Anarchists respond to the London riots - Solidarity Federation

Riot police in Hackney - photo by Henry Langston from viceland.com

With media sources blaming “anarchy” for the unfolding violence in London and across England, the North London Solidarity Federation has released the following statement as a response from an anarchist organisation active in the capital.

Over the last few days, riots have caused significant damage to parts of London, to shop-fronts, homes and cars. On the left, we hear the ever-present cry that poverty has caused this. On the right, that gangsters and anti-social elements are taking advantage of tragedy. Both are true. The looting and riots seen over the past number of days are a complex phenomenon and contain many currents.

It is no accident that the riots are happening now, as the support nets for Britain's disenfranchised are dragged away and people are left to fall into the abyss, beaten as they fall by the batons of the Metropolitan Police. But there should be no excuses for the burning of homes, the terrorising of working people. Whoever did such things has no cause for support.

The fury of the estates is what it is, ugly and uncontrolled. But not unpredictable. Britain has hidden away its social problems for decades, corralled them with a brutal picket of armed men. Growing up in the estates often means never leaving them, unless it's in the back of a police van. In the 1980s, these same problems led to Toxteth. In the '90s, contributed to the Poll Tax riots. And now we have them again - because the problems are not only still there, they're getting worse.

Police harassment and brutality are part of everyday life in estates all around the UK. Barely-liveable benefits systems have decayed and been withdrawn. In Hackney, the street-level support workers who came from the estates and knew the kids, could work with them in their troubles have been told they will no longer be paid. Rent is rising and state-sponsored jobs which used to bring money into the area are being cut back in the name of a shift to unpaid "big society" roles. People who always had very little now have nothing. Nothing to lose.

And the media's own role in all of should not be discounted. For all the talk of the “peaceful protest” that preceded events in Tottenham, the media wouldn't have touched the story if all that happened was a vigil outside a police station. Police violence and protests against it happen all the time. It's only when the other side responds with violence (on legitimate targets or not) that the media feels the need to give it any sort of coverage.

So there should be no shock that people living lives of poverty and violence have at last gone to war. It should be no shock that people are looting plasma screen TVs that will pay for a couple of months' rent and leaving books they can't sell on the shelves. For many, this is the only form of economic redistribution they will see in the coming years as they continue a fruitless search for jobs.

Much has been made of the fact that the rioters were attacking “their own communities.” But riots don't occur within a social vacuum. Riots in the eighties tended to be directed in a more targeted way; avoiding innocents and focusing on targets more representative of class and race oppression: police, police stations, and shops. What's happened since the eighties? Consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters turn on other members of our class?

The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone those we don't know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.

But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government "austerity" politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.

We believe that the legitimate anger of the rioters can be far more powerful if it is directed in a collective, democratic way and seeks not to victimise other workers, but to create a world free of the exploitation and inequality inherent to capitalism.

Comments

robot
Aug 10 2011 05:02

Translation into German at the FAU website

Rob Ray
Aug 10 2011 07:03

Well put revol, one thing which I think should speak volumes to the cheerleaders is that the people on Ian bones blog, themselves no strangers to class war rioting have been expressing the same reservations.

piter
Aug 10 2011 07:20
Quote:
That's nice and everything, but they're burning down people's homes and private possessions like their cars. I don't care what you happen to think of private owned cars, but some people do rely on their transport to put food on the table. Of course if you've lost your home over the past few nights, this is not such a big concern...

This kind of thing is terrifying to the innocents caught up in it and does *nothing* to strengthen our position.

yes we must feel concerned by people losing their house or cars, fearing of being attacked, etc..

but also yes the riots in a way strengthen our position. no revolution without revolt, without people having the guts to face the police.

often people object to revolutionnaries that people are too passive, to afraid, not sufficiently revolted, etc...

ritots clearly shows different. it clearly shows that people can and do revolt.

then, our responsibility to show them how to do it in more conscious and efficient way.

revol68
Aug 10 2011 07:23

though this sits badly with me,

Quote:
The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone those we don't know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.

Firstly the point that Sol Fed is based on resistance through workplace struggle is made in such a manner as to suggest it's juxtaposition to riots like these, something both political false but also not even true of SolFed themselves or atleast what I've encountering in the politics of their members.

Secondly the neither condone or condemn line about the looting is awful, it's what I'd expect from Sinn Fein twenty years ago not an avowedly revolutionary and communist organisation. The looting of major stores is not simply to be condoned, like it needs an excuse, it is to be celebrated albeit not fetishised or overplayed, it is primarily an issue of tactics not ethics and so the neither condone or condemn line is just liberal wavering. It also sits odd with the previous bit about looting being the only form of wealth redistribution people have seen in decades.

piter
Aug 10 2011 07:36
Quote:
I'd argue that it's far more a sign you've lost your head if you're running around calling people who burn out homes heroes.

so all the rioters are burning homes?

so they're all "criminal elements"?

aren't you here talking about the rioters exactly in the same way the media and the government do?

yes we must say that those who burn homes are not right. but that must not restraint us to say that the rioters that are not burning homes are right and that we are on their side against this fucked up society.

haven't you better thing to say about the riot than "burning homes is bad"?

or maybe people are right to revolt only if they follow an anarchist guidebook?

piter
Aug 10 2011 07:39
Quote:
I don't like this statement. It seems that SolFed are so concerned about the image of anarchism and your organisation and have been that they've failed to support the totally legitimate and mass proletarian shopping expedition that has been going on. You seem to be like most leftists when direct action occurs, 'we understand it, but we don't condone it.'

After all, the mass looting by english proles is a limited form of communist distribution in action, but I guess for many anarchists their support for communism is fairly wafer thin. I'd always support proles actually practicing a limited form of communism during riots, so they can freely take back what has been taken from them over their lives. It's a (albeit limited and contradictory and consumerist) form of class revenge, a form of expropriation. Sure it's messy, and Sol Fed are right to condemn the anti working class violence and the burning of homes and cars of working class people. But there are also positive elements in the riots, namely the looting.

I do feel the same way

piter
Aug 10 2011 07:48
Quote:
If it reads weird to you the problem is you. He didn't say they weren't class riots per se, he was pointing out that the riots lacked the same degree of political direction as those in the eighties, something far from shocking when one looks at the decompositon and atomisation of the working class after wave after wave of anti working class legislation and social policies quite deliberately aimed at fracturing the working class eg the rise of the much discussed "underclass", those who are by and large excluded or as Endnotes put it "exists now only to be managed: segregated into prisons, marginalised in ghettos and camps, disciplined by the police, and annihilated by war".

To ignore these factors in a bid to paint oneself more communist than thou in an unthinking celebration of massively contradictory events as these have been is idiotic and political counterproductive, replacing sloganeering and prefab cheerleading for an actual class analysis.

yes the class is fractured, contradictory, etc...

surprise surprise. for a large part it's always been this way.

anyway we have to do with the class as it is not as we like it to be.

remember what Marx said it's not because proletarians are gods, etc...

if we want to abolish our class situation it's because it's fucked up. and that's also because its fucked up that we expect people to feel the same.

piter
Aug 10 2011 07:53
Quote:
the neither condone or condemn line about the looting is awful, it's what I'd expect from Sinn Fein twenty years ago not an avowedly revolutionary and communist organisation. The looting of major stores is not simply to be condoned, like it needs an excuse, it is to be celebrated albeit not fetishised or overplayed, it is primarily an issue of tactics not ethics and so the neither condone or condemn line is just liberal wavering. It also sits odd with the previous bit about looting being the only form of wealth redistribution people have seen in decades.

I'm with Revol on this...

soc
Aug 10 2011 08:14

Same here.

Rob Ray
Aug 10 2011 08:46
Quote:
so all the rioters are burning homes?
so they're all "criminal elements"?

No, which is why we "don't condemn or condone" people looting, just people burning out homes. If we were condemning the riots as a whole we'd say so. Seriously try reading it from the perspective of an anarchist-communist rather than from the perspective of someone on the hunt for wavering liberalism to decry - it's not like there's a shortage atm.

Revol, on your more salient point, the reason for writing it that way was to arrest the thoughts of people who would otherwise instantly jump to the "they're all about chaos" conclusion and try to get them to start thinking critically about the lines we're drawing rather than jumping to comfortable stereotypes.

The problem with writing "as anarchists" is that people bring a hell of a lot of baggage when they read and saying " we support the rioters" outright would more likely than not be the only thing taken away from the statement when frankly that's a pretty small part of it. As it is, bit of a clumsy rhetorical fudge maybe.

Caiman del Barrio
Aug 10 2011 09:45
Comunicado en espanol wrote:
Los Anarquistas de Solidarity Federation responden a los disturbios de Londres

Con los medios de comunicación culpando a la "anarquía" de la violencia que se desarrolla en Inglaterra, Solidarity Federation de Londres ha lanzado la siguiente declaración como respuesta de una organización anarquista activa en la capital inglesa.

En los últimos días, los disturbios han causado daños significativos a las partes de Londres, para escaparates, casas y automóviles. A la izquierda, oímos el grito siempre presente que la pobreza ha provocado esto. A la derecha, que gángsters y los elementos anti-sociales se están aprovechando de la tragedia. Ambas cosas son ciertas. Los saqueos y disturbios vistos en los días pasados es un fenómeno complejo y contiene muchas corrientes.

No es una casualidad que los disturbios estén ocurriendo ahora, cuando las redes de apoyo a los desfavorecidos de Gran Bretaña se desmoronan y las personas son abandonadas en un abismo, golpeadas al caer por las porras de la policía. Pero no debe haber excusas para la quema de casas, aterrorizar a la gente de la clase trabajadora. Quienquiera que haya hecho tales cosas no deben ser apoyadas de ninguna manera.

La furia de los Estados es lo que es: fea y sin control. Pero no imprevisible. Gran Bretaña ha escondido sus problemas sociales desde hace décadas, acorralados con un piquete brutal de hombres armados. Crecer en los Estados a menudo significa que nunca se escapará de ellos, a menos que sea en la parte trasera de una camioneta de la policía. En la década de 1980, estos mismos problemas condujeron a Toxteth –disturbios ocurridos en Liverpool por parte de la comunidad de color y la policía-. En los años 90, contribuyó a los disturbios Poll Tax. Y ahora los tenemos de nuevo, porque los problemas no sólo siguen ahí: están empeorando.

El acoso policial y la brutalidad son parte de la vida cotidiana en todo el Reino Unido. Los sistemas de beneficios sociales se han deteriorado y eliminado. Las rentas aumentan y los puestos de trabajo patrocinados por el Estado utilizados para traer el dinero en la zona se están reduciendo en nombre de la transformación hacia una “gran sociedad de roles”. La gente que siempre ha tenido muy poco ahora no tienen nada. Nada que perder.

Y el propio papel de los medios de comunicación no debe ser disminuido. En todos los discursos sobre la "protesta pacífica" que precedió a los acontecimientos en Tottenham, los medios de comunicación no hubieran tocado la historia si todo lo que sucedió fue una vigilia frente a una comisaría de policía. La violencia policial y las protestas en contra de ella pasan todo el tiempo. Es sólo cuando la otra parte responde con la violencia (contra blancos legítimos o no) es que los medios de comunicación sienten la necesidad de no dar ningún tipo de cobertura.

Así que no debería haber ningún asombro porque las personas que viven una vida de pobreza y violencia hayan llegado, por fin a la guerra. No debe ser ninguna sorpresa que las personas están saqueando los televisores con pantalla de plasma que va a pagar por un par de meses de alquiler y dejar libros que no pueden vender en los estantes. Para muchos, esta es la única forma de redistribución económica que se verá en los próximos años a medida que continúan la búsqueda infructuosa de empleo.

Mucho se ha hablado del hecho de que los manifestantes estaban atacando "sus propias comunidades." Pero los disturbios no ocurren en un vacío social. Los disturbios en los años ochenta tendieron a ser dirigidos de una manera más específica, evitando inocentes y centrarse en objetivos más representativos de la opresión de clase y raza: la policía, estaciones de policía, y las tiendas. ¿Qué ha ocurrido desde los años ochenta? Los sucesivos gobiernos han hecho todo lo posible para destruir cualquier tipo de idea de trabajar la solidaridad de clase e identidad. No es de extrañar, entonces, que estos manifestantes combatan a su vez a otros miembros de su propia clase.

La Federación de solidaridad se basa en la resistencia a través de la lucha laboral. Nosotros no estamos involucrados en el saqueo y la diferencia de las reacciones de la derecha, o incluso los comentaristas simpático-pero-condenatoria de la izquierda, no vamos a condenar o condonar los que no saben cómo devolverse parte de la riqueza que se les ha negado durante toda su vida.

Sin embargo, como revolucionarios, no podemos permitir que los ataques a las personas que trabajan, a los inocentes. Quemando las tiendas con viviendas por encima de ellos, el transporte de las personas, asaltos y similares son un ataque a nuestra propia clase y debe ser resistido con tanta fuerza como cualquier otra política de austeridad impuesta por el gobierno, a las alza de precios de los propietarios, a la intención de los jefes de robarse el fruto de nuestro trabajo. Esta noche y durante todo el tiempo que sea necesario, la gente debe unirse para defenderse cuando este tipo de violencia amenaza hogares y comunidades.

Creemos que la ira legítima de los manifestantes puede ser mucho más potente si se dirige de manera colectiva, democrática y no busca victimizar a otros trabajadores, sino para crear un mundo libre de la explotación y la desigualdad inherente al capitalismo.

Solidarity Federation – Londres
09.08.2011

Rats
Aug 10 2011 14:17

Even as far away as Adelaide, South Australia the front page reads "London descends into anarchy". They could at least have the wit to say "anarchy in the UK".

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/before-and-after-anarchy/story-e6frea6u-1226112568609

Nate
Aug 10 2011 14:44

Very good statement SolFed. Just curious, how quickly was it written and was there any process to it beyond one person writing it and circulating a draft? I ask because I'm impressed that you lot got it out so fast, especially when it's such a good statement.

koll
Aug 10 2011 15:16

@ROB RAY

You deliberately misrepresent my comments. I called no-one a hero. You know that quite well but are looking to smear my view.

Its saddening to see your political argument has come down to defence by smear linked to personal tragedies of burnt homes to make the argument emotive. (i repeat, lest you do it again, homes burnt down is a deeply saddening tragedy!!!)

I don't see the point in continuing, but am disappointed that you are falling into gaping traps of focussing on personal tragedies to ramp up the pressure on the 'fightback' as Cameron calls it

You are leaving space wide open for the rioters and working class youths of this country generally from now on to be persecuted as 'rats' 'scum' others, not wanted in our community. You may not think that the lumpenproletariat has revolutionary potential but i didn;t think you'd abandon them to their fate so swiftly.

Steven.
Aug 10 2011 15:58
piter wrote:
Quote:
the neither condone or condemn line about the looting is awful, it's what I'd expect from Sinn Fein twenty years ago not an avowedly revolutionary and communist organisation. The looting of major stores is not simply to be condoned, like it needs an excuse, it is to be celebrated albeit not fetishised or overplayed, it is primarily an issue of tactics not ethics and so the neither condone or condemn line is just liberal wavering. It also sits odd with the previous bit about looting being the only form of wealth redistribution people have seen in decades.

I'm with Revol on this...

I didn't spot that before - I thought it just said they didn't condemn it. I think we should definitely condone it - it is working class people taking what we desire from those who have exploited others. It is completely different from any of the

Rob Ray
Aug 11 2011 00:11

Yeah you koll, as some random on the internet who decided to write some rubbish about Solfed being "spineless like the rest of the liberal left" are important enough for me to "smear" as opposed to simply having responded in kind. Christ for someone slagging off others over not being hardcore enough you're not half thin-skinned...

muslimanarchist
Aug 11 2011 01:48

What i found interesting on was the reasons given for looting, and running amok.
whenever any of the looters where pressed as to why they where looting, after the initial "getting free stuff", they gave a real insight into the minds of our young.

"We are getting our tax back", " we are letting the police know who owns the street", "telling the government we can do what we want",

but this wasn't the response of uni students, this was the reply of 15-16 year old black, white and asian youth living in places like hackney and tottenham.

It seems that our young, actually get it. They may not have been able to use some social political language, but they definately got it. "whose streets, our streets" after years of abuse by the police state, years of police unaccountability. Years of Government policy designed to keep them on the poverty level as the underclass of society, struggling to make ends meet, whilst the cooperations swallow up the resources of the people.
They Get it

Whereas depressingly Our middle class have become the "house n****" and where busy calling for the army, rubber bullets, benefits to be cut and all they looters to be shot.
What the Rioters Must Demand

admin: offensive word removed, please do not use words like that here

Chilli Sauce
Aug 11 2011 10:58
Nate wrote:
Very good statement SolFed. Just curious, how quickly was it written and was there any process to it beyond one person writing it and circulating a draft? I ask because I'm impressed that you lot got it out so fast, especially when it's such a good statement.

Well, a day of internal discussions went into us realising a statement was in order (mostly on SF's forums). Then two of us--independently of each other but at the same time--each wrote a statement which we put onto the forums. We had some feedback and then combined the two statements. This was done with the input of those on the forums as well as posting it up on the NLSF email list.

We should also note this comes out of kind of 'culture' of writing statements, something we do fairly often. We try to do them as democratically as possible, consciously seeking to achieve a go-ahead from over half the members of the Local (and then allowing other Locals to sign onto the statement in their own time).

However, we also recognize that sometime time is short and we kind of allow our Local to release statements without reaching the majority threshold. We have very tight politics and we've discussed internally that we're okay with this process, so it's worked out well so far. That said, we did discuss this process at our meeting last night and it was decided that if a statement is released that the group rejects, those who wrote it will be expected not to write any further statements unless (1) they explicitly achieve majority approval and (2) they've been active in the Local for a further number of months and can more correctly gauge the group's politics.

Phew!

Skraeling
Aug 11 2011 10:38
revol68 wrote:
If it reads weird to you the problem is you. He didn't say they weren't class riots per se, he was pointing out that the riots lacked the same degree of political direction as those in the eighties, something far from shocking when one looks at the decompositon and atomisation of the working class after wave after wave of anti working class legislation and social policies quite deliberately aimed at fracturing the working class eg the rise of the much discussed "underclass", those who are by and large excluded or as Endnotes put it "exists now only to be managed: segregated into prisons, marginalised in ghettos and camps, disciplined by the police, and annihilated by war".

To ignore these factors in a bid to paint oneself more communist than thou in an unthinking celebration of massively contradictory events as these have been is idiotic and political counterproductive, replacing sloganeering and prefab cheerleading for an actual class analysis.

Ignoring your over the top hyperbole, I think you're misinterpreting their statement. Nth London Solfed say: "Riots in the eighties tended to be directed in a more targeted way; avoiding innocents and focusing on targets more representative of class and race oppression: police, police stations, and shops." So they're claiming that the riots aren't very political, they are fundamentally anti-working class, they lack targetting police, police stations and shops. Huh? In fact, from what I have seen, the rioters did attack police, and then run away when they could, and most of their activity seemed to be attacking and looting shops rather than mugging and burning other working class people and their homes. Nth london solfed are only focussing on the worst of the riots, the mugging and burning of homes etc, and overlooking the other elements. Then solfed claim: 'consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters turn on other members of our class?' Huh? (again) Again, they are claiming that the riots were all about lack of class solidarity and rioters turning on other working class people. But the riots were not all about rioters beating up other workers. The practice of looting is a mass thing or else it wont succeed. The rioters showed tremendous class solidarity and self-organisation amongst themselves to do prole shopping.

If i'm cheerleading the looting aspect of the riots, then I'm over reacting against their one-sided portrayal of the riots and their silly worry about the image of anarchism when there was a major prole revolt going on, with all its messiness, nastiness and so on. (I know very well the looting is limited and contradictory and deserving of critque in itself, but still, it is something to be built upon rather than dismissed). As others have said, SolFed are also sneering in their portrayal of the lumpenproletariat, and saying that real political activity occurs in workplaces and the like (ie. from waged workers). Besides, from what I have heard, many waged workers did participate in the riots, and to see it as only a lumpen thing is misleading.

Rob Ray
Aug 11 2011 10:48

Writing as one of the co-authors Skraeling, it's not revol who's misinterpreting us but you. Unless you want to claim you have a better idea of what me and Chilli think than we do.

Frankly given how many people actually are sneering at the rioters, I'm finding it very odd that you're trying so hard to find condemnation of the looting where there isn't any. It's almost like you want us to be reactionaries, would that fit into your little book of purity better?

Following on from Chilli Sauce's post, yeah the actual statement, once we'd decided to write it, took about an hour and a half between me and chilli and was put out to the lists and forum for a further couple hours for feedback before it was released. One thing we had to be careful about was not expressing any sentiments which we weren't sure the Local's other members would approve of, which obviously impacts on the tone.

Arbeiten
Aug 11 2011 13:10

I concur with muslimanarchist, these people could not articulate what they were doing in bourgeois rhetoric, but they were certainly doing something political.

Tourist
Aug 11 2011 13:55

From a rightist perspective, this is anarchism, as lawlessness is seen to cause criminality and the collapse of social norms. Only from an anarchist perspective is this not seen as anarchism, because they suggest removing state strictures (lawlessness) will lead to utopian behaviours as suggested by primitive collective societies where norms are implemented without the control of the state. The rightists would say this is exactly an apology and an attempt at legitimisation for the kind of gang culture, vigillantism, and anti-establishment disrespect that caused this mess and is intrinsically anti-social.

Given this, it seems to me that you might as well admit you embrace this youth revolution. That it might collapse the economy or burn people out of their homes is just a draw back to anarchism, which as anarchists, you think is acceptable. I don't think it is acceptable, but I do think it is anarchy.

To be honest, I watched 'The Book of Eli' the other week, and I could not imagine humanity behaving so badly. After the last week, I am no longer so certain. It re-enforces my view that actually society needs Animism and the contemplation of the Greater Self to stop us engaging in self-destructive behaviours. This lack of harmony, not corporate capitalism, is the real problem.

Arbeiten
Aug 11 2011 13:59

oh great, a right-wing 'animist', yes thats what society really needs, a great big right wing cuddly harmonious earth spirit....

Rob Ray
Aug 11 2011 14:12

Tourist, anarchism is not a philosophy which embraces chaos or which merely desires the existing order to be destroyed with nothing to replace it. Before telling a site full of anarchists what they think, you might want to try reading up on it a bit - this site has a lot of articles available.

kurremkarmerruk
Aug 11 2011 14:28

Revol's comment that this statement from solfed falls into liberal line is valid. I think we should accept the class nature of the events in london (as solfed also does). And class struggle can not be measured according to moral standarts and/or a certain reason. You just have to take your side. (this can be intellectual, physical, artistic etc..)

However by neither condemning or condoning it this statement by solfed fails to say much about "an anarchist organization's response to the events happening in London". And in my opinion by failing to say anything and take side, it doesn't challenge "normalized" ideas of mainstream media, (like rioters are looters thiefs, property damage is bad, looting is worse, etc...)

So basically "neither this not that approach" is a powerless response, it only signifies that "this was not the struggle we wanted and anticipated, however we are proud activist so we can not say this struggle is bad." in other words "we have nothing to say on what to do", (but we can explain socio-historical conditions that created this events) We can only say you should protect your community, (for example like Turkish jewelry stores. [most of the media in Turkey only mentions the riots in Londo from a perspective of how Turkish shop owners protect their properties with knives and clubs like "ottoman heroes")

What is particularly sad (for me) about such "non-statement" is that it was (I don't konw why) is translated to turkish and published in a leftist newspaper. So I feel bad about such statement is translated as the response of anarchists to events.

(by the way I couldn't see this on libcom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzDQCT0AJcw
I think what he gives is a real "response" )

Rob Ray
Aug 11 2011 14:49

It's been picked up because it's a coherent response to why things are happening and draws a clear line between looting, which we refused to judge because it's a complex issue (and specifically because we hadn't gotten a consensus before we published) and actively anti-working class actions like mugging. Not really that difficult tbh.

Joseph Kay
Aug 11 2011 14:56
revol68 wrote:
As others have said, SolFed are also sneering in their portrayal of the lumpenproletariat, and saying that real political activity occurs in workplaces

I think you're reading far too much into it. There's a single reference to SolFed being "based in resistance through workplace struggle" (which isn't even that accurate fwiw), but there's also plenty of time spent arguing how riots can be targeted and class conscious and how these ones have been less so than in the 80s (fwiw i don't know if this is is true, wasn't PC Blakelock killed escorting firefighters to a shop fire in a residential block?), but nevertheless looting is "the only form of economic redistribution they will see in the coming years". Hardly sneering and hardly narrow workerism.

Steven. wrote:
I didn't spot that before - I thought it just said they didn't condemn it. I think we should definitely condone it - it is working class people taking what we desire from those who have exploited others.

while i'm inclined to agree, i assume the thinking behind this is to resist the establishment framing of the debate, which is obsessively demanding condemnation or condoning with no nuance allowed (e.g. see Darcus Howe being basically accused of rioting on the BBC because he wasn't surprised it had happened, or anyone with any explanation being dismissed as an apologist for home burning to be rounded up in a stadium). I think it's vital to resist that framing, since 'the riots' and even looting are not singular uniform phenomena but complex and contradictory, with class content alongside anti-social and anti-working class elements (which of course the press is focussing on, and probably aren't as widespread as we're lead to believe).

also there's the issue two people were trying to stay within a not clearly specified mandate, so they couldn't unilaterally take a position that wasn't agreed, and on which there's considerable debate. personally i think there's plenty of room for discussion over the looting from 'proles directly asserting their needs that should be supported' through to 'consumerism taken too seriously that shows the grip of individualist values on workers'. that's probably a thread worth starting as the dust settles and we get a better idea of what happened, but this wasn't attempting to be a nuanced reading of the jouissance of looting, but to get out a class struggle anarchist perspective on developing events while there was possibly a window to influence the debate (and of course practical efforts to organise things like the Deptford Assembly to pre-empt a reactionary backlash from people fearing for their homes etc).

Nate
Aug 11 2011 15:27

hi comrades,
This statement's circulated a lot among folk I know in the UK, most really like it, I've seen just a few negative responses to it, focusing on that condemn/condone bit. JK does a great job here of answering that.
I'm sure y'all are super busy but if anyone has time to speculate about what you think is coming next after the rioting subsides, I'd be interested. I agree w/ the statement and with JK, but/and I'm also concerned about a backlash after. These things are contradictory, this could give new life to a lot of cool stuff while also touching off some awful. A friend told me that after the 1999 WTO protests - which really turned around the US left and revitalized it - the Seattle police for a few years busted heads really aggressively and it became raelly hard for leftists to operate publicly. I believe a similar dynamic went on in Canada much more recently. I realize that a lot of the rioting areas have been at brutal policing already, I just can't think of a better analogy. I'm also thinking of something I vaguely rememebr reading about or by the EDL, that part of their strategy was to commit acts which might provoke muslim youth and others into responses which the EDL can then use to help demonize those groups. I don't know if that's true, but I think it speaks to the part of the NLSF statement and JK's remarkers about how the events have been complex/conradictory. I think that part of what I liked best in the statement is the same thing that a few folk I know disliked, which is that NLSF has opinions about what folk should and shouldn't do, in a way I think the statement is suggesting a bit of working class self-discipline in revolt.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 11 2011 16:50

Just to say, the line about "workplace struggle" was something we'd correct again in the future. It should have said "workplace and community struggles", but I really don't think it's a major issues, only a slight, tiny inconsequential mistake.

Chilli Sauce
Aug 11 2011 16:55

Tourism,

Anarchism doesn't oppose rules, order, or organization. We just believe rules should be made by the people who have to follow them, not by a state built upon (as all states are) protecting the interest of a ruling class.

Quote:
Only from an anarchist perspective is this not seen as anarchism

Yeah, because you wouldn't want to judge an idea by the words, philosophy, and actions of its adherents. roll eyes ...Cause it's not like those in power haven't spent the past 150 years doing their damndest to ensure they've misrepresented and maligned anarchism in the media and public discourse