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(en) Freedom 6404 22 Feb, 2003 - Biggest demo ever

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 25 Mar 2003 09:56:56 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

On 15th February, London once again witnessed a
massive mobilisation of disapproval for the
government's impending war on Iraq, and this time in
record numbers. There can hardly be any doubt of the
scale and breadth of popular unrest - proof, if it were
needed, that political apathy doesn't reside in the
people, but in the politicians. The majority of Britons
didn't vote in the last general election. This wasn't
because they have no interest in how their lives are
shaped, but because they have no faith in political
leaders to shape their lives for the better. Perhaps the
march was evidence of the first tender shoots of
people's growing faith in themselves.

It's a fitting irony, as cracks begin to show in the Blair
edifice, that the self-righteous proponent of a muddy
and meandering 'Third Way' is now incapable of seeing
beyond the false opposition between bombs or
sanctions for Iraq. But a large number of electors are
convinced that other solutions are available, and
they're refusing to take the government at its word.
Blair's Teflon halo has been irreparably tarnished.

However many people actually marched on 15th
February, there's a remarkable level of criticism and
outright suspicion among the public about the motives
of their leaders. There's a deeply felt anxiety that
British democracy isn't what people had been taught
to believe. Who'd have thought it would be so
commonly believed that tanks in Heathrow were little
more than window-dressing, hard-sell scare tactics to
merchandise a war? Or that this view would be so
widely reported? The notion would normally be
dismissed as extremist by the mainstream press, as of
course it was by politicians of ever colour.

There's no doubt the volume of popular protest has
contributed to such refreshingly honest coverage. But
this, in itself, doesn't account for the relish with which
some in the mainstream media - usually ardent
supporters of Britain's wars - have been going for the
prime minister's jugular.

The media hasn't switched sides. It's still the (more or
less explicit) voice of imperialism. Mainstream
coverage this week concentrated on the 'Middle
England' contingent, the first-timers, the liberals
seeking a second UN resolution to sanction the killing.
It's been resolutely dismissive of activists with a
deeper criticism of buccaneering Western power.

They're still, to use one journalistic phrase from last
Sunday's papers, the 'usual suspects'.

The media's interest is because of a faultline that's
now opening in western imperialism. About the
balance of global power, the pressing question at the
moment is whether an expanding Europe will be run by
Europe itself (which means the bosses in France and
Germany) or by the US, supported by dollar-hungry
countries brought into the EC by its eastward

The government here has wholeheartedly thrown in its
lot with George W. Bush, and there are grave doubts in
the British ruling class about whether this will serve
Britain's long-term interests. It's this unease amongst
our rulers that explains the mainstream questioning of
the war, much more than any new 'radicalism' in the
country at large. When the war does finally come - as it
will, regardless of how unprecedented the march was -
the media will rally round the flag. We can only hope
the same won't be true of the people who marched on
that cold afternoon in central London.
Anton Pawluk

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