A few words of explanation…

Regarding the ongoing ‘discussion’ about gender identity politics in the anarchist and radical movement and the divisions this has caused, if anyone wants to know what the current state of our relationship to the ‘movement’ is, we suggest they take a look at the links in the sidebar on this blog and also on our sister blog, On Uncertain Ground. Astute observers of the anarchist scene will notice a few absences in these links.

These absences are a) a reflection of our current semi-detached relationship to the movement and b) a rejection of an increasingly dogmatic, ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards acceptance of certain aspects of trans ideology that leaves little or no room for debate or questioning.

Deleting certain groups from the links sections on our blogs isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly. If we feel there’s an element of pressure from certain groups in pushing us to accept a position we can’t fully reconcile ourselves to, then sadly, we feel we can no longer link to or be associated with them. We hope the absences will make the groups concerned pause and reflect on how toxic and divisive this row has become and to pull back from inadvertently causing further damage to an already fractured movement.

We value our autonomy and the right for us to decide what we publish and who we associate with and refuse to surrender that to elements on both sides of the divide who want to shut down discussion and debate.

And that’s it, over and out… We’re going to carry on working with other class struggle anarchists and community activists and in the process of doing that, play our part in building a progressive working class alliance that will bring about meaningful change. We’re leaving the identity politics people to their own machinations – so long as they leave us alone, we’ll leave them alone. From this point onwards, as far as we’re concerned it’s onwards and upwards.


Something has changed…

We went into Grays today to do some door to door distribution of the latest print edition of the South Essex Stirrer. Out of the couple of hundred houses we delivered to, we saw just one decorated with flags for the ‘royal’ wedding taking place in Windsor. When we got back to the town centre at the point when the wedding was starting, it was as busy as normal for a Saturday. The cafe we went to have lunch in when the ceremony was taking place was also as busy as would normally be expected. When we got back to where we live in the eastern part of Thurrock, the street where the usual suspects who throw a street party every time there’s a royal event was devoid of activity.

Given the hype across the media about the wedding which even took in the Guardian who you thought would have known better, the reality of what we saw was a fair way removed from what many were led to believe would take place. The impression we’ve got from what we saw in Grays and in our own neighbourhood was one of an attitude of ‘what royal wedding?’ We’re old enough to remember past royal weddings and how they were celebrated in our neighbourhood and across the borough and in comparison to those, today was decidedly low key. For whatever reason, a lot of people are not buying into the hype this time around.

A sycophantic media will be doing its level best to spin today for all it’s worth as an event that helps to ‘modernise’ the royal family. A truly inquiring media outlet would have been out and about across the country looking at what actually happened and would then be asking some searching questions as to whether the monarchy has a long term future. Okay, we’re only going on our subjective impressions but our initial assessment is that despite all of the hype, something has changed.

At this stage we don’t want to jump the gun and read too much into our subjective impressions – further analysis is required. However, we can say that a long era is drawing to a close and we can sense the start of a change in people’s attitudes towards the monarchy. Somehow, we suspect that once the current occupant of the throne has gone and with the successor having a fair bit of ‘baggage’, attitudes could start to change quite swiftly. Given that this could be happening at the same time as the EU will be putting the boot into this country for having the temerity to leave their gang, suffice to say, things could get ‘interesting’. The question is – are we as radicals ready to meet the challenges and opportunities all of this presents?

Why we think radical papers are still relevant

As producers of the South Essex Stirrer paper, we’d like to share these thoughts from our sister blog on the continuing relevance of radical papers:)

Rebel City is a paper produced by a coalition of London based anarchists and it’s a publication we offer our full support to, up to and including helping out with the re-design and layout! Here’s a downloadable PDF of the latest edition of the paper.

Why, as fairly prolific bloggers, do we think that printed radical papers such as Rebel City, the South Essex Stirrer and others are still important? It’s simply because that with the best will in the world, the readers of most political blogs tend to be a self selecting audience. People are only going to seek out our blogs if they already have an interest in the kind of radical politics we engage in. While it may sound harsh, all too often we may be preaching to the converted. The whole point of what we’re trying to achieve is to change the world and we’re not…

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Downloadable publications

We’ve created a publications page on all three of our blogs where you can download printable PDFs of what we think are our more important pamphlets and documents.

Publications – South Essex Stirrer
Publications – On Uncertain Ground
Publications – The Estuary Alternative

Below are details of the two publications that we have put up so far. Obviously as this project develops, what pamphlets and documents go up depends on the purpose of and audience for each of the blogs we run. Eventually there will be a divergence as what may be of interest to readers of On Uncertain Ground will not be relevant to readers of The Estuary Alternative and vice versa.

A better future for the 3/4 estate in Vange
This was the final presentation we produced at the end of the Creating A Positive Revolution In Southend course facilitated by Graham Burnett and Sherry Fuller. The presentation is a long term vision for the future of the 3/4 estate in Vange which is on the southern fringes of Basildon in Essex. Along with Basildon & Southend Housing Action, we’ve been facilitating the work of the Vange Hill Community Group in empowering residents to start making their estate a better place to live.

Building the base for radical change
This is an explanation our strategy of building a movement for change from the grassroots upwards in our neighbourhoods. While it refrains from any criticism of other strategies and tactics to achieve radical change, it argues the case that there has to be a strong base in our communities. This piece draws on our experiences of working alongside Basildon & Southend Housing Action and facilitating the work of the Vange Hill Community Group.

Stirrer No.6 has arrived:)

The spring/summer print edition of the Stirrer has just arrived from our friends at Oxford GreenPrint. Distribution will start next week – read the front cover from the downloadable PDF (see link below) and you’ll see why…

As ever, if any of our supporters want to take a small bundle to hand out to friends and neighbours, feel free to get in touch and we’ll work out a way of getting them to you. We’re going to be out and about at various events during the course of the summer – as and when we get close to them, we’ll post up details on this blog so you know where to get hold of a paper and meet us. If you run or know of a venue that you think would be sympathetic to our politics and would be willing to take a small bundle for their patrons, please let us know. We will be experimenting with other distribution methods as well, including some high street locations.

For a variety of reasons, printing costs are not getting cheaper. We probably could find a cheaper local printer but Oxford GreenPrint are a) a workers co-op and b) the Riso print process they use for our papers (printed on recycled paper) is environmentally friendly so we want to continue using and supporting them. Supporting workers co-ops using environmentally friendly processes is an integral part of our ethos. So, if you want to support our paper and an ethically sound business, any donations to our printing costs will be greatly appreciated:)

As we can’t afford a massive print run and haven’t got the resources to distribute a large number of papers, a downloadable PDF of the Stirrer is available from here.

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.

Stirrer special edition back from the printer

For a while we’ve needed something we can hand out at anarchist/radical bookfairs, on protests and to any people interested in what we’re doing to explain what we’re about. Sure we can give them a printed copy of the Stirrer but that’s generally us commenting on local issues from our political perspective rather than explaining where we’re coming from as activists. To resolve this, we’ve produced a special edition of the Stirrer on two sides of a sheet of A4 which explains our roots in class struggle and community activism, arguing that to achieve real change, you have to build from the grassroots upwards. It’s fairly generic in its content so it’s a resource we can use for the rest of this year – or until we run out:) All things being equal, we hope to be at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday May 12th and we’ll be handing them out then. Hopefully our message about building from the grassroots will get a positive reception and we’ll take it from there…

As ever, we don’t have a massive budget and can’t afford long print runs so we’re making the paper available as a downloadable PDF from here.