12 days in June
One of the lesser known slogans, from Paris 1968, but one of the most insightful, was ‘Marx is our god, Marcuse is our prophet, Mao is our weapon.’ This slogan acknowledges the development of history, the necessity of revisionism, and how ideas can be translated into action. The seminar discussion was brought to the barricades, and the barricades were turned into a seminar discussion. The divorce of theory from practice, or of practice from theory, leaves both irrelevant and useless.
The pluralistic nature of the Radical Bank of Brighton and Hove frustrates any literal translation of that slogan to our project; the gods are many, prophets even more, some of them dead, some alive. But there was one weapon we all shared: play.
A movement can only be responsible for half of its narrative. Through its actions and own reporting of its actions it shows the world how it wants to be understood, but the world will always interpret it how it wants. The movement collides, and it is the purpose of those responsible for its media to channel that collision into favourable ground, from which the ideological battle, that great struggle over hearts and minds, can be won. If we want to expose the death-worship of the corporate-state, then we must embrace life.
Through play the shadowy activist, in their squatted fortress, revealed themselves as human. The radical became relatable. Mistakes and imperfections openly displayed sharply contrasted the arrogance of the state. There was no shame or embarrassment in arriving at the wrong court for the eviction hearing, and no lie or spin to cover history up.
Inviting people to ‘pin the heart on the banker’ outside our squat was not a juvenile exercise, it was politic as play. Dare to enjoy yourself while you fight the state in all of its diverse forms, and you frustrate alienation. The world created by us, the working class, has long since been turned against us as something hostile, as a form of domination. Turn it into your playground. We are bored of being entertained, where money has already soaked every guitar string, and ego pours from every orifice of interchangeable film stars. We know there is a lot of fun to be had in political struggle. We see the smiles of every capitalist and politician, we know they only smile because we work, we struggle, and we suffer. They are happy because we are not, and that is where the pluralism of the Radical Bank meets concrete common ground. We want to play their game. We want to take their buildings, their property, their support. We want to take the smiles right off their faces, and give them to everybody else. Everyone can have a bankers tooth when we are finished.
It was because we played their property game, their politics game, by our own rules, that I will never forget those 12 days in June when we turned a Barclays bank into a food bank, an idea bank.
When our lives are work and stress, play is rebellion.