Possibly first issue of this irregular anarchist-communist fanzine, with cartoons and articles on Brixton's 121 Centre, UK lorry drivers protest about fuel, housing, Socialst Party of Great Britain, etc
The Whinger (un-numbered) 2000
PDF courtesy of Sparrows Nest Archive, Nottingham.
121: A brief personal trip down memory lane - Paul Petard
Paul Petard reflects on a squatted social centre, now evicted, that he used to frequent.
(Oh no I've got to walk down Railton Road again.)
121 Railton Road: South London's world famous radical squatted house/anarchist bookshop/autonomous social centre/free community space survived for a record breaking 18 years before being evicted. Some people claim the place was haunted, by the ghost of euro punk perhaps.
121 was certainly haunted by Jack Frost as you nearly always felt cold inside the building (even when it was warm outside!). The number of meetings and events there one sat through with shivering limbs and chattering teeth, we all deserve medals just for passing the test of physical endurance involved in going to the place. It is the comradeship and community, the social movement and historic struggles that the place was connected to that actually matter. On the long run the building itself was always expendable. And let's face it folks the building itself was a bit knackered from day one. Maybe, if they could have got away with it, it would have been better had the people who first squatted it demolished it there and then and started building some folk art Watts towers or Gaudi cathedral like fantasy house to live in. So many hours of maintenance work and decorating on the building and its famous anarcho squat centre toilet from hell but to little avail.
It felt only slightly more cosy in the early years when the ground floor dividing wall was still up and the bookshop was in the front with the latest "Black Flag" and "Crowbar" hot off the presses wafting printing ink thinners out the door. But maybe it only felt that way because we were younger then. There would be real agitated ANARCHIST meetings in the back room with young punks, ageing Spanish veterans, anarcho-nerd bookworms, romantic insurrectionaries, hardcore squatters, urban saboteurs... (today's "anarchist" meetings just don't have that same authentic feel). It was the last days of the cold war, Thatcher was in power, there was open mass unemployment, there were inner city riots, big industrial battles like the miners and the printworkers yet to be fought. Life was so much politically simpler in those days, the revolutionary vision appeared much clearer, insurrection seemed just round the corner. In those days you could get easy student grants and loaf around for several years, you could sign on for years with a minimum of hassle, the giros felt bigger and silkier. The queues in the dole office were more chatty and friendly. Tell that to the young whippersnappers in R.T.S. today and they won't believe you.
I remember my first conversation in the bookshop when I first visited 121 in 1981; I sat down with a cup of tea and chatted about summer riots, squatting, secret police and whether the room was stuffed with bugging devices or not. This was still in the days when the arguments between Black Flag and Freedom actually mattered to anyone so it was fun to pop into Angel Alley, Whitechapel, and then travel down to Brixton to catch up on the latest exchange of the political raspberry blowing. Not satisfied with smalltown anarchism in the early eighties I used to catch the train up to London at weekends in search of the hardstuff. A typical friday routine for me circa early eighties: Travel to Brixton, meal at 121 in the cafe upstairs, then downstairs for an anarko meeting, wander off for a little "direct action" or flyposting, crash at somebody's squat, then saturday morning maybe a paper sale and meeting in a pub in Ladbroke Grove (Class War had just started coming out as a paper) or a demo in central London.
The quality of 121 cafe food was not universally awful but it often got pretty close. Yellow broccoli in squat food is a political issue. I miraculously escaped food poisoning in all 18 years eating there although I believe several victims are still convalescing in a London infirmary to this day. Was the good meal in '92 or '93 ? I can't remember. The 121 toilet: The architects and designers model of the ultimate in grungy, dingy and dire squat toilets. There is a full size mock up of it in police training college.
And what of more recent years; the nineties for instance? I didn't get there quite so much. The postmodernists tried to redesign the place into the "121 Centre" but it just wasn't going to happen without a cappucino machine. There were several changeovers in personnel in the collective, sometimes it looked like it was dying, but then it would come back to life a bit for a few months as a bit of new enthusiasm was put into the place. And then video and discussion evenings and anarcho theme cafes, the sex cafe, dead by dawn raves, exhibitions, music events in the opened up basement.... I popped down to some of these events and even, shock horror, enjoyed myself once in a while. But still the temperature, the building, the toilet!!! Otherwise I would only be down there for the occasional London ABC (prisoner support) meeting in one of the upstairs rooms, so cold the biro would freeze up.
And all those bundles of unsold udistributable unsellable copies of every anarko paper and leaflet piled up in a strategic reserve/political text mountain. In politico speak piles of unwanted tatty old newspaper are referred to as an "archive". The old logbooks/daybooks from 121 make a good read, I believe they were rescued with other stuff before the eviction and still exist. During the Brixton riot in '81, while pitched battles were going on in the street outside, book sales listed for that saturday included "Towards a Citizens Militia" by Cienfuegos press and "Mutual Aid" by Kropotkin, this is true!). As for since the eviction and the future? Well let's be honest; half the comrades today are earning so much money in white collar professional jobs they're almost rich enough to buy the place if they wanted.
Paul P. Autumn 2000.
Taken from the Antagonism website.
Communism before the revolution - Paul Petard
Paul Petard discusses the unobtainability of a future human community, unless the current struggle to meet needs and desires becomes the primary focus.
.....If we accept that for the time being struggle is just ongoing, that we are “stuck” in a weak and fragmented class struggle, that there is no immediate possibility of the successful complete overthrow of capitalism in a central political physical action then in a sense struggles and revolts become liberated. They become liberated from the tyranny of “revolution”, revolution as a sort of political pantomime bolshevik style stunt. The struggles and revolts we make as proletarians and dispossessed can be judged and viewed on their own merits, as events in themselves that may be socially useful or not. They no longer have to be judged in terms of being subordinate moments in some grand mystical apocalyptic religious plan of “world communist revolution”. Communistic outbreaks exist now as a tendency and a form of practise in certain struggles and revolts around our labours (whether productive labour in capitalist production or other forms of labours such as service labour, reproductive labour, domestic labour, etc.,). So called “Capitalism” and commodity economy are not yet “total”, if they were it would be impossible to even think about communism. Struggles need and can create a communistic direction and program, but this involves practical strategy and useful winnable objectives. If it becomes an abstracted utopian vision a program runs the risk of being an alienated chore, an idealised projection to rule over us, a future event to which the present must be subordinated.
Apocalyptic Revolution= mythology; myths are sometimes useful, but they are myths nonetheless. Let us not knock utopian dreams and visions and myths too harshly, they can inspire us and motivate us. But today we have grown conscious of what they are, we don’t need to religiously believe in them. And let us not have any of this neo-primitivist/pseudo-primitivist rubbish of withdrawal into tiny groups paranoidly rejecting all tools, technology and social complexity to return to a non-existent past idyll. Communistic solidarity involves millions engaging in complex sophisticated mutually-interdependent social arrangements, and seizing technology and productive resources to create something new.
An instant global revolution against capital, bosses, commodities today to create world communism tomorrow is not possible in the present, why?, because it is only communistic struggle/solidarity in the present that can eventually break open a situation where a revolution against capital, bosses, commodities becomes possible in the future. In this sense communism comes before the revolution. Otherwise putting the revolution first becomes part of the process of prevention of communist struggle in the present (bolshevism etc.). “The communist revolution is the continuation as well as the surpassing of present social movements. Discussions of communism usually start from an erroneous standpoint: they deal with the question of what people will do after the revolution. They never connect communism with what is going on at the moment when the discussion is going on.” (Dauve, Eclipse)
“When communist workers gather together, their immediate aim is instruction, propaganda, etc. But at the same time they acquire a new need - the need for society- and what appears as a means has become an end. This practical development can be most strikingly observed in the gatherings of French socialist workers.[sic] Smoking, eating and drinking, etc., are no longer means of creating links between people. Company, association, conversation, which in its turn has society as its goal, is enough for them.” (Marx, Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts)
Despite minor grumbles about things like wage cuts, service cuts and the occasional excitement of “anticapitalist” protests (subcultural glamour scene of demo-luvvies), struggle might appear to have half disappeared in this corner of the world at the moment. But this is never the case. At first informally, half invisibly, millions of proletarians continually struggle to try and create subtle alternative networks of mutual aid and social support in daily life. These alternative communal networks are vital (and so too are social funds of provisions) and it is important to create them well in advance of outbreaks of overt class struggle, they will become an important building block in the process of building wider solidarity when the situation gets big. They are outside the bureaucracy of the trade unions. Indeed the daily life microbattles to try and invent and maintain some kind of alternative social fabric in opposition to capitalist conditions will themselves slowly add up into a more general pressure helping force bigger revolt out into the open.
Head teachers complain they have a problem with school pupils secretly communicating by text on mobile phones hidden under their desks. If a pupil in the class is secretly communicating with a pupil in a class in another school about what teachers she likes or dislikes, what clothes she wants to get for winter, and meeting up for coffee after school, she is not just talking about individual taste and consumerism. Such communication contains great potential for new ways of co-ordinating future solidarity.
“Capitalism” as a system is unevenly and disjointedly developed, it is never completely coherent or unified or total. Likewise the proletariat it creates and builds up beneath it is uneven and disjointed, there is no one big centralist proletarian party or single historic event that can overthrow the capitalist system in one fell swoop. Revolution is a drawn out lengthy process involving as much spontaneity and chaos as design.
Dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour.
Communism: World human community, internationalism, universal abundance and free access to all the necessities of life, space, resources, materials, food, social production for need and desire.
Taken from the Antagonism website.