Workers Power – an organisation which comes from a revolutionary tradition but which has unfortunately degenerated in the recent past into a centrist direction – had a similar assessment of the situation. They refused the reactionary condemnation of the organisations mentioned above. But they treated the riots as understandable, even justified, but hopeless and perspective-less local uprising. During the uprising the SWP at least touched the question of the connection of riots and the perspective of the revolution. While this was inconsistent and not enough at least they expressed this important idea.
But the erstwhile revolutionary Workers Power group failed even in this. Worse they made concessions to the petty-bourgeois public opinion in relativization of the motivation of the masses in this uprising. In their statement they wrote: “Some are motivated by hatred of the police and rage at this society – others by the promise of raiding local shops for goods – some by both.” (34)
This was the assessment of the two articles which WP published in the two weeks after the beginning of the uprising. Only one and a half weeks after the end of the uprising the WP leadership adopted a resolution which – probably after being reminded how WP assessed similar riots in the past – turned to evaluate the uprising much more positively. The comrades now – like the RKOB – speak about the “so-called riots” and even adopted our name we gave to this event: “the August Uprising”. The article also was now more explicit about the character of the uprising. Instead of the “mixed motivations” the WPB leadership accepted now what we said from the beginning:
“In all cases, there were a mix of people, classes and motivations for those who came onto the streets. Like revolutions, so-called ‘riots’ bring people from all the lower classes onto the streets, but this does not mean it is impossible to discern the dominant groups and the main class interests driving the action. It was in the main an uprising of working class youth against police brutality, racism and harassment, and the underlying conditions facing the working class today” (35)
However as we will see this didn’t lead them to any correction of their non-revolutionary policy. In fact only a few words in the official assessment changed which couldn’t have any practical consequences since the Uprising “fortunately” (for WP) was already over. This is why WP can publish an optimistic sounding resolution on the August Uprising and at the same time promote a reactionary condemnation of the Uprising by Žižek. There is no contradiction in this because in essence there is a tendency of Žižekism in the Workers Powers analysis. While they would not use the same words as the philosopher they share his scepticism towards the youth of the lower strata of the working class and their ability to play a central role in the struggle for liberation. That’s why they never orientated towards these layers and why in the past decades hardly recruited anyone from amongst the black, migrant and poorer strata of the working class.
(34) Workers Power: With the working class youth of London – against the police, Statement from 8 August, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/08/with-the-working-class-youth-of-london-%E2%80%93-against-the-police/
(35) Workers Power: The political situation in Britain after the August uprising; Resolution on the political situation after the riots, 19.8.2011, http://www.workerspower.co.uk/2011/08/political-situation-after-the-august-uprising/