Anonymous and Occupy must stress peaceful protest at 2012 London Olympics

Last year there were rumblings from London that UK groups like UK Uncut, Occupy, The Love Police and Anonymous would protest the 2012 London Olympics. Now it seems that Occupy London, Anonymous and European anarchists from Greece and Italy are planning some direct action.

The government and media must not be given the ingredients to reduce and manipulate the message into one emanating from a flock of young Left-wingers and bitter university students who want to break some high-end retailer windows or launch a few Molotov cocktails about in the proximity of bobbies.

In any protest movement there are small platoons of morons who, with dreams of revolutionary glory, agitate crowds or who are manipulated by agent provocateurs into constructing incendiary devices. Those looking to protest at the London Olympics would do well to avoid this brand of protest.

And yet there are elements of the anti-austerity and anti-corportism movements threatening to do just that with proclamations such as that found at 325.nostate, where the FAI writes: “In the United Kingdom of clockwork control and domestication, we’re some of the ‘unpatriotic ones’ who find the 2012 Olympics, with the ensuing spectacle of wealth, frankly offensive.We have no inhibition to use guerrilla activity to hurt the national image and paralyse the economy, howeve we can. Because, simply, we don’t want rich tourists, we want civil war.”

Most Europeans understand that something stinks to high hell in the corridors of power and money. And as much as protests could keep attention focused on wealth disparity in Europe and abroad, a confrontational approach will undercut any positive effect that could be generated. And to reduce the problem to “rich tourists” and use phrases such as “civil war” and “guerrilla activity” is predictable, useless and exceptionally ignorant. It reduces and debases a full range of political theory and protest actions into sound bytes, and will only serve to turn common folks—the ones rightly outraged at scheming, corrupt politicians and corporate benefactors—firmly against any useful counterforce.

Some within the Occupy movement, taking their cues from past direct action, find these more aggressive, “guerrilla” actions effective, if only to publicize their message—to penetrate the collective hallucination of modernity for a moment. And while there is value in that effort, the ends do not justify the means. It is much more effective to pursue civil disobedience.

When was the last time the black bloc’s tactics in the UK, Europe or the US precipitated a revolution or “civil war”? Never.