A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�_ The.Supplement

The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004 | of 2005 | of 2006 | of 2007

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Britain, ORGANISE! #68 - 6 REVIEWS: The new Class War magazine - A Touch of Class, new book Rebel Alliances by Ben Franks, plus four pamphlets by 'Past Tense' publishers.

Date Sun, 08 Jul 2007 18:11:10 +0300

Review: A TOUCH OF CLASS magazine, Class War, October 2006
Last October Class War launched its new magazine, A Touch of Class. It was good to see a new magazine coming out, especially as Black Flag didn?t make it for the bookfair. The first article is a useful contribution about ethics which is a central part of the author Ben Franks? book Rebel Alliances (see full review in this issue). Its main point is to show that prefiguration - means foreshadowing ends - is a central aspect of contemporary class struggle anarchism, although this should perhaps be a problem for Class War who have traditionally been fond of using the phrase 'by any means necessary' - an ends based perspective which Franks relates to Leninism! --- Apart from this, the sniping at 'other' anarchists in the rest of the magazine is really tiresome. For example, the public order policing article will be useful for many activists, but why do the editors feel the need to criticise other anarchists for only having had a 'cursory glance' at this. Have they forgotten about the work people were doing only recently to defend G8 arrestees, which stems from accumulated knowledge of legal monitoring and advice about police tactics on demonstrations and actions? Over the years we have all had to learn about Section 60s and yes we need to spread the message wider, but there seems to be no justification for a holier-than-though attitude.

In the next article, the magazine complains about the current anti-war movement which is obviously not stopping the war. Fair comment, but the SWP stranglehold on the Stop The War coalition was perhaps only able to succeed due to a lack of a decent anarchist ?no war but the class war? position about NATO bombings over Kosovo - that is, before Sept-11 and the war on terror (and before Bush). The truth of the matter is, Class War seemed to have nothing to say about this at the time (see Organise! 52). Then, local anti-war groups were less dominated by one party and some even managed to oust the Alliance for Workers? Liberty for their support of the Kosovan Liberation Army who were calling on NATO 'actions'. Members of the Socialist Workers Party were there but they couldn?t always dominate. The point is it is a bit ripe for CW to have a go at others for attending what might look like ineffectual demonstrations when they don't seem to have any alternative ideas. Acting together, the AF and Solidarity Federation probably managed to reach 5-10% of the September 2006 Manchester anti-war march with anarchist/NWBTCW viewpoints on the war. Young 'Asians' were queuing up for anarchist leaflets and bulletins and we can only hope that more people will become influenced by some of this rather than the viewpoints of radical imams. What does CW think we should be doing to build an anti-war movement?

Then there is a reasonable piece on CCTV cameras, especially on the facial recognition threat, but the self-importance comes across again in dispelling ID card propaganda as 'verbiage' compared to the more important issue of CCTV, in Class War?s opinion. But there is nothing in this article that gives an idea about what to do about it. At least anti-ID campaigners are coming up with tactics as well as information and analysis. Local groups are meeting and working hard to produce information in order to help empower local people and are organising actions. In any case, anti-ID activists continually mention CCTV and ASBOs as part of the problem and are aware of the potential use of ID databases for law enforcement through facial recognition. A much more interesting criticism, if you wanted to make one, would be of parts of the environmental movement who are very in favour of national expansion of congestion charging in cities (mentioned in the article) and also road pricing which could involve the creation of a digital camera network across the UK.

Finally, Class War shouldn't get too excited about the BNP's apparent success for a small organisation, as they state in their editorial. They have a right-wing tabloid press backing up their racism that reaches millions of people a day. If CW thinks a 'repositioned' anarchist magazine is going to make a huge dent in that on its own, then we think this is mistaken. Solidarity please, comrades!

You can read A Touch of Class issue no.1 on the web [large PDF].
Review: REBEL ALLIANCES: The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms by Ben Franks, AK Press, October 2006.

This is a really worthwhile read, especially for those who are interested in the ideas influencing present day anarchist organisation in Britain and the recent history of the class struggle movement, and the past, present, and hopefully future members of these organisations. Through the idea of a ?consistent archetype?, the early part of the book makes a successful attempt to unify class struggle anarchism in Britain without losing the diversity of thought, strategy and tactics.

The ethics part of the book is likewise plausible and unifying. If these things help bring comrades in different organisations closer together that will have been a job well done, and also it will hopefully be a useful antidote to the 'post-left' view that lumps class struggle anarchists in the with rest of the Left.

A nice number of quotes from Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF) material are included! The ACF's major (we think!) contribution to bringing a ecological viewpoint into class struggle anarchism in Britain was one big omission. Likewise with the Poll Tax since the ACF was the only national organisation that was heavily involved with the twinning initiatives that helped exchange knowledge, and warning of Militant's tactics, from Scotland to England and Wales. The AF is also less adhered to Georges Fontenis?s Manifesto of Libertarian Communism than you might glean from Rebel Alliances, to the extent that we call it 'flawed', especially on the subject of vanguards.

Finally, in terms of 'location in the workplace', we can just about understand Franks putting 'none' in his table if you are meaning an explicit organisational presence - but it's worth noting this is in fact rapidly changing, since many AF members have joined the Industrial Workers of the World and a cross-organisation libertarian/anarchist education workers network is in the making. That'll be a bit of work for the second edition then!
Reviews of four pamphlets published by Past Tense.

1. Set the people free: the opposition to ID cards in North London, 1950 (and 2006). David King. Past Tense. 14 pages.
2. ?A shabby London suburb?: a walk around the working class and radical history of Hammersmith. Past Tense. 18 pages.
3. Reds on the Green: A short tour of Clerkenwell radicalism. Written by Fagin. Past Tense. ?2.00. 72 pages.
4. The Communist Club. Keith Scholey. Past Tense. 20 pages.

All Past Tense pamphlets can be ordered via Past tense c/0 56a Info Shop, 56 Crampton Street, London SE17 OAE,
or via http://www.past-tense.org.uk

Set the people free: the opposition to ID cards in North London, 1950 (and 2006). David King. Past Tense. 14 pages.

Identity cards were introduced into Britain during the First World War. The government was purely interested in how many men were still available for recruitment. Under the National Registration Bill, introduced in July 1915, personal information on the adult population was compiled in local registers. One the War Cabinet discovered how many men were still available for national service, politicians? interest in National Registration waned. By July 1919 the register was abandoned. During the Second World War ID cards and a national register were brought in under the National Registration Act of 1939. Failure to produce a card when asked by a policeman would result in fines or 3 months in prison. The police demanded to see ID cards as a routine event. As C.H. Rolph, an ex-policeman, noted:

"The police who had by now got used to the exhilarating new belief that they could get anyone?s name and address for the asking. If you picked up a fountain pen in the street and handed it to a constable, he would ask to see your identity card ... you seldom carried it, and this meant that he had to give you a little penciled slip requiring you to produce it at a police station within two days."

In a debate in the Commons in 1947 it was pointed out that 20,000 deserters were at large. Despite not having ID cards they were able to obtain food and clothing (rationing was still in place) and so ID cards were of little value. Clarence Willcock, a Liberal, was stopped by police whilst driving and asked to produce his ID card. He refused and then refused to produce it at a police station within 2 days. He was fined thirty shillings. He then appealed and the case was taken to High Court. It was ruled that whilst the appeal was dismissed, no costs would be given against the appellant. Willcock then started a campaign against ID cards. They were withdrawn in 1952. Willcock?s campaign had only a marginal effect on withdrawal, but they did affect the statistics for police arrests and prosecution over ID cards as figures fell, with police becoming more reluctant to prosecute if there were appeals.

This pamphlet examines this history and how ID cards could be resisted in the future. The Government has learnt from the past and realised that the only way that people will keep cards is if they are linked to something they need. WW2 cards were tied to rationing and now the Government is linking it to passports, and are considering linking it to the DVLA vehicle licensing database and using automatic number plate recognition. Plus the police have already tested mobile fingerprinting technology.

?A shabby London suburb?: a walk around the working class and radical history of Hammersmith. Past Tense. 18 pages.

A guided walk around Hammersmith and its radical history. William Morris, the anarchist tailor James Tochatti, the New Model Army agitators, the Levellers, Lucy Parsons - they?re all in this little pamphlet.

Reds on the Green: A short tour of Clerkenwell radicalism. Written by Fagin. Past Tense. ?2.00. 72 pages.

And on to Clerkenwell with a more substantial pamphlet. A fascinating tour, featuring Wat Tyler and the Peasants? Revolt, the notorious rookeries (slums), the London Mob, the master thief Jack Sheppard, the Gordon riots, the Chartists, the Fenians, Lenin, the anarchists Dan Chatterton and Guy Aldred. An enthralling and well illustrated history of the district.

The Communist Club. Keith Scholey. Past Tense. 20 pages.

The Communist Club was founded by German émigrés in London in 1840. It played an important role in the radical politics of London and Europe during the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It linked Chartism, utopian socialism, the First International, early anarchism, and the first Marxist groups in Britain. Its fascinating story is told in this little pamphlet. The anarchists Frank Kitz, John Neve, Johann Most and Errico Malatesta feature in its history.
A-infos-en mailing list

A-Infos Information Center