[lbo-talk] London riots anew

Lenin's Tomb leninstombblog at googlemail.com
Fri Sep 9 02:14:23 PDT 2011

On 09/09/2011 08:42, James Heartfield wrote:
> So one week it is in fact the expropriation of the expropriators and a deeply political act, and the next it is a product of the weakness of the left (I suppose a scurrilous anarchist might say that it is not until the left is weak that the masses can arise, but that’s not Robertson’s view, I think).

I don't know who 'Robertson' is, but we can certainly take the view that the masses, or some of them at least, are capable of revolt in circumstances of left weakness. It would actually be absurd to claim otherwise. Brian Richardson's article confirms Gary McLennan's analysis, arguing that the rioters were engaged in deeply political behaviour. In fact, he does this in one of the very sentences that you quote from, though you leave out the relevant phrases - just as you distorted practically every sentence that quoted from. The difficulty you have is that you have attempted to deny any political motive or context to these riots. It's just "having a lark" as far as you are concerned. Richardson's article clearly places the riots in the context of the cuts, of police violence, and of racism. It is a comprehensive attack on the vacuous, circular analysis of the sort that you have aligned yourself with - though, in fairness, you aren't actually the author of any of it, having picked it up wholesale from the mass media. But it's because of this that you've been forced into distortion and insinuation, laced with some fairly shopworn polemic.

> And let’s not forget Richard Seymour’s own adolescent spasm: ‘The intention has been to show that the party of order can keep control throughout the coming battles. I hope, with every fibre in my being, that they cannot.’ (to which one would have to ask, why did you not join in these battles against the party of order, Richard?)

Two things. First, the article you're quoting from (http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/08/tottenham-calling.html) was written on 7th July, on the very evening that Tottenham exploded after Mark Duggan was murdered. Duggan's killing, as the family have pointed out, was probably the result of a shoot to kill policy. It was only the latest of a series of police killings, and took place in the context of a phase of escalated repression by the Met. The party of order has been going on the rampage since the riots, with devastating consequences for the working class people whom you have laughably claimed to champion. The stipendiary magistrates have been unleashed. The government have thrown out the sentencing guidelines, and locked people up for non-offences or minor offences. Police have pursued arrest targets, with the inevitable consequence of large numbers of innocent people being nicked. One of those arrestees had his details leaked to the media, and found his flat burned down when he returned home. And you can be sure that - as is usually the case with post-riot crackdowns - that many innocent people have been or are being banged up. Your response to this has been, effectively, to cheer it on. You cite opinion polls, waffle about bad behaviour, talk about how ashamed the rioters are of themselves, doing everything you can to morph into the Richard Littlejohn of the RCP. I retain my stance. I hope the party of order can't keep control in the coming battles, because I want them to lose. More than that, I consider my analysis vindicated by the response of the Tories, the media, the police and the courts. And if that strikes you as 'adolescent', I will just have to live with the pall. Second, in response to your non-sequitur, it has been no part of my case that 'the coming battles' should take the form of riots. I'm not going to condemn the rioters, as you have with such gusto. Nor am I going to deny their political context, as you have. But I want to see mass protests, occupations and strikes, a deepening and radicalisation of social struggles over the issues - austerity, police violence, racism - that have been present in these riots. Your query is in essence no different to that of the blimpish Cold Warrior who wonders why, if you don't like it here, you don't just go back to Russia.

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