Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Or Die

Only a four-and-a-half month gap in writing this time. I'm getting more prolific. And I am indeed back, which can only mean one thing: something's up! As the last post and this one show, I've changed the angle of this blog somewhat. It's now a jaunty 37 degrees. It's also not (so much) music-related any more. I've even stripped some of the day-to-day magazine commentary out of some of the older posts. More or less all of my music goings on can be seen at Jukebox:Metal, so there's very little need, since the demise of Burn, to cover similar ground here.

So, more precisely, something's up which has annoyed me, and therein lies the new (in terms of writing only) direction. This time it's the G20 meeting in London. Although not the meeting itself, but the schedule (yes, schedule, more on this later) of protests taking place over the course of two days against a variety of topics, some related to the topics of discussion the G20 are entertaining and some, it would seem, purely for the sake of protesting.

Of course the first thing to hit the newspapers last week was the predicted travel disruption the protestors would cause on April 1 and 2. Only once we'd all digested that (and come to the natural conclusion that those two days would therefore be barely different to any other day of the week) did the anti-protest feelings start to emerge.

While residents of Belfast are probably sitting there thinking "what a bunch of whiners" (again, no different to normal), and most of the city will doubtful lift their faces far enough out of the cocktail pitcher to notice anything different is going on, several people are missing the point entirely, brandishing protestors "thugs" and similar amidst rumours that a minority group of "anarchists" plan to use the otherwise peaceful protests as a cover to storm banks.

That kind of behaviour is of course unconscionable, but it's also moronic, as is almost every other protest subject on the table this week. Which brings me to the schedule. There are no timings involved, which will make it very difficult for the multi-directional protestors to manoeuvre between the events, but planned action mostly against banks and the use of fossil fuels has been carefully laid out and advertised so that all interested jobless hippies, parentally-financed students and every other Campaigner For A Better World can leave their gas-heated studio flats for a day in the sun.

The banks and the stock market are a big target. And rightly so in the case of the twitchy traders who panicked the country into recession, but to simply aim a few placards at "capitalism" doesn't really get that point across. After all, if every one of the protestors doesn't have a bank account, Mummy and Daddy certainly do. They're certainly not going home and counting the notes under their mattress. They're part of the system just like everyone else, and they need that system to get by, just like everyone else. The existence of banks isn't the problem. People, as always, are the problem, and this entire crisis, if it can be called such, is the fault of mistakes made by people.

Yes, the banks and therefore ultimately their CEOs are at fault in a big way as well. Lending the mortgages and so forth they lent (people needed 110% mortgages and no financial genius foresaw a problem with getting repayments?) were ridiculous, but the people who took those loans are equally to blame. It isn't the system which caused this, it was the people responsible for its workings.

And the other main point of complaint, fossil fuels and BP in particular, is equally ridiculous. Not the fossil fuel problem itself, which is well-documented and a genuine concern, but the very fact that it is well-documented. Everyone with an IQ over 23 knows of the problems around fossil fuel consumption, and yes perhaps BP aren't behaving as ethically as they could, but protesting about it now isn't going to suddenly open the eyes of the populace. This is without the Stop The War Coalition continuing to protest about a war which finished two years ago and is only a continuing issue because of militant groups who persist in causing trouble. It was relevant at the time. I agree we should never have gotten involved. But once that decision was made and the protests were falling on deaf ears, give it up. You tried, bless your little cotton socks, but you failed. The time came to switch your protests to getting our soldiers out of the war zone quickly. The soldiers were never to blame; they were doing as they're told because it's their job.

So these protests are going to have two, and only two, effects. Neither of them positive and neither of them will achieve any kind of worthwhile outcome. Firstly, they are probably going to disrupt and generally annoy thousands of people who really only wanted to go to work and earn their wages. Ordinary people quite willing to perform whichever service it is they perform and earn their own way in the World. Secondly, it will cost all of those same tax-paying people thousands, possibly even millions, in policing, probably damages to public property, and other associated costs. All so those taking part can talk about how they made a difference at their next dinner party. Food and wine bought from non-profit making, anti-capitalist supermarkets, with money from under the mattress, in a flat bought outright with no requirement for a loan, by candle-light, of course.

"I guess some things never change"