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The tradition of refusal

Author: joe

Wednesday, 10 November, 2010 - 20:49

- on violent protest

Situations of revolt are not always easy to discover. The writers of history marginalize and deliberately disconnect news of resistance from a tradition of refusal. Discontent is misrepresented, pacified and moved into channels of legality, compromise, and dialogue. The media distorts the impulse for social war, deferring it to the confines of single issues, mismanagement, and individual cases of dissatisfaction. Revolt becomes a disfigured story, obscured in the past, manipulated in the present, hidden from view.
Our actions should not appeal to these machines of "reality production." The only thing that will affect the reality of things will be to act upon reality, not to merely present it as we wish it to be. The only way to change the conditions of society is to change the nature of how we relate within them. There is no fixed or static condition that we are trapped in. The future is not only unwritten but also unpredictable and therefore capable of being affected by our willful determination.
Fire at Midnight, Destruction at
Dawn: Sabotage and Social War
by Kasimere Bran

I went on the march against HE cuts today. My wife and I marched through Whitehall, but then, needing water and rest, ducked out through the park; we got food, went home, picked boy up from school, ate dinner, watched journalists talk predictably about 'anarchists', heard moderate student leaders disown violence, listened to police spokesmen announce that these scenes should not be allowed to occur on our streets, intercut with shots of shouting across the dispatch box.

I don't disown the violence; it is a natural manifestation along the spectrum of discontent, part of a "history of refusal", a refusal I want to be part of. I don't wish to disown it any more than I'd wish to be condemned for my pacifism by any other activists. I don't care that the violence may be mindless, agitated by provocateurs. I don't care that middle class sensibilities are offended. Part of me wishes I was a young casseur, smashing things with a hedonistic rage that had little to do with 'the issues', while I am nevertheless not ashamed to be a diffident protester, strolling cheerily amongst chant-contagious students, in order to register my disagreement with government policy. Either way, whether out of willful determination, or nihilistic vandalism, the expressions of refusal are the thing.

The pervasive marketisation, monetisation, commodification and capitalisation of every last niche of civic life, thought and existence is a more insinuous form of violence. The encouragement of class demonisation, the stoking of resentment against sectors of society because they are jobless or because they aren't in some way chasing dividends, property ladders and the wellbeing of UK plc - the privatisation of existence til it is unacceptable to be a thinking, serious, frivolous, playful, intellectual, idiotic, happy, failing, pointless freeman, unless one is able to pay for the privilege: that is the sort of atmosphere which enacts, encourages and deserves violence. I refuse!

Categories: violence, protest, education, refusal,
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