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johnbarker (by way of Dr. Barbrook): j18

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 19:47:30 +0000
From: johnbarker <>
     (by way of (Richard  Barbrook))
Subject: j18


What a day, a day to lift the spirits after weeks of being stuck between a
rock and a hard place and terrible arguments with old comrades over what
has been happening in Kosova. At last, a chance not to be the passive
spectator, and know that all over the world there will be actions against
global capitalism and its inhumanity.

The sun shining and hot. In the morning I hear on the radio reports, mainly
on the traffic news, of imaginitive actions, Tower Bridge closed by a
low-slung banner hung by abseilers. The radio talks of abseiling policemen
trying to get it down. In the meanwhile, by coincidence our underfunded
underground train system is breaking down all over the place of its own
accord. In the meanwhile cyclists out in force are closing off streets
around Blackfriars and then the Bank of England while elsewhere a ring of
people surround the Treasury. This is co-ordinated decentralisation and the
cops don't know how to deal with it, used to all those easy years of
leftist marches to Trafalgar Square, controlled by them marching either
side of it, always at a pace that makes your feet hurt. The traffic news of
the various radio stations around town are working overtime. Lloyds Bank is
occupied for a while, so is Natwest and Peat Marwick.

>From 12 o'clock is to be a Carnival of Resistance aka a Carnival of the
Dispossessed, and I feel a sense of continuity which adds to my happiness
because it is continuity in the right direction. On election day 1970 some
500-1000 of us did the first march I knew of that went through the City of
London. The Festival of the Oppressed  it was called with drummers to the

This time the Carnival kicks off in Liverpool  St station and the drums are
loud and thrilling on the marble type floor of the huge concourse designed
for the discomfort of travellers and  just waiting all these years for a
rave. A good choice too, hard for them to close the Main Line Station, even
if they are about to close the tube. Here is and we snake out with the
drums to a dead plaza with a McDonalds and a brazen office block of the
Thatcher era.  The drum beat is thrilling, mountaineers climb up the office
block to do a cheeky dance on the parapet, wild cheering of the Naked
Protest while the officers of the office stand looking out of the window,
they the passive spectators of what is normally their undisputed territory.

I want to meet up with my pal back in the station which coincides with
another partial move back in there. She just makes, one of the very last
out of the London Underground before they close it. I'm reading the great
spoof of the Evening Standard paper and called Evading Standards that are
being given out. One of many sharp headlines reads "The Final Act of
Enclosure". The drummers keep up the momentum. Someone gives us Green
masks, this is the Gift Economy, the selfless and anonymous work that is
making all this happen.The mask has a practical suggestion inside- "On the
signal follow your colour...Let the Carnival Begin. In the station there
are also   Red and Gold Masks.  We see later that there have been other
colours. Inside the mask too is printed a web site address and a keen
understanding of the mask:-

"These in authority fear the mask for their power partly resides in
identifying, stamping, cataloguing: in knowing who YOU are...The wearing of
a mask symbolizes the rejection of the cult of personality so crucial to
consumer capitalism...While the elite gangs of state and capital become
evermore faceless their fear of the faces of everyday resistance grows. The
search for the resisters intensifies with endless CCTV cameras unmasking
the streets with new devices that can pick out and identify a single face
in the growing   crowd."

So, we are with the Greens and at the word set off away from the main
crowd, a thousand of us. No leaders but messages are passed and there is a
mood of trust, the very production of the mask and the paper speaking of
the intelligence and nous of those who have worked to make this happen.
This is a Magical Mystery Tour to be enjoyed. With whistles and drums,
inviting those in the offices to come out on the street we cross
Bishopsgate and down Middlesex Street. The cops are hardly anywhere to be
seen.  Some in the masks are dressed in suits. Meanwhile those in the
offices and banks have been told to  dress down. More identity confusion.
The suits that are in suits look strangely sheepish. The move it transpires
is for Aldgate East Station. The few cops there let us stream through. The
word is for a Westbound District Line train. Not the first train. We wait
for the second. Full of blank faced passengers it does not stop, nor the
one after. For a moment the trust is shakey. Feels like a trap down in the
tube but the word is to make it out of the other exit. Back out on the
street we start back Westwards back into the heart of the city. Complete
takeover of the street, traffic halted. London sightseeing buses full of
tourists who wave. Some angry guy wants to smash our faces in but 'there
are too many of you'. Precisely. Up around Fenchurch Street. Security guys
stood in Bank doorways. So many faces at the windows.

And then that great feeling, suddenly we are all re-united, masks of all
colours, in a street by Cannon Street, Dowgate Hill, right in the belly of
the beast by the LIFFE building where billions of dollars are sent whizzing
round the globe from computer screens on a 24 hour basis. More anonymous
geniuses have been at work. In the street running down by the side of the
building, cobbled, running down to the Thames, a whole area has been
blocked off by our side and best of all in the heat a hydrant let off and
turned into a forty foot waterfall as the drums beat out in these alien
buildings. It's fucking mental. Dancing and singing in the rain. Which is
also cover for the bricking up of some LIFFE entrances and the smashing of
others. We blocked up the drains of Dowgate Hill to flood it and took a
rest with some other joyous faces down on a tiny bit of beach on the
Thames. The Thames that has been so enclosed by private capital as it
continues its colonisation down river through East London. Sit there in the
sun and smoke a spliff. We work our way along the river and back up on to
Cannon Street proper and another site of wonder. More anonymous geniuses
have been at work.

The LIFE building is in large part a multi storeyed bridge across Cannon
Street. Right along is strung up a huge banner: THE EARTH: A COMMON

This is Precise Protest. Where it matters. Other geniuses the musicians,
have used an underground car park as a base to ferry in an out speakers,
decks, computers even. Down Cannon Street beat the drums. More banners are
raised up using the CCTV cameras to tie their ropes to. The musicians have
taken a bit of precinct further back. A veteran of the Stop the City of
1983 is so happy. They said protest and resistance politics is finished, he
said, but then we were 5000, now it is 15, 20 thousand maybe. He said he
was sure that we had succeeded in  stopping the non-stop flow of money
because there was at this time supposed to be a change of shift in this 24
hour process and that we had prevented the shift change from happening.
Only a piss in the ocean as far as they were concerned, he said, but it can
be done again.  We could see the wiseguys that man this non-stop flow of
money stuck up there on its highest walkway and laughed at them, one suit,
his uptight visible from a hundred yards. Someone gave me a leaflet saying
their would be later action in Leicester Square to try and close down the
UCI cinema. Why so?  Because they are planning to build a cinema complex
and what had been a swathe of  Crystal Palace's parkland.

There were no speeches, none of the usual Bolshevik sect newspapers, no
leaders or superstars but everywhere was visible a precise attack on what
the Midnight Notes comrades in the USA have called the New Enclosures, the
river, the city itself, public spaces. That headline in The Evading
Standards newspaper the Final Act of Enclosure referred to the Biotech
companies and GM food, the monopolization by patent of seeds, the impact it
will have in India where there is mass mobilization against this form of
enclosure. We were not then, 'a mindless mob', but rather an international
day against finance  fetish and the global enclosures for profit underway.

We too a break a couple of streets away to get a drink and returned to find
a new mood. News of a young woman being run over by a police van and some
of the fearless youth who had stormed into the LIFFE building itself. Now
the cops showed themselves, they were hot, they had been given he
runaround, had never dealt with the fast-moving fearlessness of  the
generation who are the children of us middle-aged 'anti-capitalists', as
the media had begun to say, that a kind of victory in itself. They had the
new telescope batons, the shields, the all-in-one helmets and they were on
the charge. Young guys in suits brought out flare canisters out of
suitcases to join the bottles flying in the face of the police charge.
Adrenalin was up and running. A luxury Mercedes showroom was trashed,
another bank attacked as the police charge was held off.

Me, I'm too old for this, don't have the nerves or the stamina but am loath
to say that somehow this violence fired up by police attacks ruined the
carnival as the Lord Mayor of London was saying a couple of hours later. My
mouth opened and closed in astonishment as he said that the anti-capitalist
had their point of view and though the city might disagree with this (OH
yes) they respected the views of others (oh yes) but that this mindless
violence was a disgrace.

Now the words on the mask are prophetic, the police say today (the 19th)
that they will be studying hundreds of hours of CCTV footage to add to the
14 people arrested. They are not going to admit it but I suspect that J18
cost them a lot of money especially if LIFFE did have to suspend the
international currency roundabout, and 14 arrests is little to show for it.
At the very least some offices were closed, staff sent home and security
expenses upped. Some 3 months ago sitting in a cafi I picked up the Daily
Mirror and read how keen the cops were to infiltrate Reclaim the Streets
and other Groups organising J18 in London. They being a not Bolshevik type
organisation they have obviously found this hard to do and are well
pissed-off. They will be holding all sorts of debriefing sessions and
consequent planning to secure their enclosures. J18 in London showed a
generation of young people capable of responding to their response.

To see what happened internationally-the real bravery of 10,000 in Nigeria
for example doing their own political carnival in Port Harcourt , also in
the USA, Germany etc
See the web site

and if it's still up and running