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Summer of Rage...

I keep seeing articles and commentary about politicians and police forces preparing for a 'Summer of Rage' where the unwashed and not-so-unwashed start rioting and protesting en mass.

Is Britain that close to civil disobidence at present?

What's finally been the tipping point if it is?

A few years ago I was ready to see mass action on the streets against the government due to their actions involving Iraq and all the cover-up that went on (and is still going on) with the cabinet meetings and reasons behind the invasion (which everyone apart from the politicians seemed to know and understand were completely made-up and unjustifable reasons). But apart from the initial protests which brought two million people onto the streets in London alone, nothing else really seemed to get the crowds of the anger.

I know lots of people are very pissed off with the government and British establishment. But has that discontent finally come so close to spilling over into protests on the streets?

We are, afterall, not exactly the French. The Brits don't have the same history of mass protest and demonstration (something which I've always lamented as I'd like to see people more politically and socially aware over here).

So, Summer of Rage? Is it a real threat or just some kind of propaganda?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
I have no idea if it's propaganda or not, but I do know that people will react very differently to things that affect their financial situation, as against things that are ethical etc. Also, the people protesting against the Iraq war were not the most violent of people. All things to consider. But let's pray for a damp summer nonetheless?
Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
The Brits don't have the same history of mass protest and demonstration (something which I've always lamented as I'd like to see people more politically and socially aware over here).

totally with you on this one mate, the apathy levels in this country are simply frightening. The last time the British people REALLY protested en mass was the poll tax riots, and by doing so they achieved what nothing and nobody had managed to do in the previous 11 years - kick the evil whore out of westminster. Now, if that doesn't prove that protesting DOES work at times, I don't know what does.

Personally, I suspect it's all hype and nothing will really happen, but if this much talked-about Summer of Rage DID materialise I would certainly be very happy about it.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
I think the poll tax riots were a slowing built up head of steam, after years of discontent people just put thier foot down.

So I think it is possible that we could have widespread public rage if things carry on as they are. People are seeing bankers still claiming obscene salaries whilst thier business goes bust or they loose thier job. Whilst people are unlikely to protest over many of the other social injustices that have come in or are in the pipeline I think there is a chance people will kick off about it once they really begin to feel the pinch after several months of unemployment. Especially if bankers and dodgy politicians are still claiming huge salaries, and pictures of them sitting on Russian billionaires' boats sipping cocktails appear in all the papers, seemingly not giving a toss, cos they're alright.

Morality doesn't get a protest going, but money does.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
I think the press are getting worried once the recession bites the news is going to be so utterly doom and gloom and despair that nothing interesting is going to happen and their sales are bound to slide even more.

But if they can poke the public into a few riots, well that'd be dandy for sales!
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
I think that's already arrived. Reading the Guardian & The Times this weekend, it was all "doom & gloom".

It also appears "we ain't seen nothin' yet".
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
The problem with activism is that people, especially the sort of people who are into activism, are rubbish at it. Most of the traditional forms (boycotts, protests, petitions, terrorism, eccentric complaint letters, etc.) only serve to demonstrate that people are upset and angry, rather than either providing better alternatives or working from a bargaining position and issuing credible requests or demands.

I'd much rather a summer of perverse inventiveness than a summer of rage. It has the benefit of being both more effective and more entertaining.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
I reckon the claim is propagandist.

For a start, if you give a worst-case scenario now, it sounds better when it doesn't 'we averted it'.

Secondly, it's an excuse for more powers, something neither NuLab or the previous tory lot were unlikely to ever refuse.

That said, I really hope that there is a summer of rage. We do have an old democratic streak in this country, it's just that the nobs tend to do their best to kick the shit out of it and then hide the evidence.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
I think it depends substantially on what the weather's like. If it's hot and frazzly, much more likely.

But all sorts of weird things are happening. The main news item of the last few days has been about the pension arrangement between a chap and his employer. (Admittedly a pretty offensive one, but still. I think it's more a question of why people are being paid that much in the first place.)
(no subject) - epocalypse - Mar. 3rd, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 3rd, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
It also depends on whether Angus tells about his new job and house move. #8[
Mar. 3rd, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
I've asked around and it's pure Met bullshit, there are no plans to increase direct action. You'll see stuff happening in April but that's just because G20 is being held in London, at the Excel centre of all places and maybe there will be a few more protesters who would otherwise be at work.

Don't forget the government purse is tighter all round and the police must make a case for their continued astronomical funding. If local governments need to dig up roads every year to keep their budgets, so the police need the boat to be rocked, or at least to put the fear of mass rebellion in an already unsteady and nervous government.

Mass strike action would be the most effective action at the moment. When people aren't paid, their taxes aren't paid either. It won't happen though, as you say and most people are frankly all mouth and no trouser.

My favorite recent placard at an anarchist demo (actually in the US) read 'Hey liberals, is ok to riot now?'
Mar. 4th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
I dont believe that most people are apathetic. Most people are angry as hell, they just dont know what they can o about it and have little faith in their own ability to affect change. "Protests/strikes/any kind of fighting back doesnt work" is a message we are bombarded with constantly, and it saps confidence. The belief that people are apathetic is also an obstacle. How many people are desperate to see real change in society but believe that they are the only ones who see the shit and everyone else is apathetic?
The war and how we were lied to, the baking crisis and the bankers bonuses, tuition fees, wage freezes, privatising the post office onand on it goes and I believe most people can see it. On top of all this we are now faced with what is likely to be a tsunami of job losses, home reposessions, broken families and communities.
I dont believe that anyone (or any group) is sitting down to plan "A summer of rage" but its as likely to happen this year as any other. Quantitive changes (in how angry people are, for instance) can become qualitative changes at unpredictable moments, and the pressure is on now like it hasnt been for many years.
Theother factor is that most of the usual pressure release valves have been lost from the system. For 18 years the Tories shat on us and there was always the Labour party to look forward to. If we can just get them elected then it will all get better. There is currently very little in the way of alternatives on offer to mainstream politics so the drive for change is going to have to go somewhere...
Mar. 4th, 2009 10:01 am (UTC)
Historically we actually have a fine old tradition of riot and rebellion. The chartists caused quite a bit of havoc, as did the Luddites. We had the peasant revolt in the middle ages (along with several smaller scale uprisings) and of course later on a civil war in which we chopped the king's head off (long before the French even considered it). When the American war of Independence started it was in a tradition of British rebellion (we tend to forget they were British rebels as much as American ones).

When Karl Marx originated his concept of a working class revolution he had Britain in mind at the time and seriously thought it would happen here in his lifetime and he based that on previous and (then) contemporary evidence of civil disorder.
I think the reason why we didn't get anything much over Iraq and why things seem so quiet right now on that front is the same reason Marx was wrong - bread and circuses.

When people are generally comfortable and feel well off (even if its an illusion of security and their comfort is obtained through massive debt) they tend not to riot/rebel. People react more for selfish reasons than altruistic ones - why there may be more trouble now than over Iraq is because people are being put out of work and feeling their financial security is threatened. They can't afford the bread and circuses that dull any rebellious spark. Recreate the conditions of the poll tax riots and chances are they will happen again.

Maybe we will get a summer of rage, maybe we wont. I think there is an increasing likelihood of something kicking off as the economic crisis worsens, especially if Brown stays in power and people feel they are being ignored (as they are). Alas if it does happen it will probably just result in people trashing their own back yard rather than targeting the people they are angry with...

That's my take on it anyway, for what its worth.
Mar. 5th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Factory workers in Dundee have just gone into occupation after being sacked on no notice and told there is no money to pay them.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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