We need a new working class movement

Westminster was awash yesterday with every worthy do-gooder in the country as the ‘great and good’ came together for a one-day conference.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was tasked with discussing alternatives to the cuts that are currently making millions of people’s lives hell.

Anarchists offer an alternative at the People's Assembly

Anarchists offer an alternative at the People’s Assembly

It was a monumental event, said the organisers, and they were now a true force to be reckoned with.

“There were plenty of calls for ‘action, not words’,” said the Telegraph.

“Yet the only tangible action I could see was the establishment of a series of regional People’s Assemblies. These were then tasked with reporting back to yet another national People’s Assembly in the new year.” More hot air.

Which is what should’ve been expected. The conference was made up of all the ‘usual suspects’: unions including Unite, Unison and the National Union of Teachers plus the Coalition of Resistance, Stop the War Coalition, CND, War on Want, Green Party, Socialist Resistance etc. etc. etc. All the same old, same old doing what they’ve tried time and time again for longer than we care to remember.

A new movement must surely involve new people, no?

What we can’t escape is the fact that the left in this country (including the anarchists) are weak. We have no movements or organisation capable of taking on austerity, let alone capitalism.

At a more fundamental level there is no strong political force that speaks for the working class (with Labour long abandoning any pretence that they spoke for ‘the people’).

Much of the left-wing movement in this country is now seen as politically correct, middle class do-gooders jumping on every bandwagon going, often with little effect. Anarchists are largely viewed with the same disdain, seen as violent, young and naive.


Starting again

So how can we create a progressive, working class movement?

Ian Bone, a one-time leading light of Class War, recently raised the idea of what a new working class movement might look like. Some of the ideas put forward in his blog included:

• Who is the movement for? The audience should not just the disenfranchised angry unemployed kid but the 50-year-old nurse, the 40-year-old council worker etc.

• Why did previous efforts fail? Don’t make the same mistakes. New ideas for different times.

• Go beyond ideological labels: who cares about ‘anarchism’ or ‘communism’.

• A sense of direction. No fucking time-wasters (anarchist lifestylers are shocking in this regard).

• Ditch the focus on ‘smashing shit up’: always a symptom of weakness not strength. Stuff may have to be smashed up in the course of the struggle but why make a religion of it? I’m bored with anarchists thinking they’ve achieved something by breaking windows.

• But not pacifist though! It must be a direct action movement. The attitude to violence should be it’s an unfortunate necessity. Don’t glorify it.

• Emphasise the creative: pro, not anti (democracy, mutual aid programmes, solidarity). The new society within the old.

• What’s wrong with a bit of idealism? Hate and anger may be good rhetorical tools but to create a lasting movement we need to give people something to believe in and worth fighting for.

• By all means necessary: workplace, community organising, elections if useful etc. Whatever gets the goods. Parliamentarian treated like fire though.

• Pride in the working class history of these isles.

• Internationalism – fuck notions of any left-nationalist bollocks.

• Working class spokespeople: all welcome in the struggle, without class prejudice but careful consideration to presentation. Middle class revolutionaries know your place.

• Good use of radio, TV, press and social media.

• Democracy and accountability.

• Need for a hard work attitude and a bit of energy and ‘oomph’!

The Heckler doesn’t necessarily agree with all of these points but what we can be sure of is the need to go back to the drawing board and literally start again; thrashing out some new ideas can’t do any harm.

A lot of people on the left know we are in a weak position but most continue to talk the talk whilst lacking any real strength to follow through (see anything any union leader has said since the financial crisis began). The sooner we realise we have no movement, the sooner we can get on with building a new one.

8 thoughts on “We need a new working class movement

  1. A million Brazilians take to the streets, while a few hundred professional bores waste seven hours on jaw-jaw in Central Hall, Westminster. What does it need to ‘ignite’ the British to become as volatile as the South Americans?

  2. ‘We need a new working class movement’. That’s the title of this piece and a lot of work and effort has gone into producing this literary offering.
    And the response? Near to buggar all. Why? Because, despite our fine words and the good intentions of many, we ain’t bothered anymore. We can’t be bloody bothered anymore because we’ve had objection, protest and demonstration socially bloody engineered out of our national identity.
    The Thatcher government started it and thereafter, following the disasterous tenure of New Labour who’ve created what we all are today, we can’t summon up enough energy to express ourselves freely just in bloody case we offend someone, get a knock on the door from the Police and end up with our DNA, fingerprints, photograph on a data base that’ll be shared by every bloody single Country that thinks that we ain’t capable of living our lives without their protection and some legislation that ensures we all behave and we all think the same.
    It’s so bloody depressing. Im no anarchist. I’ve no real idea anymore what I am because whatever I am does no longer fit into this society we’ve allowed to be created in the name of bloody democracy. We’ve actually allowed ourselves to become desensitised to anything worthwhile in protesting against.
    For example, the Hereford Times recently ran a piece on the austerity cut backs that were going to have a huge impact upon the weak, the poor, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. Nine bloody Posters were bothered. Bloody nine. A story about bloody potholes had more contributions. Why? Because nobody can be bloody bothered. They can’t be bothered because they’ve lost the art of thinking. Yes! thinking.
    The people no longer think deeply enough and long enough on issues that we are going to bequeath the next generation of our people because they’ve had it socially engineered out of them.
    And, it’s this unholy development in our society that has allowed bloody dull, unimaginative, thick and incompetent bungling idiots to climb up the pole to success and glory and become our local Councillors and our political leaders. What do we do, in response to this alarming change in the way in which our democracy is delivered up to us? Bloody nothing because we can’t be bloody bothered just like we can’t be bothered to comment upon a perfectly good piece of literary work that innocently encourages people to object to the path our leaders have set us all upon.
    No! We are bloody doomed. Because we do not think anymore and we can’t be bothered anymore.
    And anyone who thinks otherwise, holds a different view to mine and they can get stuffed.

  3. Absolutely right, both the article and the comments.
    What also angers me is the continued funding of Labour by the trade unions, funding to a party that no longer gives a f@#* about the working class. T.U. members should withdraw from the political fund and the unions should allow Labour to be funded by the people they truly represent, big business. I do understand that the union leaders, with one eye on retirement to The House of Lords, will be reluctant but the members can and should force their hands. This could then open the door for a genuine working class movement to be funded. Lets face it, without financial clout any political movement is going to struggle to get it’s message and ideas across.
    But I fear that nothing is going to happen while the British people remain so compliant to the ruling class and feed off the bulls#$@ the the media spew out.
    Apathy In The U.K. any-one?

  4. Well done Jonesy. The Poster Fidel has highlighted the extraordinary developments in Brazil and asks, ‘When will it ignite us into action?’
    Well, judging by this glaring absence of anarchic views expressed by ‘us’ in response to this piece of written work, I’d say, ‘ don’t hold your breath Fidel. It’ll take a lot more than this and the events in Brazil to waken us from our slumber and be bloody bothered to even think about it’.
    We are a collective disgrace to the pissed off, the angry and the disenchanted. Some of you call yourselves ‘anarchists’. Well, truly you ain’t. You are not anarchists. You are just a bunch of people who’ve read the right books and think it cool to say that you are.
    Im no anarchist. I’ve no idea what it is or what it takes to be an anarchist but I do know what isn’t an anarchist and that’s you lot. It takes less than a minute to comment and express yourselves and give the author of this piece a bit of a boost. What’s he get after slaving away, selecting his vowels and bloody consonants and arranging them into a sentence ? Bloody nothing! Buggar all. Why?, because you couldn’t be bloody bothered. Anarchists???? No. Not at all. Nothing at all like one.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to lay in to anarchists in this sort of way, Bobby47, partly because there are very few anarchists in Herefordshire, but mainly because it’s not just down to them/us, it’s down to everyone … including yourself.
      This is the bigger question though, WHY have we—the working class—not fought back on a mass scale??? There’s many, many reasons: the relentless barrage of attacks from the state, the fact we’re quite reserved as a nation, decades of defeat, as well as a lack of an effective opposition vehicle (the unions are weak, the Labour Party are not interested in change). It leaves people feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
      But we all still have ideas and opinions on what’s going on around us, even if we rarely express them on the streets. So if we recognise that we’re all actually part of the inactive majority together, how do we turn shouting at the TV into effective action? And what do we fight for?

  5. Keith, More than fair mate. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself from hereon. As for your questions, which amounts to a ‘what do we do? to halt our slide towards apathy, indifference and blind obedience, we start looking in different places to find our leaders.
    People, whatever their political colour, yearn to be inspired. Paint them a picture, make it sound sensible, show them its possible and give them inspirational leaders. People who are charismatic, visionaries and not weighed down by all the bollocks that have infested all the tiers of our society to the point where commonsense and forward imaginative thinking have become swamped by the idiots who’ve never walked in my shoes.
    To you and the true faithful anarchists, I apologise for my terse posting. My warmest regards to you.

  6. (I’ve got a WP blog, but forgotten the exact add. Sorry!). I’m not a “lefty” nor were my mother and father. All the anarchist thing is total bxxxxxxxx. However, something is needed as an alternative to the “New” Labour party who, it appears, are intent on living up to Tory party standards ie: Finishing off everything that was brought into being by “Old” Labour by privatisation.

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