The Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain's First Urban Guerilla Group (Documentary)

The Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain's First Urban Guerilla Group (Documentary)

The complete documentary.

Between 1970 and 1972 the Angry Brigade used guns and bombs in a series of symbolic attacks against property. A series of communiqués accompanied the actions, explaining the choice of targets and the Angry Brigade philosophy: autonomous organization and attacks on property alongside other forms of militant working class action. Targets included the embassies of repressive regimes, police stations and army barracks, boutiques and factories, government departments and the homes of Cabinet ministers, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. These attacks on the homes of senior political figures increased the pressure for results and brought an avalanche of police raids. From the start the police were faced with the difficulty of getting to grips with a section of society they found totally alien. And were they facing an organization—or an idea?

This documentary, produced by Gordon Carr for the BBC (and first shown in January 1973, shortly after the trial), covers the roots of the Angry Brigade in the revolutionary ferment of the 1960s, and follows their campaign and the police investigation to its culmination in the "Stoke Newington 8" conspiracy trial at the Old Bailey—the longest criminal trial in British legal history. Produced after extensive research—among both the libertarian opposition and the police—it remains the essential study of Britain's first urban guerilla group.

Comments

Ed
Jan 16 2012 12:10

So I watched this coz I basically wanted to see the bit where one of my mate's parents gets a mention.. smile generally a really interesting documentary with some great bits of hippies talking away and funny voice-over comments ("the police where often shocked by the low-levels of hygiene in many communes" - which, to be fair, would be true of basically every flatshare among under-30s in England!)..

But there were a few bits which just bugged me and I feel need to be put down (even if just to get my own thoughts in order).. the main thing is the jump in logic from protests to secret urban guerrilla organising.

So there's a bit where they talk about how British revolutionaries were hoping that an anti-Vietnam protest would turn into their France 1968.. it didn't and so, 'obviously', people started organising into secret urban guerrilla cells.. they even try to put historical context on it (after the Paris commune, revolutionaries organised secret societies etc - without mention that it was a massive failure)..

Now to me, this makes absolutely zero sense (especially for libertarians).. a secret group of people shooting at embassies or the houses of Tory politicians, to my mind, does nothing to encourage people to act for themselves to improve their conditions. No one's exercising any collective strength, there are no relationships of solidarity being built, no one feels that they can take control of their own struggles (possibly even the opposite, it encourages a reliance on secretive groups of radicals?)..

I mean, they mentioned stuff about how people from that scene organised squatters' groups and claimants' unions, which I think is excellent.. but I just don't get what the urban guerrilla stuff added..

I've got some thoughts on why it went in this direction.. maybe it was to do with the relative privilege of a lot of those involved and the disconnection they felt not just from the bureaucratic trade unions/Old Left but also even the workers within them..

But yeah, even if I might have ideas on why it happened, I can't help but think it was, at best, pretty pointless in terms of encouraging general working class militancy..

Battlescarred
Jan 16 2012 14:57

You'd be mistaken if you think that most people talking on this documentary were "hippies" as long hair and facial hair had spread beyond hippy milieu in this period to many young working class people. Christie a hippy? I think not!