This bunny would defend to the death the right of individuals to peacefully protest in the name of a cause that he profoundly disagreed with. The line from the authorities that such mass gatherings automatically represent a 'breach of the peace' stinks to high heaven, even from some distance away, and appear to serve as an excuse for the police to apply heavy-handed tactics, antagonise the crowd and in fact spark the kind of violence that they had warned against in the first instance. No apologist for the rozzers or their dubious methods here.
Sparked by the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement and a group referred to as 'the Indignants' in Spain, something falling under the umbrella of 'anti-capitalist demonstration' went worldwide over the weekend, attracting support in London, across mainland Europe and on the other side of the world in places like Hong Kong and Sydney. Placards and slogans, talk of the 'many and not the few', Che Guevara T-shirts and one or two guys and dolls fancying themselves as the new Bob Dylan - not exactly this bunny's idea of a day out, but then most of those involved appeared to enjoy themselves while causing no harm to others. Of course, there will always be a level of disorder at a gig like this, much of it the product of dickheads seeing any protest as an excuse to turn reckless or violent. Not all of this is a direct response to 'kettling' and the Simon Harwood's of this world, and it would be naive in the extreme to suggest otherwise.
More than anything, I found this demonstration to be a confused one, and highly confusing as a result. What exactly are these people protesting against? Is it capitalism per se, or just the corporatist greed of a fortunate few whom governments have actively protected from the consequences of failure? Were they focussed solely on the latter, then while the movement would lose some of its political edge, a wider level of public sympathy, agreement and even participation would probably emerge. Without speaking to a large number of those involved one can never be certain, but the appearance one gets is that the failings of gangster capitalism, cronyism and corporatism have been capitalised upon (sorry!!) to launch a Soviet/Castro style ideological war on the very notion of capitalism itself.
Apparently, the mess we are in at the moment 'is where free markets invariably get you'. The fact that our economy does not run on such a model and is in fact ten parts Statist, ten parts gangster capitalist either goes over the heads of Trots and pseudo-Marxists or is rendered an intellectual inconvenience to be swept under the carpet. Yes, the bank bailout was a disgrace and individuals chasing the rewards of success should be susceptible to the risks that come with failure - that's how capitalism in its purest form actually works. Using taxpayers' hard-earned the confiscated to bail out corporations who got greedy is about as far away from pure capitalist thinking as one can get - were this explained to some of those who turned up yesterday then it might provoke an epic bout of head-scratching from some of them.
Two of their slogans really stood out for this bunny. The first appeared in Stockholm (hardly the home of capitalism as it is, but there you go) and read 'I am one of the 99%', presumably a reference to the remaining 1% in possession of 'a disproportionate share of the wealth'. As placards go, it's quite powerful stuff, likely to take in many who do not question exactly what it means. Far from wealthy people who wake at some anti-social hour to sell fruit and veg on a market stall, and those remaining milkmen and publicans are of course a part of that 99% as well. Most people starting a small business do serious shifts for an hourly rate that ultimately comes in at less than the minimum wage. They're hammered by taxes and regulation by the State that renders market entry increasingly difficult, and strengthens the hold of large corporate entities who can absorb the blow or creatively account their way out of any problems.
Capitalism has been attacked and interfered with by successive governments as it is, and this has caused far more harm to the 99% than it ever will to the privileged few. The changing character of our high streets, with what used to be independent shops boarded up as the multinationals bulldoze them, is testament to this fact.
Perhaps even more baffling is the call for 'real democracy', as if the creation of a socialist utopia is the only means by which the rights of 'little people' can be protected. Anyone who studies history for more than about five seconds understands that in those countries where private enterprise was marginalised or squashed, keeping it down was only enabled by the State very deliberately encroaching into personal freedom. The pursuit of higher living standards for an individual and those he cares for becomes strictly forbidden in any environment where such thinking is automatically dismissed as 'greed' - and once one establishes that certain thoughts are 'bad', then the policing of that thought by the State is entirely justified.
You never heard of pro-capitalist demonstrations in the former Soviet Union or Castro's Cuba, precisely because the policing of 'greed' appears to necessitate tyranny, oppression and the imprisonment of those who disagree with the party line (of course the celebrations that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall dispelled the myth that those under Communist rule lived in a permanent state of bliss). Yes, these protesters want 'democracy', but only for themselves and those who broadly agree with them - were their vision of the perfect society ever to be implemented, this bunny suspects that most of this site's contributors would be censored, then classed as dissidents and slung in jail or some kind of forced labour camp. Those who spoke out in public would no doubt have to come in for the 'Tiananmen Square' treatment - it's an inevitable consequence of Marxism and authoritarian, collective thinking. Take care and I'll catch you soon.