Nina Power is the co-founder of Defend the Right to Protest – she wrote this punchy little piece on dissent for the F*cked Issue (winter 2012). On the page opposite is Ferrier Estate by Laura Oldfield Ford, the artist behind the brilliant Savage Messiah zine.
Dissent by Nina Power
Scurry from your house to the shops and scurry back again! Do not congregate anywhere other than your designated drinking den (now closed). For God’s sake don’t have the audacity to be any of the following things, or dare to participate in any sort of group while being it: young, black, Asian, Muslim, poor, unemployed, not in school or protesting. Do not on pain of immediate stop and search wear hoodies, smoke weed, wear a mask, chuck a banner-stick or occupy a building. Do not take photographs, stroke the policeman’s horse or chant slogans. Do not write ‘tory scum’ on the wall of their HQ. Do not go into the road, bang pans, smash windows or nick a policeman’s hat for fun. Do not riot. Do not post jokes on Facebook or Twitter about blowing things up, your desire for things to kick off in your hometown, or how you think the royal wedding is a bit naff and the Olympics a colossal waste of time and money, with a hint of fascism thrown in. Do not go anywhere near any of the following events if even the smallest desire to protest or critique flickers in your shrivelled black heart: boat races (all sporting events, for that matter), jubilees, and anything that involves Union Jacks or the St George’s Cross, particularly if carried by one or other of our many charming neo-fascist groups, ‘cos we will beat you up if you interfere with their right to protest, which is sacrosanct. When people thousands of miles away protest, cheer them on and talk about ‘democracy’; if they try it here, bash ‘em over the head and then charge them with violent disorder: we’ve got enough freedom here already, with our regal biscuits and regulation bunting. Who are these irritating bastards who want more than that, more than this…?
And God forbid you join a group concerned with climate change, the arms trade or anything that might disrupt business as usual…but never fear, we’ve got you covered: our undercover agents are on hand to form relationships with you, to have children with you, and (unless you find our passports with our real name in ‘em) what you and our kids don’t know won’t hurt you! Until it does, of course… in the meantime we’ll put missiles on your roofs, the army on the street and warships on the Thames. We won’t be happy, though, until we get water cannons, rubber bullets and firearms, like our American brothers. Ah, happy memories when we think of Bush coming to town in 2003, with marksmen where they belong: on the top of buildings, all ready to aim and fire at the rabble below! We had a right laugh at the student demo, bashing their skulls in, running our horses through the crowd and keeping ‘em there for hours in the freezing cold while sending them to the other side to exits that didn’t exist, over and over again! And the little bastards didn’t win, that’ll learn ‘em. Except, they say, it won’t, ‘cos no one is going to borrow tens of thousands for a degree towards a job that doesn’t exist. Still, these futureless brats will get restless, and what with there being no EMA for college, no libraries, no youth centres and no jobs, there’ll be all the more work for us and our brothers and sisters in G4S! The private police have it lucky: all those people who grumble when we say racist things, or beat someone to death in the station, won’t know who to complain to when these firms come in, will they now?!
Nina Power is a senior professor of philosophy at Roehampton University, co-founder of Defend the Right to Protest, journalist and author. One Dimensional Woman is available on Zero Books.
Read this in print – pick up your copy of Strike! here