London Indymedia

That it should come to this … fear and loathing on the swp march

riot act | 19.03.2006 13:04 | March 18 Anti War Protest | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Social Struggles | London

should’ve known, I really should. I mean when it comes to cynical, piss taking of this merry band of useless marching muppets I’m the worst offender… but somehow, well the glorious events taking place in France, the line of mounted riot cops I saw leaving Islington nick on my way there, well it got my blood running, got my hopes up that this day would be more than the usual impotent trot through London, that perhaps, just perhaps this would be the day that something might happen.

I was late and alone, failing to meet up with any of the people I’d planned to (the few hopeless souls who like myself clung onto a shred of optimism and bothered to turn up).

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.

riot act
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come on!

19.03.2006 23:41

to say that the police number of 15,000 was generous is just wrong - click on picture 5. If that's 15,000 people, you're not a drunk boring miserable fool. it just shows that you feel that the movement has been corrupted by, i dunno, big groups of people, who don't want to use violence. non-violent direct action is cool, but isn't shutting down big bits of tourist london, and getting our message all over the news is non-violent and direct?

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Hide the following 15 comments

How dare you

19.03.2006 14:41

How dare you tell the truth about a march. I hope the editors remove your post as soon as possible a let someone else write a report where hundreds of thousands danced widely in the streets with enthusiasm and everyone there (including the ubiqitous "locals") where inspired with a desire to see change. All reports on the newswire MUST be positive and never allow a moment of realism.

Dave Spart

I know what you mean...

19.03.2006 15:21

I agree that the demonstrators didn't look like they would frighten a stuffed rabbit!

However, the speeches were all very good, and numbers were more or less the same as previous demonstrations. I was more hopeful than usual because we had managed to amass two coach loads of people rather than the usual one, or even a minibus.

In these circumstances, tt was laughable for Lindsay German to threaten Tony Blair with even more demonstrations if he keeps the troops in Iraq or even declares war on Iran. Bet that would get the war criminal trembling in his shoes!

In contrast to the million university students demonstrating in Paris, they were almost entirely absent from London - no doubt they were all drinking and watching the rugby on the super big screen TVs. What is our country coming to?


he was old before his time

19.03.2006 17:02

What a sad and wretched comment .You should have stayed in bed and spared us your rheumy thoughts.For you the revolution will be televised


Was it worth posting?

19.03.2006 17:23

Look, if you're that bleedin' miserable then why bother sharing it? the demo was part of a process, which also involves increasing disillusionment from military families, resistance inside Iraq, resistance in Venezuela and political challenges here (ie grubby electoral politics). If you feel so utterly lost, rudderless, and depressed by sobriety, then get down the pub and stop depressing the rest of us.


thanks for your report

19.03.2006 19:13

I think it is important that people express their emotions about events such as these, it helps us to identify what works and what doesn't, what is empowering and what isn't. I don't see any point in trying to pretend something is effective when it blatantly isn't and I don't see any point in exaggerating the numbers any more since if marching is a numbers game then post- Feb 15, it is a game we can not win even by making up the numbers.

I stayed in bed (but I've been staying in bed pretty much the whole of the last three months so that's no great surprise). I listened to a live webcast of demos in Chicago and tried to help out by finding news of protests and action around the world but there was a pitifully low level of either grassroots or corporate coverage.

Anyway, don't be put off by people saying you shouldn't have bothered posting. It's essential that we move forward and to do that we must first admit there is a problem.


foot shot to head shot

19.03.2006 19:53

Neither the marchers or the cops should make your blood boil, try and identify your actual enemy. I don't think you should be going into a demo drunk and unprepared and negative and expecting too much spontaneous support. People join in when a few folk start just doing something prepared that looks like it will work, nobody likes getting arrested for silly things.

The anti-war movement needs momentum more than mass. Of course if a percentage of the people who marched also took nvda then that would have disrupted the war, but when they didn't we should have adapted our tactics.

I don't think it is good enough to say that the anti-war movement is stronger than it initially was in Vietnam, the war has basically run it's course unhindered. Although the movement hasn't directly hurt anyone, our ineffectiveness has allowed genocide elsewhere. I don't blame the activists who commited nvda, those tactics would have worked if enough people had followed suit, even the daft 'human shield' attempt would have worked if enough people had done it. Now though I think we should learn less from previous peace-movements and more from previous resistance movements to domestic tyranny. I'd be prepared to attempt any tactic that could be effective or has worked previously short of terrorism. We need tactics that work if only a few of us do them. I do think I should be digging up Blairs granny / blocking the oil-depots / arson at Labour party offices / sabotage of relevant corporate systems / assasination attempts against the pro-war MPs until they are too scared to leave their Green Zone in Westminster. Even if any of you agree with me then I don't think you should agree with me here, though I welcome criticism as I don't want to discredit or act as a provocateur, and feel free to delete this post for that reason.

Of course it would be nice if we lived in a country where everyone marching influenced government opinion. In a real democracy even blocking a road in a sit-down protest would be an anti-social imposition of risk as it interferes with ambulances and fire-engines and the freedom of other indivduals to travel. To evaluate violence morally, you should draw your own lines as to how far you are prepared to go, and compare them to what you are opposing.

0) Marching, silent vigils, prayer meetings, legal action
1) Obstruction - blocking gates, roads, ports, offices, public spaces
2) Vandalism - smashing war-planes, hacking corporate systems, fence cutting
3) Reactive violence - riots, black bloc , kidnapping, intimidation
4) Intifada - continuous riots, sabotage, insurrection
5) Assasination
6) Terrorism - low intensity conflict.
7) Mass Abuse - ethnic cleansing, economic violence, environmental violence
8) War / Genocide

Of course it would be preferable if the international criminal court arrested Bush and Blair and the oil-barons and weapons-dealers, gave them a fair trial and then maybe locked a few of them up, but the powerful are never held to account and waiting in hope for such an outcome seems delusional. However many policemen you kick.


a question for the original poster

19.03.2006 22:17

i too was surprised that there was no attempt at direct action, but i do have to question whether walking on the wrong side of the road behind buckingham palace, stopping some saturday afternoon traffic, and having a few inevitable skirmishes with the police would have been any less pointless than the stwc march itself was.

can you please explain to us why this would have been more constructive or useful in your view?


I don't see what that picture shows

19.03.2006 23:59

The picture doesn't show more than 15,000 people.



20.03.2006 06:41

I'm not the original poster, but I'd say a bit of disobedience is never pointless, because it helps 'kill the cops in our heads', to break down the reverance for the State and authority figures that allows 1000 cops to tell a million 'protesters' where to walk and get absolute obedience (3 arrests for leaving the route on Feb 15th, one guy I know just went to take a piss in a pub, there was no crowd response to speak of). No reason to just randomly kick off though ;-)


Fuck you talentless blogspawn

20.03.2006 17:28

Godsdammit! I'm trying to kick back and enjoy my death, only to be confronted by some boring fuckwad complaining about peace protesters and imagining himself as some kind of Gonzo Hero!!?!

My style of journalism wasn't meant to open the gate for bullshit self-obsessed whiners, bucko! You sound like a miserable alcoholic phony - what no ether? - with no ideas beyond pissing off the cops and alienating the mass of the people.

Fuck you! I'm off to rot some more.

Hunter S Thompson

alienating the people

20.03.2006 21:47

from 2 million to 10k

how's that for alienating the people


running the 10k

21.03.2006 00:06

The first anti-war demo after 911 I attended had 25 people. Most of them, like me, were there by chance. I never even went to the biggest demos, they were too impersonal and unfocussed. It was a rush seeing attendance grow but it is more important to attend a small demo, you can make of a percentage difference there. And small numbers of prepared hardcore activists can be more effective than millions.
Did you never hear 'Banksy's story of how a single Rumanian protestor caused the fall of Ceausescu ? If not steal his excellent book - the bastard put a copyright notice on it so it serves him right.

Say you had met up with other like minded strangers on the march, say you had been lucky enough to trash a oil company office, it is still a gesture action designed to inpsire rather than damage, the insurance covers it and it's emergency recovery plan has it back in operation in a week at most.

If you had organised a few friends before hand, did a bit of homework, then you could have attended the same march, stormed some office and corrupted their systems - that's what those organistaions fear, that causes them real uncertainy and financial loss. Or if you really want to stick it to the police, break into the police HQs and ransack or liberate their records - at night they are mostly only guarded by third party security companies.

Your anger isn't enough, in fact it is counterproductive on the day. Any street fighter knows they are in trouble once they've lost their temper. If you are genuinely angry, then focus. Prepare an action weeks before, organise with like-minded individuals. Practice it. Do it. And then go and have a celebratory drink afterwards. Remember anarchy is more about organisation than improvisation, more about getting along with friends rather than beating up enemies.

Speaking as an older drinker, the times I've been on a block or lockon I do get drunk the night before simply so my bladder is emptied soon after I wake up, rather than once I'm lying next to some strange little girl with police photographers all around. I should really find out where to buy incontinence pants instead because I don't run as fast with a hangover.

Numbers have nothing to do with it, the bigger the numbers on any action the greater chance of being found out in advance. And don't just do stuff on demo's when security is tight because they are expecting trouble, do it the weekend before or after. Crowds are good meeting points, a good place to boost your social life and avoid lonliness, but they do not confer any extra legitamacy on your actions, that comes from inside you. And although they provide cover and potential support, and can be leveraged, they are disadvantaged by the extra security laid on in anticipation.

Father Jack

The good Suicide Bomber

21.03.2006 12:07

"On March 21, 1943, Hitler visited the Berlin Armory to inspect captured Russian war materiel. A gaggle of top Nazi figures, including Luftwaffe Chief Field Marshal Hermann Goering and Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler anxiously awaited Hitler's arrival. Gersdorff was to give Hitler a tour of the armory.

Moments after Hitler entered the museum, Gersdorff set off two 5-minute delayed-fuse hand grenades in the pockets of his coat. His plan was to throw himself around Hitler in a death embrace that would blow up both men. But contrary to everyone's expectation, Hitler raced through the museum. Gersdorff was able to take leave of the delegation and defused both grenades in the stall of a public bathroom.

Gersdorff was soon transferred back to the eastern front where he managed to evade suspicion after July 20th. He survived the war to retire from the army as a brigadier general."

Of course Gersdorff failed 63 years ago today, but post-war he still got a street named after him for the bravery of his attempted suicide bombing. It is interesting that even the Jewish library recognises his aims without commenting on his means.
I think if they did they would point out this wasn't a indiscriminate attempt to cause terror in a civilian population, rather a targetted assasination attempt aimed at removing a right-wing war-mongering tyrant. I would ask any British or American soldier reading this to read the following excellent article presented by a general to the US army :

"How Much Obedience Does an Officer Need? Beck, Tresckow, and Stauffenberg--Examples of Integrity and Moral Courage for Today's Officer" by Major (General Staff) Dr. Ulrich F. Zwygart

"War is madness. We have to prevent it. The key person is Hitler. We have to kill him."

My own conclusion is that it is the duty of any officer to kill any single leader who forces a country into an unjust war.


learn from history

21.03.2006 17:32

Lets learn from history, how did the vietnem war eventually end, was it mass demos at home?, was it vietnam resitance? or was it the role of the GI's , i.e. going AWOL, fragging their officers and generally disobeying orders. In fact all of these fed into each other, but the final blow to the US establishment was due to the GI's revolt.

What an inspiration Ben Griffin is, for people who don't know, he was in the SAS and no refused to serve in the war, he spoke at the rally and encouraged other soldiers to join him.

red letter

Anger is valuable elswhere!

22.03.2006 18:55

As an anarchist myself i am disapointed you felt like this, protests may not solve the fundamental problems we are fighting but they at least raise awareness and let people know they are not alone in their struggles. There are plenty of peaceful people out there who do not belive in violent direct action, protests are one of the only opportunities they have to get their oppinion across to a wider audience and to the politicians who unfortunately control our world. Saturday was for them, and as you are an anarchist you should respect their wishes for a peaceful day, and even appreciate them as different, if we where all the same then you would really have reason for being uninspired.
I how ever do belive in certain violant acts, but only if they are constructive, focusing on the real proplem (governments and companies that enforce the wars) not to innocent passers by, please corrrect me but isnt that more useless to stopping the war than peaceful protesting through the streets. The government dosnt care who you disrupt, their probally even help you if you give them enough money. Sorry but it really annoyous me when fellow anarchists create violance in the wrong places, at the times as it only gives us a bad name in a society where we do not have many chances to exspess what anarchy really means to us. It also give the authorities more breaks to show us up as horrible, uncivilzed little toe rags, the fucking hypocrites!
I think that if you feel this way about peaceful protests, you should not attend them as they are a possitive way for many people to get their voice heard, which your views obviously can not contribute to. Stick to the riots and other forms of direct action mate, as it is there people like myself will admire your passion and enthusiasm for a better world. Hopefully we will all make a difference in our own way.

Solidarity to all who belive in something more to life!



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