You Cannot Stop an Idea

By Tim Hardy

Mock Evening Standard Headline: Money's Too Tight for Pensions (Slogans via: @subvertiser.  Image via: @HeardinLondon)

Around the country the police are becoming more and more politicised to the extent that Matthew Hall has been accused them of resembling “the armed enforcers of government cuts.” The new offense of asking “unscheduled questions” in council meetings means that officers are increasingly entering public meetings to dissuade and even arrest people who dare speak out against the cuts to local services.

That we are seeing such scenes in a supposed democracy in some ways worries me more than recent heavy-handed brutality from front line officers who, like some members of the EDL, seem to think it is okay to give the left wing a good kicking so we don’t dare complain any more.

What these thugs, uniformed or otherwise, do not realise is that you cannot stop an idea.

You can intimidate people and arrest them on nonsense charges you later drop but you cannot stop an idea.

You can kettle people, you can charge them with horses, you can baton them, throw them from their wheelchairs and spray CS in their faces – but you cannot stop an idea.

Capitalism sustains itself through many fictions.

We live in a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian—where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone—is presented to us as ideal. To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of perfect Goodness. But we’re lucky that we don’t live in a condition of Evil. Our democracy is not perfect. But it’s better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it’s not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions of Africans die of AIDS, but we don’t make racist nationalist declarations like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don’t cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc. (Alain Badiou)

Look at the Middle East. It’s on fire. The idea of liberty is too strong.

Many on the parliamentary left align themselves with the right in scorn when dissenters express solidarity with the revolutions under way in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain. Our conditions do not compare with the utter misery of life under psychopathic tyrants (tyrants who we should note often enjoy power thanks to the direct and indirect blessing of our own governments) – but that does not mean we should shut up and count our blessings.

There’s a sense of global indignation that things just aren’t fair.

From a chance conversation in a pub a few months ago, the ideas behind UK Uncut have spread and taken hold throughout the UK with the number of protests growing week after week against high-profile tax avoiders  who are being bailed out with special favours while the rest of us are seeing our public services decimated.

The ideas taking hold are nothing extreme. This is not a question of obscure ideology. This is a revolt of common sense. The idea of fairness that underpins it all is one of the core values of our culture, a value that even the most heartless Tory would dare not deny although he will wriggle like a worm on a hook when challenged and say “But, but, but, we have to. There’s no choice. It’s the markets, you see.”

The police confess they do not know how to control such a protest group. HM Treasury have started running special training for staff on how to respond to it. Compass has praised the movement in a recent letter to their members.  But more excitingly, the idea has now crossed the Atlantic and now US Uncut are gearing up for their first days of actions.

We need to take this idea global. This is the only way we can stop the hand outs to the rich being justified by a group of politicians who are funded by the banks and who include in their ranks some of the worst tax avoidance offenders.  It is only by closing all the tax havens in the world, or at least in all the places that the pampered rich might like to live, that we can finally rubbish this empty threat that the poor darlings will leave the country if we make them pay their fair share.  To do so requires this to be a truly global movement.

Whatever they try, whatever they throw at us, we cannot be defeated. The voice of the people is too strong. The idea of fairness is too entrenched to be denied. You can arrest and beat the individuals involved in a moment – but you cannot stop an idea.

Are you tired of being told there’s no money for the vulnerable while the privileged few keep being given tax breaks and bail outs?

Are you tired of being told you have to work longer hours for more years with fewer rights or for less wages while those hectoring us to tighten our belts continue to reward themselves for failure?

Are you ready to take a stand?

Join us this weekend on Saturday 19th for the Bail In of the banks with events in London and elsewhere throughout the UK. Let’s wake the UK up to what is happening.

But don’t stop there. Join us again on February 26 as America refuses to sit quietly any more and rises up as US Uncut to join us in transatlantic solidarity.

And again. And again. And again. The time for sitting quietly is over. We will not stop. Join us. Stand with us. Together we will show them that you cannot stop an idea whose time has come.