There’s no doubt that the six weeks from March 28th - May 4th offers our anarchist movement a chance to move out of the shadows. Against the background of recession there has been rioting across Europe from Riga to Sofia. These are riots not by activists but by poor people hurting badly. The Greek uprising has provided a fine example of anarchists being prominent in a wider social movement for radical change. In Britain the war on Gaza and the Heathrow runway decision has brought protests - and direct action - back on the street across the country. They are not yet focused on the recession but they may become so. The G20 summit in London on April 2nd provides an opportunity for all these strands across Europe to come together as in the PARIS DECLARATION calling for a mass demonstration in London on March 28th - Saturday before summit - and across Europe on April 1st-2nd. In London the Trade Unions, Stop the War are organising marches on April 2nd. ‘THE BEHEADING CAPITALISM’ event by the folks behind J18 is planned for the same day. Other anarchists are planning a large central London anarchist rally on the night of April 1st with speakers from across Europe. After G20 the European leaders move on to the NATO summit in Germany - sure to get the anarchists back on the streets.I occasionally forget that anti-war marches take place on March 20. Is this a sign of my growing apathy or am I becoming more human? The recent anti-war movement died before the U.S. even invaded Iraq. It's become a voter base and a campaign slogan, a messy recruiting ground for socialist slugs and prime turf for Leftist power plays. As my more pessimistic friends might argue, this is of course exactly why some anarchists are interested in inserting themselves upon the anti-war sects, to recruit and get a hand in the game ("Beheading Capitalism," though, sounds weird enough to perhaps warrant investigation, if one happened to be in London).
To often momentum is built over a few events then dribbles away. But this year we have the Mayday marches, a planned UK anarchist conference in London over May2-3rd and a Reclaim the Streets event in Brighton on May 4th. The fates are with us comrades, the sheep's entrails are promising, all we need are a few portents and omens to kick the whole fucking thing off.
JOIN THE SPRING OFFENSIVE!
On the other hand, the remnants of the anti-war movement have been doing their thing for over six years now, they have the experience to gather and restrain large crowds and they regularly try to manifest them (even if in recent years ticket sales are down). The extent to which anti-war happenings have any substance is the degree to which they can be used to point at, and beyond, the larger contemporary social situation that sinks more and more into crisis.
In Chicago, the traditional anti-war party crew is getting into its annual legal battle over where to parade. A press release suggests the organizers decided this years anniversary march is going to be a dual "peace/immigrant rights" march, so instead of focusing on the economy as a whole they'll be making sure to break it down into "issues." Immigrant rights marches still attract larger crowds than the anti-war movement, so perhaps it's an issue of increasing numbers.
Even though it's totally fucked for the government to deny a permit to this kind of event, it's kind of hilarious watching organizers squirm. The press release makes it sound like the city is trying to destroy the anti-war march, but it appears the city's primary concern is the chaos of St. Patrick's Day. Why anyone would want to compete with St. Patrick in this town is unknown to me; the city has offered the 21st, a day that is closer to the initial invasion date, but apparently there's an anti-war march in D.C. that day and some of the organizing group wants to be able to go to both (I doubt that a march in D.C. would have a significant impact on attendance at the Chicago march, except maybe a few less group leaders). What they're actually saying is that a D.C. march is as much a holy day to a Leftist as St. Patrick's is to many a Chicagoan (come to Chicago, it's a party). How many folks go to D.C. for marches anyway?
The permit fight will attract some publicity to the event, but most of Chicago -- even those attracted by the inclusion of an immigration plank next to opposition to the war -- will see the event as the usual stuff by the usual crowd; they're not even expecting 3,000 marchers this year.
Chicago is hosting Finding Our Roots in April and Bash Back's Queer Convergence in May; the ISO usually holds "Socialism 200x") out by O'Hare and joining the fray is Platypus with their "national convention" in June. Chicago appears to be flexing for activist cred, but the signs of brooding social revolt are few and far between. Are gatherings like these lightning rods for discontent or do they just further alienate theorists of revolution from those aching to revolt?
An assortment of Left groups have also begun mobilizing against Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid. I'm not really sure what this is going to entail beyond anti-Olympics forums, but the bid committee visit itself could offer a chance to let the IOC know directly how Chicagoans feels about the opportunity to host the games. A simple fuckup by the Chicago police in the weeks beforehand could unleash anger that might mix with and emerge against the bid, turning Chicago into Oakland at the most inopportune of times. The strength of the recession might somehow inflame citizen passions into resistance; but we're used to being robbed. It's just as likely everything will go on without a hitch.
At this point the future is as confusing for us as it is the capitalists predicting and praying for economic recovery. Over the past several months the opening salvos have been fired, and as economic decay quickly spreads across the globe discontent follows. The desire to exacerbate conflict has our mouths watering like wolves, but if we give in to our urge, our attention is drawn to a hundred different arenas. On what specific cause should we set ourselves, some ask, so as to be nearest the next social rupture?
Economic crisis binds us in new ways, it makes obvious to all the way every aspect of our lives is dominated by capitalist order. We do not need to look any further for a reason to revolt. We would do better to focus on our own experiences than chasing around the causes of others; our commonality is found in sharing ourselves in revolt and overcoming this order collectively.
The U.S. hasn't seen a period of generalized anger and social disorder in ages, but the approaching summer has every possibility of heralding a new age. The authorities tremble and we both know what is coming. Spring offers a handful of playgrounds for experimentation filled with the profound sense of urgency and yet dwarfed by the gravity of what may lie ahead. Do we dare try out these last few chances and fool ourselves with dreams of our own agency, or will anarchists be left as surprised as any others when the wicked economic whip wraps itself around our necks?