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 The September 28 Anti War Demo


Where I was marching there were six people dressed up as big black birds. Maybe they were rooks, maybe they were crows they had beaks and long black wings and were strutting along just in front of the 'Sex Workers of the World Unite' banner, which was held aloft by a group of hookers. Behind them came eight girls doing a choreographed dance to the sound of thirty or forty people beating drums or banging bits of pipe. The noise was deafening. Some people were just shouting or blowing whistles, others were jumping up and down with their hands held above their heads.

Finally we set off down the Embarkment with a blast of energy. Looking round I thought I've never seen anything like this: we were like some mad army out of a sci-fi Middle Ages, or perhaps more accurately a Surreal eruption from the collective unconscious. Globalise Resistance and Indymedia were behind us, while just in front there was a 12 or 13 foot high Wicker Man, made of canvas on a frame and surmounted by a composite head of Bush and Blair. Several people were moving it along, with difficulty. Why are they taking so much trouble? I wondered.

When we got to Downing Street I soon found out. A flurry in the Wicker Man's skirts and a bunch of smoke bombs were set off. The giant birds, the drummers, the hookers were all dancing around in the billowing orange smoke. The Bush/Blair head fell off. All over Whitehall people were laughing and dancing.

... Personally I needed a break. I'd been walking round for hours already; so I went and had a quick eco-Satanic cheeseburger in Leicester Square... but when I hurried back found I'd lost the band and the birds and the hookers, and just wandered along with the rest of the march to Hyde Park. Not until then did I realise how many Muslims were there; nor had I ever seen such a huge march, it just went on and on and on.

The epic proportions only became clear in Hyde Park. The police claimed there were only 150,000 people which was hooey; personally I'd say the organisers estimate of 400,000 plus was much more like it. When I got there John Pilger was speaking, saying how it was a truly historic occasion, and it really was. For a political event it was genuinely heart-centred. Hundreds of thousands of people all relaxed and open with one another (as though the far Left in its stress on raucous demos had independently disovered some of the laws of dynamic meditation). The Muslims had turned Hyde Park into an impromptu teach-in. And they weren't just handing out leaflets they were giving away CDs and colour brochures (of shot to death Palestinian children). Clearly Islam was mobilising on an unprecedented scale and with a lot of (Saudi?) money behind it. ...Yet looking round I could only find this introduction of Islam into London life thoroughly positive. What would a vibrant (and non-fundamentalist) Islam make of our Western narcissism and despair? There's much for both cultures to learn. In his speech the Labour MP Tam Dalyell used the phrase "We are sleep-walking" ...and for a hallucinatory moment in the late afternoon sunlight I seemed to see the shade of Gurdjieff and the Sufis reach out over the thousands and thousands of people in the Park...


Forthcoming anti-war/anti-globalisation events are listed in the Lenin the Buddha section.