From Dave at Estuary Stirrings

On Saturday 29 May, I attended a #UniteForFreedom anti-lockdown / anti-great reset protest in London – this was the write up of the day: A day on the streets… Yesterday (Saturday 26 June), I attended another anti-lockdown / anti-great reset protest. The objectives were pretty much the same as the previous time out. Namely to shift an entire print run of Estuary Stirrings and to get a better picture of the diverse range of people involved in these protests and in the movement against lockdowns / the new (ab)normal / the great reset.

Yet again, it was the easiest paper distribution I’ve ever done. As mentioned before, prior to the crisis emerging in March 2020, many of those attending had never been involved in activism or been on a protest, so there was no political baggage let alone any sectarianism to deal with. Although there were a few other anarchists on the protest, as far as I could make out, I was the only one handing out an anarchist paper. Given that the attendance was well into the tens of thousands, it was frustrating to only have a print run of five hundred to hand out. That’s the maximum I could afford to get printed. It was also the maximum I could carry in the rucksack without pulling back and arm muscles!

This is the front cover of the protest edition of Estuary Stirrings that I was handing out plus the link to a downloadable PDF.

Estuary Stirrings Special Protest Edition No.2

As with the protest on 29 May, yesterday saw a pretty diverse mix of people turning up. These ranged from old school ravers and a few veterans of protests in the 80s, 90s and 00s through many ordinary people who’ve had enough of their lives being turned upside down and across to a number of football lads. Pretty much all of the placards were hand made. The flags ranged from smiley faces, one anarchist flag, a few Palestinian flags (with us from the start of the protest) through to county flags and national flags. Again, reflecting the diversity of the people involved in the anti-lockdown / anti-great reset movement. The atmosphere on the march ranged from party style, with portable sound systems plus a truck with the full rig on blasting out through to some pretty visceral anger.

On the one hand, people just want to experience the simple joy of being together, socialising, partying and dancing free from restrictions. In other words, they want to live rather than merely exist. For many people, it has felt like we’ve merely existed for the last fifteen months rather than actually lived so when an opportunity arises, it’s not surprising that people will let their hair down. Yesterday provided that opportunity to party:)

On the other hand there was anger. Anger at the impact lockdowns have had on peoples lives and livelihoods. Anger at the dismissal and downplaying of the impact this has had on people’s mental health. Anger at not being able to hold the hand of a dying loved one in hospital because of ‘coronavirus restrictions’. Anger at not being able to comfort a friend or family member at a funeral because of ‘coronavirus restrictions’. Anger at having to watch the funeral of a friend on Zoom because the numbers able to physically attend were limited by ‘coronavirus restrictions’. Anger at government ministers dictating what we can and can’t do with our lives while they blithely do whatever the f**k they want. Anger at and fear of so called vaccine passports leading seamlessly to digital identification and a more controlled and restricted society. Anger at and fear of the techno-fascist dystopia we’re being herded towards.

There were points on the march where that anger made itself felt. One of the tactics the protest organisers used was handing out tennis balls with messages about what people thought about lockdown written on them. The intention was to deposit then at some of the ‘points of interest’ on the march. As we marched round the corner from Victoria Embankment towards the junction with Whitehall I noticed a fair few tennis balls getting tossed into the grounds of Parliament. Later as I went up towards Downing Street, it was clear that the vibe had definitely gone from party mode to anger and those tennis balls weren’t getting tossed into Downing Street – they were getting lobbed with some force!

Things getting tense at Downing Street

Tennis balls destined for Number 10

That could have been a major flashpoint. The reason it didn’t kick off was that for whatever reason, the cops didn’t have enough bodies on the ground to control the protest in any way, shape or form. The Tactical Support Group cops who were at Downing Street and along Whitehall were too few in number to be able to do anything about the volley of tennis balls flying into Downing Street. Apart from a few minor scuffles, all they could do was impotently look on. We had the streets yesterday and had everyone been aware of that, it could be argued that we should have achieved a lot more in terms of physically occupying spaces and locations.

What will be of interest will be the conversations between the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick. It was pretty clear that the Metropolitan Police were unable to exert any meaningful control over not only the lockdown protest, but all the other demos that took place in central London yesterday. That will not sit well with Patel in any way, shape or form. Should there be another anti-lockdown / anti-great reset protest in July, I can’t see them getting away with what we did yesterday. There’s bound to be more in the way of pre-protest targeting of the range of organisers involved in pulling these protests together. It’s highly probable that if there is another protest, there will be more of a police presence and quite possibly, a lot more in the way of aggression, intimidation and arrests.

The mainstream media are starting to take more notice of the protests, albeit that some of the coverage, particularly that from the BBC, was downright misleading. This is one of the more accurate reports that I found: Tens of thousands of anti lockdown protesters descend on London and demand ‘Matt Hancock’s arrest’. Okay, it’s not brilliant but it’s a big improvement on much of the dross we have been getting served up with.

As the title of this piece suggests, the question is – what happens next? We’ve been promised a ‘freedom’ date of 19 July. A ‘freedom’ date that was originally scheduled for 21 June but didn’t materialise: ‘Freedom’ deferred… I and many others wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if it gets postponed again or we only get a limited number of ‘freedoms’ back. That would pave the way for an inevitable autumn / winter lockdown. The pretexts most likely being a rise in the number of people testing ‘positive’ for coronavirus and a growing degree of ‘vaccine hesitancy’. For the vaccine passport to be accepted and to work, there has to be a high uptake. For the seamless slide towards a digital identification system to be easily implemented, there has to be widespread acceptance and use of vaccine passports.

Digital forms of identification are a vital building block in the great reset. An agenda that involves digitising more aspects of our lives. An agenda that certainly involves a move towards a cashless society. An agenda that opens up the means for the authorities to control our spending. An agenda that could well see the introduction of some form of social credit which would really open up the means for the authorities to micro-manage our lives and keep us under control. An agenda where we’ll ‘own nothing but be happy’. Despite the efforts of our opponents to chop up and re-interpret our message so that we’re just ‘anti-vaxxers’ or ‘anti-maskers’, it’s this techno-fascist dystopia that I and others such as Winter Oak have been doing our level best to warn people about for the last fifteen months.

It feels as though everything is up in the air at the moment. It’s incredibly difficult to accurately predict how things are going to pan out from this point onwards. From the distraction of Matt Hancock’s resignation, through the government constantly moving the goalposts and onto the steadily growing number of people realising what’s being done to us is not for our own good, it seems as though everything is in flux.

As I’ve said and written before and make no apology for doing so again, expect the authorities to ramp up the rhetoric and the pressure. Too much has been invested in the project of the fourth industrial revolution / the great reset for the array of actors involved to start backing down. The coming weeks and months are not going to be easy. We can expect a lot more in the way of vilification and pressure from the authorities (and the useful idiots who unwittingly do their bidding) in a bid to get us to shut up. Sadly, some of that vilification will come from people I once regarded as comrades.

I’ll be the first to admit that the anti-lockdown / anti-great reset movement is far from perfect. It’s very diverse and arguably contradictory. It’s messy. It’s what you would expect when the historical left vs right divide is becoming redundant to be replaced by one that can loosely be described as freedom vs authoritarianism. Within the anti-lockdown / anti-great reset movement, we’re still trying to work out who is who, which people can be trusted and which ones we need to avoid. Years ago, in a different political existence, I remember a comrade saying to me that when a revolutionary situation arises, don’t expect everyone participating in the overthrow to have a perfectly formed political outlook – there will inevitably be reactionary assumptions.

While I don’t think we’re in a revolutionary situation, it could be argued that we’re in the early stages of a pre-revolutionary situation. The reason being that the vast majority of those I saw out on the protest yesterday were not the usual suspects from the left and anarchist groups – they were ordinary people pissed off with what’s been done to them over the last fifteen months. When ordinary people take to the streets, as an anarchist, I welcome that. A handful of other anarchists I know are also welcoming this. Sadly, the majority of the anarchists that I once knew are either denigrating them or in some cases, trying to pretend it’s not happening.

To conclude, we’re entering a critical phase of the crisis. As things get more weird and quite possibly, volatile, strategy and tactics will have to change accordingly. Trying to achieve this in a fluid and diverse movement that’s still coalescing is going to be a tough call. The point is that if we want a future that’s worth living in, regardless of the cost, we have to keep up and then ramp up the pressure – the alternative is too dire to contemplate.