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.
This transformation is due to a limited number of persons in London who, mistaken by the quantity of paper they sell, intoxicated after seeing their names too often in the bourgeois press, and helped by the passivity of most members, have taken on "building the movement"and imagine - without admitting it publicly - that they are now at the head of the organisation that will spark, fight and win the revolution. The federation is composed mainly of anarchists, veggies, feminists and various drop-outs bent on recruiting the working class. They dish out the old anarchist ideology - though a modernised version - and choose as targets the most immediately apparent effects of capitalism - the rich and the cops - without EVER thinking of what should be written or done to have a real action on the world and against the system.
Class War isn't based on any practically applicable theory, hasn't any practice to build a theory on and these deficiencies have often been felt during the low activity periods. But instead of discussing these gaps and ways to tackle them, the leadership - aware it has nothing to gain from such debates - prefers loud speeches and has always managed to impose its diversions: at the end of the miners' strike, during which no revolutionary critique of the NUM was published for fear of putting off the miners, the first problem cropped up: what was Class War and what was it to become as it had not much left to go on about? Inspired by its nostalgia for the '81 summer [riots], the leadership took the Bash the Rich Campaign out of the hat - a smoke screen that effectively prevented any profound discussion for over 6 months. This campaign has remarkable similarities with the Spanish Stalinists' strategy under Franco and both failed for the same simple reason: the proletariat doesn't give a shit for militants nor for these artificial, desperate calls for action. A group identity crisis developed in autumn '85, was forgotten for a while in the excitement of the riots which came at the right time to distract everyone's attention from the problems we were facing, but came back again more vividly around Xmas. Voices then rose to demand, at last, sensible debates. This is when the miracle happened: somebody suggested that if one got 'organised', everything would be fine. So one 'organised'. The leadership dug out a 60-year-old piece of irrelevant anarchist rhetoric, forbade any discussion of this text in London, sent it off to all the correspondents in the country - who didn't know what was going on - had it amended and adopted at the Manchester conference. During this conference there was much small talk, one created the federation, one decided to encourage others to trash cars (already preparing excuses not to get involved oneself), but as usual, there wasn't a thought for revolutionary writing or action.Thus the paper is condemned to become the federation's propaganda organ yet the federation has still nothing to say.
This is distressing, the more so as Great Britain is a western democracy where the social situation is the richest in potentialities. People here put daily into practice the slogans CW can only sing, but even it is one of the rare groups that condone the slaying of pigs, it will never catch up with a general movement to which it has no relevance or participation as an organisation (the involvement of individuals in riotous or similar situations is another matter), and which will soon find it cumbersome.
CW isn't a group of street-fighters either: Wapping is a playground and a rehearsal stage which has been left unexploited for months; we were merely present, seizing the rare opportunities to have fun we found, but we proved unable to have any influence on the course of the dispute through dialogue with the print-workers (I admit they're not very receptive), and to carry out any effective physical intervention against the cops or Murdoch's lorries. One CW group went so far as to sneak into the local TNT depot ..... in order to stick leaflets about sabotage on the windscreens of the vans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What is more, and perhaps the most serious of all, CW shows its inconsistency by the way it lets the right and its media, and the left with AFA, manipulate it. Few realise they will be the scapegoats when trouble flares up again; and anyway those who do have no possibility to get their opinion through. I know what I am talking about!... "We have always given interviews to everyone, we have no reason to change our policy now", was once said to me during a meeting. It is an elementary trick in the ruling class's book to blow out of proportion, then crush, any group or movement that might be dangerous in the future. Letting a professional journalist and an alleged video-maker in the meeting-room, even if they may be used now and then, is not the bset way to avoid recuperation. As to the 'AFA Affair', it is a caricature: the Labour Party and anti-fascist rackets like Searchlight have only had to write a few lines to a comrade's pal's chum to stop definitively any action against the nazis, to get CW fighting them on their liberal ground, and to play at will with these blind activists eager to get arrested to prove they're not fascists, as the recent expedition to Liverpool shows.
Class War's main fault, and it includes all the others, is to be a political organisation as hundreds have existed in the world before, imbued with ideology, unable to look at the past and gain knowledge from it, more concerned with denouncing this society than with searching for its weaknesses and go on the offensive in a considered and coherent manner. This organisation seeks to set up a determinate political system (anarchy) which the poor in revolt (the sacro-sanct working class ) are not interested in. If it survives, it has a chance of finding itself on the side of reaction when the revolution comes because it will struggle to impose its errors and to subsist, whereas the destruction of such organisations will be part of the revolution.
London, June 1986.
Source; Flamethrower, London, 1986.