Friday, 16 November 2012

Authoritarian Fascists expose their anti-libertarian politics

by Christopher Draper (York)
I've been an anarchist for forty years and always considered English anarchism a broad church but it now seems more like a asylum with lunatics on the rampage.  After a pack of Anarchist Federation (AF) bullies attacked a lone representative of the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) at the recent London Anarchist Bookfair (27.10.2012) it is surely time for everyone who professes alliance to Anarchism to stand up liberty and denounce these party-building authoritarians.

An objective account of the attack on Brian Bamford of the NAN and theft of publications from his bookstall appears elsewhere on the web posted by 'Five Leaves Publications' who had no prior connection to Bamford or the NAN but were simply shocked to witness 'anarchists' acting like this.

If one stall-holding organisation attacked another stallholder at an ordinary commercial event one might expect the organisers to do everything in their power to support the victim in seeking recompense.  In this case it appears neither the organisers nor the AF intend to do anything to repair the damage.  Apparently the Anarchist  Federation claim the violence is justified as the perpetrators object to an article published in 'Northern Voices', a magazine edited by Bamford.  The bookfair organisers do not feel impelled to disabuse AF of such perverse, authoritarian notions and prefer, instead, to treat the matter as a little local difficulty that could be resolved over a quiet pint.  I profoundly disagree.

I also profoundly disagree with Martin Gilbert's posted aversion to anarchists 'washing their dirty linen in public'.  I have written previously of Freedoms' refusal to practice free speech and whilst I have no hestitation in identifying the Authoritarian Fascists (AF) as a real enemy of anarchism, I am troubled by many libertarians' tolerance of intolerance.  Anarchism is more than laisez-faire, to actively promote freedom we must first stand up to bullies and have no hesitation in identifying them even where they've already infiltrated our ranks.

We don't need the 'Sex Pistols' or the 'Sun' to convince the public that Anarchy means chaos if we tolerate such violence.  Furthermore, this was no sudden impulse for my own researches reveal not only premeditation and planning but also a sustained campaign by AF members to disrupt publication of 'Northern Voices'.  Over the past two years AF members have repeatably intimidated both sales outlets and the magazine's printers in an unsuccessful attempt to close it down.

Anarchist tolerance should never extend to such intolerant behaviour.  If we don't speak out we are complicit in their evil, authoritarian ways.  Personally I would go further and ask anarchists who quietly cling to peaceful, constructive, thoughtful engagement with their fellow-men and women to speak up a little more and come out of the closet as anarchists.  When I worked as a teacher and whenever I published an article or take part in any community action or event I always identify myself as an anarchist to help promote a sane, positive image of our philosophy.  I feel the conspiratorial, play-acting that starts with anarchists' using pseudonyms on the web encourages make-believe revolutionary fantasy more suited to devotees of 'dungeons and dragons'.  Perhaps even now deluded members of AF are celebrating their attack as a victory over the dark forces of Satan.


Peter Good said...

Dear Christopher,
I've only just been sent a copy of your obituary of Bob Miller.

You might remember me. I was a founder member of NAN and of NV. I left both because I felt neither was interested in promoting Anarchism.

My resignation lead to a round robin letter and an article being published in NV. Both presented a litany of my shortcomings and brought in a couple of people to heighten up the embarassmnet.

Now I have read the obituary I would want you to reconsider your phrase that AF "objected to an article in NV". The contents of this article were not about matters concerning different dogma, or leg-pulling or satire.

The obituary is a complete character assassination on an otherwise widely-respected comrade who, for God's sake, had only recently been buried. The article was designed to inflict discomfort on his family and to cause embarassment by the inclusion of another comrade.

If the NV collective hadn't realised the distress this was likely to cause then it suggests an all round lack of insight.

I'm also aware that at least three of your collective have spent decades living on state benefits. It doesn't do you any merit to fire jibes at those comrades holding down a career.

If your collective feels it acceptable to publish articles that attempt to cause pain and embarrasment to other comrades then it can hardly be a surprise that some will react strongly.

There is no utopia in a post-revolutionary society. Anarchism is all about struggle. Maybe "pie-ing" is not acceptable. Neither is threatening the Book Fair organisers with court injunctions.
Peter Good

highchurchman said...

"The contents of this article were not about matters concerning different dogma, or leg-pulling or satire".

Dear Peter' your letter is interesting, not simply for what it does, but for what is doesn't say! You do not say that the subject had been an opponent of both the Northern Anarchist Network and the Northern Voices magazine constantly over the previous years. For why? We have seen the tiny trots of the A.F. reduced to tears because of the names of two of them being exposed to light upon the blog! Yet the man whom you are defending didn't hesitate under his pseudonym along with A.F. comrades and others some years ago to enter a the name of a NAN member on the Lib Com board and attack him. When the subject of the attack made his response, he was urged not use the man's name because of his family and his job. The request was accepted and the response was not made. Of course , I accept that our comrade from A.F. didn't act in concert with his A.F.Comrades it was a spontaneous effort as they do say!
Black Knight,( the pseudonym,) attacked other members of N.A.N., one because of his efforts to support the striking Manchester electricians, publishing pamphlets, raising money and holding meetings, all of which were ridiculed by our A.F.Comrade, who, when he was asked why hadn't he or his Federation and syndicalist friends shown such solidarity, wouldn't answer.
The question that needs an answer is when should we have defended ourselves? That we were under attack for several years from two anarchist groups, neither of whom are noted for frenetic activity, is something of a scandal especially when we think that the working class is under attack from the establishment both right and left!
For myself, I wouldn't have published the offending article, but, it is customary to write articles when people die what have we to do lie!
When you wrote your letter, you signed it and every one could see. The subject of the obituary went under a covername. That is alright in some cases,it's quite a history amongst writers and I've done it for articles and pamphlets. Even so when I have had something controversial to say about comrades I've written my own name , neither have I in fifty odd years of struggle hidden around street corners frightened of the ,'State,' or authority seeing my face or finding out my identity.

In view of your comments above, why do you think that our A.F. Comrades take such a dislike to members of the NAN or the Northern Voice Collective? Could it not be their own lack of success!

Jim. Petty!

Anonymous said...

Think Jim Petty has his facts badly wrong - do you mean this thread on Libcom?

If so, then Bob, aka Knightrose, is nowhere is evidence on that thread. In fact, the spat seems between you and Solfed rather than AF.

Strangely, there's another threadf about you on Libcom where someone called 'Rose' seems to leap to your defence

Could it be your memory is failing you?

highchurchman said...

I don't think my memory is as bad asyou suggest,It could very well be that my memory is failing and why not? Even so, in this case it isn't .
That the spat was not originally with ,"Knightrose' "makes his contribution so much more unpleasant for me. How-and-ever, for me the mention of my name in public is neither here nor there,it is the hypocrisy of going using a pseudonym under the circumstances at the time.To say nothing of attacking another Anarchist group who as far as I can tell have done nothing other than carry the struggle on!

bammy said...

Doctor Peter Good writes: 'I'm also aware that at least three of your collective have spent decades living on state benefits. It doesn't do you any merit to fire jibes at those comrades holding down a career.'

As a comment it offers an interesting insight into English snobbery, that he here refers to people who are out of work for whatever reason. There were several members of the original Northern Voices' (NV) editorial panel unemployed when Peter helped to set it up. I think he himself invited one or two to our original founding meeting at the Stalybridge Buffet Bar in 2003. He kindly paid the rail fare for one, he later told me. It didn't seem to trouble Peter then, that some of us were out-of-collar. What troubled Peter later was that NV was too liberal, too wide in its coverage, too diverse: doing stories on the Bolton Socialist Club, or reporting on former communists in Hyde or interviewing an elderly communist in a care-home in North Wales. As Harold Sculthorpe use to tell me: 'Peter blows hot & cold about NV!' Perhaps what caused him most distress is that we stopped listing his own 'The Cunningham Amendment', both owing to lack of space and as it didn't seem suitable to the content of NV.