Saturday, 1 August 2015

Response to Andy Meinke from Jennifer Welsh

THE post by Andy Meinke raises many more issues than it attempts – unconvincingly – to answer, and I should like to examine them in four stages.


First, Andy Meinke claims that ‘Richard [Parry] was appointed as a director of Friends of Freedom Press (FFP) for the simple reason that the Freedom Collective recommended him to the then directors.’  However, the reason isn’t simple because it begs four questions:
1.  By what right did the Collective make the recommendation? 
2.  Who were the members of the Collective at the time? 
3.   Did the members of the Collective exert undue influence over the Friends of Freedom Press, who as I understand it, should be separate from and independent of the Collective? 
4.  Do the members of the Collective have any answerability to the Friends of Freedom Press, who own the building in which the members are based?


Second, Andy Meinke goes on to say, insultingly, ‘The clue is in the first word, “friends”.’  The members of the Collective appears to have decided that the Friends of Freedom Press have all the financial responsibility, including paying to support the unreported, and hence unknown activities of the members, while having no say in what the members do!  However, the Friends of Freedom Press ‘own the building in trust for the good of the Anarchist Movement as a whole.’  What is the ‘Anarchist Movement’?  How would I contact it?  When I Google the phrase I find a Facebook page of gargantuan unpleasantness, which, thankfully has been inactive since 2011.  So where is the ‘Anarchist Movement’, apart from its existence in the land of wishful thinking? 


Third, Andy Meinke makes the point that the building ‘needs to be protected against any attempted takeover.’  Given that the newspaper folded because it lost so many readers, who would want to take over the building?  Surely not the members of the Collective?  Yet the Friends of Freedom Press are excluded from the decision-making of the members of the Collective but are supposed to put their hands in their pockets when they tell them to do so!  There is appalling hubris in the next statement, about the supposed commitment of the members of the Collective ‘to ensure the day to day activity of Freedom is controlled by those active in the anarchist movement today ….’  Will a member of the Collective tell us exactly how it ensures that ‘those active in the anarchist movement today’ are enabled to ‘control’ the day to day activities of ‘Freedom’ – whatever Freedom is now supposed to be?

Fourth, if you’re still reading this post, and you’re one of the Friends of Freedom Press, be aware that Andy Meinke emphasizes again that basically all you’ve got to do is to fund the members of the Collective in whatever they fancy doing.  After all, the members of the Collective are said to be ‘free from influence by those providing financial backing.’ 


This clear description of the role of the Friends of Freedom Press implies three components to the role: 
1.  Look after the building, i.e. give money
2.  Fund the members of the Collective, i.e. give money but don’t ask any questions 
3.  Take responsibility for whatever disaster the members of the Collective might produce, i.e. give money, ask no questions, but don’t expect any of them to be accountable for their actions.


It seems to me that the post by Andy Meinke should deeply concern not only the Friends of Freedom Press but also everyone committed to anarchism.   

Jennifer Welsh (July 2015)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"By what right did the Collective make the recommendation?"

Having been asked if they would accept recommendations from the Collective the Friends said they would be happy to consider any put forwards. These were duly offered, and the Friends were under no obligation to accept any of them.

"Who were the members of the Collective at the time?"

Come to a meeting and you can ask direct. The Collective does not give out personal details without permission.

"Did the members of the Collective exert undue influence"

No.

"Do the members of the Collective have any answerability to the Friends of Freedom Press"

The Friends is a dormant company with no formal financial or organisational ties to the Collective.

"The members of the Collective appears to have decided that the Friends of Freedom Press have all the financial responsibility"

The only responsibility the Friends have is to safeguard the building. As a dormant company this does not involve them paying for anything, day to day costs are covered by the collective and other building users.

"Given that the newspaper folded because it lost so many readers who would want to take over the building? Surely not the members of the Collective?"

I'm not sure what you're asking here. The Collective has no intention of "taking over the building" but the point is that it couldn't even if it wanted to.

"The Friends of Freedom Press are excluded from the decision-making but are supposed to put their hands in their pockets"

The Friends are not required to pay anything themselves, it is in their mission statement that they aim to raise funds but "aim" and "are required to" are not the same thing.

"Will a member of the Collective tell us exactly how it ensures that ‘those active in the anarchist movement today’ are enabled to ‘control’ the day to day activities of ‘Freedom’"

Anyone can come to the monthly meeting and have their say and anyone prepared to put in the minimal amount of work required to become a member has a direct vote on collective activities, how things run day to day etc. If you're asking whether anyone can walk in off the street and tell the collective what to do, then no.

"1. Look after the building, i.e. give money"
No money has to be given

"2. Fund the members of the Collective, i.e. give money but don’t ask any questions"
They can ask what they like, and usually do.

"3. Take responsibility for whatever disaster the members of the Collective might produce, i.e. give money, ask no questions, but don’t expect any of them to be accountable for their actions."
If the Collective were to go bankrupt the Friends would simply continue to own the building. There is no responsibility for them to bail the Collective out.

I hope some of those answers have been helpful. As an aside, it might be worth noting that Chris and Brian have developed a very personal vendetta against Collective members who they feel (wrongly) are their enemies and as a result their roundups are often inaccurate, where they aren't deliberately misrepresentative. They haven't met most of the Friends or indeed most of the Collective, and do most of their writing from the other side of Britain. Other than the odd article from Brian, neither of them has had a role in the paper or the press for well over a decade.

The best way to understand how Freedom Press works is to come to the shop and meet people, and if you do so you'll see that the situation is a long was from the insiunations and insults levelled on this blog.

My apologies for the anonymity, but I'd rather not present a target for Bamford and Draper's unpleasantries.

Zyzzyzus floridanus said...

The writer 'Anonymous' makes much of the limits to the powers of the Friends of Freedom Press, but what is the legal status of the body to which the writer apparently belongs: the so-called 'Collective'? Does it have any legal or constitutional basis under the Articles of Association of Freedom Press?

Anarchybystatute? said...

Are you a taxman Zyzzyzus? I can only imagine you are, otherwise the "legal status" of Freedom would be of no interest to you at all as an anarchist...

Other Side of Britain said...

The answers from ‘Anonymous’ are not helpful for two reasons.

1. The anarchist movement

‘Anonymous’ does not answer any of the questions about the anarchist movement, a movement to which Andy Meinke made three references in his post. The references that Andy Meinke made were as follows:

a.‘the Anarchist Movement as a whole’

b.‘the anarchist movement today’

c.‘everyone in the movement’.

Because ‘Anonymous’ does not answer any of the questions about the anarchist movement, an outstanding issue still remains. The issue is ‘Is the anarchist movement real or imaginary?’

2. The ‘Friends of Freedom Press’

‘Anonymous’ makes statements about the ‘Friends of Freedom Press’ that are inconsistent with those made by Andy Meinke about them.

‘Anonymous’ stated:

‘The Friends is a dormant company with no formal financial or organisational ties to the Collective.’

‘The only responsibility the Friends have is to safeguard the building. As a dormant company this does not involve them paying for anything, day to day costs are covered by the collective and other building users.’

But Andy Meinke had stated:

‘The “Friends” are people who want to financially support the work that Freedom does in all it's aspects (shop, building, publishing and news) ….’

‘Freedom is … free from influence by those providing financial backing.’

Because the statements made by ‘Anonymous’ about the ‘Friends of Freedom Press’ are inconsistent with those made by Andy Meinke about them, an issue arises. The issue is ‘Who is right: “Anonymous” or Andy Meinke?’

In the remainder of his/her post, ‘Anonymous’ makes an invalid criticism and a risky suggestion.

1. Chris Draper and Brian Bamford ‘do most of their writing from the other side of Britain’

This criticism by ‘Anonymous’ is invalid because it rejects what Chris and Brian have written – not upon the basis of whether it is true or false – but upon the basis of the location from which they mostly write. Readers who are familiar with argumentation will recognize this argument as being a case of ad hominem, of arguing against Chris and Brian instead of what they have written. Readers who are familiar with the history of newspaper publishing will recognize the close parallel between the phrase ‘the other side of Britain’ with the apocryphal newspaper headline ‘Fog in Channel: Continent cut off’.

In addition to being invalid, the criticism by ‘Anonymous’ raises an issue. The issue is ‘Where is the boundary between “the other side” and “the side” of Britain?’

2. The ‘best way to understand how Freedom Press works is to come to the shop and meet people’

My response to this suggestion by ‘Anonymous’ is to enquire whether anyone who comes to the shop risks meeting Gawain ‘the cunt’ Williams, as he once chose to describe himself, or Andy Meinke. What these people have done are matters of record. In 2010, Gawain Williams gratuitously and obscenely abused a life-long subscriber to ‘Freedom’. Then, last year, Andy Meinke boasted:

‘… Kropotkin might have started it, but we fucking finished it!’


Why would anyone who wants to understand how Freedom Press works risk meeting Gawain Williams or Andy Meinke?