It wasn’t so much the message or the meaning of the protest but the movement itself. The police turned the march away from the town hall and the leaders of the march tried to make speeches, perhaps the “march” ended there? I wouldn’t know having joined the crowds of private individuals and citizens of the UK making free use of our streets and charging on the town hall ourselves. At the town hall there were no speeches. Just as there were no speeches later that day as we returned to Manchester University and took first the Simon building, then Oxford road, then Roscoe. This wasn’t politics. Not the type you read in books and stitch labels onto anyway. This was movement.
Of course it was political. But everything is politics, from which eggs you eat to your favourite TV comedian, and everything is too big a concept to put on a placard. What was important was the physical movement, the kinetic energy expended in order to express dissatisfaction. It has been said that the proletariat is the unspoken, the unconscious, of society. I myself would struggle to be so impertinent as ever talk about “society”. I struggle to imagine seven people simultaneously before they become just “some people” – now you’re asking me what each one of these “some people” think? Bah, I’d have no clue. I tend not to know what I think half the time. But now you tell me that these “some people” are all sitting in a Vodafone shop and chanting, well, now I’m getting closer to understanding them.
Perhaps the difference was hammered home (rather too literally) with the Battle for Parliament Square. The physical movement of people was here resisted by state violence. The political act of walking freely was met with riot shields, batons, horses and resulted in the illegal detention of thousands. Essentially we learn that there is one politics that happens on paper and another that operates through the human body – and it is the right of those that write on pieces of paper to commit violence upon those human bodies.
This is why I view the movement as I do – as those physical movements and actions that contain within them the politics that ideologies seek to do violence upon. It occurs to me that I can have my own political opinions and beliefs, but these are not a part of the movement any more than the shoes I wear. If a cause is right then you needn’t have to convince people, only converse with them. If you believe in your cause then you need only tell people where to march, who to write to, what actions can be undertaken… and then you will have a movement. This of course calls for organisation, dissemination of information, all the usual campaigning necessary for activism – but that is not what constitutes the movement. The movement is the movement.