Capitalism and the Racist Violence at Morocco’s Borders – A Personal Reflection by a Former Insurrectionist

Deep in my heart I want to help find a solution to the problem of the suffering of Black African migrants in Morocco: the violence in the forests, the deaths at sea, the systematic racial discrimination. I do not believe that a typical ‘Anarchist-type’ migrant solidarity strategy of a small affinity group or network of activists starting a ‘direct action campaign’ combined with support for migrants’ own self-managed solutions to their humanitarian problems will ever be enough to change the situation.

It is clear that a much larger and more politically significant solidarity movement would be needed to achieve structural change in the right direction, which must involve lots of publicity of the situation. But I do not believe that simply pointing out that these human rights abuses are going on is enough to build such a movement because ultimately not enough people in Europe are ever going to care about the struggles of African migrants to become politically mobilised, simply out of altruistic sentiment.

I have believed from the beginning of my involvement with this cause that we need to be able to show how the border regime in Morocco is part of a global structure of oppression. The struggle of the African migrants in Morocco must be linked to the struggle of the European and transnational working classes generally, so that European and other workers see the liberation of African migrants as bound up with their own.

To understand how to make these links clear we need to stare the horrific reality of the mechanics of this global system directly in the face, without being too blinded by moral outrage to actually learn how to help the situation. This is the trap I fell into when I studied my undergraduate degree, and ended up dropping out of bourgeois society altogether for a few years as I was so disgusted with what I had found out about it’s basis in the exploitation of Labour and the deliberate underdevelopment of the poorest countries in the world.

Before my degree I had wanted to be a Development Aid worker of some kind, which is why I studied an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Development Studies at the University of Sussex. However, I was strongly converted to Marxist and Anarchist ways of thinking during my time at University and participated actively in anti-capitalist grassroots activist groups for several years.

I began to realise – thanks to my professors at Sussex University and the many knowledgeable activists I met through my political activities – that poverty in the world, oppression and environmental problems were extremely unlikely to be adequately dealt with by NGOs and government agencies promoting development under the current paradigm of thinking about development in official circles.

The neoliberal paradigm fails to recognise the inherent contradictions of capitalism and blindly assumes that free trade policies will lead to development more than actual organised state intervention to deal with the root causes of poverty. This must involve the ruling classes of Western Imperialist countries, along with their allies in ‘comprador’ bourgeoisies of ‘peripheral’ countries, paying formal compensation for the historical brutality of primitive accumulation through dispossession, forced labour and extreme repressive violence to enforced racial barriers.

Free trade policies actually stop underdeveloped countries from developing: all successful development strategies by governments, even the ‘Core’ European and American ones, occurred under protectionist and state interventionist regimes. The countries that are already developed, and which depend on sucking wealth out of poorer countries, force those poorer countries not to follow successful development strategies, through World Bank loans, IMF structural adjustment programs and World Trade organisation rules against tariffs.

Then richer countries form protectionist blocs like the EU anyway, getting around the WTO rules, and keeping the poorer countries from developing that way as well. The only chance many working class families in peripheral countries have of improving their material standards of living is to send some of their children to risk their lives, health and liberty crossing deserts, seas and border fences in the hope of reaching a core or semi peripheral country where the wage rate, even for undocumented workers, is higher than in the formal economy of their home countries.

Even this last ditch attempt and wealth redistribution is rejected by the ruling classes of core countries, with the active complicity of those in the semi-peripheral, in the form of police violence against undocumented migrants and people who just look like they might be undocumented migrants due to racial stereotyping and profiling on the part of police officers and border guards, who are free to commit murder and excessive violence with impunity.

I formed the opinion that I did not want to work for any government development agency, the World Bank, or any large NGO that had ties to transnational corporations. This was not to say that I believed all on-the-ground projects run by these organisations were not genuinely saving lives and providing much needed services for the global poor. But I became convinced early in my studies of Development issues of the validity of Amartya Sen’s theory outlined in his book “Development as Freedom” and so only considered those projects valid which had a focus on empowering the poor, not merely giving them handouts.

I knew that there were many grassroots and small scale NGOs, some of which would occasionally receive grants from governments, corporate sponsorship or the World Bank, and which were doing things to genuinely empower poor people, but I did not know how to go about getting a job at such an organisation. For me to want to work for any kind of development agency it would have to essentially be prepared to have an occasionally conflictual relationship with the powers that be and not be beholden to them by financial ties. I knew that to find such a job would take a long time and a lot of effort, and I had become so disillusioned that I no longer felt able to even try.

What I learnt about the capitalist world system made me simply want to run away from it, by travelling, living in squats, busking on the streets, shoplifting, eating food from bins, and getting into debt with no plan of paying it back. I spent so much time avoiding work that it was more effort and hardship than actually just getting a job, but I felt somehow I was making a moral stand by refusing to participate in the system I hated.

This moral stand was in contradiction to another moral principle I wanted to follow which was to spend my life actually doing something to make the world a better place, and I increasingly found that having no money did not help me with this. I started to feel that really I was just sponging off the labour of other people, even just by living off their waste and small change, and when I tried to involve myself in progressive causes I often found that the chaos of my personal life prevented my from really being much use.

I could try and be nice and share things with my fellow squatters and random people I met, but could not do anything to help those less fortunate than myself, even though I tried, for example by living in Calais, France for a month trying to be part of an extreme migrant solidarity group while also having hardly any money, and it was too intense to be sustainable. Other people I knew who tried to combine the money-free lifestyle with extreme direct action and solidarity activism ruined their mental health considerably, as did I to some extent. We learned the hard way that we could not fight to change the system from the outside.

This was a horrible and existentially challenging realisation to me as it had been a desire to pursue a life based on working for global justice that had lead me to learn the awful truths about capitalism that led me to want to drop out from it in the first place. In my wilder nihilistic moments, I fantasied that we could perhaps square the circle of not being able to change the system from the outside if we could simply destroy the system from the outside, and indeed many books and magazines I read in my early twenties advocated this.  It is clear to me now that this was nothing more than a dark fantasy that only lead to tragedy or farce when people did act on these instincts, in the case of the Anarchist Insurrectionists, whom I once sympathised with.

It was in the darkest depths of this period in my life when I first went to Morocco. When I arrived there I had been living outdoors for over seven months. I left the long term squat I had been living in in Brighton on the 22nd of December 2011, having lived there for four months which had been longer than I had lived in any squat before. Most of the squats in Brighton I lived in during the 2 years before that had only lasted a few weeks at the most, some only a matter of hours before police or other hired thugs kicked us out.

Finally having a few months of stability perhaps made me realised I had been living that crazy life of constant evictions for too long, all in the hope of finding a long term rent free house in Brighton, and just at the moment I finally had it, I decided to throw it away and leap into even more chaos.

I left the UK altogether and went to live in a treehouse in a protest site in France called La Zad in Notre Dame des Landes outside of Nantes. I lived there through the depths of winter, collecting and chopping firewood every day, living off food from local supermarket bins which were bountiful, and some money that my family had given me for Christmas.

I should stress during all these stories that may sound like I was going through hardship that it was entirely my own choice to live that way. I am the eldest son of an upper-middle class family from North London with parents that have always been prepared to bail me out of trouble I have gotten myself into by giving me money from time to time. I always felt guilty about accepting this money as it reminded me that no matter how much I could try to avoid being part of the system, I was always going to me in a privileged position within it. So I tried to pretend my parents help wasn’t always there for me and that I could just survive on my own without them, or a job, or anything except my guitar and my wits, and every time my stupid choices and failure to plan ahead meant that I found myself in need of help, I would call them.

But I did not ask them for any money in between Christmas 2011 and when I went to Morocco in June 2012, simply out of this arrogant refusal to accept reality. When my Christmas money ran out in the Zad, I hit the road to attempt to hitchhike to Portugal with nothing by my guitar, accompanied by another crazy hippy I barely knew who only had a couple of root vegetables with him and a typewriter which he would use to write stream-of-consciousness poetry at any opportunity.

We were both going to Portugal mainly because of girls we were sleeping with, who I don’t think particularly cared at the time if we followed them there or not. We optimistically thought we would be able to hitchhike through most of France and all of Spain in just 2 days, and make it to a protest camp against a hydroelectric dam somewhere in Portugal. After that the plan was to go to Porto to meet the sort-of girlfriend of the guy with the typewriter, before going on to Freekuency Festival, where I was to meet the girl I was sleeping with at the time, who is now my Fiancé but at the time showed no signs of being interested in a serious or even monogamous relationship with me.

We had a terrible time the first few days trying to get through France – failing to find good hitching spots, then trying to jump trains and having to get kicked off in random towns where we would spend the night before trying to either jump another train or find a hitching spot again, all without any food except for what we could steal, find in bins, or make money busking to buy, as my travelling companion was also a good singer and could play guitar, able to freestyle amusing psychedelic lyrics easily.

We spent a couple of nights in the French Basque country after being taken in by a nice guy who picked us up outside Bordeaux, who also arranged for us to stay with his Friends on the French Spanish border, where we easily got a lift to Madrid with a Polish lorry driver who picked us up thinking we might have weed, which we didn’t.

After we reached Madrid our problems started again. We jumped an intercity train in the direction of Portugal and got kicked off at the first stop, a town called Avila, where we spent the night in an abandoned building full of pigeon shit before standing for ages in the hot sun the next day before finally getting a lift for Salamanca. There, we chose a terrible place to try and hitch from outside the city at a tiny petrol station near a motorway and ended up having to walk back into the city, where we slept on some grass in a park and woke up covered in dew and extremely hungry. We had been reduced to eating the root vegetables Joe had carried with him all the way from the ZAD the night before, and then spent the last of our money on some bread and beans from a shop.

We were stuffed with beans when we found our way to the city’s Anarchist social centre – almost every city in Spain has one – and found that they were having a big vegan dinner at that moment, so we could have saved our money and eaten for free there. The people who ran the place lived over the street and let us stay with them for a week while we tried to busk up enough money to get a bus ticket to Portugal, before eventually one of them drove us to a good hitching spot and an old English hippy couple picked us up and took us all the way to the Portuguese border, where we could jump a train to Porto.

The whole journey had taken about 2 weeks, when we had hoped it would take 2 days, and we had completely missed the protest camp against the hydroelectric dam, but I had been holding out hope the whole time during all the hardship on the road that once we got to Porto we would be able to relax as the type-writer guy’s girlfriend would put us up in her flat or wherever she lived. But when we arrived there it transpired that she didn’t have a fixed address herself and was just sofa surfing, so we were in a strange position trying to talk our way into staying with people she barely knew, and sometimes ending up sleeping rough.

By this time I was going pretty nuts from all the stress, and at one point when I was busking alone, having lost the others, I lost my temper at an old blind beggar who had nuzzled in on my busking spot and was getting people to give change to him instead of me, and a whole crowd of angry Portuguese people formed around me, taking his side.

When it was finally time to go to Freekuency festival I was happy to be reunited with my friends, including my “soft-of girlfriend”, though at first she didn’t seem too happy to see my dishevelled appearance after the crazy few weeks I’d had. Back at the Zad a few weeks earlier she,  a mutual friend of ours and myself had all made a “pinkie-swear” that we would travel together from the festival down to Tangiers Morocco, to see what the situation with migrants at the border of Spain and Morocco was like. We wanted to volunteer to in some way if there was a chance to, before returning to England to tell other activists in the No Borders movement about the situation there, to encourage them to also travel down.

All of this did eventually come about, and the No Borders Morocco website we created on that trip is still active with a team of international activists that update it occasionally with news about police repression on the border. So our ill-conceived, poorly planned and extremely poorly executed plan did have its saving grace in that the basic idea was sound: if you go and find out about something horrible happening somewhere and then come back and tell people who already care about stuff like that about it, they will probably care and want to help in some way if they can.

But it took a huge toll on me to play my part in achieving the success of this plan. As I have explained, I was already in a pretty bad shape in terms of my mental health at the very beginning of the project: when we drunkenly came up with the plan and made the “pinkie swear” in the Zad, I was already traumatised from 2 years of trying to both live outside the system and participate in actions I considered consistent with the idea of attacking it from the outside, and drifting more and more towards nihilistic and fantastical notions of insurrection as way of escaping from the reality of the contradictions of my lifestyle and values.

I then ruined my mental health even more through the insane journey across Spain, trying to act like Jack Kerouac but without the advantage of speaking the same language as the people you were trying to get rides off. The rest of my memories of Portugal are mainly happy: the festival, then some time hanging around the anarchist scene in Lisbon trying to squat buildings, going busking, and having people to stay with when we did inevitably get kicked out of buildings we squatted by police in the morning, before hitching down to the Algarve to busk to English tourists and hang out on beaches.

The moment we crossed the Spanish border, though, everything got worse. We spent the night in a tent outside a creepy old Barn in Ayamonte, a shitty border town as most border towns are, full of bugs and paranoid about strange noises in the night. Somehow after that we made it to Seville where we spent a few days sleeping rough in random bits of scrubland and trying to go busking but mainly just getting exhausted by the heat.

From Seville we should have logically gone South towards Tangiers, but our spirits were so low that we didn’t feel ready to jump into a crazy humanitarian crisis that we knew nothing about right then, so instead we jumped a train to Granada, hundreds of miles in the wrong direction, but a place I had been to before and knew would be a welcome haven for people like us.

Many travelling hippies do turn up in Granada, find a nice squat or cave to live in, and have a beautiful time hanging out living almost for free in a beautiful city with great views of mountains and the ancient Alhambra castle, and we did experience some of the joys of that life, busking and getting plenty of free food and alcohol as waste products of the Andalusian lifestyle. But we lived in a complete shit-hole: a burnt out old building that used to be the changing rooms and offices of a swimming pool that had long since closed. We lived with a random collection of Spaniards, Catalans and Italians who mainly just took speed, smoked hash, got drunk and sometimes let Hard-Tech sound-systems come into the place to have huge raves that sometimes went on for days. But we had no running water and only electricity at night when the streetlights we stole our power from came on.

For drinking, cooking and cleaning water, for about ten humans and the same number of dogs, we had to go every day with two shopping trolleys of old plastic bottles to a public drinking fountain to fill them up and them push the heavy trolleys back home. As we were all usually too drunk and stoned to plan anything properly, we would usually run out of water in the hottest part of the day and have to do all this while dehydrated and hungover. In short, we were idiots, and often in a bad mood, especially as it there was not a lot of money to be made busking, and the three of us had an extremely limited routine.

Given that the reason we had come to Granada was to relax, improve our mental health and prepare ourselves for the trip to Morocco, none of this was ideal. But we did manage to go to the public library several times to research information about the Morocco-Spain border issues and even started to print off academic articles and make timelines on the walls of the squat to help understand the history of the situation better. After two months of this slow research work, hampered by our alcoholism and poor life choices, we decided the time had come and headed for Tangiers.

The reader by now will not be surprised to learn that the journey from Granada to Tangiers itself did not go in the least bit smoothly. It took us almost all day to find a lift south to the coast and there we had to spend the night sleeping in a tent somewhere random before trying for hours to hitch the next day to Malaga. At Malaga we again slept rough before busking up enough money to get a bus to the Port of Algeciras where we once again slept rough and then tried to convince lorry drivers to take us onto the ferry to Morocco for free.

Amazingly, we actually did find two Portuguese lorry drivers who were travelling together in separate lorries and each had space for one person, so our friend and I each took one of them, as my girlfriend has already found a lift. Shortly though, we saw her walking around looking for us as the Lorry driver she had gotten in with had tried to sexually assault her, so I let her take my place in the Lorry. Eventually after hours in the hot sun I paid for a foot passenger ticket onto the next Ferry, after trying to find my own lift for a while before getting chased away from the lorries by security guards.

I was able to pay for the ticket, and also for accommodation once we arrived in Morocco, because I had asked my parents for money for the trip to Morocco, justifying it to myself as being acceptable because they were donated to a radical cause, so I was taking money out of their middle class hands and using it for something I theorised as being part of the class struggle. I was too fucked up in the head at that point to simply accept it as a gift from some loving parents to their foolish but well-meaning son.

So we arrived in Morocco, finally, after all of these ordeals, with no real idea of what we wanted to achieve there, and very little money or emotional resilience to deal with the situation. We spent two weeks in Tangiers, staying in the cheapest hotels we could find in the centre of the old part of town, the Medina. During that time we did eventually meet two Senegalese migrants working for two different small organisations helping other West African migrants, as well as a Moroccan who was on the board of directors for one of them.

Speaking to these people made us realise that the situation was even worse than we had been led to believe by what we had read in the Library in Granada, and that though there were some good NGOs which we felt we could be allies with, they were very small and there was indeed a need for more activists from richer countries to come and set up other organisations, while supporting the ones that were there.

This meant that we were able to feel that despite all our faults and disorganisation, we had achieved something worthwhile and we finally got back to the UK after another series of disasters hitchhiking all the way back through Spain and France, via a brief stop off to a friend in Germany due to a hitching error taking us a thousand miles off course.

Once back in England we wrote a small pamphlet called ‘Beating Borders’ that was half full of the information we knew about the situation, and half full of the story of our ridiculous journey to find it out. Few people actually read this pamphlet, but some did, and it did start people in our circle of friends and extended networks of activists back in the UK talking about Morocco, which was all we were trying to do.

The basic idea I had was that if we just put the issue on the map by having a small website and having a name of an organisation to make it seem like there was already something for people to get involved in, an organisation would naturally grow up around this. Really, I should have spent a lot of time travelling around the UK and Europe, giving out our pamphlet and doing public talks to encourage people to think about going down there, and organising meetings to figure out practical ways we could help, and then organise them. But I was not in the right headspace to do any of this at that time as I was consumed with a desire to get back to Morocco and start off a permanent activist presence there.

I thought that if there was a group of activists there, and that it was known in wider activist circles that they were there, then more activists would eventually show up until a kind of revolving-door situation developed in which activists could come and go, with the experienced ones training up the newer ones before then leaving them to take over, so that no one had to burn out all their energy.

With hindsight I should have spent more time in the UK planning this out and convincing people to commit to coming there at a particular time to relieve me before going out there myself. But instead I just went out there alone and hoped that people would join me later. Again, this was not as crazy as it might seem and some of my best friends did in fact join me out there after I had been there only a month, but there was no-one planning on coming after them to replace us all once we started to burn out.

When I went there on my own, I didn’t even know that these friends of mine would come a month later, but I did believe at that time that my girlfriend was going to move to Tangiers with me and stay with me there for at least six months or so. I thought that during that six month period we could achieve a lot and provide a space for new activists to stay, and that maybe at the end enough newcomers would have gotten involved that we could leave them to it.

So when I went there on my own I looked for a flat that I though would be good enough for the two of us to live in while providing enough space for guests to stay as well. She actually gave me money to use as a deposit on the place, and so I was very surprised when she finally arrived and told me that she was not planning on staying for six months after all, but only for a couple of weeks.

She had decided that she felt too uncomfortable to live in Morocco due the level of street harassment she received from men, but she had been too anxious to let me know that she had changed her mind until the last moment. This caused me to have a mild breakdown as I had based my whole life plan for the next six months, and the whole strategy for starting the solidarity network we wanted to start, on the idea of us being equally committed to being there together for the first six months.

When my two friends arrived later, they were not thinking in the same terms as me and were not as emotionally invested. I wanted them to be a replacement for my girlfriend and commit to dedicate all their energy to helping me build an activist network, but they had come more with the intention of helping out for a little while and then travelling around Morocco and Spain, having a good time, which was fair enough really.

But I had let my whole sense of self become wrapped up in the project that I started to resent them for it and I ended up having a huge argument with one of my friends, prompted by him objecting to my attitude. He had worked with me on one of the first serious pieces of news reporting we did for the website, interviewing the sole survivor of a migrant boat which had sunk, which had made both of us feel quite depressed and out of our depth. After the low level stress around us led to our big argument, he ended up leaving Morocco and going to Spain, while my other friends were down travelling in the south of Morocco, soon to leave for Spain themselves, and my girlfriend had already been gone for two months.

The only friend I had left in Tangier was himself a refugee from the Gambia, named Ibrahim, whom I had been writing songs with about the situation, publishing them on soundcloud.com  under the name “Interzone Music”. After everyone else had left I was an emotional mess, and Ibrahim was there as a real emotional support to me, even though he himself had much worse things going on in his life. I felt like a total failure, coming there thinking I was somehow able to help these refugees and finding that they were the ones helping me instead.

Around this time I met a German young woman who was there working an internship for an organisation that was concerned with refugee issues, and she was going around interviewing female West African migrants. She was paying a lot more than I was for her rent as the organisation she was volunteering with had chosen it for her, so I offered her to move in and replace my friends who were gone, thinking this could at last be the beginning of the project in earnest.

I ruined everything on the first night she moved in by trying to have sex with her, and getting rejected, which created a terrible atmosphere in the house between us for the next month and a half before eventually I had another breakdown and started shouting at her before storming out and moving into Ibrahim’s house.

He lived in a much poorer area on the other side of the city, in a building full of other West Africans surrounded by Moroccan neighbours who seemed to hate them for being Black and foreign. A family of Nigerian Christians lived downstairs and their apartment was actually set on fire by local Moroccans because they were noisily celebrating on Sundays.

A group of intimidating young Moroccan men constantly hung around on the street outside their house, and there was no plumbing inside, so the West Africans in the house all had to go past this group of Moroccan men every time they needed to get water from the communal well in the street. On the very first night I moved into the building, after the fight with the German girl, a Senegalese guy went out to get water around 6pm after we had all been up all night talking and getting stoned, apart from some of the migrants who were strict Muslims and didn’t smoke hash.

When the Senegalese guy went out to get water on that first night I was there, the gang of young Moroccan thugs who were hanging out on the street outside, obviously drunk, rushed into the building while the door was still open and starting stabbing the guy who’d gone for water and also my friend Ibrahim. I went with both of them to the police station, while they were both visibly bleeding, and the police did not care, simply asking them for their documents as if they were threatening to arrest them for being Black.

The police said they needed documents from a doctor before they would do anything, so we had to go to the hospital and wait for hours before they got seen, and then wait for more hours just to get the piece of paper to prove they had been seen. All the time we were doing this, sleep deprived and traumatised after the night before, the gang of Moroccan youths were still back at the house terrorising the rest of the West Africans, throwing stones in all the windows, and yet the police and neighbours did nothing.

After we got the paper from the hospital, we went to a different police station and waiting for hours again while the police did nothing, until I eventually lost my temper and started ranting at them in very bad French, after which they eventually came with us to the house. After that the Moroccan youths stopped attacking the house, but they were never punished by the police, just given a talking to.

I had lived in Tangiers for 6 months by this point, but had been so concerned with interpersonal problems between myself and my European housemates that I had not really witnessed the true horror of the situation the West Africans were in. I had spoken to several of them and heard many terrible stories, and seen the impoverished condition they lived in and the casual racism they experienced on the streets every day, but it was only when I actually moved into the house with Ibrahim that I really started to understand on an emotional level.

Nothing similar happened at any point after that during my time there, although I did fall very ill for a few days immediately after and had to deal with having extreme diarrhoea in a place with only a squat-toilet and no running water, but after I recovered from that we settled into a steady routine where every day I would pay for breakfast for my roommates, before working on the music and eating dinner all together very late at night.

There were six of us sharing a tiny room which would could only just about all fit in to lie down to sleep. We spent almost 24 hours a day in that room in extremely close contact. The youngest guy would always run the errands, there being a strict age hierarchy that I was not used to, coming from the anarcho-squatter scene which always pretended there were no hierarchies within it.

The whole six months I had been living in the Medina I hadn’t gone busking, assuming no one would give money to a white man, but when I lived with the migrants I found I was wrong. I would take Ibrahim and sometimes others with me and we shared out the money equally. I carried on writing songs with Ibrahim and recording them in the cramped room full of other people. I lived like that for a month, and Ibrahim was the only one who spoke English. The others were Senegalese so I could speak simple French to them and understand some of what they said back to me, but when they spoke to each other it was all in Wolof, which they speak in both Senegal and Gambia.

Living with them like that meant that Ibrahim showed me new sides to his personality I had not seen when he had been visiting me in my nice place in the centre of town, and he also spoke more candidly to me about things he had been reluctant to speak about before. He told me that he had never imagined white people would live with them like that, sharing a cramped room, eating food with them, as he had only seen white people in Hollywood movies, or rich tourists staying in fancy hotels. So I built up trust by living with them and they let me know about how things really worked.

There are camps in the forests outside Melilla where migrants live for months at a time while they attempt to jump the border fences in huge numbers of several hundred, which happens quite frequently, but I had not realised this until moving into the flat, because they have a strict security culture about these camps. But finding out that the migrants were engaged in regular violent confrontations at the actual physical border fences allowed me to talk about the situation there in terms that would appeal militant activists back in the UK, as it showed clearly that they were actively engaged in a struggle with the same state authorities that we ourselves were in struggle against.

So I went home and wrote a new small pamphlet from an Insurrectionary Anarchist perspective and started doing talks at anarchist social centres in the UK, and also at the No Borders camp in Rotterdam in 2013. I spent the first few months I was back in the UK in a daze trying to do whatever I could to make sure that people in the anarchist scene knew about it, and even used my mother’s journalist contacts to ensure that the issue got national news coverage on Newsnight. All the while I was doing this I was not really thinking about my personal life situation and what I was going to do to support myself or where I was going to live, and eventually I felt I had done enough and applied for government benefits to get a place to live, with the help of my parents.

A group of activists who I was friends (and friends of friends) with went out to Tangiers that winter, moving into Ibrahim’s house thanks to the fact I had already made friends with him, while I stayed in my new house in Bristol slowly beginning a long journey of recovery. Because they lived with the migrants from the very beginning, the group that went out there that winter experienced a lot more traumatic events than I had. There was a huge increase in police raids at migrants’ houses, followed by a large street riot that was almost like a race war between Blacks and Moroccans, then a period when the police backed off enabling the migrants to attempt more fence crossings, with tragic results.

Not being aware that any of this was going on and assuming from their lack of contact that they were simply doing nothing, I did not make my comrade’s lives easier by writing arrogant angry emails to them criticising what I saw as their lack of sensible organisation. Due to my poor mental health, I was extremely agitated all the time and desperate for news from Morocco, so when I didn’t get it I lashed out at the very people I should have been supporting.  Eventually they were joined by some better prepared German activists, who completely transformed the No Borders Morocco project into something much more organised, and most of my friends eventually stopped being involved, as did I.

I can say without false modesty that I laid a lot of the groundwork for the whole project and that I worked incredibly hard to do so, experiencing a lot of psychological hardship in the process, which I did not feel that many of the activists who got involved later were really able to understand. I partly felt proud of myself for having not given up on it during any of the several moments when I should have, but I also felt ashamed of myself in many ways for my own failings during the project and all the people I had argued with or hurt along the way.

I entered into a serious depression and developed a drinking problem which caused me to spend all my housing benefit money on alcohol and weed instead of my rent, which in turn caused me to move out and go back to squatting. By this time squatting in residential buildings had been criminalised in the UK but there was a long-term squat I was welcome to move into in Cardiff in an old pub, with no electricity, lots of mould and very little natural light.

It had once been a successful anarchist social centre, before the electricity had been cut off, and people still lived there occasionally organising anarchist events. I started organising benefit gigs to raise money to send to the activists in Morocco and began to feel better about myself as I felt I was helping the project again instead of just causing problems and pissing people off.

A friend of mine, who had been out there the year before, moved into the squat in Cardiff with me and I supported him emotionally to go out there again to try and record interviews and music with migrants for a new website I wanted to start, called Interzone Voices. The two of us have continued to work together on that project ever since, keeping separate from No Borders Morocco.

The Interzone Voices project has now culminated in my friend producing an entire film, which I helped him with a little mainly simply through emotional support and contributing a few ideas, as well as raising some money through organising concerts, though he raised most of it himself by organising his own catering events.

Apart from this I have not done very much to help the cause of solidarity with migrants in Morocco for the past few years, as I have been trying to sort my life out in order to be able to better help the situation in the future. I gave up drinking for two and a half years, got back together with my girlfriend, moved in with her to a flat in Bristol and worked a series of poorly paying jobs to pay the rent before finally getting a student loan to do my Masters in Global Political Economy at the University of the West of England, which I started a few weeks ago.

Once I have written my final dissertation for my Masters about the situation in Morocco and how it fits into the wider political economy of the world capitalist system, I hope I can use it to further encourage solidarity activism with migrants in Morocco. Hopefully developing a more thorough analysis of the situation will help inspire ideas for how we can try to work towards campaigning for meaningful changes, rather than simply providing very small amounts of humanitarian aid and acting as a watchdog to the situation, which are the main roles that No Borders Morocco has been able to play so far, as far as I can see.

I now no longer hold Anarchist Insurrectionist views. This means that I do not believe that it is possible to simply attack the border regime through direct action until it breaks, which would be an Insurrectionary Anarchist strategy, and was the kind of image I had in my mind during the time I lived in Morocco and had extremely poor mental health.

Now that I am able to think more clearly, I have realised that I identify more as an ‘Anarcho-Marxist’, which is an extreme form of Democratic Socialist, and have joined the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn as a result. This is not because I believe Jeremy Corbyn is an Anarcho-Marxist or that he would not probably sell out the working class in some way if he were ever to take power, due to the inevitable constraints of the demands of the world-system on nation-states, but this is not good enough of a reason for me as a compassionate person not to support the more short-term program of concrete improvements in working class living standards which he represents.

Unlike in my Insurrectionary phase I now believe that all democratic socialists should work together to achieve material gains for the global working class, even if these gains fall short of total revolution and mean making alliances with people of very different ideological backgrounds. Ultimately it is only through political reforms that the situation in Morocco will be improved, and achieving these political reforms cannot be done purely through working ‘outside the system’ and using direct action techniques. Rather, a diversity of tactics must be used, which may and almost certainly will involve direct action techniques, possibility even militant and destructive ones, but these will depend for their success ultimately on other tactics to ensure there are policy-makers willing to make the right decisions in response to such direct action.

This means we must support efforts to make sure that people sympathetic with radical demands actually achieve positions of power within the system, so that if a large enough popular movement for reform does rise up, there will be people within the government advocating that concessions be made to such a movement. Without such voices of reason being present in the offices of state power, authoritarian nationalist politicians will simply repress any popular movement no matter how big it is or how just it’s demands are.

It must be understood that politicians main aim is power, and that capitalists main aim is to accumulate capital. We may despise these people for their greed and megalomania, but we cannot fail to recognise that it is they who have the most power to stop the violence against migrants in Morocco. Therefore, as reprehensible as it may seem to us, we must somehow construct arguments to convince them that they will make more money and gain more power by stopping the violence, before somehow convincing them to actually listen to those arguments.

I know that these seem like two pretty big ‘somehows’. But they seem less big to me that that which says “somehow we will destroy, or radically change the border regime from a position of extreme poverty on the fringes of society, without establishing strong allies with any political influence”.

The refugee crisis is not going away. Despite the economic crisis in Europe, it is still a ‘core’ capitalist region that will inevitably attract workers from ‘peripheral’ countries for so long as the world system remains so divided and unevenly developed.

Meanwhile the political context in Morocco is changing. Many more African migrants have now been given official documents and the right to remain in Morocco legally, improving their life chances. Morocco has also re-joined the African Union, which means that other African states will be able to exert more of an influence over its policy, though how much so remains to be seen.

Moroccan police still abuse the basic human rights of Black African migrants on a regular basis, arresting people on mass and driving them out to be dumped in the desert, as has been going on for years, and there is still regular violence at the border fences and the migrant camps nearby them.  This can partly be explained by the fact that Morocco’s shaky economy still depends on European export markets for the vast majority of its GDP, and so has a lot of incentives to cooperate with the EU in all aspects of foreign policy, including migration policy.

Whether ‘development’ is defined as ‘Freedom’ or simply ‘Economic growth’ Morocco clearly remains an underdeveloped country with a huge amount of unemployed and extremely poor people who have a direct material interest in a change in the overall structure of the economy. More Moroccans need jobs, and more production in Morocco should be done to meet the needs of the people rather than simply for profit. In short, Moroccan workers, like workers everywhere, have an interest in shifting their economic mode of production towards a more socialistic one, to whatever extent is practically possible given the realities of class struggle.

The Political-Economic dependence of Morocco on Europe not only causes the extreme violence of against the small Black African migrant population, it is clearly not working for the population as a whole, and in that sense it can be argued that Moroccans and African migrants have a common interest in fighting for a new system. Figuring out what that new system would realistically be, and how to organise a movement to achieve it.

Whatever the new system would be, it would be far from an Anarchist utopia, much more likely just a nation-state which has a different strategy for temporarily preventing the inherent contradictions of capitalism from causing its total collapse. Forming such strategies is the main business of governments in the capitalist world system, and it may be that one can be found that both materially improves the conditions of life for both Moroccan citizens and stops the systematic repression of African migrants, but is also acceptable to enough sections of the Moroccan elite to be politically achievable.

There will be new crises of capitalism coming soon, and at such moments political and economic systems always change. When there are organised factions with ideas about how to change the system, they often are able to use crises to get their way – and the people who are most organised to exploit these crises are usually capitalists who will make things much worse for working people and further strengthen repressive border regimes. But history also shows us that when Democratic Socialists are properly organised and have built up enough social support through political education of the masses, they two can use moments of crisis to the advantage of the oppressed.

We are now in a moment of calm before the next storm. A new global financial crisis is certain to happen within the next ten years, possibly much sooner. The last one was only solved through the Chinese government flooding the world economy with money through giant public works projects that were ecologically disastrous, but the Chinese government now is becoming dangerously indebted, and will not be able to repeat the same magic trick next time.

Those of us who want to see the lives of migrants in Morocco improve should be using this time to prepare the ground for the next crisis, to make sure that the situation at the border comes out of it in a way more to our liking than currently, even if it will not be completely solved forever. That is the difference between Marxist attitude and the Insurrectionist one: both want Anarchy and Utopia as and end goal, but true Marxists actually study the real world and figure out how to use that knowledge to achieve forward progress towards the eventual goal, whereas Insurrectionists simply live in a fantasy world in which they imagine utopia will emerge from the ashes of destruction, which is an inherently nihilistic attitude, not compatible with humanist or compassionate ethics.

Back in the real world, there is a lot of intellectual and political work to be done by compassionate people who value all human lives equally to come up with realistic ways forward for the struggles of the oppressed, including those of Black African migrants in Morocco.

Let’s get on with it.








Greenpeace, or Red War?

Sitting in a shack in an eco-village in Mexico in early 2010, arguing with a German guy and a girl from California who grew up on a weed farm, I realised something sinister about Hippies. Some of them at least, I wouldn’t want to make outrageous generalisations (as fun as that is) for I myself am something of a Hippy, and always have been. I have long hair, partly with dreadlocks, partly shaved, I have been a life long vegetarian,  I am found of psychedelic drugs, and much of the music of the late sixties/early seventies.

But I am also, crucially, not in favour of the deaths of billions of the poorest people in the world. I just don’t think it would be that… you know, groovy, or whatever. Some of these Hippy types, though, with the long hair, colourful clothes and permanent fake grin on their faces, they actually do long for most of the human population to be wiped out.

That’s what this German guy was saying anyway. I was trying in vain to convince these people of why it was worthwhile and in fact vitally necessary to build a radical mass movement of the global working class to achieve the kinds of revolutionary changes necessary to save humanity from the effects of climate change.

The German guy said that he had already tried that and that it didn’t work. Now he had a smug and patronising expression, as if I were a naive child clinging on to foolish and outdated notions he’d long since given up on.

Some might find it hard to believe that this one man, in his early thirties, could have successfully rallied up a mass movement of 99% of humanity and led them nearly to victory before suffering some terrible defeat, and yet still be so unknown that even I cannot remember his name. But of course, this is not what he meant.

In fact, as he went on to explain, what he meant was that he had once worked for Greenpeace as a street fundraiser, and found that many people had simply walked past him. This he had taken as proof that the ‘masses’ were hopelessly unenlightened, a lost cause, and that true environmentalists’ role should be to retreat to the eco-villages on the fringes of society and simply wait for Gaia, the earth goddess, to do her work of killing off everyone else.

This was supposed to happen on the winter solstice of 2012, but of course it didn’t. I happened to be in the Atlas mountains of Morocco on that date with a bunch of other Hippies who believed in The Prophesy, and didn’t witness any apocalyptic events, just Hippies getting stoned, singing, doing yoga and trying to shag each other.

Fast forward to September 2016 and I am entering the Greenpeace UK headquarters in Islington, London, to begin my training as a Door to Door Fundraiser. Would I suffer the same fate as the German guy and become a cynical, patronising old bastard with no faith in humanity?

For years I had been banging on about the need for us radical activist types to get out of our own little subcultural bubbles and start ‘engaging with the working class’, but I had done very little to actually practice what I preached, being myself a middle-class Hippy, hopelessly removed from the everyday struggles of most working class people.

This was my big chance to finally get some experience under my belt of going outside of my comfort zone, talking to people who read the Daily Mail and other hate-filled rags spewing divisive lies for the benefit of millionaires, and actually try to win them over to progressive politics.

It’s true that I would only be talking about environmental issues, rather than those such as migration, social services and workers’ rights, which would have been much tougher to argue with hardened Tories and UKIPers about, but still, I was looking forward to the challenge.

One of the reasons I had never done much of the type of activism which leads you to knock on random strangers doors and to discuss serious political issues with them, was quite frankly because I was too afraid to. I am now no longer so afraid, which is something at least, and I even felt I had some successes in changing a few people’s minds.

I managed to get about 35 people to join Greenpeace, over the course of about 10 weeks. Keen mathematicians will note that this is an average rate of 3 per week, whereas the target was 6 a week, which is why much of this article is written in the past tense.

Unlike my last job, which I describe in the article ‘Betraying my Principles for Money’  this was not a job in which I felt my ethics were constantly at odds with what I was doing, but instead the ethical dilemmas I faced were far more complex. There was one the one hand a tension between being a good environmental activist and being a good Greenpeace employee, on the other a tension between being a good Greenpeace employee and a good class warrior, and on a freakish ‘third hand’ a tension between being a good Greenpeace employee and being an honest, compassionate person.

Charity fundraising is a highly precarious form of work, in which workers are often treated like complete shit. You can usually be fired without any notice (which is in fact what happened to me), and are often expected to work far more hours than you actually get paid for. As a socialist, of the anarchist tendency no less, and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, I felt duty bound to do what I could to fight against these injustices from within.

To this end, I tried to get to know my fellow workers as best as I could, to develop as friendly relations as possible with them, ask what they thought about these types of problems, and encourage them to join the IWW with me. I thought perhaps the union might give us advice on how to start some kind of campaign for changes from below, and I would have kept on working on this if I’d ended up lasting longer.

Normally when I am working a job in which I feel the bosses are exploiting me and denying me my legal rights I react by working as slowly as I can get away with. On a charity fundraising job though, you have to meet targets, which you will not do without actually trying.

As someone who is genuinely concerned with the issues, I liked the fact that my job involved talking to people about them, and I had some really fascinating interactions with people. Some were people who didn’t know much at all, which meant I had to explain various things as simply as possible, which I feel I am fairly good at so long as people are in the mood to actually learn something.

Others were people who thought they knew a lot but had actually had their heads filled with nonsense by newspapers owned by shareholders in the very corporations responsible for destroying the environment. These were harder to talk to, as they often were quite hostile, having been misled into thinking that Greenpeace activists were all idiots hell-bent on destroying their way of life for no good reason.

A really surprising amount of people seemed to have confused Greenpeace for some sort of Terrorist group, thinking that Greenpeace had sunk ships, whereas in fact it had been one of Greenpeace’s own ships, the Rainbow Worrier, which had been sunk by the French secret service in 1985 in Auckland, causing the death of a Portuguese activist. Many others had simply mistaken Greenpeace for other groups such as Earth First! and the Earth/Animal Liberation Front.

It felt like I was betraying my comrades in these organisations to play along with the ‘Good protester/Bad protester’ divide and smugly reassure these people that Greenpeace was 100% committed to non-violence, when in fact I have often actively advocated insurrectionist tactics, but that’s what I did.

The third category of people I met were those who already knew about the issues and agreed with the aims of radical environmentalists, but who had simply lost faith in the idea doing anything about it. These were the people I wanted to speak to the most, because it meant speaking about the psychological barriers stopping them from taking action, which is now my favourite topic.

Why do so many people who already have left-wing and environmental views fail to go out and argue against the lies of the corporate media? There are millions of progressive people in the UK alone, but they are not organised into a movement that is capable of going out and convincing the rest of the population, despite the fact they have all the arguments and evidence on their side. This is a topic I have already written about and will probably continue to write about forever.

But the point is, I wasn’t able to carry on these conversations as long as I would like to. At the risk of sounding overconfident, I feel I could have convinced a lot of people to become more engaged that they already were, and to have set a lot of people straight on things they had been lied to about. But that wasn’t really what I was being paid to do, just something I wanted to do because of my silly unpopular obsession with the future survival of humanity.

What I was being paid to do was to convince people to join Greenpeace, and to do it then and there, on their doorstep. If people were obviously not going to do that, I was not supposed to waste time talking to them, but instead to move on to try and find others who would. This is the tension between being a good fundraiser and a good environmentalist.

Did I really believe that raising money for Greenpeace was more important than talking to people about the issues directly? No. That would be insane, but it’s what you have to tell yourself if you want to stay sane doing a job like that. You have to convince yourself that actually you were helping protect the environment more by raising money for this particular organisation than by talking to people in your own city, even though you knew how much the organisation wasted money on stupid bullshit.

I don’t want to slag off Greenpeace too much here, because they have achieved a lot, and are still actively campaigning on many issues which I really hope they are successful with. But the fact is that someone paying the standard amount of ten pounds per month would have to be signed up for a year just to cover the administration costs of signing them up.

On top of that Greenpeace pays it’s higher level staff far above the living wage, which to me is simply unacceptable for any organisation that claims to be progressive and to care about social justice. So many people are out their risking arrest and even death in order to protect the environment without getting paid for it at all, so the head of Greenpeace UK really doesn’t need to be earning 76 grand a year.

Frankly, I don’t believe in hierarchical society or class division at all, and think everyone should get paid the same, or better yet, just receive the basic necessities of life for free, and if we want to achieve that we need to live according to those principles right now, not reproduce hierarchical class relations in our own organisations.

Then there are all the tasty vegan treats, unnecessary travel expenses and shiny gadgets which the Greenpeace organisation spends money on. For me as someone used to the world of protest camps and squats full of broke unpaid activists eating food from bins, it was a joke.

This is related to the tension between being a good fundraiser and being an honest, compassionate person. I think that people who are successful at being fundraisers are doing something objectively quite good and morally correct in the sense that they are indirectly helping various organisations do good work (minus all the administration fees and stupid salaries of executives). However they are also clearly good at manipulating people into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

You don’t convince someone with logic, that’s what I was doing wrong. You don’t try to actually get them to see the world in a different way, even if the way they see the world right now is terrible and likely to cause them and others suffering. Good fundraisers just somehow make people feel happy, and lure them into doing something using their natural charisma. If you are an attractive young woman, you can flirt your way to success. If you are an authoritative older man, you can tap into people’s unconscious fear of authority. You can do all kinds of shit. But I can’t.

Maybe some younger girls did sign up because they thought I was hot, and maybe some younger guys did too. Maybe some older women thought I was a loveable young scamp and some older men thought I reminded them of themselves. Who the fuck knows. They might have actually listened to what I was saying and thought it made sense. But whatever it was, I wasn’t good at bringing it out.

If people don’t want to sign up, but you feel like they are teetering on the edge, you are supposed to keep on trying different tactics until you get them to do it. Even if they don’t want to talk to you at all at the beginning, you have to somehow just ignore them and keep on talking till you win them over. This requires a lot of mentally blocking out whatever they are saying to you, and basically, not sympathising with their situation, just pretending to for the purposes of manipulating them into something they don’t want to do.

I am not trying to say that I was bad at my job because I am too nice, because a lot of the time I actually probably wasn’t nice enough. I tend to get annoyed at people for being stupid, apathetic and arrogant, which rules out most of the people you are likely to meet, and I am not very good at disguising my annoyance. But the thing is, I don’t really like to bother people too much, because I myself don’t like to be bothered.

When I heard people say they didn’t want to sign up right then and there but might do it another time, or that they didn’t feel they could afford it, a voice in my head said ‘fair enough’. This is not how you are going to win this game. You have to really believe that people all should sign up and that they are just giving you silly excuses which you will eventually be able to break down.

Basically, it means having a very poor view of humanity and a very arrogant attitude regarding your own organisation and abilities. When I heard other fundraisers talking like that, it always made me slightly disgusted, which brings me to the third tension: between being a good Greenpeace employee and a good class warrior.

It’s pretty hard to unite with your fellow workers in struggle against the bosses if they seem to either actively hate you or not consider you worthy of even a feigned interest. I am not talking here of the majority of my fellow workers, just the two who were ‘team leaders’ I had to work with.

To me the invention of the category of ‘team leader’ is such an obvious attempt to divide the workers by appealing to crass egotism on their part that I am shocked anyone would fall for it. But then again, I’m pretty shocked by most things. I have a type of brain which constantly attempts to order the universe I observe into rational patterns which the Universe seams to delight in proving false, which is both a blessing and a curse.

I had worked with team leaders in the past who seemed to get that their job was mainly just to keep their workers happy. When you deal with angry members of the public all the time and constantly feel emotionally drained as a result, you are much less likely to simply give up in despair if you have colleagues around you who you feel care about you and actively try to keep your spirits up.

Everyone I met in the interview and training was so bubbly, caring and positive, in true annoying hippy fashion, that I had assumed that this aspect of the job was something I could take for granted. The very first time I spoke to my team leader, however, this illusion was shattered.

Now, I am not going to launch into a big rant about this person, because I don’t have any reason to. I am a pretty anti-social person myself, and sometimes I am too caught up in my own head to pay proper attention to the feelings of those around me. I certainly can empathise with someone else being shit at social skills. It’s just that if that person’s job is to be good at keeping me motivated, I probably wont be very motivated.

Very often I would find myself spending most of the day trudging around streets completely by myself, gradually losing the will to live, and then when it would come time for a break or to meet at the end of the day to go home, would not be cheered up at all to find my team leader invariably in a foul mood and not seeming to be interested in how I was feeling, or indeed, anything about me other than how many people I’d signed up.

When I was struggling, it didn’t seem that my team leader felt it was their responsibility to help me, other than to the extent they’d been ordered to by the higher-ups. Rather, I seemed to be an object of contempt for not being as good at my job as they were, though they never said this out loud. It was all in the eyes.

Nonetheless I ploughed on with my attempts to build some kind of relationship of solidarity with them, listening to their various grievances against the management and patiently suggesting ways we could resolve them. Eventually they even joined the IWW and I set up a meeting with a trained representative from our branch to explore what our options might be.

On that same week, however, for three days in a row my team leader fell sick and without notice just left me and the other two employees, both of whom had only just started, to work completely on our own, and as the most senior person there, despite only having worked less than three months, I tried my best to encourage them and explain what they should do that day.

Then when the team leader came back, the first thing they did was berate me down the phone for not following their instructions to the very finest detail, which was the last straw to me, and caused me to do what I had been trying not to: tell the higher-ups the truth.

This is the tension between being loyal to your fellow workers vs being a good employee. I was fired the next working day, supposedly for my low scores. The team leader sent me a sarcastic text the next day accusing me of having lost them their job as well, which of course made me feel guilty but I later found out wasn’t exactly true: the managers had tried to find a solution but the team leader had just stormed out angrily at quit, being apparently unable to take criticism.

This made me not feel guilty any more, as I had not directly gotten them sacked, and had, after all, tried my best to be on their side against the management first of all. But it was not the only way in which working for Greenpeace created a tension for me regarding my views on class struggle.

For one thing, Greenpeace is not an anti-capitalist organisation, but one that works with transnational corporations on a case by case basis to try and convince them to destroy the environment a little bit less each time. This does not make Greenpeace part of the ‘Class Enemy’ in my view, though it might in some people’s eyes. I feel that the small victories that Greenpeace regularly has in influencing the policies of governments and corporations are worthwhile ones, which cause less animals, plants and humans to die than would otherwise. Saving lives is clearly more important than ideological orthodoxy, unless you have no empathy whatsoever and are some kind of Marxist robot.

These campaigns, however, do not on the whole help to empower the global working class in ways consistent with ecological ethics. It is clear that there is an urgent need for decentralisation of agricultural, electrical and industrial production if they are to become both ecologically sustainable and democratically controlled by working class people.

When electricity generators, land, greenhouses, factories and workshops are mainly producing for the needs of the local population, there is not only less need for polluting and destructive forms of transport, but also there is greater potential for the local population to be able to exercise power over them.

A shift to a global economy based on decentralised units producing mainly for local populations and only secondarily for those further afield, and then as locally as possible, is consistent both with Anarchist-Socialist and ecological ethics.

This shift can not happen over night, but requires decades of campaigning at all levels of society, but most importantly among the lowest ranks. Unless the poorest people of the world actively want such a society, to the extent that they will be prepared to protest, take direct action, and potentially risk arrest, violence or death, for decades, such a society will never come about because it simply cannot be imposed from above.

Therefore, it is my opinion that environmentalists must focus on political education and agitation among the global poor, to unite struggles for basic survival with those of ecological sustainability. It is a huge task and one which no-where near enough effort is being made by even the most radical environmentalist organisations, such as Greenpeace, Earth First! and ELF/ALF.

Trades unions, community groups, landless peasants movements, and other organisations of the global working class should be equally committed to this shift towards a decentralised, democratically controlled and ecologically sustainable mode of production. It requires challenging vested interests, including the multinational corporations and banks, but also the land-owning classes throughout the world. It requires class struggle.

Class struggle means saying to the exploiting classes “you don’t have a right to exploit us any more”, and to the land owning classes “this is not your land any more”. Monoculture farming would not be possible without the monopoly of violence by the state. Companies are able to use the land in destructive ways because the State lets them. The State has the power to let them or not because it has the means to inflict violence on anyone who disagrees with it.

When people try to take land away from landowners, they often get shot in the head. Sometimes mass movements are able to use non-violent direct action to achieve things. Non-violent direct action has achieved a lot of progressive change over the years. It has also led to lots of people getting shot in the head.

Sometimes when people take up arms and take the land, to collectivise it and bring it under control of the local people who will then use it in ecologically sustainable ways, it works. The Zapatistas for example, have been going for over 20 years.

Sometimes armed movements get repressed and everyone gets shot it the head. There is no catch-all solution to not getting shot in the head.

I advocate a diversity of tactics; use non-violence when it is likely to work, use violence when it is more likely to. Either way, you risk dying. But you also risk dying if you do nothing at let capitalists destroy the earth and exploit you to death.

The ‘Reds’ and the ‘Greens’ are still not united enough for either to be successful. If I want to help play my own little part in bringing them together, its not going to be as a Greenpeace activist























Why the headlines didn’t say: ‘Fascist Terrorist Assassinates Elected Politician’

(Originally written on the Anti Capitalists Against Brexit (ACAB) blog on 20 June 2016)

That is what the headlines should have said when Jo Cox died. The man who killed her was a Fascist – that was clear from the fact he shouted the name of a prominent Fascist organisation – Britain First – as he shot her, and has since become even more clear.

It was also, clearly, an act of Terrorism. It was something done for a political purpose, and the tactic chosen was one intended to cause fear in the hope that this would achieve that political end.

It was also an Assassination- it was the targeting of a specific figure in the public eye who represented something that the killer wanted to see destroyed – white non-Muslim people having solidarity with Muslims of different skin colours or at the very least British Citizens having solidarity with non-British Citizens.

But the same media organisations that are usually happy to use the word ‘Terrorism’ as soon as possible if the suspect is believed to be Muslim, were very reluctant to use this word, or the word ‘Fascist’, or even the word ‘Assassination’.

In the British flawed ‘Representative’ democracy, the only way an ordinary citizen stands a chance of influencing the affairs of State is by writing to your MP or talking to them at a constituency surgery. Constituency surgeries are perhaps the greatest claim the British state has to actually being any kind of democracy at all, rather than the plutocratic oligarchy that it appears to be to the untrained eye.

It was precisely this event that was chosen as the seat of the attack by a man who does not believe in any kind of democracy whatsoever, to carry out the murder of an elected official. It may have been chosen simply because it was an event she was guaranteed to be at, but nonetheless the symbolism is powerful – this was an attack on democracy by anti-democratic forces.

Again, the same media organisations that normally love to use this kind of language utterly failed to do so. If a government far away chooses to allow it’s oil to be sold in a different currency to the US dollar, as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Ghadaffi  did, this is grounds for war to ‘protect democracy’, even though the US dollar is the property of the completely unelected Federal Reserve Bank, which even American citizens have no say over, let alone British ones.

So is the British army going to be sent to war against Britain First and other Fascist groups? It seems unlikely. Just the other week in Bristol I witnessed what must have been tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on policing and fences to allow a group of 14 Fascists to have access to one of the most popular parks in the city, safe from the hundreds of anti-fascists who gathered to oppose them.

Such things are very common. The British State allows Fascists to march regularly and is prepared to spend an awful lot of money to protect their ‘freedom of speech’ to do so, even though under Fascism the rights to freedom of speech and protest would not exist. We are often told that this is because of the State’s democratic liberal values – that they are so principled as to defend someone’s right to say something even if they disagree.

Yet under an Anarchist or Democratic Socialist system, there would be much greater democracy, much greater freedom of speech, and yet the Anarchist, Socialist and similar-minded movements in the UK are rarely given this expensive police protection (quite the reverse!) even when we are on the streets trying to ‘protect democracy’ from Fascists.

We also have the disadvantage that we do not have sympathetic newspapers being sold in every newsagent in the country, blasting out propaganda for us for free.

Imagine is for every news story attacking immigrants, people on benefits, squatters, travellers and Leftists there was a corresponding one attacking corrupt bureaucrats, violent police thugs, rapacious transnational corporations or bigoted lower-middle class racists.

Imagine if for every article suggesting we should scrap the human rights act and put more people in jail, there was one saying we should give people more rights and take more people out of jail.

Imagine if when an Anarchist smashed a bank window or dared to use self-defence against a cop trying to smack them in the face with a steel baton, the newspapers asked the public to be sympathetic to their mental state rather than immediately labelling them a terrorist or trouble-maker.

Of course, anyone performing any kind of act of violence is probably not in the best mental state. Of course, it is wise when someone attacks you or someone you care about to try to hold yourself back from immediately judging them as ‘evil’ or dehumanising them in some other way. It is difficult to do so, but it is wise, and through meditation and much reflecting on the ways in which deep down all humanity is one and the same, I believe it could be possible.

So I am not criticising the media for looking into the mental health of the Fascist Assassin and Terrorist. I am criticising them for not also calling him a Fascist, Assassin and Terrorist at the same time. It’s easy to write a sentence doing both, e.g. What mental health factors drive someone to become a Fascist Assassin and Terrorist? See, easy.

I am also criticising them for not applying the same sympathetic considerations in other cases of Terrorism. Do they consider Muslim Terrorists to be completely mentally stable?

The Terrorist who killed dozens of people in the club in Orlando was also suffering from mental health problems. It seemed he was attracted to men and was repressing it, possibly due to being brought up with homophobic beliefs, causing him to lash out against openly gay people. This is a common psychological phenomenon and the cause of much of the homophobic violence in the world.

A media organisation that wanted to help the public understand violence and how it could be avoided might want to invite it’s readers or viewers to consider such things.

However, a media organisation that actively wants to promote racial and religious hatred among white working class people in the Western world to encourage them to support imperialistic wars in the Muslim world and be indifferent to the human cost, might report any act of violence carried out by someone who may be Muslim in such a way as to dehumanise them (and their entire religion) to make them appear evil and worthy of death.

A media organisation seeing a white working class person with mental health problems whipped up into a violent frenzy through years of its own propaganda to the point where he assassinates an elected politician, might not want its readers to think about whether or not it was to blame in any way for it. It might therefore not use the same language it uses in the case of Muslim terrorists. It wouldn’t want other white working class people to stop and consider that it is not a good thing to be a Fascist, essentially.

Of course if media organisations were behaving like this, this could be considered a threat to democracy in itself. If instead of impartially and unbiasedly reporting on similar crimes in a similar way regardless of the ethnicity or religion of the suspect, they were in fact using a double standard and protecting the fascist movement while continuing to stir up hated against ethnic minorities to encourage more people to become fascists – it could be considered that these organisations were actually pro-Fascist ones themselves.

How lucky we are that instead of living in a plutocratic oligarchy with a strong and thriving Fascist subculture and media protected by the power of the State, we instead live in a liberal democracy where power rests with those who are elected by the people rather than whoever has access to a gun.

Boris Johnson, a charismatic right-wing populist leader who is obsessed with ancient Rome and who could become the most powerful man in the country without having to stand for election goes around speaking on podiums that say #TakeControl . Nothing fascist about that at all, is there?

Let us not be afraid though. Truly, that is letting the Terrorists win. Jo Cox stood for Britain remaining in the EU, for letting more refugees come in, and for Peace. Let us continue to fight for these things, knowing that by doing so we are acting out of love for all humanity, rather than fear for whoever the Fascist media say we should consider our enemies.

Let us also consider the mental state of other prominent Fascists, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, and not dehumanise them as they dehumanise others. Perhaps one day they will learn to be comfortable in their own skin and not feel they have to constantly make spectacles out of themselves to get attention.

Speaking of spectacles and being comfortable in your own skin, here is a video of some naked people, trying to inject some positivity back into the referendum campaigning after all the doom and gloom last week.

Stay positive, and never give up

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?
















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.

Broken thoughts need words to heal them

halloween mushroom31st October 2015 – around midnight

He lives in ancient Greek towers, singing songs about nothing much in particular. One day he might tell a story about toast he ate for a lonely dinner, other times more of a sombre song about ducks. But it’s not important the words, its how he sings them, mournful. Or if happy, always with a manic grin, like he’s putting on a murderer act.

Days away from entering the boat of skies. It’s not fair, none of it. Neither justice nor peace. It’s believable though, all too much so. Fear is the little death bringing ultimate destruction. You afraid of fear? It’s hard not to be, when it’s the ultimate destruction.

So the songs get louder to drown out the thoughts. Broken thoughts need words to heal them. Healing words need writers to write them, singers to sing, readers to read, actors to perform and those people who go around making speeches all the time to do that.

Is it wise to take psychedelic drugs just before going to other continents for revolutionary purposes? It’s always how I’ve done things before. Tripping in Havana, tripping on the way to Ecuador, always smoking weed everywhere from Berlin to Mexico, Tangiers to Australia.

Come out as a user of psychedelic drugs. That’s what scientists are advising. Doctors and such. They want us to come out of the closet and wave the freak flag high, to be all like, ‘hey man, come on, its like, totally good for you and shit’ to all the uptight squares in the fascist regime. But do they care? I don’t know. At least books can get published. Some places I guess you can’t even talk about it.

Here in the West we are oppressed by a post-modern malaise that keeps us from realising anything, in the sense of manifesting a change in social reality that we can all feel proud of. We have no standards by which to judge anything, all such formulations being pulled out like rugs from under our feet, from our aching minds. But that’s a fuck of a lot better still than being blinded by theocracy and a vision of reality that refuses to share consciousnesses with others.

Away then, we go, to Morocco, the land where it seems like at least half the people are stoned all day, except what if they aren’t at all? Maybe it’s only a fifth or something, but still. It’s hard to imagine that people can get to grips with an ideology supporting the existence of the State. But then, it’s hard to imagine that anywhere.

Mostly people everywhere, East and West, North and South, are propelled along by the same basic bullshit at all times in all settings. When we’re startled, we act irrationally. It’s important not to startle each other, and get good at unstartling ourselves and one another. Really, it is.

If you tell someone that the whole basis of their system of government is a lie, some of them will take it in their stride, the ones who never really gave a shit in the first place. Others might get startled. The earlier in life this startling happens, probably the better, as long as they then get calmed down. If you leave it till your forties to really question anything, you’re probably never going to really understand anything.

You will just flap around, blaming Jews for everything, or if not Jews then some other people you don’t really understand. Maybe you’ll vote for a guy who will sell your teeth to foreign bankers and kick your grandma out of her pyjamas, and then STILL blame the Jews.

The last thing people like that want is for hippies who are friends with illegal migrants or whatever they call them – Jews from Africa? Like the Jews from Syria? I mean, you have to hate someone right? – the last thing they want is for them to go on TV saying that if they take magic mushrooms they might feel happier and be all connected with the universe, experiencing new states of consciousness.

They will probably try and claim that the mushrooms are Jewish, or Muslim, or some kind of Marxist-liberal-intellectual people with beards who want to enter your mind just to burn flags and rape women.

There’s even a guy on Youtube who calls him self a ‘former Jew’, who hates Jews more than most people on Youtube, making weird grins to the camera and saying that Donald Trump is too left-wing. He is a Russian Orthodox priest, and makes no attempts to hide it, wearing his hat and robes right there on camera with snowy mountains in the background.

So yeah, maybe all these fucking dickheads are just dickheads because of some traumatic childhood whatever and that’s why they want to build robots to bomb people and then make huge fences to create weird assault courses for the workers who will end up doing the bullshit jobs they need to even FUND their dickheadish antics in the first place.

I can see that. They arn’t reptilian aliens or any of that shit. Just people who’ve been fucked in the head by the world and are taking it out on the wrong people. But still. It’s hard not to hate them.

So, I guess I need to try harder, and the best way to distract yourself from hating the government is by doing something positive for the people, which empowers us and so acts against the oppressors without being a negative act in itself. Make the world a better place, because noone else is going to, and all that crap about things getting worse before they get better is some pitiful excuse for not doing anything.

The masses will not rise up once they are starving in the streets – because they will be too fucking hungry to. Some people want to just smash windows and write circled-As everywhere and actually make places look like shit just because they think that will piss people off enough to want to attack the state but it will only make them want to attack YOU, the anarchists.

When the people are organised, governments tremble. So fucking get organising, whether you are on drugs or not. Fucking beers are even used for doing it. FUCKING BEERS.

Now, some people might say that mushrooms, weed and other naturally occurring psychedelics have been used for psychological healing processes for thousands of years, and that we are now living in a time when humanity is mentally fucked up more than at any other time in history, so we should take some trips and meditate on their insights for a while, making art and poetry to help put it all into context, rather than GETTING FUCKING DRUNK ALL THE TIME, but hey, that’s just some people’s opinion.

So you know. Its not like indigenous communities are stronger and more able to withstand long periods of intense state repression than punk squatting communities is it? Like, a subculture that glorifies junkies and alcoholics, holding them up as the pinnacle of artistic achievement, has surely nothing to learn from cultures that have survived attempted genocide for centuries and still lead the way in ecological resistance movements in many countries?

I mean, we all know hippies are stupid right? And punks are the real revolutionaries? Like, no gains were made for progress in the 60s, but the eighties were a decade of undreamed of victories for the working class? Yeah?

Happy Halloween everyone. Celtic new year. Samhain, Sawain, whatever. These words are not my own, but those of faeries from the Side who have hi-jacked my brain for the evening. I hope you feel the same xx

It Ain’t No Joke

People want things to be simple I guess. No unpleasant scenes. People want to be happy, want to stay happy, and don’t want anything to fuck it up.

Like if there’s a train coming towards you. It’s a real bummer to tell yourself ‘hey, if I stay here on the track I’ll be hit by the train and die horribly’.

Who wants to think about that? Shit, not me.

So you stay there, enjoying the view. Feeling positive, optimistic even. For a while.

So if someone tell’s ya, ‘hey, you’d better move’, then you’re all like:

‘You gotta be kidding me right? Who the fuck are YOU to tell me what to do? Just because you ain’t standing on the tracks you think you can pass judgement on those folks that are? Why don’t you just get a job?”

But it ain’t no joke.

If you stay on the track you’re gonna die.

So what is the track a metaphor for? A metafor phor? Phwoar.

Well, loads of things. Climate change would be the big one of course, but really, what about the bullshit we all put up with every single day?

The people who just keep on pushing our buttons and who we’re too polite to do anything about?

The fact that we can’t even be ourselves without someone making some kind of wise-crack? Like ‘Hey, nice hair, faggot’ or ‘Go back to Russia, commie’

And you just pretend you can’t hear it. Lucky for me I’m partially deaf in one ear so I have a good excuse. And even then it’s all ‘Cripple’ this and ‘spastic’ that.

How many times do people use the word ‘crazy’ to dismiss someone they just plain don’t like because they don’t understand them? I know I do it a lot.

Like ‘man this girl is crazy! She works a job she hates and get’s super-stressed about just to buy overpriced crap she doesn’t need!’

Who knows, maybe I would too, if I had whatever she has going on in her head inside of mine as well. Insecurity. Paranoia. Anxiety. Love of nice-smelling shiny soft things.

But it ain’t no joke.

When you see freedom happen, it’s a beautiful thing. When people help one another to each be as free as possible, by sharing resources they need to be empowered to do the things they each want to do, and when they don’t judge each other or bring one another down. It’s so beautiful in fact that ugly people don’t believe it can possibly be true.

When I say ‘ugly’, I don’t mean just people I wouldn’t have sex with even if you paid me. There’s very few people I WOULD have sex with if you paid me. I got this thing going on now, you see, and I don’t want to screw it up by screwing around.

Ugly, in the sentence above, means cynical, angry, fuckwitted dickheads who are so caught up in not believing in anything and hating themselves that they can’t deal with other people being happy and free. That’s ugly.

Ugly people can be in universities, analysing the shit out of everything so that they feel smug enough to sit around in a bar, pissing on the efforts of revolutionaries and engineers, because it all doesn’t add up to some equation they pulled out of their arse.

Ugly people can be in a different bar, where it’s all about shouting at the TV, looking at people you don’t recognise who walk in the door like you want to kill them, and saying that immigrants are taking the jobs and anyone who says different is a terrorist, but then not even having the conviction to join a far-right group and get beaten up by my friends.

Ugly people can even be in Anarchist squats, throwing boxes of dogshit at people they don’t like and trying to get their most loyal comrades kicked out of their fucking homes for reasons you never bother to explain to them because you’re a cowardly fuck.

So yeah, it’s not so much about where you stand, or where you say you stand. It’s about whether you can stop fretting about the meaningless of life for long enough to stand still and see the beauty that is the freedom people practice all the time, wherever bastards with ugly souls are not around to ruin the fun.

Just be part of it. Grow it. Be free, and help others to be. Otherwise you’re gonna get hit by the train.

Now, people get very cosy in their ugly little souls. They huddle up in them like a cocoon and get afraid of the big bad world out there. Unfurling your wings, breaking through the walls and flying away like a colourful butterfly is often far too much work for some people.

But it ain’t no joke.

Do you want your life to be as shit as it is now forever?

Are you really that jealous of happy people that you aren’t gonna listen to their advice on how to get yourself out of your stupid situation?


The scientists at the Interplanetary Panel on Climate Change have a model they call the ‘happy hippy’ scenario. It’s where people all over the world decide to change their lifestyles so as to stop depending on non-renewable resources like fossil fuels AND nuclear power.

So this could involve, say, not working a stupid job your hate to buy things you don’t really need, and therefore having the free time to produce things, such as food and electricity, for yourself, along with others.

It might also involve, perhaps, not living lives of crippling alienation from your fellow human beings and suffering in silence from the psychological attacks we are daily subjected to by patriarchy, consumerism, wage-labour, and undemocratic power structures, to name just a few.

So basically, it means, everyone, all over the world, trying to be happier than they are now by getting to the roots of the problems our society faces in a holistic way.

So you’d have to have a pretty ugly way of thinking about things to want to discourage people from doing such a thing, right? You’d have to be a real mean son-or-daughter-of-a-bitch to want everyone to keep on suffering needlessly, right?

So of course, the elected leaders of the ugliest countries in the world, where people’s skin is this horrible pasty white colour, are dead against this

So of course, people with enough sense not to give a shit what dickheads like that think, pay no notice and just get on with it anyway.

People learn to love one another, to grow more and more tolerant of all the quirky differences that we all have, to go into our own minds and find out why we weren’t tolerant of those people already and seek to heal our minds so as to be nicer to people all round.

People learn new skills, like how to cook nutritious food for themselves, how to build shelters, use tools,  repair things, how to manage ecosystems in a way that promotes biodiversity, how to occupy land and build political allegiances, settling disputes without having to call the cops, all kinds of stuff.

People are doing it all the time. You may not believe me, if you are just working a job you hate to buy things you don’t need, but they really are, and they would mostly love to welcome you onboard and help you learn all these things too, so long as you don’t turn up acting like a prick and being dismissive of everything you don’t understand.

If you want to vote for whichever politicians lies you find it easier to pretend are the truth and sit back hoping they will somehow divert the tracks of the train, or slow it down with some hidden emergency breaks that no-one noticed were there before, then seriously, you can do that.

I am not gonna stop you. You would probably beat me up if I tried.

All I can say is that I would personally prefer not to get hit by a train, and since you and I are living on the same planet, there is really no option but to get hit by it no matter what I do, so long as the majority of people, including yourself, keep holding on to ugliness.

Seriously. I really do enjoy life, even if you don’t.

It ain’t no joke.

Song – When the Sun Comes Falling Down

Copyright Raz Chaoten 2014: feel free to copy and distribute so long as it is not for money



One day in the jungle i had my tarot read

The sun was in the middle and the tarot-reader said

That it was the power structure and that i’d be there to bring it down

Maybe he just said what he thought i’d want to hear

Or maybe i shouldn’t doubt


When the sun comes falling down

I’ll be there just to hear the sound

As it hits the ground

Laughing as the sun falls to the ground


We all know that the government, they don’t care about how we feel

And that when we’re out there struggling, that’s the only thing that’s real

We know we need a revolution but we don’t know when it’ll come

But every day we find solutions and every day a battle’s won

(Chorus followed by instrumental then Chorus again)


We can’t live how they say even if we wanted to

But the answer’s easy: just do what you want to do

Go and start a revolution in the way you live your life

Because none of their excuses are gonna bring what you desire


And when the system crumble’s down

I’ll be there standing in the crowd with my voice so loud

Laughing as the sun falls to the ground

We will break it down

Laughing as the sun falls to the ground

We will burn it down

Order Within Chaos: Why Informal Anarchist groups still need formal meetings

The ideas of the ‘insurrectionalist’ anarchist theorists like Alfredo M Bonanno have influenced the direct action and anarchist groups in the UK a lot even though the majority of the anarchists who are involved have probably never even heard of these theories.

Lots of Anarchists in the UK try to organise in ways that Bonanno advocated without even realising they are doing it. They have just got involved in groups that already run like that and so just got used to it, without necessarily realising what the original point of it was.

There is a lot of confusion, ending up with a bizarre way of organising things that is actually the opposite of what Bonanno was advocating, at least as far as i understand it.

The main confusion that i can see is that people have mixed up the idea of organising in “informal” networks, with the idea of just generally organising everything in an informal way.

Bonanno was against having formal Anarchist organisations based on models like the Anarchist Federations in different countries. He thought that when Anarchists put too much energy into creating these organisations then they don’t have energy left to actually get on with working with other oppressed people to take action for liberation.

(Bonano talks about this in “Why a Vanguard” and “The Real Movement vs the Fictious Movement” available from Elephant Editions http://www.elephanteditions.net/.)

Anarchists can get so caught up in the day to day running of their organisation that they can start to think that somehow by helping their organisation they are helping the actual struggle.

When people start to think like this they are basically making the same mistakes as Marxists who think that the working class can only be free if they are organised by the Communist/Socialist Party, so put all their energy into making those Parties, and sometimes even do things which destroy real struggles for the benefit of the Party.

The same thing can happen with formal Anarchist groups like the Anarchist Federation. For example if there is a big riot or wildcat strike or other form of action that is illegal, then Anarchists can help the people doing it by explaining to the wider public why it is happening and arguing that it is actually a good thing by giving a critique of capitalism and advocating liberation.

But if people in the group are worried about what reputation the group will have then they might not do this, or might even say to the public that they disagree with it, which helps destroy the struggle by helping the State punish those taking action by cutting off public support for them.

Lots of Anarchists realize the problems of Formal Anarchist groups and so try to avoid them. But what often happens is that they just form informal ‘scenes’ of people which end up doing the same thing without even having the advantage of a formal way of making decisions.

In informal anarchist ‘scenes’ people often end up caring so much about the internal politics of the ‘scene’ that they also do not have energy to go out into the wider world to start real projects for liberation.

When they do go out into the world and try to do a project they often only work with other people in the ‘scene’ instead of uniting with other oppressed people and they often do things in a very ineffective way because they have no formal structures.

Formal Anarchist groups at least can get things done, such as printing regular publications and organising public events that are well advertised and run smoothly, because they have a structure to organise all the tasks and hold people to account to make sure they do them.

In informal anarchist scenes often people just talk about things really vaguely, then don’t really do the tasks necessary to follow through on their ideas, or just leave all the work to a few individuals who might happen to have a hard-working personality.

Actions, demonstrations and publications are often extremely badly planned and executed and therefore pointless. No-one does any serious work to think about what their goals actually are, what strategies and tactics will achieve them, but instead just do random actions when they feel like it.

People end up getting arrested, beaten and traumatized because they tried to do actions that were pointless anyway and then badly planned so that they are easily dealt with by the authorities. No one is inspired by these actions to fight for liberation and often the wider public have absolutely no idea that the actions even happened, or what they were supposed to be for.

Bonanno’s theory shows how informal anarchist scenes can do the same thing as formal Anarchist organisations. They can prioritize themselves above actual struggles.

For example an informal anarchist scene that is based around a social centre can end up just spending all its time organising things at that social centre that only appeal to other anarchists instead of using the social centre to reach out to people in the wider community.

Even if people in the wider community might be involved in real struggles against local capitalists and authorities, the anarchists in the social centre might not even know about it because they are too busy arguing with each other about minor theoretical points. They may even misunderstand the struggle and start to fear it, feeling that they have to protect their scene from local angry working class youth rather than uniting with them.

Bonanno and other people like him basically said that instead of organising big Anarchist organisations with a formal decision making structure, we should just stick to working in small affinity groups and that these affinity groups should network with each other.

(Bonanno talks about this in ‘Insurrectionalist Anarchism’)

An affinity group is just a group of people who share ‘affinity’ with each other. This means that they don’t just agree with each other on big political ideas (e.g. being against capitalism and for Anarchy) but also have the same focus for what they specifically want to spend their time on, and have a lot of trust and respect for each other.

When you are part of a group of people like this you can go out into the world and start trying to start projects with other working class people who maybe are not anarchists.

For example, if you have an affinity group of people who feel strongly that they want to put a lot of energy into workplace issues, they could go and find a workplace where the workers are trying to resist the bosses oppression in some way and try and link with those workers to support their struggle in whatever way seems relevant.

If the anarchist affinity group and some of the workers start to form a group together to organize the things they are doing as part of the struggle, then they have formed what Bonanno calls an “autonomous base nucleus” – which is a very weird phrase so i will try to explain it word by word.

“Autonomous” means “self-law making”, so an autonomous group is a group that has no power structure above it which can tell it what to do, how to organise or what rules or ‘laws’ it should obey. Instead the members of the group decide amongst themselves what the rules are going to be.

“Base” in this context means “the bottom of society”. The idea here is that people on the bottom of society, people who are poor and oppressed in various ways, are the ones who can change society.

By struggling for their own freedom, people at the bottom of society can change the whole system, because everyone at the ‘top’ depends on exploiting and oppressing those at the bottom, so their whole system would collapse if people on the bottom could free themselves.

Anarchists should completely reject the idea that you can change things in society without working directly with the people on the bottom who are struggling for their own liberation.

“Nucleus” means ‘a thing which other things rotate around’, like the planets rotating around the Sun, or electrons rotating around the nucleus of an atom, or chemicals in a cell of an animal or a plant being group around the nucleus of the cell.

So an Autonomous Base Nucleus is a group of working-class oppressed people who are organising by themselves, with noone above them telling them how to do it, and which other oppressed people might ‘rotate’ around in some way.

To go back to the example of the anarchist affinity group organising with some workers, the group they would form would probably only consist of the most radical workers, or the workers who had the most energy to put into the struggle.

But if a group like that exists then the other workers will know about it and probably help out with the activities of the group from time to time, even if they don’t go to all the meetings or participate in absolutely everything. That’s what i mean by ‘rotating around the nucleus’.

When you have an autonomous base nucleus then all those other oppressed people who don’t really have the energy to put into being part of the group can still end up being part of really amazing actions that actually change things in society, because the group does most of the work of organising things and then the others just have to come along at the right moment and be part of it.

But if there is no autonomous base nucleus then pretty much nothing is likely to happen, as the people who don’t have much energy will not just magically come together and make something happen without someone, somewhere, working hard to organise it.

So we can see here that lots of meetings, planning and organisation are involved at every step of this process.

First the anarchist affinity group needs to have meetings and conversations where they decide what their project is going to be. Who are they going to try and form and autonomous base nucleus with and why? How are they going to get in touch with those people? How are they going to make sure that they don’t get caught by the authorities before they’ve even done anything? What are they going to do if they do get caught? What are they going to do if the people they want to unite with are skeptical, or even hostile?

All these things take careful planning. Serious decisions need to be made. Lots of points need to be debated and consensus needs to be reached. Particular things that need to be done need people to volunteer to do them and they need to be accountable to the rest of the group if they don’t do what they promised to.

All of that will take a lot less time is people organise their meetings with some kind of formal structure.

Choose someone to be the chair or ‘facilitator’ of the meeting, who decides whose turn it is to speak so that everyone doesn’t talk over each other and people with dominant personalities don’t drown everyone else’s voices out.

Write an agenda for each meeting and put time limits on each point, for example: “we will try and finish this meeting in one hour. Lets spend ten minutes going over what things we said we’d do last time and seeing if they got done or not, then twenty minutes talking about new ideas, then half an hour talking about how to put those ideas into practice”.

Without organising what you are going to talk about in advance and for how long meetings can end up lasting for hours and going around in circles, which makes everyone feel bored and uninspired, possibly even making them want to give up the whole project.

Choose someone to act as ‘secretary’ to make a note of who said they would do what and then to check up on them later to remind them what they said they would do, and then make sure everyone knows when the next meeting is.

Without someone acting in this ‘secretary’ role people can forget what they said they would do, and if someone isn’t able to do what they said they would and then doesn’t come to the next meeting, no-one knows if it got done or not so it can be impossible to move forward.

All these are simply suggestions of things i have seen work well in the past, but the main point i am trying to make is that having formal meeting structures can actually help an affinity group begin a project to start an autonomous base nucleus.

Once the nucleus is formed and you are actually part of a struggle, then there is even more need for meetings and decisions to be made. You need to decide what you are fighting for and what strategies and tactics you are going to use to try and achieve it. Then as you are putting these plans into practice things can change rapidly and you may need to completely change tactics.

Lots of things need to be done and people need to be held accountable for doing them, so all these kinds of formal mechanisms like agenda setting and secretary roles become really important, possibly even matters of life or death depending on what kind of struggle it is.

For example, if you run the risk of being arrested or beaten up or killed if a particular action goes wrong, then all the people who volunteered to take on the different tasks of organising the action really need to do what they said they would do, and others need to know whether or not they have done it, not just assume they have.

I hope by now i have explained the importance of formal meetings and a generally professional attitude to the insurrectionalist anarchist project.

It is not enough to just “reject formal structure” in general, as an absolute rule that applies to everything and just sit around chatting shit with other anarchists in your little scene without ever being prepared to be serious and figure out how to engage with real struggles and conduct yourself in an appropriate way as a revolutionary.

If you fail as a serious revolutionary you will not be punished by any kind of Anarchist authority. You will be punished by the fact that you will continue to live in a system that oppresses you without you being able to do anything to effectively challenge it.

When you are doing serious revolutionary work, rather than fake bullshit for some formal organisation or informal scene, you feel great. You don’t feel oppressed, you feel like you are free and on the road to greater freedom.

You don’t feel the need to complain about things while being too depressed to do anything. You feel happy and inspired to be part of a real movement for liberation.

So please, think about what struggles are going on in communities of oppressed people around you that you could help to radicalize then form an affinity group and make a plan to form an autonomous base nucleus and get on with it.

Good luck, comrade.

What does the Anarchist Action Network want to be?

This text is intended to be a contribution towards helping to build a new Anarchist organisation in the UK. Individuals and small groups of Anarchists from various cities have been cooperating for several months already under the name of the Anarchist Action Network and are organising several events aimed at reaching out to working class communities in which the Anarchist movement is not currently very strong.

Over the years much has been written about the problems that can occur in situations such as this, when a group of people who are in a minority – Anarchists – attempt to reach out to “the masses”.

Anarchist groups and organisations often run the risk of acting like “vanguards”: separating ourselves off from the rest of society and then reaching out to people as if we believe our ideas are better than theirs and that therefore they need us to educate them or follow our example.

If we allow ourselves to think like this too much then we fail to see reality as it really is. Oppressed people struggle against their oppression in a self-organised way whether Anarchists are around or not. This is something we should never forget, especially because it is where the real hope for an anarchist revolution lies, rather than in our own actions as a minority of people.

However, because Anarchists by definition reject all forms of hierarchy and have an uncompromising attitude towards the State, we can often play useful roles in the struggles of the oppressed in ways that people of other perspectives usually do not.

When people organise their own struggles without hierarchies and are directly fighting against the sources of their oppression, the struggles can get more and more intense, with lots of energy behind them, as individual people tend to feel empowered and inspired in these situations, especially if they struggling together with other people and there is a sense of real, practical solidarity going on.

But powerful people know this and so use a number of strategies for destroying this rebellious energy in individual people’s minds. Power tends to offer concessions and to encourage the oppressed to delegate representatives to negotiate on their behalf, then to try to corrupt these representatives and to go back on any promises of concessions as soon as the struggle has quietened down.

Anarchists, if we are genuinely part of a struggle in which this is going on, would usually be expected to argue against this, and to push for an uncompromising attitude with power and for non-hierarchical self organisation so that there can be no representatives for the powerful to corrupt.

We would do this simply because we are anarchists and that’s what we do. But we can only do it if we are genuinely part of the struggle, which means that if we start from a situation of being outside a struggle, we need to think deeply about how to merge with the struggles that we wish to be a part of.

People who are already in a struggle will often be grateful to anyone who comes along and helps out in a practical way without trying to take over the struggle or impose their own world-view.

The Anarchist Action Network should therefore aim to be an organisation of people with useful skills and resources to offer people who are engaged in struggles of various kinds, rather than an organisation of intellectuals or propagandists for a particular ideology.

This does not mean that we should not be an intellectual organisation. We should on the contrary be constantly analysing hierarchies in the struggles we are involved in, the success of failure of these struggles, and being self-critical about our own position in these struggles to make sure we are not acting like vanguards, and make sure the struggles actually win.

Anarchists do not only have to argue in meetings of other people that the struggle should not compromise with power. We also sometimes need to actually take action as a minority within a broader movement in order to counter-act the hierarchical or treacherous tendencies in the movement.

For example if some powerful individuals within a movement are trying to steer the movement towards accepting a compromise rather than pushing for more action, sometimes we need to just take action ourselves, to make sure than action happens. This may even involve organising actions in secret from other people in the movement against oppression so that no-one stops us.

This is basically what happened at the Millbank demonstration in 2011. A group of anarchists, who were probably not even students themselves, decided to take the action of attacking the Millbank building, correctly assuming that other people would join in.

This meant that the NUS, which was lead by the Labour Party and was trying to get students to accept compromise with the same government that was oppressing them, became irrelevant as an organisation in the struggle against fees.

The Millbank action sabotaged the NUS’s ability to control the student movement by reminding students that they could take action in more autonomous ways. Sure enough, in the week following the action thousands of students were organising their own autonomous demonstrations, occupations and actions, all around the country.

The wave of militant struggle was coordinated through the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which was an autonomous organisation that developed from the reality of the struggle, rather than being an ideologically anarchist organisation, although anarchist activists played a role in creating it.

The Millbank experience demonstrates the kind of approach that anarchists can take when acting as a minority in a wider struggle.

Anarchists took actions themselves without waiting for anyone to give permission, but had a good enough analysis of the struggle to know what kind of action would resonate with the rest of the people in the struggle and help kick it up a notch.

Anarchists also were involved in helping to shape the autonomous decision making structures that were born out of the struggle in order to make sure they were as horizontal as possible,as well as taking part in the propaganda of the movement, but all without making too big a deal of the fact that they were anarchists.

This shows that instead of being a bunch of people promoting a particular ideology, we are at our best when we take action that helps to radicalise real struggles while being a minority but without acting in an authoritarian way ourselves – simply by living by the principles we believe in: in favour of direct action and against hierarchy.

The Anarchist Action Network should also avoid as much as possible the formation of any kind of hierarchy within itself. Whatever tasks need doing to keep the organisation actively engaging in real struggles should be done by people chosen to do those specific tasks and particular people should not be allowed to take on too many important tasks so that they become more important figures than others.

Any tasks that are not actually about moving the real struggles forward but are simply about preserving the Anarchist minority organisation itself should not be done at all – or at least kept to an absolute bare minimum- because otherwise we will be just another irrelevant political clique.

We should not be interested in anything except the increasing self-organisation and direct action of the oppressed masses for their own liberation. If anything we do goes against this or is irrelevant to it then it is not Anarchist just because we say it is, unless we change the definition of Anarchism to mean “whatever we say”.

We should also bear in mind that not all struggles are “visible” to us in the same way that trade union or community campaigns are. Not all struggles have organisations with names and leaflets and public meetings behind them. So we do not have to just wait for public meetings to be organised by other people so that we can come to them and argue against hierarchy from within them, we can be the ones to organise public meetings ourselves for struggles that do not currently have them but which are still real struggles.

One important example is the never-ceasing struggle between the police and the various marginalised populations of the country. People resist the police in many ways: through setting up lookouts to warn when they are coming so that people can run away; through security culture (‘gangsta no answer no unknown number”); through solidarity (not grassing each other up); and sometimes through massive riots.

As anarchists our rejection of the police is absolute, as we reject the whole State, and the only forms of “policing” that would be compatible with our beliefs would be those in which the “police” were directly elected by and accountable to the communities that they serve through community assemblies etc (though many anarchists would not even accept this).

In the direct action subculture that many Anarchists are a part of there are many people with lots of skills that are useful to direct confrontations with police such as Legal Observing, prisoner support, affinity group tactics, ‘dearresting’ skills and much more.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defence – perhaps the most important revolutionary organisation to emerge in the Western world in the last 50 years – in fact began with just two people with legal observing skills going out to marginalised communities as a physical presence on the street to confront police when they would harass people for no reason other than to intimidate and oppress them.

By directly helping people in marginalised African-American communities to avoid getting arrested, and by having the courage to get in the faces of their oppressors, the Black Panthers quickly gained the respect of disaffected working class people of all races and grew to become a national organisation in just 2 years despite intense state surveillance.

Given that the most significant working class uprising in recent years in the UK was a nation wide uprising sparked by the murder of a Black man by police, the experience of the Black Panthers is not something we should ignore when attempting to build a new national revolutionary organisation.

Despite the fact that some Anarchists claim that the Mark Duggan riots were a continuation of the student riots in which the anarchist movement unmistakably played an important role, the truth is that there was very little involvement or even support from the “official” Anarchist movement – in the form of federations, social centres and various informal hierarchies in different single-issue direct action campaigns.

This shows how Anarchist organisations can become irrelevant to the real struggles of oppressed people and become self-serving, pointless organisations, if they have the wrong attitude.

Unfortunately Anarchist ghettoes really do exist in which people just play out the motions of keeping their own groups going without successfully attracting new people, because they are not involved in real struggles and are only interested in keeping an anarchist minority together for it’s own sake.

There is no point in creating the Anarchist Action Network if it is going to become just another example of this. We need to get out of the anarchist ghetto and into the real ghetto, and to anywhere else that oppressed people are already in self-organised struggles against the State, Capitalism, and all other forms of oppression.

Comments or angry rants are welcome, so long as it helps move forward the struggle.

For the constant self-organised direct action of all oppressed people against the State, capitalism and all forms of hierarchy.

For Anarchy, now and always.