The Field of “Permitted” Opinion Narrows Further 41

There has been an astonishing hype in the British media for the last fortnight around the “Riots” which have been predicted for the G20 summit for the last two weeks. It is a fortnight since the first “Riots” newspaper billboards appeared in London. The news bulletins yesterday were dominated by the boarding up of shops and by earnest “security consultants” advising that people in suits are likely to be attacked.

The BBC reported fears that demonstrators would “Create unrest” in the capital.

Actually they won’t create unrest. What they may do is manifest the unrest that already exists in the capital.

The entire torrent of demonisation of protest is part of a process of limiting the area of legitimate debate to the tiny gap that exists between the Labour and Conservative parties, with all other ideas portrayed not just as illegitimate but as disorderly and threatening. That governs the opinions which journalists are allowed to express and the selection of voices heard on the media. It is the intellectual equivalent of playing a game of cricket confined to the square, with the outfield behind the ropes.

This will be mirrored in the physical constraints placed on demonstrators today. The Metropolitan Police now have a well rehearsed system for dealing with such events. Each demonstration will be split up into several separated groups. Each group will be tightly corraled, penned in with barriers in an uncomfortable crush that feels threatening to those inside. Occasionally groups will be shuffled between pens. Most demonstrators will not be allowed to the destination point to limit the appearance of numbers at the rallies. Once it is over, people will be kept corralled for several hours, with no refreshment or (this is critical and no joke) toilet facilities.

The tactic appears designed to create confrontation as people try to get out of penned areas to hear the speeches they came to hear, to escape the crush or just to find a loo. At the same time the argie-bargie thus deliberately sparked is confined to small numbers the police can contain.

As for the G20 summit itself, diplomats designated as “Sherpas” will already have worked out and agreed between all participants the draft of a bland communique. It will be all things to all men and enable everyone to claim victory. Brown will tell us he saved the World again.

I am in favour of fiscal stimulus of the Keynsian kind, with public spending and jobs helping boost demand in recession. The problem is that Obama and Brown have conflated that idea with massive bail-outs to the bankers, which is a completely different thing.

No amount of banking regulation will compensate for the fact that we have created a position where the financial services industry is featherbedded above all others. It has no downside. Success brings individual rewards on levels you and I can only dream of, while failure means you and I will pick up the tab with – on average – 14% of our total personal wealth donated to the bankers so far.

The bank bailouts have been the biggest transfer of funds from the poor to the rich in human history. That is a fundamental and an irrecoverable disaster. We are going to get a depression whatever this summit does.

The real interest of this summit will take place in the behind the scenes meetings. It won’t be mentioned in the official communique, but China, Brazil and Russia, quietly egged on by France, will be chattering about replacing the dollar as the currency of note. It is China, which has a lot of eggs in the dollar basket, which is pivotal here.

Britain is nowhere near its climate change targets on renewable energy. In fact it is so far out as to be laughable. Climate change ought to be high on the agenda. But here there will be a divergence between public support for existing agreements, and behind the scenes talks which will focus on how to use the recession to excuse relaxing the targets.

Of all the issues the public are demonstrating about today, climate change is the one where the G20 will be most shameful and most hypocritical.

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41 thoughts on “The Field of “Permitted” Opinion Narrows Further

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  • Craig


    I had come to much the same conclusion on the way forward – the people repudiate the banks. I am not sure it is impossible. it may be now, but this depression is going to cut much deeper than people have grasped, and this time next year it may be an idea that will take hold.

  • nemo

    Stop using the telephone.

    Write letters instead.

    All it takes is 1,000,000 people to write letters every day instead of telephoning and we have change.

    Eliminate, dont supplement.

    Its the repetitive nature of humans that weakens them so tragically.

    Be strong – no TV, no debts, no telephone.

    Thats how to destroy the TV system, the Banks, and save the simple Mail system.

    Yet all you want to do is whine in large crowds and blow whistles like attention-seeking fools.

    Strength is doing without – can YOU do it?

    Can YOU live without people telling you what to do?

    Do YOU really want freedom?

    If so, lose the TV, the debts, the telephone.

    100 years ago, there was no TV, interest on loans was a sin, and the telephone was just an idea.

    Cant you eliminate the things that enslave you?

    Pascal said that the problem is that people cant simply sit quietly in a room and read.

    Well, can YOU?

  • John Monro

    I thought Craig’s article was very good, and likely a very accurate examination of the demonisation of protest. By demonising protest, you are demonising everyone who doesn’t agree with the government. You are also demonising everyone who doesn’t agree with the Tories. But the Tories and Labour are the same. So you are basically demonising all disagreement with the government, Tory or Labour. That’s what happens in totalitarian states. A true working democracy wouldn’t have got to the pass we’re now in, and there would have been no need for protest. It would seem that the protesters at the previous G8 meetings were right all along. It is they that now have the high moral and political ground, and the leaders who are failing us.

    That’s the main point of Craig’s article. I agree with his point about global warming too, and it’s just so disappointing yet again to read the appallingly naive nonsense of those who dispute global warming as a problem.

  • researcher

    Craig, you don’t mention the agents provocateurs,

    undercover police and secret service who regularly lead the

    violent outbreaks delegitimising otherwise peaceful protests

    in the eyes of the people.

    Also, you may be well read on Climate Change,

    but you don’t show it.

  • Jaded

    ‘Craig, you don’t mention the agents provocateurs,

    undercover police and secret service who regularly lead the

    violent outbreaks delegitimising otherwise peaceful protests

    in the eyes of the people.’

    Yes, you get these freaks on internet forums too at times. You’d think they might actually read the threads and wake up.

  • Jaded

    Just on the climate change issue I have to say I think something manmade is happening. Whether that’s glaciers or deserts we will see i’m not debating. I’m not an expert, but in the last 10 years I have seen a marked change in my local weather. I have lived where I am for more than 30 years. My common sense tells me it is artificial. Sure I can’t be sure though. Powers would exploit the issue whether it is real or not. I hope no one assumes it’s fake because some twats make a meal of it.

  • Craig

    On agents provocateurs, there was a fascinating and drawn out scene outside the Bank of England yesterday when a distinct group of some thirty were attacking the police, one hitting the police with a long pole. Prominent was a group of young Asian lads.

    I recognised them because I was crushed up hard for a good while against the same bunch of young Asians outside the Israeli Embassy a couple of months ago, where again they were being inexcusably violent.

    The very strange thing was that, plainly from Sky’s overhead cam, the Police had the ability to isolate and snatch this group of obviously violent individuals, and the police would have had my support in doing so. But they didn’t.

    So who are they?

  • Logan


    Thank you for the refreshing view. I was looking for some truth about what happened, and searching the interwebs and i came across your blog. I am an activist from Seattle. I am familiar with protest culture and the tactics so often seen (and well described here), used by the police. I was at the G8 in Heiligendamm and saw it there as well. I saw it when I was a teenager in Seattle in 1999. After a while it is easy to get used to it and give up protesting, because no matter what you do, thee police either make you look threatening in the media by creating confrontation, or they back off and let the press portray you as a naive hippie. Either way, the press completely misses the point and so do many of the comments here: The public and members of the public have every right to be angry about the way things are. That anger is legitimate, particularly when it comes from the youth.

    Have you read the new book by Slajov Zizek about violence? He points out the inherent fallacies in how we as a culture are quick to point the finger at high profile and visible “subjective” violence, which serves the purpose of hiding the true “objective” violence that is essential to our economy and social order. In this case seeing protesters as a violent and mysterious “other” serves to legitimize not only the total authority of the police, but also, ironically, the very violence that we dare protest year after year — widespread and catastrophic “objective” violence that puts our planet and our species in peril, creates poverty and war, etc.

    Anyway, I see this happen at nearly every summit, or anywhere there are large protests, but why should that make us stop? If we stop protesting we would never know how free we actually are. Dissent is a muscle that must be used or it will atrophy.

  • Jaded

    I see the BBC is now parroting the term New World Order. Got to plant those seeds in the minds of the public. That’s terrible and I want nothing to do with it. You just have to look at the state of democracy in the U.S.A. to figure out it’s the wrong road to go down. I’m feeling very pessimistic. Our democracy is going right down the toilet. Global government, global currency, global institutions will be with us in this century. If we don’t stop them I seriously think that would happen. It would just be a question of how long. I’m unsure what others here think, but that is what I see. I don’t even know that it can be stopped now. We is screwed probably…

    Someone tell me i’m wrong please?

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