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London Black Revs Comment On The Future of Protest

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Resistance first and foremost takes place in communities. That’s why over the past four years London Black Revs have pushed to organise outside of central city areas which are mainly occupied by business and tourism, taking it back to our local communities. We can expect protesting to become more polarised, as a form of propaganda and thinking outside of the box, we utilised combative, creative and militant direct actions combined with large scale street protest to build hegemony within our local areas, so much so that it enthuses the young and old about making change, fighting for social and political issues themselves.

The key here is about form, how action looks and is perceived, but most importantly, it’s about how this has a direct relation to the issue at hand. For example, when the anti-homeless spikes were concreted over with cement, we took a standard form of protest such as a demonstration and changed the way that action was carried out, combined with actually trying to remove the anti-homeless spikes (the direct relation to the issue), in a very militant and bold way.

The political period in the UK is on a downturn, protests are becoming smaller as momentum fails to trigger a spontaneous response from the general population over issues such as the NHS or education. Meanwhile, small pockets of organisers are burdened with having to try politicising a new generation of conscious revolutionaries and organisers while grinding against the axe of the state, resulting in arrests, convictions and in some cases imprisonment. The police have definitely been efficient at gathering intelligence on activists and groups so much so that they can work out ways to cripple organisations by taking out key individuals.

We hope that the future of protest becomes more large scale. In order to affect the kind of political resistance we need to austerity, gentrification and racism, demonstrations and protests need more engagement from the community – numbers are key. We want to take it back to basics with plain old community organising, working out what the key areas and issues are in a locality, and working with neighbours, friends and the wider community to galvanise some kind of strength in that area. As confidence grows and hopefully victories are made in resisting cuts or attacks, these very people will become the lifeblood of a political groundswell, and even the gold dust of a revolutionary organisation which is able to organise within communities across London and elsewhere.

Social media has been a factor in the growth and development of organisations and protests. In the past few years however, we have seen a very adverse effect take place, whereby social media is solely being relied upon to build protests, almost gutting out all potentiality of protesting and building in local areas. This is a huge danger. We have seen other organisations and groups imitate the kind of propaganda and strategy that London Black Revs initially utilised, only to caricature this without understanding that it was part of a wider strategy and ultimately just a phase. It was the case that no one would take a small group of black and asian revolutionaries seriously until we put down some deeds and demonstrated our determination, seriousness and ability to prove the naysayers wrong. There was a lot of initial rejection from others in the movement who saw the development as black separatism, black nationalism but overall as a fragmentation of political Britain. Either way, social media has been vital at stages, but now we see it promoting an adverse form of activism, taking place online rather than in real life, removing key parts of organising that activists need to experience and prepare for.

With racial and social relations continuing to break down in the US and UK, we can be certain to expect more militant forms of action. In the US there were several responses to the police brutality with black nationalists shooting and killing police officers. While this isn’t an advocated strategy of socialist revolutionaries like ourselves, it is clear that tensions and suffering conditions for people in the US will lead some to take excessive action. In the same way we can definitely expect organisations, both on the far left and far right to take more violent forms of protest against the state and ideologically opposed groups. While there isn’t a history of armed struggle in the UK from black activists, there is a history of urban rebellions and riots in cities across the UK. In the coming years under worsening social conditions from Theresa May and the continuing involvement of the UK and US, there will undoubtedly be a ground fermentation for anger, converting into militancy which at any point can be sparked into spontaneous occurrences of riots or violence outside of the domain of political organisations in the left. It is the job of those of us who are from the same backgrounds and neighbourhoods to be ready to try to interpret, politicise and guide those who come into political struggle unknowingly.

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