Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We have fed you all a thousand years

No-one is more short-sighted and historically-amnesiac than a politician looking out for his own self-interests and his patrons' pocketbooks:

Thousands of anti-war protesters will mount a peaceful challenge to a ban on marches outside parliament today, unless there is a last-minute compromise with the police. Hundreds of extra demonstrators are expected to swell the protest after police and Palace of Westminster authorities agreed to stop the march in Whitehall with a measure drawn up to counter Chartist agitators 150 years ago.

If the scum who run Brown's government and guarantee its power had an ounce of historical awareness, they'd know that governments trying to repress lawful protest against illegal wars (against foreign oil-powers, against the powerless, against the disenfranchised) are always doomed to (eventual) failure. Just ask Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Sam Adams, or Gerrard Winstanley:
The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now,
The club is all their law to keep men in awe,
But they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
It may take decades, generations, or even centuries for the wheel to go round, but fascism always fails. And, a reminder to those who are top of the heap now, and the jackbooted thugs who support them and the cowardly greedheads who enable them:
You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
The Chartists sought freedom for the poor and the landless. Not entitlements, just opportunity: universal suffrage for all adult males (instead of only for those who owned land); voting by secret ballot (so that individuals could vote safely without fear of retaliation); eligibility for election to Parliament without the necessity of owning property; annual elections (so that if they were sold out by those who had campaigned for votes, they could turn those bastards out). Though it took over half a century, every one of these demands eventually came to reality.

The British ruling class hated and feared them: when they marched on London in 1848, the middle class was so terrified of this peaceful petition to Parliament that they deputized 150 thousand "special constables" (e.g., vigilantes) to "keep the peace" (there's a great, suitably mocking description of this farcical force in the opening of George MacDonald Fraser's Flash for Freedom). They were dispersed that day, but half a century later--though the marchers could not have known it--every one of those principal goals had come true. Repression of the people's right to free and full participation in their government failed then; it's gonna fail now.

This is a song written for just those Chartist marches.

A hundred years, a thousand years, we're marching on the road
The going isn't easy yet, we've got a heavy load, oh we've got a heavy load
The way is blind with blood and sweat, and death sings in our ears
But time is marching on our side, we will defeat the years, oh we will defeat the years
We men of bone of shrunken shank, our only treasure doth,
Women who carry at their breast heirs to the hungry earth, oh heirs to the hungry earth
Speak with one voice, we march, we rest, and march again upon the years
Sons of our sons are listening to hear the Chartist cheers
Oh, to hear the Chartists cheers

Now playing: Chumbawamba - Chartist Anthem

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