The recent riots in London with cops using batons, cracked heads on both sides and so on, and various takes on police and mob brutality leave me largely moved only to tears for anyone involved. It all had the level of farce of the cop body searching my Dad at a rugby league match at Old Trafford. He was more or less TT and had Altzheimer’s. Dad was actually wearing my old police mac. What trouble there was happened on the pitch and Widnes sorted out the malevolent Australians. If only soccer fans had been so peaceful, my left side wouldn’t feel like Marvin the Paranoid Android’s. If only, perhaps, we’d left the Irish shooting at each other.
Various counter-measures to the mob raised their inevitable heads. Water cannon and tear-gas – what for – so we can have real riots like in Rome? Should we go further and turn the whole country into Northern Ireland? The cops, of course, claim they are protecting the peace and property, even the “right” to peaceful demonstration. All true of course, yet so is the fact they are also protecting our bent politicians and “bankers”, what is wrong in our system as well as what we hold dear. It was “cops” (and squaddies) who protected vile fascist and communist regimes and who opened fire on anti-war protesters in the USA. And who “protected us” from the militant Suffragettes. We might wonder what causes a policing army to turn round and face the same ‘enemy’ as protesters.
Nearly all questions about democracy are fraught by simplistic thinking on “perfection” . Plato wanted the system run by Guardians who developed virtue and transmitted this through generations, but even he realised even this system would develop inevitable corruption and go sour. In ‘Animal Farm’ it is the pig who controls the ‘attack dogs’ who ‘triumphs’, though perhaps Snowball escaped through a hole in the hedge and might return to bring back peaceful democracy. To some, our police are run by ‘Napoleon’. I don’t share the view, but it is the view I would have wanted to share at the time of the Peterloo massacre, and I do think police in Northern Ireland in the late 60’s contributed to ‘the troubles’ in a scurrilous manner. I’ve done my share of peace-keeping, but this hasn’t skewed my view of the bent politics and suppression that made it necessary – or that it would never have been necessary had we been able to be sensible politically.
The questions we should be asking concern whether our own society is once again radically unfair and likely to face increasing turbulence and the misery of ‘interesting times’ (as in the Russian proverb). I’d contend we are now as divorced from believing our politics fair as the people of Derry with a Unionist Council “elected” in a 90% Catholic town. The properly grounded civil rights protests in NI developed into something like war. Do we now face something similar, or is it just about some exploitative “anarchists”? Many of the problems in NI concerned the unfair distribution of housing and jobs. Do we have something similar here, hidden under pretences of meritocracy? I suspect we do and it is class-based, with “education” a phoney cure. There is much talk too, of ‘fraud as the business model’. The “bankers” still want not only their bonuses, but to tell us they deserve them and our lives would collapse if they leave en masse. This is Jabberwock.
None of this helps protect cops trying to police protests, or children in protests from police batons or mounted charges. Police are using technology to make arrests, yet it does not seem to turn up evidence for the arrest of their own – maybe there is none, but how would we know? Whatever is going on, the spectacle is disgusting. If I felt my vote was worth anything, I’d be very much against the protesters. I don’t, and I’m not. I’m inclining to the view that our scurrilous politicians are turning our cops into their own protection force. If this is true, we have a duty to stop it. The current protests are more or less over nothing; if we start protesting over the lack of jobs, fair education for the non-academic and real injustice and immigration issues, I’ll be glad to be blogging from a small village in Portugal. Politicians don’t care about cracked police heads. I do. And police unnecessarily cracking heads. There is no side to be on here, only fairness and justice. Vile stereotyping by some cops, propaganda posturing by ACPOs, is as vile as clown sloganing at the war memorial.
We always say there is no excuse for violence. One side blames another. If you aren’t with us, you’re against us. Then the killing starts. In the meantime some sell wrist bangles to either side’s supporters.