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

Confessions of a Domestic Extremist

The ink was barely dry on my Boar comment piece two weeks ago when the story of Britain’s ‘domestic extremists’ broke in the press. My article had principally been about protest and the discourse of protest. The thrust of the argument was basically that language and images are manipulated by both policy makers and the … Continue reading

Waltzing in the Streets of London

Legal Observer with Police Officers

  The last week of January saw a number of protests and direct actions back-to-back. On the Saturday were 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 … Continue reading

The Aldermaston Ethnography, 2010 (abridged)

Activists removed from road by Police

  Aldermaston 2010: context The context of this ethnography is the February 15th Aldermaston blockade, an annual event in a half-century long tradition of resistance and direct action against nuclear weapons. The ‘Big Blockade’ is a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Trident Ploughshares joint action. The stated aims of the blockade are multifaceted. Most … Continue reading

Sex and Subterfuge

Every movement and social group has its own stories, the ones they tell, and retell, and that are gradually sculpted into little anthropological myths. The alterglobalisation movement is no different. Young, bright-eyed activists will hear the same stories of outrage and intrigue from the movement’s near past. Like the one where an anti-MacDonalds action group … Continue reading