politics of the hap

A is for Alternative
March 28, 2011, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Resistance | Tags: , , , ,

It was all a dream.. or so it seems as the walls are scrubbed clean, the windows boarded up and the shattered glass swept away. But it was real and was always real in our minds and hearts, but on a bright Spring Saturday the extraordinary occurred. The streets became a site of unpredictability, of fear, of joy, of spirit, of humanity in its varying shades.

The letter A was emblazoned across the defaced buildings, the storefronts and the smashed ATMs. A for Alternative. But what else does this A symbolise?

The inevitable onslaught of criticism and sensational media portrayals has emerged yet as ever it is easy to criticize from a distance posting comments on online newspaper sites and blogs (the irony of making my comments on this blog duly noted). This art of whinging and complaining has been perfected by many in this country but it is important not to discount the courage involved in taking Action. As hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of London in an endless stream, representing a variety of groups, travelling from across the country, swarms of people all drawn to the same spot, it was a genuinely unique sight to witness in this time of complacency and lacklustre.

Apathy reigns as people contently sit back and avoid getting their hands dirty, smothered in the cotton wool they have become accustomed to, blindly believing the BBC news coverage and judging from their soapboxes. The imperfect violence and well-informed direct intiatives of UK Uncut mingle and are confused, becoming easy targets for the right-wing and also for the apathetic masses who whether by fear or lack of imagination remain determinely on the fence paralyzed to act.

This is no longer the time to remain silent and pessimistic, believing that nothing can ever change. The Apathy expressed reveals an astounding inability to consider possibilities outside the systems and structures which currently shape our lives. Anarchy is banded about in “news” reports as an insult. Questioning the requirement of government and attacking their stranglehold on our lives and freedom has for many become incomprehensible, the docility and blind acceptance has become endemic, as people roll over let things happen to them.

But most people on the march, and even those involved in the ‘violence’ were not anarchists. These were simply people wanting to be heard, people pushed to the edge. They were not simply lazy teenagers, the losers of society, benefit spongers with a desire to instigate trouble, they were people of all ages, backgrounds, who work hard and with little rewards. And even if they were – then who’s fault is that? These ‘anarchists’ kicking in ATMs are products of this society – why does this not force reflection on the way this country organized and the numerous obstacles that the majority of people face, rather than the continuing repressing and containing through punitive measures.

But how long can this Anger be contained? And when will it spread to those comfortable majority who criticise from their sofas in front of the TV? The rhetoric of happiness and well-being, the quick-fix measures of consumption and the misplaced belief of meritocracy assist the smothering of these people’s imaginations, and they cling to the illusion of an England that never existed and cling to the status quo, to the monotony of their jobs and sameness and predictability it provides.

This fear has happily satiated the masses and history has shown the useful tool this is. The media further work to demonize the ‘anarchists’ and delineate the difference between the peaceful (lawful) and the violent (criminal). These categories only serve to separate people from each other rather than allow the realization we are all fighting for the same ideas and come together.

It is the fear of what else could be that keeps people inactive and apathetic. The only alternative at the moment is Ambiguity. This Ambiguity is crucial. As protesters occupied Fortnum and Masons, scrawling Tory Scum on its brick walls and crowds cheered from below, this Ambiguity was realising itself as the normality of London was upturned This new form of occupying spaces with which we are so familiar is not necessarily a superior way. As people ran through Piccadilly it was messy and at times incoherent. But it was a cry for the possibility of acting, for fighting for freedom for the first time, for showing in however blatant a way, with the only tools that people possessed, that alternative ways of existing were possible.

As the numerous critics question – ‘What is the alternative?’. Currently actions have been taken that have destabilized the normative assumptions, that have built Awareness, encouraged politicization of many previously silent people. Yet Answers to such a complex, globally expansive and entangled Anger are not simple.

There is a need to broaden ambitions beyond demanding reversing changes within the same structures and look toward attacking the whole rationale that governs the world that in the name of democracy has produced such limits to freewill.

The aim should not be to solving or remedying but further destabilizing the taken-for-granted, producing further ambiguity in daily life, of asking questions with more Aspiration, questions that ask ‘What life is worth living?’ and not merely settle for a continuation of a life we used to know. This is a movement directed not toward the creation of Answers but the stimulus of questions.

In this process we strive to discover and embrace the final and most significant A – A is for feeling Alive.


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In the words of Obsolete:

‘….Every single occasion on which a representative (of UK Uncut), or at least someone who’s taken part in the protests has appeared on television, such as on Newsnight tonight, they’ve come across as the kind of pretentious, self-satisfied, smug and thoroughly gittish middle-class wankers you would normally cross the street to avoid, repeatedly refusing to answer a straight question and taking no responsibility whatsoever for what some might do under their banner. Only with the advent of Twatter could so many utter cunts make common cause.
‘…The black bloc at least has no such pretensions. As facile and self-defeating as smashing up a branch of a bank that we either wholly or partially own is, it sends the message that someone ultimately will pay.’

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