It is clear that the student movement of last winter could well represent the genesis of a broader anti-cuts movement that poses not only serious questions to the coalition government and its policy agenda of budgetary austerity, but to how politics itself is conducted and contested in the UK over the coming years.
This movement, founded upon street protest, flashmobs and the utilization of online networks to organise, co-ordinate and disseminate its message(s) represents a shift away from a belief that the best approach to affecting policy outcomes is through the offline A to B march, lobbying and the parliamentary process. Indeed the favoured dictum of many protestors in the face of naysayers before the vote on the 9th of December was resolute and defiant, "...what parliament can do, the streets can undo".
It is this mantra, manifest in the motifs and tactics of the movement, that seem to mark a return to non-parliamentary forms of political contestation in this country that are unprecedented in scale since before the Second World War and seem set to only grow stronger.
Fight Back! is an exploration of an important phase in the emergence of these dynamics. As Stuart White at Open Democracy put it "...Fight Back! is a 350 page reader that is both an initial, hasty record of the protests of November and December...as well as an argument about their originality. As such it has been welcomed from Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent to Cory Doctorow in Boing Boing." It is as much a record and chronicle as it is analysis and critique.
Elsewhere White adds "...if indeed a new politics does emerge in response to the ultra-Thatcherism of the Coalition, the free downloading of Fight Back! may be seen as one of its starting points."
The text is keen to look at networked forms of protest and we are proud that it is publicly available as a free e-book and that the same values of open, participatory co-production through networks are maintained in how it is distributed. We are seeking to identify the genesis of new modes of political contestation and hope that the chosen model of co-production and distribution is equally innovative.
The launch of the hard copy of Fightback! will be on April 6th at Housmans bookstore where contributors including Nina Power, Anthony Barnett and Aaron Peters will speak.
Go to bit.ly/fightbackUK to download Fight Back! for free, read it on Kindle, join the debate and find out about forthcoming Fight Back! events.
[Aaron Peters is a PhD student in the New Political Communication Unit. His research examines the internet, protest, and collective action.]