Hackney Council's propaganda sheet, Hackney Today, is currently trumpeting the words "Olympic Victory" on its front page.
Hackney Council's propaganda sheet, Hackney Today, is currently trumpeting the words "Olympic Victory" on its front page.
Yesterday evening saw a packed public meeting at Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham, to mark 100 years since 1909's 'Tottenham Outrage'.
I must admit I have never really understood the esteem in which the BBC is held by some people.
Over the years the BBC has shown itself just as likely to be manipulated by the police, security services or dishonest politicians as any other broadcaster, yet its position as a liberal darling is rarely questioned. I can only assume that much of this is a hang up from the 1980s, when Mrs Thatcher's Conservative Party was unable to hide its contempt for what they saw as the hand-wringing liberals of the Beeb. Some people seem slow to recognise we are not living in the 1980s anymore.
The BBC (and Sky's) decision not to show a humanitarian broadcast from the Disasters Emergency Committee is perhaps not a surprise, but it is certainly wrong. How can it be biased to show an appeal for civilians, injured in warfare? In fact it is surely biased to refuse to show such an appeal, placing their suffering as in some way below that of other victims of conflict.
Back in November 2005, the BBC's Director General, Mark Thompson, held talks in Jerusalem with the then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. These were described as "peace talks" due to Israeli belief that the corporation was biased against it. The Israelis pressed for a change in the BBC's approach in the Middle East.
Ariel Sharon certainly seems to be getting his way now.
To register a complaint with the BBC, you can call them on 03700 100 222 and select Option 1.
January 2009 is the first month since 1992, that I have not been a member of the Class War Federation.
16 years is a long time - longer than many people's marriages. Try to remember what you were doing 16 years ago, and you will get an indication of the scale of what I'm talking about. So why the change?
Well, firstly I'm tired. Doing the same things for a long time has that effect. It is time I did something else. Secondly in October 2008 I started a PhD. That means I'm an academic, and I'm not really sure being an academic is compatible with being a member of Class War. Thirdly, there is a danger in anyone becoming a fixture, or a permanent part of something. I don't want people to rely on me, especially when it comes to things they could just as easily do themselves. The Anarchist movement in the UK has a tendency to attract its share of dis-organised people, and needs to be careful to move things round every now and then.
So - what will I miss? From being in Class War, I have friends all over the world, many of whom I have never met (and perhaps never will). I know the pleasure that sending letters and e mail to like minded people across the world has given me. Watching some of those people come in to the Anarchist movement, and make a contribution, has brought real satisfaction.
When Greg Hall completes Bash the Rich, I hope he can fiddle with the timescale to include the story of the letter London Class War received from a supporter whose boyfriend had recently passed away after a struggle with cancer. They were the couple who had featured in the famous picture of two punks snogging in Trafalgar Square during the Poll Tax riot, with the South African embassy on fire in the background. She told us how much her boyfriend loved Class War, and asked us for the original picture. You could spend a lifetime in the Labour Party and not experience the emotion that letter gave us.
I don't think it is any coincidence that attempts to set up Class War groups in other countries have usually stalled. Often with CW, there is a peculiarly English incompetence. I can recall meeting a supporter at the Anarchist Bookfair, who I had written to many times in prison. He'd had a terrible time from bullying screws, and one particular thug who was threatening to ensure that he was detained under the Mental Health Act on the final day of his sentence. What was our man to do?
I scurried round looking for some advice, but in the end could only offer comradely platitudes. This left our imprisoned friend in a corner - and he had to take a dangerous step that no one would take without a great deal of careful consideration. He wrote to his MP, who was none other than the Right Honourable Gentleman for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Sir Edward Heath. Old Ted Heath must have convinced himself there was some sort of Thatcherite plot going on, for he delivered a rocket up the backside of the Prison Service that scattered officers in all directions. Not only did the threats from the screws end, but they were virtually saluting our comrade every time he left his cell. If we did not always make a difference, the fact that we tried to seems almost as important.
Although I am very happy with the enemies I have, there have also been real disappointments. I learned in the 1990s that many class stuggle Anarchists and Communists are really left liberals at heart. James Walsh brilliantly coined the term 'hard liberals' for people who seemed to have joined the Anarchist movement solely because they did not like racism, sexism or fascism (who does?) and then believed that the best way to fight those evils is to police the Anarchist movement for phenomena they find offensive. Usually this is a country mile from what any sane working class person would consider sexist or racist.
That people with the intelligence and standing of Chumbawamba could give money to Searchlight, or that a woman could design a poster for Class War's Anarchist speed dating event and be condemned as sexist by a succession of (mostly male) Anarchist keyboard warriors, tells us much about the problems that fester in the Anarchist movement. At least some people take their liberalism to its logical conclusion. Back in 2001 I met a former National Secretary of Class War, who was just about to travel to Pakistan on a charitable mission with his local mosque. No Gods, No Masters anyone?
So - the future? This year sees a projected Anarchist conference in London, plus the G20 caravan riding into town, at the start of the biggest recession for 70 years. I am far from convinced that conferences or summit counter-demonstrations are neccesarily the way forward, but I would be very happy to be proved wrong. The UK Anarchist movement has much to learn from comrades in countries like Greece, Denmark and Germany - at the very least this year offers an opportunity to do just that. We talk about Internationalism as a concept, but we really do very little work at the level where it matters - of sitting down face to face and exchanging ideas and experiences.
On a purely personal level, I shall remain as a supporter of Class War. You will find me studying Islamist organisations and structures with as much energy as I can, and I will probably become a prophet of doom constantly stressing the need for us all to raise the banner for secular values before it is too late. If you can't see the contradiction between taking the piss out of Sarah Palin for being a reactionary, then going on a march with the British Muslim Initiative, we probably need to sit down and debate with each other.
Class Unity, Class Pride, Class War!
Britain's banks have much to be modest about.
The last three episodes of Ian Bone's interviews on Resonance FM, in the "Anarchism in Britain" series, are now available to download.
"All the experience of history demonstrates to us that an alliance concluded between two different partners always turns to the advantage of the more reactionary of the two parties; this alliance necessarily enfeebles the more progressive party, by diminishing and distorting its programme, by destroying its moral strength, its confidence in itself, whilst a reactionary party, when it is guilty of falsehood is always and more than ever true to itself."
Well, Barack Obama has only been in power for a few hours, and already the good news is beginning!
I must admit I'm getting cynical as I approach middle age.
"No one takes him seriously. The Israelis think he is very convenient, because he will never blame them for anything, and the Palestinians have nothing but contempt for him."
No - not books this time, but Anarchist fridge magnets!
Today is a black tie day.
Fans of The Prisoner will have noticed that the name of this blog is a tribute to the greatest TV series of all time. To read of the death of the man who made The Prisoner (in more ways than one) is a sad moment.
Others can pay tribute to McGoohan far better than me - do follow the link below to see one detailed obituary, plus a web page to leave messages of appreciation.
I would like to hear people's views about some of the absolute garbage that has been published about Anarchism, or Anarchists. As we know Anarchists don't sue - or if we did we would not win - so writers and journalists feel they can say pretty much whatever they want about us and get away with it.
Some early contenders for you to consider. I have never met a class struggle Anarchist with a good word for either Peter Marshall or his "Demanding The Impossible: A History of Anarchism", which was for some reason reprinted last year. With his clipped Oxbridge brogue and distance from the Anarchist movement as it is currently constituted, Marshall was not well placed to write such a tome. And that's being generous.
Whilst I take it as a given that the worst film about Anarchism ever is the 2002 car crash Anarchist Cookbook (a film so reactionary, and so stereotyped it actually has a cult following amongst Anarchists who watch it to see if they can avoid wetting themselves laughing in the first 40 minutes) the book which inspired the film is apparently useless to anyone actually trying to make explosives, drugs or anything which you might actually have bought the book for. And it is currently £26 on Amazon!
I recently came across an absolute stinker in the form of "Anarchi Feng Shui - How To Create Profane and Chaotic Spaces" by Penny Chiu. An attempt to take the piss out of the succession of Feng Shui books cluttering up the coffee tables of the idle rich, it confuses Anarchism with obsessive wealth creation, greed and just about every sin of the political ideologies Anarchism was created to oppose. True bargain bucket material, which is where I bought my copy..........
So - give me your suggestions please........
Thanks to Ian Bone for giving me the opportunity to appear on his "Anarchism in Britain" series on Resonance FM last Sunday.
A download was briefly on the Resonance FM site yesterday afternoon, but it now seems to have disappeared. Talk about tommorows chip wrappers!
I'll have a sound file of the interview at some stage, and it will appear both on this site and on Ian Bone's blog.
Ten years ago it was virtually impossible to find a cash machine at a motorway service station that charged you to use it.
Ian Bone has now worked his way to the back of his address book, as he is interviewing me at 6pm today on Resonance FM.
If you do a google images search, for "Mohammed's childhood" the 11th picture that comes up is - my childhood teddy, Ted Bear.
Rules, regulations and obsessive security are really interfering with day to day life in Westminster.
"Freedom is never attained; it must always be striven for...... Each generation must face its own problems which cannot be forestalled or provided for in advance. The worst tyranny is that of ideas which have been handed down to us, allowing no development in ourselves".
Just before Christmas the latest issue of the UK's oldest parapolitical magazine came out.
There are few people more naive and indignant than the British liberal encountering the full force of authority.
Paul Gascoigne scored two of the greatest goals Wembley Stadium has ever seen. With the exception of Zinedene Zidane, no European midfielder has performed in the way Gascoigne did in the 1990 World Cup Semi Final.
I had always regarded animal rights activism as a broadly western phenomenon.
Hello to the Hereford Solidarity League, who publish the excellent Hereford Heckler.
The first song I heard in 2009?