(en) CLASS WAR FEDERATION - RIP?

lingvoj@lds.co.uk
Tues, 25 Feb 1997 09.41 GMT


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FREEDOM PRESS INTERNATIONAL 84b, Whitechapel High St., London E1 7QX UK (sample edition of FREEDOM on request from London) ----------------------------------

[earlier this year we reported the demise of the Class War Federation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CWF they are an anarchist group which came to prominence during the Thatcher years and achieved some notoriety for their 'Bash the Rich' demonstrations, support for striking miners and anti-poll tax activities to name but a few of their activities. Our report brought the following responses.]

Dear Freedom, Rumours of our demise are much exaggerated! Your claims that Class War has wound up and that the Class War paper has ceased publication are both premature and false. That the federation is undergoing a continuous review is no secret; any visitor to our stall at the Anarchist Bookfair could have found that out. The Class War Federation continues to go from strength to strength, and our message is still very relevant and popular. You report that you have sold out of all issues of Class War. This reflects what's happening across the country, where interest in our ideas is high. In future, before printing unfounded rumours about us, please check with us before consigning us to the revolutionary cupboard of the yesterdays. George Burroughs for London Class War

PULL THE OTHER ONE

Dear Editors. George Burroughs (11 th January 1997) of the London group of the Class War Federation (CWF) may have plenty of experience of exaggerating facts to gullible bourgeois journalists, but he should not treat the readers of Freedom and comrades in the wider movement with the same contempt. Evidently all is not well with the CWF, which saddens me, but to come out with the outrageous statement that the CWF goes "from strength to strength'' shows that he must still be on the Kensington 'Bash the Rich' march of May 1985, following the invisible hordes of punks with the streets echoing to the ghostly chants of 'we will be back'. Rumours were certainly circulating at the November Anarchist Bookfair at Conway Hall, London, that the CWF was going to fold. The reality of that day did nothing to dissuade me nor does George Burroughs' letter, unfortunately. The CWF stall was reminiscent of a closing down sale: mountains of unsold papers and unused flyposters. Hardly evidence that the message was attracting growing numbers of militants to the cause. From memory, the CWF did not hold a public meeting at this event or join the successful London Anarchist Forum discussion on anarchism that same evening. What an excellent platform/environment to state the current situation and so stop the rumours. In stark contrast the Anti-Election Alliance stall was buzzing in the presence of ex-CW brains and founder 'member' Ian Bone who, with others, is now running the Bristol People's Party. Although there is overlap with CWF members, does Bone's new initiative suggest that the CWF is a lost cause? What of the CWF flyer that was in circulation in the late autumn 1996 stating "the Class War Federation is about to undergo major changes"? What were the circumstances which led to this vague statement and what of the subsequent major changes? It is no good Burroughs stating that "the Federation is undergoing a continuous review" without explanation, because it is this very cagey catch-all statement which fuels rumours instead of quelling them. That Freedom sourced the story to the non-anarchist press, Weekly Worker (Socialist Labour Party organ?) just illustrates the CWF's dwindling cohesion. Is it just a coincidence that ex-Direct Action Movement (anarcho-syndicalists, now known as the Solidarity Federation) member Dave Douglass, based in Doncaster, who later joined the less ideologically coherent CWF in the early 1990s, has jumped ship once again and joined his union's boss Arthur Scargill in the Socialist Labour Party very early on, before the party's founding conference in May l996? For a matter of accuracy, Class War's magazine, the Heavy Stuff (No. 51/2, a special edition in response to the 1992 pit closure programme, which was incidentally written by Dave Douglass) has not been published since, to the best of my knowledge, late 1992. The last issue of the paper Class War (August/September 1996, No. 72) informed readers that "we won't be taking any new subscribers or bulk orders until we've sorted a few pressing matters out ..." (page 12). Certainly the ex-masters of spin-doctoring are really getting themselves into a mess and the hole they are digging just seems to be getting deeper. Class War (April/May 1996, No. 71) has a brief comment on the newish (October 1995) Red Action front, the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA), stating that the CWF would give it critical support, despite having "grave suspicions concerning the motives of some of those parties involved ... we wait to see if it is a genuine initiative ... watch this space" (page 5). Those readers unfamiliar wilth Red Action: expelled from the Socialist Workers' Party because they quite literally did fight the National Front in 1981, are key players in Anti-Fascist Action and uncritical supporters of the IRA. For those uneasy with Irish nationalism, their concerns will heighten with their statement of intent, 'We are Red Action', which informs readers "anarchism ... could never work" (Red Action, Spring 1996, No. 73, page 15). ------------------------------------------------------------------ all the a-infos news in one 24 hour period. majordomo@tao.ca subscribe a-infos24 ----------------------------------------------------------------- In what could be the final ever issue of Class War (No. 72) the letters page has a letter from David Parker (Ramsgate, Kent) asking why the CWF is getting involved with a proto-left-wing party to the extent of putting the CWF name down as a supporter of the IWCA? Good question. The editors of Class War are strangely silent. Published in May 1992 Unfinished Business ... the politics of Class War (CWF/AK Press) presented the most coherent set of ideas behind the CWF to date, reflecting how Class War (both the tabloid paper and the propaganda group) had matured into an organisation by 1986. So in their declaration the CWF stated that there was no point in opening dialogues with the left and the wider anarchist movement, but to get on with their own activities. "This, as it turned out, was the right decision ... this is still our strategy today [May 1992]" (Unfinished Business, 1992, pages 167-168). Parker had spotted the contradiction: "I thought one of your beliefs was that the left have failed ... in this country and should be avoid[ed] at all costs" (Class War, No. 72, page 11). Is it also significant that it is comrade Burroughs, and not the CWF's national secretary, who tries to stop the obituary writer's pen? Nor was the opportunity to silence the 'rumour' that only Doncaster and London groups wish to continue, but only adds to the mystery. The cupboard door is starting to close, George, will the CWF escape the fate of the Anarchist Workers' Group (split from the DAM in 1988-89)? Class War 1983-? Watch this space. Lucy Parsons

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