Honesty vs tribalism

Dave – the editor

The tweet shown above really did resonate with me. One reason it did that was because it put my experiences of exiting the anarchist movement over the last six years into some kind of context. It did prompt some deep thinking about those experiences, the political relationships that fell apart and last but by no means least, what I thought were ‘friendships’ with a number of comrades that ended.

Looking back over the last six years, the issues I’ve had with now former comrades stem from me wanting to find out the truth of a situation as best I can and to then formulate what I felt was an honest opinion. What I found was that some of the opinions I formed were at variance with what could best be described as the prevailing orthodoxy. I don’t use the term orthodoxy lightly but, on a range of issues where I has differences with comrades, it transpired that there was very little room for an open and honest debate. Attempts to have an open discussion did on too many occasions feel akin to banging my head against a brick wall!

Not ‘getting it’ with gender identity politics

When did it all start? At ‘that bookfair’ in Tottenham on Saturday October 28, 2017 when we had an unwelcome crash course in how divisive the issue of gender identity politics was getting. A crash course that involved one of our comrades being assaulted by a trans rights activist (TRA) while trying to protect one of the organisers who was being mobbed by TRAs objecting to leaflets that were being handed out at the event. As an aside, after this, we packed up our stall and were out of the venue within a matter of minutes because there was no way we were hanging around in a situation that posed a risk to us! This is a statement about what happened issued by one of the organisers: My Statement on events at London Anarchist Bookfair 2017. Afterwards, a somewhat shaken comrade asked me to look into the issue of gender identity and work out why it was inflaming passions to the point where people were getting assaulted.

A confession – up until that point, the focus of much of our activity had been on community politics out in the badlands of Basildon and Thurrock. In our work out on the estates, gender identity was never mentioned to us by any of the people we were dealing with. Up until that point, gender identity politics simply wasn’t on our radar. So, when I started to look into the issue as requested by my comrade, it was a learning curve, a massive one. Given what else was going on in my life at that point in time, it wasn’t something I relished doing but I felt an obligation to do so.

I looked into the issue and read arguments from all sides. I thought pretty deeply on what I’d read. I struggled with the mental gymnastics required to fully understand the TRA point of view. I started to conclude that radical and gender critical feminists and detransitioners had valid concerns and should be listened to rather than be silenced by intimidation and worse. By merely stating that, I started to find myself being pushed out from certain parts of the movement as ‘comrades’ started to turn against me. So be it I thought, I’d rather be true to my conscience than go along with something I couldn’t hold to. For the record, my stance is based on the concept of doing no harm, particularly when it comes to irreversible and in my view, still experimental medical procedures.

Daring to question the Covid narrative

From early 2018 through to early 2020, I accepted that my relationship with the movement had changed for good and there was no going back to the way things were before 2017. I did have what I thought were enough allies to allow me some engagement with certain sections of anarchism. Then the Covid ‘crisis’ came along. Like a lot of people, not knowing what Covid actually was, I went along with the restrictions for the first few weeks. However, by the time April 2020 came around, certain things just weren’t adding up and I started to question the narrative we were being fed. In particular, I was questioning the way the crisis was being leveraged to accelerate the imposition of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) a.k.a. the ‘great reset’.

This questioning carried on into 2021 when I started to attend a number of anti-lockdown/anti-vaccine mandate protests. One of the reasons I went along was that I was curious about what appeared to be a new social phenomena in the UK, one which in some ways resembled the Gilets Jaunes in France. What I found on these protests was a wide range of currents of opposition to what was being done to us that joined up on the streets every month or so. It wasn’t what could be described as a ‘movement’ in any meaningful sense of the word. The best way I could describe it was a ‘coalition of convenience’ – one that would eventually start to fragment. This post is one of a number I wrote dealing with my engagement with this phenomena: Dealing with reality… 2.2.22.

Needless to say that a fair few of those anarchists who had stayed with me after the ructions of 2017 thought I was ‘going off on one’ and started to distance themselves from me! This was particularly the case when I made it clear that I had been on a number of the anti-lockdown/anti-vaccine mandate protests and was engaging with people by handing out papers produced specifically for these events. Somehow, I just couldn’t persuade them that this was a social phenomena that was worth investigating and engaging with. So, there was more distancing from anarchism…

As for the TRAs and the gender identity politics crowd, they really bought into the whole narrative, lecturing us to follow ‘the science’, nagging us about social distancing and rigid adherence to mask wearing and last but by no means least, telling us to get the ‘vaccine’. This kind of slavish adherence to the narrative from the TRA element in anarchism did make me think quite deeply about what the heck was going on. Namely that there was a crossover between the transhumanism that is part and parcel of the 4IR and the unhealthy influence of the pharmaceutical industry over trans rights activism. These are just two of a number of posts I’ve published starting to look at that crossover: Thoughts that really shouldn’t be published, but… 23.5.22 and: Transhumanism, the great reset & the ‘new normal’ – some important readings 2.2.22.

More questions are being asked about the initial response to the crisis in March 2020, the growing number of vaccine injuries and the long term harms caused by the lockdowns. The response from those anarchists who had bought into the narrative we were being fed in 2020 is…silence… While there’s no sign of a walk back from the line they took over the course of 2020/21, reading between the lines, it’s pretty clear they don’t want to talk about it and are trying to pretend it never happened. Look, I’m not going to get an apology from this element, I certainly don’t expect one and given the stick I got from them for my stance, I don’t really want want one! However, I will be watching developments with great interest…

We stand with not f**king dying in a nuclear war!

On February 24, 2022, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia escalated as Russian troops moved into parts of Ukraine. Regular readers of this blog will be well aware that pretty much from the get go, I’ve been applying a geo-political analysis in a bid to understand the dynamics of what’s going on in the conflict. As a part of that process, I’ve published a fair few posts linking to readings that I hope shed some light on the crisis and the ever growing risk of it escalating. Here are three of the most recent such posts I’ve published: Moving closer to the tipping point… 16.2.23 and: A close shave? 18.11.22 and finally: Getting worryingly closer:( – Readings on the Russia / Ukraine conflict 27.10.22.

To the anarchists associated with Freedom and the Anarchist Federation, the likes of me are just ‘Westplainers’. Look, I’ve been politically active since the late 1970s and have been round the block a few times so, when I say that the situation we’re in at the moment is quite probably more dangerous than the 1980s, please trust me on that one! Anyway, there are glimmers of light on the horizon with some anarchists criticising the stance taken by Freedom and the Anarchist Federation: British Anarchism Succumbs to War Fever – Alex Alder | libcom.org | 2.2.23. This piece has been reposted by a number of people and groups, including the Anarchist Communist Group whom I didn’t see eye to eye with regarding their response to Covid but who I now agree with when it comes to opposing militarism! It’s a funny old world isn’t it?

15 minute cities/neighbourhoods – what’s actually going on?

When I was undertaking the experiment of engaging with the various currents of opposition to the Covid lockdowns, vaccines and the way the crisis was being leveraged to accelerate the imposition of the 4IR, I started to follow a wide range of people on Twitter. Some were making the point that the Covid lockdowns were being used as a test run to see how willing people would be to go along with Agenda 2030. If you want to find out about Agenda 2030, I suggest you use a decent search engine, compile a list of readings from a variety of perspectives and then draw your own conclusions! If you want my opinion, it’s a top down initiative that would subject us all to a lot more in the way of surveillance and control, liberally covered in coats of greenwash. It is part and parcel of the 4IR.

With my anti-authoritarian hat on, I can understand why people are kicking off against it. However, we’re both non-drivers so, the concept of a neighbourhood with many of life’s amenities within a 15 minute walk actually has some appeal! Also, the suburb of Romford where I grew up in the 1960s and 70s was configured so that many of life’s amenities were within easy walking distance. Suffice to say, it’s not like that now… The proviso is that the impetus towards building/re-building those kind of neighbourhoods has to come from the bottom up and not be imposed from the top down. The point I’ve made time and time again is that decades of planning policy assuming near universal car ownership has resulted in outer suburban and overspill town sprawl where it’s pretty much an impossibility to have many of life’s amenities within a 15 minute walk. People living in the outer suburbs and overspill towns have pretty much no alternative to using the car. I’ve written a lot of posts pointing this out and quite handily, they’re all linked to in this post: 15 minute neighbourhoods – what we’ve written so far 8.2.23.

If you read through these posts, you’ll see that I’ve taken what can best be described as a third position on the issue. While I see how the concept of the 15 minute neighbourhood has been hi-jacked and incorporated into the 4IR and oppose that, I cannot go along with the Clarksonite tendency who are wedded to their cars and will not tolerate anything that will restrict their movements. So, while I followed some of these people during lockdown because they did have my back, I can’t go along with their blind love of the motor car and refusal to recognise that on a finite planet, a car based economy and society is simply not sustainable in the long term. I made the decision to not let blind loyalty dictate how I saw the issue and to think it through and come up with my own conclusions.

Having said this, many of the anti-lockdown/anti-4IR people I still follow on Twitter do have a pretty nuanced take on the issue and it is possible to have some useful discussions on where we go from here. That’s something I really do value…

So, where the heck does this leave us?

Well, I’ve made it pretty clear we’ve exited the anarchist movement as you can see from the strap line on the masthead at the top of this post. I want to be able to assess each issue on it’s merits while trying to fit that into a broader context. We can only do that if we’re allowed to think freely and not have to worry about breaking ranks or causing offence. Hopefully, the examples dealt with in the post demonstrate how I place the freedom to think freely and draw my own conclusions above any blind tribal loyalty.

Fortunately, the people I try to surround myself with realise that issues do need to be seen on their merits rather than through the prism of a rigidly held political outlook. This is particularly the case in a period where the left vs right divide is becoming increasingly redundant as new social phenomena emerge. There’s a recognition that we live in rapidly changing times and that a more open approach to analysing situations is vital.

Look, I’m not even going to pretend that I get it right every time. A lot of what I write is me thinking out loud and hoping that sparks some kind of useful exchange. When I’m writing posts on an issue over an extended period of time, it is a process of showing how my thinking has evolved and where necessary, changed. While I do have some core principles, I do my level best to ensure they don’t blind me to making as honest as possible an assessment of a situation.

The impression I get is that the mass of people don’t react well to rigid positions that fail to take account of rapidly changing circumstances. They do tend to react better to honest attempts at analysing a situation that take in context and the reality of what’s actually happening. In other words, they react better to honesty as opposed to blind tribalism. I hope that my approach is one of honesty…

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