Act 1, Scene 1:

Lights up:

We see a girl, any age, any race, wearing any clothes you can imagine.

She sits in a room. It’s your room, or my room, or a room of your childhood, or maybe future, in your imagination.

Yes, she is sitting though. Not standing. Sitting somehow. In my mind anyway. Maybe on a bed, maybe a chair… you decide.

She talks, slow and steady. Quietly at first… getting louder.

She has never said this before and now she starts:

I am nothing like you think I am. The person behind that mask, the girl in black running through the streets of London, letting off flares, throwing paint bombs. I am a contradiction. I am nothing like you think I am.

Breathe: 10 seconds. Less if you want, more if needed.

And I see what happened on Saturday, I see myself as taking part in one big huge performance, a performance with consequences, each of us playing their part. My part is normally the trickster, the Joker, the fool. I occupy a space that is both fun and interesting, it’s exciting, I like it, I know it. I get there easily. It’s not really a performance, it’s mostly me.

On Saturday I performed in a completely different role, with a completely new and exciting set of performers each one taking their role probably more seriously than I. I had no problem; I have no problem with what I did. Me personally, I laid a boundary and I stuck to it. If anyone were to ask me what I did, and I knew that they weren’t going to arrest me….

She chuckles, as much to herself as you.

…I would tell them. I have no problem with what I did.

And yet and yet, we’re vilified. And we worry about this, as thinking, caring human beings. Individuals that all care probably too much. We’re vilified. The police are not vilified, we’re vilified. And is this a problem? Do we care; should we care? Does this mean our tactic was wrong and we should change it? I’m not sure.

If every piece of theatre needs an antagonist, were we that antagonist? If so, is the protagonist the State? In which case, that’s sad… do I want to flip that and turn the state into the antagonist and me the protagonist? I don’t know. Perhaps that’s a position I’ve always had and now pushed and pushed and marginalised further and further, to a new and interesting, weird space, that I find myself in I must face the realisation that I am the antagonist and be happy with that position and Ok with that position and if I’m not happy with that position reassess, reclaim, change it up, make something new.

If I am directing this play…. It might be different. If I choreographed the moves, set all the places, designed all the costumes and got all the sets it might be a different play. But I haven’t. I am not that person. No one single individual can and will ever be that person, and nor should they be. Nor should they be. The strength of this thing, whatever it may be, is its diverse directors, its autonomous individuals pushing their own agenda forward. Standing up to say “No”. To say “I don’t like this.”

It’s empowering and we should not be embarrassed or apologise for the things that happened on Saturday. This was a part we played and maybe the only thing we should apologise for is a naiveté that we entered into that situation with, a thought that somehow we weren’t playing the antagonist, that somehow we were trying to, I don’t know, I don’t know what else we could have been really, realistically. We certainly weren’t the Joker; we certainly weren’t the shadow that creeps in everything. We were the antagonist and designed to shake things up, to be a visible voice saying  “No” loudly and really fucking proudly. You know, why wear the mask, why not wear the mask? Whatever…. These are irrelevant questions. Black again…

Pause, again, you decide for how long

Yes, it’s definitely a sign of antagonism for me. It about saying I’m pissed off and quite rightly so and not being ashamed of that anger and that rage and that sorrow and capitulating and not accepting in my heart that its the way life has to be, with no real autonomous power cos I think we do have power. And if we are helpless, then I want none of it! And I reject it! Je refuse! I refuse.”

Fade back to black:

Act 1, Sc 2:

It’s still black.

The characters are there in your memory, as are the sets, the costumes. Design them how you want them to look, let the characters say the words you want to say.

Don’t be afraid.



I don’t want to mask up.

At least, I don’t want to mask up, or hide my identity from you, alongside whom I marched on the 26th. I’d like to be able to talk to you, or argue with you, even if we disagree. But we don’t have that choice: to hide our identity in a surveillance culture is a choice that doesn’t permit any selection. Anonymity is not in itself an end – it would be a pretty useless one – but a means of taking action in a culture where dissent has been gutted of all potential under the watchful lenses of CCTV cameras and surveillance teams.

It is a choice, yes. That choice is made on the brink where analysis tips over into action. The defenders of ‘Black Bloc’ explain that it is a tactic, rather than an organisation – that it is, in other words, simply a means of acting. Why choose it?

For some, it is a tactic of last resort, inhabiting the far end of a spectrum that stretches from writing to MPs, to marching, to the anonymous destruction of property, all representing differing intensities of action, a tool within a wide arsenal aiming to pressure those in power. But this elides a political difference. The black bloc tactic is not simply on a continuum with those tools, but is a different species of action, one which rejects the premises on which many others are founded. Its refusal of identity, and its refusal of the logic of simple registration of disagreement, is rooted in a recognition that the ‘peaceful’ demonstration changes nothing, challenges nothing, achieves nothing but a torpid and futile walk towards resignation.

Why do we act? The imposition of austerity by the few and the wealthy demands action. How? Those who remember the anti-war demonstrations from the beginning of the century know that numbers achieve nothing; that to turn up in our thousands makes not the slightest impact on those in power. Power loves a good march: it enables governments to cloak themselves in a veil of pluralism – a veritable triumph for democracy, after all, even if no one intended to listen to you – or enables a craven opposition (which would cut ‘deeper and harder than Thatcher’, lest we forget) to co-opt your protest as a wave upon which to launch their party back to power. At what point were you heard?

We were sold on a lie a long time ago: you’re presented with the option of protesting and marching as a way of registering your dissent, of making your mark, as if our society operates like the most hallowed of debate chambers, where ideas meet each other in purity and reason, and through debate the most meritorious course of action is decided. But the dice are loaded and the house is bent: this is a power struggle, in which the act of registration, the signifying of dissent, ends up another way of someone else scoring points, some other virtually indistinguishable politician seizing the reins of power. Your voice is recuperated to their ends. ‘Not in my name’ is a gift to power – as if by turning up you’ve made the check against your name, done all you could, now all you can do is watch them ignore it or use it to their own ends. What is left, when the dice are so loaded, but to overturn the table?

In going masked-up, in smashing a pole through a bank window, in spattering a wall with paint, we refuse to be hemmed in to a corner where our dissent can be used by others. It is a choice to act, and to act urgently, collectively. Anonymity is a choice born of necessity, here. The banks and businesses targeted do not exist in isolation from political power, but form a constituent part of it: capital, power and surveillance combined are supposed to remind you at every turn that your existence is provisional, and your political dissent is tolerated on their terms alone. Any argument about presenting yourself clearly before the agents of power depends on the legitimacy of that power; that legitimacy is not something I recognise. To choose to be faceless as we break the glass is not an act of shame, but the condition under which such an action is possible; an action which reveals the systemic roots of the austerity agenda.

To take such an action is ‘radical’, yes, in that it will not be satisfied with cosmetic changes or mere rearrangement of symptoms but demands the breaking of the barriers which insulate the sources of injustice from any real change. Why break things? It is a symbol, but not a mere symbol. Such an action seems daring because it exposes fictions about what is truly valuable, and what is truly immutable. The logic of action is that it refuses to be subsumed in fictions of immutability; with the shattering of glass the narrative of ‘realism’, the argument that present social conditions are a natural and inevitable consequence of how human beings are, should shatter too.


I have said that I do not want to mask up; that is true. I hope that you might understand a little better now why we do. Yet I feel there is also something missing. This is a dire situation, but we need not be sad in order to be militant. The anonymity afforded by a mask is not an anonymity that is isolated but one that extends beyond isolation; it is a sign that effaces the personal and foregrounds the collective. It is risky; it is also trusting. We saw that on the day as dozens of hands reached out to snatch back from police hands those about to be arrested, or covered police cameras, or administered first aid.

‘Mindless violence’. Of course, neither word is apt. It was targeted, and it was a recognition, and act that, far from mindless, refused recuperation into falsehood. What sends the politicians running to the touchstone of ‘violence’ is that here it came from the wrong direction: we might argue that property destruction is hardly the same as violence against persons, but something becomes clear from their conflation. We live under a regime that transforms objects into subjects, and subjects into objects; in which to break a pane of glass is tantamount to inflicting personal injury on a corporate person, but to put families on the street, to take away the small concessions the poor and the sick have won from power is merely a matter of accountancy.

Catharsis is not enough: simply to expend our energy redressing the balance of power momentarily on the street, inflicting some small damage, some mark that can’t be turned around, is a start. It is in the interest of power to make you believe that we’re in it for kicks. But things have to become visible in order to catalyse, or else we achieve nothing. When we take off our masks, we’re your children, your cousin, your co-worker; we might be in the soup kitchen, or in the dole queue, or in the classroom next to you. If the glass is broken and the slogans fill the wall it is because it is a sign that something is already broken. But don’t think for a moment that’s all we know: if I didn’t think there was something else possible, if I hadn’t seen its possibility, I’m not sure I’d take these risks. ‘We carry a new world, here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.’

We do not justify violence

We do not justify violence.

Violence is never justified.

Violence is sometimes necessary.

You, however, justify violence. You justify violence when it is delivered to the ribs by a riot shield, the head by a baton, the eyes by pepper spray, movement by kettle, liberty by cell and cuffs, livelihoods and communities by austerity measures.

Coercion, incarceration, deprivation.

This is your routine and systemic violence; justified, smug eyes looking straight into the camera.

We did not deliver our message straight to camera, smiling. You could not see us smile, because we wore masks. Not to intimidate, or because it looks cool. But as a practical measure. Our message, our voice, is not allowed in the public discourse. Cameras follow us around. Those who dare act directly, passively and without anonymity, such as UKUncut, are lied to and incarcerated.

Why do you vilify our tactics, when all other paths of resistance are monitored and criminalised?

Our violence on saturday was not justified. It was necessary. It was not for fun, it was not what bonded activists together. What unites a black bloc is a mutual understanding that political expression must be rescued from the slippery slope to the lowest common denominator positivism expressed by the three main parties.

We do not denounce the TUC A-B march. It is a form of political expression, but, as Vince Cable said the following day, a futile way of challenging economic policy. What benefit a big march has, is (hopefully) a deeper politicisation of participants, a feeling of solidarity with a wider movement.

We hope they return home to rally and plot.

And you are right to ask ‘and what chance of changing economic policy does direct action have?’. The answer is none, we never expect it to. At least we are honest enough to say so, and seek other ways in which economic policy is disrupted or brought attention to; direct action, occupations, mutual aid.

We do not want physical violence.

You are supporting violent insurgents in the middle east, because it furthers your economic and political capital. We will never put a gun to your head. We will never ask that another state launch missiles to destroy your military or police infrastructure. We will be disobedient, we will occupy buildings, we will destroy symbols of capital, we will be a spanner in your wheels. Enough spanners and the machine grinds to a halt. Then we can dismantle and debate what to do with the constituent components.

And you Ed Milliband,

You invoked the memory of the suffragettes and civil rights movement, as if history were a dressing up box you could raid to make yourself look important.

You look fucking ridiculous.

In the same breath, you denounced the very same tactics the suffragettes and civil rights movement used over long protracted struggles with the state, media and public, to gain ground in the political discourse. And those movements did not ‘win’. Politics is not ‘won’. It is a perpetual renegotiation between a plurality of voices.

On Saturday we shouted the loudest.

We’re sorry that you misunderstood.

From your daughter

I am your daughter. You probably wouldn’t have seen me even if we had stood next to each other, and you won’t see me in any of the pictures. I am invisible, but my anger is there for all to see. I know you will find it hard to understand, but you fought by your methods and I will fight by mine. You cannot see my face because I want to fight another day. From every angle I am watched, tracked, kettled and controlled, and only when I am invisible am I free. The laws are not our laws, the government is not our government, but the streets belong to us. I do not aim for destruction, but for creation, but we cannot create while we are suffocating. The future you fought for is past. We will build our own future, but we can only do that if we have space to breathe. The noose is tightening. We need to clear space, and take space, and we will do it with music, with paint, with fires and with bricks.

And I love you.

Paint everything.

The size of the black bloc on March 26 was a new thing for many of us.  It was exciting and empowering to be a part of, to realize how readily the streets became ours and the systems of control that everyday try to divide us, alienate us and make us accountable, fell away. Saturday evoked new realms of possibility for not just those who broke away from the main march but also for those on the main march and watching from their homes who still felt cheated; there is a real alternative that isn’t just same same but later.

The forms of protest that are deemed legitimate are narrowing, and the ability for these forms of protest to affect any change beyond just a card to play in party politics is remote. The options we are given to participate in politics are always mediated, and their direction is already marked. This is the context that we come from, that we break out from, to find unity in our dissent and reach for a real alternative.
As soon as you break away, suggest this something else, you cross a line. It’s a line of Forward Intelligence, surveillance cameras, police batons, forensics and drawn out court cases.  This is the context we face and this is why we mask up.

Masking up isn’t our point it’s our tool, it’s how we’ve adapted; older generations may find it an aesthetic that’s hard to swallow but it’s necessary, and for everyone who’s had to deal with police bullshit in their everyday lives it becomes plain.

Our imaginations go beyond black bloc and our lives spread out in a million different ways behind it; for a moment on Saturday I saw all that in the same place at the same time and it was exhilarating. We are powerful. It exploded all over the streets. Now we have to stretch its potential, take creative ownership of what it is ourselves rather than letting the mainstream media become our only point of self reference, and take it all forward.

On first inspection it would appear that we are trapped in their design, for it is difficult to see past what appears to be transparent. Everywhere is malignant disguised as benign.

It is said that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but I want to break every pane. Only when the glass is shattered does it become visible, and power can no longer hide behind the façade of legitimacy.

There are two worlds. One is created for us and exists to make us forget ourselves, to grind down hope, to iron out the twinkling thought that maybe another kind of life is possible. It is the world that made my parents slaves, and I hate it. In it, we are a sorry state, a tired mess. Our children look at us and dread growing into the tangled shapes we have become, but life does not have to be this way. 

The other world is the one that WE create. It exists fleetingly, in shadows and cracks, but on days like the 26th March it explodes into the bloom of possibility, and our immediate environment is once again imbued with meaning and potential. With every baton blow, trumped up charge and false headline it recedes back into the shadows, though each time welcoming a few more willing converts into its multitude. For they have come to realise that ‘That’s just the way things are!’ is no longer a satisfactory explanation for anything, and they can no longer rest easy knowing they are a part of that which teaches us to hate ourselves.

When a policeman raises his baton and screams at you to ‘Get back!’- ask yourself what he is protecting. Is it a government that doesn’t give a shit about you? Is it an economic system which exists to bleed you dry for the benefit of a wealthy minority?

Or, is it a thin sheet of glass- that which separates the world as it is and the world we create? Glass which once broken can never be fixed, at least in our imaginations…?

Breaking a window


Smashed is the apathy to a government, who’s interests are far from common.

The TUCs attempt to control our rage is in shards.

What lays behind these panes/pains, are the first steps of a collective struggle.

Break Out

Break Out

From between the government’s cries of ‘Deficit! Cuts! Austerity!’ and the TUC’s Jobs! Growth! Economy!
We break out.
We break away.

Police kettles won’t hold us. Media propaganda can’t contain us.
We will not be represented. We will not be governed. We don’t want your jobs and if you won’t bribe us with benefit then we’ll loot your stores. Your banks are broken windows into your future. In the streets outside a new world is emerging. Its colourful, chaotic and unknown but it is ours to live and not yours to control.

Run comrades – the old world is behind you!