Max Pettigrew is a student and worker
The revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa have illustrated that it is possible for ordinary people to change the world when we lose our fear of doing so. Workers, farmers, students and the unemployed of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morroco, Algeria, and Syria have risen up against the corrupt, autocratic and brutal dictators that have been in power for decades and decades. Hundreds have been killed by the police and armies of these regimes during these struggles for emancipation.
Whilst 2011 will already go down in history as one of the most important years of revolutionary struggle, many of these revolutions are still in the balance and brutal counter-revolutions are being waged as all eyes are directed towards Libya. In Yemen, for example, on Friday 18th March, at least 50 unarmed protesters were shot dead by police and snipers on rooftops. In Bahrain, the Saudi armed forces continue to defend the hated monarchy by beating and shooting Bahrainis who continue to protest against the King.
The more this happens the more it is possible to see that the small wealthy elites that rule the world have more in common with each other than with the ordinary people of the world. In Britain, there are many injustices, which we cannot lose sight of. The Con-Dem cabinet of millionaires are unleashing savage cuts to public services, pensions and benefits. The Education Maintenance Allowance has been scrapped as university fees are trebled, which will make it impossible for many young people to go to university.
The fight back against these cuts began in Britain in October 2010. It was inspired by the rebellions against the attacks on living standards in Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and other European countries. A few weeks later, over 50,000 students and teachers hit the streets of London to protest against the Con-Dem attacks on the education system. On Saturday 26th March, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of workers, students and unemployed people of Britain will converge in London to demonstrate against the British government for making ordinary people pay for a crisis we did not create. Our taxes bailed out the banks, yet bankers continue to get obscene bonuses and corporations evade and avoid paying tax without fear of punishment.
Rock Against Racism festival in Trafalgar Square in 1978
We need to make Trafalgar Square the centre of resistance on the 26th March just as Tahrir Square was in Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution. Trafalgar Square is a major artery of London, the entrance to Whitehall and Parliament where the decisions that impact our lives are made and it has been the location where campaigns and struggles of the 20th century met to hold mass rallies against Apartheid in South Africa, Rock Against Racism concerts against the National Front, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protests against nuclear weapons, and it was Trafalgar Square, which became the battleground for the uprising against Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax.
Trafalgar Square has continued to be a crucial platform for struggles in the 21st century with mass rallies against the attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine as well as Love Music Hate Racism gigs against the BNP. On the 26th March, we need to take courage from those struggling throughout the Middle East and North Africa and take inspiration from their tactics. That means rather than just marching for one afternoon, we set up camp in Trafalgar Square for as long as it takes for the government, banks and corporations to realise we’re not paying for their crisis!