By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Long pent-up social tensions exploded into four days of pitched and running battles between mainly young protesters and the police in London and other major English cities last week. The trigger was the racist killing of Mark Duggan, a black man and father of three, at the hands of the police in a “stop and search operation” in Tottenham in London on 4 August.
As the uprisings progressed, adults of the working class and of all races joined the mostly young militants. Both young and adult unleashed their anger against the oppressive and exploitative ruling system. They denounced explicitly the gross inequality of income, widespread unemployment, discrimination, state brutality and the austerity measures. They targeted mainly the upscale chain stores catering to the upper class.
The establishment media and bourgeois politicians of all stripes condemned the “violence” and misrepresented the mass uprising as nothing but the handiwork of juvenile gangs and criminals. In fact, the hundreds of people who have been arrested and detained during and after the protest actions come from a wide spectrum of working people and youth of various races.
Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to dismiss the charge that the protests were the result of his austerity measures and called for more repressive measures, including mass arrests, use of the army, use of water cannons and rubber bullets, extra dispersal and curfew powers and blocking access to social networking media supposedly during times of social unrest.
Cameron’s austerity measures in response to the crisis of British capitalism have hit the working people especially the youth the hardest. Under Cameron’s austerity measures, young people have seen their EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance) college grant scrapped, costs for bus travel skyrocket and university fees raised to £9,000 on top of mass unemployment, scarcity of jobs, cutbacks on basic social services and rising prices of basic goods and services.
Youth unemployment is at record high, fanning fears that Britain’s young people could become a “lost generation” who cannot find work for a long period of time. The total number of adults under 25 who are out of work is close to 1 million or 20.3% of employable youth. This is the highest level since1992. In Liverpool for instance, one-third of children are in households with no-one working.
Mark Duggan’s shooting drew so much anger because the police tried at first to cover up the real story. As with the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 and the death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009, the truth of what happened was initially suppressed.
A peaceful protest vigil organized by the family and friends of Mark Duggan had marched to the police station on the evening of 6 August to ask for an explanation. The police refused to respond to the call for dialogue. Later at a stand-off between protesters and the police, a 16-year old girl was dragged, pounced upon and beaten up by 15 police officers. That is when the stone-throwing and car-burning started.
The revolt spread quickly from Tottenham into other areas of London and further to such major cities as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and others. The issue of police brutality led to the widespread venting of popular anger on other basic social issues against the ruling system.
This is the biggest urban uprising in Britain for decades. It is bound to break out again anf again so long as the crisis of the world capitalist system and inflicts terrible suffering on the broad masses of the people. The global crisis has become so grave that it has goaded the people to revolt not only in the imperialist-dominated countries but also in the imperialist countries.
We in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle express our solidarity to the working people and youth in the United Kingdom in their struggle for a truly democratic, just and more humane society. Life under the oppressive and exploitative rule of Capital is teaching the working people lessons in political economy as well as in what is to be done in relation to state and revolution.
The people are moved by their hardship and suffering to understand more deeply the fundamental problems of society, the real roots of poverty, unemployment, police brutality and corruption in high places and arrive at an understanding of the long-term solutions. They organize themselves and rise up in order to assert, defend and and advance their rights against their oppressors and exploiters and seek to build a fundamentally new and better world.