Saturday, December 11, 2010

THEY CAN'T EXTINGUISH THE FIRE - Leaflet on recent events from PastTense

The outbreaks of rebellion on November 10th/24th,  and the (right royal) fun on December 9th gave us all a boost – there’s nothing like rioting to warm up a chilly winter. Hopefully the demolition of Millbank, the tugs of war with the police and the attacks on government buildings and random royals, as well as the wildfire of college occupations around the country are just the opening round, not only for the students, but for the rest of us facing grim years of cuts, losing our jobs, homes or services… Can we look forward to defiance of the austerity program spreading to public sector workers, council tenants, and beyond?

So far many local or not so local anti-cuts campaigns have sprung up to try to work together to resist. The writers of this leaflet have been involved in anti-cuts campaigns before. For years, in fact three decades, each Spring seemed to bring new rounds of threats to this service or that community centre in our localities.


Chapter 4


IN the days before the War - the romantic period of revolutionary oratory - Socialist speakers wore soft felt hats and red ties. Anderson conformed to this custom. He had, too, a well-shaped head, a good broad forehead crowned with a mass of curly hair and a slight cast in one of his eyes which gave them a fine rolling frenzy on the platform. He had energy, audacity and tireless­ness in attack. He would leap on to the platform and challenge all corners. And he was ready to leap on to his opponent's platform, too. Whether he loved Socialism or his own voice best perhaps he himself could not have told us, but if estab­lished society could have fallen before oratory, I am sure Anderson would have brought it down. He could talk all day - in fact, he did spend most of his Sundays talking - and remain fresh, ener­getic and interesting. On Sunday morning he held his meeting at West Green Corner. In the afternoon, snatching a scrappy meal, he went on to Finsbury Park. Here he occupied a disused bandstand around which the people flocked to listen. After buying cakes and tea at the Park restaurant, he took the tram back to West Green Corner and spellbound an audience until mid­night, or even later, when a small dazed group would stumble away convinced that they had assisted in striking thundering blows at the edifice of Capitalism. During his oratory he refreshed himself with long drinks from a lemonade bottle, its gassy sharpness making him hoarse or thin­ning his voice to a husky whisper, but he would talk on until his throat eased again.
     I could not resist these avalanches of oratory, especially as Anderson gave expression to all those feelings of resentment and bitterness which I could not put into words. My only regret was that I had to be up so