Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
-Rousseau, On The Social Contract
War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms
I was there on the front lines. I was proud to be there. The protests that took place on Wednesday in Central London were not the pinnacle of a movement but the tip of the iceberg. These protests, which I long predicted would turn violent, were a reasonable reaction from a populace that has been consistently victimised by the current administration. The smashing of public property at the Conservative Party headquarters was a balanced reaction to an administration who would rather cut funding for healthcare and education than for pork-barrel government projects and unjust wars waged abroad in our name.
Government officials who rob the poor to create wealth for the rich deserve to be chased from their workplace and inconvenienced for a few days. For what have been gained through non-violent means? Likely not even a public statement from Boris Johnson or David Cameron, which, insulting as those comments were (basically they told us “fuck you”, we’ll do what we want), at least made it clear we got their attention.
You are lucky we didn’t turn your party headquarters into a new social centre Cameron. Like it or not, this is what democracy looks like. This is not your government, these are not your streets, they are ours.
The media responses have been both positive and negative, though mostly sympathetic. One story that stands out in particular is the praise coming from lecturers at Goldsmith University for the protests who signed a statement saying “We the undersigned wish to congratulate staff and students on the magnificent anti-cuts demonstration this afternoon. We wish to condemn and distance ourselves from the from the divisive and, in our view, counterproductive statements issued by NUS and [national] UCU concerning the occupation of the Conservative Party HQ. The real violence in this situation relates not to a smashed window but to the destructive impact of the cuts.” The Millbank House occupation apparently included the particpation of one of the lecturers, Luke Cooper, as an organiser on the front lines. Royal Holloway bows to Luke Cooper and Goldsmiths – thank you for your support.
By the end of the night, I was kettled in the street as I waited for a friend to show up from Manchester to lend his support. I was “stop and searched” under Section 60 of the UK Terrorism Act, a search which was ill-timed and badly carried out, despite the levity with which most officers carried it out.
So what happens now? Well, as I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Look forward to walk-outs on November 24th. Unfortunately I will be away at a workshop that week in Dundee, but I trust you all will keep this fire burning.