There’s a tragi-comic moment in the Irish Easter rising in 1916 well described by Thomas Coffey in his book ‘Agony at Easter’. On the third day of the rising James Connolly is making his military dispositions in the Dublin Post Office when three Citizen Army Volunteers approach him and offer him their rifles. A perplexed Connolly asks their reasons. ‘The Easter holiday is over’ say the Volunteers ‘ we have to go back to work tomorrow’. Whether Connolly laughed or cried Coffey doesn’t say.
The Volunteers action strikes me as very similar to that of anarchists post G20 – back to life as normal – no inkling as to the possibilities to be seized. We won the war at G20 –but lost the peace. Unlike the poll tax riots when people had good reason to keep their heads down – Operation Carnaby – this time it was the cops who’s faces were beamed out from tv screens and newspapers caught doing acts of violence. The public mood turned decisively against the police. If ever there was a moment to ram home the political advantage of police bungling and cover up it was in the days after G20. But where were the anarchists? No initiative was taken, no urgent meetings held over the midnight oil to hammer out a strategy – just people going back to life as normal before G20.
Only the much maligned Chris Knight attempted to seize the time – contacting the Tomlinson family, organising the memorial march the Saturday after and the leafleting of Millwall football club. And what did he get for his pains – a suggestion on a discussion list that he be excluded from anarchist circles! Predictably into this vacuum have stepped the SWP – setting up a front organisation and organising the anti-police violence demonstration on May 23rd. The anarchists whinge about the SWP but they are only able to fill the vacuum because we let them. And in the many voices to be heard in the media on police violence can we hear any anarchists trying to get their views across – no of course we fucking don’t comrades because we ‘don’t talk to the enemy’. So we leave the field to Chris Knight then we whinge even more ‘cos we don’t like what he says.
‘Events Dear Boy events’. We seem capable only of organising an event every decade then retreating with exhaustion. I sometimes seriously wonder if all anarchists are vitamin deficient. We are seriously the only people in the entire world capable of doing only one thing at a time. A juggler with one ball. It’s either a trip to the Visteon picket line OR a G20 meeting.
To respond to the post G20 situation we should have had emergency London anarchist meetings all fucking week – nutting out a strategy with the kind of high media visibility we had before G20. We should have been able to instantly respond to events and seize the initiative. I suggested this to one incredulous anarchist.’But I’ve got a job’ he replied’ as if ti was a cast iron reason for inaction. Try telling that to Comrade Connolly – oh shit – they did!
Taken from Ian Bones ‘What the Butler saw’ column in Freedom.