Saturday, October 5, 2013

Runnymede is sacred ground

So I never liked the idea of a direct action in the first place, the idea of a road block, annoying busy people, didn't have much to do with what we were protesting. And it seemed that we were alienating the very people who should be the most disconcerted with the cuts to the Ministry of Justice budget, which was, in the end, the reason we were there.

And I didn't like the chants of "We Hate The Tories" that came in at the end. I really enjoyed "Save our legal aid!" and I could have gone all day with "Law and Justice for the Masses, Not Just For the Ruling Classes" But when they start with we hate the Tories I just get discouraged that people aren't seeing the bigger picture. If you think there is a real difference between Tories, Lib Dems and Labour, you are kidding yourselves. What economic or policy decision would have been substantively different under any other party? There's no point in these negative emotions. I don't stand in the streets against anyone. I stand for something. I stand for justice. Standing against something diminishes me because I become defined as its opposite. I am a sacred miracle of life, as are you, and I do not want to be diminished.

What I really loved was going to the Man on The Moon pub after, which has become a squat, a sort of free pub. I have no objection to these kinds of places but I find the protocol baffling. Do we just get up and make ourselves some tea? Is a particularly poignantly placed drop in the donations box likely to be taken as an order? Dare I hope? Forgive me.

Anyway, I met some of the Cambridge Socialists and it was so refreshing to spend time talking to people who take as a given the failure of constitutional democracy when it is clogged by monetary interests. Honestly, I am so inspired by libertarians and anarchists these days, and people with the integrity to maintain and work on their understanding of their relationship with the state, and what they want and believe. It was fascinating that almost everyone I talked to had this view of Anonymous as a bunch of questionable, possibly criminal characters. Since I entered the world of activism from Occupy and only from Occupy, I hold in very high estimation Anonymous and UK Uncut both, not only for their positions but for the quality of character in their leaders. This anarchist worldview is like some kind of new Stoicism. It requires rigorous analysis of the justice of all your own actions. Anyway, I kind of dig it especially as I watch what is happening in my country, the approval ratings of Congress, the state of the European economy, the endless oppressions in the Middle East. The model of governance we have relied on is dysfunctional and outdated. It is time to think of a new thing. It is time to gather under the umbrella of the 99%. Or at least I think.

The police were delightful today, how I thought police should be, standing away and not getting too involved, communicative and friendly with the protesters. I thought they were good. Of course they were good, in part, because the organizers did whatever they said. It kind of undermined the power of the protest in a way, but I didn't love the roadblock anyway, so I'm not going to worry about it. It is a tremendous thing to be relieved in some small way of my paranoia. And while my system crashes and Finfisher issues and phone problems still are unrelieved and spell to me "police state" I was mostly encouraged. I was mostly encouraged because these guys were definitely going to let us get our point across and I appreciated it.

I don't think we really worked up our point as much as we could have. Big picture, everyone. While people were debating the minutiae of the proposed budget cuts, I brooded on a forest/trees issue. The noise on the particulars is not good, but the sound is the chop, the point is the one third cut in the Ministry of Justice budget between 2010 and 2016. That is an assault of a fact. It is a real fuck you to the populace. It is removing recourse to the rule of law (to people like prisoners and immigrants). It is fulfilling Mussolini's definition of fascism. It is removing resistance to the state. If you want the state (hand in hand with the 1%, because the state just follows the dictates of bankers) to be unaccountable - if you want there to be no way to question or stand against the decisions of the state, then by all means be silent on these budget cuts. By all means jettison the rule of law. Man, so many cars were full of angry faces because our brief roadblocks were cutting short their shopping time. We are so poisoned by consumerism. We don't even see it. Identity is so much what you have and how you look here. Anxiety about meeting or god forbid missing social norms fuels debt creation. And we were standing in their way with a stupid road block.

There was a good spirit of camaraderie although, you know, there is nothing more horribly grating on the ears of the British than my braying East Coast Dora the Explorer American accent. I watched them visibly shrink at all my stereotypical American can-do, big smile, bull-by-the-horns attitude. It was a lot for the poor students to take, and I thank them. I really couldn't believe it though when just 70 minutes in people were saying they were fatigued and needed to go for a sit down. I got one word for you people: cardio.

No matter if you are an anarchist, libertarian, union member, socialist  - anyone who believes that the government should not have more rights than the individual - believes in the rule of law and needs the courts to make the ability of those most manipulated by the State to stand against the state. And the rule of law, I am telling you, that is the answer to all of the problems. The rule of law is to me a sacred thing. Courtrooms are sacred space. There is something that is a triumph of the human spirit to debate the truth in a courtroom or on a street, and in so doing, declare to the world that the State does not decide, in the end we decide, there is no justice, just us. Christians, take heed, where were you today?

So everyone who showed up to the Crown Court is to me some kind of hero, however imperfect, a hero. Because those people took the fight for that sacred space to the streets. And I don't care how we are different, I only care how we are the same.  We stand against the unjust power of the state. That is a sacred place to be.

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