexed. during the two hundred raids, maybe an old lady gets slapped or even has a heart attack, thus ensuring more and more recruits and public sympathy for the IRA, whether PROVOS or whoever. These days anarchists will not wait for public support as a total revolution is probably not what the public would want anyway.........

do you understand where im coming from and what are anyone elses thoughts on public support??

id like to know.....



05.05.2011 13:48

Yes, I see where you are coming from and agree. Was tired when I made that comment, so it wasn't all that well thought out. Thanks for the feedback.

Shall think on that. :)


@ Sun Tzu

05.05.2011 15:16

Well fair enough. But by your own logic a group that “where a violent minority surge ahead, oblivious to the feelings of the people around them, naively believing that simply because they're being violent therefore they're automatically going to win.” would not be “vanguardist” unless they actively prevent others from going about the struggle in there own way.

I don't feel that violence/property damage is always going to backfire, I also don't think you can know how members of the public are going to react apart from yourself and maybe your friends. I also don't think things are normally changed because of a majority view. I believe in a diversity of tactics and approaches and don't see why one group approach should impact another, nor why groups should criticise each other rather than what they are fighting.

The reason I say deliberately regarding state agents is because otherwise it simply offers a convenient excuse to exclude the views of those you disagree with. If whoever you think is advancing the states interests is a state agent then witch-hunts can begin and real vanguardism where people can be excluded for being 'state agents/counter revolutionary' just for a view on tactics. Indeed I could suggest you are a state agent attempting to prevent disorder on behalf of the state (unknowingly or knowingly) but that type of dialogue is stupid.

Normal Guy

Increased violence will not work

05.05.2011 17:38

To respond to Normal Guy, the issue of whether "a violent minority (who) surge ahead, oblivious to the feelings of the people" are vanguardist or not is a moot point really, the main point is they're not actually likely to WIN. I agree that violence/ property damage is not always going to backfire - that depends on the cultural, political and social context, and, as you know, the context discussed in the original article is the context of the anti-cuts movement in the UK now. Some people have taken this debate about as far off-topic as they could, but the fact is the original article wasn't about Palestine, wasn't about Greece, and wasn't about Cuba in the late 1950s (and Castro's success in overthrowing Batista is no more relevant to the anti-cuts movement than Gandhi's success in overthrowing British rule in India or Che's failure and death in Bolivia). What the article IS about however is the anti-cuts movement in the UK right now, and it's in that specific context that violence and property damage are likely to backfire.

For the record, last year's property damage at Tory Party HQ was (past tense) IMHO definitely a GOOD thing, because it made a massive news event out of an issue the State would have swept under the carpet otherwise. The violence however, albeit attempted, backfired badly, as did much of the property damage on March 26. NOW the movement needs retain the sympathy of people disgusted by MPs expenses scandals, by lies about WMDs, by Lib-Dem betrayals, by NHS privatisation and by public service cuts, and retain the sympathy of the half million people who protested on March 26. With that in mind (sorry, you're wrong) we CAN measure how the public react to vandalism and violence, at least in relative terms. One measure of how the public reacts is how many people join or leave radical groups, either as formal members or during street actions and demos. Figures don't need to be exact, and we can see numbers of militant radicals are growing, but the blunt truth is, in a population of 60 million, they're still fucking miniscule. On that basis alone, whether you or anyone else likes that fact, any movement whose public image is dominated by a violent minority WILL lose.

You ask "why groups should criticise each other rather than what they are fighting"? I agree no-one should criticize others for the sake of it, they should criticize others if others advocate stupid tactics. We all know about Mark Kennedy, so to pretend agent-provocateurs don't exist would (as you say in reference to your "type of dialogue") be stupid. To paraphrase Francesca (but to strongly disagree with her meaning) any revolutionary group that ignores public sentiment will FAIL. Serious revolutionaries would instead presumably prefer success?!

Sun Tzu

@ Sun Tzu

05.05.2011 19:01

I'm sorry but even if you were to get the majority or at least a large number to join the struggle what to you anticipate achieving? This mass of people the majority of which will oppose violence/property damage (by your reckoning) what will they do? How will they change things – are you wanting them to use their vote to change our oppressor for us? What are you planning for them to do to take control? What benefit do you see this mass support achieving? Why will the elites be forced to listen to them? If you are thinking of strike action, can't this be countered by a mixture of strike breakers and EU/international immigration to ensure no disruption?

I don't think you are in a position to say what will work in the medium/long term in terms of sections of public opinion and what will lead to greater or lesser numbers of people joining in or not you simply have no way of telling that.

You also have no way of saying what tactics will or will not work and I think it's arrogant to suggest you can tell this. I think as much as you feel the sort of thing I am suggesting is the sort of thing a state agent would say, I feel what you say is something a state agent would say. I think the debate on tactics has no winners and is unlikely to change anyone on either side, that why practically it is far better to let everyone get on with defending themselves against the state as they see fit not criticising each other and offering only unconditional solidarity. The best way to win people over to your tactics of choice is to show they are changing things.

Normal Guy

Terrorism still won't work

05.05.2011 21:47

To respond to Normal Guy (again), anyone who "answers" a set of points by simply asking more questions avoids answering the original questions by attempting to bog people down in a potentially exponential and infinitely expanding cycle of debate. In this case, there's no less than 7 new questions in the first paragraph of your reply alone, and each one of those questions could easily take several pages of careful argument to answer. To try and keep things within manageable limits, I'll try to summarise - if the anti-cuts movement can help wreck the coalition then radicalism will be able to claim the first major success for a UK protest movement in over 20 years. What radicals choose DO with that hypothetical victory is beyond the scope of this debate. What I'm proposing however is that radicals don't willfully shoot themselves in the foot BEFORE that victory is achieved, and the only points I want to make about that are the ones made in the original post. Please re-read it.

By the way mate, it is not "arrogant" to suggest that terrorism won't help, and to say it might be so is frankly a pretty weak way to dodge discussing the substantive arguments. I never said I knew for sure what (in the medium and long term) is going to happen next (let's face it, nobody does), I'm only advocating we shouldn't willingly fuck-up. We (meaning you, me and everyone else) do NOT have "no way" of saying what tactics will or won't work - the method we have for assessing what tactics might or might not work is to apply intelligence to the examination of evidence, which is a method you seem to be saying doesn't even exist (it's statements like yours that illustrate why I asked people to "shed the ideological baggage" and try to think creatively, flexibly and tactically instead).

Sun Tzu

No shit Sherlock

05.05.2011 22:24

What the original post appears to be putting across is the positive and encouraging message that even our opponents are admitting that we (meaning anti-cuts activists) can win. The post acknowledges that militant and disruptive protest can help, but what it also advocates is that if violence goes too far then it's likely to back-fire. No surprise there.

What the post has (for better or worse) brought out of the woodwork seems to be the literally 2 or 3 people who are horrified by the suggestion that violence they're almost certainly never going to do anything other than talk shit about on the internet isn't in fact a very helpful or clever idea.


@ Sun Tzu

05.05.2011 23:39

You posed no questions for me to answer in your post. I was not responding to a question with questions. But my question condensed is how are you planning to “wreck the coalition” with the mass peaceful, non-property damaging movement you are keen on? What is the movement going to do to “wreck the coalition”?

Also I have not said anything a about terrorism, so I don't know why you bring that up. You suggest to avoid black bloc actions and violence in general that is what I am objecting to– I'm certainly not for blowing up the underground or any truly terrorist action.

Your argument also all centres around the assumption that people are totally irrational. Rather then them deciding whether the cuts are a good idea based on their merits, they will decide based on the actions of the people they see protesting them. So, they will not oppose the cuts because someone smashed a window? Irrational.

Actually there are good arguments for the use of property damage, not least the awakening of oppressed people, especially young people in to action and the fact that it gives the country the appearance of instability that the government cannot allow for to long. There are arguments against it of course as you have articulated but it is up to the individual to weight up the pros and cons.

Normal Guy

Over and out

06.05.2011 09:53

First Normal Guy, maybe you didn't advocate terrorism, but you did say that "force, property damage and even VIOLENCE are part of any real struggle", so if my responses compelled you to clarify your opposition to terrorism, that's a good thing. Second, my argument does NOT centre around the assumption that people are totally irrational... at all, you've no evidence for this whatsoever; but it was you who claimed I have "no way of saying what tactics will or will not work", and me who pointed out that using intelligence to analyze evidence gives us powerful means for assessing what might or might not work. It was therefore me who was arguing for rationalism, and you who were not. Having established that, now please re-read the original post!

As for your substantive point about wrecking the coalition, the anti-cuts movement IS wrecking the coalition, so the way to make sure that movement succeeds is for people like you and me to pro-actively support the anti-cuts movement, in positive and constructive ways, rather than to undermine it with counter-productive stunts (and what my post was about was which actions are likely to do the former, and which actions are likely to do the latter). The rest, as they say, is up to you...

Have a nice day

Sun Tzu

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