Too Little Too Latte (or, The Triumphant Return of UK Uncut)

Saturday saw a raft of actions take place inside, outside and against Starbucks in the UK. The day of action, called by UK Uncut, focused on ‘women’s services’ – a broad collective category united by its necessity and damningly predictable vulnerability. Starbucks were picked as a target due to their legal – though morally reprehensible – … Continue reading

Dissecting a movement: analysing UK Uncut

The zeitgeist in activism in the first half of 2011 has definitely been UK Uncut. The network’s ethos of enjoyable direct action has appealed to activists, and, more crucially, the middle classes in a way that no other campaign has managed to in the last few years. With hindsight offering predictably 20:20 vision, one could … Continue reading

Why to refuse the census

This article was originally published in the Red Pepper online blog, March 20th, 2011. In March this year, as in 2001, Lockheed Martin UK, a subsidiary of the world’s largest arms manufacturer, will be helping to run the census. Their specific role, contractually valued at £150 million, will be “delivering data capture and processing support … Continue reading

Count Me Out takes action against Lockheed

Today was the ‘Count Me Out‘ campaign’s first day of national action against Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census. In a twitter and email storm titled ‘Let ‘Em Have It!’ people from around the UK barraged the gates of Lockheed Martin with the minutiae of their day. No bowel movement, lunch-time feast or guitar jam … Continue reading

The public face of international gun-running

In March this year, as in 2001, Lockheed Martin UK, a subsidiary of the world’s largest arms manufacturer, will be helping to run the census. Their specific role, contractually valued at £150 million, will be “delivering data capture and processing capability” for the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This seems innocent enough, but whilst the … Continue reading

Leveling the playing field: horizontal politics, technology and activism in 2011 (part 5)

Social media and internet technology are to some degree changing the way people think and act. At the very least they have provided us with the means through which to counter the discourse of the police, government and mainstream media. More people are coming to realise, certainly, that this trinity of power and legitimacy do … Continue reading

Leveling the playing field: horizontal politics, technology and activism in 2011 (part 4)

A normative view of marches might see them as the proverbial gateway drug for a lot of disaffected people. Smaller direct actions, such as those perpetrated by UK Uncut, are usually a lot more fun, and a lot more empowering. It is also in these types of action where the real benefits of horizontal organisation … Continue reading

Leveling the playing field: horizontal politics, technology and activism in 2011 (part 3)

The last week of January saw a number of protests and direct actions back-to-back. On Saturday 29th was two student demos, one in central London, one in Manchester. The London action was also my first as a legal observer –for the uninitiated, a legal observer’s job is to document and hopefully deter unlawful police action. … Continue reading

Leveling the playing field: horizontal politics, technology and activism in 2011 (part 2)

Renowned anarchist and social theorist Colin Ward once observed how the philosophy of anarchism had, prior to the phenomenon of 1968, been consigned to the dustbin of nineteenth century also-rans. In the ‘60s, at the height of the Cold War, authoritarian communism loomed large in the form of a still-potent USSR; academic Marxism had proliferated … Continue reading

Leveling the playing field: horizontal politics, technology and activism in 2011 (part 1)

  I came in late to the packed-out SOAS meeting room on Thursday 27th January, where a debate had been scheduled between Laurie Penny, the anarcho-feminist and New Statesman columnist, and Ed Maltby of the Workers’ Liberty organisation. The tube had been awash with commuters, and the labyrinth of an unfamiliar institution had conspired against a … Continue reading