If you move away from the mainstream news media and seek out some credible alternative sources, it will not have escaped your attention that there has been, and continues to be, a wave of protest against the imposition of vaccine passports and the continuation of draconian Covid restrictions amongst other things. These protests do no come from the left. Despite the efforts of some elements on the left to smear them as ‘reactionary’, they do no come from the right either. They come from below, from people who are aware of how this crisis is being leveraged to impose some pretty drastic changes on society.
There’s no unified movement against what’s being done to us. These currents may merge about once a month on the streets for a major street protest but to suggest there’s a cohesive plan of action is wide of the mark. For sure, there’s a unifying distrust of authority that reflects the emergence of a new political divide between anti-authoritarians on the one hand and on the other, those who fully support the use of state power, regardless of how draconian it is, to deal with emergencies. The thing is, anti-authoritarianism covers a wide range of opinion. Some of that, we as anarchists can work with. After all, the whole premise of anarchism is anti-authority, isn’t it? Some of it such as the rugged individualism we rightly wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.
What we’re seeing with this wave of protest is something quite new. The Gilets Jaunes over in France were possibly an early indicator of what we’re now seeing on the streets. Not wanting to be hyperbolic, we are witnessing history in the making. Things are inevitably going to be messy, confusing and contradictory. Given the range of people joining these protests, there’s no clear cut, perfectly formed political outlook emerging other than a complete and utter lack of trust in the state when they say they’re imposing restrictions and mandates upon us ‘for our own good’.
Is what we’re seeing on the streets ‘pre-revolutionary’ in any way? That’s a tough one to answer because revolutions don’t follow the same trajectory – there are always national and local circumstances that will influence how things pan out. Also, a revolutionary situation can emerge pretty swiftly once the growing anger of a population has reached a tipping point. What can be said is that tensions are rising and as can be seen by the barbaric actions of the cops in Australia, Switzerland and France to name just a few examples, things are getting very ugly.
When a potential revolutionary situation arises or there’s rising tension bringing people out on the streets, the left/anarchists should not expect everyone out on the streets to have a perfectly formed political outlook. Life is never as clear cut as that. Having been on a couple of anti-lockdown marches back in the summer, I can testify to this. Yes, there are dodgy elements around looking to capitalise on people’s discontent and anger at what’s being done to them. Which is why it’s all the more important that we as anarchists engage with what’s taking place on the streets instead of dismissing the whole lot as ‘right wing conspiracy nuts’.
I’ll conclude with this… Please have the courage to break out of the activist bubble and engage with what’s actually there in front of you rather than throwing your hands up in horror and retreating even further into the bubble. All a refusal to engage does is create a political vacuum that will be filled by reactionary elements. If you refuse to engage with the street, you’ll end up reaping what you’ve sown. Which will be – a) reactionary elements having increasing influence over the resistance to lockdowns and vaccine passports and – b) a state / corporate imposed techo-fascist dystopia where every aspect of life will be monitored and strictly controlled. The stakes are too high to airily dismiss what’s taking place on the streets right now across the world…