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The Year of the Protest

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Image | G20 London Protest by Room1834

It has again been a while since my last post. Things have changed and a new year is upon us. Here in the UK civil unrest is ever mounting as the outrageous disparity between government support of corporate and banking profits and cuts to social infrastructure becomes alarmingly transparent. Setting corporate tax avoidance against raising university tuition fees, scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), scrapping the Refugee and Migrant Justice, cutting NHS funding and many more examples clearly demonstrate what kind of government we are dealing with.

In response to this there are a number of grass roots movements becoming increasingly active in ways that have never before been possible. Some examples…

One of the key developments is in the way some of these movements and campaigns are being orchestrated. Using social networking communication tools like twitter & facebook primarily it is possible to break from the traditional hierarchies and bureaucracy that comes with large organizations with central leadership. Activities can be coordinated virtually on the fly or at least with very little advance warning. The response times to events and synchronization of actions across the country have been remarkable to witness.

In addition to protesting and boycotting the group UK Uncut in particular have demonstrated a creative flair for alternative forms of action. They’ve been targeting alleged multi-billion pound tax avoiding entities Vodafone and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group empire (including Topshop, Miss Selfridge & Dorothy Perkins) by entering shops on high streets across the UK and peacefully disrupting trade in whatever way they can. Actions like this have demonstrated the potential to force action from these tax avoiding entities by disrupting profits and achieving considerable media focus.

Having been to the protest against scrapping the EMA at Parliament Square yesterday I confirmed two things. 1: peaceful protests do not make headlines and 2: there are others finding ways to use music to directly inspire change. In particular there was a dubstep group called We Are Dubist pushing boundaries with their politically charged and socially conscious lyrics. They brought a sound system in a van and performed out the back of it.

I’ve come to understand that if I want to be involved in bringing about the changes that need to take place then I need to get out and be more involved with all of these movements. There are ways of using music effectively in these contexts that are still relatively unexplored and it is my determination this year to find them and make them happen – whether that means showing up at a protest with my own sound system or collaborating with other groups by providing backing tracks or all of the above and then some.

Also, instead of using old dead voices – however wise and powerful they may be – I believe it will be much more timely, relevant and exciting to use voices from the present. To that end I’ve been working on a track that features 15 year old student activist Barnaby Raine. Please have a listen and leave me feedback.

I believe it is safe to say that this is the year of the protest – for me, for the UK and in all likelihood for the entire world.

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