Monday, February 27, 2006

Not in my name - 15/2/2003

November. I had barely arrived to London, and was coming to terms with squatting, with my first London home. The placards announcing Not in My Name first appeared in windows of my neighbours, in the terrace houses of a Brixton dead-end street leading to Brockwell Park. In December they spread more and more.

I never liked that slogan. To me it smelt of an obsession with one s name, one s self-image, guilt feelings and good conscience. And with it, the calm, regretful acceptance of defeat in the count-down to hostilities in Iraq. You re never going to stop this war if all you care about is your name. And no-one seemed to believe they could actually stop it, not one of the million or two people who came to the park on Britain s biggest ever demonstration, on that very cold February day. Why the total disbelief in the power to change the course of thing is a question that deeply troubled me. I thought the answer might say something about politics, about Western middle-class democracy, about the state of the world, about this pinball-machine called history.

Coming back home, I wrote this.


"Don t run away straight after the show: the real thing begins later. we re taking over the U.S Embassy, it s round the corner. Instructions and map on the filer. Read and pass on ."

What it takes, it takes. To the cold London wind, show yer face: time is up. Walk in the mud, careful do not slip - the council will get upset. After all, they told you so. Clap yer hands, and count the flags. Count the speakers. Count how many angry hoarse men can you tolerate on one afternoon. The same dictum, the pause before the applause, which always comes: The biggest ever... the strongest... wonderful crowd. Yeah yeah, our voice is heard.
Get bored and walk away from the centre: read the Iraqi Communist Party newsletter, but mumble something as a negative reply when they shove the donation box in your face. Slowly retreat, until you find the pedal-powered sound system, where the mock tiger is
making soap bubble and guitars cry out loud. Let the soft reggae warm your frozen toes. Wonder if the singer really a retired Soviet General. When the confused, wool-wrapped old lady asks you:
Do you know where s the coach to Norwich?
make sure you give her the flier.
"Just follow the instructions"

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