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London Calling . . .

Video of protests erupting at G20 summit in London

Kinda makes me wish I was there. Though some figures only put the demo numbers at 4000, they had the gumption to storm the cops, and break into the Royal Bank of Scotland  building (using a compter keyboard to smash a window) and smash a few things up. Not that I’m in favour of mindless vandalism, nor even most of the political factions – anarchists, socialist workers, radical enviromentalists and so on, who were very likely behind this. But you have to admire the energy. I haven’t seen anything this sustained since the last of the anti-globalization protest/ riots in Quebec City in summer, 2001. 

When I moved back to London a couple of years ago, after twelve years away, it amazed me the degree to which the financial district had hijacked almost every sphere of London life. A kind of frenzy dominated everything, accelerated up to and after the Crash, with people barking into their cellphones, and advertising and PR and finance the only gods that mattered. Hey, capitalism isn’t all bad, but anything that takes high finance down a few notches isn’t all bad either, and maybe these protests are the beginning, or more than the beginning, of a basic restructuring of British society . . .

4 thoughts on “London Calling . . .”

  1. Hey Tim, I was down there and it was all hyped up in the media. Mainly it was just the cops beating up lots of people and murdering the odd person. The old bill really wanted a riot, and they got nothing like what they predicted. Plenty of people but little happening. I did a hoax blog about it in advance for April 1 saying it was an art project, coz you could tell how it was gonna go. I walked around the night before and while little shops selling bagels and stuff were being boarded up, the big windows of the banks were left unprotected – “oh I can’t guess why” (not)….

    1. That’s too bad – I was hoping for a revival of an older London spirit that seems to have died out in . . . I don’t know – the early 90’s? But I heard later from other sources that it was largely a media event, and the police really egging it on.

      Guess the revolution will have to wait another five or fifteen years . . .

  2. I wonder how the historians will record the part Britain’s failure to join the Euro had in restructuring British Society. And whether the Elephant and Castle will be all bright and shining in a few years. More likely, I think, that people will flee the city and go back to rural parts to regenerate and feel good by making things again. But Dublin’s inner city looks good in the sun after years of regeneration during the boom. In photos of Venice, the city looks old and dirty. But I’m not saying that doesn’t mean it’s wonderful. Even if it’s smelly in Summer.

    1. I hadn’t thought of the Euro/ Pound aspect at all. I suppose it allowed Britain to remain more capitalist, more closely tied to the American model of markets, home ownership and so on.
      Whither the Elephant indeed . . . I think they’ll tear it down. There’s just too much money to be made in ‘regeneration’. I’ve heard the Heygate is so run down they couldn’t renovate if they wanted to.
      I wonder if there will be a movement back to the country. Here in Canada the small town is dying – or dead. And the suburbs are moving into the centre, driving up prices – so poor people are moving out to the burbs. Downtowns are becoming less and less interesting – whether in London, New York or here. I wonder what that will mean in a decade or two . . .

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