By Tim Hardy
(Image by Jono_Warren.)
Many on the parliamentary left have given up. That is their privilege and our loss.
It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed, to replace these dangerous feelings by self-centred egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that all change is for the worse, so that one should simply accept the state capitalist order with its inherent inequities and oppression as the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is underway to convince people – particularly young people – that this not only is what they should feel but that it is what they do feel, and that if somehow they do not adopt this set of values then they are strange relics of a terrible era that has fortunately passed away.
(Noam Chomsky, cited Radical Priorities, 1981)
Despair has led many to betray the causes that once motivated them. Their cynicism about solidarity always gives it away. It is always important to act locally, but if you cannot think globally then you end up just another apologist for a system of inequality that condemns billions to starve.
As the spokespeople for the bankers in the cabinet are so quick to remind us, if we tax the rich here, they’ll go elsewhere. These are the same rich who use their wealth to keep families hungry worldwide just so that they personally can over-eat. These are the same rich who are happy to profit from death as long as those killed are in countries far, far away from the happy havens in which they lead their enchanted lives.
Parochialism is defeatism. The problems we face are global. We have to be internationalist or our politics is meaningless.
Around the world, the internet is waking people up.
So called democratic governments for too long have talked the language of freedom then resigned themselves to a grubby realpolitik that permits the sale of arms to tyrants. Britain sold snipers’ rifles to Libya. Do we wash our hands of that knowledge the minute the weapons leave our borders? There must be no safe haven for murderous dictators and no more claims that profits take precedence over the human costs of international business.
While most around the world are watching in horror as civilians are massacred by brutal thugs in the Middle East, our British Prime Minister is instead on tour, not to congratulate those who have won their freedom from tyranny, but to pimp the British arms trade. What better spokesman for capitalist realism can you imagine than a man who refuses to apologise for the blood money he represents, stating fatuously “it is perfectly logical and sensible that there should be a trade in defence.”
A distaste for solidarity can arise from humility. What it takes to occupy a high-street bank is nothing compared to the courage it takes to stand up to snipers and soldiers with machine guns but it is intellectual cowardice to think that socialism stops at a nation’s borders. This is the same kind of fallacy of privilege that makes people feel guilty about standing up for oppressed groups if they personally are not oppressed. Such thinking needs to end.
UK Uncut may not be standing up to bullets. Our front line may be merely the slick, sick, gleaming face of corporate capitalism; our actions, playful, theatrical and witty – but our goals are deadly serious. We are but one part of the worldwide resistance to a common enemy, a corporatism that Benito Mussolini would have recognised as fascism, a resistance that is growing day by day.
Over the last week, the international ambitions of our grassroots movement have continued to bloom with the rise of US Uncut, Canada Uncut, Quebec Uncut, NL Uncut and other affiliate groups around the world. Within the UK, links between different anti-cuts groups are growing stronger. The students on dayx4 temporarily occupied Barclays in solidarity during their protests. These links can only continue to strengthen, the number of new groups will continue to grow. You cannot stop an idea whose time has come.
Worldwide, people have had enough. Our movements here may be playful and theatrical but they are profoundly linked to movements elsewhere in the world where people are dying in the name of principles our governments take in vain. Our privilege should not shame us into inaction. Around the world people are waking up to the fact that is up to us, not those who claim to lead us, to put an end to duplicity and hypocrisy and make the espoused values of Western democracy real.
Join us tomorrow in the US to show that the spirit of Wisconsin is only the beginning.
Join us tomorrow around the world to show that the people have had enough.
This fight is international and it has only just begun.