On the trade unions and “boring from within”

The frequency of wildcat strikes by postal workers is one example of struggles going beyond the official leadership, but rank-and-file control cannot be imposed from above

I’ve written a number of pieces now on anarchist activity within the trade union movement. In particular, I’d point to Trade unions, worker militancy, and communism from below, What is anarcho-syndicalism: revolutionary unionism, Anarcho-syndicalism and the limits of trade unionism, and my most recent post on Building the rank-and-file. However, these have all focused primarily on the difference between … Continue reading

Building the rank-and-file

As we get closer to the possibility of coordinated public sector strikes on June 30th, debate continues to rage about how best to build for the event. In particular, on the libertarian left there has been much talk of the need to build a new rank-and-file. In a recent Truth, Reason & Liberty article on … Continue reading

The pros and cons of the black bloc

The black bloc formed at the TUC March for the Alternative was the largest ever seen in Britain

A black bloc, despite all the controversy around it, isn’t a complicated thing. It is simply the act whereby great numbers of people wear all-black clothing and cover their faces on demonstrations. They then come together as a unit, for both strength in numbers and anonymity. That’s it. It is not an organisation, as conspiracy … Continue reading

Standing on the picket line

Tom Mann, the syndicalist leader of the Liverpool Transport Strike committee, addresses a mass assembly of workers

During the election campaign that saw Labour sweep to power in 1997, Tony Blair boasted that his government “would leave British law the most restrictive on trade unions in the Western world.” And so it did, not only maintaining the anti-strike laws implemented by Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit but adding to them. Aside from … Continue reading

Communism through the eyes of corpses

An image of Lenin beating a shackled worker with the words of Marx, by Clifford Harper, from http://radicalgraphics.org/

The somewhat poetic title to this post comes from a status update I put on Facebook last week; Best descriptor for Marxism and Leninism I’ve ever read has to be “analysing everything through the eyes of corpses.” Genius. This was a reference to the tendency of nearly all groups and currents (though far from all … Continue reading

Where does peaceful protest get us?

Solidarity forever: members of the Polish ZSP picket the German embassy in support of the banned FAU

On 26th March, the Trades Union Congress are calling a march in London against the government’s austerity measures. This has reignited one of the longest-running debates in activist politics: that of peaceful protest versus direct action. In particular, the line is drawn between those worried that a violent minority will hijack the event and distract … Continue reading

Notes on sectarianism

This has been something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. However, each time I have given up because I can’t find the words to articulate something which flowed brilliantly as a rant, but not so well as prose. So, you’ll have to forgive me if this post comes out more as a … Continue reading

The principle and practice of “violence” against property

For tactics which included property damage and direct action, the Suffragettes were labelled as "terrorists" by the state

The recent student protests – in particular the siege of Millbank Tower and the riots on the day of the tuition fees vote – have provoked an awful lot of debate. Among other things, it brought the boogeyman of anarchism back into the media spotlight and helped to reinvigorate the fight against the cuts. What … Continue reading

The motivations of an activist

A blog, though a useful outlet for thoughts and opinions, is never going to change the world. As I pointed out in Social network radicalism, it can be a useful tool to aid in such goals, but ultimately it can’t do the work for you on the ground. That is why, as well as venting … Continue reading

Leninist front-groups and the problems of “tail-ending” the Left

Left-wing front organisations, such as the Socialist Party's "Youth Fight for Jobs," are organised around single-issues which many people are concerned about but are used as a recruiting tool and a way of selling papers whilst serious and radical action is demobilised from above in favour of passive, ineffective protests

There are innumerable hurdles in trying to build and maintain the momentum of a strong, libertarian, workers movement. From the fact that the first signs of success (or even visibility) with such a movement bring instant state attention and repression to the fact that there will always be far more people willing to sympathise with … Continue reading