Reclaim the Streets - what happened??

Discussion in 'protest, direct action and demos' started by wanderlust19, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. wanderlust19

    wanderlust19 New Member

    Sorry for the ignorance. I'm reading No Logo by Naomi Klein and to my massive shock I learnt about the Reclaim the streets movement/parties that were so prolific in the late 90's! I'd never heard ANYTHING about these before?! What happened?! There are documented RTS parties from about 1996 onward, every year until 2003 ... then next to nothing? Youtube has footage from one or two in Europe around 2006 - Zurich and Helsinki - but that's all ... they seemed a smaller scale, too. The movement seems to have dwindled out ... ?? Agh! I was only 9 when they were in their peak ten years ago!

    What happened?

    What are the chances of it starting up again, newly improved?

    The philosophy behind it and the medium of protest is genius.
  2. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    Have a look around the website - what happened? Things evolve, Mayday became a focus for a bit, the Wombles began, Critical Mass, Disarm DESI, etc etc. Will it start again? I doubt it. But don't let that stop you doing your own thing :)
  3. Minnie_the_Minx

    Minnie_the_Minx someinenhhanding menbag and me ah bollox

  4. co-op

    co-op Free the rhubarb crumble!

    They were wonderful but fell apart a bit after the fiasco of the Parliament Square/Cenotaph-defaceing RTS which was rubbish for a host of reasons.

    I'd love another one in Brixton, it was one of the best festivals I've been to.
  5. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    You'll hear many reasons why RTS fell apart. People say there were reasons such as police tactics and changes in the party scene, but sadly, as far as I can make out, one of the main reasons RTS London as a group fell apart was that their decision-making processes no longer worked above a certain size. They became too big to operate as a group, at some point a decision was made to break up into smaller groups, but that failed to work properly and the group fell apart and faded away.

    One of the things that bothers me about this is that other non-hierarchical groups in London often use similar decision-making techniques to RTS and then wonder why they don't grow...
  6. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es gibt Zeit

    Its a real shame RTS fell apart imo.

    It would have been nice to see the original group staying the same size and inspiring other people to start organizing their own things and stuff, which I suppose is what was expected to happen.
  7. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    Imo, ultimately, the reason it 'fell apart' is that all such things have finite lifespans - like i said, it evolves and becomes something different as different actors leave and join, as external forces and issues change, as reactions to and motivations towards develop. Some of that may be very mundane, like Brainaddict notes, unwieldy decision-making structures and so on but some of it isn't really tangible, it's just that nothing lasts forever.
  8. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    wanderlust, how old are you and where are you based?

    RTS were a great movement, I'd love to see something like that again.

    edit... i see you're young, so no wonder you didn't hear of them. like most protest movements they don't get talked aobut in history class, you know.
  9. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    RTS London turned into or spawned Indymedia worldwide, Disarm DSIe, social centres, and more.

    Like the Samba band(s). "Let's focus on a cool way of offering crowds a direction to go in". "Er, where did all the crowds come from back then?"

    Oh, and

    				-> J18
    RTS -> Birmingham G8 protest 
    				-> Seattle -> lots of things :)
  10. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es gibt Zeit

    It was very much of its time as well, the pre 9/11 anti capitalism movements and stuff.

    I imagine RTS would look quite a bit different now.

    But for what its worth, I would love to see something like that again as well.

    It is what it is all about, for me.

    Coz I like situationism.

  11. London_Calling

    London_Calling Pleasant and unpatronising

    Fashion changed.
  12. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    Hmmm, a bit of an easy get-out clause to explain the group break-up if you ask me. The fact is there were a lot of people involved, a lot of energy to do things, and though the organisation would have had to evolve, it would have been great if it could have created some kind of permanent rallying point for red/green/black positive-acting anti-capitalist ways of thinking. Instead it fell apart in what was quite an acrimonious way - I met a few people who left it because they just couldn't stand the meetings and the ways people were behaving any more - after a fantastic few years it became a sad failure of non-hierarchical organising and in my opinion should be recognised as such.

    If you don't admit it when you fail, how are you going to learn?
  13. Blagsta

    Blagsta Minimum cage, maximum cage

    I think 9/11 was a big reason. Up until then, it had a momentum. Roads protest camps, RTS, J18, Seattle, Mayday etc. After that, the energy seemed to dissipate.
  14. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    In what way did it fail? To fail implies not meeting certain criteria or standards or something and I wasn't aware that there was a big-picture gameplan as such - maybe there should have been. As i explicitly acknowledged in the part of my post that you chose not to quote, the internal dissent and disagreement and so on certainly played a part, and I would agree with Blagsta that 9/11 seems to have impacted in unforeseen ways and I do think the establishment reaction became much more punitive subsequently.

    But I don't particularly remember people involved in RTS explicitly having a desire to become what you describe as a "permanent rallying point for red/green/black positive-acting anti-capitalist ways of thinking" - political movements come and go, some maintain in some form, most don't but its a fact of life that most overground in action but underground in origin movements have a "shelf-life" for want of a better way of putting it.
  15. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    If you were going to hold the 2008 equivalent of an old-skool RTS, what genres of music would you play?

    Yes, this is an indirect suggestion for one of the many reasons for it fading.
  16. Hocus Eye.

    Hocus Eye. Snap, crop, scrap crap

    I don't think it matters that the specific 'organisation' Reclaim The Streets appears not to exist. The spirit of opposition to world Globalisation still exists and is spread through many different areas of life. RTS has spawned offspring, and while protests at the G8 meetings or at the Arms Fair in London might seem to be ineffective in an immediate radical sense, there is massive support for anti-capitalist ideas including the anti-war movement which is part of it. The media now report these activities with less hostility and don't always automatically support the status quo. Opposition to the economic system is more generalised and the need for strident individuals or small groups to raise issues is less desparate now. 'Softly softly catchee monkey' perhaps.

    That is my hope.
  17. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    I say it failed because in the end a lot of people walked away feeling pissed off - that's a failure in my book. And they walked away not because they weren't interested in the ideas any more (which is why I say it should have been able to continue in some form) but because of meetings and processes that destroyed any kind of positive feeling they had about it.

    You acknowledge that there was bad feeling at the end but you seem to want to downplay it as some kind of minor factor compared to other external pressures. From talking to a lot of people involved it was not a minor factor - and it left a lot of people disillusioned and pissed off.

    It's very sad, and I'm sure the original poster will feel disappointed that it ended as it did, but I think the problems that occurred should have been (and still should be now) more openly discussed so that they don't have to happen again.
  18. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    I downplay it by openly acknowledging the fact, discussing it, and recognising other factors as well? Strange views on downplaying something imo.
  19. Kid_Eternity

    Kid_Eternity "You might be a lord but here comes the king."

    Yep, a huge effect, that and the lack of ability to morph into an effective anti war movement (which incidently allowed the trots to have their wicked way)...
  20. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    You only acknowledged it when I pushed you to (see your first post), and you're still waving it away with the 'Nothing lasts forever' line. It's true that nothing lasts forever, but that's not why RTS ended - it's just a cop-out line. It ended when it did for very specific reasons due to some very specific actions. I've been told a couple of different versions of it but they all involve a pretty dismal failure of the supposedly democratic decision-making methods.
  21. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    But the thing is, whatever you were pissed off about, not everyone was pissed off about the same thing.

    Whatever it was, it was in part a sign that the movement/disorganisation had reached a certain point in its life-cycle.

    Often, people who've felt and exhibited amazing dedication and commitment want to look for one thing or person to "blame" when the fact that it's time for them to move on and do something else - when in fact it's that time because of perfectly understandable personal needs, like wanting to have a child, or more than four hours' sleep a night, or a home.
  22. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    I agree with this. Whether RTS exists or not is not particularly important. What is a real shame though is that I've met people who after being involved in RTS and a few other similarly run groups swore that they would never go to another political meeting in their life.
  23. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    Oh whatever, you're clearly right and I don't know what I'm talking about :rolleyes:

    I'd go so far as to say, in fact, the entrenched "I'm right, you're wrong" attitudes that you're displaying here are exactly why people do walk away from such ventures.
  24. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    Firstly I wasn't involved before the 'break-up' and only met the people afterwards, so I don't have any personal investment. But my understanding is that the RTS open meetings broke up because there were *too many* people, more than because people wanted to move on. I'm happy to be corrected by people who attended the meetings in its last days if that is a misinterpretation - but I've been told it by a few people.
  25. Paulie Tandoori

    Paulie Tandoori shut it you egg!

    Ah so, even though you weren't involved at all, you're quite happy to tell me that I'm talking bollocks, even though i was involved from the 2nd party at the Angel onwards. Fucking priceless.
  26. Brainaddict

    Brainaddict chief propagandist (provisional)

    It's you that's treating me like I'm your enemy. I'm really not y'know :)
  27. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    I take it you were involved in protest groups because it was fashionable?
  28. Blagsta

    Blagsta Minimum cage, maximum cage

    Hang on, which RTS group are you on about? Just London?
  29. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    9/11 and the subsequent trrrrsm hysteria put paid to any chance of similar protests happening.
  30. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    Brainaddict, do I know anyone of these people who talk about who walked away pissed off? Like paulie I was involved in RTS from the beginning, albeit in a minor way, and I'd be interested in speaking to them.

    See, for me, what damaged RTS was that I found myself going on street parties that had no politics. To an outsider they would have looked like it was just a bunch of peopl having a party and not a political action. However that wasn't due to RTS per se, it was due to no individual taking responsibility for explaining to passers by and the media why it was happening.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice