Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rising civil society militancy in Europe and the UK

In London this week 50,000 students protested against education cuts by the Conservative- Liberal coalition Government. The cuts are a direct breach of promises made by both parties before the election.

Media reports in Australia have focused only on the occupation of the Conservative Party headquarters and, unsurprisingly for the corporate media, have largely ignored the larger implications.

As Nina Powers points out in this piece in The Guardian the 52,000 students who protested display the real meaning of "The Big Society" that David Cameron claims he wants to promote. But Cameron's vision is an illusion. The Tories and Liberal Democrats want to destroy that part of civil society that resists and protests, and  holds governments and the corporate and business elite to account.

In the Guardian Nina Powers writes:
The protest as a whole was extremely important, not just because of the large numbers it attracted, and shouldn't be understood simply in economic terms as a complaint against fees. It also represented the serious anger many feel about cuts to universities as they currently stand, and the ideological devastation of the education system if the coalition gets its way. It was a protest against the narrowing of horizons; a protest against Lib Dem hypocrisy; a protest against the increasingly utilitarian approach to human life that sees degrees as nothing but "investments" by individuals, and denies any link between education and the broader social good.

The protesters - students and others - who occupied Tory HQ will no doubt continue to be condemned in the days to come. But their anger is justified: the coalition government is ruining Britain for reasons of ideological perversity. The protests in France and Greece and the student occupations here, such as the recent takeover of Deptford Town Hall by Goldsmiths students on the day cuts were announced, are indicators of a new militancy

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