May Day

The London Paper  –  12 May 2008

‘Very disappointing. Must try harder’. No, this was not her indoor’s assessment of my performance last night (don’t be preposterous!) Rather, it is my own appraisal of the demos that occurred on 1 May – the traditional day when workers of the world gather to express their discontent at the inequity of ‘the system’. In Europe the main riots occurred in Hamburg and Berlin whilst all we had in Blighty was a few unionists marching to Trafalgar Square. To have such a poor showing from Londoners is galling enough, but to be beaten by the Germans really gets my goat!

So, once again we Cityboys can rest easy knowing that the capitalist system that perpetuates our privileged existence is under no threat. Indeed, you have to go back 40 years to discover the last real attempt at revolution in the West. In May 1968 it looked for a moment like Paris might fall as workers and students went on strike and ‘demanded the impossible’ but ultimately it failed to change anything major.

Since then it’s all been a bit tame. The 1991 anti-Poll tax riots that I witnessed as an 18 year old lad were a bright spot on an otherwise deeply tedious period in which Thatcher’s view that there was ‘no such thing as society’ prevailed. Still, at least that particular event ended Maggie’s reign as PM and resulted in the Poll Tax being abolished.

The last proper political riot witnessed in Britain was on May Day 2000 when a bunch of disparate groups, mainly comprising ‘the dogs on string’ brigade, ran around London defacing statues and breaking MacDonalds’ windows. It was all a bit of a waste of time since, unlike in 1991, there was no unifying aim that chimed with public opinion. Frankly, if the ‘Wombles’ (one of the main groups involved) had actually targeted cleaning up Wimbledon Common, as their forbears had done, rather than random vandalism they would have gained considerably more public support! Indeed, the most memorable image from that day was of futures traders leaning out of windows and showering the soap-dodgers below them with photocopied £50 notes. One – nil to capitalism I’m afraid.

‘The peasants are revolting’ – I’ve heard Cityboys say that non-stop but alas it merely reflects their snobbish attitudes and not imminent social change. Frankly, I’m now so disillusioned with this whole shebang that I’m willing to help any would-be revolutionary as a kind of management consultant – after all I know the enemy inside out and studied revolutions at university. Of course, the real reason I crave imminent insurrection is because I simply ain’t got the balls to leave my lucrative job. Hence, the only way I’ll ever cease to be a wage-slave is if I help take down the entire system. So, would-be revolutionaries, why not send me an email today and we’ll see if we can really shake this city up!

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