Beyond Broken Windows: Anti Cuts Action in the West

22 01 2011

On January 15th & 16th some anti-cuts activists from Bristol headed up to Manchester for the first Network-X gathering. The aim was “to establish a network that will allow libertarians to co-ordinate and support each others struggles” as part of the wider anti-cuts movement.

The decision was taken to form regional networks of anti-authoritarian groups fighting the cuts. As Bristol Anarchist Federation’s Anti-cuts Action Campaign has already been working on this for a while we hope to further this network. At present we have built links and are in contact with groups and individuals in Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Stroud, Taunton, Hereford, Wiltshire, Cardiff, Newport and slightly further away in north Wales and Northern Ireland.

We don’t look to replace groups like Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance and our affiliation form is winging its way to their secretary as I type. Our simple aim is to network with groups and individuals in the west to share ideas and mobilise for actions.

We support alliances such as BADACA and believe there are some great individuals working in them, their strong union links and ability to organise large scale mobilisations are vital to the anti-cuts movement. However they are all to often stifled with bureaucracy and party politics making them unable to mobilise at short notice and some within groups such as these abuse the platform to push their party line and show little interest in actually taking action.

The Facebook revolution has made it almost too easy to call demos, although it is great to level the playing field in this way, people are calling events and then not providing and propaganda/placards/banners etc needed, and as a result (like the recent Bristol EMA demo) protests are failing. Conversely where materials are provided and a demo properly organised the group calling the demo can take the opportunity to push their particular brand of politics and puts newspaper sales before fighting the cuts. We are also concerned about certain political parties who are moving to build power by hijacking organisations such as the NSSN and NCAFC.

Radical Workers, Unionist, Anarchists & Students on Bristol demo October 23rd



We reject sectarianism and all party politics. Any demos we call are non-sectarian and we challenge those who muddy the anti-cuts message by taking the opportunity to sign up new members to the “party” and sell newspapers. All our propaganda is targeted and non-sectarian.

We reject capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; institutions and governments that promote destructive austerity measures;

We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism.

We condone and encourage a confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying alone can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.

We encourage direct action and civil disobedience, support social movement struggles, advocate forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples’ rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism.

Dates for your diary:

Jan 22nd – Called by Bristol against the arms trade – Saturday 22nd @ 1pm, Castle Park. Target the banks who invest in the arms trade. While we face austerity measures they make billions from investing in weapons.

Jan 23rd – Activist sports club, organised by Bristol Anarchist Federation: 2pm this Sunday at the riverside park behind staples. A great opportunity to meet other activists outside of stressful demos and boring meetings.

Jan 23rd – Co-mutiny 2011 organising meeting, 4pm @ The Smiling Chair 40 Stokes croft. A great opportunity to build an autonomous activist network and promote the anti-cuts campaign.

Jan 25th – Resources Scrutiny Commission Budget meeting, 5.30pm @ The Council House. Meet on College Green and Make some noise.

Jan 29th – Anonymous Promotion presents Cut Cameron festival:
Raising money for Anti Cuts Action Bristol & Bath and student legal support. All day punk festival at The Winchester Arms in Taunton on January 29th. So if you can’t make London then be there instead and support the cause.

Jan 30th – Taunton ukuncut action:
Anti Cuts Action Bristol and getting together with our friends Anonymous and Taunton UNCut and are calling for a rolling picket of tax dodging corporations Sunday at 30th 1pm at the War Memorial.

Jan 30th – Bristol UKuncut – Anti Cuts Action Bristol have called all previous UKuncut demos but with us sodding off to Taunton we hope others will call a Bristol Demo it its non-sectarian style. Contact us and we can provide you with pdfs of the posters and flyers we have made for UKuncut demos. It is essential to have propaganda on hand so passers by know what you are protesting about.

Jan 31st – Anti Cuts Action Bristol public meeting – The Factory, 3 Cave street off Portland Square, St Pauls, 7.30pm. There will be a feedback presentation about the Network-X gathering and a discussion on where the autonomous anti- cuts movement can go next. Also to propose the idea of hosting the next network-x gathering in Bristol. If you want to get involved with whats happening in the anti-cuts movement, get involved with organisng the next network-x gathering and find out about groups mobilising against the cuts in the region then come along!

February 5th – Anti Cuts Action are calling our for Bristol residents to attend the Big anti-cuts march in Bath. More info to follow.

Feb 7th – Save Legal Aid Demo – 12pm Queens square outside legal aid commission!

Feb 7th – Anticuts film/pannel discusion at the cube – 7pm. Pannel discussion involving IWW, BADACA, Anarchist Federation, Student Representatives and probably other we don’t know about. Should be good!

Resources:

FIGHTING THE CUTS – Pamphlet by Bristol Anarchist Federation about staying safe and knowing your rights on demos – Click Here

DEMO TIPS – This pdf is basically a crash course in staying safe on demos, give it to anyone on a demo, the information could prove vital for some people. Click Here

STUDENT LEAFLET – A little dated but still contains useful information. We often meet students who only want to fight education cuts and dont care about the other austerity measures so we made this. Click here

TAX DODGER LEAFLET – We have been heavily involved in the actions called by UKuncut. We have produced a leaflet of facts about tax dodgers to give out to the public. Click here

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4 responses

23 01 2011
Anonymous

Just to clarify it’s Anonymous & Old Hat Promotions who are putting on the all dayer, we can’t take all the credit for Old Hat’s hard work!
Cheers

13 02 2011
Nigel Varley

I am the bureaucrat who is stifling action by the Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance as I do a lot of the organising on the democratic basis that I am retired and have the time.
Some points about BADACA:
1. It is very broad (and now very big) – it covers a range of politics from Labour councillors to anarchists. Most supporters are in nothing at all.
2. Its target audience is working class people are are being hit by the cuts and want to stop them. BADACA’s aim is to draw these people into active opposition to the cuts and privatisation. Anything beyond that is up to political organisations.
3. We have to have a strong trade union base. Why? Because trade unions still have 6 million members in this country and the organisational capacity to take industrial action which could stop the cuts. Our aim is to help trade union members and branches to organise within their unions to resist and to support each other. To avoid being labelled as just another loony-left front organisation, we have to speak in the language of rank and file trade unionists.
4. BADACA is not controlled by any one political organisation. In fact the most remarkable thing about it is how well the various groups are getting on. Obviously organisations such as the Socialist Party, SWP and IWW assert their presence but they have every right to and SP and IWW comrades in particular have worked hard to build BADACA, not that I trust them but then I don’t trust anyone. It’s neither true nor fair to say that there are groups in BADACA who oppose action – whether we can get it together is another matter.
5. Personally I am in favour of direct action but only if it is imaginative, preferably funny, annoys the rich and powerful and above all, strikes a chord with and involves ordinary working class people. I have misgiving about some comrades who are almost Stalinist in their dismissal of the ability of workers to change the world and seek to substitute themselves as an elite who can defeat the cuts by direct action on behalf of everyone else. I don’t like “Look at me” politics.
Anyway, it’s all going quite well at the moment.

13 02 2011
Anti-cuts Action

Having been involved with BADACA, all we have spoken to agree that you (in a personal capacity) are doing a fantastic job and are in no way stifling action, we generally agree with everything you say and support everything you have done.

However being a large organisation of many groups with many ideas means it can’t help but move quite slowly. It is down to the individuals and groups within BADACA to mobilise on short notice, but they dont, they just hold off the the big marches where they can sell the most of their papers. An example would be on friday where around 12 people from Bristol went to Bath to picket Nick Cleggs meeting, I oly recognise one from any BADACA meetings, an SP member.

We do feel however that the distinct lack of trust in allmost everyone is slowing things down, striking a ballance is hard we understand, with more freedom comes more ability for abuses of said freedoms. Anarchist groups in particular have a lot to lose from trusting socialist groups in the long term. Many in the community believe that they would be the frst to be lined up and shot if a socialist utopia was reached (bit dramatic I say). At anti cuts action we believe while the Working classes are under sustained atack we should trust each other and unite against the common enemy of the ruling class.

We are aware of a number of people who have offered help when it has been asked for, only to be turned down due to – lack of trust? A lack of communication also is costing BADACA (allready in debt) alot of money. For example with our contacts we could have provided a much cheaper PA system than the one you have hired for the 19th, probably the same for printing. A simple request for help on the e-mail list would have saved BADACA hundreds of pounds.

We continue to support BADACA in every way we can.

Anti Cuts Action Bristol

13 02 2011
Nigel Varley

You need to have a greater faith in the cock-up rather than the conspiracy theory of history. Some of us tried to get to Bath on Friday but were held up and when we got there the demo had disappeared. The sound system wasn’t lack of trust – it did not occur to me that you had a sound system powerful enough to be used on College Green (the one we have hired comes with a generator). Now I know, we can use yours.
I am sorry but I don’t trust anyone. I have been active in the movement since 1963. I have seen comrades framed, imprisoned, victimised, seriously injured and in one case killed (Blair Peach by the police on an anti-fascist demo) or just worn out by the struggle. I have come across countless acts of betrayal and seen revolutionary groups do unbelievable stupid things, throwing away chance after chance to build a mass movement. I have been threatened with expulsion from my trade union for organising unofficial industrial action and had close comrades revealed as police agents.
No, I don’t trust anyone and never will again. It doesn’t mean I can’t work with them.
A regards shooting you, if you ever want a discussion on what really happened at Kronstadt and why I’m happy to oblige.

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