Monday, August 05, 2013

Bash the Rich: True Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK by Ian Bone (Tangent Books 2006)

In fact, most anarchists kept their private lives completely divorced from their anarchist activities and would have been horrified if their neighbours had known about their hobby!

More to the point, I thought not talking to the media was missing out on major opportunities to spread our ideas. Yes of course we'd been misrepresented . . . blah blah . . . but still, however deformed, our ideas and existence would be read about by far more people in the News of the World (circulation 5,000,000) than a piece in Class War (circulation 15,000). After all, I'd first found out about anarchism in Punch. So when Andrew Tyler contacted us about doing a piece in Time Out about Class War in May 1985, me and Martin Wright decided to brave the cries of 'sell-out!' and go for it. If we were going to be exposed anyway, we might at least get a few good quotes in.

The Time Out piece was better than we could have dreamed of. Tyler had grasped the difference between us and the stultifying torpor that was British anarchism and written a coruscating piece that gave Class War an electrifying jolt. The oxygen of publicity resulted in a packed Class War conference two weeks later. The predicted criticism of our sell-out in Time Out came early in the day. 'Yes, I am sorry we appeared in Time Out,' I grovelled, 'I'm sorry it wasn't on the front page of the News of the World'. Tumultuous applause (well so it seems 20 years later). The case for talking to the press was won and has always been vindicated in my view. I was subsequently exposed in the Sunday Mirror, Today and the News of the World ('Dangerous lunatics who want to kill the entire cast of Eastenders' - don't ask!) and despite the vilification we got, our post bag was always rammed full the following week with people who'd never heard of us before but wanted o get involved now.

In particular, the quotation from the Living Legends lyric God Bless You Queen Mum appearing in the Sunday Mirror and wishing her an early death was especially popular. The key, of course, is not to believe your own publicity and the oxygen certainly went to my head in those intoxicating months in 1985. At the conference I had argued for '500 people with sledgehammers attacking the bridge at Henley.' By the time of that year's anarchist bookfair in Conway Hall, I was well away. Having sold shit loads of Class Wars with Martin I took the stage at the end of the day. Well, actually, there was already someone on the stage so I had to push him off it first. Unfortunately, that person was Donald Rooum - a veteran comrade I have a lot of respect for going back to his framing by the police for intending to throw a brick at the queen of Greece in the 1960s. However, it wasn't really Donald I was shoving off the stage but the old anarchist movement. Drunk as fuck I declared:
'You liberals and pacifists have had our movement for too long, now it's our turn. If we haven't reduced the place to ruins in five years you can have it back!'
Quite why I wanted to reduce the venerable Conway Hall to ruins was unclear. But what the fuck. I might have paraphrased Durrutti, but the point was clear. We were on a fucking roll.

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