Why Aren’t We Rising up as Our Country is Sold Off & Our Govt Sells Out?



An apathetic mainstream media, an ambivalent political class and a broad populace who have become spectators rather than actors in their daily lives, have created the mistaken impression that Britain is taking its austerity hammering lying down.  This could not be further from the truth.  Many of the most disenfranchised groups in UK society are rising, rebellion is fomenting, and flames of dissidence are licking the powder keg of mainstream mood.  So why doesn’t it feel like it?

Where is the Fight Back?


The current government and the economic model they support are impoverishing whole sections of UK society:

  • The number of young people without work for longer than two years is at its highest in twenty years, the cost of living is rising at four times the rate of wages,
  • This Christmas 80,000 children will be homeless
  • 600,000 more children will be living in poverty by the next election.

All while the government hails the fastest growing economy in the western world.  Economic growth on the back of poverty wages and cuts to the welfare state which are leaving people destitute.  This is serious.  It is quite literally a matter of life and death.

So, where is the fight back?  Why aren’t people in the streets?

They are.  But it’s no picnic out there.

The Police State

They have found their right to protest revoked by successive parliaments under the guise of anti-terror legislation.  On top of that, they are confronted by a militarised, political police force that uses brute force, chemical agents, helicopters, intelligence squads sporting cameras and making snatch and grab arrests, armoured vehicles, horses, dogs and the real threat of arrest.  This, combined with a toxic media narrative about ‘trouble making’ protesters has succeeded in making protest a personally dangerous and largely unpopular act to engage in.

The ‘Play Nice’ Problem

The purpose of protest and civil disobedience is to get in the way, disrupt the ordinary goings on and draw people’s attention to an issue.  However, a protest is nowadays defined as somehow bad and wrong if it actually does this.  In short, you have the right to protest, so long as you don’t actually protest. By all means, knit quietly in a corner for world peace, or make a daisy chain to end poverty – but make no noise, get in nobody’s way and for goodness sake’s don’t be angry! This has put pressure on protest movements to be fluffy and ineffectual if they want positive media coverage or popular support (despite the fact that they will make no actual difference).

The Absence of Mass Support

As a part of Occupy London, it astounds me when people who were never there, and never attended a single related protest say things like ‘Well, I was hoping Occupy were going to do something about all this but then it just fizzled out’.

Firstly, what an abdication of any responsibility! This willingness to allow a group of people just like themselves to carry the entire burden of responsibility for change.  But latterly, Occupy didn’t ‘fizzle out’.  The camps were raided by police and bailiffs in the dark of night, people were dragged screaming from their tents and the full force of the police state came down upon their heads.  But this is the sort of withering platitudes one can expect of all those spectators in the stands.

Are you on the Pitch, or in the Stands?


How do you know whether you are viewing yourself as a spectator or an actor in the development of our world?

You can spot the differences by the questions you ask.

Spectator Questions

How do you think it will all pan out?

Why isn’t anyone rising up?

How on earth is all this allowed to happen without a fight back?

Actor Questions

These are the questions which, if you ask them, call you into action – and are therefore the questions of a person who is not watching passively, but getting involved:

What can I do?

How can I help make this work?

How can I call others into action?

There is nothing wrong with being a spectator by the way.  There is no moral judgement here.  The problem occurs when you don’t realise you are a spectator.  Having an opinion on the action on the pitch, doesn’t mean you are playing the game.  Your action is not amounting to anything more than the spectator next to you with a divergent opinion – you are both just shouting into the wind.  So feeling like your ‘progressive’ opinion is more important than their opposing one just makes you a self-righteous spectator. Not part of the actual game of change.

Your anger, your fury, your sadness, your empathy – all of it counts for absolutely nothing on the pitch.  You are the background noise. If you want a say in the development of a movement for change, then you have to step off the stands and join in.  This might mean dragging some other spectators down with you.

Why is No One Rising Up?


The situation we have here is that a significant number of the population, the mainstream media and the political class are not even in the stands – they are at home in their front room, with their feet up, watching a different channel altogether.  They can easily fall into the assumption that nothing is happening.

A very great deal is happening.

The students rose up in their tens of thousands in 2010, to defend their right to an education without incurring enormous debts through tuition fees.  They were met with some of the most violent policing seen on UK streets in modern history.  The Prime Minister dismissed these young people as a ‘feral mob’, the press joined in and public sentiment slavishly turned against the peaceful student protesters.

There have been several mass public sector strikes together with protest marches over the last three years.  On the 30th November 2011,more than 2 million public sector workers went on strike when more than 30 unions united.  The strike closed more than three quarters of schools in England, as well as courts, museums, libraries and jobcentres, disrupted transport, hospitals and Government departments, led to around 15% of driving tests being cancelled.  Physiotherapists, headteachers, librarians, lollipop ladies, refuse collectors, weather forecasters and scientists were among those involved as hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of the capital and their hometowns in protest.  November 30th is now marked each year with such a protest.

This summer has seen wave after wave of teachers’ strikes, as teaching staff make their opposition to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s plans to break up the national system of education, allow unqualified teachers into the classrooms, sells off playing fields and cuts physical education while a childhood obesity crisis occurs, and denigrates the profession, pay and pension of the teachers themselves.  Nearly 3,500 schools shut just last month as part of these strikes.

Fire Fighters have been striking up and down the country in a fight over reductions in staff and pension schemes.

Universities up and down the land closed for 24 hours just days ago as thousands of staff from cleaners to lecturers joined a national strike over attacks on their pay, pensions and university funding.

Disabled activist groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and others have been mounting acts of civil disobedience in the face of social security cuts impoverishing sick and disabled people.  They have chained their wheelchairs together to close busy London roads, they held the ’10,000 Cuts and Counting’ ceremony of remembrance outside parliament where they read out the names of the thousands of sick and disabled people that have died undergoing the government’s ‘work capability assessments’.

When the Arms Fair came to London it was met by organised and determined protest.  Several activists are now facing prosecution, while the illegal arms manufacturers they demonstrated to oppose are free to sell illegal weapons on UK soil.

Thousands of activists descended on Balcombe village, West Sussex to oppose the government’s plans to introduce hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) in the UK despite clear issues of environmental damage, water pollution and corruption.

Protest, strikes and civil disobedience are an almost daily occurrence up and down the country constantly.  So what is this feeling that says it’s not enough?

The Missing Ingredient is You


If demonstrations, strikes, protest marches, Occupations and other acts of civil disobedience are happening all around – why are so many acting as if nothing is happening?  Why is there this feeling, expressed by so many, that the UK is just meekly submitting to a corrupt, elitist government dismantling its welfare state, civil liberties and public services?

Imagine all those asking this question are in their lounge, and a fire has been set in an upstairs room of the house.  They cannot see the fire, they cannot feel the heat of its flames, and they cannot smell its smoke.  To all intents and purposes there is no fire, for them, right now.  But that does not mean there is no fire.  Either they will discover the fire, or the fire will discover them.

Spectators, if you want to see a fight back, you have to move.

So far, the fight is largely being left to the hardest hit and a significant number who have come off the benches to support them.

No movement can deliver the kind of killer blow that destroys a government or a whole political or economic system without mass, popular support.  It needs the spectators to get off the side lines and throw their whole weight into the thing.  Only that can create the momentum, the energy and the unbearable tension which moves worlds onward past periods of injustice. So don’t ask ‘where is the fight back?’

Find it, join it and make damn sure everybody else does.

Don’t get angry, get involved!

Nov 5th Protests – join them

DPAC  – join them

Boycott Workfare – join them

Occupy London  – join them


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17 thoughts on “Why Aren’t We Rising up as Our Country is Sold Off & Our Govt Sells Out?

  1. There’s something to be taken from most of the responses so far but any struggle for better rights and conditions needs a leader, a charismatic person with gravitas and integrity, as yet, that leader has not emerged. The best we can hope for until then is to continue trying to put the case for an alternative to predatory capitalism and hope that, to keep the Tories and the blue Labour spoilers out, enough people are persuaded.

  2. Pingback: Why Aren’t We Rising up as Our Country is...

  3. Thank you Scriptonite for your summary of recent civil protest. Just my own two cents: fighting is not for everyone and, in some cases, can detract from positive changes one can implement in one’s own day to day life; being courteous, volunteering for charity, being creative, learning, boycotting institutions that strike one as corrupt, sharing one’s thoughts.

    I know that the lamestream-evil-run-amok threatens many of these good things but the point I’m trying to make is that politiking and fighting is not for everyone, I have my mental health to think about and there comes a point where there is only so much horror stories one can stomach before it negatively impacts on one’s life so that one cannot do anything positive at all. It’s important, too, to appreciate the positives in this society, the many, many decent people, the hard work and dedication of millions of empathetic souls, the quite mind-boggling advances in technology that, at least in part, do make for a slight improvement overall.

    In short, I commend your discourse, but the number one rule still applies without which no protest, no positive change can come about; look after yourself, take care of yourself, respect yourself and, most importantly, be weary of the predators that occupy not just the upper echelons of power but all strata of society. They feed on people’s fears and vulnerabilities so the number one objective is to starve them of that satisfaction by retaining a strong degree of self-respect and a carefully managed positive outlook, for where there is life, there is hope and where there is hope there is life. Hopelessness and loneliness are today’s big evils and, if they take too much hold, will guarantee the success of the forces of evil and the coldest of cold monsters.

    • Thanks Bubromer….and all of the things you list are no spectator things to do. They are active, they are taking personal responsibility for making a difference. However big or small you might conceive those actions to be, they are active choices and they add up And most importantly, they put you in the driving seat where you say ‘How can I contribute?’ It’s amazing.

  4. The enigma of police violence and vindictiveness against often those who are attempting to be part of a better world, most police I believe come from the lower socio-economic bracket, what do you think is going on in their minds when they are cracking skulls, pepper spraying and so on? are they not from the a similar group who are attempting to make a better life for the many rather than supporting the over privileged and those are often the same people that support police oppression and violence.

  5. A complicit mainstream media…. A tame political class devoid of the powers of analysis or historical perspective (that is, when not downright kleptocrats)…. A docile populace, dumbed-down and distracted, unequipped even to ask the right questions…..

    Britain IS taking its unnecessary Austerity Hammering lying down.

  6. They don’t rise because deep down they (the majority of British people) have no moral values, they do not aspire to education or goodness, they care not about friendship or even family. Their feelings are so blunted they have little to lose so why rise? Unless they find values tor hey care about something they share with everybody enough they will remain apathic.

    • How patronising and insulting.

      You know what’s best for them while they are just dumb sheep.

      The problem is much closer to home.

  7. TIME FOR A REVOLUTION IN THIS COUNTRY … but it will never happen and heres why … a revolt requires 3 things…1 a majority of the population angry with the system (OK we’re all angry about something – but the whole system ?) … 2. that self same population must care enough about people who are strangers to them to do something about it (for the past 30 years this attitude has been strangled out of the British by successive governments policies (look after number 1, I’m alright Jack, it only affects “scroungers”) …. and finally 3. a population that is armed and prepared to use it (if China invaded us tomorrow and promised to leave us the X factor, football and Lizzy in Buck House, then most people would do fuck all about it) … but by all means enjoy the fantasy, the last 2 people to enter and leave Westminster with their honour intact were Cromwell (when he dissolved parliament causing the Civil war) and Guy Fawkes .

    • yes,thatchers greed is good ideology destroyed the moral fibre of the nation,as she said -there is no such thing as society.I suggest if enough people boycott corporations it will hurt them more than marches but people cannot even go 1 day without tv iphone etc ,how can they talk about revolution?

      • Another person who hasn’t read what Thatcher actually said in context of the surrounding words.

        Society is a term used as a generalisation by lazy people who can’t be bothered to dig deeper, or as an antiquated throwback to the days of village fetes, Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey. An era, of course, where the poor were SO much better off.

  8. The fact that you had to ask the question at such length means you wouldn’t understand the answer – more to the point you don’t want to hear the answer.

    And that’s not spam, merely an observation. Until you understand people and what makes us tick it’s you, not the spectators, that misunderstand the composition of the fire that you think is about to engulf us all.

    All credit for idealism, but no idealist ever got things done, because the world isn’t ideal.

    • Guess the answer is that there are too many Simon Johnson’s in the world just looking to take a pop at anyone who stands up and speaks out.

  9. Apparently someone once said “those who control the money control the country (world)” or words to that affect. Therefore, we need a ‘People’s Bank’ along the lines of the old Giro bank which was eventually so successful that Thatcher sold it off. Profits from the People’s Bank should be used towards buying back our utilities -at minimum price- which were ‘stolen’ from us by the Tories. In the meantime the utilities should be forced to switch their accounts to the People’s Bank once established.

    If it can be done by a small state in the US, the cradle of Capitalism, we can certainly do it in the UK. http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/why-socialism-doing-so-darn-well-deep-red-north-dakota

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