Back in February, we put up this post – Getting the message across 17.2.22 – which was basically us indulging in a bit of navel gazing while reflecting on how and why we produce our propaganda. We make no apology for returning to the topic. The reason being that as a result of a number of conversations we’ve had, some positive experiences with physical propaganda and what feels like an increasingly censorious climate, there’s more that needs to be said and discussed.
Before we go any further, we want to stress the point that producing and disseminating propaganda is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end. The end ultimately being revolution and the start of building a society that works for all of us. We don’t want to be producing the Stirrer for the rest of our lives! The aim is to make our role as propagandists redundant. As for Grassroots Alternatives, the eventual aim for that is to be a clearing house for the diverse range of grassroots community focused projects where we’ll be living – which hopefully will be down near Bristol in the not too distant future.
However, there’s a long way to go and a lot of work and sacrifice to come before we end up with a society that works for all of us. So, we have to keep on churning out the propaganda while all the time, reviewing and assessing what we do, refining or altering it as we see fit. For a range of reasons, positive and negative, we want to start moving the focus back to physical forms of propaganda such as papers, ‘zines, leaflets, posters and stickers.
Let’s start with the positive reasons. There’s nothing we love more than being on a stall or out on the street, handing out papers, ‘zines and leaflets, meeting people and having conversations with them. Getting a load of hits on a blog post may provide some fleeting satisfaction but it’s no substitute for handing someone printed material, talking about it, finding out that we have a lot in common and inspiring them to become active. Last Sunday (20.3), we had our first on street distribution of the year, handing out copies of Alternative Estuary (downloadable from this page) plus other leaflets at the Vegan Market on Brentwood High Street. While it wasn’t the busiest distribution we’ve ever had, it felt good to be back out on the streets and talking to people.
That evening, as part of our campaign to call Thurrock Council to account for their botched, farcical handling of the redevelopment of our local railway station – The sorry saga of Stanford-le-Hope railway station continues… 9.2.22 – we did a bit of postering:) Pretty much as soon as we’d finished, we turned back and saw that someone had already stopped to look at our posters.
Normally we’d be happy if the posters just stayed up for a couple of days. Today (Friday 25.2) as we walked past the station, we were pleased to note that out of the four posters we had put up on the hoardings around the long demolished ticket office, three of them were still up. During the week, there have been plenty of staff from the train operator, c2c, around who could have removed the posters but, the message on them obviously resonated and they remained up in place. During the week, there have been hundreds of people walking past them going to and from the station. That’s probably a lot more eyeballs seeing our message than we’ve had blog hits on the above post about the stalled redevelopment of the station. Obviously we had to distil the words right down to get them to work in accompaniment with the images as a poster but, that in itself is a very useful skill to have.
Then there’s been the stickering. This was something we’d started in the summer of 2020 to articulate the feeling of discontent about the negative impacts of the lockdowns and restrictions and also, just to get away from the screen to do something physical. We’ve been continuing with this on and off on protests and also in targeted areas of London and Bristol. The sticker shown above which is the current one we’re shifting, rather than being literal, is intentionally oblique and aims to get people thinking our increasingly toxic relationship with technology and the way it’s used to control us.
We’ve added Free posters pages on both this blog and Grassroots Alternatives (see the menu at the top of the page). A couple of comrades have very kindly posted links to the poster pages and as a consequence, we’ve had a welcome surge in hits on the blogs. All of our posters are non-branded and are freely available for anyone to download, print off and utilise in any way they see fit. Obviously we do advise anyone deciding to stick them up on a wall to take all necessary precautions to ensure they don’t get caught!
You don’t need us to tell you that we live in troubled times. One consequence of that is a growing level of online censorship which looks like it will get worse. Sadly, that’s not just from the authorities but also from some elements who five years ago, we would have still regarded as comrades. Such is the world we live in. As a consequence, we already measure what we post online to avoid pointless rows. It’s bad enough having to deal with the threats of censorship from the authorities without having to worry about cancellation from people we thought were once on our side.
Anyway, onto the threats from the authorities. It’s pretty much inevitable that as this blog grows, along with our social media audience, at some point we’re going to get bounced offline. What we want to do is start to put the structures in place that will allow us to be able to write, design, print and distribute physical propaganda. Basically, it will be returning at least some of the way back to how we used to operate in the 1980s and 1990s before the advent of the Internet. Bear in mind that all of the campaigning and protests around the Poll Tax, including the infamous events of the 31st March 1990 in central London were organised and built by analogue means. That was leafleting, street meetings, postering, word of mouth. With the will and the experience passed down from us old gits, it can be done again:)