Celebrating the summer of resistance

Sarah Shoraka looks ahead to a summer of mass actions and reflects on why the biggest threat to the status quo is when we take to the streets

May 30, 2013
4 min read

With unemployment rising, cuts to just about everything and the Arctic ice rapidly disappearing while business continues as usual, it’s easy to feel powerless. But it was people power on the streets that stopped the poll tax, blocked new coal power stations, stalled plans for a third runway at Heathrow, ignited the Arab Spring and made bankers’ greed and tax avoidance toxic. It’s time to fight back – and plans are coming together for a UK summer of mass resistance linking the struggles against cuts, climate and corporate capitalism.

This summer will see some significant decisions being made by government leaders that will dictate our economic and environmental future. 2013 marks the year for the UK to host the annual jamboree of the G8. Cunningly, or cowardly, Cameron has chosen a luxury golf course in Northern Ireland to host the meeting. But for people in England, capitalism and its dirty secrets are to be found closer to home.

The Stop G8 Network has called a week of action and events between between 8-15 June in London, including talks, films, workshops, discussions and mass action. Tuesday 11 June will see a Carnival Against Capitalism take over the streets in London’s West End – the hiding place of power – ‘to celebrate our resistance and our dreams, to bring music and colour to the streets, and to show our strength and our anger.’

At the end of the week – Friday 14 June – a gathering in the private corporate zone that is Canary Wharf will bring beauty and hope to the dark, beating heart of capitalism. Themed around re-framing debt, rejecting the idea that individuals or countries are in debt to financial institutions and that austerity and privatisation is needed to remedy it, They Owe Us aims to bring together those angry about cuts and climate crises in one space to resist, create and imagine.

Though Canary Wharf is an overt icon of modern capitalism, the damage it causes is displaced and often unseen. It resides in the final demand letter landing on the doorstep, the early morning queue at the job centre, the silent tears shed behind closed doors. This is an action to make them visible.

Later on in the summer, there will be another opportunity for those fighting the cuts and the climate to come together for mass action. Last October, 21 environmental activists shut down EDF’s West Burton power station for a week in protest at the government’s new ‘dash for gas’. West Burton is the first of up to 40 new gas fired power stations being planned. With mass public support, including a solidarity petition signed by 64,000 people, they fought off energy firm EDF’s attempt to sue them for £5 million. This summer, inspired by their action, a wide coalition of groups and individuals will be coming together to Reclaim the Power at a four-day camp and protest at West Burton power station from 17-20 August.

All these events consciously reassert the need for mass protest, assembly and direct action on the streets and in our public spaces. The interlocking series of crises facing us today have meant that social movements have become more dispersed. While the internet and social media has created the communication networks and the resonance for popular protest to ignite and spread in new ways, the biggest threat to the status quo is when we all take to the streets. We cannot afford to give up on public assemblies and demonstrations as political levers. These are the moments when we feel our power, courage, strength and unity; when we are transformed and when change is possible. This year the summer won’t be a disappointment.


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.

A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas

Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'

The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.

Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.

Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism

What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry

Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram

Momentum Kids: the parental is political
Momentum Kids is not about indoctrinating children, but rather the more radical idea that children have an important role to play in shaping the future, writes Kristen Hope


159