Over the last few years I have penned a number of biographies and obituaries of anarchist militants. One of the most poignant of these was a piece I had to write on the Spanish militant Luis Andres Edo whom I had known personally whilst living in Paris in the early 1970s. But nothing compares to the painful task of writing this remembrance of a comrade I have known for forty years.
I first met Bob Miller in 1973 or 1974. He participated in a libertarian communist group within the Socialist Party of Great Britain. This group contacted the London group of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists of which I was a member and we began to have discussions. They had wanted to orient the Party more to the workers’ and social struggles that were in full swing at this time. Just after the 1972 SPGB conference they began publishing a magazine called Libertarian Communism and ORA comrades gave some support in terms of resources, I seem to remember. People outside the Party contributed to the magazine. They and other SPGB members were expelled or left in support not long after. I remember Bob coming round to the North London flat I shared with 2 other ORA members for discussions, always lively and sometimes heated , and in retrospect I have to admit Bob was more accurate on some of the finer points of analysis than we were!
The expelled group linked up with other SPGB dissidents who had been expelled at the same time and eventually a group emerged called Social Revolution. We organised joint day schools with them and with Solidarity at the Centro Iberico in North London, and there were high expectations of a merger between ORA and Social Revolution. However this was not to be and Social Revolution then completed a merger with the libertarian socialist organisation Solidarity. I lost track of Bob and his comrades after that. He and they passed through Solidarity and then were involved in the founding of the Wildcat group and then of the Subversion group which produced a journal of the same name.
In February 1988 I was handing out a leaflet produced by the Anarchist Communist Federation aimed at the large demonstration in Manchester called to combat Section 28 ( a significant attack by the Thatcher government on gay people). Bob was at the demo with the Subversion comrades and they liked our leaflet. Contact was established and we got around to organising a series of joint day schools around the country. With the demise of Subversion Bob joined the ACF in 1998 with a couple of other ex-members of Subversion and we began to work closely over the next decade.
Bob was an enthusiast of cheap pamphlets and he was instrumental in developing a whole range of Anarchist Federation pamphlets . In addition he was a dynamic activist within the Manchester AF group and was involved in many local activities. The testimony of many who were influenced by Bob over the years can be found on internet boards like Urban 75 and libcom and they stand as a fine tribute to both his influence and importance.
Bob had many fine qualities, chief of which were his generosity and hospitality and his desire to make libertarian communist ideas accessible; he was always welcoming to new comrades, he was almost always reasonable and always attempted to act in a non-sectarian way to other libertarians, and he rarely lost his temper during political encounters. He and I sometimes had disagreements, but they were like the quarrels of brothers, and I always had great respect and admiration for his political longevity and his continuing optimism about social change.
He is a great loss to the Anarchist Federation and to the movement in general. I miss him very much.
Bob passed away shortly before midnight the night of 17th June 2011.
http://libcom.org/history/miller-bob-1953-2011 contains a link to recollections of Bob's life and a nice photo.
The previous issue of Freedom also contained letters submitted and collected following Bob's death: http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2011/07/02/bob-miller-rip/
Watch this video of Bob speaking at a Mayday event (2008) in Manchester "No Borders, No Nations, Free Communism!": http://www.afed.org.uk/images/Anarchist_Federation_ Speech_by_Bob_Miller_at_Manchester_Mayday_2008.mp4
The photograph accompanying this article was taken at the The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and left there with a red rose (see shadow on poster) and a red & black flag. 2011 was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune.
In the light of recent events it's well worth a read of this contemporary spoof of The Sun newspaper containing a "Tintin" cartoon about the Wapping printers strike of 1986-7, that was supported by many class struggle anarchists including those who formed the Anarchist Communist Federation (our old name) and Class War at the time it was about to become Class War Federation. And this is even more contemporary, taken outside News International this week, and also featured on BBC News!
We will never forget the brave fight of the printers at Wapping.
Amongst the written material produced by strike supporters during the dispute and handed out on the picket lines was Picket and copies of Class War. Later publications covering the strike included the pamphlet Paper Boys. All are available in print at the Sparrows' Nest library and archive in Nottingham. More online at http://libcom.org/tags/wapping including a photo essay.
They said we were greedy printers but we showed them all.
Since the Winter of Discontent, when the Soft Cops were no longer able to control the workers their role for Capital has been on the decline and that of Hard Cop on the increase.
It would take their combined efforts to break up the strike. It would take over a year, 2000 arrests, beatings, the murder of a resident by a scab with a police escort and Sabotage to firmly mount the saddle, sign a Secret Agreement . [introduction to Paper Boys]
See also: the BBC's historical view ... Wyn Jones, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said, "We saw the classic example of honest well-intentioned union members supporting their cause being joined by diverse elements whose only interest was in causing as much trouble as possible. " "They were intent on disrupting business and assaulting officers."
Thousands of people have been occupying public squares in Greece to protest the government’s continuing austerity drive. Syntagma Square, in front of the parliament building, has been the principle focus of the occupations with thousands camping out and holding regular mass assemblies. The actions culminated in an attempt to blockade the parliament building on the day of the general strike, a plan that prompted widespread repression and confrontation with the police (including use of new motorcycle units who are equipped with metal clubs, tear gas and stun grenades). Police are also reported to have stopped ambulance crews from assisting injured protesters. An estimated 20-30,000 people filled the square, making it a far larger and more diverse action than any opposition seen so far. Protesters also attacked the luxurious Hotel Prince George and the Ministry of Economics. In response to the ongoing crisis the government has called for a “national unity” coalition, the assembly, however, has responded that it will continue to hold the square until governments, banks and the IMF are ousted.
The strength of the occupations, their size and their commitment to direct action and non-representational methods of organising are certainly inspiring and show the credibility of anarchist methods in practice. This aside, some in the existing anarchist movement have pointed to the need for more sustained intervention as there is an ongoing commitment to pacifistic methods (in spite of police provocation) and some of the actions are backed by nationalist sentiment, e.g. defending the Hellenic Republic from the “foreign” intervention of the EU and IMF. The latter has prompted the involvement of fascist groups who, in a surprising move, attended the protests during the General Strike (after a clash with anarchists they were ousted from the demonstration). More worrying reports have also come through of hostility to the use of anarchist banners and flags within the occupation itself. Nonetheless, the examples set by Greek workers are positive and testament to the power of direct action. Most importantly they point to a clear strategy – to escalate dissent to a point where the system is ungovernable – in the international fightback against austerity.
Nearly a million workers will be striking and demonstrating on June 30th- workers in education, the civil service and the London underground. This is a further sign of widespread anger within the working class at the package of austerity measures unleashed by the government. We have already had the student demonstration which ended with the Millbank occupation, the huge turnout on March 26th as well as many local actions including strikes, blockades, marches.
These austerity measures are hitting us, the working class, through cuts in the NHS, fast rising unemployment rates, rounds of redundancies, whether so-called “voluntary” or compulsory, wage freezes, cuts in disability benefits, and cuts in local services as well as an attack on pensions, which is a major reason for the June 30th actions. People will have to pay more for their pensions, will have to work longer, and at the end, get a smaller pension.
It seems exciting that so many workers are coming out at the same time. However, union leaders will not go far enough, and will seek to channel our anger and dissent into weak and tokenistic forms of protest. Those of us in the striking unions have been balloted for discontinuous action - giving us the option to stage multiple strikes. We need to make sure this happens, and that these strikes are as far reaching and militant as possible including further strike action in October. But not all public sector workers are striking, and the private sector is out of the equation.
This should not be an occasion to let this go by passively. The day of action can be made more effective by:
• Strengthening the strike pickets as much as possible. Everyone should support these by going to their nearest picket. This means not just workers in that sector but everyone who is affected by the cuts- other workers, school students, FE and HE students, pensioners, the unemployed
• Refusing to cross picket lines
• Joining the strike even if you are not a paid up member of a union
• Organising meetings in the workplaces in the run up to June 30th to get maximum support for the strike
• School students and further education students ( where they are still at school because many terms will be ending) should turn out to support teachers and lecturers and organise their own actions
• Most university students will have finished their academic year. However, where possible they should support the strike pickets and demonstrations where they can
• The widest possible solidarity has to be reached between teaching staff and support staff. In all sectors, whether education, the civil service or transport the greatest involvement of those not "officially" on strike
• Encourage those who feel they cannot take part in supporting the strike including workers in other sectors to phone in sick on the day
• On June 30th delegations from picket lines to visit other workplaces to encourage solidarity action. The organisation of local marches and assemblies where possible
June 30th has the potential to be a huge display of anger at the cuts that are being imposed. The more successful, the more who turn out to strike and to support, the greater the encouragement to carry on ongoing actions that don’t just involve one token day.
We have no faith in the trade union leaders to successfully “lead” the fight against these austerity measures. Neither should we place trust in the Labour Party. They were the ones who started many of the measures that this government has carried on. Where Labour runs local councils it implements the cuts packages. Labour tells us that cuts are necessary, it’s just that they will do it in a "kinder" way. How many Labour MPs have you heard justifying austerity measures?
No, we have to rely on ourselves, on our own organisation. We can carry on the fight through mass assemblies where everyone can put over their view, where any delegates are mandated and subject to recall. We can win this fight against these austerity measures. All over the world we have the example of ordinary working people suddenly discovering their own self confidence and their own ability to organise and to resist, no matter what the odds.
WE CAN WIN!
image from the J30 Strike Assembly
International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) statement in solidarity with the social movement in Greece
International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) statement in solidarity with the social movement in Greece
Solidarity statement in English, French, Italian, Greek and Czech: agreed at the Commission of Relations of the International of Anarchist Federations meeting: 22nd May 2011.http://i-f-a.org (previously http://www.iaf-ifa.org ). The AF is the British section of the international. More details: http://www.afed.org.uk/organisation/international-iaf-ifa.html
11th of May: violent police repression against the social movement in Greece. Solidarity from the International of Anarchist Federations
On the 11th of May, a general strike was called in Greece. As a consequence, several demonstrations took place across the country. One in Athens was brutally repressed.
This serious attack by the police comes during a tense situation: repression of militants and fascist attacks on immigrant areas. Since the beginning of the movement, when tens of thousands came together, the police violently attacked libertarian groups and the base unions. Many people have been injured and dozens arrested. One protester was so badly beaten that his life is threatened. The Greek government is accused by protesters of attempted murder.
The International of Anarchist Federations supports the protesters, social movements and anarchist groups in the fight against the socially repressive measures dictated by the Greek government and IMF. We condemn the police repression and the violence of the State. We support the Greek anarchist movement and the popular fightback which, in Greece as well as in others countries, builds up daily with new methods of resistance and putting forward a social alternative.
CRIFA Reggio Emilia 22nd May, 2011.
11 mai : violente répression policière contre le mouvement social en Grèce.
Le 11 mai, un appel à la grève générale a été lancé en Grèce. La manifestation a été brutalement réprimée à Athènes. Cette attaque policière survient dans un climat de tension : inculpation de militants, attaque par les fascistes des lieux occupés et des imigrès. Lorsque la manifestation, regroupant plusieurs dizaines de milliers de personnes, a débuté, la police a attaqué violemment le cortège libertaire et les syndicats de base. Il y a eu plusieurs blessés et des dizaines d'arrestations. Un manifestant est entre la vie et la mort. Le gouvernement grec est accusé de tentative de meurtre par les manifestants.
L'Internationale des Federations Anarchistes apporte son soutien aux manifestants, aux mouvements sociaux et aux groupes anarchistes impliqués dans la lutte contre les mesures de régression sociale imposées par le gouvernement grec et le FMI. Nous condamnons la répression policière et la violence étatique. Nous soutenons les luttes populaires et le mouvement anarchiste grec, qui comme dans d'autres pays, construisent les nouvelles formes de résistance et d'organisation sociale alternatives.
CRIFA Reggio Emilia 22-5-2011
11 maggio: violenta repressione poliziesca contro il movimento sociale in Grecia Solidarietà dall’Internazionale di Federazioni Anarchiche
L’11 maggio, un appello allo sciopero generale è stato lanciato in Grecia. Da questo sono nate manifestazioni in tutto il paese, brutalmente represse ad Atene. Questo grave attacco poliziesco arriva in un clima di forte tensione: denunce di militanti, attacchi fascisti a spazi occupati e a migranti. Fin dall’inizio della manifestazione, che vedeva uniti decine di migliaia di partecipanti, la polizia ha attaccato violentemente lo spezzone libertario e quello dei sindacati di base. Molti sono stati i feriti e decine gli arrestati. Un manifestante è tra la vita e la morte per le percosse subite. Il governo greco è accusato dai manifestanti di tentativo di omicidio.
L’Internazionale di Federazioni Anarchiche sostiene i manifestanti, i movimenti sociali e i gruppi anarchici nelle lotte contro le misure di regressione sociale imposte dal governo greco e dal FMI.
Condanniamo la repressione poliziesca e la violenza dello Stato. Appoggiamo il movimento anarchico greco e le lotte popolari che, in Grecia come in altri paesi, quotidianamente costruiscono le nuove forme di resistenza e di alternativa sociale.
CRIFA Reggio Emilia 22-5-2011
Ανακοίνωση της IFA (Διεθνής των Αναρχικών Ομοσπονδιών) για τη βίαιη καταστολή της πρόσφατης απεργιακής διαδήλωσης
Βίαιη αστυνομική καταστολή του κοινωνικού κινήματος στην Ελλάδα
Στις 11 Μαϊου κυρήχθηκε γενική απεργία στην Ελλάδα. Στην Αθήνα η απεργιακή διαδήλωση χτυπήθηκε βάναυσα. Αυτή η αστυνομική επίθεση συνέβη σε μία περίοδο έντασης : συλλήψεις αγωνιστών, επιθεσεις φασιστών σε κατηλειμμένους χώρους και μετανάστες. Κατα τη διάρκεια της διαδήλωσης στην οποία συμμετείχαν δεκάδες χιλιάδες άτομα, η αστυνομία επιτέθηκε με βιαιότητα στα ελευθεριακά μπλοκ καθώς και σε αυτά των συνδικάτων βάσης. Υπήρξαν πολλοί τραυματίες και δεκάδες συλληφθέντες.
Ενας διαδηλωτής βρίσκεται μεταξύ ζωής και θανάτου. Η ελληνική κυβέρνηση κατηγορήθηκε απο τους διαδηλωτές για απόπειρα ανθρωποκτονίας. Η IFA στέλνει τη στηρηξή της στους διαδηλωτές, στα κοινωνικά κινήματα, και τις αναρχικές ομάδες που εμπλέκονται στον αγώνα κατά των μέτρων κοινωνικής οπισθοδόμησης που επεβλήθηκαν απο την ελληνική κυβέρνηση και το ΔΝΤ. Καταδικάζουμε την αστυνομική καταστολή και την κρατική βία. Υποστηρίζουμε τους λαϊκούς αγώνες και το αναρχικό κίνημα στην Ελλάδα, που όπως σε άλλες χώρες δημιουργεί καινούριες μορφές αντίστασης και εναλλακτικές μορφές κοινωνικής οργάνωσης.
crIFA, Reggio Emilia, 22-5-2011
11.května: násilné policejní represe proti sociálnímu hnutí v Řecku
Vyjádření solidarity od Internacionály anarchistických federací (IFA)
Dne 11. května byla v Řecku zahájena generální stávka, která iniciovala demonstrace po celé zemi. V Aténách došlo k jejich brutálnímu potlačení. Tento vážný útok policie se stal v atmosféře vysokého napětí - během militantních fašistických útoků na obydlí migrantů. Policie zaútočila hlavně na anarchisty a odboráře. Mnoho jich bylo zraněno a desítky zatčeny, přičemž jeden demonstrant byl zbit tak, že nyní bojuje o život. Demonstranti obvinili řeckou vládu z pokusu o vraždu.
IFA podporuje demonstrace, sociální hnutí a anarchistické skupiny v bojích proti sociálnímu útlaku vedenému řeckou vládou a MMF. Odsuzujeme policejní represe a násilí státu. Podporujeme řecké anarchistického hnutí a lidové boje, které v Řecku stejně jako v jiných zemích denně staví nové formy odporu a sociální alternativu.
CRIFA Reggio Emilia 22-5-2011
- UK Unmasked and the New Kids on the Bloc - preview article from Organise! 76 (Summer 2011)
- Pegging out the bunting - and polishing up the vinyl
- Office Angels - solidarity action after temp worker denied wages in Wimbledon
- The Battle of Stokes Croft - police attack on community in Bristol - 21/22 April 2011
- SolFed open letter to UKUncut about 'violent minorities' and useful links
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