Listen to a man from London


I don’t call it rioting, I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it’s happening in Liverpool, it’s happening in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and that is the nature of the historical moment. — Darcus Howe


It’s shocking to the BBC, but to me it sounds like the reality of the streets.

As in Paris in 2005, entire populations of poor suburban areas have reached the limits of what they can bear: inequality, poverty, job discrimination, racism and brutal policing. This insurrection is not shocking: it’s the conditions of contemporary society that are shocking. This insurrection is a call for social justice. Those who write, who create images, who form representations and shape opinions, have a responsibility to interpret the positive content of social movements. Turn away in fear and you will only be greeted with more of the same. What this world needs is a transformation of the social deal, offering everyone the chance to flourish. It can’t be done by austerity, it can’t be done by bailing out the banks, it can’t be done by simple clashes with the police. But it can be done by transforming rage into political will. And that is what the media refuses. Respect for Darcus Howe. Take the time to listen to this man from London.


[Here is what I wrote in Paris, six long years ago:

“So now I want to suggest a kind of thought experiment. Next time you see images of fire, with smashed schools, burning cars, and confrontations with the cops, think about all that’s behind them, and try asking a few questions. What would it take for every group of people, with their faces, their problems, their qualities, their locations, to become visible to each other in a society that wasn’t sealed off into hermetic zones and dead-end streets? What sort of education could be an entirely liberating experience, that gives direct access to tools you can use? What kinds of mobility can be built into the urban fabric, and how do people find their paths through a society that has become radically unequal? Finally, what confrontations could be staged with the outdated forms of the state, that wouldn’t bring us face to face with the eternal return of the police?

“If it becomes possible to see the images of fire in this way, as a blazing language of unanswered questions awaiting their response, then maybe, just maybe, Bouna Traore and Zyed Benna won’t be dead for nothing – “mort pour rien,” the words you could read on the tee-shirts, as the witnesses walked silently through the city of Clichy-sous-Bois on Saturday the 29th of October, 2005.”



Gracias a los compañeros de desRealitat por habernos comunicado esta voz tan cargada de experiencia y de sentido. Hay algunos, sí, que hacen su trabajo de ampliación y articulación de las luchas.

3 Responses to “Listen to a man from London”

  1. Cecilia Vazquez Says:

    I couldn´t agree more with this post, Brian. Thanks

  2. alejo Says:

    Respeto a Marcus Howe, sin duda!

  3. london insurrection | form-of-life Says:

    […] Thanks to Continental Drift. […]

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