March 26 reflections part two: John Holloway and Joss Hands on the anti-cuts movement

Pluto authors John Holloway and Josh Hands write on Saturday’s protests and the broader questions of strategy and vision.

A high street clothes chain gets covered in paint…banks, a hotel and a luxury goods store for the rich sustain some minor damage…someone puts an anti-capitalist sticker on a giant plastic clock in Trafalgar Square (triggering a police riot). Clearly, civilisation is besieged by dark forces.

Meanwhile, in the real world, untold violence is being inflicted on workers, students and the poor here and across the globe as the cuts and austerity measures savage life chances and opportunities, roll back vital social provision, and, for some, snap the thin thread of survival.

Luckily, at least 500,000 people – trade unionists, students, the unemployed, pensioners – took to the streets of London on Saturday to reject the madness and violence of the policies being imposed on the many in the interest of the few.

As John Holloway, author of Crack Capitalism, wrote in the Guardian on Saturday:

These are days of rage. Rage in the Arab world, of course, but also on the streets of Athens, Dublin, Rome, Paris, Madrid, and now a loud clamourous rage on the streets of London.

An age of crisis is an age of frustrated hopes, frustrated life. We want to go to university but it is too expensive. We need good healthcare, but we cannot pay for it. We need homes, and we can see homes standing empty, but they are not for us. Or, for the millions of people who are starving: we want to eat, we can see that there is plenty of food for everyone, but something stands between us and the food – money, or the lack of it.

Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.

Over at Open Democracy, Joss Hands, author of @ is for Activism, contributes to the debate about strategy for the anti-cuts movement after Saturday’s protests:

While UK Uncut represents in some ways a conservative set of demands, well within the confines of a liberal democratic state, neo-liberalism has become so radicalised that a previously uncontroversial fairness principle has been unpicked to the extent that it is now a contested ideal opposed to a rampant ‘capitalist realism’. This means that an anti-cuts agenda is increasingly thrown into direct opposition with prevailing power, and as such pushed from being in a position of dissent to one of resistance. As the scale of the assault on the welfare state becomes clear, this necessity of resistance is resonating far beyond the original networks of student and anti-cuts activists and into more formal organisations and institutions. We can see recognition networks working around and through unions and NGOs, pushing them in democratic directions and challenging the limits of our expectations. The coming together of trades unions in protest on 26 March 2011, alongside the first waves of industrial action by lecturers, plus anti-cuts actions designed to augment and coincide with the union protests – promises to intensify these links. The common aim, to highlight and challenge the integrated nature of the cuts agenda, is clear.

Joss goes on to explore the role of on-line activism in the current protests and occupations. Visit Open Democracy to read the article in full.

Crack Capitalism

John Holloway

A groundbreaking guide to moving beyond capitalism, which shows that radical change can only come from exploiting ‘cracks’ in the system.

“infectiously optimistic” – Guardian

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

@ is for Activism

Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture

Joss Hands

Examines the transformation of politics through digital media, including digital television, online social networking and mobile computing.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

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