I was much amused at the Anarchist Bookfair last Saturday, to see the above poster, designed many years ago by a lifelong friend and companero, being sold as a ‘vintage anarcho poster’ (it was originally free!)- I thought that the ‘vintage’ part now puts my comrade and I in the same league as a finely matured bottle of wine or a treasured vinyl disc, or perhaps,on the way to the knackers yard, depending on how you look at it…

Later on, I thought about the times it was produced in,  back when instead of SolFed, AF, ALARM, ABC and the IWW, there was the ACF, DAM, Class War, ABC and Solidarity…and it struck me that twenty years later the anarchist movement is still as divided against itself as it ever was.  It’s ironic too, that the poster’s slogan is what it is, because a dream, waking or sleeping requires imagination- exactly what is lacking when you have so many groups splitting ideological hairs, simultaneously wanting to build ‘mass movements’, praising ‘unity’ against the common enemy, espousing the anarchist principle of COOPERATION over COMPETITION and criticising the Trots for the very same sectarianism…The same collective egoism and parochialism, as if each group has the ultimate, correct answer where in fact, they have all failed to make any great progress, in their own terms, for years.

Where, I ask myself is the cooperation, the mutual aid, the sharing of resources, the comradely unity or the simple good faith? Where is the human kindness of the future, desired, revolutionary society (and being in public service, I know a little kindness goes a long, long way)? I saw how SolFed were selling a T-shirt with the slogan ‘violent anarchists for communism’ on it- but surely, the Syndicalists cannot possibly want the same thing the Anarchist Federation wants- anarchist communism? I saw how, at the meeting on ‘anarchist economics’ (which for once connected the politics with the reality) two of the speakers display an unseemly disdain for each other’s ideas, even though they shared very similar approaches and a desire to end capitalism. All I saw was rigid thinking, fixed ideological positions and a tenacious, all-or-nothing belief in being ‘right’. No fluidity, no openness to working together or to trying things out- being experimental. There is no real reason why anarchists cannot unite into one big flexible organisation, one worth joining, apart from their own psychological barriers to doing so- and so they are left with the usual criticism of not being able to organise a ‘piss up in a brewery’*, which is both damning and dangerous given the current climate. Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with you people? DARE TO DREAM!


* I actually wanted to say “not being able to organise a ‘fuck in a brothel’ “, but then I realised that it might offend some people, so I censored myself…



Filed under Politics

4 responses to “DARE TO DREAM!

  1. scherben

    Expect to raise a few hackles with that one, but I’m in total agreement.
    I’m not even really an anarchist (in fact, I could be a whiny liberal) I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be; and should I be pigeon holing myself as a person anyway? I certainly don’t like be objectified by others. There’s a big wide world out there, and some people are reactionary or scared of change; that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be engaged or helped.

    Fair enough if you want to live isolated as an individual or commune, but ideological snobbery smacks of something that could lead to book and people burning(?), something that the totalitarians and fundies default to; and who wants to copy fools like that?

  2. Aidan

    I came away feeling positive. Mind you, my last bookfair was in the 80s when you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Only did one meeting and I thought one speaker was more than a bit over-sensitive . We do have some delicate little flowers amongst us. People were nice, everyone was friendly – I enjoyed it.

  3. Damien Engine

    I went to the Bookfair on Saturday no longer calling myself an anarchist (labels seem irrelevant) but sympathetic and still sort of emotionally tied to my involvement in the anarchist movement in the late 80s. I’m glad it’s all still there. But, the most important thing to realise, for all the left, is how completely fucked we all are. An inconsequential irrelevance to most people’s lives. But I don’t think that realisation is a bad thing, it can teach humility and clear the head to see things as they are. We’re fucked. Perhaps the problem today is with people who take their ideas too seriously because they think we’re on the verge of winning? We’re not. We’re fucked. On a related note: my view is that the Class War Fed back in 1991 was it, were on the verge of a major breakthrough symbolised by that amazing International Conference. How did that come about? Because of the times and because of an organisation. Until those things come about, as i might have said before: we’re fucked.

  4. Rob R

    The fact there’s not one big umbrella doesn’t mean everyone’s at each others’ throats and from your tone I can only assume you’ve not been involved in any of the larger organisations for a while. As it stands most groups are actually getting on relatively well these days and there’s a lot of member crossover – some of us have gone to great lengths over the last few years to make sure that’s the case, in fact.

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