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Archive for June, 2012

The Guardian June 5th: “London 2012 security operation investigating 500,000 people”

click picture for full size view of this ‘whole mind scanner’

These associated lyrics (from 1968 at the end of the roaring sixties) will certainly let many alarm bells ring when Paul McCartney will pass the check point prior to his opening performance of the 2012 Olympics Games in London. Automated surveillance systems now massively used to prevent any unrest during the London Olympics also checking out this humble WordPress blog – are unintelligent and will just gather that there  is a pattern of ‘adjacent words’ with a recurring frequency of the terms:

‘revolution’, ‘change’, ‘world’, ‘destruction’, ‘money’, ‘hate’, ‘constitution’, ‘chairman’, and ‘Mao’.

M16 and Scotland Yard on-line surveyors vetting each person entering the Olympic perimeters, will rush to their screens alarmed by the perfect Big Brother System – operational and tested already for months – and in the embedded earphones of the female constable’s hat, a voice will say…. “take this man apart for questioning.”

And…, of course there will be excuses afterward and an embarrassed smile, when human intelligence will have been applied. “Please Sir McCartney, come and join the opening ceremony, there never has been any harm in your songs, … excuse us for those stupid machines.”

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction

Don’t you know that you can count me out

Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right

All right, all right

You say you got a real solution

Well, you know

We’d all love to see the plan

You ask me for a contribution

Well, you know

We’re doing what we can

But when you want money

For people with minds that hate

All I can tell is brother you have to wait

Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right

All right, all right

Ah

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah…

You say you’ll change the constitution

Well, you know

We all want to change your head

You tell me it’s the institution

Well, you know

You better free you mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao

You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right

All right, all right

All right, all right, all right

All right, all right, all right

The good old Birtish National Council for Civil Liberties (founded in 1934) now renamed ‘Liberty’, has already for a long time this subdued polite commend on their web page about the impact of surveillance on the London 2012 Olympics:

There is no doubting that police and security will be faced with demanding challenges during the London Olympics. Nevertheless, infringements on basic civil liberties like the right to free speech and peaceful protest are not the solution to a secure Games. It would also be completely contrary to the spirit of the Olympics for 2012 to become an excuse for mass surveillance and loss of liberties. What a shameful legacy for London 2012 that would be.

The remark about “the spirit of the Olympics 2012” in London and how state surveillance would be contrary to the original intentions of the Olympic Games, points to an implicit positive enlightening view of the history of the Olympic Games, that is widely found. It is surprising that even serious people, like those of the ‘Liberty’ organisation, stick to the idealised vision of international brother- and sisterhood with the emphasis not on winning but on competing in a good manner, thus promoting international understanding and peace. In the words of the founder of the movement Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937):

L’important dans la vie ce n’est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l’essentiel ce n’est pas d’avoir vaincu mais de s’être bien battu. (The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.)

Coubertin’s view of the origin of the Olympic Games was highly idealised and selective  in his historic references. He created of course a new concept and with it the myth of the peaceful fair play internationalism. As always with a good myth, it is not just fantasy, there are some historical relevant elements in it, be it that there is no serious search for the original context of these ‘elements’.  Nigel Spivey of the University of Cambridge did seven years ago a serious attempt to re-contextualise the Olympic Myth in his book “The Ancient Olympics: War Minus the Shooting”, published by Oxford University Press and with several pages on-line available at Amazon.co.uk or at GoogleBooks, this worldcat.org link tells you in which nearby library you can his book. The summary of the book makes clear that it may be a good read for this summer of the London 2012 Olympics:

The word “athletics” is derived from the Greek verb “to struggle or to suffer for a prize.” As Nigel Spivey reveals in this engaging account of the Olympics in ancient Greece, “suffer” is putting it mildly. Indeed, the Olympics were not so much a graceful display of Greek beauty as a war fought by other means. Nigel Spivey paints a portrait of the Greek Olympics as they really were–fierce contexts between bitter rivals, in which victors won kudos and rewards, and losers faced scorn and even assault. Victory was almost worth dying for, the author notes, and a number of athletes did just that. Many more resorted to cheating and bribery. Contested always bitterly and often bloodily, the ancient Olympics were no an idealistic celebration of unity, but a clash of military powers in an arena not far removed from the battlefield. The author explores what the events were, the rules for competitors, training and diet, the pervasiveness of cheating and bribery, the prizes on offer, the exclusion of “barbarians,” and protocols on pederasty. He also peels back the mythology surrounding the games today and investigates where our current conception of the Olympics has come from and how the Greek notions of beauty and competitiveness have influenced our modern culture.”  

There are several editions of the book with differing covers. I like this cover the best. It appears in a critical review in the magazine World Archeology; c;ick cover image to go to the review…

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#我们没有什么需要隐瞒的

#we have nothing to hide

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photograph is from article in techinasia.com: “China to US: Stop Posting Beijing Air Pollution Levels on Twitter

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A few demonstrators in London on the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla Day kept away on a safe distance from the real royal event by fences and police… sunglasses were not needed on this pouring rain day ~ republicanism – also –  has a long history in Britannia, or should I not use the Roman Imperial name of this province and use the oldest name for the whole island instead: Albion? One must keep in mind that formerly speaking the United Kingdom still has an act promulgated in 1848 (Treason Felony Act) which makes the call for abolition of the monarchy a criminal act, which at that time was to be punished by deportation to Australia. The existence of this act and it’s anti-European Constitution status has been called into question several times, like in the year 2003 by The Guardian and its call for a referendum on whether Britain should become a republic.

click picture for the British republicans web site

Patrick Blower’s cartoon for the Evening Standard, 11 Nov 2002, ten years ago, in the days the British monarchy was once more under discussion…

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The unseen participant is Trenton Oldfield who swam into the line of rowing boats during the yearly river Thames Oxford/Cambridge rowing competition on April the 7th this year and caused quiet a stir with his non-violent direct action. The Diamond Jubilee Flotilla of today would have been yet another excellent occasion for his daring protest swimming, but I failed to spot him in the live coverage by the BBC, yet in my mind’s eye I saw him courageously crossing the path of the ‘ship of state of the United Kingdom’… I am sure that Trenton Oldfield has been put under special surveillance during this River Thames event preventing him from participating. Apart from waving and cheering, the audience at such events is supposed to be not involved in the action.

click picture to go to Oxford student paper reaction they called him “a crazed Marxist”…

I had made – in the beginning of April this year – a note of his personal web pages with his extensive somehow confused ‘manifesto’ “Elitism Leads To Tyranny”   on the server of squarespace with the URL http://elitismleadstotyranny.squarespace.com/ ,  but his site had disappeared. If this is because of his own will or that of others, I can not tell. So, because I had neatly documented his ‘manifesto’ web blog (posted before his action on April the 7th 2012), I can reproduce the full text hereby for posterity. It does not mean that I do fully agree with his way of arguing, but as someone who has studied and documented ‘social movements and direct action’ for decades, I try to understand how someone choses a ‘social issue’, reasons his or her intervention, and what are the reactions. Trenton Oldfiled, worked in the tradition of the British ‘suffragette’ movement. The use of his own bare body as a weapon during an elite sport event, links to an historic action back in the year 1913 by the British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who threw herself during a Derby attended by the King before the king’s horse, an action that toppled the horse and the jockey and hurt herself so much that she died of the wounds. “DEEDS NOT WORDS” was the slogan of that time of the militant fighters for equal rights of women.

Trenton Oldfield does make a direct reference to the historical – catastrophic – action by Emily Wilding Davidson, he fails – though – to make a good analysis of the different meanings of that action at that time (*) and links it in too few words with the practice of what he calls “anti-imperialism activists and guerrillas” and the sabotage survival tactics of  “trans-Atlantic slaves.” Nevertheless Trenton Oldfield was on my mind today and others may have had similar associations seeing the royal pomp of the Brits and thinking about what social realities are hidden by such spectacles and how someone swimming in the pathway of a Royal Flotilla would have been a refreshing addition. That is why I choose this day to republish his somehow clumsy manifesto to honour the River Thames Swimmer Activist of the year 2012.

ELITISM LEADS TO TYRANNY  

THIS IS A PROTEST, AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, A METHODOLOGY OF REFUSING AND RESISTANCE. THIS ACT HAS EMPLOYED GUERRILLA TACTICS. I AM SWIMMING INTO THE BOATS IN THE HOPE I CAN STOP THEM FROM COMPLETING THE RACE AND PROPOSING THE RETURN OF SURPRISE TACTICS. THIS IS ‘PEACEFUL’ … I HAVE NO WEAPONS (DON’T SHOOT!) MY ONLY FEAR, IS NOT SWIMMING FAST ENOUGH TO GET IN THE RIGHT POSITION TO PREVENT THE BOATS.

 PERFORMANCE UPON THAMES

 This part of the River Thames is very well known to me having previously worked in the area. I have continued to visit it as often as possible as it is one of the London reaches I became most fond of, mostly because of its unregulated Wooded Tow Path, the expansive foreshore at low tides and the wildlife habitats in the adjacent Leg of Mutton Reservoir. It is a beautiful place, one of the more serene spots in London. Best to visit when it has been dry for a few days as the path can be very muddy and puddled.  

 Setting aside the compelling natural environment for a moment, this reach is also the site of a number of past and present elitist establishments; Fulham Palace, Chiswick House and St Paul’s Schools and a large collection of other ‘independent/public/free schools’. It is also where Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minster of the Government lives with his family, despite his constituents living hundreds of miles away in post-industrial Sheffield. Most notably and most importantly for today, it is a site where elitists and those with elitist sympathies have come together every year but one for the last 158 years to perform, in the most public way, their ambition for the structures and subsequent benefits from elitism and privilege to continue. (They even list in the programme which public school the rowers attended before Oxford or Cambridge)

 The boat race itself, with its pseudo competition, assembled around similar principles of fastest, strongest, selected …etc, is an inconsequential backdrop for these elite educational institutions to demonstrate themselves, reboot their shared culture together in the public realm. It is also inconsequential to the performance that the overwhelming majority of the population continue to remain interested in their own lives and disinterested in the boat race. The boat race, while accessible to everyone, isn’t really advertised or promoted as something for the general public to attend, you know when it’s on because it is part of the social networking calendar. This is a public event, for and by the elites with broader social relations aims. The fact that it happens in the public realm (visible) almost exactly as it has done for the last 158 years also becomes important; the untouched; the unchanged is significant. Most standing alongside the Thames today are in fact the pumped-up though obedient administrators, managers, promoters, politicians and enforcers; functional, strategic and aspirational elites. The transnational-corpo-aristocratic ruling class (invisible) haven’t turned up today and would never consider doing so, despite the best endeavours of Bollinger, Xchange and Hammersmith & Fulham’s mayor.

 HISTORY IS A WEAPON

 When hasn’t elitism lead to tyranny? When hasn’t the belief of being ‘more’ than another person led to tragedy? Who benefits from elitism? One won’t be surprised to learn the etymology of the word ‘elite’ derives from ‘the elected’ … unfortunately not elected by democratic means, but rather, elected by god. Yup…‘elected’, ‘selected’, ‘chosen’ … by god … inherited. When has this understanding of oneself or by a group of people ever been a good thing? When has this understanding not resulted in tyranny? Is tyranny surely not the inevitable outcome? And in contrast, when hasn’t the pursuit of equality, not resulted in these long passages of tyranny being overcome, even if temporarily?  

 Everyone will remember some of their history lessons … where people have been taken advantage of by people that believe themselves somehow better, more entitled than another individual or group of people. Most recently this has included the enclosure and eviction from the commons, transatlantic slavery, imperialism and colonialism, fascism, holocausts, genocides and dictatorships and migrant labour camps. It is difficult to grasp, as many of us are still heady and have strong memories of the previous ‘boom’ decade, but we are in the middle of the early stages … or we have just about reached the precipice of another era of mass enslavement and the large scale enclosure of ‘Our Public’. What is happening in the UK, for example, is not ‘privatisation’ but a contemporary demonstration of full scale enclosure of Our Public. Couldn’t happen again … why not? Why wouldn’t something different but similar happen again? What policies, what institutions, exist to prevent something similar from happening again? What evidence is there that this isn’t happening? When did Our Public last experience an injection of its own readily available dose of agency and liberty?

 To enclose and to enslave requires the audacity, cunning and daring to take advantage of our natural kindness, our belief in others, our respect for authority, our desire to please, and our apprehension about ‘causing waves’, our hope for all to have a better life, somehow. It also depends on our disbelief, despite having experienced it, that other people would purposefully set out to harm us for their own advantage. More recently we have also been encouraged, though the evidence displays the opposite much of the time, that a whole raft of institutions exists that work to prevent human catastrophes like our right to protest being denied, detention without trial or charge, the monopolisation of  industries, and essentials like food and water. These institutions were established to prevent slavery, genocide, indentured labour and groupings of indices of deprivation and poverty from occurring.  It is likely many in the western Baby Boomers generation (large percentage of the UK population), who have benefited so much from these institutions, are finding it very difficult to consider that these institutions might now be turning against them, their children and their grandchildren?

 Could what is happening in the UK (and around the world); the state of exception with Olympics, the wholesale removal of countless civil rights, the project to create fear and suspicion of others, the transfer of our money into the vaults of a handful of corporations, the ongoing wars, the pomp and ceremony for unelected official anniversaries, the amazingly high unemployment, the devastation to public services such as health and education, the isolation of education due to high fees, the entangled corrupt relationship between the media, police and politicians, the racism, the increasing misogyny, the forced labour in supermarkets, the spying on our emails, skype calls, the control of food production and distribution and the reductions of tax burdens for the richest … could these all be best understood as the process of enclosure? Do we resist now setting out to avoid something akin to slavery and imperialism? Or do we hesitate and find ourselves and our children without agency once again and in a long battle to gain it again? How long might it take and how many lives might this demand?

 CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

 There is a concerted effort to disintegrate ideas of Our Public; to atomise and divide us. Only yesterday did a British government minister suggest that citizens should ‘shop’ (dob-in) people they know to be organising or attending a protest related to the forthcoming Olympic Games. Along with the brutality the police and military are prepared to use against organised peaceful protestors, it seems it might be time to employ ‘little war’ / ‘guerrilla tactics’.

 My swim into the pathway of the two boats today (I hope) is a result of key guerrilla tactics; local knowledge, ambush, surprise, mobility and speed, detailed information and decisiveness. There is no choice but to be apprehended in this action. I know this area very well and have planned the swim as best as I can, taking into account all the local knowledge I have gained over the years. Guerrilla tactics could be summarised as; ‘preparation, creativity, daring and attrition’.The aim of employing these tactics is to shift from being a ‘victim’ … of having things done to one, to being the ones setting the agenda, placing elites more and more on the back foot, increasing their costs, causing confusion, fermenting internal mistrust, creating embarrassment (a Tory’s worst nightmare?), frustration and manifesting a vulnerability. This will provide the time and space for an ongoing development of post-elitism, post-capitalist thought and debate.

 Our current disorganisation and indirection is an advantage. In the past, guerrilla tactics have been employed by small groups of people. Today there is the opportunity to also undertake this alone, as an individual. Part of my inspiration for today’s action comes from a protest action that took place 99 years ago – when Emily Davison ran into Epson Derby race. On the 4 June 1913 Emily ran into the horse that the king had entered. She died from the injuries sustained from action. She was demanding rights for women. It was an individual act born of a political and philosophical position. This action is also part inspired by the anti-imperialism activists and guerrillas. This includes trans-Atlantic slaves who not only forced their freedom by revolting but undertook tactics of breaking tools, working slowly, acts of sabotage, feigning illness and maintaining their cultures. They found ways to continually undermine the system in small and large ways.

 We all need to make a living and sometimes we do this by taking jobs we disagree with or find out are likely to detrimental to our children’s future. Being in these jobs also provides us with a great opportunity to employ civil disobedience and guerrilla tactics.  It is the chance to match the personal and the political. Security guards are possibly in the best position. Examples of actions might include:

 · Setting off Fire Alarms in buildings where we work, perhaps at strategic times, when a particular meeting is meant to happen that will agree the cutting of services, for example? (This action seems morally okay as all the emergency services happily deployed vast numbers to participate in the filming of a Bond movie the other weekend on Whitehall).

 · If you work in a private company or government department that is helping enclose Our Public perhaps you could work slowly, make mistakes, loose documents, sending large documents to clog up email accounts?

 · If you are a taxi driver can you take the passenger the slowest possible and most expensive route?

 · If you are a plumber can you ‘store up’ a problem in the office of a conservative think tank office you have been called to?

 · If you have a tow truck company can you park in front of Nick Clegg or David Cameron’s driveway, accidentaly? Could you tow their car away?

 ·  If you ride a bike and it’s difficult to find somewhere to lock your bike (as bike racks are taken away), can you lock it the one of the corporate bikes which now litter our streets everywhere?

 · If you clean the bathroom of someone that considers themselves elite or is an elite sympathiser, like a right wing professor, can you never put loo paper in their bathroom?

 · If you work in a restaurant where elitists eat, can you serve the food once it is cold or cook the wrong food?

 · If you are a builder repairing the house of an elitist can you also bug it and share the footage and audio online?

 · If you are a pest controller and you are called to the office or home of an elitist or elitist sympathiser can you fail at destroying the pest and possibly introduce new pests?

 · Can you take up the time of a ‘VIP’ you work for by arranging time consuming meetings, asking as many questions as possible? Can you make them late?

 · If you work in a call centre, can you refund people and find the best discounts?

 · If you are a student and attend a talk, can you challenge the professors? Can you take the stage and highlight to the audience the work they have done in contrast to academia?

 · Are there networking events designed for the elites and their sympathisers where you could let off a stink bomb?

 · If you work in audio-visuals for meetings/conferences could you put up the wrong slides, or turn the correct ones upside down and remove cables, rendering the equipment unusable?

 · Could you plan your own government or council made up from people you admire and trust – in similar vain to Football Manager and publish it on the internet?

 · Are there events like today’s boat race that you could do something similar to Emily Davison with? Is this possible in the lead up to and within the Olympics itself?

 This is a special call to security guards. The elite depend on you the most. Without you they are nothing.

 Copyright © 2012, TRENTON OLDFILED. 

A 1911-1912 typical banner of the British suffragette movement with the action paradigm “DEED NOT WORDS” and a later depiction of the action of Emily Davidson throwing herself before the King’s racing horse.

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(*)
– The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928 By Elizabeth Crawford has many references on the complicated history of Emily Wilding Davison and several pages can be read on line via GoogleBooks.

– Another good source is “A Suffrage Reader: Charting Directions in British Suffrage History By Joan Ryan, Laura Ugolini, also available on GoogleBooks.

 

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