What goes around, comes around. When there is oppression, there is always resistance, and then there’s repression of the resistance. The key is to break the cycle, once and for all.
Unless you’ve been visiting another planet these last few weeks, you’ll be aware of the confrontations in and around Stokes Croft, spilling into the neighbourhoods on either side (see Bristol Indymedia for starters if you have been on Mars). There are numerous local contributory factors that have been discussed at length elsewhere, but what we are seeing, or at least beginning to see, is a classic re-enactment of an ages old power struggle – for control of the streets. It is not a game, it is deadly serious. Lives, liberty and peoples’ futures are at stake. It is not a power struggle the ruling class (that is, those who control the wealth and political system) dare lose, because if they lose once it could be game over for them. They will use every tool at their disposal to win this struggle, all the time, wherever it occurs across Bristol and Britain as a whole. They know if they lose the streets, they are on their way out.
If you doubt this then look at exactly the same power struggle playing out right now across north Africa and the Middle East/Arab region, and to an extent on the fringes of Europe (Greece for example). Clearly there the struggle is at a heightened level and far more generalised across each specific country, but it is the same struggle. You can see clearly the lengths the dictators and oppressive regimes there will go to in order to maintain power and control of the streets – sending in armed forces, killing people, throwing them into prison to face rape, torture and humilitation, and death.
Those regimes have been largely armed, trained and generally supported by the governments of the west, including ours. The governments, or regimes, in our country and across the west, have seen what’s happening in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, Uganda, Greece, and so on. They feel the fear of the partial victories for the peoples’ of Egypt and Tunisia and Libya, they dont want to lose power any more than the regimes in those countries, and they’ll use every trick in the book to retain power. That is why you can never achieve peaceful social change. You may achieve partial regime change (see Tunisia & Egypt, but neither were peaceful – thousands were killed and imprisoned over the years), the ousting of a few specific individuals. But social change, where power moves from the very few to the many and brings with it the end of exploitation and oppression, can never be peacefully achieved. Those who hold that power now, the ruling class, will not allow it.
Every country has its own local and unique set of contributory factors and circumstances, but at the heart of the problem the issues remain the same – control of the wealth and political system by the very few. Those few could be a few individuals, a family, a tribe, a religious elite, self-interested corporations, a political party (or parties who ultimately act in each others best interests – maintain power for the few – as in this country). Those few could include representatives, or be made up of, all of those. But they will always be very much a tiny majority. Here that tiny minority includes the international corporations, the political elite and the traditional landowers/royalty. Their tools include the many arms of the state, but most obviously the police, judiciary and prison system; plus of course the media (owned by international corporations generally); the churches / religions; and the offices of local government such as Bristol council. Their best trick is to convince many others, particularly at a local level, that ‘we’re all in it together’. Local political and business leaders (the mini-ruling class if you like) are favoured, used and either incorporated into the power structures or tossed away when no longer needed. Spineless and stupid lying local politicians like Stephen William MP are a classic example. Whether he really believes it or not when he talks about ‘whats best for Bristol’, he’s just a sucker who is repeating the mantra of the ruling class as they try to trick us into paying once again for their crisis. We pay, they win, time after time after time. It is time to stop paying.
Total social revolution
Anarchists talk, often glibly, of total social revolution (its in the bookfair flyer!). The overthrow of the present system based on capital, profit, exploitation and oppression. Its replacement by an infinitely better alternative that we struggle to even put into words, because we find it hard to actually conceive what it may be like. Total social revolution is not the chucking of bottles at cops after a night in the pub, nor the conscious chucking of bottles at cops without getting a bit pissed first. Total social revolution goes much further and deeper than that, we cannot rely on spontaneity and bravado alone to achieve it, because we’ll lose! It will be painfull, it will cost many of us dearly – years of struggle, poverty and deprivation, treachery and despair, the loss of loved ones, time spent in prison, or much worse (what’s new you cry!).
If you are picked up around Stokes Croft these next few weeks, it may be harsh, unpleasant, and quite likely entirely unjust, but its just the beginning. Just look at Syria and the neighbouring countries for an idea of how painfull it can be, and they aren’t even close to total social revolution yet. But the rewards of total social revolution will be…well frankly incomprehensible! Because it will be something we have never experienced before. Better than the deepest love or the everlasting orgasm, stronger than the most intense sense of comradeship or solidarity in struggle, more breathtaking than the finest landscape or the rarest beauty of nature, more enjoyable even than free cider for life! Tempted? Ready? How far can you go? Can you let yourself go?