Sunday, 21 October 2012

Spirit of revolt is alive in London

THE spirit of resistance to neoliberalism is alive and kicking in London, despite the attempts of the British state to stamp out dissent.

More than 150,000 people marched through the capital on Saturday October 20 to protest against the punitive austerity measures being imposed on the population by the coalition government.

And, off the official route of the TUC-organised demo, angry protesters took to Oxford Street, storming several businesses and forcing others to close.

They were reacting both to the foul workfare scheme, which sees the unemployed served up by the state to big business as slave labour, and to the blatant injustice of those same capitalists being allowed to avoid paying taxes, while the people are bled dry and public services slashed.

The protest began at Oxford Circus at about 2.45pm, when a small group took the centre of the road junction and staged a brief sit-down protest.

It then set off down Regent Street as a wildcat march, quickly attracting hundreds of others, as well as a samba band, as it snaked back up to Oxford Street and headed west towards Marble Arch.

A whole stream of businesses, notably including Boots, Starbucks and McDonald's, were targeted by fast-moving breakaways from the march - on several occasions protesters managed to get inside before the shutters came down or police lines prevented them.

Oxford Street traffic was brought to a standstill and the protest left in its wake a string of closed businesses - police were still protecting the capitalist outlets when the protest later returned along the same route.

The British state clearly hoped that, by handing out punitive prison sentences not only to the 2011 rioters but also to non-violent protesters like boat-race swimmer Trenton Oldfield, it could crush the spirit of rebellion in a British public numbed into conformity by the media circus of the Jubilee and Olympics.

But the enthusiasm and energy of  the "unauthorised" Oxford Street demo suggests it has failed in its repressive aim - the spirit on display bodes well for the resistance to the G8 meeting to be held in the UK in the summer of  2013.