Class War #4 1983

We have our own idea of time and motion

The notorious "autonomist" issue, including: class and class antagonism, socialism and its leftovers, press cuttings on shoplifting etc.

Submitted by Fozzie on February 22, 2024

According to Ian Bone this issue went down badly with a number of people involved with Class War at the time and a large number were burned. (Bash The Rich: True Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK p150-153).

A "time and motion" study is a business efficiency technique aimed at extracting as much labour out of workers as possible.

The cover of this issue is an image from the aftermath of “Opera House Riots” in Zurich in 1980. It was also the cover image of the book "Zürcher Bewegung, Band 32" (Zurich Movement, Vol. 32) by Fredy Meier, published 1981:


ClassWar04.pdf (10.11 MB)



1 month 4 weeks ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on February 22, 2024

With the burning of this issue by members of Class War in mind:

You cannot separate class from struggle. Class warfare creates the class.
Those with most anger in them are the least oppressed.
The working class is antagonistic or it is nothing.


1 month 4 weeks ago

Submitted by lurdan on February 23, 2024

Worth making clear what Bone wrote about the issue. ('Leah' was actually Lia).


By the end of 1983, some political differences were already emerging in the Class War group which couldn't be wished away in favour of 'action'. Aleks was our last remaining situationist, adherent with his Italian autonomist girlfriend Leah. Unlike his ex-mate Nick Brandt, who could only grimace with horror at the very mention of the vulgar Class War, Aleks saw some positive things in Class War. He was however a wary critiquer of Sean Mason's 'working-classism' - that is Sean's belief that anything working class was intrinsically good. This wasn't just used to dismiss any objections to out-of-order behaviour as 'middle class' but glorified what was in fact some of the worst aspects of working-class culture.

Aleks and Leah volunteered to produce Class War No. 4. At this time, anyone who was associated with the group could just go off and write the next issue. There was no discussion of articles at meetings or desire for editorial control by the group as a whole. Me, Sean and Stella had effectively produced No. 3 and were quite happy to have a rest and let Aleks and Leah produce the next one.

Class War No. 4 is totally unlike any other issue of the paper. Aleks and Leah produced a paper which contained a sustained and cogent intellectual attack on the Mason position but which had none of the populism or propaganda values of the earlier issues. It was more of an internal discussion document than a newspaper and proved extremely hard to sell with its perplexing 'We have our own idea of time and motion' cover. You pays your money and you makes your choice - it was either one of the best Class Wars ever, or one of the worst.

I didn't really understand its content at the time and just thought Aleks had no fucking idea of how to produce a populist paper. Looking back now, the article had a lot going for it and should have led to a wider and more careful discussion leading to a more rigorous analysis of our future actions. Anyway, here's what Aleks and Leah wrote:

You cannot separate class from struggle. Class warfare creates the class. Single-issue campaigns only produce single-issue groups. Without struggle, 'class' just means your background. And the world's full of people of working-class origin who survive by arse-licking conformity, working for the nation. Some admire the rich, some vote Tory. Until they do something to combat the system, they'll continue to promote individual interests over class interests. Coming from a working-class background isn't enough: many cops come from there as well.

Britain has got the oldest working class in the world. The pride of this class in its distinctive character, its culture, language and traditions has a useless as well as a positive side.

Positive: self assertion and confidence, and a healthy suspicion of middle-class trendies and political parties who claim to speak on our behalf.

Useless: inverted snobbery which boasts such miserable compensations for impotent poverty like machismo, tepid beer, football, ignorance, dignity of labour... in political terms, this snobbery was exploited by Labourism. Labour politicos and Trade Union bureaucrats are class traitors.

It's not enough just to defend the class as it is today, class liberation has got to be the goal of struggle. So let's hear less about how the class is sexist, racist, submissive, and so ignorant it can only understand The Sun, and more about how the class transforms itself, how individual and social change actually happens. It's not simply the system that brainwashes the passive masses, rather it's the active antagonists (which include most of the people some of the time and some of the people most of the time) who by their actions force the system to change. Capitalism would never have altered since the 19th century if everyone had merely co-operated. But the class doesn't co-operate - it refuses to work on the bosses' terms, it refuses to obey the laws of property.

Self organisation and class transformation also means getting away from habitual and pathetic aspirations, like being satisfied with an extra pound in your pocket or trading your birthright for a bag of chips. The wealth we produce is immense, the desires we could make real are legion. At least we can aspire to take ALL the good things in life from the rich. The working class is antagonistic or it is nothing.

The whole paper was a brave exposition of Marx's dictum that a class is only a class when 'it's a class for itself', that is class conscious. For a paper called Class War, it was important to be clear on this but the composition of London Class War at the time was not given to careful discussion. Sean Mason was fuming. He saw it as a personal attack. Leah was told to: 'Fuck off back to Italy' and the Masonists burned a large number of issue No. 4 in the back garden in Kingsbury while they danced cider-bottle naked around the burning pyre with black flags. Sales in our usual London outlets were poor and our previous buyers perplexed to say the least. The unrelenting negative feedback and abuse from Sean Mason led to Aleks and Leah quitting the Class War group and 'working classism' was left unchallenged. 'We're all racist and sexist but so what?' Sean had written once. 'But what the fuck - we're working class'."


1 month 4 weeks ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on February 23, 2024

Brilliant. Thanks for posting this on 'working-classism', which goes hand in hand with the 'workerism' of the British 'International Socialists'.

Nick Brandt, who could only grimace with horror at the very mention of the vulgar Class War

Sam I am, hee-hee

'Race' and class are indivisible so we should quote this in full to balance the truth contained within this issue and the off-kilter:

The Left are an enemy. And they always get it wrong. Black youth are not more oppressed than whites. Those with most anger in them are the least oppressed.

Not quite sure what was perplexing about the cover. Doesn't every worker know what the purpose of Time and Motion studies are? Has the bonehead ever had a job?

Ian—and anarchists and Marxists in general—overplay, or misunderstand, class consciousness. The class for itself acts in its own interests, not in the interests of capital. It is about actions, not thoughts.