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urban75 reader Daniel James argues that the N30 protest missed the target
1st December 1999
Radical organisations have a finite life-span. Either they become absorbed into the mainstream, or they become irrelevant. At the moment, popular protest is aimed against the World Trade Organisation.
London Reclaim the Streets, which was once something to do with cars and cities, attempted to piggyback the Seattle protests. At the same time, an event titled Reclaim the Railways was organised. The funding of the Tube is only linked to world trade policy by the most tenuous of links - that they are both unduly influenced by capitalism. What isn't?
So RTS closed down a train station and someone set fire to a police van. I wonder how that helped third world countries negotiate better trade deals? I can't see how it helped secure public funding for the Tube either. So I find myself wondering whether RTS has existed for too long. They have clearly lost the plot.
Last night - n30 - being explicitly linked to J18 meant that violence was inevitable - people who just wanted to fight cops were going to show up.
The nastiest cops would be selected for revenge. Any message is lost when the punch-up begins. People get hurt, people get arrested. The person(s) who get sent down for arson of police property - and I can't imagine anything less than a sentence of several years - won't be members of the central committee, that's for sure.
What those in charge of RTS never realised about Paris '68 etc. is that the French working class smash cars up and set fire to things whenever their interests are threatened. It happens so regularly that it hardly registers in the UK media. It inflicts no damage on capitalism whatsoever - in fact it helps it, by providing an outlet for frustration with the system. It also brings its opponents to the surface, so they can be identified and controlled.
An RTS 'spokesperson' once described the events of '68 as a 'near revolution'; there is no such thing. They imagined that RTS are the inheritors of a tradition of popular protest going back hundreds of years.
That might have been true once, when they had an issue to gather around. These days they are more like dodgy old Leninists, spouting slogans about everything but providing answers to nothing. Marching around in circles and getting your supporters beaten up was never very successful.
Bogus twentieth century ideology should be left buried.
personal comment by Daniel James
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