London’s Protest Stickers: Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Austerity

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Stickers of all kinds are a common sight in London (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Shadwell Gardens, 12/09/17).

Many of the issues that I talking about in these protest stickers blog posts can be traced back to our underlying economic system: capitalism. As such, many of the protest stickers I find take issue with capitalism directly. Linked to capitalism is austerity, an economic policy of public spending cuts associated with neo-liberalism, the system which governments in the UK and USA have followed for almost the last half-century. Since the last global financial crisis in 2008, the UK government has enforced a policy of austerity that has affected public services in all areas. A significant amount of the energy of activists and social movements since 2010 has been devoted to fighting these cuts, and countering their impacts. The protest stickers I’ve found reflect this struggle against austerity and the wider economic system that it derives from.

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‘Fat cat’ is a common way to describe rich, greedy people. This sticker takes the metaphor literally (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Aylesbury Estate, 05/05/15).

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This sticker was produced by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Their name may not be very punchy, but the sticker is (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Bloomsbury Road, 28/05/17).

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This sticker was produced by Active Distribution, but points viewers towards the websites of two other groups. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke works to combat the violence that union leaders often face when standing up to Coca-Cola and it’s bottlers and subsidiaries, particularly in Columbia and Guatemala. War on Want campaigns on a variety of issues with the overarching aim of creating a more just world. In 2006, they published a damning report on Coca-Cola’s activities around the world (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Kennington Park Road, 04/06/15).

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This sticker is produced by a group called Anti-Capitalist Action. The website on the sticker doesn’t exist, but there is an active community page on Facebook (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston Road, 09/02/16).

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This sticker isn’t associated with a particular group or campaign, but has a general anti-capitalist sentiment, urging the viewer to live for their own pleasure rather the profits of their boss (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Torrington Place, 21/02/17).

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This sticker was also produced by Active Distribution. It features an unattributed quote relating to the way that it is often the most vulnerable people, such as the poor, the homeless, or immigrants, who are blamed for some of society’s biggest structural problems (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston, 17/02/15).

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The People’s Assembly is an anti-austerity movement that argues that austerity is not the only way to improve the British economy. In fact, they argue that it does not lead to a strong economy at all (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Malet Street, 17/02/15).

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Stick it to the Tories is a sticker campaign thought up by the West Wales Peoples Assembly. The project is a few years old now, and unfortunately the website is no longer functioning. Nevertheless, it is an interesting example of a forum for sharing sticker design and encouraging protest stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Charing Cross Road, 24/05/15)

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This sticker also focuses on the Conservative government’s austerity policies rather than austerity more generally (in recent years, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been just as supportive of cuts as the Tories). This sticker highlights the hypocrisy of austerity, which takes resources away from those who need it the most, supposedly because of a lack of money. At the same time, the richest in society get tax cuts (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Swiss Cottage, 12/10/17).

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This sticker uses symbols rather than words to get it’s point across. Scissors have been a well recognised symbol for economic cuts for the last decade or so. One of the key slogans during the student protests in 2010 was “Don’t run with scissors,” warning against hasty cuts that would do significant long-term damage (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Fleet Street, 20/06/15).

End Austerity Now Demo

On Saturday the 20th of June, the People’s Assembly organised a massive national demonstration in London opposing the Conservative government’s policy of austerity, called End Austerity Now. The People’s Assembly is a coalition of anti-austerity campaigns and groups, so there was a wide variety of places and interests represented on the demonstration. Thousands of people turned up protest against the cuts, and I was one of them.

The marched started outside of the Bank of England, a symbolic location. The route went through the city, along Fleet Street and the Strand to Parliament Square, where a rally was held.

The marched started outside of the Bank of England, a symbolic location. The route went through the city, along Fleet Street and the Strand to Parliament Square, where a rally was held (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The words on this banner is a stanza from the poem 'The Masque of Anarchy' written by the poet Percy Shelley after the Peterloo massacre in 1819.

The words on this banner is a stanza from the poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ written by the poet Percy Shelley after the Peterloo massacre in 1819 (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The People's Republic of Brighton and Hove was 'founded' after the general election, when the city's two constituencies were the only two not to elect a Conservative MP in the south-east.

The People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove was ‘founded’ after the general election, when two of the city’s constituencies were the only two not to elect a Conservative MP in the south-east. The Republic already has a flag and a passport, and a policy of deporting all Conservatives (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

People of all ages attended the End Austerity Now demonstration, and I saw several pensioner's organisations represented.

People of all ages attended the End Austerity Now demonstration, and I saw several pensioner’s organisations represented (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Unite's big floating balls were a very visible presence.

Unite’s big floating balls were a very visible presence (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Everyone loves a reference to popular culture, but the image of David Cameron's head on Miley Cyrus' body is not one I will forget in a hurry!

Everyone loves a reference to popular culture, but the image of David Cameron’s head on Miley Cyrus’ body is not one I will forget in a hurry! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

The City of London provided a meaningful backdrop to the demonstration, but does tend to be empty at the weekends, so there weren't many spectators until the march made it to Westminster.

The City of London provided a meaningful backdrop to the demonstration, but does tend to be empty at the weekends, so there weren’t many spectators until the march made it to Westminster (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Some protesters turned themselves into placards, like this gentleman.

Some protesters turned themselves into placards, like this gentleman (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Another witty homemade placard that I quite like.

Another witty homemade placard that I quite like (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

There was music of various forms along the march.

There was music of various forms along the march. These supporters of Hare Krishna seemed to go down particularly well. (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

There was a large bloc of students and teachers on the demonstration, and thanks to this inflatable they were hard to miss!

There was a large bloc of students and teachers on the demonstration, and thanks to this inflatable they were hard to miss! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

It is estimated that a quarter of a million people came on the march.

It is estimated that a quarter of a million people came on the march (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The Fire Brigade's Union were another group who made an impression.

The Fire Brigade’s Union were another group who made an impression (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Sister's Uncut is a women-only group that uses direct action to try and protect domestic violence services. They also have some pretty good chants!

Sisters Uncut is a women-only group that uses direct action to try and protect domestic violence services. They also have some pretty good chants! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

Housing, and many of the issues and protest tactics that surround it, like squatting, is a particularly contentious issue in London.

Housing, and many of the issues and protest tactics that surround it, like squatting, is a particularly contentious issue in London (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

This gentleman had some rather good songs about Ian Duncan Smith.

This gentleman had some rather good songs about Ian Duncan Smith (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Various unions were present on the demonstration, and their banners are always works of art.

Various unions were present on the demonstration, and their banners are always works of art (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

I'm not sure why David Cameron is a crab, but this costume is fantastic!

I’m not sure why David Cameron is a crab, but this costume is fantastic! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

I couldn't resist taking a picture of placards in front of Big Ben- it's democracy in action!

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of placards in front of Big Ben- it’s democracy in action! (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

The bedroom tax is a highly controversial government policy. Lots of people with banners and placards stopped along Whitehall, presumably to promote their cause as the rest of the march passed by.

The bedroom tax is a highly controversial government policy. Lots of people with banners and placards stopped along Whitehall, presumably to promote their cause as the rest of the march passed by (Photo: Hannah Awcock).