Countering the Olympics

Elizabeth Carola profiles a forthcoming day of debate and organising

January 23, 2012
3 min read

The latest act of Counter Olympic resistance will take place on 28th January at London’s Toynbee Hall, bringing together  housing, civilliberties, anti-corporate and environmental campaigners with academics, artists and affected  Londoners.

‘Countering the Olympics’ will be a day long interrogation of all aspects of Olympic cost and an opportunity for Londoners to share strategies and make their voices heard, bringing together groups such as Save Wanstead Flats, NoGOE and campaigns over corporate sponsors.

As detailed in the ‘Olympic Struggle’ blogpost earlier this month, Olympi-critical activism has been extant since 2004, but sporadic and disparate.  Organisers hope on the day to bring together the different campaigns and concerns and see what can be done to push back what has felt to many like a tide of disenfranchisement.

As the costs mount, awareness of the scale of the exclusion, repression and misrepresentation increases along with the realisation of the extent to which none of this is about us. Londoners feel the disconnect between official rhetoric and lived reality as official missives begin arriving advising them against staying in their homes this summer/using public transport/attempting to work or move or live.

Official contempt for people’s concerns is overt:  Transport for London’s William Hoyle recently designated event organisers “a bunch of whinging whatevers,”  pronouncing “shame some people have nothing positive to bring to the table. It’s easy to sit on the fence and be a whinger much harder (sic) to contribute something positive.”   Less aggressive but just as derisive, Ken Livingstone defended his support for the Olympics at a mayoral Hustings last November insisting that through the Games “we’re bringing transport to east London. We’re bringing water, infrastructure…”

Apart from begging the question of precisely where east of Bow Bells Ken thinks mains water supplies ends, his claim demonstrated the sense of cross party impunity.   Plans for regeneration of Stratford predated the Olympic bid by a decade and plans for Crossrail were approved irrespective of the bid.  35,000 new jobs and more than 5000 homes were planned for Stratford City years before Olympic considerations. In any event, the “water and infrastructure” being brought to east London  are unlikely to serve many apart from the elite able to inhabit the largely private new developments.

The enormity of the Olympics has bred a sense of fatalism, a feeling that, as frequently heard in the process of organizing CTO, it’s happening. We can’t stop it. We’ll just have to hunker down and wait ‘ til it’s all over.

Unfortunately, this is not an option. The more we learn about the reach of the Olympics, the more we understand the project—with  its ‘no protest’ zones,  provisions of the Olympic Act threatening to criminalise all dissent, army troops on standby, ground to air missiles at the ready—as a Trojan Horse to deliver a militarised gentrification planned for years  before the bid and  affecting us for decades to come.

These excesses have to be stopped. It is possible to stop them.  In this sense, there’s everything to play for.

Countering the Olympics 28 January 2012 Toynbee Hall

counterolympics.com


✹ 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

Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today

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 Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion

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


3