Libertarian Bloc - a total failure

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raw
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Mar 22 2004 01:38
Libertarian Bloc - a total failure

I hope I can spark some debate on these boards about what happened, or rather what didn't happen, on the March 20th anti-war demo. I hope it gets as many responses as some of the lifestylist shite on these boards i.e. "which do you prefer ninjas or sumarais..."

Anyway here goes:

A Libertarian bloc was called for March 20th, the hope was I assume like the original text of the call-out said to show a visible anarchist presence and for all the anarchists and anti-authoritarians to march together. Well 40 odd people turned out, surrounded by FIT, only three flags [what happened to the dozens of flags that were supposed to be made], no banner [someone forgot to make one!], no co-ordination [i.e. when we march off, how we gonna move people...etc] and no fucking passion. What we did get was a total sham of a call-out. What people do you thing will be attracted to such a thing? What differentiates us from anyone else on the demo? We weren't visible, we didn't feel how powerful we were, it was a completely disempowering experience. So why call for it in the first place?

Well I do see the need to be visible, to try and make an impact even though our numbers are small but it means being serious about what we do, be responsible and not leave it to volunterism to organise it. It also shows that the internet is no way to organise. Instead of calling a meeting [which only 7 people turned up to] why don't you go to groups and present why we should have a libertarian bloc, what needs doing, actually go out to people and convince them that they need to be on this bloc. I don't want to have a go at anyone and I hope that this isn't taken as a personal attack, it is a organisational critique so that we don't continue to feel disempowered, that the people interested in anti-authoritarian politics don't lower their expectations on political activity by raise them each time we as a group or movement calls for mobilisation.

Anyway, I should have written something longer but I'm sure it will come out with the replies [if any!].

rcircle Aw

p.s. I prefer ninjas

Kalashnikov_Blues
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Mar 22 2004 02:45

I don't think it was total failure, certainly not a success, but total failure is a bit harsh. Mainly cuz that down plays the involvement of the people who did make the effort to show.

Like you said, out of the 7-8 that were at the meeting, only 4 bothered to show... I think thats pretty sad...

But a fair few people did show up, and they showed up at the Marble Arch as suggested, which shows that at least some of the message got out.

Yes, more flags would have been nice, however a banner would have sucked to carry in that wind!

But I guess over all its a lesson learned kind of thing. I defiently agree that there should have been waaaay more organization. But its possible that with more flags and banners we could have had a more organized bloc, as there would have been something visual to gather around.

woundedhobo
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Mar 22 2004 03:58

I assume this is also a self-flogging. Why didn't you make a banner and

send the word out of what you or your group was preparing for the cluster so that efforts weren't duplicated on the same message...?

red n black star star green black :red: wupshh!!

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pingtiao
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Mar 22 2004 10:34

It wasn't totally dis-empowering! De-arresting that guy near the Chris Eubank Travelling Roadshow was quite good fun, and showed those around us that we aren't pissing about.

As a comrade in SolFed (who brought along his kiddies) said, we should have elected a delegate from each group that was there, to co-ordinate even super-simple things like setting off together. We all just drifted away, and then drifted away from each other on the demo. A shambles it certainly was.

I spent the entire demo correcting the assumptions of some girl in the green party, so it wasn't all bad!

raw
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Mar 22 2004 11:25

Thanks for the comments,

The point being was the lack of organisation which leads me to think a lack of commitment about the idea. This is I think the forth or fifth Libertarian Bloc, called by mainly the same people and they have all been like this. With possibly one exception when more anarchos from other cities came down in october 2001 were we did number 200 or so. Even so, there needs to be a serious re-think on how we can all participate to organise it which I think should be handled in the context of anarchists movements rather than groups.

There are gonna be a series of discussions held at the Occupied Social Centre 'Ex-Grand Banks' possible beginning in early May specifically titled "anti-authoritarian movements", I really hope that comrades from the AYN, AF, Sol Fed, Freedom, WAG, CW, WOMBLES and Social Centres...etc will come down and discuss certain issues and learn from movements in other countries. We are going to have people from all over Europe who have been involved in their local anarchists movements to talk on how they organise, their relationship with each other, what it means to them to be an anarchist...etc.

Anyway

Rcircle A W

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 22 2004 11:41

Cheers for the feedback raw. Think its really important that people follow up on things.

I wasnt on the demo (not commited enough? Or needing to go to work and get paid?)

I think all your points are pretty valid. Organisation and commitment being the important ones. Maybe the problem is that people who are currently looked at as organisers have taken on more than they can handle? And while they think its important to try and fill a void that no one else bothers filling (hello 'national' feds) they havent really got the time / resources to do the job properly so we end up with somethinv not that satisfying.

But at least we got something.

The stuff in May sounds interesting - send through some details when you can and we'll put them on site smile(

Anonymous
Mar 22 2004 15:34
raw wrote:
It also shows that the internet is no way to organise.

I'd have to disagree with you on that.

I think the internet is one of the most important ways in which to organise in the present. We need to be at the forefront of technological, organisational, and theoretical knowledge and practice.

Why you'd choose not to use the internet I have no idea. I think it's probably based on some out-dated conception along the lines of - we need a revolution, a revolution involves people taking to the streets, if people sit at home playing on computers instead of going on to the streets throwing bricks at policemen then they're not going to contribute to the revolution.

In fact, I think social change is much more likely to be a slow and gradual thing. We need to learn to subvert the institutions and ideas that oppress, control and limit us. I think the internet (and www.enrager.net) is an ideal way in which to start this process - no one need be in control, no one need conform to a particularly type of subversion/resistance, no one need feel like they aren't contributing if they don't go on a libertarian bloc.

the virtue of the internet/www.enrager.net is that it can act as a forum for ideas and organisation (along voluntary lines) between likeminded people.

The fact that not enough people wanted to go on the libertarian bloc probably suggests that 1) you hadn't got enough people interested 2) not enough people thought that was an effective way of political action. Libertarain bloc might be a useful strategy if there is a growing movement. But you need to sow the seeds of doubt/dissent/creativity in people's minds first - from little acorn's etc., etc.. I think the internet is one of the most democratic and open forms of discussion/knowledge sharing available in the present within which we can sow little acorns. One step at a time - and I think this is a useful step.

raw
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Mar 22 2004 15:50

First off don't assume what I think. I was talking about the Libertarian Bloc, why it was called for, how it was organised and what it actually achieved. Yes the internet is a good way to communicate but how many people read these bulletin boards? perhaps at the most you get is 60 - 70 views per post - it is hardly getting out to many people. Thats why I suggested [for the libertarian bloc] that people should have gone to other groups meetings/social centres and attempt to convince people of their intiatives. Perhaps stick up posters and made leaflets before hand.

Anonymous
Mar 22 2004 15:57

the amount of effort involved in going to meetings, making posters, stickers, etc.. could be more effectively directed towards communicating with the same types of people using the internet.

Going to group meetings/social centres you're still limiting yourself to a handful of people.

I just got the idea that you were saying the internet wasn't a viable way of organising (in fact you did say that - I put it in the quote). The point I'm making is that in the present day we need to use all forms of communication we can get our hands on, and get our hands on the best forms - the internet by far has the most potential for reaching numbers of people and for doing it in a democratic and open way.

I think it would be a mistake to discount its potential

Norwicher
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Mar 22 2004 16:46

Personally I wanted to go but something more important came up but here are a few views I got from people on this subject, which has been debated for a while now.

1. We spend all our time involved in class struggle anarchism, why do we want to go to London, march from A-B, and listen to a load of SWP bollocks?

2. Of what benefit to our communities does going to London to march and listen to a load of SWP bollocks do?

3. Why do we need to go listen to a load of SWP bollocks and get surrounded by loads of FIT wankers when we can do that where we live?

4. The only successful Libertarian blocs have been spontaneous or not organised with time, date etc over the net.

5. We don't wear black anymore.

6. If Anarchist groups in this country can't get it togethor to support Mark Barnsley and the Thessaloniki prisoners, in any reasonable numbers togethor on the streets, how can we get a decent sized Libertarian Bloc sorted when groups don't even communicate properly?

5. For what purpose are we trying to organise a Bloc at this particular march for and what are our intentions, street panto or a serious militant action?

I wouldn't agree with all the above views but I can see there's room for debate. Number 2 and 5 especially.

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Steven.
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Mar 22 2004 17:00

Yeah I agree that it was a complete shower. I also agree that it's still a good idea, and one we should work on for the future - I think it could become something that doesn't take any work, it just happens.

I was at the meeting and the demo, with the flags there was a mix-up, because we believed that someone was due to bring a load but it turnd out he wasn't coming, so we only had the 4 that I brought (plus one someone else made). We did have loads of those big flags but each time people have nicked some and not brought them back, which is a problem. Also with the banner there was a mix-up because 2 people thought each other were making it. Also the No war but Class War one seemed to disappear.

Someone in the pub after suggested each big demo having a meeting 2 weeks before. There we could see who would actually *be* on the demo, and maybe allocate certain people responsibility for certain numbers of flags - to bring them and collect them after. We have to do a banner before the next one, definitely cos otherwise we all split up. I think that was a good place to meet - we went straight in the front of the demo which was nice for a change! It was easy to find too, and we weren't swamped like with the Speakers Corner meet-up. We have got loads of flags though - maybe we could leave a certain number at Freedom and pick them up on the way to the demo? Then no one person is responsible for them?

Ah shit I had another great idea too... maybe it'll come back to me.

Re: the leaflets and things, and approaching groups, well I did as much as I could, and i haven't had much net access recently. The anti-cap bloc on sep 28th a couple of years back was advertised with leaflets etc. and was much bigger and better. Unfortunatley this time I wasn't able to make leaflets and no one else seemed to be able to either - maybe a permanent poster would be easy to do which could go up in social centres, and would work for almost every demo (we could just change meet-up points and times). If some people would like to go round to groups and talk to them about the bloc that'd be ace. Some in London like the idea and are going to come on them regularly (see the bloc page) but others haven't been approached.

Also posters around the area of the demo start point like the marble arch subway should have been done, and should be in future, with the meeting point details.

Still saw a couple of new people there, which was good, and a few people asking what the flags were and what anarchism is etc.. Also when one person on the bloc got grabbed by a load of coppers and we de-arrested him that was an excellent bit of @ solidarity in action, plus a few non-anarchists who came over to help too, knocking coppers hats off etc wink. (Unfortunately later he was on his own and got nicked again but still...)

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 23 2004 16:02

Alright then, shall we try and put these ideas into practice then for the Mayday bloc.

http://www.enrager.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=9145

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 23 2004 16:20

Maybe the Lib Bloc reflected the amount of energy that was put into it -- and this reflects the amount of energy that was available for it. It seems like few anarchos prioritised organising stuff for this demo -- I certainly didn't -- so it was left to a few people in London to organise a 'national' bloc. If it had really been a'national' bloc than all the local anarcho groups would have leafletted their coachesgoing down, there would have been local meetings about it, etc. As it was, we didn't bother; and maybe that's fair enough, because we'reusy with other things.

If people really want this to happen, I agree with Raw, we need to go around the country raising energy for it and properlycommunicatingwith each other. I'd argue that the few people involved in organising the bloc simply didn't have the time to do this.

If wewant to do an event properly let's give ourselves a good long run up. The ones I am focussing on are the ESF (Nov 2004) and the G8 (June/July2005).

ffaker
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Mar 23 2004 16:23

Does anyone know what happened to the guy who we dearrested? Was he really arrested later on when he was on his own? Was he charged with anything? What? Man, that sucks, it was so cool when we shamed those cops into backing off!

captainmission
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Mar 23 2004 18:56

i wasn't there on saturday, but even if i was I would have torn about whether to go to this or whether to go with social forum group. In the end I guess i'd choose the SF, mostly because they were meeting up and networking about a practilce thing- organising alternative libertarian space at the ESF. TBH I'm still quite confused about what the libertarian bloc is for? What its trying to achive? From where I stand it seems to be repeating some of the faults of the AYN- networking for networkings sake, organising something cos its the sort of thing we feel we should do rather than something focused around a practicle task.

Da_Original_Dis...
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Mar 23 2004 20:55
captainmission wrote:
organising something cos its the sort of thing we feel we should do rather than something focused around a practicle task.

Here Fucking Here!

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 23 2004 23:27
captainmission wrote:
TBH I'm still quite confused about what the libertarian bloc is for?

Its about showing that there is a libertarian movement in the UK.

About increasing face to face communication between groups and coming togther to work togther.

There is no point trying to do other things (like alternative ESF) if we dont even have a movement to draw on from resources.

Stuff like coming togther for demos just to be there symbolicly and regular cross-group meetings to talk politics is surely very basic in creating a basis before we can even go out and organise in communities effectively.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 24 2004 12:42

Well there isn't a 'libertarian movement' in the UK -- there are lib orgs, though. If there's is to be amoregeneral movement, then it must include the local social forum activists as well.

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Ramona
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Mar 24 2004 14:06
asa wrote:
Does anyone know what happened to the guy who we dearrested? Was he really arrested later on when he was on his own? Was he charged with anything? What? Man, that sucks, it was so cool when we shamed those cops into backing off!

He was in court this morning, and will have to re-apper sometime soonish. He's posted up a report http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/03/287805.html

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 24 2004 14:14
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
If there's is to be amoregeneral movement, then it must include the local social forum activists as well.

Whats the point in local social forums(where are they in London btw?) if there is no sense of communication or networking?

The reality is there is the basis for a movement of anti-authoritarians in the UK but there is no commucation netween local intiatives.

All good and well working on our own little projects but if we cant all come togther once and while (and i dont care if its on big demos / internet message boards / monthly meetings / socials / whatever) then what is the fucking point?

captainmission
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Mar 24 2004 14:39
rkn wrote:
bout increasing face to face communication between groups and coming togther to work togther.

ok a worthy cause, but is this the best way to achive it? I am not sure these things happen by force of will alone. To talk about the AYN again its failure on a national level was a failure to establish personal contacts, bonds of trust or a sense of solidarity that would allow us work togther more effectively. Some people now seem to reckon the best way to overcome this is a new AYN with a more formal organisational structure, that this will make up for our human failures to network. Personally im not convinced. But I see the sort same idea working behind the idea of a libertarian bloc- That formal structure and good intentions can replace authentic human relations. Do we need something more pressing than 'were all anarchist/libertarians' to properly unite us? (especially considering the disagreement of interpreting what anarchy means?)

I think another problem is how the 'movement' in london relates to the rest of the 'movement' around the country. I've done joint stuff with people from leeds, sheffield, nottingham, liverpool, newcastle, bristol, birmingham, lancaster, glasgow, reading, oxford, cambridge, cardiff, totnes but rarely with london (even when the stuff was in london). These networks that span the country don't seem to penertae london (as a side note this stuff and the large country wide networks have all been based around immediate practicle tasks- GM, roads, war). IMO London kinda function like a blackhole, it sucks in everything in, which makes it a place of tremendous energy, but little ever escapes. If we do want to build the 'movement' on a national level I think we need to be aware that london is just different

Quote:
There is no point trying to do other things (like alternative ESF) if we dont even have a movement to draw on from resources.

but there are pleanty of exciting groups and networks around the country with resoucres. Just cos we don't have any symbolic unifying centre doesn't mean things don't exist.

Quote:
Stuff like coming togther for demos just to be there symbolicly and regular cross-group meetings to talk politics is surely very basic in creating a basis before we can even go out and organise in communities effectively.

I'd argue it the other way round- we need practicle action in order to have something to talk about. Though I suppose it might be a case of chicken or the egg.[/i]

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 24 2004 16:03

It's very difficult to establish an umbrella structure. Very quickly it becomes the property of a particular group that's organising/promoting it.

I think that many people in the London SF would be interested in going on a LibBloc in future. That fact that ppl involved in London libertarian groups don't yet know each other rather points to Mission's blackhole theory. If UK-wide unity is to come, I expect it'll come from outside London.

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 24 2004 18:14

CaptainMish:

Im not sure about drawing links with the AYN (whose failure imo was because people thought to make it work all they had to do was 'turn up' to things). The AYN was a network with ideas and politics (or should have been) behind it.

The LB has nothing but "we are all libertarians" to unite it. Thats it. It has no structure, its not a group, it doesnt even have any politics (hmm), it is purely, turn up, do this and go home. It doesnt really need much more thinking about really.

Quote:
Do we need something more pressing than 'were all anarchist/libertarians' to properly unite us?

No! But im sure many would disagree with us wink

Re: London - i would put that down to the idea that anarchists (and everyone else) treat London as 'London' and not as a bunch of very different areas and boroughs. I would say the problem stems from treating a ctiy of 7m people like a town of 20K people. Decentralisation etc. etc.

Quote:
but there are pleanty of exciting groups and networks around the country with resoucres. Just cos we don't have any symbolic unifying centre doesn't mean things don't exist.

Of course we dont need a centre to exist, but maybe to show it exists? Communication is shit_poor. People really dont know much about what is happening around the country on a local level and people no fuck all about what happened 5 or 10 years ago.

Quote:
I'd argue it the other way round- we need practicle action in order to have something to talk about. Though I suppose it might be a case of chicken or the egg.

Surely its neither way round, just a combination wink

RichardGriffin
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Mar 25 2004 11:13

Sorry to hear that the bloc was a 'disaster'. On a more positive note the two stalls (Freedom and AF) we had in the Square were well received. We sold a lot of stuff and a large number of people expressed interest. Next time (Mayday) it would be good if other groups also had stalls. This is another way of showing that there is an anarchist movement in Britain. As an aside about 10 of us went directly to the Square rather than Hyde Park so that would have reduced numbers.

Personally I think if our numbers are stretched we are better off doing outreach stuff like this rather than blocs. It was a great shame no Freedoms were available to sell on the march (we sold out on the stall). I think there are a lot of people interested in anarchism and we need to make ourselves known. Blocs have their place, particularly on big marches and it is always better to march with people who think like you (it keeps the trots away too) but bottom line is we need to look outwards.

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 25 2004 13:47

Good to hear the stalls went well, better than retreating to a pub roll eyes

But then i wouldnt really wanna do a stall after doing the march so i think its a good idea that different people do the march / stall smile

captainmission
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Mar 25 2004 13:56
rkn wrote:
CaptainMish:

Im not sure about drawing links with the AYN (whose failure imo was because people thought to make it work all they had to do was 'turn up' to things).

Ok that might have been the problem with the local groups, but on the level of the national network? Think the failure there came from lacking any idea of what function the AYN was serving, failing to work on any common tasks and thus not building any links of communication or trust.

Quote:
It has no structure, its not a group, it doesnt even have any politics (hmm), it is purely, turn up, do this and go home.

Oh don't give me that 'structureless' crap tongue Even a crowd has a structure of sorts. And since on another thread your looking for people produce leaflets, issue statements, send delegates from various groups, network across the country- ain't that structure? A network? (which is why i think comparisons with the AYN are relevant). Any organisation, be it a bloc, a federation, or a multi-national is a representation of a social order that ultimately then needs embedding through human relations- friendships, aquitences, family. All of these things are hard work to establish and maintain. I doubt people will invest any effort in creating these relations if its just a case of turn up then go home.

Quote:
Quote:
Do we need something more pressing than 'were all anarchist/libertarians' to properly unite us?

No! But im sure many would disagree with us ;)

But they've been anarchist/liberarians for a long time now. Why've they/we never united before? What's different now than from efforts that have been made before?

Quote:
Re: London - i would put that down to the idea that anarchists (and everyone else) treat London as 'London' and not as a bunch of very different areas and boroughs. I would say the problem stems from treating a ctiy of 7m people like a town of 20K people. Decentralisation etc. etc.

ok, fair enough, but my point was that there are networks that include people from all across the country, that work together on common tasks, that are more geographically diverse and come from places encompassing a greater population of that of london. It's not that these networks don't reach the whole of the libertarian community in london, its that they don't seem to penertrate the m25 at all. I think part of that is that these are kind of the remainder of the road alert/EF! groups from the mid 90's. Whilst in London most that energy went into RTS, elsewhere that went into other campaigns aswell as RTS. When RST could no longer carry on people involved in that sort of stuff in london seemed to loose touch with the rest of the 'movment'. It's not that those networks are the 'movement' or should be seen as a model for it, but what we can draw from it is those links and the communication where forged in a percived common struggle that had a great sense of immedency about it. And that if we're thinking about building da 'movement' or increasing communication its going to happen on the level of human interaction, not as some spectacular bloc appealing to a mass (i mean how spectacular is a crowd of 100-150 anarchist on a march of 25,000?)

Quote:
Of course we dont need a centre to exist, but maybe to show it exists?

is that we don't need a centre but should have one in order so we have some force of apperance or that we shouldn't have a centre but have the apperance of having a centre? What are we showing that exists again?tongue

Quote:
Communication is shit_poor. People really dont know much about what is happening around the country on a local level and people no fuck all about what happened 5 or 10 years ago.

agreed communication is shit poor, but who we trying to communicat to and for what purpose? What are we communicating about? Lets not fetishise communication and organisation for its own sake- leave that to the capitalist media.

Quote:
Quote:
I'd argue it the other way round- we need practicle action in order to have something to talk about. Though I suppose it might be a case of chicken or the egg.

Surely its neither way round, just a combination ;)

yeah but combined in what order? tongue

Renzo Novatore
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Mar 30 2004 17:05

There hasn't been a serious anarchist block, on a march, for some time now. We all do what we do, don't we, where ever we are.... But for the sheer uplifting experience of it all, and a fuckin goodtime, you can't beat an anarchist block, where everything goes well. One of the best ones that I can remember, was a class war block, on one of the big anti poll tax marches, must have been over two thousand people on it that day, big banner at the front, held by about twenty people, we were stopping the march dead, for minutes at time, and then all running up the road en masse for about hundred yards and stopping, the cops were having kittens every time it happened, and the militant stewards were at their wits end trying to control us,as well as being gobsmacked by it's size. A brilliant experience, and a great memory, Its happened before, it can happen again, there's enough people around and about.

RichardGriffin
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Apr 1 2004 10:52

Tommy Ascaso is right that the anarchist movement is small although there are a much larger number of people influenced by anarchism and sympathetic who don't see themselves as part of the 'official' movement and who see marches like last month's for what they are - frankly if I had not been doing the Freedom stall I doubt I would have given my Saturday up to joing a Respect recruitment drive!

My strong view, as far as London is concerned as that on demo's we should be concentrating our efforts on building the movement: handing out leaflets, paper selling, stalls... Blocs mititate against this by making us inward looking. I do believe a lot more people would be interested in anarchist ideas if we get to them (in the nicest possible way), this is certainly the experience I have had paper selling et al., The truth is that most movements are built up and strengthened by boring hard work. Blocs and direct action clearly have their place but they seem to have overshadowed more mundane propoganda work.

I hope we can get our shit together for the May Day TU march in London.