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North London Solfed's response to the London riots

Tue, 09/08/2011 - 14:02

With media sources blaming “anarchy” for the unfolding violence in London and across England, the North London Solidarity Federation felt a response from an anarchist organisation active in the capital would be appropriate.

Over the last few days, riots have caused significant damage to parts of London, to shop-fronts, homes and cars. On the left, we hear the ever-present cry that poverty has caused this. On the right, that gangsters and anti-social elements are taking advantage of tragedy. Both are true. The looting and riots seen over the past number of days are a complex phenomenon and contain many currents.

It is no accident that the riots are happening now, as the support nets for Britain's disenfranchised are dragged away and people are left to fall into the abyss, beaten as they fall by the batons of the Metropolitan Police. But there should be no excuses for the burning of homes, the terrorising of working people. Whoever did such things has no cause for support.

The fury of the estates is what it is, ugly and uncontrolled. But not unpredictable. Britain has hidden away its social problems for decades, corralled them with a brutal picket of armed men. Growing up in the estates often means never leaving them, unless it's in the back of a police van. In the 1980s, these same problems led to Toxteth. In the '90s, contributed to the Poll Tax riots. And now we have them again - because the problems are not only still there, they're getting worse.

Police harassment and brutality are part of everyday life in estates all around the UK. Barely-liveable benefits systems have decayed and been withdrawn. In Hackney, the street-level support workers who came from the estates and knew the kids, could work with them in their troubles have been told they will no longer be paid. Rent is rising and state-sponsored jobs which used to bring money into the area are being cut back in the name of a shift to unpaid "big society" roles. People who always had very little now have nothing. Nothing to lose.

And the media's own role in all of this should not be discounted. For all the talk of the “peaceful protest” that preceded events in Tottenham, the media wouldn't have touched the story if all that happened was a vigil outside a police station. Police violence and protests against it happen all the time. It's only when the other side responds with violence (on legitimate targets or not) that the media feels the need to give it any sort of coverage.

So there should be no shock that people living lives of poverty and violence have at last gone to war. It should be no shock that people are looting plasma screen TVs that will pay for a couple of months' rent and leaving books they can't sell on the shelves. For many, this is the only form of economic redistribution they will see in the coming years as they continue a fruitless search for jobs.

Much has been made of the fact that the rioters were attacking “their own communities.” But riots don't occur within a social vacuum. Riots in the eighties tended to be directed in a more targeted way; avoiding innocents and focusing on targets more representative of class and race oppression: police, police stations, and shops. What's happened since the eighties? Consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters turn on other members of our class?

The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone those we don't know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.

But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government "austerity" politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.

We believe that the legitimate anger of the rioters can be far more powerful if it is directed in a collective, democratic way and seeks not to victimise other workers, but to create a world free of the exploitation and inequality inherent to capitalism.

North London Solidarity Federation

Comments

i totally agree with your response to the london riots. apart from the initial peaceful protest aimed at the police the cotinuing looting and arson attacks on their own communities and class are beyond belief. however, one cannot help thinking that this escalation is being allowed to happen for reasons such as...the police are facing cuts to man power "see what will happen if we are cut" attitude or perhaps it is better to let the working classes be set against each other whilst this joke of govt carries on screwing us from behind. true anarchist should stand up against any threat to their communities whether this be police brutality, govt cutbacks and yes other so called rioters(looters) that threaten peoples hard gained properties and work places. this is not a politicaly focused riot, this is mere selfish individual greed. maybe if the kids were allowed to study kropopkin in school instead of 'how to love capitalism' the youth may be a less troubled section of society...perhaps.

Excellent statement, and one with which I agree wholeheartedly. A nuanced and understanding approach, recognizing the evils of turning on one's own class when the oppressors come from above. Another part of why they're attacking and burning in their own areas: how many have any resources to go to areas belonging to the upper classes who are their real targets? How many could go as far as Kensington, or other upper-class districts? The first has already died from this. I fear how many more of our siblings are going to end up dead, when the reactionaries start piling on them. Big respect and support from a North London expat in Canada.

good piece. Going to put it up on the freedom website if that's okay.

I feel that the statement is an excellent one but looting is not in any way shape or form a way to protest against the social and economical inequality in this country. All it does is provide more ammunition against those who try to deal with the issues in a peaceful manner and detract from the issue at hand. Looters are also not doing it "for the cause" but are opportunists appleasing their own sense of greed. I fully understand and sympathesize with the causes and reasons why they may be doing so but there are pleanty of people in this country in the same position who are not out robbing stores and taking advantage of the situation in London.

Solidarity from Greece! Lets all try to smash capitalism. Let the fear go!

This is not Anarchy. This has nothing to do with Anarchy. Those involved in the riots, looting, mugging, assaults and arson are not anarchist.

Anarchy has nothing to do with removing state oppression of the working class with mob rule. This is not propaganda by deed, it is just violence for the sake of violence.

The TSG don't seem to hold back when beating the crap out of political protestors, and yet seem reticent when dealing with the current riots. The cynical amongst us might think this is being allowed to play out as a pretext for more repressive laws to come, which real anarchists and other political activists will be the main focus for.

i am one of the cynical among you and i agree that this could be the case. i think they were being given the rope to hang themselves and other dissenters with.

Cause the same kind of riots happend here in Greece a couple of years ago,cause a cop killed a 15yo boy! I know for a fact that those 'bad' riots you are reffering to are either hooligans that they dont care about the event triggered all that either law enforce 'men' and fascists/nationalists that they hate people standing against something.. sorry for my english.. Solidarity from greece!

Apologies, I know it's not the proper time & place for that, but in greek December's 2008 riots there were no nationalists/fascists on the streets among the rioters. They were only being occasionally spotted behind the police lines, helping them on bringing back law & order. Anarchists, looting, hooligans, gangs, anti-social behaviour, all of these, was present in greek's state attempt to diminish December's 2008 riot too. Until a certain point they succeeded, but only when the riot reached its limits. Since a riot has limits, as you know. And the less working class/political collectives are organized and rooted in the society, the narrow these limits will be. I understand that it's too difficult to address media & state propaganda against the riot and the misinformation on its actual causes. From my experience, I believe efforts now should be focused on ‘educating’ people in situ, on the streets. By distinct and clear political actions, that will aim the real enemy and will point the real targets, i.e. state, capital, individualism, social cannibalism, and fear. Be there and be visible. As we used to say back then in rioting greek cities: nothing has ended, everything has just began! Solidarity & strength P.S.: here is a graffiti from athen's streets saying: fire to the banks, not grocery shops http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_8p2y363W3ok/SUV0qDKGIRI/AAAAAAAAACc/Pr4A0TjLrB...

We have seen riots in impoverished parts of the world, third world countries, communist countries. Who knew that the Brits would learn that they could fight back so vehemently. I agree with the article, its OK to fight back, but its not OK to do it on the back of someone else and make them suffer. If they want to fight, give them uniforms and send them to Afghanistan, maybe there they can make a difference (said in sarcasm) I hope that my fellow Brits who are in harms way will be safe. There is a way to take care of democracy and that is with votes. I left England almost 30 years ago because of small mindedness, and have never looked back.

Great statement!

I think the response- inchoate and angry- of the rioters to their social situation underlines several key problems that these communities face, and that we as anarchists face in both imagining and practicing substantial, systemic changes. Britain, like many other post-industrial states, has built a world in which many people, especially urban people, live in a world totally dominated by the state: on the one hand, the state delivers marginal hand-outs, just enough for people to get by on; on the other hand, the state has erected a massive, pervasive (perhaps nowhere so pervasive as in Britain) security apparatus that is constantly interjecting violence. Both of these factors, along with the dual exploitation and the retreat of interest by capital (job-wise, at least) in these people have created communities where substantial community and internal resilience are all but gone. The mutualistic and cooperative networks and relationships that are required for social wellbeing either do not exist, or they are purely creations of the state, or the sort of psuedo-community erected by corporate capital. But the state depends on coercion and is centrally located, and corporate capital is not interested in resilient communities, only exploitable ones. Hence when 'things fall apart,' as they are doing right now in London, chaos breaks out. The false 'order' of the state and of corporate capital is shown to be an illusion; in fact, it is thinly veiled disorder.

This creates- among other things- for us as anarchists a major problem, does it not? Orderly anarchy- what we mean (unlike the mass media) when we say anarchy- must be nurtured, it must be built. It requires community, it require solidarity, it requires all of the things destroyed by the atomized, dislocated society that state and capital have worked to bring about (intentionally and unintentionally). We are seeing all sorts of reactions- from the Tea Party here in America to riots in London to various sorts of uprisings in the Middle East. We shouldn't kid ourselves about the deep potential of these movements- there is so much deep dislocation, so much destruction at the systemic level. A prolonged reaction that ends in fascism or something similar is just as likely as any thing of a more libertarian/socialistic end. At least that's my take, which is perhaps overly pessimistic. I hope so.

Spot on! I perceive that all democratic governments are scared stiff of the possibility of such groups becoming better organised. It is notable that the very first knee jerk reaction by UK MPs was to do exactly what they criticised Egypt for doing - shutting down communications. I don't think fascism will survive. It's growing, but it is also fueled by it's own Achilles heel - greed. Mr Satellite dish maker will sell to anyone, even work around his own government's laws, just to turn a profit. Such is the intensity on businesses to achieve the unattainable by defying gravity and return ever increasing profits. And that will be the downfall. It was in Egypt, will be in Syria & Libya, all of who's infrastructure is far shallower than most democracies. There simply won't be an 'off' button any more. IT folk have seen their real wages decrease substantially, so no sympathy there. Look at Blackberry / RIM. Their whole business model would collapse if they 'switched off BB' on the request of even the great UK government. Ditto Facebook, Twitter et al. After a century of greed, democratic nations have become for the most part, morally bankrupt. Only as with the debt crises, they don't know it! Have a scan through papers comments boards - straight after the riots, there they were, the 'stop benefits, line em up and shoot em' mob before the first flames were barely dead. But then a few days later, more considered, intelligent and long term real, proper objectives. So despite the moral bankruptcy, there is still decency. Sorta like meek, not bling and shouting. Orderly anarchy won't just grow out of these flames, it already is. Unconnected elements are at work all over the world. Most notable are some investigative reporters who use fully legal means and do not give up. People as us, exchanging views, learning of others views. The future redundant military and law enforcement. At some point, a bunch of clever folk will knit the lot together seamlessly leaving the corporate world no choice but to tow the line. It's as inevitable as the next ice age. The tools for fascism are old hat. Even the modern corporate ones we are now almost all subjected to (that was a great game between Nokia & HTC in the Premier League last week ). What is of utmost importance is that those who understand just where we are now don't allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the hopelessness of it all, but stay watching and considering just how they can bring about change in their little piece of the world.

You can find below your text translated in Romanian language, comrades! http://iasromania.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/raspunsul-north-london-solfed... In solidarity with the english working class!

thanks!

The best analysis and most cogent from an anarchist perspective that I have seen anywhere on the riots. I don't think one should underplay the significance of "gangsta" culture which is filling social vacuums for young people in some communities - an essentially destructive culture fuelled by the same drive for individual power and greed that fuels the ambition for position, power and wealth in the corporate hierarchies. Important that such culture is both exposed, and opposed strongly. The last paragraph of Jonathon's reply above accurately highlights the dangers and the potential. Thank you.

The "massive, pervasive (perhaps nowhere so pervasive as in Britain) security apparatus" seems powerless when people stop being afraid of it. The situation could become much more complicated if groups like the EDL take to the streets to 'protect' working class people.

Better analysis and statement than the vast majority of the media and even left politicians

Until the unemployment, the deprivation, the absence of opportunity and social mobility and the brutalisation and demonization of the underclass is addressed; the rage we have witnessed in the past three days will not just evaporate. Authorities may temporarily suppress it but it will continue to seethe and fester until it inevitably re –emerges again. The youths who have been incapable of analysing their rage and directing it only at the causes of it, i.e., corporate capitalism and the establishment but who have, instead, indiscriminately attacked corporate capitalist, government and ordinary working people alike are tantamount to a terrified bull in a ring who has been repeatedly baited by the establishment and who now is incapable of controlling its rage. The youths need immediate appeal for calm and guidance from adult anarchists who have to educate them to use their rage constructively instead of destructively. We cannot abandon them.

Great post From North London Solfed. RyanairDontCare Campaign

Is there a democratic way of rioting? Is that the the form that is permitted by those who have led to this situation? UK has been giving lessons of civil rights to Arabs. Should practise some of them at home.

Perhaps the term 'democratic' was the wrong one to use in this statement.  To anarchists, the only true form of democracy is direct democracy (mass meetings, federal, delegatory structures) not the "democracy" practiced by the bourgeois state.  While most of us in SF wouldn't object to looting shops (and, in fact, view it as a part of the class activity of expropriation), we believe the anger of the rioters (very real and very justified) would be far more useful when directed specifically against the agents and institutions of working class oppression--capitalism and the state, bosses, bureaucrats, and politicians.

Also, really, do you think the British state gives a toss about the civil rights of those in the Arab world?  Is that before or after they bomb them, kill them, and torture them?  Or is it only after they then allow Western corporations to take control of Middle Eastern oil?

There is a German translation of your brillant statement at http://www.fau.org/artikel/art_110810-065549

Hello companions It is positive that disclose more information of events. Your communication about the events in London is a good start. The social issue is a problem that the states with input mask and the policy leading to esgotameto afraid of those who work and who do something. Against racism. Greetings anarcho syndicalists.

A dangerous piece! This article at first seems to be sensible and balanced. However on reading further it seeks to apologise for those criminals who are engaged in criminal acts. Social issues cause many people in many countries concern, however the vast majority choose not to go on a rampage and cause destruction. This type of lawlessness needs to be addressed quickly and effectively by the policing body with support from the community. Please do not try to make justification for these dangerous criminals. Political dialogue is the only effective way forward, but then again criminals are not the least bit interested in dialogue, political or otherwise, they are too busy burning out you home. This article disrespects the ordinary decent people who are the majority and seeks to apologise and downplay the criminality perpertrated by a few thugs!

with respect... there is no attempt to justify the actions of the individuals involved in the events of the past week. this is, as i see it, an attempt to start looking at this, in a much more productive way, than just name calling, and yelling at police, to beat the bastards harder. political dialogue only works for those with a voice. or more importantly, those who feel they have a voice, they feel able to use. from your comments, its clear you've never needed to invest your time in these people. whether they be young children, teenagers, or grown adults. i'll make that call, because until you have, its easy to subject those individuals, to the kind of blanket tarring you are engaging in. no one wants to see the kinds of events that have been televised. so start engaging in a meaningful way. understanding what is really going on, is the only way these issues can be solved. would you not agree? if not, what would you suggest? a police state? no go areas, as we cordon off the sections of society we see as ugly? show me a country that has worked in effectively, and maybe i'll take your comment slightly more seriously. but the reason we're here, is because it hasn't worked. you...we, need to start making informed, meaningful steps at grassroots, fundamental understand of why society is breaking down. and make no mistake, it is. if these events have frighten you, then its simply a wake up call. none of us are safe, until social structures better reflect the needs off EVERYONE. not just those who look the part, or can pay their way through it.

It is being addressed quickly, but not with a solution, just cosmetic band aids. Look beyond the UK for analysis of the UKs current issues and you will see a very different picture. There is a growing list of reasons why citizen UK becomes increasingly despondent, hopefully won't resort to lawlessness, but will accelerate the decline. As for political dialogue. First headline comments are to remove benefits for perpetrators. Oops. Turns out the first batch through the courts aren't actually on benefits. So what does that tell you? Politicians as usual have no clue, so why would anyone engage with them? Besides, they only meaningfully engage if there is favourable PR or an internship for sonny. The community needs to look at how we got here, who made those decisions, and remove them from office to be replaced with people who can see beyond the flames and headlines well into the future. If you lost your job, stopped paying your mortgage, your bank wouldn't bash down your ex employer's door! It is abundantly clear that the whole situation spread simply due to lack of bodies - policemen. Now just who decided that? Chiefs on £150k a year, part of which was a reward for their thriftiness. THEY won't lose their jobs (and they should) and I doubt will even lose their bonus. But their ordinary on the beat cops may do in a year or so time. So hacking away at the lower levels gets nowhere. Just as with the expenses, media scandals, this will be slickly glossed over and blame put on those least able to defend themselves while the true culprits sit pretty in their ivory towers and watch their own staff collapse under the assualt.

We disrespect no-one except those who attack the working class. That includes gangsters who hurt other working class people, and it includes the rich, who have been coming up with more and more inventive ways to snatch wealth from the very poorest for over 30 years now with no-one complaining in the slightest. You want sympathy for the likes of Tescos you won't find any more here than we have for the meanest piece of shit on the streets.

I live in Hackney and from what I saw, there were ordinary decent people out there looting after the thugs had been in and that didn't surprise me - I wonder, you ever spent a day hungry in your life? Political dialogue requires understanding. Maybe you should try it before you cast your wisdom down from your high horse.

Kid owning Boris - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBgRd12vzv4&feature=player_detailpage#t=33s Granted, not hard to own Boris but nice to know this was shown on CNN of all places!

Make that guy the PM!! In his brief 90 seconds he gave more insight than the whole 650 mooing MPs have for years!

Some of the comments here seem to patronise not only the looters, but people who are disconnected in a number of ways. Personally I'm not comfortable with the use of the term underclass because of the full weight of such a word. Clearly there were numerous reasons for the looting that took place, so it will always be difficult to easily understand or explain it. The statement that it was for a few months rent that appears in the analysis is one that may apply, but not widely I think. There is surely a likelihood that some of the looters have made positive choices about criminal and gang behaviour that we may find distasteful from an anarchist perspective and that for many, such choices may have been made in an informed and knowing context. Some of these choices were made for reasons of status, power and greed, and looting for this mindset was an opportunity to grow that status, power and wealth. I don't think there would have been much inner debate about whether it was OK to smash into Tesco or the local corner shop. I know that any attempt to jointly explore the reasons for their behaviour with some of those people would be on a par with getting a supporter of the EDL to see the error of their ways. It does patronise them to suggest that they don't know what they are doing or why. Again I am not suggesting that this is true of all people looting, or maybe not even half. But I do think the picture is richer and more uncomfortable than some of the comments suggest.

Comrades, thanks for this statement. We've published an Italian transltion of it here: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/20301 in solidarity, N. McNab (Int. Sec. FdCA)

Cameroon announces new Police powers to force the removal of face coverings, masks etc. I wonder who the main target of these new powers will be? Rioters? Or political protestors?

FIT will be polishing their zoom lenses tonight.

As it happens, I am opening a new shop called Burkas r Us. Roll up roll up! Play the religious card, have a laugh!

As I would not recommend going as far as conspiracy theories, let`s just say that a broad specter of interest groups had it`s way with the riots. The riots cannot bee seen as a class based struggle, we can only see them as another symptom of the socially decaying capitalist society and the state which itself on the other hand sees the need for extent of it`s authoritarianism due to parallel economical disaster that struck. The only way they could have exploded into a class struggle is that there was a preexisting workers movement that could have taken use of the situation and put a form to the unleashed anger of the masses. I see that, besides the referenced, SolFed hasn`t taken any participation in the events because it might be a good idea to work towards establishing popular assemblies which are in these situations the primary means of giving the oppressed masses the organizational, political and educational form that they need. Revolution is not as some may explain `a necessity`, the alternative can also be barbarianism in many forms and as various outcomes, thus revolutionaries must find ways to act in any set of circumstances as they are drastically changing, especially in the times when state losses it`s influence. Seeing the diminishing class conciseness in the last decades can bring us the conclusion that the capitalist society is a sinking ship drawing the working class with it. The question that raises is - Which will drown first, the lower, or the upper decks? And who will get the life boats?

As the upper still needs the lower to do it's physical work, a bit of that will be spared, and given the job of launching the lifeboats. The rules are rules mob.

Excellent article full of clarity, right on the true pulse. The politicians haven't and still don't get it. Not because they don't want to, but are simply unable to grasp what lays before them. Left, Right or Centre. Much more poltico bullshit, and I can see some serious professionals engaging in highly targeted, intelligent and lawful attacks against the state. The rich are still getting richer. The middle are their guards, in the pathetic hope that they too will become richer. Many middlemen I know are waking up to the fact they are pawns and their inevitable fall from favour approaches with their increase in years. They are depressed today, won't look beyond next month, but what when they have no choice and see their dream evaporate? The more years they have, the more bitter they will become. We are fast approaching the non pension era, where many are left to survive on a pittance, as opposed to the many having big pensions as has been the case before now. MPs should visit suicide counselors to get to grips with mentality that is about to become an epidemic. As the article says, nothing to lose. I do not condone the actions that have gone before in any way but they are a far more serious warning shot across the bow than previous riots. After those, the land saw a period of growth and generally increasing prosperity. Now, not only is there to be no growth, but also the threat of a further reduction in living standards. Almost 200 billion wiped off UK pensions today alone. I would loove to ask every politician the square root of 64. Bet only about 5% would get the right answer, these the people who are doing the maths for our futures. No wonder they don't get it. Add all that together, a leadership that is singularly lining it's own and it's friends pockets, we are on course for a total meltdown in the next 5 years. Just how that will be manifested remains to be seen.

Total solidarity from Finland! I used to live in the poor south London areas in the late 80's and early 90's. I lived with my then boyfriend whose family (parents and 7 grown-up children and their young children) was so underpriviledged that there was sometimes 12 of us living in one old, cold and mouldy house. That experience taught me a lot: coming from a relatively rich country and a upper middle-class family, it really opened my eyes how it is to live without hot water if none of the bunch has a coin to put in the gas meter and so on. Although I had been a punk rocker and a self-proclaimed anarchist since the age of 13 (1981), and first came to London as a 16-year-old, I very quickly saw how much there was for me to learn and still is. I've been following the rioting closely through the internet from different sources and I totally agree with what you say about the media over there. And you point out really understanding views of the looting that I haven't seen anywhere else, without condoning it though. I agree with the whole article. Here it's useless to watch the tv news on the subject, they're just BBC parrots here. You should know, that this has caused a lot of discussion among Finnish anarchists and working class people (in which I myself as now a 43-year old adult have long belonged to, mostly unemployed) and other politically aware people. Finland is now under very strong capitalistic government, and although they're all not exactly right-wing, the government is still strongly continuing actions that are causing the biggest division between the rich and poor here too during the last 50 years. I wonder how soon we'll be on the barricades. I just wanted to let you know that people even far away do care. You guys over there, hold on strong!

Who's job is it to uphold working class solidarity?

Consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters turn on other members of our class?

They do. But it is not the job of any government to preserve working class solidarity. This is our job, the job of the working class in general and of working class activists in particular. The question is therefore: Why haven't we been able to preserve solidarity? Could we have done something or was it inevitable? What can we do now?

Hi I used to be involved with the DAM , early 80s. I recall selling "Seditious Whispers'' by a Doncaster group, I remember Malc from Balby. I became involved on a regular basis with the Sheffield Anarchists. My current political ''home'' is the Internationalist Communist Tendency, must be something like 15 years now. We are of the view that the Revolutionary Party is not a ruling party, we are in favour of the rule of the workers councils. http://www.leftcom.org/en/about-us Our platform http://www.leftcom.org/en/platform This is our statement on the riots- http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2011-08-09/riots-in-britain-the-fruit... I think that politics and parties are not the problem per se, it is their content. The Revolutionary Party is that which advocates the rule of the Workers' councils. I believe we share this principle, we are the enemies of those who would claim to rule on behalf of the working class. Our organisation is a necessity as the bearer of revolutionary class consciousness, we defend the revolutionary idea and without it there is no possibility of revolution. Thanks

Ant, please try to keep comments relevant to the original post.

OK, but I linked to the ICT riot statement....

In French:

------

La Position de la North London Solfed à Propos des Emeutes de Londres.

Alors que dans les médias les dénonciations volent à tous vents, accusant «d'anarchie» les violentes émeutes qui se sont déroulées à Londres et à travers l'Angleterre, la North London Solidarity Federation (Fédération de Solidarité de Londres-Nord), en tant qu’organisation anarchiste active dans la capitale, a cru approprié de formuler une réponse.

Au cours des derniers jours, des émeutes ont causé des dommages importants dans plusieurs quartiers de Londres. Des devantures de magasins, des maisons et des véhicules ont été incendiés. La gauche, comme à l’habitude, désigne la pauvreté comme cause principale des émeutes. La droite insiste que les gangsters et les éléments antisociaux profitent de la tragédie. Tous deux ont raison. Les pillages et les émeutes des derniers jours sont un phénomène complexe et accusent de nombreuses dimensions.

Ce n'est pas un hasard si ces émeutes se produisent maintenant: au moment où le gouvernement démantèle les filets de sécurité de l’Etat providence dédiés aux plus démunis, les laissant tomber dans l'abîme, sous les coups de matraques de la police métropolitaine. Mais cela n’excuse ni la mise à feux de maisons, ni la victimisation de membres des classes populaires. Ceux qui commettent de tels actes n’ont aucune cause pour les soutenir.

La fureur des cités est ce qu'elle est -- hideuse et sauvage -- mais elle n’était d’aucune manière imprévisible. Le Royaume-Uni dissimule ses problèmes sociaux depuis des décennies, les contenant derrière un rideau de fer policier. Le plus souvent, grandir dans une cité veut dire ne jamais la quitter, sauf à l'arrière d'un fourgon de police. Dans les années 1980, ces mêmes problèmes sociaux ont mené aux émeutes de Toxteth. Dans les années 90, ils ont contribué aux émeutes anti-Poll Tax (impôt local par tête). Aujourd’hui, ces mêmes problèmes sont non-seulement toujours avec nous, ils s'aggravent, et les émeutes sont de retour.

Le harcèlement et la brutalité de la police sont le pain quotidien des jeunes des cités partout en Grande-Bretagne. Le gouvernement actuel s’acharne à éroder et retrancher un système d’aides aux plus démunis qui déjà leur permettait à peine de survivre. Dans le quartier de Hackney, les travailleurs sociaux, qui pour beaucoup avaient eux-mêmes grandi et vécu dans les cités, étaient ainsi munis d’une connaissance intime du terrain, et étaient donc les plus à mêmes d’adresser les problèmes de leurs jeunes protégés, ont été informés qu'ils ne seront plus payés. Les loyers augmentent, et les emplois fournis par l'État qui écoulaient de l'argent dans ces zone économiquement délaissées ont été réduits au nom d'une transition à un programme dit de "Grande Société" (“Big Society”) basé sur le bénévolat privé. Les habitants de ces quartiers, déjà très démunis, n’ont aujourd'hui plus rien. Et ils n’ont plus rien à perdre.

Le rôle des médias dans cette affaire ne doit pas pour autant être écarté. Malgré toutes les références à la "manifestation pacifique" qui a précédé les événements de Tottenham, les médias auraient sans doute à peine touché cette histoire si les évènements s’étaient restreints à une simple veillée devant un poste de police. La violence policière et les protestations contre celle-ci sont lieu commun. C'est seulement quand l'autre côté répond par la violence (sur des cibles légitimes ou non) que les médias se sentent obligés de donner à ces affaires toute leur attention.

C’est donc sans surprise que des populations condamnées depuis des décennies à vivre dans des abîmes de pauvreté et de violence déclarent enfin la guerre à la société toute entière. C’est sans surprise que des gens s’adonnent au pillage de téléviseurs à écran plasma et autres biens à haute valeur ajoutée -- biens qui leur permettront de payer plusieurs mois de loyer -- et ignorent les livres non-monnayables assis sur les étagères des grandes librairies commerciales. C’est la seule forme de redistribution économique que beaucoup d’entre eux verront pour des années à venir, pendant qu’ils continuent leurs vaines recherches d’emploi.

Beaucoup d’attention à été portée sur le fait que les émeutiers ont attaqué "leurs propres communautés." Mais une émeute ne se produit pas dans un vide social. Les émeutes des années quatre-vingt avaient tendance à être plus ciblées -- de manière générale, les émeutiers évitaient de s’attaquer à des innocents, se concentrant sur des objectifs plus représentatifs de l'oppression raciale et de classe: la police, les commissariats de police, et les grands commerces. Qu'est-ce qui a changé depuis cette période? Les gouvernements successifs ont fait de grands efforts pour détruire toute notion de solidarité entre travailleurs, et toute notion de solidarité de classe et d'identité. Est-il donc surprenant que ces émeutiers, à leur tour, s’attaquent aux autres membres de notre classe?

Le travail de la Solidarity Federation se fonde sur la résistance contre le Capital et l’Etat sur le terrain du travail. Nous ne sommes aucunement impliqués dans ces émeutes et actes pillages, et contrairement aux jugements-réflexes de la droite, ou même à ceux des commentateurs sympathiques-mais-condamnateurs de la gauche, nous refusons tout autant de condamner que d’excuser ceux qui n’en savent pas mieux pour s’être approprié d’une partie des richesses dont ils ont été privés toute leur vie.

Mais en tant que révolutionnaires, nous ne pouvons d’aucune manière soutenir des attaques contre les travailleurs et les innocents. La mise à feux de magasins en rez-de-chaussée d’appartements résidentiels; le saccage de moyens de transports en commun employés principalement par les classes populaires; les agressions sur personnes et autres formes d’injustices, sont tous des atteintes contre les membres de notre propre classe et doivent être combattus avec autant d'énergie que nous investissons dans notre résistance contre les politiques «d'austérité» du gouvernement, contre les loyers abusifs imposés par les propriétaires, et contre les patrons qui nous exploitent. Ce soir et aussi longtemps qu'il le faudra, les gens doivent s'unir pour se défendre quand de telles violences menacent leurs maisons et leurs communautés.

Nous somme convaincus que la légitime colère des émeutiers serait beaucoup plus puissante si elle était dirigée collectivement et démocratiquement, de manière non-seulement à éviter la victimisation des classes laborieuses, mais aussi dans l’objectif de créer un monde libre de l'exploitation et des inégalités inhérentes au capitalisme.

North London Solidarity Federation, Fédération de Solidarité de Londres-Nord.

I was present on Tottenham High Road on 6th August. I cannot comment on the riots that followed, but what I witnessed was not people looting for fun, but an explosion of anger, initially directed at the police and the police station, and then at property. When the first property was set on fire (interestingly a firm of criminal solicitors), I was immediately concerned about residential property above. A well known anarchist (who may not want to be named), risked his life to check whether anyone was trapped. This first riot had been brewing for some time, and has to be seen in the light of great anger about the death of young black men in police custody, culminating in the death of Mark Duggan, the alienation of the local youth with the police, mass unemployment in Haringey, especially amongst young people, and the closure of 70% of Haringey's youth services. Also I have to say that the anger in Tottenham has not abated. At a recent meeting between the police and local residents there was an atmosphere that the Police Federation described as "hatred" against the police. Tottenham could explode again at any time.

interesting comment, thanks



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