When was Hereford Heckler founded? Who by, what form did it take, and what was your motivation in starting it?
We started the Heckler in 2008 as a bi-monthly, paper-only newsletter. Up until last year it was published by the Hereford Solidarity League as a way of giving a radical left-wing/anarchist viewpoint on local issues. We wanted to help explain revolutionary ideas in a practical way to people who would otherwise not come into contact with them.
What’s an average day in the production of the Hereford Heckler?
We don’t have any fancy offices or 9.00am daily editorial meetings; we all have day jobs and families that have to take priority so it’s a case of finding some spare time to research a little, see what’s making the news and write a story on things we think are relevant and important. These days we publish predominantly online so there is no production as such: once a story is written and images found then we can upload the content and publish to the world instantly.
How would you describe your political viewpoint?
We see ourselves as anarchists. We’d like to see a world organised without leaders, with everyone participating in decision making.
We’d like to see an international, united working class movement overthrow the capitalist economic system and replace it with one that gave everyone everything they needed, and where everyone contributed what they were able to. No more ruling class living off the efforts of everyone else.
Most importantly we’d like to see everyone free, equal and cooperating, not competing, with each other.
Do you believe in the potential of political change through literature?
Only to a certain extent. Literature and ideas can influence people, but it’s only action that will achieve change. That’s what we hope to inspire.
What about the role of protest and organisation in giving societies a voice?
In our present society protest acts as a pressure valve that lets people believe they have a voice. We have the freedom to express our discontent (or support) but government is not obliged to take any notice. The mass protests around the 2003 Iraq war are a case in point.
Protest should not be confused with having an actual hand in decision making. Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we don’t. Calling for reforms in the here and now is important but the real fight must be for revolution and establishing a new, free society based on justice and equality.
How do you distribute? Who is your readership?
Up until our February 2013 issue we predominantly distributed a paper newsletter door-to-door and on the street in Hereford, with a circulation of 3,000 to 5,000.
Because of the method of distribution our readership would be the average man/woman in the street, so to speak. Our internet readership has a higher proportion of ‘the converted’ but still has a majority of people who are following us because they’ve already had the paper through their doors and want to keep up with what we’re saying.
I’m assuming you’re rather disenchanted with the current political structure, when do you become aware of this?
I’d say ‘disenchanted’ would suggest that we somehow see a glimmer of hope in the present system; we don’t. It’s not a system we believe in and not one that we want to participate in or try and improve.
What does anarchy mean to you?
Anarchism to us is a far-reaching political, economic and social idea. We’d see it as an extension of genuine socialism, that has at its heart the spirit of cooperation and equality. The anarchist spin on this is that this proposed society should be organised by the people working together and not by governments.
How do you think outsiders view anarchists? Where does this idea come from?
We’re either viewed as terrorists or rebellious youths, the latter having a lot to do with a certain punk act from the 70s that sang about destroying everything. Yes we want destruction. But destruction for us is a creative process; you have to get rid of the bad before you can start building the good.
What we have noticed since we’ve started the Heckler though is that, locally, anarchists are now seen by a lot of people as political activists … although still disagreed with by most.
What the hell is happening to Britain and what can we do as individuals?
What’s happening in Britain is the same that’s happening around the world, just at a different, more localised speed. Up until the 70s the working class in this country had developed a considerable amount of collective power and often flexed its economic muscle. Various governments didn’t like this. From the late 70s into the 80s the unions, the working class movement – demanding merely fairness and a helping hand ‘from cradle to grave’ – were kicked, battered and beaten (literally in many cases). For the last couple of decades we’ve been wheezing on the floor. The recent economic crises have provided the ruling class the excuse they need to give us the final kick of death.
If we’re to stop any of this we must realise our interests lie in fighting together, not fighting each other. No working class people in jobs fighting with working class people on benefits. No working class people born in the UK fighting with working class people born outside the UK.
An individual can change nothing. Only one working class movement – united – can have the strength to fight back.
What’s your favourite slogan?
I’m loving it.
What’s your favourite biscuit? Do you dunk?
A fruit shortcake. We are currently engaged in a dunking boycott in solidarity with members of the International Amalgamated Union of Dunking Operatives and Allied Trades, who are involved in a bitter dispute fighting for the rights and respects they truly deserve. Victory to the dunkers!
Is there any escape from the Spectacle?
Until the 60s there wasn’t, no. Thankfully contact lenses were becoming commercially available.
Where do you think the Heckler could go next as a publication? Are you into staying local or do you think there’s space for more national critiques?
There’s always the possibility of branching out to somewhere as far away as … Hay-on-Wye! But as we’re routed in the local areas as individuals we doubt we’d have as much success elsewhere. There are similar projects in other towns and cities around the UK that we support. We also do publish national and international news where we feel the story is relevant or potentially inspirational to Herefordshire.
I’ve read articles about illegal hunting, corporate greed, and government corruption. What is your most loathed form of sleaze?
Politicians and councillors believing they have the right to decide things on our behalf just because they won a popularity contest. That’s pretty sleazy in our books.
Is war ever justified?
Wars between nations: never. Wars between classes: always.
Who would you put against the wall when the revolution comes?
Right now, Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron for their collusion in attacking the living standards of the poor.
In all honesty though, come the revolution, we’d hope despicable scum like this get a bit of a slap and then get put to work doing something socially useful, like everyone else has been doing for years.
Is the revolution going to come?
Yes. Just after Coronation Street next Thursday so we’ve heard.
Do you like Che Guevara?
Don’t know, we’ve never met him.
What are your thoughts on Marx’s criticisms of capitalism (in fewer than thirty words)?
We’d disagree with his view that capitalism is a necessary stage of human development. Pointlessly though as we’re already living under it. His belief in government was bollocks too.
What’s your favourite book?
‘The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free’
Who is your greatest inspiration?
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Hereford, of course.
Who would you have round for dinner in that theoretical afterlife dinner party scenario that people do? And what would you cook?
We’d invite Emma Goldman and Jesus round for a hearty veggie sausage, mash and gravy, served with a lot of real Herefordshire cider. Amen.