The Socialist Setting
Myself, my partner Gee, our eldest daughter Mei-An, and our youngest daughter Kai-Lin, arrived at Russell Square Tube Station around 11:50am. We had left Sutton by car at about 10:30am, and caught a Northern Line Tube (North-Bound via Bank) to Kings Cross, where we changed for the Piccadilly Line and travelled one-stop to Russell Square. The tone of the day was set at this point, as thousands upon thousands of good-natured and kind-hearted people began to alight from regular tube trains – and the narrow Victorian Station, with its broken lift and its equally narrow, spiralling staircase – started to fill-up with people getting caught in queues that were not moving, or moving too quickly. Although the sign stated that there were 175 steps, we did not realise just how steep or continuous this was at the time, and started to carry Kai-Lin up the stairs (Mei-An walked, whilst initially Gee held the back of the pram, and a person unknown to us picked-up the front before I could act). About a quarter of the way-up, this kind person (a very helpful woman), handed-over the front of the pram to me. Gee and I then carried the pram another quarter of the way up, before we changed ends (as the exertion was beginning to tell with oxygen-debt and tiring leg muscles). All these issues were amplified by the crowds, and the fact that we had to move quickly due to the extent of people trying to exit the station. As we moved-up the outside of the spiral, every so often we had to manoeuvre around individuals that had to rest at various points on the stair-well to get their breath going-up, whilst trying to avoid people coming-down the stair-case into the station! For some reason this stair-case was serving both as an access and exit route. As we progressed another quarter, Gee asked to rest – but a man we did not know picked-up the front of the pram and helped to carry our daughter up and into daylight – this is how our protest began! When we were finally in the street, we had to paused for about five minutes to get our breath back – Mei-An – who is only four and three-quarters did an excellent job climbing all these stairs with minimum guidance or support.
People began to gather in Tavistock Square (and the surrounding streets) at around 11am, and probably earlier. The march was supposed to start at 12pm – but as is usual with these kind of things, no one moved until about 1:30pm. In the meantime, we had to unfurl our Red Lenin Flag and stand in the road and wait. We tried to move into Tavistock Square earlier to find other Communists and Socialists, but the sheer weight of crowds prevented this. Our Red Flag remained the only one in the street we were in, and so people started to gather around it, who held suitable leftwing views (after-all, the NHS is a Socialist institution modelled on the healthcare system of the former Soviet Union). As we waited, Gee would breast-feed Kai-Lin whilst standing (covering the upper body with a blanket), and Mei-An – who had very tired legs from the earlier exertions – sat in the push-chair playing on her ipad. An elderly lady came up to us and said ‘long live Vladimir Lenin!’ – and some NHS Staff that knew Gee (who is a NHS Midwife) came to say ‘hello!’). The atmosphere was very good natured, and the police presence was very inconspicuous, although the growing crowd was routinely monitored from the air via police helicopters. Many people used our Red Lenin Flag – which was flying high – as a navigation point in the crowd, advising others to make their way towards it. As matters transpired, the march was so fast moving when it did begin, that we never managed to find the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) Banner – although we did manage to obtain a ‘free’ copy of the Morning Star Newspaper, apparently paid for by Unite the Union – my union as it happens.
Questioning the Flag
As law abiding British citizens, we peacefully exercise our legal, lawful and democratic rights to protest, albeit from our own leftwing position. We believe that this ability to do so, is one of the strongest elements of British cultural identity that has been known (historically) for its tolerance and understanding. We also believe that it marks-out Britain as one of the potentially ‘progressive’ countries in the world. However, these facts do not mean that everything is perfect. The Tory (and LibDem) policy since 2010 of courting neo-Nazism in the Ukraine (and opening the UK to non-EU Ukrainian students that support fascism) has led to our Red Flag being ‘questioned’ during marches by lonesome individuals from Eastern Europe (although once in Croydon, the questioner was of Southern Irish background). The narrative is always the same – as the Ukraine (and other Eastern European countries) – have ‘banned’ the Communist Party and the Red Flag, then why are we in the UK flying it? This is the quintessential paradigm of the intolerance of fascism, and the bedrock of neo-Nazism. This is a contrived rightwing assault on the political freedoms associated with Western European liberalism, orchestrated, I believe, from the United States of America, and avidly embraced by those Eastern European nations that enthusiastically ‘collaborated’ with Nazi Germany and its invasion of the USSR – a disastrous continuation of the Hitlerite holocaust that cost the lives of between 30 – 40 million Soviet deaths. The manner in which I have experienced this form of fascism has involved an individual approaching me on the march and openly questioning ‘why’ I am carrying a Red Flag. Their attitude is insidious and creepy (typical of the brooding hatred that underlies far-right political rhetoric and action), but packaged to appear ‘friendly’ in an attempt to ‘dominate’ and ‘intimidate’ at the point of contact.
Questioner: What is this flag you are carrying?
Answerer (me): British Socialism and Communism.
Q: What makes it British?
A: It is ‘International’ but we are British.
Q: I hope you do not find me aggressive, but I am enquiring.
A: Are you American?
A: You are taught to dislike leftwing politics – I can tell this by your odd questions.
Q: Why do you support the leftwing?
A: We all embody differing historical narratives. Britain has a close association with the leftwing, the US does not. People are a product of their upbringing and I like mine.
Q: Why did the UK vote to get out of the EU?
A: The EU is a rightwing, anti-Socialist, anti-worker institute that exists to advance US-style predatory capitalism in Europe.
Q: Why does it do this?
A: To ensure the Eastern European countries bordering Russia embrace neo-Nazism, and reject Russian influence, acting inaccordance with US foreign policy. Making workers migrate en mass to make a living destroys local communities, and eradicates the point of unions. Masses of cheap labour only benefits the bourgeoisie.
Q: That sounds like how the Mexicans flood the US with cheap labour.
A: It’s nothing like it. The US invaded Mexico in the 1840’s – and its West Coast is basically former parts of Mexico that were annexed by the US. When Mexicans cross the fabricated US-Mexican border today, they are in fact entering their own country. Furthermore, as Mexicans are the product of Spanish mixing with indigenous Indian, the US hatred toward them is ‘racially’ based, but as the EU involves ‘White’ Europeans being used to oppress one another, there is no racism involved in opposing it.
Q: Why do you carry the Soviet flag?
A: In WWII the Soviets lost 30-40 million people fighting Nazi Germany – and the UK was an ally of Russia. I had a family member who directly assisted the Soviet war effort.
Q: What about the famine in the USSR caused by Stalin during WWII?
A: Give me the Russian language reference for that allegation.
Q: Stalin considered mass death to be a statistic.
A: Having read the Collected Works of Lenin and Stalin I can find no such quote.
Q: How do you know?
A: I work with Chinese and Russian source language materials.
Q: (Asks me in Russian whether I can ‘speak Russian?)
A: I answer ‘no’ in English.
Q: My family were from the Soviet Union.
A: Really, what part?
Q: What is the NHS?
A: A Socialist healthcare system derived from the Soviet Union and implemented in the UK in 1948 by the Labour Party.
Q: Why did Russia invade the Crimea?
A: When did they do that?
Q: Recently – before that there were no Russians in the Crimea!
A: (Laughing loudly) Are you saying there are no Slavic people in the Crimea?
Q: Is Socialism possible?
A: Why not – we’ve achieved capitalism. I think Socialism is a matter of human evolution and is inevitable in the end.
Q: I do not believe we have achieved capitalism.
A: (Laughing again!) What did you study to get your degree in?
A: Then you will know the importance of defining terms and providing reliable references to support your conclusions.
Q: The Soviet system did not work.
A: Are you opposed to the USSR?
Q: No – it nolonger exists
A: OK – see you later!
He approached me using a Western Cold War rhetoric mixed with a current Obama-esque anti-Russian racist attitude – and did not present anything that could be called ‘ethnic’ Russian. In fact, he was unsettled by my insistence of defining terms and providing Russian language references. Towards the end he became agitated and I decided to end the conversation and walk away.