St. Pauls, Bristol 1980

getting burnt? burn them back!

An unfinished text, written in 2006 (originally entitled "1981 & All That"), intended to be about the riots of 1981, but only the bit about the uprising in the St.Paul's district of Bristol was completed. For obvious reasons, I've decided to put this now in the library.
The introduction gives a flavour of the pessimistic feel of 5 years ago. The last 5 or 6 months since Millbank has changed that, but there's still a long way to go (and a fairly short time to do it) for the new social movements to re-learn the strengths and weaknesses of past movements in order to go beyond them - and this time without a significantly "definitive" defeat and retreat.

1981 & All That

On austerity in the 1980s - Modern Times

Cover of Modern Times 1988

The concluding article from a one-off magazine produced in 1988, dealing with the Thatcherite austerities of the time and their consequences for radical movements in the UK.


Any map of the world drawn today should have the word 'austerity' printed in large letters across it. Everywhere the message is cutbacks, however this may be justified in each separate state.

Solidarnosc: trade unionism in Poland - Subversion

Subversion look at Solidarność's role in the uprisings which preceded the end of Stalinist rule in Poland.

The 1980 workers’ uprising in Poland was not the first time the working class there had fought back against state capitalism. ln 1956, 1970 and 1976 workers had taken to the streets when the state had tried to impose cuts in their standard of living by raising food prices.

Gee, Charlie - A working class hero

Silentnight picket line banner

Charlie looks back at his youthful experiences as a militant hippy factory worker and shop steward in 1970s & 80s northern England. Part 2 deals with his involvement in the long-running Silentnight bedding factory strike; the dispute began in late July 1985 - a few months after the ending of the 1984-85 Miners Strike - and by the time it finally ended in April 1987 it had become the UK's "longest-running continuous strike in trade union history". The Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, visited Silentnight owner Tom Clarke to show support and dubbed him "Mr Wonderful".

The author; "My name is Charlie Gee, I am 55 years old and I live in the Yorkshire Dales. I suppose if I had to describe myself I would say I am an unreformed ageing hippy..."
Charlie Gee's site: MSing Around - http://lotties.brainiac.com/ceegee/aboutme.htm

Part 1:

A view on "Class War" by a former member - Julian (1986)

Written by a young Frenchman just after he left Class War (CW) and published in the one-off Flamethrower insurrectional anarchist magazine. The 1986 article was influenced by the optimism of the times; the recent nationwide waves of intense rioting in 1981and 1985, the recently ended year-long Miners Strike, the then-ongoing printers strike at Wapping (the TNT lorries mentioned were scab delivery vehicles) etc. Few could see the dramatic downturn in class struggle that was soon to begin ...

(The AFA Affair referred to was an alleged attempt by the anti-fascist Searchlight group to smear CW with false claims that they had links to fascist organisations.)

Up to last year CW was an attractive paper put out by an informal group of participants from London and supporters in the country. I was keen to contribute to its production. It has become yet another political structure - which has no future but slow death in general indifference or violent death by repression.

There's a riot goin' on - The Red Menace

Article drawing parallels between the struggles of the late 1960s and late 1980s in Berkeley, California.

The recent wave of media nostalgia for the late 1960s in the USA and elsewhere (exemplified by the re-release of the film of the Woodstock festival) gives the impression that the most important preoccupations of the period were smoking dope and listening to Jimi Hendrix - which of course were not unimportant.

Israel/Palestine: two states too many - The Red Menace

The Red Menace analyse the first Palestinian intifada.

Despite its position as a local superpower with one of the best-trained and best-equipped armies In the world, the State of Israel has been rocked by a major movement of resistance for nearly two years. Shamir’s cabinet might be able to kidnap Koran-pusher Sheikh Obeid, but it has been incapable of crushing the intifada.

More misery now! - The Red Menace

Article looking at the impact of the 1989 public transport workers' strikes in London and elsewhere.

Forced to lie in the sun instead of sit in front of a VDU ...to stay in bed instead of going to work ...these have been some of the horrific privations inflicted on commuters by the last few months’ transport strikes. If this is misery, give us more of it!

Up against the prole tax - The Red Menace

Article examining successful methods of resistance, following the introduction of the Poll Tax in Scotland in April 1989.

Poll tax

Letters from Algeria: the situation after the uprising - The Red Menace

Accounts of a participant in the 1988 uprising against austerity measures in Algeria.

These letters were received by our comrades at Le Brise Glace (The Ice Breaker). We are publishing them because they give an interesting eye-witness account of the situation before and immediately after last year’s uprising in Algeria. The reference to ‘Chadli’ is to the president, ChadIi Benjedid.