November 27th, 2003


Give The Anarchist A Paid Job

Walking through Safeways last night to get a packet of blue Rizlas (small, legal use intended), I spotted a young man being shuffled towards the shop manager. The security guard was curiously deferential: "Mr Johnson, this young man has something in his pocket that he has taken from the store." "Has he now?"

I wondered what happened from that point on. The kid was wearing a fairly terrified face that was probably intended as a mask of indifference, but it didn't come out that way. I'm not sure how the law stands on this issue at the moment (care to enlighten us, Cornelius?), but I wasn't sure if the shop was able to physically search him without his assent or a police officer being present. I thought about making some comment as I passed ("It's a loser's game, kid" in a world weary tone), but obviously didn't. A few weeks ago, during a pub discussion on the Royal Family, I described myself as an anarchist. It's the force of habit. But to what extent am I actually an anarchist anymore or was I ever?

I don't like the Royal Family, but it's this one rather than any. I can't actual think of one I like, but I'm not 100% against the idea. I'm quite a fan of the Japanese Imperial Family in the 3-7th centuries AD. But I wasn't happy about describing myself as a republican as I'm not convinced by the idea of a republic (except during the time of the Gracchi brothers, not sure whether Rome was strictly a republic at that time). This hesistancy is probably due to Blair. I can't imagine that a contemporary republic would be anything other than the opportunity for another bunch of the great and good to advance themselves under his protection. I wouldn't wish him to be a President. I like the idea of that power being checked by something as undemocratic and illogical as a King or Queen. It's just the quality of them that disappoints. If Viggo Mortensen rode into town to seize the throne, I'd cheer him all the way, especially as we'd get currency with Liv Tyler's face on it which would be much better than the current visog in our hands. I've probably mentioned this before, but once when Metropolitan Anthony, of blessed memory, went to the Soviet Union at the invitation of the Patriarchate, he was quizzed on his political affiliation at the border. "I am a Russian monarchist." he replied. I've always respected the honesty of that answer and, as the years have gone by, the idea of being a Russian monarchist seems no worse than many other self-deceiving political ideologies [I've thought about that for a while since, you would have to hang out with some pretty tiring people].

The police will turn up shortly, I guessed. Or maybe he'll just hand over the item and be returned outside with a tsk or TSK. At demonstrations, a number of anarchist chants were specifically directed at the police: "A.C.A.B. - All coppers are bastards!", various animal noises, I can't remember many of the chants now. Demos were quite often seen as opportunity to have a set to with the police, to settle the score that was the result of a fight previously. The police didn't do themselves any favours in this department. Moustaches were still common enough at this time in the force and police were instructed to keep a steely confrontational silence with protesters which only ever upped the ante (or is anti?), and I do intend to include the moustaches in that statement. They were a lot of nasty bastards. But then the demonstrators were also at times. This doesn't negate the fact that the police under Thatcher were used as a paramilitary force to break the miners' strike and that riots such as Brixton, Tottenham, Bristol and elsewhere were generally the direct result of the actions of bigoted officers, generally with the mass presence of moustaches. This is a more complex argument and one I'm not really going into for now, just don't forget about the moustaches, they mean something.

What I was wondering about was my relation to the police force. I realised that I've not been against the idea for some time whereas once I would have been. Of course, yes, one day, should a naturally egalitarian system develop, we would find that crime and conflict would diminish. Many years ago I would have held that any given community's need to deal with internal problems (theft, violence, etc) should be decided without recourse to external agencies (police, legal hierarchies). This is bollocks, though, isn't it? Is it? I can remember those anti-paedo mobs a few years ago attacking the house of a paediatrician. What hope would any of us have against mob decisions and violence without a police force or other authority at the end of a phone, preferably with a reasonable knowledge of etymology. The will of the people is a scary thing. Crowds acting as one are terrifying (and exhilirating). I'm not thinking this through fully, but I don't need to on the page, what I'm trying to say is that I now appreciate there being a police force. I wouldn't have said this twenty years ago. I would definitely come up with some very idealist stance on how they were not needed. But they are. Who the fuck else is going to manage traffic accidents or look after lost items...

No, the problem with the police is who they are, rather than the what. Just who is attracted to join the police force? Judging by recent documentaries, there's still thick-skulled racist elements joining and there's plenty still in place. Ideally, joining the police force would be a vocational act, similar to the priesthood. Unfortunately it isn't and profoundly changing their make-up is beyond our power. I don't encounter the police on a regular basis and I am, after all, a fairly law-abiding white, middle-class bloke and I'm not hassled on the basis of colour or nationality. So I don't have problems with the police anymore. If I did, I might not be writing this. They're all looking very young these days though, aren't they?

So, to what extent can I, even after a few pints of Guinness, describe myself as an anarchist anymore? I guess I can't, but it would be nice to have some political ideology to claim allegiance to. The only thing I can describe myself as is a penitent and sinful Orthdox Christian. I have been on a few demonstrations recently and no longer carry banners (not that I'd ever handle one of those SWP ones, we'd have made our own) but instead carry an icon of the Protecting Veil or such. It might look a bit Dr Zhivago, but at least I'm entirely into the 'slogan' (if I can describe it as such) of what I'm carrying, even if its relevance to the cause at hand may seem obscure to many.

Anyway, over to movie review corner. Given the temperature last night, I went to the nearer video store, which is stronger on new releases than the arty one in Stoke Newington. My thoughts on Lucy Liu have already been made clear in this journal, so I was wary of hiring Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. I reasoned that with Cameron Diaz as a point of personal indifference, Drew Barrymore's charms would cancel out Liu's and it could just work out. Actually, Liu was surprisingly watchable in the movie, the danger I had forgetfully not considered was the presence of Demi Moore. The dialogue was reasonably snappy and fast with gags and sneaky double-entendres ('You get us connected with Charlie'), but the Full Throttle side of things only got in the way of these bits. You can't trust a director with a name like McG. He had extreme written all over him and possibly tattooed on body parts. When will Demi Moore finally be over? When? Good to see Crispin Glover getting a bit of pocket money though and he got to kiss Drew too. Sigh.

On the bill also was 25th Hour with Edward Norton...mmm, looks like he's going to star in film version of Motherless Brooklyn... I thought this was pretty good and it would suggest that Spike Lee has maybe tempered his grandstanding mode of yore. Mind you, there was an accompanying documentary on the DVD called 'Evolution of an American Filmmaker'. I hope he didn't come up with that title. There was some good acting from Norton, Brian Cox, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Anna Paquin, etc and I was pleasantly enough surprised with it. That's almost a succinct recommendation!

Now, back to work...
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