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(en) Freedom 6405 8 Mar, 2003 - Building on 15th February

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 10 Apr 2003 10:36:06 +0200 (CEST)


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London
I wasn't too sure what to expect, flogging copies of
Freedom on the anti-war march. It's a long time since
I last sold a political paper. Actually, to be honest my
total experience before 15th February amounted to a
couple of very boring Saturdays down Reading High
Street in 1977 selling Socialist Worker. Two
Saturdays were more than enough. I quickly
abandoned the SWP and paper-selling for more
productive activities, like watching Tiswas and
listening to The Clash (no wonder I became an
anarchist!).

If I was nervous about people's reaction to Freedom, I
needn't have been. Selling it was easy. At one point,
standing on the steps of the posh Park Lane Hotel, I
actually had a queue of people waiting to buy it. I
rapidly got through my bundle. I think the reaction I
got to selling an anarchist paper on the march
provides a few lessons for the movement.

The anarchist milieu in Britain is broad and growing,
but atomised. Many anarchists don't come into
contact with national groups, other anarchists or
even the Anarchist Bookfair. But they do go on
marches. I sold one copy of the paper to an anarchist
from Hertfordshire, who'd heard of Freedom but
didn't know where she could get a copy. "I'm really
glad you're here", she said. "I've been trying to find
this for ages".

Lesson one: a lot of people will buy and read
anarchist publications
Whether it's Freedom, Black Flag, Class War,
Organise!, Bread and Roses or Direct Action, people
want to read it. The job might be a boring one, but
selling papers on demos will help build and cement
the movement. One anarchist asked me: "Is Freedom
still going then?" Another commented on how much
it had changed (for the better).

Lesson two: hard work pays off
Anarchists who support what Freedom is trying to do
should work hard to spread the word amongst
comrades who might have read the paper years ago,
but then gave up. They need to tell people that
Freedom has changed.

On the march, anarchists and non-anarchists alike
were positive about it. People are bored by the 57
varieties of Marxism normally on offer Ğ they know
the Trots are past their sell-by date. What they're
less used to, and more interested in, is activists who
are promoting anarchist views. People have heard of
anarchism, and they're looking to find out more.
What particularly interested me was that I sold two
copies of Freedom to people selling Socialist Worker.
Talking to one at length, it was clear that the SWP
was the only anti-capitalist organisation he'd come
across.

The massive turnout on the demo not only showed
the depth of opposition to the war, but also a deep
feeling that all isn't well. People know that
capitalism and parliament aren't delivering the
goods. People voted Labour in, expecting things to
improve. They haven't. There's a lot of anger about.
Friends of mine who have stuck with Labour through
thick and thin are now tearing up their membership
cards. Young people wouldn't even consider joining
the party. Groups like the SWP are very good at
promoting themselves and capitalising on other
people's anger. If anarchists aren't visible, people will
turn to the Trots or drop out of politics altogether.

Lesson three: people are fed up with politicians
We need to raise the profile of anarchism outside the
movement. On the way up to Piccadilly Circus, my
partner wanted to take some pictures of the march. I
stopped in the doorway of a bookshop, while she
scrambled on to a monument to take shots of the sea
of people coming up from Trafalgar Square. I
happened to stand next to a guy who was also taking
a break. He noticed the bundle of papers under my
arm and asked to buy a copy. We started talking and
he said he was new to anarchism, getting involved via
Mad Pride. He particularly wanted to get in touch
with the Anarchist Federation (who had a stand in
Hyde Park, incidentally).

Lesson four: we need to link up more
We're getting better at it, but we could do more to
let each other know what's going on. Anarchists'
commitment to direct action and support for
workers' resistance, anti-racism, environmental and
community struggles Ğ all these have contributed
most to the growth of the movement in recent years.
But the main lesson from selling Freedom on 15th
February was that there are a lot of people out there
who are interested in our ideas, and we need to reach
out to them. If we don't, groups like the SWP will. As
the most frequently published paper in the
movement, Freedom has a pivotal role to play.
R.P.G.
We're always happy to send out bundles for sale on
demonstrations or on the streets. Call 020 7247 9249
or email us at FreedomCopy@aol.com and let us
know how many you want (invoiced at 33p per copy
sold)

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