Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Unruly protest

Ashok Kumar reviews Fight Back! A reader on the winter of protest, ed. Dan Hancox

August 27, 2011
2 min read

As with the upsurge of UK student resistance at the end of 2010, Fight Back! is unruly, immensely creative, inconsistent and a freestyle of accounts from the movement. A collage of essays and articles from social, alternative and mainstream print media, it offers a whirlwind tour of the demonstrations that took the UK by storm. The book, produced by openDemocracy’s UK section OurKingdom, reads like a collection of short stories and fresh first-hand reports interwoven with in‑depth and theoretical deconstruction.

In the foreword, ‘Fight for the Future’, author Anthony Barnett states that ‘the most important question’ of the book ‘is whether something new started that will last’. The protests have only recently subsided and the white paper on higher education funding is yet to be released. Issues of fees, funding and fightback remain live, which makes answering such a question in a compilation of this kind all but impossible. Rather, Fight Back! contains a handful of exceptionally well thought-out pieces born out of struggle. It is not comprehensive and doesn’t claim to be, and that’s what makes it so attractive.

However, the book fails to reflect the diversity of the movement. The editors, when not focusing on UK Uncut and social media in a rather self-congratulatory way, attempt to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’. The other networks, groups and actions in the movement are parcelled into the nameless/faceless/voiceless ‘other networks, groups and actions’ category. What remains is the angst of largely white, middle class and university-educated voices whose emotions explode from every page. Reading Fight Back! one could easily assume that the movement was sparked by a Facebook event and thrived exclusively through the conduit of a university occupation, and not necessarily as a consequence of courageous school students walking out at the risk of arrest and loss of their education maintenance allowance (EMA).

Allowing for these deficiencies, the book reads rather effortlessly. It is clear to anyone involved in the protests that Fight Back! still comes closer than any other reports to capturing the ups, the downs and the exhilaration that marked the period between 10 November and 9 December 2010.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death