Why Aren’t We Rising Up As Our Country Is Sold Off?

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Nov 4 22:40:12 GMT 2013



An apathetic mainstream media, an ambivalent 
political class and a broad populace who have 
become spectators rather than actors in their 
daily lives, have created the mistaken impression 
that Britain is taking its austerity hammering 
lying down.  This could not be further from the 
truth.  Many of the most disenfranchised groups 
in UK society are rising, rebellion is fomenting, 
and flames of dissidence are licking the powder 
keg of mainstream mood.  So why doesn’t it feel like it?

Where is the Fight Back?

The current government and the economic model 
they support are impoverishing whole sections of UK society:
    * The number of young people without work for 
longer than two years is at 
highest in twenty years, the cost of living is 
rising at 
times the rate of wages,
    * This Christmas 
children will be homeless
more children will be living in poverty by the next election.
All while the government hails the 
growing economy in the western world.  Economic 
growth on the back of poverty wages and cuts to 
the welfare state which are leaving people 
destitute.  This is serious.  It is quite literally a matter of life and death.
So, where is the fight back?  Why aren’t people in the streets?
They are.  But it’s no picnic out there.

The Police State

They have found their right to protest 
by successive parliaments under the guise of 
anti-terror legislation.  On top of that, they 
are confronted by a militarised, political police 
force that 
squads sporting cameras and making snatch and 
grab arrests, 
vehicles, horses, dogs and the real threat of 
arrest.  This, combined with a toxic media 
narrative about ‘trouble making’ protesters has 
succeeded in making protest a personally 
dangerous and largely unpopular act to engage in.

The ‘Play Nice’ Problem

The purpose of protest and civil disobedience is 
to get in the way, disrupt the ordinary goings on 
and draw people’s attention to an 
issue.  However, a protest is nowadays defined as 
somehow bad and wrong if it actually does 
this.  In short, you have the right to protest, 
so long as you don’t actually protest. By all 
means, knit quietly in a corner for world peace, 
or make a daisy chain to end poverty – but make 
no noise, get in nobody’s way and for goodness 
sake’s don’t be angry! This has put pressure on 
protest movements to be fluffy and ineffectual is 
they want positive media coverage or popular 
support (despite the fact that they will make no actual difference).

The Absence of Mass Support

As a part of Occupy London, it astounds me when 
people who were never there, and never attended a 
single related protest say things like ‘Well, I 
was hoping Occupy were going to do something 
about all this but then it just fizzled out’.
Firstly, what an abdication of any 
responsibility! This willingness to allow a group 
of people just like themselves to carry the 
entire burden of responsibility for change.  But 
latterly, Occupy didn’t ‘fizzle out’.  The camps 
were raided by 
and bailiffs in the dark of night, people were 
dragged screaming from their tents and the full 
force of the police state came down upon their 
heads.  But this is the sort of withering 
platitudes one can expect of all those spectators in the stands.

Are you on the Pitch, or in the Stands?

How do you know whether you are viewing yourself 
as a spectator or an actor in the development of our world?
You can spot the differences by the questions you ask.

Spectator Questions

How do you think it will all pan out?
Why isn’t anyone rising up?
How on earth is all this allowed to happen without a fight back?

Actor Questions

These are the questions which, if you ask them, 
call you into action – and are therefore the 
questions of a person who is not watching passively, but getting involved:

What can I do?
How can I help make this work?
How can I make call others into action?

There is nothing wrong with being a spectator by 
the way.  There is no moral judgement here.  The 
problem occurs when you don’t realise you are a 
spectator.  Having an opinion on the action on 
the pitch, doesn’t mean you are playing the 
game.  Your action is not amounting to anything 
more than the spectator next to you with a 
divergent opinion – you are both just shouting 
into the wind.  So feeling like your 
‘progressive’ opinion is more important than 
their opposing one just makes you a 
self-righteous spectator. Not part of the actual game of change.

Your anger, your fury, your sadness, your empathy 
– all of it counts for absolutely nothing on the 
pitch.  You are the background noise. If you want 
a say in the development of a movement for 
change, then you have to step off the stands and 
join in.  This might mean dragging some other spectators down with you.

Why is No One Rising Up?

The situation we have here is that a significant 
number of the population, the mainstream media 
and the political class are not even in the 
stands – they are at home in their front room, 
with their feet up, watching a different channel 
altogether.  They can easily fall into the 
assumption that nothing is happening.
A very great deal is happening.
The students rose up in their tens of thousands 
to defend their right to an education without 
incurring enormous debts through tuition 
fees.  They were met with some of the most 
policingseen on UK streets in modern 
history.  The Prime Minister dismissed these 
young people as a 
mob’, the press joined in and public sentiment 
slavishly turned against the peaceful student protesters.
There have been several mass public sector 
strikes together with protest marches over the 
last three years.  On the 30th November 
million public sector workers went on strike when 
more than 30 unions united.  The strike closed 
more than 
quarters of schools in England, as well as 
courts, museums, libraries and jobcentres, 
disrupted transport, hospitals and Government 
departments, led to around 
of driving tests being 
cancelled.  Physiotherapists, headteachers, 
librarians, lollipop ladies, refuse collectors, 
weather forecasters and scientists were among 
those involved as 
of thousands marched through the streets of the 
capital and their hometowns in protest.  November 
30th is now marked each year with such a protest.

This summer has seen 
after wave of teachers’ strikes, as teaching 
staff make their opposition to Education 
Secretary Michael Gove’s plans to break up the 
national system of education, allow unqualified 
teachers into the classrooms, sells off playing 
fields and cuts physical education while a 
childhood obesity crisis occurs, and denigrates 
the profession, pay and pension of the teachers 
themselves.  Nearly 
schools shut just last month as part of these strikes.

Fighters have been striking up and down the 
country in a fight over 
in staff 

Universities up and down the land 
for 24 hours just days ago as thousands of staff 
from cleaners to lecturers joined a national 
strike over attacks on their pay, pensions and university funding.

Disabled activist groups such as Disabled People 
Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and others 
have been mounting acts of civil disobedience in 
the face of social security cuts impoverishing 
sick and disabled people.  They have 
their wheelchairs together to close busy London 
roads, they held the 
Cuts and Counting’ ceremony of remembrance 
outside parliament where they read out the names 
of the thousands of sick and disabled people that 
have died undergoing the government’s ‘work capability assessments’.

When the Arms Fair came to London it was met by 
organised and determined protest.  Several 
activists are 
facing prosecution, while the illegal arms 
manufacturers they demonstrated to oppose are 
free to sell illegal weapons on UK soil.

of activists descended on Balcombe village, West 
Sussex to oppose the government’s plans to 
introduce hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) in the 
UK despite clear issues of environmental damage, 
water pollution and corruption.

Protest, strikes and civil disobedience are an 
almost daily occurrence up and down the country 
constantly.  So what is this feeling that says it’s not enough?

The Missing Ingredient is You

If demonstrations, strikes, protest marches, 
Occupations and other acts of civil disobedience 
are happening all around – why are so many acting 
as if nothing is happening?  Why is there this 
feeling, expressed by so many, that the UK is 
just meekly submitting to a corrupt, elitist 
government dismantling its welfare state, civil liberties and public services?

Imagine all those asking this question are in 
their lounge, and a fire has been set in an 
upstairs room of the house.  They cannot see the 
fire, they cannot feel the heat of its flames, 
and they cannot smell its smoke.  To all intents 
and purposes there is not fire, for them, right 
now.  But that does not mean there is no 
fire.  Either they will discover the fire, or the fire will discover them.

Spectators, if you want to see a fight back, you have to move.

So far, the fight is largely being left to the 
hardest hit and a significant number who have 
come off the benches to support them.

No movement can deliver the kind of killer blow 
that destroys a government or a whole political 
or economic system without mass, popular 
support.  It needs the spectators to get off the 
side lines and throw their whole weight into the 
thing.  Only that can create the momentum, the 
energy and the unbearable tension which moves 
worlds onward past periods of injustice. So don’t 
ask ‘where is the fight back?’

Find it, join it and make damn sure everybody else does.

Don’t get angry, get involved!

5th Protests – join them

– join them

Workfare – join them

London  – join them

Why Aren’t We Rising Up As Our Country Is Sold Off & Our Govt Sells Out?
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