Looking back on last weeks demo highlights some interesting comparisons with past street out breaks of democratically motivated out break of civil disruption.Ive highlighted in the past how memory plays tricks with our perception of reality.We exist in a media dominated environment a site where the past is instantly reproduced in some ordered presentation of nostalgic encounters.Something akin to land marks are laid down as a means of identifying with events we had nothing what ever to do with.The image becomes the focus point of an historical moment with out the discourse of narrative.
If we go back into the past we see images of the Jarrow Marches,we have some idea of what this march represented.But what did that march achieve?What was the actual political climate of the time?Who took part in the march?What happened to the men when reached London?How did they get back home?Did they stay in London and how long for?Did the march achieve its objectives?Did the men return to work?
These are questions which remain unanswered within the popular understanding. Yet the images conjure up powerful emotions of those days.The march is embedded in the history of "marches"But are we looking at resistance to a Coalition Gov,or, are we observing an event which is more nuanced than we have painted in our minds.
We can move foreword into the 50s and gaze upon the the grainy pictures of the early CND gatherings in Trafalgar Squ onwards towards Aldermaston.Here again we gaze upon the images rather than the actual political conflicts of the time.Where is the discourse concerning the end of Empire.What we get imposed over the images is the first introduction of popular culture via the introduction of music which reflects the age.The fear of nuclear annihilation is leached out of overall understanding of why CND was so important.Also,the concerns of American hegemony and Russian expansion is pushed into the background, suddenly we are served up a mixed dish of music and dramatic visuals which highlight our own sense of nostalgic yearnings.Memory/history becomes a form of entertainment.We are comforted by the black and white interpretations of a bye gone aspect of our decline within the Post Empire period.
The argument concerning resistance doesn't enter into the debate.
Its when we enter the 60s things start to go into overdrive.Popular culture takes centre stage and the image plays alongside the impact of popular music.Nostalgia/memory clash and invent a period of history which is non existent except within the manic confines of a dominate media.
The 60s where really a period of ambiguity/aggression.They where not a period of resistance except in the questioning of the role of the family.(but this is nothing new in English history).
The 60s where a period of youthful exuberance rather than an attempt to change the the status quo,look carefully at those images and you gaze upon a small,geographical,location London,London and Soho,Kings Road,Hampstead some how become confused with the whole of Britain.Poverty is non existent.When we arrive at the Grovesnor Squ demo we arrive at a gathering of people out for a party.This is not to undermine the very real anger surrounding the Bombardment and slaughter in Vietnam,never the less the event was hijacked by the celebrity engagement who needed to show their radical potententials.We see the likes of the Rolling Sones and the Beatles hanging out with the new radical left.This was an outing for the new elite. The real struggle for social change and resistance was taking place elsewhere.