South Essex Working Class Action


We’ve re-purposed one of our Facebook pages as South Essex Working Class Action. This page reflects the work we do alongside our mates from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) on class struggle / community activist politics. It’s totally focused on promoting a radical, progressive working class political agenda. As such, the page will be an identity politics free zone. We make no apologies for this as we feel there’s a need for a space promoting an explicit working class political agenda.

As we move forwards, when we and BASHA undertake actions and campaigns with a pro-working class political agenda, it will be under the name of South Essex Working Class Action. As the flyer clearly states, it does what it says on the tin! All this is is doing is formalising an arrangement that has been operating for almost four years between us and BASHA. In doing this, we hope to act as a pole of attraction for those of our class looking for a radical alternative.

As to how we operate, it will be pretty much business as normal but under a new banner. In other words, a bit pushy, mouthy, irreverent, sometimes disrespectful and always calling truth to power. Also, as you may guess from the image of the blob men and pitchforks that has been associated with us for a few years, our piss taking sense of humour will never be that far from the surface.

Our other Facebook page is South Essex Radical Media. This reflects the content from this blog and our two sister blogs, On Uncertain Ground and The Estuary Alternative. Discussion of identity politics and how divisive some strands of that are proving to be to the anarchist movement will continue on the South Essex Radical Media page. As time progresses, each page will develop it’s own unique character and focus and play their respective parts in reflecting the various facets of how we operate.

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Explaining a few changes…

We have a bit of a social media presence and here’s an explanation of how it works. We have South Essex Radical Media on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/southessexradmedia/ and also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SthEssRadMedia What the South Essex Radical Media social media presence does is reflect the content from this blog and our sister blogs, On Uncertain Ground: https://onuncertainground.wordpress.com/ and The Estuary Alternative: https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ As these blogs each have a different function, it means that discussions on the South Essex Radical Media social media presence can cover a wide range of issues, including identity politics.

Then there’s South Essex Working Class Action on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/southessexwca/ As you can guess from the name, the function of this page is the promotion of progressive, pro-working class politics. What this page allows us to do is reflect what we at the Stirrer along with our comrades from Basildon & Southend Housing Action and the various community groups they work with on the estates, do to promote a working class political agenda – as things move forwards, we want this page to take more of a lead in doing this.

Of necessity, the South Essex Working Class Action Facebook page will be an identity politics free zone. We make no apologies for this – it’s well known we have concerns about the way too many parts of our movement are getting sucked into the vortex of identity politics and we want to carve out a space where the politics of class struggle come first.

It’s down to us but most importantly, it’s down to YOU!

The point of our project at South Essex Radical Media (SERM) with our publications, The South Essex Stirrer and The Estuary Alternative, and our alliance with Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) is simple – to inspire, encourage and support people to take action at the grassroots in order to bring about meaningful change.

SERM is basically about propaganda. It’s our job to report on what we see across the region we cover and, not just point out what’s wrong but to stir people up to start acting collectively to bring about change. BASHA are community and housing activists. As well as holding Basildon Council to account for their repeated failings, they aim to encourage residents and tenants on the estates to start taking collective action to bring about change.

This is why we and BASHA support and facilitate the work of groups such as the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG) and help to facilitate actions such as this: Doing it for ourselves on the ¾ estate in Vangehttps://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/doing-it-for-ourselves-on-the-3/4-estate-in-vange/ It’s not for us to tell VHCG what to do – their supporters live on the estate and know exactly what needs to be done! All we do is provide logistical support and some equipment on clean up days and help them to produce their propaganda. We hope that what VHCG do will act as an example to other estates and inspire people to start collectively taking action.

With The Estuary Alternative, the ultimate aim is to hand the project over to grassroots activists in the region while we move on to other initiatives. As stated in this piece: The future of this project…https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/the-future-of-this-project/ we don’t want to be lumbered with the job of finding content for it for ever and a day. The aim of The Estuary Alternative is to foster a greater degree of communication and co-operation between and among the range of grassroots groups operating in the region. That means that ultimately, it has to end up as a collective, collaborative project…

There are only a few of us and we have to be focused on what we can achieve with what are limited resources. Running The South Essex Stirrer and the On Uncertain Ground blogs (and the paper) takes up a lot of our time and energy which is why when we launch an initiative such as The Estuary Alternative, we really do want other grassroots activists to eventually take it off our hands!

It’s the same with BASHA, there are only a few of them and they want to focus on their roles of a) holding Basildon Council to account and b) facilitating and supporting grassroots groups and activists on the estates. They are not a back up service to be called upon when the roads haven’t been gritted or the rubbish hasn’t been collected. If residents and tenants want to act together to deal with issues like this, BASHA will happily support and facilitate them but they’re not going to do the bloody job for them!

We’ve had a fair few discussions about this dilemma that we’re facing and why people look to us to do stuff rather than them collectively doing it for themselves. There’s no single answer to this…

In the case of BASHA, on a growing number of estates, it’s a toxic cocktail of factors such as a general collapse of morale in the face of austerity plus demographic reasons such as the growing number of buy to let landlords and houses of multiple occupation leading to a constant churn in the population. Atomisation isn’t just a word bandied about by sociologists in academia – it’s the brutal reality we increasingly find on the estates.

With SERM, our biggest headache is getting other people to write for our blogs. We do get a few guest pieces for which we are incredibly grateful but we still have to do a lot of the legwork in terms of sourcing content. To broaden our reach we’re increasingly using re-blogs and cut and pasting media releases from groups we trust but it’s no substitute for having a rota of regular contributors. With all of our publications, we really want to open them up to as many individual groups and activists as possible to make them truly representative of what’s going on.

Drawing to a conclusion, it seems that we are up against the evils of demoralisation and atomisation on the estates and a worrying degree of complacency in a number of grassroots groups who seem happy to plod along doing the same old thing rather than reach out, link up and step up a gear. Going into what is looking to be a turbulent and unpredictable 2018, we’re going to need as much solidarity as can be mustered to deal with the onslaught that’s coming our way.

We don’t pretend to have the answers to this dilemma by any stretch of the imagination. We’re more than happy to listen to what other people have to say on the problems of demoralisation, atomisation and passivity and how they think they can be overcome. We admit that this piece can be seen as us venting some of our frustrations! Having said that, the intention is to foster a constructive discussion on how we can move forward and get ourselves into a position where we can deal with whatever 2018 throws at us…

We’re going to be at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October

With our friends from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA), we’ll be jointly running a stall at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair. The venue is Park View School, West Green Road, London, N15 3QR and the bookfair runs from 10am – 7pm.

This is a final call out for our friends and supporters to come along and have a chat with us about the work we’re doing out along the estuary. As we’ve stated previously, while we adhere to anarchist principles, for a variety of reasons stated in the special edition of the Stirrer we’ve produced for the bookfair, we find it hard to feel that we’re part of a broader anarchist movement. That may be down to the somewhat fractured nature of anarchist activism at the current time. We may be naïve but we hope that this year’s bookfair might see the first steps towards some degree of unity with more of an emphasis on class politics…

We recognise there are anarchists who do not share our analysis or approach…we don’t have a problem with that. Achieving radical change requires a variety of different approaches, depending on the circumstances prevailing. Despite our having a reputation of sometimes being a bit stroppy, we’re actually willing to listen to different viewpoints and learn from the experiences of others. We also welcome constructive criticism and reasonable debate as well. However, what we do not welcome is intellectual point scoring on the one hand and sneering abuse on the other – if that’s all you have to offer, please don’t bother coming over to our stall!

We’ll be at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October

With our friends from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA), we’ll be jointly running a stall at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair. The venue is Park View School, West Green Road, London, N15 3QR and the bookfair runs from 10am – 7pm.

Why are we going? Firstly to talk to people about our community focused politics and actions, and the need to work from the grassroots upwards in our neighbourhoods if we’re serious about fundamental change. Secondly to boost the audience for all of the South Essex Radical Media blogs and publications, and hopefully get some donations to help with the cost of running and producing them:) Thirdly, to build alliances with any like-minded groups who share our approach and tactics in the project of building a movement for change. Finally, we also hope to be able to meet up with our supporters at the bookfair to plan and plot for the future…

We’re attending the bookfair because we try as much as we can to operate on anarchist principles. However, we can’t really say with our hands on our hearts that we really feel we’re part of the broader anarchist movement. That is partially down to our geographical isolation out on the Essex shore of the Thames estuary which means we can operate in a more flexible way if it means we get results and can build useful alliances.

Also, when we have been out on the streets during the course of this year, apart from a few outings with our friends from Class War, we’ve been out and about with a range of groups who don’t really see themselves as anarchists. United Voices of the World: Unions take note…this is how you take action!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/unions-take-note-this-is-how-you-take-action/ and Focus E15: Marching from tower to towerhttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/marching-from-tower-to-tower/ are two of the groups we’ve been out with.

Basically, it’s showing solidarity with people who really are at the sharp end of what a dysfunctional society has to throw at them but who’ve no intention of taking it and fight back instead. In these circumstances, as far as we’re concerned, solidarity is considerably more important than ideological purity…

To conclude, the whole point of an anarchist bookfair is to have a space for constructive debate so we can all move forwards. We feel that a point has been reached where some serious soul searching is needed as to how we can make anarchism relevant to working class people…