From the website of the Daily Mail (22/11/10):
Student militants to picket school gates over tuition fees
“Student militants have joined forces with French communists to picket England’s secondary schools urging pupils as young as 15 to stage a walkout over university tuition fees.
Supporters of using ‘legitimate force’ to try to stop the rise in fees have been joined by members of the International Communist Current (ICC) to mobilise school children.
Activists want to leaflet schools across the country in the latest day of action, planned for Wednesday.
More than 20,000 young people have signed up to take part in a ‘national walkout’ on Wednesday. The majority are school pupils and further education students.
Campaign group Education Activist Network held a protest planning meeting on Saturday at Birkbeck College, London.
This was attended by at least one member of the ICC.
The ICC has a long tradition of direct action dating from the student protests in 1968 which paralysed France.
The EAN’s ringleader is Mark Bergfeld, 23, who has supported the use of ‘legitimate force’ to bring down the Government and called for ‘barricaded schools’.
Mr Bergfeld, who attends Essex University, said at Saturday’s meeting: ‘What you can do is, between now and the 24th, give out leaflets outside the schools so they know what we’re doing. Then on the day, they can join you.’
Also present were town hall and Health Service workers, school teachers and university lecturers”.
Our first response to this article in the Daily Mail was general hilarity. The second thought was 'no publicity is bad publicity'. But the third thought was: 'what’s behind this?'
The conspiracy-mongering of bourgeois journalism, which can never envisage a genuine movement of revolt from below, but must always trace it back to some devilishly cunning Moriaty spinning his webs in the shadows, has a long history, certainly going back to the days of Marx and the First International. The capitalist press habitually blamed the International Workingmen’s Association, to give it its actual title, for stirring up every act of resistance to the bourgeois order from the smallest local strike to the mighty Paris Commune of 1871. The International had a certain influence in those days, of course, but it was nothing compared to the inflated version conjured up by the servants of the ruling class.
We are a tiny group. We participate in the class struggle as best as our forces allow, and we have been active in a number of the discussions, meetings and demonstrations that are part of the present movement of the students against tuition fees and the abolition of EMA payments. We were indeed present at the EAN meeting described. We are proud to be an international organisation (which is different to being a purely French one, of course) and we can indeed trace our origins to the tremendous strike wave that shook France in May 1968.
But we make no pretence to being the organisers of the present movement – we don’t even see that as our role. There’s little point arguing this with the Daily Mail, however, because it’s irrelevant whether or not their hacks believe that they have really uncovered the secret power behind the current rebellion of working class youth in the UK.
The real aim of this and similar articles lies elsewhere. And there have indeed been a number of similar articles recently: anarchist groups like Solidarity Federation and the Anarchist Federation have been identified as the organisers of the occupation and trashing of Tory HQ on November 10, and after the same event a particularly vicious article was published in the Daily Telegraph which fingered a regular poster on the libcom internet forum, naming him and his father and again insinuating without any proof whatever that he was directly responsible for the damage done at Millbank.
‘Exposés’ of this kind are aimed at discrediting revolutionaries and revolutionary organisations, at making them sound as sinister and unattractive as possible, and ultimately at creating an atmosphere where they can be attacked directly by the forces of order. After all we advocate “legitimate force” and - hint hint – are prepared even to drag innocent schoolchildren into our evil schemes. And of course we are foreigners, so why should we even be allowed here?
The kettling of the 24 November London student demonstration was a blatant display of force aimed at intimidating a movement which the bourgeoisie is not yet certain that it can contain, not least because it is not obeying the usual rules of engagement which the trade unions and the left can normally be entrusted to impose. The insinuations against anarchists and communists are another expression of the same kind of reaction from the ruling class. They correspond to its need to block an emerging process of politicisation among young people – a politicisation which threatens to go well beyond the false opposition offered by the capitalist left.
No need to envisage a conspiracy here: these kinds of reaction are almost as ‘spontaneous’ to the ruling class as a demonstration organised on Facebook. But there is consciousness involved too: our rulers learn from what’s happened before and what’s happening elsewhere. They have in front of them the image of Greece and France, for example, where within the recent movements against austerity we saw small but visible minorities posing some very political questions: the self-organisation and extension of the struggles, and the future that capitalist society has in store for us. The students in Britain are also raising the issue of the future and the ruling class would rather that they weren't encouraged to see the possibility of becoming part of a movement leading in the direction of revolution.