July/August 2013 RESISTANCE is out. Contents: UPRISING! Coming to a democracy near you (Eqypt, Turkey, Brazil, Slovenia), Whistle Blowers, Industrial Roundup (Bridgewater postal strike, Runcorn building workers wildcat, Teachers’ Strike, Brighton refuse-worker update), Spanish Anarchist Prisoner Support, Clément Méric anti-fascist demo.
UPRISING! Coming to a democracy near you
The past months have seen huge uprisings on the streets of Brazil, Turkey and Slovenia. In Brazil, protests began over bus fare prices and cost of tickets for the coming World Cup. In Turkey, residents wanted to save trees. In Slovenia, the issue was a speed radar scheme. These seemingly small issues were just the last straw. In Turkey, the real problem is an increasingly Islamist state. In Brazil, poverty is the issue. In Slovenia, it is political corruption. And all populations are angry at the growing economic crisis and forced austerity.
In each case, the state clamped down on peaceful protest at an early stage, and with unprecedented violence. Tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets have been used. People have died and there have been mass arrests and detentions. The protesters bravely refuse to be forced off the streets. On one level, it seems like the Arab Spring has spread to other continents.
But there is a crucial difference. Unlike the dictatorships of the Arab Spring, these countries are supposedly democracies. Their governments were voted in. Whilst anarchists reject such ‘representative democracy’ in favour of ‘direct democracy’, it is nonetheless the case that these are countries in which, in theory, people regularly get to elect their rulers.
Of course it is not unusual for mass protests to take place in modern democracies, nor for states to use ‘non-lethal’ and even lethal weapons against them. The British state in Northern Ireland is an example close to home. But it is not common, and 2013 has seen an escalation in the level of violence by ‘democratic’ states.
We also can see that these democracies were well prepared to attack their electorate. What else is an arsenal of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon for? Which other states have these weapons in reserve, waiting for a demonstration that won’t fizzle out quietly?
As austerity bites harder here, and the recently announced measures against the unwaged and public employees kick in, the working class in Britain will have to mobilise more demonstrations that will hold their ground. Then we’ll see what our state is prepared to do to us.
Read more in Resistance bulletin, issue 153, July/August 2013