Author: razoconnor

Musician, writer and activist, based in Bristol, England

Why anti-capitalists should campaign against the Brexit

I was shocked to see the Socialist Workers Party and several other supposed anti-capitalists supporting the Leave campaign, on the basis that the EU is pro-capitalist. This completely misses the point.

In a capitalist society such as this, all State institutions can be understood as supporting the interests of the capitalist ruling class, whether they are EU institutions or not. Therefore the fact the EU institutions obviously act in the interests of capital is not in itself enough of an argument for Anti-Capitalists who happen to be British Citizens to vote for leaving the EU in the upcoming referendum.

In fact, the argument I am about the make is that an independent British State would be even worse for the interests of the majority of people – the working class – and would consolidate power even more into the hands of a tiny minority of capitalists.

Despite the fact that all capitalists share certain interests – the protection of the concept of private property, the continued existence of a subordinated class of workers, access to natural resources etc – there are many issues on which the capitalist class is divided, and this is the main reason that separate political parties and factions exist in so called ‘democratic countries’. The issue of the “Brexit” (‘British Exit’ of the EU) is one example of this.

Some capitalists think they will make more money if Britain remains in the EU, and others think they will make more is Britain leaves. This is why both the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigns are each well-funded, and each able to claim that what they want is better for ‘the economy’. What the mean by ‘the economy’ is profits for themselves and people like them, rather than anything to do with the interests of the majority of people.

As Anti-Capitalists we believe that the interests of the majority of people in the long term lie in the abandonment of capitalism as the dominant economic system and its replacement by a system based on values of freedom, equality and harmony with wider eco-systems. As far away as this goal seems, it will seem a lot farther if we leave the EU.

In the short term the interests of the majority of people are more obvious. People need more access to the basic material resources necessary for a dignified and happy life, which in today’s world means higher wages, better working and housing conditions, access to healthcare, education and other social services, as well as security and justice. If we leave the EU what little we have of all of these things will become even less.

The Leave campaign represents the interests of only a minority of the capitalist ruling class, let alone the rest of the population. There are certain capitalists interested in letting the British economy depend even more on financial services to other capitalists from around the world. They can see that the dominance of US imperialism will not last much longer and neither will the international economic system based on the US dollar and it’s links to the price of oil, or the institutions such as the World Bank and IMF that are effectively controlled by the US government.

The new situation in the world will be characterised not by Western dominance but by a balance of power between the West, Russia, China, India, Brasil, Iran and the other oil producing states. Certain British bankers and financiers want to be in a position to take advantage of this by getting rid of the various limitations placed on them by the EU. They also want British workers to be poorer, and to be prepared to work longer hours for less money, so that we can ‘compete’ with workers in other countries, another reason they want Britain to leave the EU.

This minority capitalist faction is represented in parliament by UKIP and the pro-Leave Conservatives. To achieve their political ends they have relied primarily on whipping up a frenzy of xenophobia and racism among the lower-middle class and certain sections of the white working class. There are actually only a very few companies that control the main news outlets in the UK, and it is not hard to tell that most of them have an interest in the Brexit.

They have tried to make racists afraid of the hundreds of thousands of traumatised refugees seeking safety from what are often British-made bombs, and to also give them the impression that somehow the EU is making it easier for them to come to Britain, despite how many people are murdered by EU-funded goons at the external borders.

They have also tried to make it seem like a bad thing that so many workers from other EU countries are in the UK, without ever talking about the benefits that British workers have received from being able to work in other EU countries, or the fact that the number of British workers living abroad is at least as great or greater than the number or EU workers in Britain.

Finally they resort to the good old excuse of Terrorism, and it’s best friend, Islamophobia, stirring up even more hatred of the Muslim community, blaming an entire religion for the crazed actions of a minority whom most Muslims openly say are not real followers of the faith. The European Court of Human Rights is made out to be something that lets terrorists evade justice rather than what it actually is, which is a last final hope for British citizens when our own police and court systems unfairly lock us up for crimes we didn’t commit, which is happening more and more often.

In short they are exploiting the fear of ignorant people who have not much to lose, and are afraid of losing it – who feel lonely and terrified of a complex world they don’t understand and seek comfort both in a strong leader or sense of identity as well as a feeling of superiority over people the papers say it’s OK to hate. This is exactly how Hitler came to power – not because the majority supported him, but because the financial elite and the racist lower-middle class did.

It will take a lot to defeat this agenda, and even if Britain remains in the EU, we will still have many more battles to fight against the institutions of the EU itself -not least of which is the struggle to end the deaths and human rights abuses at the external EU borders -but at least we will have millions of other EU-based anti-capitalists as allies instead of being trapped on this island with the Tories.

If anti-capitalist activists do not get involved in campaigning against the Brexit, making arguments on doorsteps based on class struggle rather than liberal idealism, and clearly explaining that it is not about being ‘pro EU’ but simply about being Anti-even-worse-capitalism, the referendum may be won by the Leave campaign. The Remain campaign will make unconvincing arguments that the majority of workers will not respond to, and try to glorify the EU rather than honestly admit that it too only represents the interests of a minority.

The Anti-capitalist movement can use different tactics to fight our battles than liberal capitalists will. We can take to the streets and make a noise. We can occupy buildings owned by the companies funding the Leave campaign and the general xenophobic racist propaganda of the press. We can organise cultural and artist events to bring together the different sections of the public who have the most to fear from the Brexit- migrant communities, marginalised people who are often victims of police brutality and injustice in the courts, low paid workers etc.

These are the kinds of actions that we can take as a minority movement to help build a bigger movement that might be strong enough to win this fight, and go on to win others afterwards. If we do not start organising such a movement, who else will?

The momentum of the popular movement that existed in 2011 has been lost, and no big unifying topic has come up again since then as an opportunity to build it back up. If the Brexit referendum is not that opportunity, what else will be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is libertarian socialism possible in North Africa?

Is libertarian socialism possible in North Africa? Is it even possible to struggle for it in an organised way? What about West Africa? Central Africa?

These are the regions I am trying to educate myself about now. South of Europe.  There are hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, and I have been trying to find out why.

Of course, I knew the general picture – Wars, Poverty, environmental destruction, corrupt and oppressive governments – and I knew that all these things in one way or another are the fault of transnational capitalists and the big imperialist states, of which most sit on the UN Security Council.

But now I’m trying to find out which way or another. Which transnational corporations, companies and capitalists are making money out of where, with help from who, and with what consequences? It’s a big question, made up of a great deal of smaller ones.

Of course, there are lots of books available, and lots of documentaries, but you’d be surprised how little actually. Or perhaps you wouldn’t.

Most countries in the Sahara and Sahel regions do not have TV networks producing high quality journalism in the English language, because of government repression, a general lack of resources, and sometimes just because of the generally chaotic situation.

Two English-language broadcasters who do have quite a lot of stuff up there on YouTube for free are Al Jazeera – owned by Qatar, and Press TV, owned by Iran. Iran and Qatar have completely contradictory geopolitical interests for the most part, and it is no surprise that Al Jazeera and Press TV often report contradictory narratives.

For example, take the war in the north of Mali. Al Jazeera glorifies the struggle of the Tuaregs for an independent State called Azawad with many emotional interviews and personal stories. Press TV says that hardly anyone in the north of Mali actually wants independence and it’s all a French conspiracy.

So basically, both of these channels are trying to appeal to Westerners who have anti-imperialist sympathies, as of course is Russia Today. But all of them are actually controlling information and constructing narratives to suit the interests of various imperialist states and, one must suppose, transnational capitalists.

How many Tuaregs actually wanted independence? Al Jazeera could just be focusing on the minority who do and making it seem like they represent them all, or Press TV, who don’t provide any evidence for their statistics, could be making it all up. Al Jazeera makes no mention of possible French interests in stirring up the conflict, though is usually quite critical of French imperialism.

So you can’t just base your ideas on what is on TV, is the conclusion. You have to go back to the basics.

When Britain, France and other imperialist powers directly colonised countries in Africa, and in other parts of the world, they basically wanted to export resources back to their imperial centres to sell to their people, or to convert in factories to something else which they could sell to people both in the colonies and in Europe.

So they needed to make sure that some roads and ports got built, as well as mines, plantations and a few shitty houses for native workers to sleep in, but that was about it. They definitely didn’t want these countries to have big industries of their own so that they could produce their own goods, because then they wouldn’t have to buy them from the imperialists.

Today in Africa you still see people using industrially-made products that are imported from outside Africa, only now the companies are not only European but Asian and American as well. You still also see African resources mainly being exported outside of Africa to Europe, Asia and the Americas.

So it’s clear that despite many changes of government in the past 60 or more years since these countries became independent, not that much has changed in terms of the basic economic set-up.  In colonial times, this economic set-up was based on the brutal force of a completely undemocratic state, and again, not much has changed.

So what about libertarian socialism? As Nationalism, Marxist-Leninism, Islamic Fundementalism and even ‘African Socialism’ have all failed to actually change the basic situation that African workers, peasants and landless, unemployed refugees are in, could a non-statist political movement work?

What has usually happened when countries have had mass political movements for independence from European empires is that their leaders have taken over the state structures and economic infrastructure that the Europeans left and have been corrupted or bullied by the Europeans and Americans into keeping everything basically the same as it was before.

Often there has been a bit of a struggle, usually taking the form of military coups and civil war, which when you look a bit closer turn out not to be a bunch of ‘mindless savages killing each other for no reason’ or whatever the Western media tries to present it as, but actually a bunch of armed groups funded by different imperialist powers fighting each other, or just one group funded by the West fighting another group which genuinely wants to nationalise the wealth of the country.

Unfortunately most of these armed fighters who have simply wanted to nationalise the wealth of the country have also been guilty of killing civilians and so cannot be supported uncritically, even if the imperialist stooges they are fighting are far worse.

Increasingly the anti-imperialist fighters are fucking crazy Islamic fundamentalists who kill anyone they don’t like, oppress women, kill LGBT people, and do all sorts of other stupid bullshit.

So what about libertarian socialism? What about a movement that says the same thing as all the others have said ‘stop exporting all the resources at the barrel of a gun’ but which instead of saying ‘then give it to our new state in the name of Allah, Socialism, the Nation or Whatever’ says ‘let the workers control the means of production directly at the level of the shopfloor?’

What about NO state? What about communities running their own affairs in municipal assemblies, workers running their own workplaces, everyone electing all individuals to be put in any position of responsibility or authority and having the power to instantly recall them if they abuse it?

What about villages, neighbourhoods, workplaces, all being self-governing and choosing delegates, again subject to instant recall, to go to regional or industrial meetings to coordinate production and distribution between themselves as and when is necessarily, with no fixed centralised authority?

There are some African political activists calling for such a thing. There are anarchist movements in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, maybe other places. But it is a very small movement in a very big continent.

Travelling activists have always played a role in the history of the anarchist movement. Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Makhno, they all moved across borders many times in their lives, spreading ideas along the way and linking together organised workers and revolutionaries in different countries.

It seems to be that Europe has quite a lot of educated people of libertarian socialist opinions (whether they use that term or not) who are not particularly ‘engaged in revolutionary struggle’ right now – and North Africa is the closest place to go for most Western Europeans, where they would be able to find actual revolutionary conditions.

In Europe, conditions are not revolutionary because the ‘masses’ are far too bourgeois. There is an ‘underclass’ or lumpenproletariat of people who have nothing much too lose and everything to gain from social revolution. The majority of people, though, are enjoying the benefits of transnational capitalist imperialism far too much.

Look at me, for instance. I am unemployed, yet I can still eat and have a roof over my head, because the food I eat is mostly grown in other countries and the producers paid a fraction of the low prices that I pay for it, out of money that the State in my country is able to afford to pay me, just to stop me getting too angry, because it is a rich State that makes wealth by exporting high tech arms and financial services around the world to maintain the global, brutal capitalist order which it helped create in the first place.

Now take the average unemployed person in Morocco, the closest African country to me. They don’t get given money by the State just for being unemployed. The state isn’t going to pay the impoverished masses there money to stop them getting too agitated. Instead it relies on brute force and a network of government informers in every neighbourhood.

The Moroccan state couldn’t afford the kind of social welfare system that exists in the UK. They have what money the Western imperialist governments let them have, through the World Bank, foreign aid, or direct investment, which is very little.

Say they wanted to buy a load of landmines from a Western company. Well, I’m sure a Western bank would lend them the money, and a Western government would encourage them to. Then the Western arms company would have more money, and so would the bank, so that Western government would have a higher GDP. The same people might even own the bank, the arms company, and control the government. In effect they have just given the Moroccan state a bunch of weapons for free, because they wanted to anyway, to keep down the pesky Moroccan workers. But you may as well make shit loads of money at the same time.

So basically, in Europe you have a lot of revolutionaries with not much potential for revolution, and in Africa you have a lot of potential for revolution without enough revolutionaries. So how about some redistribution?

To be clear – I am not at all calling on European activists to come and ‘save Africa’ or any shit like that. We are not going to ‘bring anarchism’ to the masses. Anarchism doesn’t work like that. It is not the same as Marxism.

Marxists, especially Marxist-Leninists, believe that the people are basically too stupid to govern themselves, but that if a bunch of Marxist intellectuals come along at the right time and boss them around a bit, maybe those intellectuals could take over the State, and boss the people around some more, until one day, far in the future, the people will be ready to govern themselves.

Anarchists believe that people are able to govern themselves now, if only they would be given a fucking chance. Being given a chance includes acquiring land, tools and other means of production while being free from external oppression for long enough to get something going.

So whereas Marxists, for their strategy to work, need to go around convincing people that Marxism is a belief system that makes sense, but that is just too complicated for the workers to understand, and that they, the Marxists, are very clever and should be listened to and obeyed all the time if the workers know what’s good for them, anarchists have no need to behave like this.

Anarchists just need to go along, pitch in, help out, just like everyone else, and stay true to their principles, being as open and honest about them as is possible without getting shot in the head. At the most, anarchists need to convince workers of the value of themselves, not of anarchist theory.

For example, if you say to someone, ‘you can do that yourself, you don’t need some big shot to do it for you” and they say ‘oh no, for sure, I couldn’t do that, not little old me”, you just need to tell ‘em they shouldn’t be so down on themselves. Just be encouraging, like a mate.

There are people in Africa who cry out for foreigners to come and solve all their problems for them. They may not particularly be happy with a bunch of foreigners coming and saying ‘no, do it yourself, but we can help out a bit if you like’, but hey. Fuck ‘em. You can’t treat someone differently because they are from a different country. If some dickhead came up to me in England and asked me to solve all their problems for me I would tell them the same thing.

There can be no revolution in Europe without revolution in Africa. When people there kick out the multinational corporations and destroy all the dictatorships, taking the wealth of their countries into their own hands, directly, you know what will happen here in Europe? We won’t have any fucking food to eat, or petrol to drive cars with, uranium to power our laptops, or coltan to make those laptops out of. Then you might see some revolution. Then the European working classes might think about rising up and seizing the land, factories, and other means of production.

So that is the basis on which I am saying European activists should go to Africa – as revolutionaries who see no borders as being real, and know that our liberation is bound up with the liberation of all people, all around the world. We should use our privileged access to resources – as well as other privileges such as relative freedom of movement and in many cases skin colour privileges – to support working-class, peasant and landless people’s struggles for liberation – helping to build connections between movements in different countries, on the basis of non-hierarchical, horizontal organising, and resisting all bureaucratic or authoritarian tendencies in those movements from within.

It’s a lot to ask, I know, and potentially very dangerous. But what else is there? Shall we let Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb be the leading voice of opposition to capitalist imperialism in the region while we sit in Europe watching things get worse and worse from a distance?

Or should we practice what we preach?

Betraying my principles for money

After years of avoiding working for big corporations I suddenly found myself tricked into it, and even lying to myself that it was OK. Let my story stand as a warning.

I am a travelling musician and activist for social change. I have lived in many different squats, protest sites, and recently, a caravan painted in psychedelic colours and some crazy picture of a half-woman-half octopus. I’m not exactly used to the 9-5 lifestyle.

Don’t get my wrong, I tried it once, long ago, when i was young and reckless. I used to work for one of the worst companies in the world – The Royal Bank of Scotland, who are proud of the role they’ve played in creating the capitalist system as it stands today.

Call-centres are places i’ve always thought of as ‘work’ – ever since I realised it was better than having to stand up all day. You know, I’m pretty lazy, or at least reluctant to do physical work unless it really seems important. It never seems that important to me to make money for someone else, compared with, say, playing music, cooking, cleaning, carrying stuff around. walking to and from places, and really, most other things in my life.

So I’d rather have a job where I use to minimum possible mental and physical energy, in order to preserve it for later, in my real life.

I like a job where I get stoned in the morning, saunter in trying not to make eye-contact with anyone so they don’t guess how stoned I am, then sit down and play sudoku, read the news, or read classic novels on the computer system, occasionally taking calls to let idiots order over-priced coffee, complain about their over-priced coffee being late, or angrily huff and puff about how ordering it online isn’t as simple as they think it should be.

Well, when I say, I ‘like’ a job like that is a bit of an exaggeration because i have just quit said job in disgust, not only at the company and almost everything about the workplace, but also, and chiefly at myself.

I never actually applied for a job selling coffee. It’s not like I want people to buy coffee from big corporations. When I was 22 I travelled around Latin America and visited several coffee growing regions, learning as much as I could about the effect of the industry on the local people and wider eco-systems. It’s not great, let me tell ya.

Coffee is the last big addiction I am trying to kick. I don’t drink alcohol or use nicotine, but I am still constantly on either a high or a low of a caffeine rush, as I believe most of the modern world is. Capitalism requires workers to work harder than they naturally would, and drugs are a great way to achieve that.

Of course, some would say i’m also addicted to cannabis. But if so, I am not currently concerned about that. I believe caffeine has caused a lot more problems in my life than weed has. It makes me stressed out, irritable, nervous, paranoid, and quick to anger. Weed only makes me those things when it is combined with caffeine. The rest of the time it either makes me more creative, or at worse just more confused, and if suddenly i have to deal with something serious I am pretty good at cutting through the stoned haze and forcing my mind to concentrate.

A lot of people who aren’t able to handle weed don’t get that, but I was into meditation long before i ever tried psychedelic drugs, and it really helps.

So when I was sitting there at the call centre in a stoned daze, lost in thought about some bullshit or other, and then all of a sudden a beeping sound would come into my ear, sharply, followed by a guy with a Northern accent saying ‘Nespresso’, and then two more beeps, I would have just enough time to force myself into sobriety enough to deal with whatever inane bollocks they wanted to talk about.

Of course, it took a few days on the job before I built up the confidence to do it stoned, but really, a few days should be all it takes on almost any call-centre job. Did I mention it was Nespresso?

Nespresso was something I’d never even heard of until the last time I went to Morocco. I remember sitting in the cafe in Tangiers where they have the Senegalese restaurant, seeing an advert for it come on the TV, with George Clooney and Jack Black. I thought it looked ridiculous.

“Nespresso?” i’d said “is that like Nescafe but in an espresso? like an instant coffee espresso> thats disgusting”

But this Italian musician sitting next to me said ‘No! Haven’t you seen it? In Italy we have it everywhere!”

I guess before that I’d had some bizarre national stereotype in my head of Italians having good taste in coffee. No more.

Nespresso is owned by Nestle. Now, I have known about Nestle being fucked up for a long time. So has almost everyone. The thing with the breast milk. And the other thing with the child slaves? Come on now

So how did I end up there? It still puzzles me.

I went online and searched for recruitment agencies. The one that seemed most straight forward and lazy-bastard-friendly was Reed. So i put in some details, and then you just apply for loads of jobs at once my just clicking on them, and it would send your CV and cover letter to them all instantly. So I just clicked for about half an hour one day.

A few days later I am awoken by a phone call. Literally. Some totally different agency, called ‘Juice’, if you can believe it, has somehow gotten my phone number for the Reed website, or one of the things i clicked on, or who knows where. Perhaps they’ve been spying on me, or are just a front for the CIA.

Anyway, they offer me a job interview that same day. ‘Great’ I think, ‘this is even easier than I thought it would be’. The job interview is supposed to be for a call centre company that different charities use, so I would be calling people up who were already giving money to a charity and trying to convince them to give more.

Now, this is kind of shit, and I once had it happen to me when I used to give money to a charity every month, but at least I could have justified it to myself by thinking that maybe some of that money might actually end up going to make the world a better place somehow. So I went along with it.

But then ‘these’ Juice people manage to fuck up getting me an interview with the actual call centre, even though they already made me read the script for it, so I have to wait another 2 weeks until they give me an interview at a completely different call centre.

They say this one is going to be easy, just inbound calls for Southern Rail. This is kind of morally neutral in my eyes, boring as hell, yes, but not evil. I pictured myself half asleep for a few months answering calls with people asking about when the next train from Haywards Heath to Brighton was going to come and stuff like that. Sure thing.

So I go along to Teleperformance, the call centre company, for an interview, and we go through some practice worksheets all about Southern Rail, like what their policy on taking bikes on trains is and stuff like that. No sweat.

So the next day I get a call from Juice telling me I’ve got the job- at Nespresso. I should have just said no, but this was the only job I was being offered, and i’m a very lazy man when it comes to looking for work. Besides, they claimed (read ‘lied’) that it was not a sales job – I was just going to be asked questions about the product and take orders from people who were already going to buy it anyway.

So I convinced myself that this was also morally neutral somehow, and turned up for the two weeks of training, thinking that I could just quit straight away after that before I would have to actually do anything even vaguely of benefit to the company.

After the two weeks of training, which were mostly spent staring into space and occasionally watching powerpoint presentations so dull that I highly doubt anyone could actually absorb information from them, I was on the job. It took me about three days before I had mastered enough to just start getting stoned every day throughout the whole time.

But then my friend took my to see Saul Williams, who is GOD, and who reminded me of what I had been blocking out of my head for the past couple of months – capitalism is shit and must be resisted until it is ultimately destroyed.

The next day I quit my job. Thanks Saul. Seriously.

Racism and Ignorance among British ‘progressives’

A lot of the time when I mention that I have family in Australia I get the same response from people – ‘Oh, right, Australia is really racist isn’t it?’, which I find pretty hilarious coming from people who are ‘100%’ British.

In Australia the movement in solidarity with refugees is way stronger than it is here. Just the other day some activists did a massive action in Melbourne blocking a huge bridge, and demonstrations against detention centres regularly have thousands of people attending.

In other words, in a country with around a quarter of the population of the UK the movement against racism seems to be about 10 times bigger.

Of course, there are historical reasons for this. Australia is a settler-colony, or rather a ‘Commonwealth’ of six different former British settler-colonies. Genocide against the indigenous population was, and still is, brutal. The population of ‘Aboriginal’ Australians is only around 1% of the total population.

So Australian people can see the effects of this. Everyone knows the history of Australia, and everyone except fucking idiots can see that its racist and awful, that a historical injustice has been done that still hasn’t been redressed, so many non-indigenous people have solidarity with aboriginal people, and a general anti-racist mindset which also finds expression in solidarity with refugees.

Not only this, but many ‘white’ Australians are themselves victims of a historical injustice. Their ancestors were brought to Australia against their will.

People like to make jokes about this too. “Oh Australians are all criminals, arn’t they”. Hilarious.

Tens of thousands of working class British and Irish people systematically rounded up, separated from their families and sent to the other side of the world to do forced labour, simply because they attended political protests for their rights or because their local land-owners didn’t like them. Fucking hilarious.

And you know what? Their ancestors don’t have the right to live in the UK. I know white Australians who have had to put on fake accents to try and evade the authorities to avoid getting deported, and I know others who desperately want to come here, and even have children with UK citizens who aren’t able to just move here, despite the fact that this is where their ancestors came from. Bloody hilarious.

In the history of the British Empire there were many other examples of massive forced migrations of people to different parts of the planet. Everyone knows about the African slave-trade. Do people from Jamaica or other Carribean and American countries have the right to go to African countries or to the UK? No.

After the slave trade was ‘ended’ many plantation owners simply replaced their African slaves with indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent, known as ‘Coolies’, who who basically just slaves who had signed a contract most of them could not read. Many African, Caribbean and other countries have populations of Indian-descended people for this reason. Do they have the right to go to India or to Britain? No.

So when I hear people who have never been to Australia saying everyone there is racist, when they come from the country that has caused all these problems, as well as many more, it seems a bit odd.

Of course if you judge Australia by what politicians and redneck stereotypes say then you will see it as a racist country. That’s basically how i used to look at the United States when I was a stupid teenager.

I basically used to judge America by what George W Bush said, assuming that everyone agreed with him. That was before I started actually educating myself about the radical political movements in US history, and contemporary struggles going on, and of course before I met American people and had proper conversations with them.

We all liked to feel smug, here in Western Europe, during George W Bush’s reign, that we were somehow better than these stupid Americans who were going around bombing people. We like to think how enlightened we were compared to them, even after Britain started bombing Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was like people in Britain thought that there was perhaps a problem with racism in this island once, long ago, but that it was all over now. The Specials and other ska-punk bands solved it all in the 80’s. Now its all a big multi-cultural paradise and the only exceptions are a few Jeremy Clarkson types and stupid politicians.

But guess what – those are the people the rest of the world sees. They see Britain, the former biggest Empire in the world, the cause of all these deep-seated racial problems all over the world due to their divide-and-rule policies, genocidal wars and forced mass-migrations, as a country which is not only NOT making up for any of that historical oppression, but which is STILL promoting imperialism and racism.

So if you don’t think that David Cameron or Jeremy Clarkson represent you, then don’t make assumptions about other countries based on the most right-wing bastards from those countries who happen to make it on to your TV.

In Australia people talk about trying to change the constitution to make sure that the historical debt to Aboriginal people is repaid. Sure, its a struggle that hasn’t been won yet and there are a lot of stupid rednecks in the way, but at least it’s on the progressive agenda.

What the fuck is on the progressive agenda here in the UK? Making slightly less cuts to public services? Electing an old Islington lefty fart who can’t even govern his own party and wants to govern one of the most powerful states in the world? Letting a handful more refugees come into the country, only because the current war in Syria is so unbelievably horrific that people feel sorry for them?

Something like a million people, which is more than 1% of the population of the UK – more than the percentage of the Australian population which is indigenous – are undocumented migrant workers in the UK, working for shitty wages of around two pounds an hour, in awful conditions, in constant risk of getting detained and deported.

Does the ‘progressive’ movement in the UK give a shit about this? Ed Milliband actually mentioned it a few times, which surprised me, but no actual Socialists, Anarchists or other radical progressives ever do.

This is the BIG RACIST ISSUE of the UK right now, apart from historical reparations for the crimes of the Empire. Who is talking about it? Who is going to do something about it?

The Asylum system is fucking stupid. It makes people lie. Most people, even if they come from a country where they are persecuted or where there is War, actually want to get a job in the UK, but they have to apply for asylum and pretend they don’t want to work. So then there are in the position of having to work in the informal economy- the black market, where there are no rights.

Of course there are lots of people who are really traumatised and don’t want to work too, and if it were up to me then they would be allowed to sit back and get loads of benefits, which is NOT what happens to most people.

But the thing is, people have still got family back home, so even if they ARE traumatised not only from the persecution and war they left behind, but also from all the crazy oppression they went through in all the countries they passed through to get from there to here, they STILL want to get a job  to send some money home.

So even if you are an Asylum Seeker or a refugee you still should be allowed to work. Asylum seekers AREN’T ALLOWED TO WORK. Did you know that?

So there are at least a million people who either managed to get into the UK without getting caught by the authorities and who have to stay under the radar, or who have applied for Asylum just because its the only way they can get the right to stay here, and who are having to work without the authorities finding out, which is perhaps even more stressful than just being a straight-up undocumented migrant worker.

So here’s a radical ‘progressive’ idea: Equal Rights! What if all workers had the same rights, regardless of where they were born?

Wouldn’t that fit in with the Enlightenment ideas of Liberalism that supposedly our political system is based on? Wouldn’t that be something for ‘progressives’ to fight for?

Then maybe you could feel justified in calling other people racist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream come true

We sit around on sofas, and yes, we even smoke hash. Sometimes we manage to make it through a whole movie before someone calls us, or knocks on the door – usually a West African refugee, or a crazed Moroccan landlord. Sometimes we just hear a voice carried up from the street all the way here, to the top floor. Above us is the roof, which is of course a whole floor in itself. Not in England, but here it makes perfect sense.

Almost four years ago I had a dream in a treehouse in France about this city. I didn’t know it then of course. I had been here before that, but for completely different reasons. I would have no idea that the dream was about a real place until much later, after everything had started here. The Tangerine Scene Dream.

I have seen many scenes since the dream, and now it sure matches them all. There is in-fighting, people with dreadlocks, people who run around like crazy trying to do too much and others sitting on sofas smoking hash, sometimes picking up a musical instrument.

So I guess that’s what I wanted. Someone once told me that scenes were counter-revolutionary, in that same forest where I had the dream in a tree. Seriously.

But you know, scenes aren’t counter-revolutionary. The sofa-dwellers and the rushers-around are two sides of a beautiful coin that is worth more than money.

Later that same person who’d said that got healed by a reiki healer who told me she was just paralysed in her mind. I found this hard to believe- when I knew her she had to always be pulled around on a bike trailer she playfully referred to as a taxi. For security reasons, she never said what state she came from, and I don’t even remember her pseudonym, so I guess she won that round.

What I’m trying to say is that Anarcho-punks should come to Tangiers, and probably other activist types should too, but I wouldn’t know. Wouldn’t claim to speak for them.

If you are used to squats and grime, punk and arguments, then come on down, the water’s fine. I mean, I’ve never swum in the sea here, because I’m afraid of judgmental stares, but hey.

Not all Moroccans are conservative, interfering arseholes, just like not all Brits are Tory scum. You will fund dodgy characters offering a range of drugs and other illicit pursuits, very, very easily. So come on down.

If you can play a bit of guitar or some other instruments, then definitely bring it. We need to make some noise down here. If you have some recording devices, or cameras, or you like to make art out of things you find on the street, or dance, or whatever the fuck, just come on down. Even if you just want to get drunk and chat shit all day, you can definitely do that too.

The more of us there are down here, just hanging out, being punks, the easier it will be for the ones who want to be all serious and activisty about everything, as it will provide a sea of European nutters for them to swim in undetected.

They are already pretty used to freaks from Europe down here anyway. I know hustlers who have the whole psychedelic hipster con routine down, and are living comfortably, supporting their families.

It can be stressful here, just living day to day, when you are used to an easy-going squatter lifestyle full of queer circus artists and people like that. If you are a woman you have to put up with a lot of nonsense, and worse, all the time. But still, there is really a struggle going on, and it feels really important to be part of it when you’re here.

You just got to have solidarity with West African people here in Morocco, really, and with most Moroccans too. What the fuck did they ever do to deserve all this? The cops are fucking dickheads down here, seriously. There are informers all over the place too. But still.

Showing solidarity doesn’t really mean you have to get arrested and shit – if you don’t want to put yourself on the front lines you don’t have to, and cops usually just leave you alone if you seem to just be another European tourist.

The important thing is to SHOW SOLIDARITY with the people who don’t have a fucking choice about whether they get arrested or not, just because of the colour of their skin and what it says or doesn’t say on their passport. That means SHOWING YOU GIVE A SHIT about them and people like them, that you’re not just another evil colonising exploitative bastard.

Just hang out with people, listen to their stories, tell them some of your own. Help them out in little ways, so they see you’re real. Treat people to a meal, some hash, coffee, whatever. If you have some spare medicine or some shit you can give it. Don’t get hung up about it, just do it if you feel like it, not out of guilt.

That’s real shit. That’s the kind of real shit people can SEE. No-one likes to be treated like its their –unpaid- job to help YOU understand their situation, or work hard to get you pictures for your activist blog or whatever, just to go home hungry at the end of it while you fly back to a nice house in Europe where they wish they could be. So just be real, be generous, don’t be a dick, etc.

This is about LOVE, and RAGE, and STRUGGLE. We want to fuck up the system right? And we aren’t really doing much about it right now. The whole squatting and rioting thing is at a pretty low point right now in the UK, so come on down to the sun, and get some ideas from people who are in a struggle they aren’t just going to give up on when they get bored, because they have no choice. They can’t change the colour of their skin, and why would they even want to? The fucking racist cops should change their MINDS

If you want Anarchy in the UK, just remember that the UK was BUILT ON SLAVERY AND COLONISATION of African people, and a fuck load of other people too. If you want Anarchy in the UK you need ANARCHY IN AFRICA as well.

Morocco is an African country. Lots of Moroccans have figured that out, but some are still confused, and think somehow that people from countries on the other side of the Sahara desert are like, totally different from them. For example, you hear people talk about ‘those Africans’, or ‘those Negros’ or ‘Sub-saharans’ or whatever.

As if Morocco is somehow NOT just a PUPPET GOVERNMENT for the Western Imperialists. The police all speak French for fucks sake. Moroccan people have to unite with other oppressed people around the world to stand a chance, not just keep sucking up to Europe hoping for some spare change and fucking over their African brothers and sisters in the process – and it’s not like there aren’t a lot of Moroccans who already know this, and are in fucking jail just for criticising the King or some shit.

At least British squatters KNOW we aren’t Africans, except it the whole ‘everyone comes from Africa way’. But anyway, AFRICA UNITE, is perfectly consistent with FUCK ALL AUTHORITY, and NO BORDERS! NO NATIONS!

Africa Unite is not about bringing in some kind of crazy Super State 1like the FUCKING E.U. is trying to be. Africa Uniting means tearing down the borders, smashing all the States, in this whole MASSIVE continent which is full of REVOLUTIONARY DREAMS.

Why do you think there are so many refugees and so many civil wars going on? It’s because people aren’t happy with the way things are, and are trying to do something to change things. Lots of people just want to be free, and want justice, want to stop being so poor while Westerners are so rich, and know their god-damn history better than most Europeans know theirs.

So that’s it, basically. The Western Imperialist system is NOT dead, and in fact continues to be built on the backs of African workers who are oppressed and exploited to fuck, so if you are European revolutionary, you need to be supporting revolutionaries in Africa, not just in Palestine or Chiapas or Indonesia or Bolivia or Tibet or wherever else is popular, and NOT just staying stuck in a little bubble in the UK thinking you are fighting the system just by wearing patches on your jacket that most people walking past can not even read.

Tangiers is that place you can see over the water if you go to the beach on the South coast of Spain, near Gibraltar. You know Gibraltar? They have a Morissons there where you can buy cider and baked beans. Good place to stock up if you plan to go to Tangiers afterwards.

Tangiers is a place where you’re gonna find African revolutionaries from more countries you can count, hanging out in the same few neighbourhoods. It really isn’t hard to meet them in the slightest, as lots of the time they have nothing to do expect try to avoid getting arrested and driven out to the middle of a desert hundreds of miles away.

If they manage to avoid that for long enough to hustle up some money somehow then they can try and buy a shit boat to cross the sea with, and often get caught, or else they can live in a forest for a while trying to muster up the strength, courage and numbers to charge at the border fences around Ceuta or Melilla – which are like Gibraltar is British but in Spain, except Spanish, and in Morocco, and are each surrounded by two, really fucking high fences topped with razor wire and guarded by murderous racist bastards on both sides.

So yeah, the least we can do is come down and hang out with them, try and show that we give a shit. The most we can do is a lot more. Somewhere in between is a load of really powerful revolutionary network-building and important human rights and humanitarian work. We might even SMASH THE BORDERS!

And that’s all I have to say about that. For more see Interzonevoices.com and beatingborders.wordpress.com

PS – fuck all that ‘white people shouldn’t have dreads’ bullshit that’s going around the UK scene right now. It’s just divisive and ridiculous. I am a white person with dreads, with shit loads of African revolutionaries as friends, who nearly all have dreads, and have never said anything but positive stuff about white allies having dreads. So if you’re a non-black anarcho-punk sick of people criticising you for having dreads, come down here and actually fight racism, away from all the posers who think the struggle is just about how you fucking dress. NO BORDERS!

The truth is that Borders have never really existed

The truth is that borders have never really existed. There is no separation between peoples, only the illusion of separation. A language shifts and changes throughout time, evolving as it comes into contact with other languages. The very fact that people can sit in a room together to have a conversation in which words from several languages are used is proof that these languages do not really exist. They are simply noises in the air, that human brains are translating into meaning. The very fact that people can cross borders so long as someone does not physically stop them from doing so is proof that these borders do not really exist.

 

The Tuareg people of North Africa cross borders all the time. They live in the desert, called ‘the Sahara’ – which is just a word meaning desert to the people who speak words that someone once grouped together and called ‘Arabic’. In different places there are different words that are clumped together and called ‘Arabic’, because there is no such thing as Arabic really, and no such people as “Arabs”. There no ‘Whites’, no ‘Europeans’, no ‘Westerners’. There are no ‘Blacks’, no ‘Africans’, no ‘Subsaharans’.

 

There are no Tuaregs. They are just a type of Berber. There are no Berbers. There is no Berber language. There is no Moroccan language. There are no Moroccans.

 

There are No Borders. What there are is fences, guns, handcuffs, vehicles, prisons, doors, locks, boats, uniforms, and human beings who have completely lost sight of reality.

 

A family of people on the backs of Camels can walk from one sand dune to another, or a van full of people, or just some desperate, hungry people with heatstroke walking through the sand. These people are not ‘crossing borders’, they are just walking in the desert. A camera up in the sky on a satellite maybe be filming them and that camera may be connected to a computer upon the display of which lines have been drawn by people under the orders of men commanding other men with lots of guns, but that doesn’t make it real.

 

Angry, violent people often let their egos run away with them and say ridiculous things that people would just laugh at if they wern’t afraid of getting hurt. They say things like ‘I’m the best’, or ‘that belongs to me’, or ‘that belongs to MY people, MY tribe, MY gang, MY nation-state”. People don’t laugh at them, they humour them, they say ‘whatever you want boss’, or ‘Sure, that’s your sandwich, that’s your wristwatch, that’s your continent’.

 

Let’s stop humouring these people. Let’s force them to confront reality. Make them see what dicks they are being and force them to stop it, for the good of everyone. They must first of all be stopped, then sat down and given a good talking to, made to understand what they have done wrong. If they express no remorse, they should be made to feel afraid of doing it again through threats of violence, which should then be carried out. This is how you would treat anyone who was fucking things up for you and your whole community.

 

When good people do nothing, that’s when bad people do things. We all know this. We mutter it to ourselves. So what are we going to do?

 

Every day, remind yourself that we are at war with all Nation-states. Their laws do not apply to us, nor to anyone else, least of all themselves.

 

Do not allow your consciousness to be poisoned by illusions. Laugh at nonsense. Laugh at those who think they are better than other people or have any right to anything on this earth. We are all equal, and this Earth does not belong to anyone.

 

We are all Equal and we are All Free. Don’t forget it, just because some men with guns have forgotten it. Remind them of it.

 

Remind them that private property does not exist. Money does not exist. Capital does not exist. Classes, nations, races, genders, even football teams – none of them exist. What exists is the universe. You can touch it, feel it, see it, breathe it. I listen to it all the time. It’s my favourite song.

 

If you break the law and there are no police around to see it, the law did not exist. If you break it and the police decide to let you get away with it, it does not exist either. If you do not break any law and the police arrest you, charge you, and give false testimony about you, the law still does not exist, even though you didn’t even break it. What exists are men with guns, women with guns, buildings, locks, doors, handcuffs and clubs. There are people who sit around on comfortable chairs with lots of shiny wooden panelling in the room, shuffling bits of paper and sentencing people to death or imprisonment. They are perhaps least in touch with reality than anyone.

 

I would like to witness a court case in which someone told the truth, just once in my life. I would like to hear someone say ‘my defence is that we are hurtling through the cosmos at millions of miles per second, so what does it matter if someone’s illusion of private property got shattered? It was good for their soul’ or ‘all of us are one, so we are all equally guilty’ or ‘I call a surprise witness – the moon’. Will that day ever come?

 

Don’t be afraid to die for the truth. Don’t be thinking of all the things you didn’t get a chance to do when you hear a big-headed idiot claim to be somebody’s lord. Say it right to their face – whatever it is that they need to be told. Do not be afraid – and they will fear you, or else they will kill you, but you would have been expecting that anyway, so it’s ok. Don’t think of all the things you haven’t done yet. That’s not a good way to die. You do not exist. You are the person that may kill you, you are the whole universe and everything in it is you.

 

There are no borders. No boundaries between yourself and others, yourself and the ground you stand on or the air you breathe. It is all everything and you are it as well.

 

But least, least of all, is there France.

From spectator to participant to organiser – climbing the informal hierarchies of the Anarcho-punk subculture

Sometime in my teens I started reading Anarchist and Marxist stuff online, listening to ‘political’ bands, having conversations with friends about politics, going to raves in squats, studying the subjects at school and A levels, which allowed most discussion of radical ideas – sociology, philosophy of religion, history, and politics, and, crucially, wearing badges, patches, tee-shirts and hats that had the Anarchy A or hammer and sickle or Che Guevara on them. This was stage 1 – being a misfit teenager, talking shit, doing nothing. I went to a couple of the anti-Iraq war demos when I was 15, but that was it. After the war started I went back to just talking shit and doing nothing.

In my gap year I worked a shitty temp agency job in a call centre for RBS, and then Scottish Widows, causing me to think that Corporate bosses were even shitter than the bosses I’d had in pubs and stuff before that, and to think a bit more about how the whole financial system is evil and fucked. At the same time I was living with a load of migrant workers form all round Europe and beyond, seeing how our lives were different from the middle-class students my girlfriend at the time was friends with, and thinking more about how it was way cooler to be poor and having wild parties with crazy Spanish people than it was to go to stupid student club nights in taxis and spend loads of money all the time. I met musicians who took life less seriously, working to live instead of living to work, and generally being cooler than the people who worked in the bank. I also read a lot of Anarchist graffiti on the walls and thought hard about it’s messages as I worked at my shitty stupid job. This was the next stage – being an exploited worker with a rebellious spirit among others, feeling strong feelings, thinking deep thoughts, still doing nothing about it.

Then I went travelling in Australia, New Zealand and South America, seeing the massive disparity in living conditions between indigenous people and the European-settler colonialist-descended people, learning a bit about the brutal history of imperialism that created the modern globalised capitalist economy, seeing how it was still fucking the same people over, all for the benefit of rich corporate fuckers like those I used to work for at the bank, and also about the histories of resistance, rebellions and revolutions that have always emerged in response to that shit, feeling inspired and humbled by how awesome and inspiring these rebels and revolutionaries and just ordinary people managing to survive in the face of all those odds were. Stage 3 – learning how privileged I was and how fucked the reasons for my privilege were, but still doing nothing about it except being a poverty-tourist (as opposed to just being a poor tourist, as I would later become).

Next step was going to University to study International Relations and Development Studies in the hopes that by learning even more about how the global system worked and putting all the weird horrible things I’d seen on my travels into context I might one day be in position to do something about it, thinking something along the lines of working for an NGO or campaigning organisation like Amnesty International or some shit like that. But actually I just got driven into a total rage against capitalism, the state, patriarchy, colonialism, nationalism, racism, the destruction of the environment, and all the rest of it, being so overloaded with horrible depressing information that all I could do to cope with it was throw myself unthinkingly into whatever anti-capitalist activism I could find around me, which was loads. There were so many direct action groups, ‘revolutionary’ parties, radical discussion groups, queer groups, feminist groups, people growing vegetables, squatting, fighting fascists, protesting wars, camping out to save the environment, talking about Palestine, the Zapatistas, the anti-globalisation movement, so many books to read at radical bookshops and social centres and activist gatherings, so many different ways to get arrested for things, that I just tried to do everything at once, in no particular order. Stage 4 – doing lots, thinking lots, not really achieving anything

Then I was all like ‘fuck this!’ against the stuff I had put lots of time into which didn’t seem to lead to big revolutionary stuff happening, especially the whole year I had spent trying to do things in the student union of my Uni, and I felt like I had to make a real big change in my actual lifestyle, not just to live a consumerist life funded by student loans, but to actually be resisting capitalism with every fibre of my being, and I thought the way to do that was to become one of these mysterious anarcho-punk-squatter types who I’d seen around, stealing things from supermarkets, eating food from bins, living in squatted buildings or vans or tents and looking really scary, covered in black clothes and patches and shit, drinking loads of beers and taking drugs and smashing things up in the night, or whatever the fuck I thought they were doing. I guess I thought I was entering some kind of insurrectionary underground where people would be constantly planning actions that were almost terroristic in nature, and taking huge risks, achieving loads for ‘the cause’ or whatever, but really, no, not at all. Stage 5 – taking drugs, living an alternative lifestyle, feeling smug about it – still not really doing anything.

I went back to Latin America, searching for anarchist groups, and I found them, spoke to them in pidgin Spanish and sometimes in English, trying to figure stuff out, also while reading a lot about the history of the global anarchist movement, glorifying it more and more in my head, writing pure ideological propaganda, twisting the facts to fit whatever I wanted to believe the world was like, learning even more about ecology, meeting spiritual hippy types and being all dismissive of them, like I was some kind of Che Guevara in the making while they were just dumb gringos, yet really just acting totally the same as them, tripping on acid and getting stoned while indigenous people were working their arses off in dire poverty all around me. This was stage 6 – living in an ideological prison, divorced from reality, and therefore, of course, still not doing anything

I came back to the UK, full of FIRE and revolutionary optimism, thinking we could just start squatting land and building a free society on it, all in harmony with eco systems, and the masses of the poor and working population would surely overwhelm the forces of repression, but of course, the squat scene was MADE OF K in the words of a friend, and even worse MIAOW MIAOW had somehow taken off in a huge way while I’d been out of the country, and everyone was just being SO FUCKING ANNOYING and I had to babysit fucking munters all the time so how the hell could we organise a revolution? I realised so much that the hardcore insurrectionary anarchist lot who were the ones who actually did things instead of poncing around in universities like I’d been doing for years, were actually hopelessly ghettoised and divorced from the general population, and even from lots of activist groups who were at least trying to be in touch with the population, even if they were shit at it. I didn’t know all the history of how it had happened, with the ‘Nineties’ being this strange mythical time where, presumably, people felt like there was less of a divide between being a crusty-type in your lifestyle while at the same time working to mobilise the masses, before the State fucked it all up with Criminal Justice Acts and heroin conspiracies and whatever else that all the old crusties harp on about as excuses for why they’re mostly all alcoholics or dead. All I knew was, I had arrived about 10 years late for the party, and now it was just a bizarre scene of confusing nutcases. Stage 7 – being disillusioned and realising that the movement was in a big hole it would take a lot of work to dig ourselves out of before we could really hope to make a splash in wider society – finally starting to do something

We organised a squat crew of artists, musicians and activists, wanting to use squats to house whoever we came across so long as they abided by our safer spaces policy, to help contribute towards the homelessness crisis, and also wanting to get people with drug and mental health problems involved in creative and socially conscious projects, so they’d have something else to do besides take drugs. We organised small events at first and got better at organising bigger and bigger ones, squat gigs, raves, pop-up social centres and art spaces, and gradually expanded our circles of active squatters and supporters over the course of around 2 years, in the course of which the whole ‘student riot’ thing happened and we were trying to support that as well, and go to Dale Farm, and Calais, and support other traumatised activists, and fight against the squatting ban, and support striking workers, and help bring together different aspects of the anti-cuts movement, while still always fighting a day-to-day battle just to stay relatively sober with a roof over our heads. Fuck anyone who says we didn’t do a good job, especially anyone who never lived in a squat or knows nothing about addiction or mental health. Stage 8 – actually learning real skills, achieving a few things, small drops in the ocean, but real things nonetheless, and things you could feel proud of.

At the end of 2011 I was horrendously burnt out, feeling like I was put-upon and doing way more than my fair share of stuff while most people around me just didn’t take things seriously at all. Friends and comrades had killed themselves or died or developed terrible traumas and drug addictions, and the government was even worse than the one before, seemingly wanting to eat our brains and drink them down with champagne. They had come looking for me at squats where it was supposed to be a secret I was living, with a picture of me, like it was DEFINITLEY true that people very close to me were undercover cops and saw me as some kind of organiser, and yet lots of people were just drinking all the time and taking K even after all we had done to bring a positive vibe to the scene, and so weakening our movement and our potential to defend ourselves against this onslaught, much less agitate among the wider population for greater resistance against the policies that were chucking more people onto the streets and more mentally ill people into crazy lives of drug addiction and suicide instead of helping them. So I fucked off to the ZAD and stayed there for a couple of months eating mushrooms and chopping wood and being baffled by the French activists, mostly just because I didn’t speak French. Stage 9 – burning out, almost, but still hanging around the edges of radical stuff so it didn’t feel like giving up.

When riot cops starting attacking the place and I had to run from a barricade that failed to catch fire at the right time, away from crazy French fascist cops who I knew full well were capable of all kinds of teargas-flavoured ultra-violence, running across fields and nearly getting killed by a bull, I decided to move on, and it was gonna be an all-or-nothing, desperate-attempt-to-prove-something-to-myself journey into the unknown to try and start a new activist group in a country we knew nothing about with two close and trusted friends. A wild 6 months followed, full of hitchhiking disasters, alcohol abuse, staying in random punky squats or just sleeping rough in tents or abandoned buildings and getting woken by cops, all throughout France, Spain, Portugal, Spain again, Tangiers, Spain yet again, briefly Germany, and then back to the UK to write a pretty bizarre zine about what we had found out about the situation on the Spanish-Moroccan border, the conditions of life for Black immigrants in Morocco and the role of the EU in funding a load of violent, awful, racist, imperialist shit at it. Stage 10- breaking new ground, haphazardly, sometimes drunkenly, but still actually doing it, full on, to the max, both crazy rebellious lifestyle and actually something useful to a wider struggle, thinking on a bigger level than just the squat scene in southern England or even the whole class struggle in Europe, breaking paradigms in my own head and wanting to break them in others too, even if I didn’t know how.

Then after just chilling out in a squat in Bristol for a month with some really drug-addled nutters, I went back to Tangiers and ended up living there for 7 months, making friends with West African migrants who faced racist abuse literally every time they left the house, writing and recording songs with them, starting a blog to put up articles about it all and spread the news, and eventually moving into a flat with a bunch of them, and on the first day I lived there witnessing racist attacks where some drunk Moroccan youths burst into the house and just starting stabbing my friends, because they were black, and they thought they were Christian, even though they weren’t. Then I saw how the police didn’t give a fuck, the hospital was like some kind of really bad joke, and the UN and all the NGOs and charities were like, totally not what the migrants needed at all, not political, not trying to stop the violence, just being patronising useless fuckers, whereas the migrants were persevering and struggling and self-organising and having solidarity with each other in ways that made all the druggy squatters and self-righteous activists I knew back in the UK look like TOTAL POSERS, including myself. Stage 11 – realising that the anarchist scene is a joke, and the real struggle is out there in the real world, surprisingly.

But then I had to come back to this pisspoor joke of an ‘Anarchist Movement’ to find it in even worse shape than when I left, with all the squats gone except for like one crew in Brighton and the usual London madness which I always avoided, not being able to cope with it in the slightest. I was all like ‘Hey everyone! There’s this totally real, actual struggle going on down there in Morocco, that you DON’T KNOW ABOUT, and I want to tell you about it and get something going, because COME ON NOW ALREADY’ but even getting people to listen to it, or read anything, or help me organise a meeting, or anything, was crazy. Like noone gave a shit, noone wanted to know about something new, or help start something new, they were all burnt out, or were so convinced that they were awesome and knew everything that they would just pretend they knew what I was talking about, even though I knew they didn’t. Noone was like, ‘oh well done mate, you trekked across countless obstacles with NO MONEY and found out loads of shit we didn’t know about in order to help unite different struggles in different continents and expose massive scandals about how our taxes are paying for systematic racist oppression in other countries, so yeah, nice on, I’ll help out with that, got nothing better to do except sit around and get drunk so it’d be nice to do something real for a change’ NOPE. Some people did go down to Morocco of course, because they read things I’d written or heard me do talks, but NOONE, and I mean NOONE wanted to have a serious discussion with me about strategy, or aims, or basic principles, or how to fund it, or anything, they just rushed off on their own, and when I tried to engage them in serious conversations about it, they got defensive and lashed out at me, then took over the blog, email list, EVERYTHING I HAD CREATED, changing the passwords and locking me out of what I had built so I couldn’t even be part of it anymore, or contribute to the project that had become my whole reason for living, so I fell into deep alcoholic depression. Stage 12 – realising it ain’t so easy to get the anarchist movement to change its stupid, immature ways.

So I started being a benefit cheat, because I’d never done that before and figured ‘hey, I’ve been beaten by cops for defending people’s right to be benefit cheats, may as well actually make use of this stupid system while it still lasts’. Drank a lot of my housing benefit money, smoked the rest of it, till I was 4 months behind on rent. Spent a year trying to restart No Borders Bristol in the hope that I might find people who’d want to help organise talks and fundraisers for Morocco, but noone wanted to come to meetings, and when they finally did, they didn’t want to help the project in Morocco, because after all, it was OUTSIDE OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE, and I gave up in despair again, became an alcoholic again even though I’d temporarily managed to kick the booze long enough to do an English teaching qualification, and moved into a mad punk squat in Cardiff where at least I could get drunk in peace, except it wasn’t really ‘peace’ at all, just a maddening headfuck for about a year, living once again with a shitload of people with mental health problems and drug addictions and trying to just stay positive and help make sure really basic household issues got solved. Tried to be part of No Borders South Wales, again in the hope that people might help organise stuff for Morocco, with slightly better results in that one person actually did go there, and we organised a few benefit gigs, but then the people I felt most affinity with stabbed me in the back, making me homeless, just because I had criticised them for being too negative and they cant stand criticism. Stage 13 – dealing with being a post-traumatic stress kind of guy in a scene full of people who have no idea what the hell you have been through because they don’t want to educate themselves about the issue you are struggling for even though that’s all you really need them to do to make you happy and they claim to be your friends, but are all so fucked in the head an irrational that they just turn on you instead and make you even more traumatised.

So I got rescued by the Old Wise Crusties from the nineties, none of whom really wanted to know about Morocco either, but were at least nice, loving friendly people instead of twisted up burnt out activists who should really just stop and learn some basic things about being a nice person. I spent a summer of Love, Music and Pyschedelic drugs, completely gave up alcohol and tobacco, got into meditation, Zen, Tao, and stuff like that, walking in beautiful bits of nature and probing the insides of my own head, wanting to be less angry at everyone for not helping me with the project, or helping the project but just being really rude and shit to me, to learn how to forgive people and see those who fuck you over as just being damaged and in need of love and compassion, and trying to be able to be loving enough to have love for those I used to hate, just because it was better than being bitter and awful. Finally I felt like I could just go back to Morocco and contribute to the project directly, doing the things I wanted to see done myself, instead of being angry that other people weren’t magically doing them myself. Stage 14 – getting over trauma, a little bit, enough to at least be kind of happy, most of the time, and therefore be able to carry on being politically active in the projects you helped start.

So now I’m preparing to go there again, even though I’m still pretty fucked up, because I don’t give a shit any more, it’s better to do something positive that bitch about the negative all the time. There is a whole network of international activists going back and forth from Morocco now, and most of them are people I have never even met and don’t know who I am, so whatever, great, it proves that you can start something and still not be the leader of it, so long as you do enough to get it going in the first place and then remove yourself from the equation by being fucked in the head for 2 years, so they have to carry on without you and want to lock you out of it because you seem like a dangerous nutter. That’s how non-hierarchical networks get founded I guess. Viva la revolucion and all that. Stage 15 is yet to be lived through, I might die, or go insane, but whatever, what the fuck else is there to do? Get drunk? Nah.