Anarchy by Barbara Nadel

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I’m not stupid; I know that anarchism means, basically, government with no rules. This is generally perceived to be of a peaceful nature (according to those who promote such values via earnest debate in university politics departments across the world). The route to anarchism, – anarchy – may be of a violent nature, it’s true. But what I’ve never thought that anarchy/anarchism involved at any point however, was prissiness. It’s a shame that the so-called anarchists who took part in the March Against Government Cuts in London last Saturday didn’t appreciate that either. Masked and, in some cases, quite clearly pumped up for a scrap with someone, they cut a disturbing swathe through an otherwise good natured protest that consisted of Trades Unionists, students and members of the public not prepared to see their local services go down the toilet.

David Cameron’s Conservative government took a stand against public spending early on in their administration and we are now on the very edge of these horrors first bite. Don’t get me wrong, this country needs to cut its expenses and pay its bills, but how this is being done and who is going to suffer by it, are quite wrong. Our politicians have the idea that cutting public sector jobs while at the same time removing any semblance of culture for the ordinary man and woman will help. So called ‘wealth creators’ (industrialists, bankers) can of course buy as much culture – or not – as they feel they want or need. The fact that Manchester City Council will soon only provide one, instead of nineteen, public toilets in the centre of the city will leave them unaffected too. Unlike the rest of us they will not need to be catheterised in order to be able to leave the house safely. I’m sure these ridiculous limos they ride around in have built in loos, and anyway people like that are far too fragrant to have bodily functions.

But back to the so-called anarchists. I was marching happily along the Embankment with family and friends as well as with a load of theatre people. Unlike the smart looking firemen and the National Union of Teachers folk up ahead, we were a rather flappy and frivolous little band, I admit. Some of our banners were quite far removed from good taste, but then so are government cuts to public services. However there was one banner, which alluded to the notion that some of the government ministers’ wives might like to withdraw certain sexual favours in protest against the cuts, that caught a lot of attention and provoked much hilarity. Unfortunately for us though, not everyone was amused.

Seemingly out of nowhere a gang of masked anarchists flew into action and attacked the girl holding the banner. In spite of entreaties to them to stop what they were doing because we were all on the same side, they tore up the sign and shouted ‘sexists!’ As they left, still roaring with indignation, people yelled ‘So why do you cover your faces? Afraid to be identified with your “cause” are you?’

Later that evening a group of these “anarchists” attacked shops on Piccadilly and set fires in Trafalgar Square. In effect they completely hijacked what was a very peaceful and yet at the same time very significant march. Most people you speak to in this country believe that while cuts are necessary; they are proceeding too quickly and far too deeply. Mass unemployment, physical and cultural poverty loom for millions while those at the top are not expected to do anything beyond getting richer and fatter every day. But because of a few idiots these points have now all been lost. The government, as we knew they would, concentrate solely on the public disorder that happened on Saturday because it suits their purposes to do so. That hundreds of thousands marched peacefully is irrelevant. Let’s concentrate on a couple of hundred individuals who like to think that they’re anarchists.

I’m so angry. From what I could gather through the muffling of their masks, few of the “anarchists” were anything but upper middle class. They certainly talked a lot “posher” than I do! How dare they press their opinions on people through violence! More concerned about a so called “sexist” banner than they were about the success of the march, they ruined the day for everyone and put a massive great spoke in the wheel of the purpose behind the event. Oh, God wouldn’t you just love to live in their world of blind hatred for ironic and humorous comments? A sort of hard-line theocracy without God? Great.

The only thing the anarchists did that was positive was point up something about the police on duty that day which may or may not be true. Basically the police have been criticised by the government for not protecting property. In the past they have been very enthusiastic about this. But then as my husband pointed out yesterday what sensible person would risk injury for the sake of business premises at a time when the government are cutting their numbers? An injured policeman is a natural target for redundancy and so why go there? If that is the case, then I applaud them. Even if it isn’t, I felt that the police were with us in spirit on Saturday anyway. When we smiled, so did they, and when we shouted and booed as we passed number 10 Downing St, they just let us get on with it. Everyone is worried these days and no one likes what is happening here – except perhaps the “anarchists”.

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