Thursday, 2 April 2009

They predict a riot

And despite all the hype it didn't happen. Even with the smashing of a bank's windows, the death of a protester and the heaviest police presence in London that I can remember.

The much-touted images of some isolated violence were counter-balanced with those of a carnival of ridicule: The massed crowd in Trafalgar Square sang happy birthday to Tony Benn, a bloke dressed as Jesus holding a placard reading 'drive out the moneylenders' hilariously interviewed by the BBC, and a vintage armoured car decorated as a police riot vehicle with the occupants nicked for being (very unconvincingly) dressed as coppers.

But the riot-hype did go somewhere to achieving it's goal of demonising protest and promoting the idea that protesters are something other than ordinary people. Talking at work, I can see that this lie has taken some hold and I needed to do some convincing that the same people who go on demonstrations have jobs, families and watch Eastenders.

Yesterday showed not only that, to paraphrase Lenin, the state depends upon truckloads of tooled-up coppers, but also, to paraphrase Gramsci, that it needs to win hearts and minds too. The very fact that this is necessary in itself shows a fear of an emerging consensus that capitalism is possibly not such a great idea.

All of which eclipses the G20 summit itself:

The fact that it is at the Excel conference centre makes me think that it is probably as meaningless as business events that I have attended at the same venue. The comparison holds up because ultimately the G20 produces no votes and no decisions - just a 'consensus statement'. Very much like a business conference - verbose key note speeches that don't really say anything other than bland platitudes. And endless 'networking' opportunities so that inanities can be exchanged such as 'did you have to come far?'; "how was the traffic?'; and 'did you enjoy Jamie Oliver's dinner last night?' Meanwhile the real deals and decisions are made over a mobile phone in the car park.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While the police need to take some of the blame for talking-up the prospect of violence yesterday, I think the media need also to take some responsibility. They were so obviously willing some rioting to happen so that they would have something to film. It also pays to think about who owns the media . . .