Watch The Wobblies on :
Founded in 1905, The IWW, whose supporters were called “the Wobblies,” was a remarkable organization and this documentary captures the struggles, the spirit, the songs and satires of the movement. The production features the most astonishing interviews with elderly workers who participated in various IWW campaigns from the timber fields of the northwest to the Lawrence strike (1912) and the Patterson strike (1913) in which the IWW brought industrial unionism to fragmented and craft-conscious industries. None of them has lost their fervor, their belief in the revolution or their marvelous sense of humor. What other documentary offers a “talking head” who can both describe the debates in the lumber camps over the Russian Revolution and play—to concert level—a musical saw?
Beyond the powerful narratives, this documentary retrieved a terrific selection of old and archival footage, including cartoons and graphics, giving a narrative structure that provides a context for the interviews. The only intermittent narrator is Roger Baldwin, the founder of The American Civil Liberties Union, who at age 95 wrote his own script based on his brief membership in the IWW in 1919.
Bird and Shaffer describe both the making of this particular video and, in a retrospective after almost 30 years, its place in documentary movie history. For any student of documentaries as a specialty, this addendum is almost as fascinating as the main production. Inspired by The Sorrow and the Pity, the 1969 documentary about Vichy France, Bird and Shaffer claim that The Wobblies is the first of the “new wave” of documentaries that brought both new topics and new techniques to the field.
All of the “leaders–and how the Wobblies despised this term—were dead since this documentary was produced 73 years after the IWW was first organized. The producers, of necessity and of choice, had to interview normal IWW workers who became the “talking heads” for the production. Responding to a shift in labor history in the 1970s which emphasized the narratives of “ordinary workers”—in contrast to featuring union officials or institutions–Bird and Shaffer were determined to reach the grass roots. They relate with affection the interviews they conducted and the difficulties tracking down potential interviews. Shaffer describes the difficulties, for example, of interviewing workers in Bisbee, AZ, where 1,100 Wobblies were dragged into the desert in 1917, a moment in the town’s history that the residents wanted to bury.
Community College of Baltimore County
South Wales Anarchists are very pleased to invite you to the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair, to be held on Saturday 23rd May 2009 from 10am – 6pm at Cathays Community Centre, 36 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX. Free admission.
We’re hoping to create a vibrant space for you to come and sell things, talk shop, network, hang out and (re) connect with people. We’ll have stalls, workshops, speakers, food, crèche, a programme of DVDs and entertainment.
We are pleased to announce the setting up of another free, local resource – the radical lending library. Books in the library cover a huge range of topics, from anarchism to the environment and cooking, both fiction and non-fiction. Follow this link – http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/03/423520.html (or check out the BAN myspace)for a full book listing, or to find out what we have, or borrow a book, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The library will hopefully soon have a physical home at Twertons soon-to-be social centre ‘Off the Map’ (the old Twerton railway station). Happy reading folks!
P.s – we have also recently uploaded a mass (yet far from complete) bank of info about BAN activities over the last couple of years. To view it, follow this link – http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/03/423519.html
Bristol Antifa is part of a national federation comprised of local groups of militant anti-fascists, affiliated to the international Antifa movement. We exist to confront fascist ideas, activities and organisations wherever and however they occur. We utilise a wide range of tactics and believe it is important to confront fascism physically as well as ideologically. We do not advocate the electoral process as the means of defeating fascism nor will we work with groups that do. Our structure is anti-authoritarian and non-hierarchical. We oppose discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, disability or age. We will not work with, accept information from, nor pass information to the magazine Searchlight.
What Is Fascism?
It is a mistake to see fascism solely in terms of extreme far-right nationalist political parties such as the BNP, NF etc. While these are the most obvious target for an anti-fascist campaign, many policies promoted by other parties are equally fascist in nature, and demand an appropriate reaction. The media is also guilty of pushing far-right ideology (the tabloid treatment of the issues surrounding refugees for example) and their actions often fall within the remit of an anti-fascist group. We should oppose fascist ideology whatever its source. Equally, fascism is often used as a synonym for racism. Racism is a tool frequently employed by fascist movements, but it is important to be aware that fascists can be non-racist and indeed most racists are not fascists. While our major target is fascism, we must be aware that bigotry in all forms (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) needs to be fought, whether it comes from the mouths of fascists or from elsewhere.
There are many fascist groups operating in Britain, but the biggest threat comes from the British National Party who in recent years have done their utmost to hide their fascist politics beneath a thin veneer of respectability. Antifa opposes all fascist activity, but destroying the BNP is our current priority. Their presence on the political landscape pushes the wider political agenda to the right to the cost of working class people.
Fascism is a violent ideology. Throughout history, fascists have used violence against those who oppose them. Antifa is a continuation of the anti-fascist tradition of confronting fascism physically when it is necessary. Physical confrontation is only one of our tactics though, we do not aim to fetishise it as one tactic above all others, nor will we allow a hierarchy to develop based on the kudos of street-fighting. If an individual member feels unable to engage on this level they are no less worthy as an anti-fascist than any other member of the group. However, those with a moral problem regarding this issue should be advised that this is not the group for them.
Hierarchy & Group Structure
In keeping with our anti-authoritarian ideas, we seek to challenge hierarchy within our own movement and elsewhere. We do not believe in fixed leadership or power structures. Within Bristol Antifa we make decisions on a consensus basis to ensure that the opinions of all within the group are represented as far as possible. Where an organising role needs to be taken on by one or more people (for example, acting as chief steward during an action), we accept that this is immediately revocable should the members of the group be dissatisfied, and that the appointment of any role that could be seen as leadership is temporary and based on group consensus. There are situations in militant anti-fascism where decisions have to be made quickly and it is vital that those involved trust the person who is making those decisions. It is also vital that appointing those decision-makers does not create any unspoken hierarchy, so we encourage the rotation of roles as far as possible. The structure of our own movement needs to reflect our political goals.
The success of fascist politics depends on a divided and unorganised working class. Bristol Antifa believes that the means to effect social change must mirror the ends we wish to achieve, and therefore, reflecting our wider beliefs, we will never exclude any individual on the basis of their sex, race, age, (dis)ability, sexuality or any similar grounds.
We will not work with, accept information from, nor pass information to the so-called anti-fascist magazine/organisation Searchlight, and we will not work with individuals who have any connection to them. As an organisation that works hand-in-glove with State agencies, we cannot trust them or the agenda they pursue. Their influence within, and manipulation of, militant anti-fascism has been deeply divisive over the years. Their methods and involvement with State security services are well documented and entirely incompatible with our own position.
The Authoritarian Left
For decades revolutionary left groups, such as the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party, have opportunistically used the mobilisation against fascism as a way of trying to swell their membership numbers and the coffers of their parties. We are not interested in working with these groups, nor with their front groups, such as the Anti-Nazi League™ or Unite Against Fascism™. Our experience is that these front groups exist merely to try and recruit members on behalf of the controlling party, to peddle their papers, and to manipulate and marginalize genuine anti-fascists. In the past we have seen the leadership of such fronts collaborate not only with the State, but also with the fascists themselves. We will not be fooled again, and advise genuine anti-fascists within these organisations to leave, after which we may be able to work with them.
Voting is something that allows the State to pretend we live in a democracy, and it is a tactic used by fascist parties such as the British National Party to promote themselves and their policies. While the BNP may be in a position to throw bricks through the windows of a few Asian households, it is New Labour that is locking up refugees and bombing Iraqi civilians. It is ridiculous to suggest that voting helps to stop fascism. This is the sort of insult to working class communities that has allowed the BNP to grow. This is the case whether we are being told to vote for the old Statist parties or opportunist fronts, such as Respect™, which has helped to promote bigotry (sexism and homophobia) in order to further the agenda of its leadership. The problems that allow racism and fascism to flourish will not be solved simply by voting for parties which mask their fascism slightly more cleverly than the BNP, nor for some middle-class tourist standing on a left-wing ticket.
The Wider Struggle
Eliminating the threat of fascism will not magically correct all the wrongs of the world. The first stage of real lasting social improvement begins with the downfall of global capitalism and its replacement with an alternative that puts working class people in control of their own lives. Members of Bristol Antifa are involved in a wide variety of other anti-capitalist struggles, but Bristol Antifa itself remains focussed on the fight against fascism, which we believe is linked to the wider struggle. The State will employ fascist tactics if necessary in the cause of suppressing dissent, and the fight against openly fascist ideology, wherever it comes from, is a critical part of the fight against the ultimate enemy – capitalism itself.
Fascists can be suppressed by the use of street-level tactics against their attempts to publicly organise. The fascists’ electoral ambitions can be defeated by the use of counter-propaganda. But a meaningful impact on fascism requires far more than this. We believe that involvement in local communities is critical (and this does not mean parachuting in as outsiders, but people taking action in their own communities). Education and presenting workable solutions to the problems faced by communities are absolutely vital to the struggle. These may be outside the current remit of Bristol Antifa, but we will wholeheartedly support these tactics and, while we may not be able to initiate such activities, we strongly encourage our members to involve themselves in this sort of grass-roots work.
Security & Recruitment
For tactical and security reasons, Bristol Antifa is not an open group. Some of our work may put us in conflict with the authorities, and of course with fascists themselves. We do not seek mass-recruitment and we do not hold regular open meetings. That said, we are always on the lookout for potential new members who are committed and security-conscious. If you are interested in getting involved with Bristol Antifa, or if you would like to assist us in our work, please get in touch.
Hip-hop has seen artists with social and political awareness. Rarely, however, has there been hip-hop fused with unashamedly class struggle, libertarian politics. 22-year-old Comrade Malone attempts to buck that trend with his album The Spontaneous Revolt LP.
Ed Goddard from libcom.org caught up with him to talk about life and politics in music.
Tell us a bit about your life growing up and how you got into politics.
I grew up on a council estate in north-west London and lived there for the first twenty years of my life. I’m not from a political background and didn’t really pay attention to politics until my late teens. In 2003, when the invasion of Iraq began, there was a massive walkout at my school with students blocking roads and making their way to go and protest outside parliament. At the time, this was just a day off school which let me go and get stoned with mates in the park. But it did have an effect and I started thinking a lot more about how shit things are. I questioned things a lot more after that, to the point where I was questioning the overall nature of capitalism, which I started to see as the root cause of all these problems.
When I was 20, I left home and lived in a homeless people’s hostel for a year. Throughout my time there, I was unemployed, on benefits and getting more pissed off, as were the boys I shared facilities with.
That hostel was a trap. The only way you could leave and get into social housing was by being referred by the staff there, which meant submitting to their rules and keeping up to date with the weekly service charge you’d pay from your benefits. My money would go fast on food and transport I’d use to look for work. When I got into service charge arrears I was threatened with eviction twice. Serious bully business from a housing ‘charity’! You could get on the council list, but it’d take a few years to build up enough points for a flat and even then your chances are ultra slim.
Why did you call the album The Spontaneous Revolt LP?
We made the album in about two weeks and I wanted that to be reflected in the name, as well as reflecting it’s political content. Spontaneous Revolt refers both to the nature of the album and the way in which it was made.
Tell us about your experiences so far within the UK hip-hop scene.
I got into the scene by grabbing the mic and turning up for free studio time any time I could. I recorded a cheaply made track at a music college which got passed around on copied CDs and ended up on pirate radio. I got invited to do live shows on air and eventually got a phone call from Kemet Entertainment Records, who I signed a recording contract with in 2006. Whilst on Kemet, I worked with some quality producers such as Baby J, Joe Buddha, and DJ Flip, and was getting a lot of shows.
Sadly, UK hip hop had its own little economic collapse, with nights like Kung Fu in Camden and Speakers Corner in Brixton closing, Itch FM shutting down, Low-Life records closing, and Kemet as well. There’s no green shoots here and no one’s bailing us out! We’re all redundant rappers now; last year I was in a quality studio off Harley street, and now I’m in DJ Downlow’s flat eating fried chicken with ghetto-flavoured mayonnaise.
As a class struggle anarchist, you’re quite different from a lot of other socially conscious rappers. What are your views on the prevalence of nationalist, religious or pro-Obama views in hip-hop?
They’re just a reflection of opinion in America. Politically, some of those opinions might be to the left, but if you want more class struggle in hip-hop, you need more class struggle in society first. Hip-hop reflects what’s already there, whether its street violence, political consciousness, or ‘Vote Obama’ feeling.
What radical traditions/movements do you take inspiration from?
The movements that inspire me most are always working class grassroots ones, and often, but not always, those with libertarian principles. Learning about what the CNT-FAI achieved in the 1930s, contributed to the confidence I have in the possibility of a self-managed society on a large scale. Hungary 1956 is another good example. It’s hard to hear conscious American hip-hop without reference to the Black Panthers. What’s inspiring about them is that they were a street-level organisation and their survival programs made a big positive difference to the lives of people in the community. These days, there’s often focus on organising in the workplace, but not enough on dealing with community issues. Right now, I’m also inspired by all the shit kicking off in Greece.
What do you think of the anarchist movement’s ability to engage working class youth such as yourself?
The anarchist movement needs to start holding Skins parties with free booze and drugs, and a strict dress code of hoodies, caps, and trainers only! But on a serious level, it’s about communicating with people in the right way. People in political groups might be experienced and knowledgeable but young working class people often feel they lack that experience and knowledge to be active. Most people don’t know the definition of anarchism. The anarchist movement has got to let people know what it’s all about and show people that there are no intellectual entry requirements.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m gonna be recording and releasing more free material. For most of the time, I’ll be working alongside DJ Downlow, my partner in crime in studio and pub. I’d love to do a tour across Europe and I’m thinking about the possibility of doing that, but it won’t happen this year. As for now, I’m just gonna keep releasing free music.
Spontaneous Revolt Free Download – www.sensei.fm