"The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air."
- Karl Marx & Freidrich Engels
The Communist Manifesto
The process of getting to the essence of what lies beneath has to be done in an environment of doublethink and doublespeak in which politicians and the media champion the apparent popular uprisings against oppressive regimes in the Middle East -- the 'Arab Spring' -- yet simultaneously condemn and seek to suppress similar protests and uprisings against the illegitimate institutions of authority that they themselves represent. Remember too that condemnations of the violence in Tottenham that emanate from the political class come from the same people, organisations and entities who are responsible for commissioning and unleashing a decade of untold violence and barbarism on the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq and more recently Pakistan (by drone) and Libya, the latter of which it is claimed is in support of a popular uprising but which is in fact no more than a reactionary CIA and NATO supported resource-plundering coup attempt against Gaddafi.
As is usual with any protest that flares up in some way, much of the analysis proffered comes from a place outside of any sort of wider context. In fact, the context of the analysis doing the rounds on the Idiot Lantern and radio networks only ventures as far back as two days in the whole of human history. So, if the media is to be believed, the history of Tottenham is just three days old and commences at the point at which 29 year old Mark Duggan was executed by police.
The events in Tottenham last night did not occur in a vacuum, nor are they an isolated example of the dire state and straits of peoples the world over.
A 16 year old girl meets 'community policing' in Tottenham
Discussion of the shooting at point-blank range of Mark Duggan on Thursday night is, like the 'riots', totally devoid of any wider context. As is usual with police executions of members of the public, irrespective of who the victims are or what the underlying truth might be, details about the manner in which Duggan was killed are notably thin on the ground.
Eye-witnesses report that Duggan was lying prostrate on the ground when he was shot, that any weapon which may or may not have been in the cab was inside a sock rather than cocked, loaded and ready to fire upon teams of armed police officers, and the actual truth of the matter will inevitably be far more convoluted and 'nuanced' than that. Oh, and the bullet lodged in a police officer's radio which was apparently evidence of a shoot-out? Well, "Initial ballistics tests on the bullet... show it was a police issue bullet." Quelle surprise!
Those few details that are available are either sketchy, unverified and, without access to any of the evidence, completely unverifiable. This means that information available about the killing of Mark Duggan has either to be discounted entirely, or be taken on trust from a police, State and media that is still glimmering in the glowing embers of the News of the World / News International / Trinity Mirror Group / Police / Cabinet Office scandal that exposed the entire chain of governance and propaganda as thoroughly corrupt and rotten to the core. Fear not though because the entirely trustworthy Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating.
Yet the context of recent events in Tottenham is still not wide enough to extract much in the way of meaning for we have yet to factor in the historical undercurrent of tensions between economically and opportunistically marginalised and excluded communities and the 'institutionally racist' police, or the specific history of police harassment and chastisement of Tottenham's ethnically diverse communities.
The history of police killings, and the extent of the lies propagated by the police as they collude to cover-up their crimes is long, detailed, bloody and shameful. Those days when anything announced by the police or the corrupt State in whose service the police operate is taken by anyone at face value are long gone, if indeed they ever existed among the working class and those members of society who have been all but written-off as the 'underclass'.
A Voice of Reason in the Chaos
"A riot is the language of the unheard."
- Dr. Martin Luther King
Haringey Youth Worker Symeon Brown interviewed by BBC News
Brown continued, “There's a sense in the community that the police are 'not for us' and as we've seen with events this year like the student protest, there's a hostility between young people and police - and that has manifested even more so in 2011. The trigger for this was a young man being killed – this is the context that must not be forgotten."
Symeon Brown is correct in his analysis. The police are not for the people of Tottenham but rather against them in just the same way that the police are not for the majority of the people generally. That the police are against the majority of people has been repeatedly and amply demonstrated at various protests in recent years through the use of the illegal detention-without-charge tactics known as 'kettling', horse-mounted baton-charges and other violence meted out towards ordinary people peacefully protesting against a State entity that is equally acting and operating in a manner that is "not for us". The police are merely a sub-section of the bodies of armed men that form the barrier and buffer between the State, the ruling class of the 'haves' and the 'have-mores' and those who are ConDem'd to poverty, deprivation and squalor by the deliberate choices and actions of the State that clearly now only serves its own naked self-interest.
It is this collective memory of the people of Tottenham and people in the wider community that has resulted in what Symeon Brown termed the "removal of consent". The people of Tottenham, of all races, colours and creeds, and the students, workers and activists whose consciences and desire for greater social and economic equality inspires them to take to the streets in protest against the actions of the State have all collectively removed their consent, further adding to the illegitimacy of archaic and anachronistic institutions of authority that continue to believe it is their divine right to do whatever they like, whenever they like, without any equal and opposing reaction.
Whatever political capital any authority seeks to make from what happened in Tottenham on Saturday night, using emotive phrases such as "having the heart ripped out of the community", it is quite clear that far from there being any connection to that supposed heart of the community, what exists in actuality is an alienation from all that capitalism has lain before it and all that capitalism has subjected it to.
Opportunists, Provacateurs and Propaganda
The science of social deprivation
While the initial unrest and uprising may have occurred as a direct response to the murder of Mark Duggan and the lack of police response over the course of days to demands for answers from Duggan's family, friends and community, a degree of caution needs to be exercised with regard to what transpired when darkness fell. One needn't look too far nor listen too hard to discover information and accounts that suggest that at the very least the seemingly wanton destruction of property occurred as legions of police looked on without taking any action to prevent these events from occurring.
Worse yet, there are reports of 'outsiders' -- people otherwise unfamiliar to the Tottenham community -- appearing on the scene and exacerbating an already tense, precarious and highly-flammable situation.
For a State that is fully aware of its actions, the consequence of its actions, and the reactions likely to be provoked, in tandem with a State that is intent on seeking new methods and weaponry to add to its already wide arsenal to be used against the general public in the service of the unquestioning subservience it describes as 'public order', the escalation of events on Saturday night are a gift.
What happens next remains to be seen but we need only look as far as Northern Ireland to determine the State's preferred methods for suppressing popular opposition to its actions. And, as already outlined elsewhere on this blog, the prime movers in the establishment of the policing methodology and tactics used to suppress dissent in Northern Ireland are all now conveniently placed in the positions of authority to impose similar regimes on the people of the mainland.
If we are to learn anything from what has transpired it should perhaps be that the anger and energy that lay behind the unrest in Tottenham last night needs to be organised and directed into building the unity and solidarity of ordinary people to create that which the Ministry of Defence outlined as one of the greatest threats to the corrupt State; to build the very same thing that will help us all, collectively, find the way out of the mess to which we the people have been condemned by the ruling, property-owning and finance-capital classes:
The Middle Class Proletariat
The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.