G20 protests – at best a waste of time, at worst a dangerous disruption
The G20 summit in London has caused uproar in the Capital, centered on the City. Marchers have converged on the the Bank of England from many directions and the climate exchange has also attracted many protestors.
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Protests have demanded a massive police presence
The G20 summit in London has been described by Scotland Yard as the capital's most challenging police operation in a decade. [[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5077798/G20-terrorist-plot-uncovered-by-police.html]] The Metropolitain police are streched to thier limits as an alleged 5,000 police officers drawn from more than 30 forces are in place to control the anarchists and environmentalists, and 2,500 Police officers are patrolling the Square mile alone
[[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/G20/article6012059.ece]]. Some have even said that figure is an understatement designed to make protestors complacent. According to estimates the policing is costing around 10 million. As well as this being a massive expense in a time of economic hardship, other events such as the England world cup qualifier at Wembley demand a police presence which is probably not forthcoming in the volume required, due to the thoughtlessness of these protestors.
The police presence would have been necessary due to the security risks anyway. The G20 attracts world leaders who demand the best level of security available. As a responsible host of this summit London would have been foolish to offer anything less than the combined might of all its police. The fact that officers' leave has been cancelled for this period is perhaps a demonstration that even if protestors had not been active the police would have been out in force. With terrorism still a constant threat (and a plot having been uncovered for the G20 [[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5077798/G20-terrorist-plot-uncovered-by-police.html]]) the need to protect these important leaders is paramount whether there are protests and riots or not. Both the police time and the money spent were necessary evils to prevent a greater one.
Protesting about the past is pointless
Protestors have directed their rage at the financial sector and the capitalist system, blaming it for the current economic downturn. What do these protestors actually want to happen though? If you listen to their banners and shouts they want to 'storm banks', 'attack City workers' and 'reclaim the streets'. For what exactly? How will this improve the economic situation? If they had protested at the ridiculous mortgage and credit offers in this fashion then perhaps they would have had an effect but these protests after the mistakes have been made will achieve nothing in real terms. They are not making any serious suggestions that G20 leaders can listen to, merely venting their anger about a situation they helped to cause by accepting the loans and mortgages.
Better late than never! Although admittedly the protests at the behaviour of the financial sector would have been more effective were they mounted before the crisis, the general public did not foresee the recession in this way. At least the people are voicing their concerns now and through emphasising the deep unrest felt by many, world leaders will be forced to take action. Many are dubbing this a 'revolution' and talking of 'the end of capitalism' and in this sense it is not so much a protest about the past but a call for a different future.
It may seem that protests lack influence and real direction, thus pointing to their unavailing function as a form of resistance. This is further entrenched now that it has become a `common sense´. Policy-makers and institutions also favour other forms of non-governmental activity before having to negotiate with `critical´ individuals. They rather dialogue with organizations that have adopted and most importantly accepted neo-liberal doctrine, as any project has to work with the grain of the market rather than against it. That is the imperative starting point for any successful negotiation in their minds. Nonetheless, protests may not have direct influence but indirectly they are able to exert pressures on real issues to those outside of the policy-making process, and in that process groups of resistance can form. Remember that protests are one of the basic means for class realization, where individuals can find others than are struggling on the same basis. In a situation of increasing decommunitization fragmenting our society, protests may not be the most desired means for objectives but it may well be the only way.
Anarchy is no better than terrorism
For all those that willingly abide by the laws of the country, the prospect of thousands that don't is an intimidating thought. The anarchic protestors want to cause disruption, and exact revenge upon those that they believe have wronged them. Are these so very different from terrorist aims? City workers have been advised to 'dress down' and wear jeans not suits amid concerns they will be vicimised by angry mobs.
This form of protest is almost as ineffective as terrorism because by it's unreasonable nature it deters co-operation. The police want to control and manage the rioters and bankers are defiant not apologetic. They are still turning up to work despite the disruption and are now able to claim victim status! One City worker on Twitter descibed the protests as a good thing because he got to wear jeans,and was provided with sandwiches for lunch 'in case he was too scared to go out' and Sky news was showing less 'celebrity twaddle'. If the protestors had found an effective intelligent way to voice their disontent rather than resorting to childish taunting and violence thn perhaps the perpertrators would not be getting off so lightly. With free sandwiches.
All war is capitalist .. Anyone who supports capitalism has blood on their hands. We live in a capitalist state with capitalist interests that must be protected. The handful of anarchists who broke the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland made a visual point that a handful of people do not agree with the indifference of these politics and glass.
When banks stop robbing people. People will stop robbing banks.
But it does not have to be a situation of either or, lets not dive into a realist interpretation. So society does need banks, but in the same way that we need our hospitals, our schools, our roads, etc. Let's start treating bankers not for their prestige, but as simple civil servants. There is no justification out there that legitimizes their ridiculous pay-checks, whilst others in temporary employment are slaving away for a salary that just covers their basic needs.
And if it has come to a state of anarchy in protests, these individuals are not complaining for the sake of complaining. There are reasons for their discontent, haven't we learned to listen? If there is no absolute truth, what each of these protesters believe to be the case is of equal value to the belief held by anyone else, be it a politician, a journalist or a teacher. Lets start embracing subjectivity, and stop assume objectivity in the belief of policy-makers.
Protests have made it very difficult to move around the city. Trafalgar square and Picadilly circus have been deluged by protestors and Moorgate and Bank tube stations have been closed because they are too busy. Liverpool street station (a major mainline transport hub) has also been a centre of protest action. For tourists, workers and families trying to enjoy the Easter holiday these protests are a disruption and an inconvenience.
London transport is known for its failures anyway. Hopefully this one is a least for good reason. Besides it hasn't deterred touists and families, there are reports that many have come to lok at the protests!
Anti-Capitalist Values Not Conducive to Healthy Society
The protests by anti-capitalists, anarchists and environmental campaigners have resulted in violent confrontations between riot police and bottle-throwing protesters. Demonstrations for these 'causes' are never going to be peaceful, especially when people turn up with their faces covered.
Anarchy and anti-capitalism are not healthy values, not democratic values, and demonstrations by these groups inevitably lead to violence, as happened at the G20 protests on Wednesday.
Clearly riled up, the demonstrations were never going to be wholly peaceful, and, sure enough, protesters began chants like "build a bonfire, build a bonfire. Put the bankers on the top, put Gordon Brown in the middle and burn the f…..g lot" - clearly not healthy values to have, decreeing both political leaders to burn to death, along with capitalism!
Of course we are in the middle of a terrible financial crisis that the IMF claims the UK will spend the longest time out of the G7 countries recovering from, but these attitudes should not be encouraged.
The storming of RBS in London by protesters who threw expensive computers out of the window and basically trashed the place are not to be condoned. These are the kind of repurcussions that occur from protesters who are angry at developments but may be essentially unsure what exactly they are protesting about. We are a capitalist society which should not be trying to intimidate bankers, most of whom are not on salaries the size of Sir Fred Goodwin's and who are not to blame for the financial crisis.
What we need are new international rules for banks to adhere to and it should be this we should be demonstrating for - not the end of capitalism as we know it!
Protests have drawn attention to climate issues
The Camp for Climate Change is a peaceful group of protestors setting up tents outside the European Climate Exchange (near Liverpool Street Satation). It has recieved a lot of coverage and shows the great public support for Climate Change action. This is the first time climate has been officially on the agenda for an international summit such as this and it is good that this is being highlighted.
Although there has been some attention focussed on the Camp for Climate Change the main press 'attraction' has been the protests outside bank and the antipathy towards city workers and capitalism in general. As usual the sensationalist press wants to cover violence rather than peaceful protest and with scuffles breaking out at Bank the climate protestors efforts have been overshadowed.
Great demonstration of freedom of speech
This protest is a fantastic example of the way freedom of speech is alive and well. Although the police are controlling the marches and making sure violence does not erupt, ultimately this has shown that it is still possible for the masses to voice their discontent in our democracy.
Although the people are able to protest it seems the press - that great bastion of freedom of speech in our liberal democracy - are having problems covering it. Photographers at the event are experiencing very heavy handed treatment and the NUJ have even set up a legal helpline for photographers who are prevented from covering it.
Protests demonstrate Humanitarian concern
The voice of protesters is a voice for the poorest nations excluded from G-5/7/20 debates to put people before economic agendas, before capitalist lifestyle and securities extracted through global trade without a global conscience..The voice of protesters is an early sign of an impending shift in consciousness towards more humanitarian interests.
These are good people on the streets, many of whom are tax payers with the courage to disrupt play when the rules are unfair and the game is fixed.
What do you think?