let me hear that dirty word socialism

look, i get that people like writing about les amis as a contemporary radical activist group, but i’ve seen a lot of stuff that… doesn’t really reflect the reality of protest in virtually every country in the world, and certainly in basically every western democracy. at a protest today enjolras would have to beg the local institutions of power for permission to march up a public street, and he would be held responsible for any diversion from the plan he submitted. if his friends and followers were kettled and terrorised by riot police, he’d be told in no uncertain terms that this was his fault. les amis would have to hole up in someone’s flat beforehand and duct-tape and stuff cardboard inside of their jackets, in advance preparation for the inevitable police violence to come. they’d have to write the phone numbers of lawyers on their arms in magic marker and combeferre would have to check that everyone knows not to tell the police a single thing, to always ask for a lawyer, and then shut up.

enjolras would have to give his speeches with bahorel and feuilly standing on either side of him with their arms folded and their faces set, would have to march with jehan and courferyac pushing forward as his vanguard. les amis would have to surround enjolras like a tidal wave, in case the police got any bright ideas about cutting off the serpent’s head in order to make the body flail and panic and die. if and when the violence started – violence enjolras probably would not have wanted, because violence is used to re-write the history of contemporary resistance all of the time – courferyac and graintaire would have to pay in bruises to distract the cop bearing down on combeferre so it would be definite that someone would be left in the morning to post bail. joly would have to bring medical supplies in his bag with the full expectation of using them, because kettles can go on for hours and you never guarantee that even someone bleeding enough to lose their life will be allowed to leave.

when the cops come for enjolras, he’d kneel and put his hands behind his head and not say a thing, not when they kicked at the backs of his ankles or slammed him against a cop car or pulled his head back by his hair to hiss his rights into his ear. he’s a leader, and he’d know the value of a slit through his eyebrow in the press tomorrow. he’d know that this beating was coming whatever he did, but bruises in the dock in the morning make his argument for him. courferyac would, again, be the one dragged out of the crowd with his lip split and grantaire gripping tight around his wrist in vain, so combeferre could try and desperately usher away teenagers from riot shields, so joly could try and stem the bleeding of a thirteen year old girl’s head-wound, so bahorel could help jehan carry feuilly away without putting too much pressure on the point where his ribs had cracked. no one would hit a cop. if you hit a cop, a cop can do whatever they like to you, and every single member of les amis would have seen that happen with their own eyes.

the reality remains that there is virtually no such thing as a peaceful protest, because it is to the advantage of those in power to ensure that there’s not. the reality remains that there is nothing glamorous about a riot, and that enjolras would be taking his friends’ lives in his hands with reckless abandon if he thought there was. in a sense he’d be happy if he was the only person arrested, that combeferre would have to come for him in the cold light of morning and pick him up from the police station steps and drive him to the hospital, dirt under enjolras’s fingernails and blood crusted in his hair.

he’d have spent a night cold and maybe alone and maybe sitting in an interrogation room for hours staring at bare walls and having cops yell questions in his face that he couldn’t risk answering. he’d be exhausted and sore and on the verge of total-shut down. every single protest he led, he’d have to know that this would be how it could end for him– if not something much worse. protest is dangerous. riots aren’t fun. les amis would be covered in battle scars. they would spend weeks showered in bruises and knowing that they would have more to come. in the 21st century, protesters still build barricades. in fact, they do so relatively regularly. it’s just a thought, but you might want to think about why.

btw if you have recently become interested in les miserables and you have never read terry pratchett’s ‘the night watch’ you, er… you really need to get on that

it is without doubt the cleverest thing i have ever read about political oppression and state violence and revolution, ever

for example:

'Yeah, all right, but everyone knows they torture people,’ mumbled Sam.

'Do they?’ said Vimes. 'Then why doesn’t anyone do anything about it?’

“cos they torture people.’

and:

Everyone was guilty of something. Vimes knew that. Every copper knew it. That was how you maintained your authority. Everyone, talking to a copper, was secretly afraid you could see their guilty secret written on their forehead. You couldn’t, of course. But neither were you supposed to drag someone off the street and smash their fingers with a hammer until they told you what it was.

and:

'I repeat, I order you to dismantle this barricade.’ He took a breath, and went on: 'And rebuild it on the other side on the corner with Cable Street! And put up another one at the top of Sheer Street! Properly built! Good grief, you don’t just pile stuff up, for gods’ sake! A barricade is something you construct!

lionsroar83  asked:

Hello! Would you be willing to recommend some websites/books/reading material re: socialism? I love reading what you have to say, but I'm kind of new to this system of thinking/living and I'd like to learn more.

yup! (in accordance with wanting education to be accessible to all~~ unless otherwise specified the linked text is online for free)

So, once again, it’s massacre.

The Commune is at peace until 2.16 in the morning.

Then: hell.

In Saint Michel the first barricade is on fire. A red flag is burning. In Gay Lussac hell is advancing slowly.

Do not stay behind. Nobody stays behind when we abandon a barricade.

Terror is not a word. Terror is the enemy pursuing the fugitives into the courtyards. Terror is running up unknown stairs and banging on closed doors which do not open. Terror is hiding in recesses and hearing the sirens getting nearer.

The Beginning of the End, Angelo Quattrocchi

and you know what else? i’m here to destroy heterosexual marriage. your fears are 100% correct. i am everything you are afraid of. i hope your institutions burn. i want to bring down the government. i hope your son is gay. i hope your daughter dates me. i hope you feel sick when you see my nail varnish and my men’s clothes, my lipstick and my shorn-short hair. i hope you can’t look me in the eye and you don’t know what to say to my face. i hope you move away from me on public transport. i hope there are millions of children out there with no father and two mothers. i hope bloodbanks are filled to the brim with platelets from men who fuck men. i hope my existence makes you sick. 

it wouldn’t be anything close to retribution or restitution, but it’d be a good fuckin’ start.

pragmatism before purity. ideology before ideals. people before party, but party before people sitting around not doing anything because interacting with the system will tarnish their untouched political principles. long live imperfection. dare to become problematic. do something, because doing something is the only thing that matters.

9

“It was like something from the civil war”: the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave

On June 18, 1984, at the height of the UK Miner’s strike, the National Union of Mineworkers arranged what was intended to be a routine mass picket at the British Steel coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire.

Instead, 8000 miners and 5000 police officers – although these numbers are disputed, especially on the side of the police, who may have brought as many as 10,000 men – fought for hours in what has since become one of the most controversial events in recent British history.

In the intervening thirty years, the police involved, (and their superiors), have been accused of brutality, assault, perjury, collusion, perverting the course of justice, and abuse of public office. Not a single miner charged was convicted, and South Yorkshire Police had to pay thirty-nine of those arrested £425,000 in an out of court settlement. It is widely believed by many to be one of the most glaring examples of state violence in contemporary Britain.

The miner’s strike defined its decade. Following the revelation in March 1984 that the government intended to close twenty coal mines, with seventy to follow, mass walk-outs and strikes started immediately. The strike is usually seen as the most important domestic event of the era, as the defeat weakened union power in Britain immensely, and set the stage for five more years of Thatcherite rule.  

The tiny village of Orgreave in South Yorkshire had a population almost exclusively employed in the mining industry. Arthur Scargill, the strike leader, considered the Orgreave coking works to be crucial to the success of the strike, and, after finding out that the plant was having more coal delivered than the amount that had been agreed, sent picketers from all over the country to prevent coal being delivered to the plant. The formation of such lines to prevent delivery was standard practice during the strike.

Initially, the strike was business as usual. The strikers played football, and many removed their shirts. When the lorries arrived to fetch more coal, the order was given for the ‘push’, where miners charged at police lines in an attempt to break them. There was some back and forth for some time, and deployment of mounted police. All of this was reasonably standard for picket action.

However, the police did something new to the UK, and deployed riot police, armed with batons and short shields, and wearing riot gear. The miners panicked, although eventually calm was restored, and space was cleared for the lorries to get through. What happened next is subject to much debate, but what is certain that the miners retreated and were chased by police. The miners were outnumbered and forced to run across a railway line, and some had to climb down the embankment of the bridge, and across the rails. 

It is not disputed that the miners threw stones at the police. But it is widely asserted by the miners that the police response to what amounted to minor resistance was immense and brutal. The miners allege that the police had deliberately pulled picketers out of the crowd to beat them. They charged them with horses and and continued to hit and kick them after their arrest.

Photographs taken at Orgreave show numerous picketers being dragged away bleeding, sat on by officers, and police beating picketers who were not resisting. It has been asserted that the police tactics were the first usage of the deeply controversial kettling technique in the UK. The iconic photograph of Lesley Boulton, a member of Women Against Pit Closures and an unarmed woman, raising her hand to defend herself against a mounted police officer with a baton, became the defining image of the picket.

Ninety-five strikers were charged with riot and unlawful assembly. Riot carried a mandatory life sentence. One of the defendants, Arthur Critchlow, said that he was beaten after arrest by two officers armed with truncheons, and that during his trial he believed utterly that “the state could do what they wanted.” Ultimately, all the trials collapsed, but no officer was ever charged with misconduct. Michael Mansfield QC, who defended many of the miners, said that the evidence given by South Yorkshire Police was “the biggest frame-up ever.”

So: you’ve read all this, and you’re asking, but why does this matter? Because the Battle of Orgreave was a turning point for Britain, and not for the better. Protest became more difficult after Orgreave. Thatcher used the police force more and more as her personal army, to deal with what she considered to be a dangerous revolutionary movement that needed to be crushed at all costs. Thirty years after Orgreave, officers who beat unarmed fifteen year old boys in the street have never faced discipline. Even police officers involved in the Battle claim that it was a travesty. A BBC investigation found widespread evidence that commanding officers in the South Yorkshire Police deliberately fabricated evidence, and that dozens of written “statements” given by officers present at Orgreave were identical.

We are all, in a sense, Thatcher’s children. We live in the shadow of what she destroyed. It is inconceivable that it should take thirty years for basic justice to be done, but that is the world she left us. Hopefully we will finally get an inquiry. But do not believe anyone who tells you that we need to move on from Orgreave. We never got a chance to move on from Orgreave. The working class of Britain have lived with the consequences of Thatcher’s regime for thirty years. Stop being frustrated that people won’t stop harping on about the past, and recognise that you might be angry if it took thirty years for justice to be done. The miner’s strike ended, but the systematic attack, degradation, and smearing of the working classes in Britain have not, and that’s why Orgreave matters. We are all Thatcher’s children. That means you, too.

i’ve been seeing this shit go around with the modern les mis aus and i’m sick of it, so:

  • if you punch a cop in the face at a protest you will have the living shit kicked out of you, you will almost certainly not be released without charge, and you will probably have the shit kicked out of you again once you’re in custody
  • even if a cop hits you first you cannot hit them back, not in any real sense
  • it should be the number one priority of an activist leader to try and ensure that a protest does not turn violent, because it is significantly less to the advantage of the protesters than the police if it does
  • also because when protests turn violent, people die, and the police officers involved almost inevitably will not face justice
  • i’ve actually been in a riot, and what you learn very quickly once you’re in a riot is that they are neither glamorous nor are the police your friends
  • the fact that it is so difficult to protest right now without police violence is an absolutely massive problem and it’d be really great if people could stop glossing over it, okay? 

i’m so tired of the argument for marriage equality that it’s ‘about love’

no, you know what, legal, state-sanctioned marriage is not about love, it’s about rights

the government cannot tell you whether or not you love someone, and being able to get married, in an emotional sense, really proves nothing other than you are an adult who can sign some bits of paper

and that’s totally fine! because people define relationships, not the state– but access to the legal procedure of marriage can define the rights a couple can access in turn

the point of a democracy is that everybody is equal– and a democracy where some citizens have access to rights that others cannot access is a democracy that is at fault

the law has to apply to everyone, or it’s not the law, not in its true sense

the universal declaration of human rights states that marriage is a human right, and currently that is a right almost all queer people in the world are denied

stop bullshitting about love, because that, in the end, deflects from the issue: people who don’t want same-gender marriage are not going to be swayed by arguments about love. and you know what? their opinions are irrelevant.

all are equal under the law and until that’s true, until that’s actively, legally true, people who oppose marriage equality are actively and deliberately preventing access to a universal human right

this isn’t about love. this is about the right to live a free and equal democratic state. do you think queer people want to be able to get married for the ceremony? they want to be considered, where appropriate, as a unit and not as individuals, and all that entails under the law– the rights conveyed by marriage upon death or illness or even taxation are rights everyone should have, because until they do not everyone is 'equal’ but some are significantly more equal than others

this is one of those cases where you have to look at marriage for what it is, and not what humans make it in their minds– it’s about a right that is supposed to be universal, and it’s not. in very plain terms, that’s it, that’s the end of the discussion.

how limited is your imagination that you look at the world and cannot imagine a world that’s better. how little faith in human innovation must you have to believe that capitalism is the best we can invent, and the best we will ever have. in a world where the majority of the population is starving and dying of diseases that cost pennies to cure, how can anyone realistically believe that this is the best we could have. what we’ve got is barely worth the price of admission.

look, here is the most fundamental problem with capitalism: things are not made better by making some poor people ‘rich’

because rich is a state of being which requires an opposite, for the word 'rich’ to have meaning 'poor’ is a necessary state

we need to reach a state where both 'rich’ and 'poor’ are meaningless concepts, and that is not achieved by lifting some people out of poverty and praising them and damning those that remain, but by abolishing poverty

the great feminist icon margaret thatcher, who was friends with and and who lobbied against the deportation of chilean dictator augusto pinochet for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the great feminist icon margaret thatcher who called nelson mandela a ‘grubby little terrorist’, the great feminist icon margaret thatcher who colluded with paramilitary death squads who illegally killed hundreds of people in northern ireland, on her own sovereign soil

hahahaha go fuck yourself

anger is not a bad thing: let’s talk about why you should get angry

one of the ongoing hallmarks is my life is that people often say to me, when they realise that there are many things in the world that i think are unjust and i can get vociferous about it, ‘i don’t understand how you can manage to be so angry all of the time.’ usually it has a certain subtext to it, a subtext that suggests either i ought to have tired myself out by now, that i’m childish or annoying or that obviously no one could bear to be friends with me, because i’m just too angry. i’ve got it from people with privilege i can only dream of, from my own sister, from long and extremely abusive threads on anon memes. (thanks so much, guys!) and, in a sense, i never know what to say. i don’t know what it’s not like to be angry. perhaps more importantly, i have no desire to not be angry.

because here’s the thing about anger: there’s a certain kind of anger that isn’t bad. that is self-perpetuating but not destructive, that keeps you going when you feel worthless and can allow you to pull other people up with you: righteous anger. and righteous anger is a good thing. righteous anger is a healthy response to a world full of injustice and suffering. righteous anger changes lives and saves people and makes life worth living. all i can think when a person tells me that i’m 'too angry’ is 'i wish you were a tenth as angry as me.’

sometimes, i don’t blame the people who tell me this. every member of a marginalised group struggles with the internal voice that tells them to be seen and not heard. society teaches women not to be angry, and so many women have told me not to be so angry. it teaches women to be silent and acquiescent, that to be angry is unfeminine and that there is nothing worse than being unfeminine. but, when considered– what is wrong with being angry, as a response to such pressure? society has spent my entire life shoving me, along with every other woman in the world, into a box, and we don’t all fit into the same box. of course we don’t. of course, too, this is how oppressive systems work. the oppressed in an oppressive system are always taught not to be angry. in an oppressive system, anger is a privilege.

but you don’t own me. you don’t own how i feel, or how i get to choose to react to things. part of the internal struggle of an oppressed individual is learning that you’re allowed to be angry. the system doesn’t own you, and it doesn’t own how you feel. if you’re a person with privilege telling an oppressed person not to be angry, you’re the problem. these people don’t answer to you, and your feelings will never be their feelings, nor should they be. don’t tell a working class person to shut up because their anger makes you uncomfortable. don’t tell a person of colour that they’re just 'too sensitive.’ i get it– they’re taking something from you, and you don’t like it. they’re taking your voice, that has always overpowered them, and making it their own. you’re not supposed to like it. it was never yours to begin with.

can you imagine a world where everyone got angry? can you imagine a world where everyone cared about injustice? anger is an impetus. anger is the bridge that leads to change, because once you get angry you want to make change happen. if you are angry about injustice, you are not 'too angry.’ there is no such thing as 'too angry’ in the face of human suffering. there is no such thing as 'you care too much.’ the proof of your humanity is that you care. the proof of your humanity is that you want it to stop. this, above all else, because i don’t think this is said enough: the war on privilege is a war. it’s time we started acting like it.