To coincide with the Labour Party conference in Manchester the Stop The War Coalition called for a protest march to demand the troops get pulled out of the various war we are fighting around the world. The Stop the War Coalition is a mash up of various well meaning do gooders, pacifists, trade unionists, quakers and the like though it is mostly under the control of the Socialist Workers Party.
For this years March the Manchester Anarchist Federation and No Borders Network put out a call for a ‘Freedom of Movement Block’. This would be a rallying point for those amongst the left tired of allowing groups like the SWP to dominate the anti-war movement and to show people that there is an alternative to the liberal anti war movement.
Both the No Borders Network and the Anarchist federation are involved in directly helping those who’s lives are affected by capitals wars. Namely the asylum seekers who are forced to flee with their families to safer regions like the EU.
Along with people from the Unity Centre in Govan, an asylum support project that came out of the No Borders Network, a couple of us took the trip to Manchester for the demo.
After a long, and thankfully sing-a-long free, coach trip from Glasgow we arrived in Manchester to glorious sunshine and hot and uncomfortable looking cops on horseback. Looking about for the No Borders and Anarchist Federation block we soon spotted them thanks to the beautiful red and black flags waving in the sunlight. The large amount of fluorescent cops hanging around made the block look rather conspicuous too.
The police acting true to form were well under way with the business of generally harassing people. They had declared a section 60, which they seemed to think gave them the power to demand people remove their masks and allow themselves to be filmed. Well you can demand all you like matey boy. When people, justifiably, refused to comply they attempted to arrest a few people. However again their authority was not recognised and they were not allowed to take our people away.
This they did not like.
Still there was nothing they could do about it short of picking a proper fight. Something I feel they did not want to do with the labour party conference in town. The people within the block showed great strength of character by standing firm against the police and their petty little power games.
Anyway after causing a bit of a fuss the police decided that they were going to march down either side of the block in what seemed like an ill thought out attempt to control it. No sooner than we were underway than people began to march either side of the police so that before too long they were surrounded and we had them under control where we could keep an eye on them.
The march carried on pretty much without incident. The trots wheeled out their mind numbing chants. Consider yourself lucky that I have far too much respect for you dear reader than too reprint them here.
The Red’N’Black block however came up with one or two of its own, far more entertaining, chants.
Get proper jobs!
As with all these anti-war shindigs, and most activities the SWP and their ilk organise, this was to be a dull and boring march from A – B to listen to Tony Benn sound like slightly lefty Winston Churchill and various other regulars of the old left. Marches like these have been going on since before the invasion of Afghanistan and have so far managed to achieve sweet FA.
The state is simply not concerned about however many people march about the streets calling them names. So long as capital and its war machine is unaffected they don’t care.
It is due to the ineffectiveness of these tactics that the war was able to roll on without a hitch. this may sound like I am laying the blame for this at the feet of the StWC. I am. But not at their feet alone. Almost all parts of the left failed to advocate for radical action against the war and those that did advocate this did not do it loud enough.
We, the anarchists, failed to engage with the millions who were and are against this war and allowed the anti war movement to be steered into ennui and disillusionment as we to a one predicted it would.
So shame on those in the StWC who steered the potential of massive anti war sentiment into the cul-de-sac of a-b marches but doubly shame on us for not agitating loudly enough for real action.
But hopefully over the coming years we will see an upswing in genuinely radical action against the war and towards revolution.