Thursday, 15 January 2015

A.fed: A response to Chris Draper's History

by martin s. gilbert
CHRIS Draper has given me details of how Anarchist Federation [a.fed] (alcohol, fish and chips) gained control of FREEDOM PRESS.  Much was due to our inertia.  'Our' is meant to suggest anarchists of various kinds who may not necessarily follow a 'Class War line' or any other analysis but who broadly agree with each other on a wide range of issues, both theoretical and practical.   Also, this refers to a breadth of vision and tolerance of comrades, totally lacking in the Anarchist Fed (A.F.).

'Inertia' here refers to the lack of concerted, widely-organized attempts to inform each other of how their control was taking place.   Where such information came to light in our blogs, publications or meetings the attitude was 'let them get on with it' hoping that the difficulty would pass.  It did not. Also contributing were reasons like this guilty writer, living far from anywhere there was a friendly anarchist face or we were really too busy with things on our doorsteps to get involved in stuff hundreds of miles away.   Another way Anarchist Fed. gained control was due to the insularity of people living in London showing scant concern generally for what’s happening outside of the capital. The  Anarchist Fed. has no concern with 'our' needs regarding the basic tool of respecting diversity . One thing disregarded by them was that fewer people were getting involved in clearly named anarchist actions or subscribing to FREEDOM.   Climate camps came and went as did much of the ongoing OCCUPY movement. Their organizational methods were highly anarchistic but little or no credit was given to the origins of such organizational tools.   FREEDOM readership continued to decline, due to the narrow approach of its editors, to say nothing of how the AF (Anarchist Federation) paper, ORGANISE left most Climate Campers and OCCUPIERS stone cold.

Other, more significant factors helped Anarchist Fed’s machinations.  During the years indicated here community solidarity continued to decline.  Trades union membership continued to drop.   The internet took-off to the detriment of printed papers, not just FREEDOM. Also, we were not immune from increasing individuality in the wider society.  It all contributed to our inertia, in that we lacked the necessary basic organisation to influence new developments or at least offer counter arguments with a collective voice.

So to repeat Chris’s question how do we start to reclaim what Anarchist Fed. have taken from us. FREEDOM at one time was a useful clearing house for ideas and notice board.

One idea, another possible useful step towards that reclamation is to request debates with the Anarchist Fed. at book fairs.  Alternatively, one of us could request discussion-space at such an event, offering a specific topic of the potential speaker’s choosing.  The problem with such ideas is that no such facility will  be given to non A.fed (A.F.) supporters.  In true SWP fashion, they only pick such speakers from their own ranks. In the event of being offered a meeting by their book fair organisers, bet your life it would be 'packed' with their clones.  It is possible that in the main, just one person Mr. N. Heath makes all this happen.   We can suspect that a reason why most, if not all articles in ORGANISE are anonymous is that they are mainly from his pen.

One of our comrades recently heard that all the spaces had been taken up for discussions at the Sheffield book fair in May. It is quite possible that this was subtle deliberate obstruction.    

Once enough e mails have passed around we could have a meeting, probably in Manchester, to see where we go from here.  The Anarchist Federation (A.F.) in gaining control of FREEDOM took a long time, attempting to reverse that outcome will be no quick fix.  Yet 150 people signed a petition defending one of our comrades who had been banned from a book fair by these people.  We should be optimistic with such numbers.


Anonymous said...

I'd lay off the wacky baccy if I were you, Martin. It brings on bizarre paranoid delusions about non-existent conspiracies.

Charlie said...

Martin writes:
'The internet took-off to the detriment of printed papers, not just FREEDOM.'

And yet, as he wrote those words a French satirical publication was the centre of attention throughout the world. On the day he made put out this post Charlie Hebdo a printed journal sold 5 million copies.million copies.