Dave – the editor
Trust me when I say I’d rather not feel compelled to be writing this piece. That’s because in parts, it says what I’ve already said before about our relationship with the anarchist movement here in the UK. However, recent events mean that yet again, we need to explain why we find ourselves beyond the margins of the anarchist movement and why, ultimately, that will be a liberating rather than an isolating experience. We would like to think that this really will be the last time we ever have to explain our position but, we’re pretty sure that some factions of anarchism will descend to new depths which we’ll have to distance ourselves from in the future. That’s because some of them have yet to learn the vital lesson of when to drop the f**king shovel after they’ve dug themselves into a deep hole! Like many of the observations we make, achieving a comprehensive overview is very difficult and this piece is an admittedly partial view. However, I hope it can play some small part in the discussion about how we and other like minded people can move forwards from this point.
How it all started at ‘that bookfair’
At the time of writing this piece, it’s coming up to the fifth anniversary of the ill fated 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair. Here are a couple of links to statements from the organisers about what transpired at the event: My Statement on events at London Anarchist Bookfair 2017 (Helen Steel) and: 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair. We had a stall at that event. Booking that stall was in retrospect, probably one of the biggest political mistakes we’ve ever made because the day turned out to be an absolute sodding nightmare. After one of our comrades was assaulted when he and others were trying to stop one of the organisers being mobbed by a horde of trans activists, out of concern for our safety, we very swiftly packed up and left.
If you care to check the links above, you’ll find out about the issues that sparked the ructions at the bookfair – gender identity politics with a particular focus on trans identity. It was something we had been aware of in the background for a few years before 2017. However, rightly or wrongly, as community focused class struggle activists, it wasn’t something that had flagged up on our radar in the course of our activism. So, after the events at the bookfair, in what was already a stressful period in my life, I found myself having to look into the issues that sparked the confrontations in a bid to try and find out why the movement was being split over it. While we’re totally opposed to gender stereotypes and support people challenging those stereotypes by presenting themselves to the world as they see fit, we felt that many of the demands of the trans rights movement took things in the opposite direction. We eventually concluded that our sympathies broadly lay with the radical feminists who in our view, have legitimate concerns about the direction trans rights activism was heading in.
It took a few months going into early 2018 before our position had clarified. We had hoped that there would be a spirit of agreeing to disagree and a rational discussion about how strongly held and conflicting views could be reconciled into a position where everyone could move forwards. How f**king naïve we were! What happened was that as soon as our position became clear, the vilification, blocking and being shunned by people we once regarded as comrades started with a vengeance. Let’s just say that being denigrated by people we were standing alongside on protests and the like just a year previously was a pretty unpleasant feeling. Mind you, it was also the reality check we needed about the ‘movement’ we were increasingly moving away from.
We then trundled along as best we could through the rest of 2018, all of 2019 and then into 2020. Then the Covid crisis hit us.
Refusing to see how a crisis can be leveraged
Initially, because Covid was new and our understanding of what it actually is was still in its early stages, we went along with all the the restrictions that had been imposed upon us for ‘our own good’. However, being of a curious and questioning bent, after a few weeks I couldn’t help thinking that there were things about the way the crisis was being managed that didn’t add up and I was prompted to investigate. What was also starting to ring alarm bells in my head was the relentless diet of fear that we were being fed on a daily basis.
I’ll be honest and admit that the 2020 lockdown and not being able to see family for months on end took a toll on my mental health and did inform my increasing questioning of the agenda we were being fed. The callous dismissal of the impact of the lockdowns on people’s mental health by some anarchists is something I’m not prepared to forget, let alone forgive. Disagreements about the lockdowns and restrictions also created some strains within our group back in Essex which thankfully, we managed to resolve by some pretty straight talking.
The crisis dragged on into 2021. Anyone who had done any research would have realised that Covid did badly impact some vulnerable groups who did need protecting. However, for many people, it wasn’t the problem it was made out to be. The issue was, by that point, Covid and the measures being imposed to ‘deal’ with it had become such a polarising issue that any rational discussion about how to protect vulnerable people while allowing the rest of the population to go about their lives as normally as possible was pretty much impossible.
This was before any discussion about how the Covid crisis was being leveraged to implement the transhumanist Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
This is a small snippet of what we’ve written about the 4IR:
The point about the 4IR is, as you can gather from the graphic we’ve used above, is that it’s an all encompassing, multi-faceted assault on what it means to be truly human. It’s intended to change what we are as humans and turn us into more malleable, easy to manipulate and easy to control subjects of what will be a techno-fascist dystopia. Because the imposition of this agenda is multi-faceted, it’s incredibly difficult to get an overview, let alone develop the strategy and tactics needed to slay this monstrous beast once and for all. All we’ve managed so far are some piecemeal critiques and equally piecemeal suggestions as to how we can start fighting back against what’s being done to us. Crude and indeed rude though it might be, we hope the graphic above brings together many of the challenges we face. It’s designed to jolt people into thinking about what’s being done to all of us and more importantly, why it’s being done to us.
You can read the rest of this piece here: Some thoughts on resisting the Fourth Industrial Revolution 11.5.22.
It was during 2021 that I became interested in the swirling currents of opposition to the lockdowns, vaccine mandates and the 4IR that came together around once a month on the streets to vent their feeling about what was being done to them. Out of curiosity, I went along to a few of the London protests to see what they were about. Wanting a vehicle to engage with the variety of people turning up on these protests, I produced these Stirrer papers that were specifically aimed at those attending. Weirdly, these were the easiest paper distros I’ve ever done and am likely to do!
These are the thoughts I had about what the various currents of opposition represented:
There’s no unified movement against what’s being done to us. These currents may merge about once a month on the streets for a major street protest but to suggest there’s a cohesive plan of action is wide of the mark. For sure, there’s a unifying distrust of authority that reflects the emergence of a new political divide between anti-authoritarians on the one hand and on the other, those who fully support the use of state power, regardless of how draconian it is, to deal with emergencies. The thing is, anti-authoritarianism covers a wide range of opinion. Some of that, we as anarchists can work with. After all, the whole premise of anarchism is anti-authority, isn’t it?
You can read the rest of this piece here: Dealing with reality… 2.2.22.
Suffice to say that as soon as my stance got out to the anarchist movement, the accusations of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ and worse started to come in. This was because many in the anarchist movement were following ‘the science’ and then following the ensuing recommendations pretty much without question. Here’s how their worldview was still being applied at the 2022 Anarchist Bookfair in London: 2022 Bookfair COVID-19 policy. You will note that there was no room for any questioning of the Covid narrative we’ve been fed since March 2020 – so much for open debate! This stance kind of ignores that fact that, in an ideal world anyway, science is always about asking questions, particularly of its own findings. However, in the dystopian world we actually have to endure, all too often, following ‘the science’ inevitably means having to follow the money. The reality that too many anarchists don’t seem to be willing to follow the money is deeply worrying.
If after 2017/18 there was any ‘relationship’ with what passes for an anarchist ‘movement’, the massive gulf over the response to and interpretation of the Covid crisis pretty much finished that off. So be it, we’re better off out of that toxic stew.
NATO’s useful idiots?
When the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, ongoing since 2014, took a dramatic new turn with Russia moving into some areas in the east of Ukraine, there wasn’t anything left to lose with regard to our non relationship with the anarchist movement. Which given the bizarre stance of the likes of Freedom and the Anarchist Federation on Russia’s aims in the conflict and their seeming blind spot on open fascists in the Ukraine military, was probably a good thing.
As best I can, I try to apply some geo-political theory to understanding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. While we acknowledge that Putin is a shit and that there may well be worse shits waiting in the wings in Russia, it doesn’t excuse the US pushing NATO expansion right up to the Russian border. It certainly doesn’t excuse the US and NATO pushing the world towards a situation where a nuclear conflict is becoming more likely. The US in it’s increasingly desperate bid to maintain some kind of military and hegemonic place in the world order seems to have no compunction about using Ukraine as a proxy to achieve this. If Europe is sacrificed to achieve that aim, it seems to matter little to the US.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that at fairly frequent intervals, we’ve been putting up posts featuring readings from the so called ‘alternative’ media which examine various aspects of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Each in their own way try to apply some critical geo-political analysis and thinking to the situation. Since the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines which will have a dramatic and adverse impact on the energy landscape across Europe, including the UK, the alternative media has come in our view, come up trumps. This is our latest summary: For those of you curious about why we may be freezing in the dark this winter… 7.10.22. Needless to say, any speculation about who actually sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines has been dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’ even though the truth is pretty much out there for all to see.
Regardless of any accusations that may get flung at us in the future, we’ll continue to research and publish these compilations of readings about the geo-politics of the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. It’s the least we can do in a bid to encourage a rational discussion about the situation that will help in building the genuine anti-war movement that’s so urgently needed in these troubled times.
So far, we’ve fallen out with the anarchist ‘movement’ over gender identity, how to respond to Covid, being ‘conspiracy theorists’ because we’ve suggested that the Covid crisis was being leveraged to accelerate the implementation of the 4IR and currently, how to view the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. That’s quite an impressive list, isn’t it? It doesn’t end there though, it goes on and gets worse…
When people are doubling down on already bad positions, they need to drop the f**king shovel!
There are Drag Queen Story Hour readings aimed at kids taking place across the country. Events that raised alarm bells for a fair few parents who rightly want a few years of innocence for their kids rather than being exposed to what is adult entertainment in the name of supposedly encouraging ‘inclusivity’. Some elements have tried to defend the drag queen story events as nothing more than a slightly risqué form of pantomime. We had a look at what the defenders of these events have tried to pass off as pantomime and while it may be an admittedly subjective judgement, to our eyes, it looked like drag which, in our view, is strictly adult entertainment. Our concerns and those of many others is that in an increasingly pornified culture, these events are leading to the sexualisation of children, removing innocence from their lives. Whether this is intentional or not is the subject of some fierce debate, with those thinking this is intentional being branded as conspiracy theorists. It’s perfectly understandable that a fair few parents are, at the least, very concerned about this development and at the most, absolutely livid.
The problem is that merely raising concerns about this gets you branded as ‘homophobic’, ‘transphobic’ and a ‘bigot’ amongst many other accusations. So as a consequence, many parents and grandparents feel that it’s best to keep their views to themselves. Rather than object or protest, they choose to keep their heads below the parapet. While doing so, they are baffled that no one describing themselves as progressive is listening to and acknowledging their genuine concerns and engaging in an honest discussion about the issues at stake. Instead of an open discussion, we get a culture of name calling and cancelling. The inevitable consequence of this is the creation of a political vacuum.
So, it came as no surprise to us when we heard that the likes of Patriotic Alternative and their ilk saw this vacuum, recognised the opportunity it potentially offered them and, self-servingly, called a number of protests outside of these events. It’s not the fault of the kids that they’re being taken to these events: Bristol Drag Queen Story Hour targeted by protesters as police are called to libraries 28.7.22. However, the parents, grandparents and guardians taking kids to these drag queen story reading events really do need to be asking themselves a few searching questions. The question that has to be asked is this – is a noisy, potentially threatening picket the best way to persuade someone to do some long overdue soul searching?
Inevitably, when the likes of Patriotic Alternative and their ilk cynically seize the issue and turn out to picket and protest, there will be a Pavlovian response from Antifa and the like. As a consequence, a number of these protests were counter-protested by Antifa and their ilk, thereby ratcheting up the tension in an already emotive situation. As for the kids getting taken to these events, they end up as the cannon fodder in a toxic culture war being waged by two sets of supposed adults with diametrically opposing views and beliefs.
Sadly, we now have a situation where anyone raising concerns about the potential harms to kids of these drag queen story reading events is now automatically branded as being in league with the likes of Patriotic Alternative. Legitimate concerns are brushed aside and the accusations fly in the direction of anyone questioning the purpose of these events. Those defending these events and hurling the accusations are unwittingly creating more of a political vacuum for those with nefarious motives to exploit. Both sides are fanning the flames in a divisive and toxic culture war.
Then there’s the Mermaids ‘charity’ and their now disgraced trustee, Jacob Breslow. Here’s the lowdown on this character: Resigned Trans Youth Charity Trustee Authored Blog on “Minor Attraction,” Praised a Child Porn Creator – Genevieve Gluck | Reduxx | October 7, 2022. This Twitter thread from @hatpinwoman does a better job than we could in explaining the dubious connections Breslow has. Mermaids are now under investigation from the Charity Commission as a result of this and a number of other issues, including safeguarding: Transgender charity Mermaids under investigation 29.9.22. Even though the writing is well and truly on the wall for all to see regarding Mermaids, there are ‘anarchists’ doubling down to defend them.
That’s it, we’re done with what passes for an anarchist ‘movement’ in this country. While we still adhere to what we regard as anarchist principles, it needs to be known that we want nothing to do with this ‘movement’. Okay, we’ve been out of their remit probably since 2019/2020 but, we want to make it official and clear beyond any doubt that while they want nothing to do with us, trust us when we say that the feeling is mutual and we want absolutely nothing to do with them. We’re more than happy to go our own way, find people we can respect and trust and build whatever alliances are needed to get things moving.
Onwards and upwards
All is not lost, far from it. In any time of crisis, it’s an intrinsic part of the human condition for people to spontaneously work together and support each other to get through the situation. More often than not, in varying ways, this is done in a non-hierarchical way. This happens across the globe regardless of ethnicity and/or religion. We’re talking about ways of grassroots organising that predate the oppressive structures that have been imposed upon us at various points in the history of humanity. We’re talking about the kind of collective self organisation that probably doesn’t need a label slapped on it along with a lot of unwanted accompanying baggage. We’re talking about the kind of collective self organisation whose participants would, rightly in our opinion, reject any attempts to label them or put them into some kind of ‘ism.
Now we and a growing number of others have stepped away from what has passed for an anarchist ‘movement’, far from feeling isolated, we feel that new possibilities are opening up. One reason they’re opening up is that we feel free to be able to think critically and question what needs to be questioned without having to worry about losing the approval and support of so called ‘comrades’. Anarchism isn’t owned by anyone despite the attempts of some factions to act as the gatekeepers of what they see as their fiefdom. Once we can bypass the malign influence of these gatekeepers, there’s a whole world of revolutionary possibilities out there.