The Angry Brigade

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yozzee
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Aug 17 2005 11:40
The Angry Brigade

The Angry Brigade 1967-1984: Documents and Chronology

Now available online at http://cornersoul.com/angrybrigade.html

From the introduction:

"The eight libertarian militants on trial in the Old Bailey in 1972 who were chosen by the British State to be the 'conspirators' of the Angry Brigade, found themselves facing not only the class enemy with all its instruments of repression, but also the obtusity and incomprehension--when not condemnation--of the organised left.

Described as 'mad', 'terrorists', 'adventurists', or at best authors of 'gestures of a worrying desperation', the Angry Brigade were condemned without any attempt to analyse their actions or to understand what they signified in the general context of the class struggle in course. The means used to justify this were simple: by defining the actions of the Angry Brigade as 'terrorist', and equating this with 'individualist', the movement organisations--whose tendency is to see the relationship between individual and mass as something in contrast--neatly excluded them from their concerns. Strangely enough this attitude was not limited to the broad left but was also prevalent within the anarchist movement, where still today there is a tendency to ignore the role of the individual within the mass, and the role of the specific group within the mass movement."

Thoughts?

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cantdocartwheels
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Aug 17 2005 11:49

Well they weren't the worst of the insurrectionist groups at the time, compared to murderous lunatics like baider meinhoff the angry brigade were just a bit naive and foolish, and in fact they aren't villified in the same way that more violent and misanthropic groups were, afterall some of their actions, such as the vandalism committed against the south african embassy, were easy to sympathise with. Politically however i would still say they were individualist terrorists who the left should have distanced themselves from at all costs.

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Volin
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Aug 17 2005 12:16

I quite like them actually, and I could easily be tempted by their style of action* But yeah, it's gonna be said; they were a direct, risky protest group and in itself that was fine but it does nothing if not harm any attempt to make a real long-term campaign to abolish the very things they were against. So, ultimately self-defeating but then what d'you expect when you have no other method at hand?

PS. Love their communiques;

"We machine-gunned the Spanish Embassy last night in solidarity with our Basque brothers and sisters. We were careful not to hit the pigs guarding the building representatives of British capital and fascist Spain. If Britain co-operates with France over this "legal" lynching by shutting the truth away, we'll take more careful aim next time.

Love and Solidarity,

The Angry Brigade"

"We must ATTACK, we cannot delegate our desire to take the defensive. Sabotage is a reality...getting out of the factory is not the only way to strike...stay in and take over."

"Brothers and sisters, what are your real desires? Sit in the drugstore, look distant, empty, bored, drinking some tasteless coffee? Or perhaps BLOW IT UP OR BURN IT DOWN. The only thing you can do with modern slave houses -called boutiques- is WRECK THEM. You can't reform profit capitalism and inhumanity. Just kick it till it breaks."

*(not to be taken seriously monsieur plod)

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Volin
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Aug 18 2005 14:16

um yas, "militant" mass strikes for limited goals that everyone could see wasn't going to work?

Sure I believe they supported them...they were a reaction from the exact same milieu.

yozzee
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Aug 18 2005 22:39
Volin wrote:

PS. Love their communiques;

*(not to be taken seriously monsieur plod)

A lot of them still have resonance now. Like this one:

Quote:
FELLOW REVOLUTIONARIES...

We have sat quietly and suffered the violence of the system for too long. We are being attacked daily. Violence does not only exist in the army, the police and the prisons. It exists in the shoddy alienating culture pushed out by TV films and magazines, it exists in the ugly sterility of urban life. It exists in the daily exploitation of our Labour, which gives big Bosses'the power to control our lives and run the system for their own ends.

How many Rolls Royce..how many Northern Irelands...how many anti-Trade Union bills will it take to demonstrate that in a crisis of capitalism the ruling class can only react by attacking the people politically?

But the system will never collapse or capitulate by itself.

More and more workers now realise this and are transforming union consciousness into offensive political militancy. In one week, one million workers were on strike...Fords, Post Office, BEA, oil delivery workers...

Our role is to deepen the political contradictions at every level. We will not achieve this by concentrating on 'issues' or by using watered down socialist platitudes.

In Northern Ireland the British army and its minions has found a practising range: the CS gas and bullets in Belfast will be in Derby and Dagenham tomorrow.

OUR attack is violent...

Our violence is organised.

The question is not whether the revolution will be violent. Organised militant struggle and organised terrorism go side by side. These are the tactics of the revolutionary class movement. Where two or three revolutionaries use organised violence to attack the class system...there is the Angry Brigade. Revolutionaries all over England are already using the name to publicise their attacks on the system.

No revolution was ever won without violence.

Just as the structures and programmes of a new revolutionary society must be incorporated into every organised base at every point in the struggle, so must organised violence accompany every point of the struggle until, armed the revolutionary working class overthrows the capitalist system.

Communique 6

The Angry Brigade

the ugly sterility of urban life - http://urban75.net wink

Rolls Royce - http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/08/321211.html

BEA - http://www.labournet.net/ukunion/0508/heathrow1.html

Beyond the communiques I'm beginning to believe the most valuable legacy of the Angry Brigade, and others who involved themselves in the armed struggle at the time, is what can be learnt from their experiences and tactics. Given the speed at which this country, and many others, are moving towards martial law and the removal of all so-called democratic concessions to freedom of speech, movement, thought and assembly it seems wise to have an understanding of how underground resistance movements work.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Aug 19 2005 14:59
Quote:
"We machine-gunned the Spanish Embassy last night in solidarity with our Basque brothers and sisters. We were careful not to hit the pigs guarding the building representatives of British capital and fascist Spain. If Britain co-operates with France over this "legal" lynching by shutting the truth away, we'll take more careful aim next time.

didnt it take the authorities a couple of days to actually realise the building had been 'machine gunned' or was that somehwere else? I'm sure the angry brigade had good intentions n all and they wrote very stylish communiques that sounded really threatening and grandiose but god damm were they naive, they were just playing at revolutionary guerillas, the stuff some of the members did with the claimants union beforehand was probably more productive if a little less sexy.

BB
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Aug 19 2005 15:28
Vaneigemappreciationclub wrote:
Quote:
"We machine-gunned the Spanish Embassy last night in solidarity with our Basque brothers and sisters. We were careful not to hit the pigs guarding the building representatives of British capital and fascist Spain. If Britain co-operates with France over this "legal" lynching by shutting the truth away, we'll take more careful aim next time.

didnt it take the authorities a couple of days to actually realise the building had been 'machine gunned' or was that somehwere else? I'm sure the angry brigade had good intentions n all and they wrote very stylish communiques that sounded really threatening and grandiose but god damm were they naive, they were just playing at revolutionary guerillas, the stuff some of the members did with the claimants union beforehand was probably more productive if a little less sexy.

Todays black star, for class struggle history goes to VA, you're correct the bullet was found by a cleaner a few days after the attack.

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Steven.
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Aug 19 2005 17:35

Yeah spot on VAC.

I think it's important to bear in mind that they were just playing around. I bet they're well embarrassed about their "communiques" now grin

Nick Durie
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Aug 21 2005 23:22
Quote:
Beyond the communiques I'm beginning to believe the most valuable legacy of the Angry Brigade, and others who involved themselves in the armed struggle at the time, is what can be learnt from their experiences and tactics. Given the speed at which this country, and many others, are moving towards martial law and the removal of all so-called democratic concessions to freedom of speech, movement, thought and assembly it seems wise to have an understanding of how underground resistance movements work.

Without a movement such actions are pointless.

If you're engaged in underground activities then you can't be involved in accountable movement building activities. Therefore what do we need to do? ...

Your perspective is just a fetishistic attitude towards violence. When you've seen blood pouring from the lifeless corpse of someone you spoke to just moments before, when you witnessed your comrades interned, tortured, broken and isolated from the rest of the world you won't be quite so clearcut about your judgement to break out the sten guns. Nobody who has been involved in armed struggle for any length of time, that I've met (and I've met a number), has ever found anything romantic in it.

For a mass movement before a military struggle,

Solidarity,

Nick Durie

yozzee
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Aug 22 2005 21:49
Nick Durie wrote:

Without a movement such actions are pointless.

If you're engaged in underground activities then you can't be involved in accountable movement building activities. Therefore what do we need to do? ...

Your perspective is just a fetishistic attitude towards violence. When you've seen blood pouring from the lifeless corpse of someone you spoke to just moments before, when you witnessed your comrades interned, tortured, broken and isolated from the rest of the world you won't be quite so clearcut about your judgement to break out the sten guns. Nobody who has been involved in armed struggle for any length of time, that I've met (and I've met a number), has ever found anything romantic in it.

For a mass movement before a military struggle,

Solidarity,

Nick Durie

That certainly seems to be the conclusion those once involved have reached. Not just the AB. However the point I was making is that the liberal democratic facade of the state is being stripped away at an alarming rate. There is no mass movement to defend any concessions previously won. Here and there there's the occasional wildcat, the occasional short strike by posties or railworkers, but there is no mass movement of the working class in this country. Working class culture has been recuperated, watered down and sold back to us as historyand museums. If you're looking for a mass movement the only one around is consumerism. I know that sounds defeatist but I fear it's true.

You're right to ask the question: what do we need to do?

Is it possible to resurrect a mass movement when everyone's too busy shopping to care? Too busy getting by to get together and too frightened by media stories of terrorists to even think beyond the current nightmare.

We're living in a climate of manufactured fear where the only answer that's being presented is to trust the State, trust the State to protect us, protect us by removing what little concessions to freedom have been won.

Without a mass movement where does that leave people who see through the sham? Do they allow the State to remove the relative freedoms of speech, thought and assembly hoping the mass of people will come to their senses eventually and see through the contradictions, or will there come a point when a small group of people think fuck this, enough is enough.

I don't know what the answer is Nick. So I figure it's wise to analyse all forms of struggle, including armed struggle. That's not fetishing or romanticising violence it's being practical. It's the State that has a monopoly on violence and a mass media to fetishise and romanticise it when it suits them.

meanoldman
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Aug 23 2005 00:03
Quote:
I know that sounds defeatist but I fear it's true.

That is the situation in which individual acts of violence (or at least acts by small and isolated groups) have been resorted to in the past. They have always soundly failed to generate any kind of mass movement in the past though, and I can't see any reason why they would do so now.

knightrose
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Aug 23 2005 15:25

Yozzee wrote:

Quote:
So I figure it's wise to analyse all forms of struggle, including armed struggle. That's not fetishing or romanticising violence it's being practical. It's the State that has a monopoly on violence and a mass media to fetishise and romanticise it when it suits them.

The only point in analyzing them is to realise that they can change nothing. Armed struggle by a few against the might of the state? It's hardly a recipe for social change, is it?

As I recall, the only person injuured by the Angry Brigade was a cleaner. Says it all really, doesn't it.

The following link mis to the Australian anarchist pamphlet, You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship:

http://www.af-north.org/social_relationship.html

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 23 2005 16:07

Unlike certain latter-day insurrectionists, the AB didn't really see themselves as creating trhough their actions a mass movement, they saw themselves as the armed, anti-authoritarian wing of a movement that was already mass and taking militant action against war, fighting for control of workplaces etc. Probably modeled themselves more on the Barcelona 1920-30s pistoleros more than on Che

knightrose
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Aug 23 2005 16:51
Quote:
Unlike certain latter-day insurrectionists, the AB didn't really see themselves as creating trhough their actions a mass movement, they saw themselves as the armed, anti-authoritarian wing of a movement that was already mass and taking militant action against war, fighting for control of workplaces etc.

Whatever they saw themselves as, believe me, nobody at the time saw them in that way! Basically they were a bunch of tossers letting off explosives. They achieved nothing. Given that there was plenty of real class struggle going on, then they'd have been better getting their hands dirty with that, rather than living their little wank fantasies of guerilla warfare.

What fucking relevance did they have to a class fighting shipyard closures, welfare cuts and housing? None whatsoever.

dot
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Aug 23 2005 20:32

hey knightrose, it seems weird to divorce this kind of action from its context. militant actions exist in relationship with non-militant actions - earthfirst!'s relationship to mainstream environmental groups, for example.

have people here read Churchill's Pacifism as Pathology?

any thoughts on it?

knightrose
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Aug 23 2005 23:10

I'm not a pacifist.

Dot said:

Quote:
hey knightrose, it seems weird to divorce this kind of action from its context. militant actions exist in relationship with non-militant actions - earthfirst!'s relationship to mainstream environmental groups, for example.

It was the Angry Brigade who divorced their actions from the context. There was no need then, or now, for armed struggle groups. Unless, of course, you are into the kind of authoriatian politics which says, "follow me, or we blow you up". Remember, as I said, the only person injured was working class!

Equally, I've never heard of EF! actions involving machine gunning emabassies or letting off bombs. The nature of those actions is that they empower people by showing what collective action can do. That is the opposite to terrorism which says it's all down to the actions of an elite.

The AB lived in a sick fantasy world.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 11:21
knightrose wrote:
There was no need then, or now, for armed struggle groups.

Would you support armed struggle as an organic part of another dispute, e.g. attacks on scab vans, etc.?

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 11:34

Lazlo asked:

Quote:
Would you support armed struggle as an organic part of another dispute, e.g. attacks on scab vans, etc.?

That would be a question of tactics, depending on what was best under the circumstances. The point about the AB was that they weren't an organic part of a dispute or struggle, just a bunch of isolated losers.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 12:29
knightrose wrote:
just a bunch of isolated losers.

Sounds a bit personal. Did you know them/know someone who got raided because of the AB?

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 13:57

No, didn't know any of them. I just despise their politics. I see it as little different from any leninist faction. We know best. Follow us.

When they were busy letting off bombs I was about 17 and just getting interested in politics. I actually thought they were quite romantic at the time.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 14:31
knightroseI see it as little different from any leninist faction. We know best. Follow us.[/quote wrote:

Did they aske for followers? I thought they were fairly down the line prop of the deed/autonomus?

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 14:51
Quote:
I thought they were fairly down the line prop of the deed/autonomus?

That kind of politics wasn't needed then. There was plenty of real class struggle taking place.

At best they were foolish. I just think they got caught up in fantasies of being like the RAF and the Weathermen.

It worries me that some people are treating them seriously.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 15:06
knightrose wrote:
It worries me that some people are treating them seriously.

I don't take them seriously, but if they were autonomist in their politics then it's simply wrong to lump them in with Leninist guerillas who want to be a leadership.

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 15:12

Why is it wrong to lump them with Leninists? I judge people by the results of their actions, not what they say.

Terrorists aresecretive, elitist (because they think they know best), they never act after refrring to others, they think they are stting others an example to follow.

Don't see much difference myself?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 15:21

In that case all direct action that isn't openly organised is elitist and 'Leninist', regardless of whether it's armed or not. You know you're falling in with Linsey German on this one?

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 15:29

I dunno who Linsey German is.

I think there is a difference between "armed" groups and the likes of EF! doing actions. When we did EF! actions, we assumed others would get involved. We maybe couldn't involve them in the planning stage, but we were hoping to attract attention and practical support and looking to make the network of activists wider.

I'm mostly having a go at the "substitutionist" activities of terrorists - you know, the ones who they that they can substitute themselves for the working class. That is something they share with Leninists.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 15:38
knightrose wrote:
When we did EF! actions, we assumed others would get involved. We maybe couldn't involve them in the planning stage, but we were hoping to attract attention and practical support and looking to make the network of activists wider.

This seems to be guerillaism without the guns. Not that I'm against this, of course. Unless you can show where the AB thought they could do without mass class action, I don't see how this differs from their actions, apart from the guns.

Lynsey german is the supremo of the STWC, who denounced people doing direct action training as 'elitist'. as everybody couldn't participate in this.

knightrose
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Aug 24 2005 16:58

Laz said:

Quote:
Unless you can show where the AB thought they could do without mass class action, I don't see how this differs from their actions, apart from the guns.

Well, nothing we did as EF!here relied on people not being around. The AB certainly did. And we never blew up a cleaner!

Laz, this is going round in circles.....

Let's put it simply. I'm against letting off bombs and going on shooting sprees. It's really that easy.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 24 2005 17:47
knightrose wrote:
Well, nothing we did as EF!here relied on people not being around. The AB certainly did.

EF! trashing GM crops/sabotaging JCBs certainly depended on people not being around. This seems to be an issue about weapons used, rahter than mode of political organisation.

But I'll drop it if you think it's going nowhere. 8)

yozzee
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Aug 27 2005 23:04
knightrose wrote:

Whatever they saw themselves as, believe me, nobody at the time saw them in that way! Basically they were a bunch of tossers letting off explosives. They achieved nothing. Given that there was plenty of real class struggle going on, then they'd have been better getting their hands dirty with that, rather than living their little wank fantasies of guerilla warfare.

What fucking relevance did they have to a class fighting shipyard closures, welfare cuts and housing? None whatsoever.

This is the exact kind of hostility that's pointed out in the introduction. I can understand where you are coming from but the reality doesn't bear out what you are saying. The AB actions were very specific. They targetted members of the ruling class when they were in direct conflict with the working class. So you get the bombing of Robert Carr's house when he was behind the Industrial Relations Bill, the bombing of William Batty during a strike at Ford, the bombing of John Davies during the Clyde shipbuilders dispute, Bryant during a strike at one of his building companies. They weren't random attacks, they were in unison with workplace struggles as they happened.

I think it's a shame that even now 30 years later any attempt to examine what was really happening as opposed to what was reported in the mainstream media is met with hostility and the mainstream media POV trotted out as actual fact.

I'm aware that parts of the booklet on cornersoul are pretty much unreadable. I'm rescanning it. Should be a better version online soon

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Steven.
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Aug 28 2005 00:46
revol68 wrote:
As elitist urban guerillas go though they are probably the sweetest.

Hmmm apart from J2M* who used to rob banks and give out chocolates to customers while they did so, telling them it wasn't their cash they were nicking.

*J2M - June the 2nd Movement, German libertarian urban guerrilla group.