Maybe the problem is that this is no longer the time for parades and carnivals of rage and anger, EoC. While I cannot condone their actions, perhaps those out there, venting their anger at the football game, realised, albeit deep down, a truth we would rather not admit: that the show and the pomp of the riot is no substitute for the ice-cold execution of strategy. That the riot exists simply as a moment out of time, where all things are permissible and nothing is forbidden, and where the libidinal drives can be freely expressed, before the drudgery and routine acts of discipline and organization can reassert themselves, once again ruling our thoughts and conditioning our bodies.
Iíve been there before, you know. Not so much in the thick of it, I am not one for large groups of people. Seeing lots of people in one place always makes me nervous. No, Iíve been in the background, helping plan such things, putting lots of people in one place. Only a couple of times, but you can learn a lot from it. You need surprise, you see. We flitted around town like grey shadows, from one meeting to the next, keeping it quiet, keeping it all under wraps.
Our clandestine meetings and coded messages leant it all the air of a bad spy novel, like Berlin when it was split in two. Behind the walls and the cameras were The Enemy, it was where They could be found, creating ever increasing mountains of paper, seemingly for the sake of it and without the need for any other reason. But we held the coffee houses, and the streets, not to mention the bars. There we flowed freely, but not without purpose. Favours were called in, secrets traded and promises made.
Clausewitz was our inspiration, you know? Power concentrated at a point, the centre of gravity for the enemy force. Like clockwork, our people went in. Chants timed down to the second, placards waved with the precision of a surgeon, or some other discipline that requires concentration and finesse. The message was clear: our discipline was good enough, and we were quiet enough, that if we had ill intent, things might have gone very differently.
Yet still, we did not achieve what we wanted. We aimed high, like all good negotiators. We were pragmatic, reasonable people at the end of the day, we knew that our wishes would be whittled down to well below what we really wanted. Even so, what we got was, disappointing. It was a spectacle, you see. A show of force, but without real force. We only hit what we thought what was the centre of gravity, not what really was, and so, we could be dismissed. Not entirely, just as we had put on a show for them, they would put on a show for us, to show they were pragmatic and reasonable people too. But we had already expended energy, and time, and effort, and favours. And we were known. Doing it again would be more difficult. People would be disheartened by the need for yet another effort, instead of a quick and painless victory.
Too many protests are like that now. Once upon a time, protests did work. Iím not sure why, maybe it was respect for the wishes of the people, or the fear of so many coordinated bodies in one place, the visceral and not entirely unfounded fear of The Mob. But now? They know if They only appear to take your concerns seriously, then nothing at all needs to be done. What will happen if They donít, after all? Spreading a few rumours about the numbers present, to make it look less representative, hiding a few police provocateurs among the crowd, rile up a few of the hotheads...suddenly, its the crowd thatís the bad guy. The unreasonable, irrational Mob, that cannot be contained or debated with.
So why not riot over a football game? You may well have more say in one than you do in most other parts of your life. You can at least seize control of that, live in the moment through that and really feel like youíre some place else, doing something different.
We donít understand this current world that we inhabit. We are taught a rule set when we are children, only to find out it no longer applies, that things do not work that way and we do not control as much as we like to think. And so like confused, constricted children everywhere, when confronted with the truth of our situation, we lash out unexpectedly and irrationally, throwing a tantrum on the tarmac and in the streets, smashing because through our destruction we can still affirm our power over something.
There are real forces at work, but we mistake the surface, the appearance, for what really happens below. If we understood better where the centre of gravity now exists, then we would be able to lay siege to more effectively. But it is so much easier to believe that the world is an essentially decent place, running on easily understood rules and anyone who is left by the wayside probably deserved to be. Even when virtually everyone has been left by the wayside.