November bulletin

Here we are in November and the situation we’re in regarding vaccine passports, the possible imposition of further restrictions and the trajectory further into the great reset is about as clear as a stream that Anglian Water has just dumped a load of untreated sewage in! When some clarity emerges that we can comment on, we’ll post our thoughts on this blog.

This is the second of our monthly bulletins which are being produced in lieu of a printed paper and also, a downloadable PDF of a paper. As stated last month, it’s a bit of an experiment in presenting and distributing our content in different ways. One day, we hope to be able to produce The Stirrer as a printed paper. Before we can do that, we need to sort out how we distribute it and also, how we finance it. We’ll keep you posted if we think of anything…

1. Going our own way

2. Too much tech?

3. The Politics of Division

4. Our terms and conditions for helping out other groups…

5. Our blogs

6. Friends & Allies

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1. Going our own way

Those who know us will be aware that our relationship with the anarchist movement has become somewhat strained over the years. The deterioration started with the acrimonious fallout from the ill fated 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair when divisions over gender identity led to some pretty ugly scenes. After a process of analysing the issues at stake, the stance we drew was one veering towards being gender critical. That lost us quite a few comrades.

The deterioration continued with the Covid crisis in 2020. Our increasingly sceptical stance towards lockdowns and our critique of the great reset that the crisis is being leveraged to bring about pushed us even further towards a minority position. One that sadly, has become untenable.

We still adhere to what we see as anarchist principles. However, rather dealing with the tensions our stance has generated, we’ve decided to back out of the anarchist movement and focus on the day to day shite we have to deal with out here in the badlands of the Thames estuary. Shite like corrupt/incompetent councils, council spending cuts, crumbling housing estates, crumbling public infrastructure, slum landlords, slum landlords with juicy contracts from the Home Office to house refugees, unwanted road schemes, gentrification, air pollution, flooding…the list goes on… Shite that doesn’t care how anyone defines themselves or is defined by others, because when it hits, we’re all in it together regardless.

We’d like to think that some day, we’ll be able to resume some kind of working relationship with the anarchist movement. The door is always open. However, with the way things stand at the moment, it’s best all round that we go our separate ways and focus our energy on getting stuff done rather than energy sapping infighting.

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2. Too much tech?

In an ideal world, technology was supposed to make our lives easier, taking care of the drudge while we got on with the important things in life. Just one of the things it was supposed to do was help us communicate more effectively with each other. Instead it has replaced meaningful face to face interactions with screen based ones. We all know how screen based communications can easily be misinterpreted and end up in toxic rows that divide us!

Look, we’re not complete Luddites – this blog is written and published using a laptop. That’s one example of how design and print technology can democratise the way we communicate our ideas. The Net was supposed to have done that but as pretty much everyone who’s an activist can tell you, the unholy alliance of government and the tech corporations are working together to increasingly censor what we want to say online.

It’s legitimate to question who controls technology and who benefits from it. It sure as heck isn’t us! From online censorship, all pervasive surveillance in supposedly public spaces and facial recognition through to digital vaccine passports, digital identity and the acceleration of the move towards a cashless society, technology is being weaponised against us.

As an aside, QR codes were originally devised to make stock control of items in a warehouse more efficient. That’s fine if that’s as far as it goes – there’s nothing wrong in deploying technology to make working in a warehouse easier. The thing is, they’ve gone way beyond that…

We’re at a point where if we don’t put up a fight, we’ll be obliged to rely on having the right QR code to access colleges, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, sports stadia, entertainment venues, restaurants, pubs…the list goes on. We’ll end up being controlled like items of stock. That’s how the corporations and governments see us – as mere items of stock that can be discarded if we get too difficult. This is the dehumanising future these bastards have in store for us as part of their coveted ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – if we let them that is. We won’t let them though, will we?

Last but by no means least the announcement by Facebook that in collaboration with others, they intend to focus on the metaverse – What is Facebook’s metaverse and why is the social media giant so focused on it? Basically, we’d rather meet and talk to people face to face than in some fake, controlled and monitored ‘virtual’ environment…

Further reading

Tech: A guide to the politics and philosophy of new technology – Freedom Press

We are at a unique moment in human history – an ecological precipice, perhaps a social tipping point. Whatever path we take, unravelling technology and the dilemmas it presents will give us a clearer view of the horizon ahead of us.

Martine Rothblatt – A Modern Day Ivanovich Selivanov? – Jennifer Bilek | The 11th Hour | October 20, 2021

Are we in the throes of a new techno-religious cult, modern cousin to the Skoptsy, but driven by the almost unimaginable powers of modern technology, sewn to unfettered capitalism? In the hands of men like Martine Rothblatt, Susan Stryker, and Rachel Levine, it seems our humanity won’t have much of a prayer, unless we start praying to a life-giving goddess, instead of a machine god.

The Disturbing Origins of Cybernetics and Transhumanism – Matthew Ehret | Off Guardian | June 26, 2021

This Borg-like deterministic faith in the human-machine synthesis that pervades the thinking of all modern transhumanists is both cultish, creepy and just plain wrong. However, without a proper evaluation into the historic roots of these ideas that threaten to derail global civilization into a dystopian collapse, it is impossible to understand anything fundamental about the past 120 years of human experience, let alone see where the fatal flaws are within the Great Reset/Transhumanist operating system.

The Great Self-Betrayal and the Great Reset – Tessa Lena | Substack | June 8, 2021

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (which, by the way, is an official goal of western governments at the moment, as per many official documents and contracts) is predicated upon our spiritual and physical self-betrayal, and I mean it literally. We are asked to dance along the carrot and the whip of their biosecurity-state-impact-investment-gene-therapy-total-surviellance reform but they don’t tell us how it all ends for us. Nor do they care about minds or bodies.

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3. The Politics of Division

This excellent pamphlet has recently been published by the Anarchist Communist Group:

The Politics of Division: An engagement with identity politics – A contribution to the debate

In recent decades politics has moved a long way from expressing what it is we want to achieve and has instead refocused on expressing who it is I am and what I believe my heritage or essential characteristics to be, and this is often an emotive and painful issue, especially where, as so often, there has been a history of oppression and subjugation. While these are indeed important enquiries and will of course inform each individual’s perspective on what needs to change in our quest for a better society, this pamphlet argues that to be effective revolutionary politics must be about that shared future we seek to build. What makes each of us an anarchist communist – or whatever vision it is you might hold – is that set of values we will build the future upon.

This pamphlet is presented with respect for our many struggles and in anger at our many experiences of oppression, determined that our collective efforts will build a better future.

Price £3 inclusive of postage.

In light of this publication, we felt it was time to time to dig into our archives, dust these posts down and give them another airing:

Just what do we mean by ‘identity politics’?

“The term identity politics has become a bit of a lightning rod in the anarchist/radical movement, with some saying it should be a central part of what we do while others say it’s a distraction from class struggle. Looking back through some of the previous posts I’ve made on here, you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m firmly in the latter camp. It’s true that class struggle politics does inform a lot of my activity but I’m starting to seriously question what it is I’m supposed to be defining this against when it comes to political priorities. I’m coming to the conclusion that identity politics is used to describe such a wide range of issues that it’s becoming meaningless as a useful term. If anything, it’s become a bit of a slur for areas of political activity that some want to dismiss. Using the term as a slur basically ends up either shutting down a debate and/or polarising people to the point where it’s impossible to have any kind of useful discussion.”

The debate that won’t go away

“There’s a perception that anarchism has little to offer working class people. What we’re trying to do is to develop a way of getting anarchist ideas across to people in a jargon free way that they can relate to and start to act upon. It may be a subjective feeling that we have but we feel that there are more barriers than there need to be in achieving our aims. One of those barriers is the polarised debate over identity politics and working class anarchism. What we want to do with this pamphlet is start the process of identifying those barriers and then removing them.”

Cultural identity, class and change

“If cultural identity is fixed, it begs this question – how has humanity evolved to where we are today? Surely the history of humanity is about cultures meeting, adapting and evolving as a consequence ? As cultures meet, interact, borrow from each other and evolve, the sense of identity that’s bound up with belonging to a culture inevitably changes. The evolution of humanity is a dynamic process so by definition, the development of culture will also be a dynamic process with the consequence that to a greater or lesser degree, a sense of identity will always be fluid.”

Difficult definitions – ‘white working class’ and ‘white privilege’

“This piece is written by someone who is a) working class and b) happens to be white but who emphatically rejects being described as ‘white working class’. What follows is an exploration of why I find use of the term a problem while acknowledging the historical advantages the native working class in Britain have been able to enjoy as a result of being allowed just enough access to the spoils of empire to be brought off from revolutionary radicalism. Advantages that as neo-liberalism has taken over pretty much every aspect of our lives, are starting to disappear in the face of increasingly precarious working and housing conditions for more and more of us. A precarity that’s bringing a growing number of so called native Britons down to the level of super-exploited migrant labour.”

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4. Our terms and conditions for helping out other groups…

This post was originally published on our sister blog, Alternative Estuary. We’re re-publishing it here because the points we make really do need to be drummed home with certain people:(

At the end of last year, we wrote this post: You won’t change the world if you’re not organised! December 12, 2021. Our motivation for writing it came from a sense of frustration with a lack of organisation in some of the grassroots groups we’ve worked with over the years. What we tried to do with this post was stress the need for sound organisation along with open, honest and effective communication within the group and with any partners working with them. At the end of the post, we added a list of resources that we thought would be useful in helping these groups to operate effectively.

Part of what we’re trying to achieve with Alternative Estuary is to build a network of groups and projects committed to bringing about real, meaningful change at the grassroots. Sometimes that means facilitating a project to help it get off the ground and become self sustaining. At other times, it means pitching in to help out at an event. We do this because we believe in solidarity and mutual aid. The aim is to have a network of self sustaining, autonomous groups who will work together as and when needed to become something greater than the sum of their parts. It’s only by groups co-operating with each other as equals that we have any hope of building the new world we all want to see.

What we don’t want to do is work with a project or an event where every time we engage with them, as a result of their lack of organisation, we have to keep re-inventing the wheel because they haven’t listened to our advice on how to become self sustaining. That’s not a relationship of equals who have mutual respect for each other. It’s people who can’t get their act together relying on us to turn up and yet again pull their arses out of the fire. To be blunt, when people expect us to do this it’s a) taking the piss and b) abusive. It certainly isn’t doing anything to build the new world we want.

We make no apologies for coming over as pretty blunt about this. We all have a lot of pressure on our time and we want to make sure that we use it as effectively as possible. Look, we realise that with any project or event, things will not always go smoothly and there will be times when things go wrong. The important thing is learning from our mistakes to ensure that the next time round, things work out better. That in part means better advance planning and open and honest communication. If people can’t even be bothered to bother to get these basics right then quite frankly, we don’t want to waste our time with them. We hope this message gets through. Right, that’s it, rant over!

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5. Our blogs

It’s been just over a year since the South Essex Heckler was archived. The problem with the South Essex Heckler was that it was trying to be all things to all people – reaching out to disaffected locals on the one hand and (sort of) engaging with anarchists and other radicals on the other. It got to a point where it didn’t really have a clear identity.

It was replaced with two successor blogs.

There’s the locally focused Thurrock and Basildon Heckler. The aim of this is to call truth to power. That means putting the likes of Thurrock Council, Basildon Council, Highways England, Anglian Water and anyone else who pisses us off on the spot. Where possible, we try to inject some humour:)

Then there’s The Stirrer which is aimed more at independent anarchists and various other radicals. It’s no secret that The Stirrer is on the lockdown sceptic side of the divide – look, someone’s got to do it! Having said that, we try to make the content as broad as we can but still with some relevance to people living across the South of Essex.

Has the split worked? Broadly, yes as both blogs have a clearer identity and focus. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement but that’s the case with anything we undertake.

Last but by no means least, there’s Alternative Estuary which is about promoting grassroots activism along the Thames estuary.

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6. Friends & Allies

https://winteroak.org.uk/acorn/

https://nevermore.media/

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