Below is a Q&A written by consensus by a group of Anarchists at Dale Farm, October 2011.
A self written, consensus piece by anarchists at Dale farm, attempting to
correct the lies propagated by elements of bourgeoisie media and in
response to the state repression being faced.
Q. So you describe yourself as an anarchist, what do you mean by that?
We believe in a society based on mutual aid, social responsibility and
basic human solidarity. We feel that people should be free to live as they
wish (where that doesn’t infringe on other people’s freedoms) and there
should not be systems of control that restrict or dictate how we live our
lives. The democracy we have is a farce, we would like to build a free and
equal society where people give to their abilities and receive to their
needs. Anarchists see a distinction between the rich ruling class and the
ordinary working class, and seek to build a society based on working class
solidarity without the inequality between race, sex or creed that this
Q. Are all supporters at Dale Farm anarchists?
A lot of people here would not call themselves an anarchist, however what
brings us together is a shared belief that travellers are at the receiving
end of oppression, discrimination, violence, and racism and that this is
manifested in the ethnic cleansing at Dale Farm.
We recognise the principle of autonomy, and this means we are willing to
work with people who come from different ideological perspectives as long
as we are centred around a common aim. There is a shared strength between
Q. How does being in Dale Farm fit in with anarchist ideas?
Anarchism is about fighting the struggles of the oppressed against the
oppressors (in this case the struggle of travellers against the state);
Dale Farm is a flash point in the class struggle and the battle against
state racism. Whilst the religious and political beliefs of the community
here are not necessarily in keeping with all anarchist thought, residents
have been incredibly receptive to our politics and interested in our
Q. How is the eviction ethnic cleansing?
Ethnic cleansing is the act of eradicating a particular ethnic group from
a nation or area. The case of Dale Farm, which will make it impossible for
a certain ethnic community to live in a specific area is a localised
example; whilst the broader discrimination and criminalisation of
travellers (via the eradication of the right to park up on the roadside)
is indicative of the national picture. There is a discrimination against
travellers in government policy, travellers have settled because the right
to travel freely was taken away; now they attack settled travellers in
their homes. 90% of traveller planning applications are refused compared
to only 20% of the settled community. This criminalises travellers and
destroys their cultural norms and we see this situation as a continuation
of a broader attack against travelling communities. The process that has
been going on for the last 10 years at Dale Farm is a key part of this
cleansing - the diggers will demolish homes, but the government is
demolishing culture through a process of forced assimilation to societal
Q. There has been a lot in the media about anarchists ‘hijacking’ or
‘taking over’ the Dale Farm protest, what is your response to these
To begin with, we don’t see this as a protest because protest is merely
stating our disagreement with something; we see it as a resistance because
we intend to put a stop to the eviction of Dale Farm and stand up to state
violence against travellers everywhere. We are here in solidarity.
Everything we’ve done here we’ve been asked to do, we’ve been invited by
residents to support them in their resistance of the eviction and they
continue to direct our actions and decisions, and call on more support. We
came here to show solidarity through a shared struggle. Many of us now
also consider the residents here as personal friends, we feel welcome
among the travellers and are happy that they are letting us be a part of
this autonomous community.
Q. The media has painted a picture that some activists have taken
leadership roles? Is this true, and if not, how do you make decisions?
Decisions are made collectively on an equal basis. We take responsibility
for ourselves and are decentralised and autonomous, however all our
actions are accountable to the collective community through the process of
consensus decision making. People are given an equal opportunity to raise
their thoughts and we have open meetings to involve everyone in decision
However this space is not isolated from the problems of wider society and
issues such as patriarchy, class privilege, and dominance do come up . We
struggle against these inequalities and hierarchies in our actions, but
aim to recognise and deconstruct them where they occur. There is a
dialectal process constantly going on, and we try to resolve issues by
allowing conflicts of interest to play out. We deliberately don’t create
positions which could result in hierarchy, but organise jobs openly and
encourage participation in an attempt to combat invisible hierarchies.
Q. Why are you here, what makes an anarchist want to support Dale Farm
The struggle at Dale Farm is about anti-racism, homelessness, class
struggle and the freedom to live your life as you choose. As anarchists we
see these struggles as fundamental to personal and societal liberation and
as a step in the direction of social revolution. With the growing
political agenda in England of forced evictions motivated by class and
race, we are fighting that whole agenda when we are fighting the eviction
of Dale Farm; we do this to show solidarity with other members of the
working class and in order to fight the actions of the state, which we see
Q. If you don’t believe in planning law, what do you believe in? How do
you choose what social rules you follow?
It is not about what is legal or illegal…it is about what is just and
unjust. The law is made by the ruling class and serves the purpose of
preserving the unjust status quo. We haven’t had a say in the creation or
upholding of planning laws, and consequently don’t feel obliged to abide
by them; if people are expected to obey the law, they must have the right
to directly create it. The political institutions and laws (such as the
Enclosures Act) in this country are based on injustices and inequalities
that existed prior to the movement to democracy; as such we feel it is our
duty to fight them. We follow social rules that are created by the
communities they directly affect.
Q. What about the concerns of other local residents?
The representation of local residents has been warped and manipulated by
mainstream media. Many local residents do not have a problem with the
residents of Dale Farm and live in peace with them. There are some local
capitalists that feel they can make money from Travellers and support
them, and there are some who discriminate against them, for example pubs
refusing to serve the Travellers. We see this as a part of the
institutionalised racism that exists against Travellers, and feel that
they (Travellers) are exploited in a variety of ways by the capitalist
system. Proportionally the views of more well-off residents have emerged
in media and this has often involved property interests, for example local
resident Len Gridley has voiced his concern over property value and this
has received a huge amount of coverage. We don’t want anyone to lose their
homes but we don’t see property value as important as a home to live in.
The Crays Hill residents should also be allowed to have their homes, but
it is wrong to suggest that the two communities cannot live side by side.
There are Crays Hill residents who support Dale Farm but feel they cannot
say it to their neighbours for fear of being ostracised.
Q. Why do you think there is prejudice and hostility against Travellers?
One of the main reasons Travellers are oppressed is that they do not fit
into the current capitalist wheel and face demonisation by the media and
the state as a result, this is disturbingly similar to stigmatism faced by
Jews in the past and Muslims and asylum seekers today. There are deeper
questions to be asked here about the function of racism within capitalism
and the rise of fascist ideology at times of economic crisis. Jews and
Travellers traditionally move around, therefore modern nation state
capitalism doesn’t have a place for them. Institutionalised racism happens
because travellers aren’t as ‘useful’ to capitalism in the same way as the
settled working class. Travellers had a place in capitalist Europe but
don’t have that anymore and for this reason they are at the receiving end
of policies of ethnic cleansing. British capitalism has exploited
travellers where it has wanted to (Gypsy wedding/circuses/festivals) and
this is the same with other migrant populations – used when needed, then
discriminated and ultimately eradicated.
Q. What difficulties have you faced being at Dale Farm?
It is impossible to escape the hierarchies that are endemic in society;
the Dale Farm resistance is not isolated from the problems of patriarchy
and white privilege. There are people from many countries here and English
language speaking privilege has been a problem but we do our best to
recognise and confront these. The challenge of communicating specific
jargons of the legal process, media trends and local activism has also
been apparent, but we are working well on this. As well as travellers we
have been treated badly by media and police through smear stories,
increased police presence (such as helicopters), and more greatly the fear
of constantly living under the threat of personal physical harm in an
eviction situation. We are currently at the forefront of state violence,
intimidation and repression, but being at the brunt of this state and
corporate repression just makes us want to fight it more.
Institutionalised racism has been difficult to witness– taxis not wanting
to drive here, shops and pubs not allowing Travellers in. There have been
many emotional difficulties, such as a 12 year old boy asking for us to
build a lock on in their home because their mother and sister are so
scared, as well as witnessing the residents’ reactions to court verdicts
and eviction hoax.
Q. What about the bailiffs, are they not just doing their job?
It feels bad to have to fight other working class people; we recognise
that they are being badly abused by the state and their profiteering
bosses at Constant & Co who are putting them in this position. As such we
put out an open offer to the bailiffs to join us in the struggle against
the bosses; we would show solidarity to them in their struggle against
their bosses as we show solidarity to Dale Farm, but if they choose to be
the oppressors then we will fight them as class traitors. We acknowledge
that the severe unemployment probably results in people who would not
normally want to be bailiffs becoming bailiffs, but we also acknowledge
that their role is directed at punishing working class people and
minorities and this is not acceptable. Further, there is understanding
amongst us all that some of Constant & Co’s bailiffs are migrant workers
and we see this as another example of capitalist subjugation pitching one
ethnic minority against another in order to break class unity; the British
government has the privilege to exploit minorities as it always has
through a process of colonialism, divide and conquer.
Q. With the government’s current policies towards Travellers, evictions
will become more regular, how will anarchists respond to this?
Governments over the past few years have been drawing up increasingly
fascist anti-Traveller laws, whipping up and taking advantage of ethnic
and class-based prejudice. Anarchists must respond by standing strong in
solidarity with travellers as they have done here at Dale Farm. Networks
of people committed to anti racism, class unity, and eviction resistance
will be required to help prevent the continuation of the ethnic cleansing
process. It is hard to say exactly what the response will be on a broad
basis, but it is likely that the Dale Farm resistance will set the tone
for Traveller solidarity in the UK. We hope to make a statement here that
resistance and solidarity are our greatest weapons against state
violence, and to show the world the power of struggle.
Leaflet from the Anarchist Federation (London group) on the wave of occupations and upsurge in class struggle as austerity bites, arguing the working class to unite separate struggles.
Unite the struggles
The present system is in deep crisis. It is trying to get out of the situation it is in by making us, the mass of the population, those who work and produce, pay for it by slashing pensions, services, jobs and pay and conditions. Meanwhile the bankers are bailed out time after time. The world-wide anger at this is reflected in the occupations of public areas in 750 cities and towns around the world. It is reflected in the waves of strikes that have swept through many countries, in particular Greece, which is suffering under horrendous austerity measures. It is reflected in the birth of a new and radicalised student movement in Britain, prepared to engage in direct action and occupations. It is reflected in the beginnings of a new militancy in the workplace.
In the Arab speaking world a movement that began in Tunisia and Egypt and spread to other countries showed that it was possible to break with years of apathy and repression , bring large numbers of people together, and topple regimes. This process in the Arab-speaking world is far from over but it showed people all over the world what could be done. Previous massive mobilisations against the G8, G20 and International Monetary fund in the last two decades may also have had their effect.
In the West, the movement that began in Spain and spread to other parts of Europe and to the USA made wide use of social media just as had happened with the “Arab Spring”. The power of this new technology at spreading news and information quickly, in a form of communication relatively freer than other media like newspapers and television, brought a wide and diverse range of people and groups out on to the streets. This variety was seen in the number of different ideas co-existing within this new movement. Common basic demands can however be picked out:
• Replacement of the present capitalist system- although sometimes this involved calls for reform rather than removal of capitalism
• Unity of all those who are feeling the effects of the crisis
• Against the banks/finance capitalism
• Against financial chaos and State corruption
• Defence of previous gains- health, welfare, pensions, education and employment
• Anti-war with some links being built with anti-war movements
These occupations of public spaces have involved grass-roots activity and collective decision-making through mass assemblies. The movement is not homogeneous and involves a number of competing and sometimes competing ideas.
The reaction of the State has been at first to ignore these happenings. This has been followed by “limited” police suppression, with a desired aim of not aggravating and escalating the situation (although this involved many arrests in some circumstances as in the States. The next stage has been legalistic measures aimed at removing people from the spaces as well as a media war. This media war comes in the form of at first ridicule (people are portrayed as naïve, as clueless, as clowns). A further escalation of this media war will probably occur soon with accusations of “rent-a-mob”, “outside agitators” and “extremism”. Alongside this will be attempts to coopt , to present the movement as “tame”, to divert it along reformist channels.
In Britain other struggles are happening at the same time. The attack on electricians in the building industry on pay, conditions and pensions has brought about many weeks of actions involving hundreds of workers with use of road blockades and occupations of building sites.
Similarly, people have been fighting cuts imposed through local councils by using similar tactics. Recently people massed outside libraries in Brent in London that had been condemned to close and stopped them being boarded up. They were prepared ( like the movement outside St Paul’s) to stay all night, and they were supported by other local people bringing them food and drink, blankets and hot water bottles.
All of these actions have to be linked up. The way was shown on Wednesday October 19th when some people from St Paul’s went to help the electricians’ actions. It was followed up by a march from the action up to St Paul’s to a warm welcome. Anti-capitalist speeches and expressions of solidarity were given from the steps of the cathedral. This is the first step towards unity and must be followed up.
• Unite the struggles- create links between the Occupy movement, workers fighting against cuts in pay and conditions and pensions, students in schools, colleges and universities fighting against the austerity measures, pensioners, the unemployed and the anti-war movement
• Attacking the bankers is only part of the solution, the whole of the present system is unjust and rotten. It cannot be reformed. There is no such thing as a “nice” capitalism. It must be replaced with a new society based on equality and social justice, a society based on mass decision-making and mass participation, without exploitation, hierarchy, injustice and war
Printed and published by Anarchist Federation (London)
BM ANARFED LONDON WC1N 3XX
Workers in the construction industry are facing huge attacks on their working conditions. In response they have been taking unofficial action in order to maintain their conditions at the level they are now. For more information see this article on LibCom.The text which follows was produced by London Anarchist Federation and distributed to construction workers.
The last eight weeks of actions have shown that unofficial action works. The road blocking and occupations of sites have made MJN Colston, one of the eight employers who planned to get out of the Joint Industry Board national agreement, lose their nerve and go running back to the JIB.
The walkouts at Grangemouth and Immingham were the start. These were followed up by the actions at the Olympic site, Farringdon and Oxford Street in London, the Tyne tunnel, MediaCity UK in Manchester, Edinburgh city chambers, Glasgow Velodrome and SPIE Matthew Hall in Liverpool. The actions have included direct action, blocking roads at the Olympic site, King’s Cross and Oxford Street and moving on to sites to occupy.
And yet what have the Unite leadership done to support the cause of the electricians? Len McLuskey, General Secretary of Unite, has sent out a letter stating “If you fail to work normally you will be taking part in unofficial action.” For his part, Len McAulay, Unite’s National Officer for Construction in a leaked email was to state that: “My colleagues will not throw away this wonderful opportunity the employers have given us to re-engage with the workers in the industry as opposed to this poisonous campaign by these mindless individuals”.
McAulay means the rank and file committee. The “wonderful opportunity” he talks about is the decision by the eight employers to pull out of the JIB! Gail Cartmail, Unite Assistant General Secretary promised a ballot for strike action at the rally in Farringdon. This is a long time coming! In the meantime the seven employers who have opted to pull out of the JIB are becoming more aggressive. Five of these employers- Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services, and NG Bailey- have announced their intention to start sacking and to re-employ under worse conditions and pay on December 7th.
There is no time for delay waiting for a ballot that might not materialise at any time in the near future. Unofficial strikes need to spread across sites with the setting up of unofficial committees and mass meetings. Where unofficial strikes are not yet possible we need to strengthen the numbers on the days of action. That means calling on other workers, students, pensioners, the unemployed to join the morning actions.
- Defend the JIB
- Don’t let the bosses attack pay, conditions and pensions
- Make the actions as large as possible- call on other workers to support the actions
- Spread the unofficial actions through the building industry
- Don’t let McCluskey and McAulay sabotage the unofficial actions
Freedom newspaper launched in new its monthly format on Oct 1st at an event that took place at Housmans bookshop. The new paper has colour inside and 24 pages. The new cover price is £2. Regular subscriptions including postage to UK addresses are £22 a year.
Details of the event and contents of the first monthly edition, plus full information about subscriptions and how to contribute to the paper are available on the Freedom Press website:
Also read the AF's monthly paper, resistance, online at: http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/resistance-bulletin
By an AF member, published in Freedom, vol. 72 no. 16.
With the up and coming Nov 30th general public sector workers strike and ‘day of action’, and the Nov 9th national demonstration for education we re-visit an article written by an anarchist teacher after the recent June 30th one day strike as a useful guide to possible strategies and how we can best utilise our resources and organise as a movement against the cuts.
As an anarchist, I was not initially impressed by the idea of a one day strike. It didn’t sound very militant- going out on strike at the end of term after the exams were over when the students were about to finish in any case; there wasn’t going to be much impact. However, having now experienced the build-up to the day, the day itself and the aftermath, I now think that the were many positive benefits in helping to build more long-term resistance to both the issue of pensions and the cuts in general.
Before the strike
- There was much discussion amongst staff about the issues of pensions and what is happening to education in general.
- People began to think outside their own immediate situation and were more aware of how government policies are affecting their lives.
- There was debate about the whole idea of going on strike with people expressing a desire to ‘do something’. The act of going on strike made people feel that at long last there were able to express their anger at what is happening.
- The problem of divisions between different unions was made apparent. Many people wanted to support the strike but could not because ‘their union had not called them out’. The principal reinforced these divisions by sending out a strongly worded letter about people being in ‘breach of contract’ if they went on strike, especially if they were not in a union that was striking. There was much discussion of the issues we all have in common with support staff, who are in Unison and therefore were not officially on strike.
- The strike provided the opportunity to discuss general educational issues with students and of furthering links between staff and students. There was much sympathy for the strikes.
- In general, the strike provided the opportunity to discuss politics at work.
- The strike also provided the anarchist movement with the opportunity of developing its role as a source of solidarity as well as a sound analysis of the situation. The anarchist role was to stress the background to the attack on pensions (banking crisis and bail-out, ideological attack etc) as well as arguing for the unity all education workers, including the ‘users’ of education, in a common campaign.
- The Solidarity Federation produced useful leaflets that other anarchists could use. The focus was on unity of all staff, students and parents. In addition, the leaflet raised general issues affecting education such as EMA, rather than focusing solely on pensions. My comrades in the Anarchist Federation leafleted outside my college and I helped leaflet outside another comrade’s college.
The Day of the Strike
- The strike was almost 100% supported by union members. Very few students came in. However, other staff crossed the picket line, despite many expressing sympathy. The college was described as a ‘ghost town’ on that day.
- Many people went on the demonstration who wouldn’t normally go. There is more interaction between NUT members on a borough-wide level.
- There is a general feeling of anticipation- that there is more to come. However, this feeling could easily dissipate over the summer holidays.
What to do now
My role as an anarchist in my college is to make sure that the momentum to build a movement of resistance is kept up. There are a number of things to be done.
- Regular meetings that involve as many people as possible; joint meetings of teaching staff AND support staff should become the norm. Support staff may be on strike in the autumn; we need to develop solidarity between all staff and get student support.
- People need to rely less on union reps and borough officials. At the moment, people still seem to look to them for ‘leadership’ rather than taking control themselves. The whole idea of the union ‘calling out its members’ as if we are obedient sheep needs to be transformed into a situation in which workers on the ground are making these decisions for themselves.
- Education workers need to be more pro-active in gaining support within the community. The movement needs to be generalised.
Role of the anarchist movement
Though there are some anarchists in the workplaces themselves, most anarchists are supporting the struggle from ‘outside’. However, the key point we need to be making is we are not ‘outside’ but people who are very much affected by these issues and therefore the struggle of the public sector workers is everyone’s fight. The unions are highly unlikely to build a genuine mass movement against the cuts. They have their own narrow interests and in the long run their leaderships will sabotage any struggle. Anarchists have a clear role to play both within and outside of unions to help build a strong, effective movement of resistance. We need to start doing this now. Ideas include:
- Arguing for links to be made between community anti-cuts groups and the public sector workers. There shouldn’t be a separation between the workers and the ‘users’; they should come together in the same campaign.
- A campaign of propaganda must be launched that keeps the momentum going and begins to build support now for the actions that will most likely be coming in the future. Anarchists have the ideas and analysis to help the struggle succeed and we must share these ideas with others through leaflets, posters and stickers, stalls and rallies.
- Given the strength of the anarchist movement amongst students and young people, anarchists can contribute to the building of links between students and the staff at schools, colleges and universities.
There are so many things anarchists can be doing.
1.We need to embed ourselves where possible in workplace organisation working along the guidelines suggested above.
2. We need to work against the cuts in the neighbourhoods and boroughs, where possible within existing anti-cuts groups. Too often, these groups are extremely small or behave in a tokenistic way. Anarchists should, where possible, attempt to open these groups up and to move them beyond narrow groupings of union militants to groups encompassing pensioners, students (whether in school, FE colleges or universities) tenants groups and others in the neighbourhoods. They need to be enlarged and to take part in actions that lead to small local victories, for example forcing the local council to retreat on the closure of a library, youth centre or community centre.
A lot of this work could be seen as boring in comparison to the “spectacular” actions of, say, March 26th. But it needs to be done and anarchists have to seriously involve themselves in every day work in the workplace and neighbourhood. In some areas this is taking place already, but much more needs to be done.
3. Some very good anarchist propaganda has been produced and distributed on a fairly large scale in the recent few months. However this needs to be intensified in the coming period, in order to counter the extensive lies and misinformation coming from the mainstream media, lies and misinformation intended to divide and demoralise the working class.
Anarchist Federation teacher
- Anarchist Federation/Solidarity Federation Anti-cuts forum Tues 27th Sept, Freedom bookshop
- Anarchist Federation (London) weekly meetings: thursdays, Freedom bookshop
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