Bristol Anarchist Federation on Channel 4 News

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boomerang
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Dec 30 2014 02:16
Bristol Anarchist Federation on Channel 4 News

Saw this on Reddit.

Here's what aired on TV - the interview with the anarchists is from 4:11 to 5:30: http://www.channel4.com/news/bristol-fire-arson-police-informal-anarchis...

This 8 and 1/2 minute excerpt of the interview appeared on the front page of the Channel 4 website: http://www.channel4.com/news/anarchist-anarchism-belief-bristol-arson-at...

Here's what they had to say about it on Reddit:

Quote:
hope we didn't come out of it too bad. It was heavily edited and things were omitted that we found disappointing, but I think it was a good thing just to get some debate going.

Interview -
http://www.channel4.com/news/

Response to the interview below
https://bristolaf.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/so-we-were-on-channel-4-news-...

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General Strike
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Dec 31 2014 02:28

They've done a few interviews like this recently, including for the BBC and I think maybe The Guardian too (or if not AFed then other Bristol anarchists). I have the utmost respect for these guys, but I think doing these interviews is ill-advised. The media is trying very hard to compliment the police investigation which is essentially creating a narrative of "good" anarchists versus "bad" anarchists. Every week someone from Avon & Somerset Police (I'm not sure if they're technically an officer, but they've admitted themselves that they're part of the investigation) is going into Hydra Books (which for those who don't know is a radical bookshop in Bristol) to have a "friendly chat," and they really are very friendly and will chat with you for ages about anything. But ya know, it's not like it isn't obvious what they're doing. The Police keep emphasising and the media keep repeating this crap about Bristol having this tradition of protest and counter-culture and how that's a good thing, but it's the dangerous criminal anarchists (some journalists hint at them being "terrorists") that are ruining it for everyone.

Now, it doesn't look like they're getting very much useful information from anyone because most people are acting quite sensibly and keeping their mouths shut (or simply don't know anything worth telling anyway) and the Police putting out this £10k reward for Badger stinks of desperation. But they've turned this into this big thing now and whilst it's possible - even probable - that what with the way news cycles work it'll become less of a big story, the burning of the Police firearms centre isn't the kind of thing that is going to get forgotten about or dropped lightly. They can afford to be patient basically and it's why I think it's important to take this shit very seriously.

My issue with these interviews is I don't see what can be gained from doing them. When the media is intent on fitting your words into an already decided upon narrative it doesn't matter what you say, it's only going to be framed in a way that fits that narrative; which is what I think can be seen in this Channel 4 interview. If there is a debate to be had about tactics (and I think clearly there is), it's not a debate that should be had anywhere but internally, within the movement. But that's a debate the media wants us to be having very publicly in order to point out or even invent splits and divisions and that's all any mainstream journalist is going to want to talk to you about, so just don't talk to them.

I could go on and talk about how it's problematic and arguably self-defeating in terms of the creation of leaders and experts (the AFed statement about this interview on their website actually says that Anarchism isn't a movement of experts, but I can't help feeling they're demonstrating otherwise by giving interviews like this), but I think my original point is enough: unless you're going to outright support an action (and if you do look out for legal ramifications), don't talk about actions or tactics with journalists at all ever.

Burgers
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Jan 2 2015 15:05

Truly awful interviews and doesn't do AF any favours.

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jondwhite
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Jan 3 2015 11:48

Okay interview I thought

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 3 2015 11:57

It doesn't make for good telly, largely cos the AF people have clearly prepped themselves to not fall into the traps of that O'Brien prick. Unfortunately, deflecting away his honey traps meant you didn't have much opportunity to explain your vision or strategy: this is sometimes a problem when people try to 'popularise' their message. For example, what's a "community"? How does it "come together"? etc etc

I mean, I shouldn't criticise cos I've never done telly and I think I'd be fucking awful at it, but since we're discussing...

Also, burning down the police firearms training thing was fucking awesome and I support it. grin

Burgers
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Jan 3 2015 12:40
jondwhite wrote:
Okay interview I thought

What was Okay about it?

A retired Teacher and Fire-fighters had there cars burnt out, putting there families life's at risk and Bristol AF refused to condemn this. Maybe Bristol AF no longer supports the fight for better pay and pensions for these workers (maybe middle class scum?) cos they may buy a nice car or something with the money.

Why not just condemn individual acts of terror.

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Jan 3 2015 12:46
Burgers wrote:
Truly awful interviews and doesn't do AF any favours.

Bit harsh there, mate.

I think they did pretty well, given that the interviewer was clearly out to entrap them into saying something they'd regret, one way or another. After all, if it'd been me being interviewed, I would have probably headbutted the cunt, so fair play to 'em for holding it together for what I understand was a much lengthier, fairly gruelling interview - that was heavily edited down with all the best political points judiciously snipped out.

Which once again raises the issue, is it all worth it doing these sort of interviews? I'm not sure, meself. When you say it doesn't do AF any favours, then you're right insofar as the media has a clear remit not to do the AF or any other group with revolutionary anti-capitalist politics any favours. The remit is to show us all up as a bunch of duds and it's very hard to avoid this trap. Then again, if those two lads managed to avoid looking like complete duds, then they've done alright in my book. There's also the view that no publicity is bad publicity, if it gets someone, who might not otherwise have heard about us, interested in what we're about.

Burgers
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Jan 3 2015 13:10

Serge, I think it was incredibly naive and to be honest yes awful as well has being reckless (In general I would say don't bother ever doing this type of thing). They must have known the course the interview would go, yet they still went ahead and also were unable to clearly answer the questions. There was no clear class outlook again and instead simply talked of the "people" and "community", whatever these things are.

The bottom line is that they refused to condemn insurrectionist attacks on workers and to me that is totally reactionary and not to mention elitist.

bastarx
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Jan 3 2015 13:35
Burgers wrote:
The bottom line is that they refused to condemn insurrectionist attacks on workers and to me that is totally reactionary and not to mention elitist.

What actually happened? Burning down a police facility hardly seems like an attack on workers.

What is gained by anarchists joining the chorus of condemnation?

Burgers
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Jan 3 2015 13:41
bastarx wrote:
Burgers wrote:
The bottom line is that they refused to condemn insurrectionist attacks on workers and to me that is totally reactionary and not to mention elitist.

What actually happened? Burning down a police facility hardly seems like an attack on workers.

What is gained by anarchists joining the chorus of condemnation?

Watch the videos, they burnt two cars in peoples drives because they deemed them to be posh sports cars owned by a Teacher and Fire-fighter and which potentially put both them and there families at risk.

freemind
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Jan 3 2015 14:32

I know it's not entirely related but there was a piece on Breaking the Set on Russia Today on Freeview Channel 135 about Hurricane Katrinas aftermath and the resistance by a Black Panther who along with an Anarchist Scott Crow defied the White vigilante militias who killed 11 Black people a working class neighbourhood.
They also set up food and medical facilities as well as shelter for people abandoned by the state which still exist today.
It will be repeated twice today and I'd urge comrades to watch it.

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Jan 3 2015 17:07

Ok, thought hard before joining this thread. This is not bashing the Bristol people, as they did their best and is meant to help. I was once approached many years ago to appear on the box and after talking to the BBC media slug, I backed out. Once I’d told him this, he was frank enough to say that he’d been busy thinking out how to stitch me up.

It is obvious that the media have an agenda including making entertainment/a fool out of those brave or foolish to play their game. Anyone taking part must have their own clearly thought out agenda and rehearsed their responses well in advance. I was recently at a SPGB meeting where they have prepared a list of tricky questions to prepare their speakers in light of the forthcoming general election. Much good may it do them!

Never the less, the basic idea of quizzing your representatives before sending them into the media bear pit is a good one. In the event, to look bashfully at the media provocateur and claim their questions are ‘loaded’ is naïve, inviting ridicule.

Oreste Pinto, who in WW2 was a Dutch counterintelligence officer, wrote in his book ‘The Spycatcher’, about the skills of interrogation. A point he stresses, is to quickly establish ‘moral superiority’ over the person you are interrogating. I think the same is true regarding the police and the media - you must be prepared - with clear aims and objectives for the interview, and never be provoked.

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Jan 4 2015 18:48

Those interviewed should have clearly stated that as the AF is a communist organisation it has nothing to do with the anti-working class action of burning those people's cars.

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Jan 4 2015 20:47

Indeed, our rat. That was the weakest point and yes they should have clearly stated AF opposition to such anti-working class activities. Those lads do have my sympathy though, having to dance round loaded question after loaded question for a lot longer than was eventually shown on telly. See the positivity, brother rat! Mind you, it's easy for me to say cos I'm still infected with the festive spirit and busy working through all the bottles of ale I got for Chrimbo grin

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Jan 5 2015 14:55
rat wrote:
Those interviewed should have clearly stated that as the AF is a communist organisation it has nothing to do with the anti-working class action of burning those people's cars.

That's politically naive. The intent of the interview is to try and get the AF people to condemn at least some of the actions. If you condemn one or other action that you think particularly dumb or counter-productive, you immediately fall into the trap of giving the state what they want - i.e. a Tommy Sheridan-style "these people are not part of our movement, we will name names...". Worse still, if you only condemn some of the actions the interviewer immediately picks up that you're not condemning, for e.g., the attack on the police firearms depot, equally. Which then opens the interviewees (and associated orgs and centres) to prosecution. Under the circs, the only way to win is not to play, imo.

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Jan 5 2015 16:54
ocelot wrote:
The intent of the interview is to try and get the AF people to condemn at least some of the actions.... you immediately fall into the trap of giving the state what they want - i.e. a Tommy Sheridan-style "these people are not part of our movement, we will name names...". Worse still, if you only condemn some of the actions the interviewer immediately picks up that you're not condemning, for e.g., the attack on the police firearms depot, equally. Which then opens the interviewees (and associated orgs and centres) to prosecution. Under the circs, the only way to win is not to play, imo.

That's how I understood the interview as well. I mean it's pretty damn rare having an interviewer pressuring anarchists to look like the nice guys! Still a shitty situation when you can't express what a bad idea it is to burn random working class peoples cars when they are standing next to homes.

Saying that I enjoyed very much when someone burned a car outside my window two years ago smile It's just such a beautiful thing.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 5 2015 17:06
ocelot wrote:
If you condemn one or other action that you think particularly dumb or counter-productive, you immediately fall into the trap of giving the state what they want - i.e. a Tommy Sheridan-style "these people are not part of our movement, we will name names...".

Genuine question: what would have been wrong with them condemning it but saying they know nothing of any interest to the police about it?

Quote:
Worse still, if you only condemn some of the actions the interviewer immediately picks up that you're not condemning, for e.g., the attack on the police firearms depot, equally. Which then opens the interviewees (and associated orgs and centres) to prosecution.

What's the criminal offence here? Incitement to criminal damage?

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Jan 5 2015 17:12

Ocelot, it's not exactly Tommy Sheridan style though, is it? Sheridan was threatening to 'name names' after an outburst of working class violence against the state on a relatively mass scale. In this instance, we would be condemning one or two people or a tiny group of 'bellends against the state' carrying out individual acts of stupidity, with no relation to the wider class or class struggle in general. However, I take your point that once you start condemning one action, where does it all end and, without putting words in the mouths of those interviewed, that may be where Bristol AF is coming from. Still, I don't think that's valid. This is politics for big boys and girls now and we need to be crystal clear on what we do or don't support, what is pro-revolutionary and what is anti-working class. This sort of clarity should be meat and drink to us and we should have it nailed on before we attempt to discuss it with one of the mouthpieces of the boss class... if indeed we should discuss it with them.

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Jan 5 2015 17:25
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
ocelot wrote:
If you condemn one or other action that you think particularly dumb or counter-productive, you immediately fall into the trap of giving the state what they want - i.e. a Tommy Sheridan-style "these people are not part of our movement, we will name names...".

Genuine question: what would have been wrong with them condemning it but saying they know nothing of any interest to the police about it?

Partly the politics of just giving the media the "good anarchists vs bad anarchists" thing they want. Which is then counter-construed as scabbing by people who might have either sympathy for the perps or a hyper-libertarian sensitivity about people siding with the prosecution and thus helping to justify the state's counter-measures. There's also the possibly more direct problem that the state's counter-measures will more likely target publicly visible anarchist presence rather than covert insurrectionists. Finally, as per the other half of the problem, unless you're willing to condemn all criminal damage per se, the fact you have to condemn the action on the basis of an increasingly elaborate counter-legal argument (kicking some Nazi's teeth in may be criminal damage to dental bridgework property owned by a working class person, for e.g. - once you start "legislating"...) leaves you wide open to charges of inconsistency and double standards.

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Quote:
Worse still, if you only condemn some of the actions the interviewer immediately picks up that you're not condemning, for e.g., the attack on the police firearms depot, equally. Which then opens the interviewees (and associated orgs and centres) to prosecution.

What's the criminal offence here? Incitement to criminal damage?

I imaging the rake of anti-terrorist laws piled up in the last while on the back of Islamist paranoia would do well. If people are getting sent to prison for "cheerleading" ISIS on Twitter and FB, then being a public apologist for a "terrorist attack", is almost certainly covered by the legislation. NB they don't actually have to go as far as sending people to nick to use the charges as a bludgeon to get social centre rental contracts cancelled (for, e.g.) and publically pillory people. Tabloid witchhunts can be damaging enough without anyone ever ending up in court.

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Jan 5 2015 18:08
ocelot wrote:
That's politically naive...the only way to win is not to play, imo.

I have to agree with you there ocelot.
I am always amazed at communists or anarchists who actually engage with the media. I thinks it is a gross error. Totally foolish.

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Jan 5 2015 18:10
ocelot wrote:
I imaging the rake of anti-terrorist laws piled up in the last while on the back of Islamist paranoia would do well.

FWIW, here's Liberty's concerns on terrorism offences (they're scabby bastards, but presumably reliable on this):

Liberty wrote:
- The dangerously broad definition of 'terrorism', which applies to action taken to advance any 'political, religious, racial or ideological' cause designed to influence the government of any country or international organisation or to intimidate any member of the public anywhere in the world. (...)

- Broad new speech offences, including the 'encouragement of terrorism' which encompasses making statements that glorify terrorist acts. It is an offence even if the person or group making the statement doesn’t intend to encourage terrorism.

Fleur
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Jan 5 2015 18:26

I'm not really familiar with all this but having spent my formative years in Rad Central - West of England division - and being familiar with the uniqueness of Bristol, I'm not at all surprised. However, has anyone given a particularly compelling reason why a retired teacher's car needed torching?

boomerang
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Jan 6 2015 00:17
rat wrote:
Those interviewed should have clearly stated that as the AF is a communist organisation it has nothing to do with the anti-working class action of burning those people's cars.

Serge Forward wrote:
Indeed, our rat. That was the weakest point and yes they should have clearly stated AF opposition to such anti-working class activities. Those lads do have my sympathy though, having to dance round loaded question after loaded question for a lot longer than was eventually shown on telly. See the positivity, brother rat! Mind you, it's easy for me to say cos I'm still infected with the festive spirit and busy working through all the bottles of ale I got for Chrimbo grin

This is my views on it, too, except I'm all out of ale.

freemind
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Jan 6 2015 09:12

Most times when an Anarchist is asked what Anarchism means they give a poor explanation or a confusing one at that.

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Jan 6 2015 09:55
rat wrote:
ocelot wrote:
That's politically naive...the only way to win is not to play, imo.

I have to agree with you there ocelot.
I am always amazed at communists or anarchists who actually engage with the media. I thinks it is a gross error. Totally foolish.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with that as a blanket principle. My point was this particular game - i.e. how many knots can you tie yourself in while condemning/not-condemning/partially-condemning the "latest atrocity"? - is generally a lose-lose game.

Many communists and anarchists are also engaged within various social movements. Particular social movements may well have cause to use the media - when they're in a position of sufficient strength that their intentions regarding "what's next" is newsworthy. But obviously the content of those interactions are generally limited to campaign objectives rather than revolutionary goals. And if the campaign is democratic, then the media statements will be the consensus of the campaign, or a tendency within it, whether the person on point is an anarchist or not.

The point is the specific politics of an anarchist or communist group are not newsworthy in themselves (from the media perspective) so people should be aware that facilitating revolutionary propaganda is never the game from the media point of view. But if groups are involved in particular struggles that are newsworthy, there may well be utility in at least rebutting the opposition's media spin.

boomerang
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Jan 6 2015 16:09
freemind wrote:
Most times when an Anarchist is asked what Anarchism means they give a poor explanation or a confusing one at that.

How would you describe it? It's very hard to do in an interview where you have to give a short answer. I remember iexist's thread "elevator communism" about defining lib-com in the space of time you'd share an elevator with someone. This is really hard to do.

I don't think I could have done better than the guys on TV. If people here think they could give a better definition, what would it be?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 6 2015 16:21
ocelot wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
ocelot wrote:
If you condemn one or other action that you think particularly dumb or counter-productive, you immediately fall into the trap of giving the state what they want - i.e. a Tommy Sheridan-style "these people are not part of our movement, we will name names...".

Genuine question: what would have been wrong with them condemning it but saying they know nothing of any interest to the police about it?

Partly the politics of just giving the media the "good anarchists vs bad anarchists" thing they want. Which is then counter-construed as scabbing by people who might have either sympathy for the perps or a hyper-libertarian sensitivity about people siding with the prosecution and thus helping to justify the state's counter-measures. There's also the possibly more direct problem that the state's counter-measures will more likely target publicly visible anarchist presence rather than covert insurrectionists. Finally, as per the other half of the problem, unless you're willing to condemn all criminal damage per se, the fact you have to condemn the action on the basis of an increasingly elaborate counter-legal argument (kicking some Nazi's teeth in may be criminal damage to dental bridgework property owned by a working class person, for e.g. - once you start "legislating"...) leaves you wide open to charges of inconsistency and double standards.

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Quote:
Worse still, if you only condemn some of the actions the interviewer immediately picks up that you're not condemning, for e.g., the attack on the police firearms depot, equally. Which then opens the interviewees (and associated orgs and centres) to prosecution.

What's the criminal offence here? Incitement to criminal damage?

I imaging the rake of anti-terrorist laws piled up in the last while on the back of Islamist paranoia would do well. If people are getting sent to prison for "cheerleading" ISIS on Twitter and FB, then being a public apologist for a "terrorist attack", is almost certainly covered by the legislation. NB they don't actually have to go as far as sending people to nick to use the charges as a bludgeon to get social centre rental contracts cancelled (for, e.g.) and publically pillory people. Tabloid witchhunts can be damaging enough without anyone ever ending up in court.

Thanks to you and JK for your answers. The Liberty spiel covers the risks, but given that it was all a calculated risk on the AF's in facing the media in the first place, I wonder whether they couldn't have got any legal advice on how to skirt around the legislation while still presenting some political points. I mean, disputing the bourgeois definition of violence is fair and good if you're ready to digress and back up your argument that the insuwrecky kids are too stupid to actually manage to be violent, but they seemed reluctant to do that and rather expected O'Brien - a mere 2-3 weeks on from pursuing such a despicable line of questioning that he actually made Russell Brand look good - to give them a soapbox.

On an aside, regarding my previous post, I was genuinely unsure, and stated thus, but still got down votes by two utter fucking morons.

"Man, that fucking Caiman del Barrio, always asking genuine questions. Hate that guy..."

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Jan 6 2015 16:29

You clearly have enemies, Caiman del Barrio, but that's generally a good thing. After all, you'd be proper upset if someone with dead wonky politics started agreeing with you all of a sudden. For example, if ClassWar2015 started agreeing with me, I'd feel the need to hit myself in the face with a brick sad

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Jan 6 2015 17:00
boomerang wrote:
freemind wrote:
Most times when an Anarchist is asked what Anarchism means they give a poor explanation or a confusing one at that.

How would you describe it? It's very hard to do in an interview where you have to give a short answer. I remember iexist's thread "elevator communism" about defining lib-com in the space of time you'd share an elevator with someone. This is really hard to do.

I don't think I could have done better than the guys on TV. If people here think they could give a better definition, what would it be?

I like to focus on the empirical quality of anarchism, that it's a historical mass social movement aiming for the organization of production on the basis of need and ability and a tendency within the broader socialist movement distinguished by its opposition to parliamentary engagement or otherwise trying to "take over" the state. I think this is a lot easier than trying to explain anarchism on the level of abstract principles (freedom, opposition to authority, etc.) or theoretical definitions, since focusing on the concrete history of the movement is less likely to provoke ponderous philosophical debates and makes clear why anarchism is more significant than whatever other random -ism, including "anarcho"-capitalism and the like, that someone made up as a cool scheme for society. People often seem intrigued to hear about Spain 1936 and other such historical incidents and learn that anarchism is something that has involved the self-organized movement of millions of workers, rather than just being a marginal subculture.

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Jan 6 2015 17:00

Serge #29
'For example, if ClassWar2015 started agreeing with me, I'd feel the need to hit myself in the face with a brick'

Surely that's back to front - your real problem would be if you started agreeing with them!

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Jan 6 2015 17:32

Never going to happen.