Revolting Students!

I intended to start this log on the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Day, for several reasons. Firstly, it’s possibly the most widely-known of sociopolitical dates in the British cultural calendar, a lonely pride of place in the relative desert of national sociopolitical consciousness. Secondly, it’s the first anniversary of the launch of Psyclone, released a year ago on that day for the reason just stated.

I may post it anyway. In light of recent and current events around the world, the questions and lessons it contains are worth going over often.

Meanwhile, it’s with great pleasure that I open with the subject of this first post, revolting students.

Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

As will always eventually happen, possibly through the principle of some well-known Law of Thermodynamics or other, the tightening of the thumbscrews…, sorry, lid has produced a buildup of pressure that’s led to a reaction. Actually, that’s a rather good analogy, given that until late last night police were still ‘kettling’ students who were protesting against the proposed government cuts in education funding.

For those of you who haven’t yet exercised their democratic right to protest and thus had a taste of being kettled, kettling is an increasingly used police tactic of herding hundreds of people, usually the democratically acting types, into confined spaces, penning them for hours, refusing to let anyone leave or have access to water and/or toilets, and periodically attacking the people at the edges.

On hearing the news, about the protest not the typical police heavy-handedness, my heart soared. Sat at the kitchen table I shook my fist once and gave a jubilant hiss, ‘Yes!’

You don’t know me yet, so can be excused for thinking that you’re reading the meandering rantings of an anarchist malcontent. You’d be partially right, but I’m going to try to stay on-topic and not meander too much.

Now there are all sorts of details to consider, each of which have already stimulated a variety of mental responses, but my instant overall feeling was one of joy, and relief.

For years the youth of this country have been slowly and steadily depoliticised. Whatever the reason and whatever the detail, I’m so glad and relieved that they’ve found their voice again.

It’s also a buzz to witness modern technology being used in a socially important and valuable way, with students present at the various events relaying information and images, including video, to news agencies via email from their phones, and chants like ‘you’re going on YouTube’ being heard in reaction to the police brutalising teenagers. Excellent!

See Laurie Penny’s report in yesterday’s Guardian, and her New Statesman article here

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I leave you with a quote from Chapter 10 of Psyclone:

Repressed for so many years, distracted with seductive and hypnotic media conditioning, students had rediscovered their political voice. It was their world too. Practical solutions were discussed at length in lively, emotional meetings where Marxist, Surrealist, Situationist, and Zapatista theory and history were brought out and aired. More than anyone, young people felt the disillusionment of the voting process. Government was so far away and concepts made too complex to consider except as an isolated curricular module. Now their investigations and actions put them in touch with sincere depths and creative, inspiring visions, which in turn resulted in some creative and inspiring action.

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