It’s taken me a while to get back to this, but as promised previously here’s an account of the gathering of the “Million mask march” which took place later in the evening on the 5th. I first became aware of the plans for this march when I saw a post on FB which sadly I’ve lost the graphic of as it was rather amusing, calling for people to gather and re-enact a scene from a popular film. The virtual flyer tied it into a hodge podge of causes such as campaigning for a “chemical free Britain”, I’ve ranted before about demo’s with too many goals so I’ll not get back into that here. The photo at the top of the page shows the masked marchers gathering just before 6, at this point it still looked quite so we went to the pub. When we came back a bit after the designated hour someone on a megaphone seemed to be asking if anyone knew why they were there, which seemed really quite a reasonable question. As this march was organized under the shadow auspices of the hate group Anonymous it of course stood for whatever people wanted it to stand for and thus of course stood for nothing. I saw banners against fracking, against the “1%”, for culling Tories and random flags- so in summary “down with that sort of thing”. There were of course quite a few camera’s about especially when that nice Mr Brand put in an appearance and took his mask off.
From when I walked though the gathering throng shortly before it headed off down Whitehall, and I headed back to the pub, there really weren’t that many people there. All parts of the crowd were easy to walk through with plenty of space between people. Certainly hundreds but not very many hundreds and a reasonable number of people did much like myself and toddled off elsewhere once the circus headed off to cause trouble.
Now I was I’ll admit a bit surprised at first at how little attention it got on the news, but then unless then again I didn’t see any TV crews so it’d all be citizen reporting and given the comparatively* small numbers and the lack of any particular goal in the protest it’s not really any more news worthy than any other flash mob. Plus of course as others have observed the mainstream media are generally scorned by Anonymous/occupy etc. as being part of the problem so it’s really not clear why they then whinge that the press don’t pay attention to them. I’m afraid I can’t help but be reminded of a spoilt child demanding “look at me” shortly after screaming “hate you”. This of course hasn’t stopped them claiming that the media ignored a global uprising!. Yep a few thousand people globally turning up in masks to do and protest random things counts as a global uprising. So what the much higher numbers turning up just in London to protest for fox hunting or against various wars counts as I’m really not sure. If this was a global uprising I don’t think the powers that be have much to worry about. Plus of course it isn’t true the media did pay attention to them. The damage to Nelson Column and the Victoria monument were both quite widely reported, as were people firing fireworks in a crowd at Buckingham palace. The festival of ideas that this march was cast as, obviously had the idea that peaceful protest and peaceful civil disobedience have had their day and that vandalism is the way forward. I mean if you’re going to fire fireworks at a building in London on November the 5th whilst wearing a Guy Fawkes/V mask then why on earth would you go for anything other than the Houses of Parliament? I’m happy to assume they know nothing of history but presumably they have at least watched the film.
I’m not going to dissect the report from the link above as generally I don’t think it needs it. Except of course for one tiny little point:
“There were no demands. Except get out of the way.”
That would be get out of the way but keep paying for the stuff we like, as there were quite a few anti-cuts, anti-austerity banners. Unless it’s entirely voluntarily the redistribution of resources and other things they claim to be after will require someone to very much get in the way of all sorts of other people.
When protesting against global exploitation wearing masks it might be an idea to check where they came from though. There has been some confusion over this which rather highlights lack of fact checking on the part of both the mainstream media and Anonymous. The kerfuffle was started by the Telegraph claiming the masks were made in a sweatshop in Brazil, which Anonymous have rebutted as the Brazillian factory isn’t a sweatshop. What puzzles me about both these statements is that all of the V/Guy Fawkes masks I’ve bought (I tend to lose/break them) either official or otherwise have been clearly marked “made in china”:
So where on earth have people been getting these Brazilian masks, and it must be so much better for Anonymous to be supporting the economy of China that well known defender of free speech and popular protest.
I’m sorry this isn’t much of a write up, but really what can you say about the flash mob equivalent of a 5 year old throwing a tantrum. That some of the crowd had fireworks to fire suggests to me that for them at least peaceful protest was never part of the plan, and as Anonymous are always so keen to point out that they have no leadership and we’re all Anonymous etc. Then the actions of those intending vandalism and violence are just as representative of Anonymous’ aims as those calling for peaceful and dignified protest.
Anyway if you want to experience the collective tantrum for yourself they’re marching against the BBC tomorrow (Saturday 16th November 2013).
* I have been on smaller demo’s which got mover coverage because they had someone who knew how the press worked and also because they had a specific point. “Handful of disaffected youth, wander down Whitehall to protest about a wide range of issues” isn’t the best headline.