We’re moving…

This blog was born out of a series of misunderstandings in the early stages of building for the Southend Radical Fair, held in May 2017, that led us to pulling out of organising the event. These led us to conclude we had to scrub the predecessor of this blog, the South Essex Heckler, which was closely associated with the early stages of building the fair and start anew with this blog. The problem was that alongside this, we also started two other blogs – The Estuary Alternative and On Uncertain Ground. All had their specific functions but to be honest, it was a bit messy and many people looking at our range of blogs were, quite rightly, left wondering exactly what we were about. Also, this blog had been straying from it’s original remit, thereby adding to the confusion.

The Estuary Alternative and On Uncertain Ground blogs have been deleted. This blog is being terminated after this post and will remain online as an archive. As a number of people have linked to or re-blogged material from this blog, it would be a bit rude of us to delete it!

We’re starting a new blog with a class struggle anarchist / community activist perspective which in tandem with the South Essex Working Class Action Facebook page and Twitter feed, is a considerably more straightforward proposition. This is the new blog:

The Heckler – https://thehecklersewca.wordpress.com/

Yes, we’re bringing the Heckler name back! Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards from this point…


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?

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.

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.

Stirrer No.4 is back from the printer

The fourth print edition of the Stirrer has come back from the printer. Firstly, many thanks to our friends at Oxford GreenPrint for doing their usual superb job on printing the paper. As we’ve mentioned previously, there are going to be some changes to how the paper will be getting distributed – this is how we intend to do it…

Handing the Stirrer out on the high streets / town squares. So far, we’ve lined up Southend and Basildon as definite venues and possibly Romford. If any of our supporters want to join us in distributing the paper to the public in these areas, let us know and we’ll sort out a mutually convenient date.

Handing the Stirrer out on protests / rallies and at fairs. There’s a few events coming up we’ll be supporting and handing out copies of the Stirrer in a way that respects the event and helps with our aim of networking and alliance building.

Leaving bundles of the Stirrer at venues that are sympathetic to our politics. We’ve got a couple of such venues but we can always do with some more. If you run or know of such a venue, feel free to get in touch with the details and we’ll take it from there.

Door-to-door distribution. We still intend to do this but to a much lesser extent than in the past…

Lastly but by no means least, we would love our supporters across the region we cover from Havering in the west through to Southend in the east and up to Brentwood, Billericay and the Dengie Peninsula to take a small bundle to hand out to their friends, neighbours, colleagues and families. We know you’re out there:) Feel free to get in touch and we’ll sort out a way of getting the Stirrers to you.

As we can only afford a small print run, we’re making all the print editions of the Stirrer available as downloadable PDFs. This is the one for Stirrer No.4: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s03kekq9ik8bk5j/StirrerNo4.pdf?dl=0

Here it is…

Now the London Anarchist Bookfair is over and having handed out all of the copies of the special bookfair edition we’d produced, here it is available as a downloadable PDF: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x5ixljqiomcwkx5/STIRRER_No_2.pdf?dl=0 We realise that not everyone is going to agree with our point of view…that’s okay… Constructive criticism and civilised debate are more than welcome:)

Reviewing our propaganda

This was how our propaganda looked when it was laid out on our stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October. It was gratifying to hear praise from people for how neat the stall looked and the way our literature is designed and produced, however…

If we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, when we look at what we produce and who reads it, we still get the impression that a lot of the time, we’re preaching to the converted. Given the remit we and our comrades in Basildon & Southend Housing Action have set ourselves, preaching to the converted is NOT what we want to do! What we do want to do is reach the disenfranchised people on the estates who know they’ve been abandoned, are pissed off about it but at the moment, don’t know where to turn.

One thing we’re becoming acutely conscious of is the existence of the digital divide and the fact that many of the people we need to reach on the estates do not have, or cannot afford, a reliable internet connection. Therefore the only way we can reach them is via the tried and tested analogue method of flyers and newsletters. Punchy, eye catching flyers, papers and stickers that will grab people’s attention and inspire them to act. As stated previously, we’re an evolving project and if we’re honest, we’ve still got a way to go before we can produce the kind of propaganda that will grab the attention of the audience we need to reach and mobilise.

We think we’re getting to the point we want with the split in the blogs after the demise of the Heckler and the setting up of the Stirrer, The Estuary Alternative and On Uncertain Ground. Granted, we had to do a fair bit of explaining at the bookfair to people who knew us in our previous guise as the Heckler but they did understand our reasoning for doing it as each of these blogs is way more focused. However, we really would like more people to be contributing to all three of these blogs…

It’s the printed material we produce that needs to evolve to the point where it does the job it’s supposed to do which is mobilising people who feel they’ve been abandoned by the system to start fighting back. Which means more in the way of experimenting and trying out new ways of writing, designing, producing and distributing our material to see what does and doesn’t work. The one constraint is the cost of printing. We spent £50 for a stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair and it could be argued that we would have been better off turning up as punters and spending the money for the stall on printing the flyers and stickers we need to get our message across. Which is most likely what we’ll be doing next year…

What we always have to bear in mind that our propaganda is a means to an end – namely stirring people up to the point where they will start to take action. Supported by our producing material that will facilitate that. Which means that if we’re producing something that isn’t getting the results we want, it’ll get binned or substantially altered until it does start delivering results…nothing is sacred…

Advance notice – we’ve got a stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair

With our friends from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA), we’ll be jointly running a stall at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair which is taking place on Saturday 28th October running from 10am – 7pm. The venue is Park View School, West Green Road, London, N15 3QR. This is what the London Anarchist Bookfair collective have to say about the event:

Bookfairs provide a space where like-minded people can come together to re-affirm old friendships, make new ones, discuss all things anarchist and anti-capitalist and start planning the future revolution. They’re also one of the public faces of anarchism. Anyone unfamiliar with the ideas or wanting to know more about the politics can come along, look through books, sit in or get involved in meetings, workshops and discussions or just chat to the groups and organisations having stalls there.

It is also a space where we counter the rubbish talked about anarchism by sections of the media and our opponents. Bookfairs are one small element of making anarchism a threat to the present political system.

There’s more information about the bookfair here: http://anarchistbookfair.org.uk/

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 building a movement for change.

The Stirrer is back from the printer!

The first print edition of The South Essex Stirrer has come back from the printer and we’re now planning the distribution. As ever, many thanks to our friends at Oxford GreenPrint for a superb job. The Stirrer has a unique selling point for a political paper in these times – absolutely no election coverage! The papers were on their way pack to us when May announced the general election for June 8th. No worries as the articles in the paper on housing, Brexit and community control of parks are still relevant, election or no election…

Obviously, with the dissolution of Parliament on Wednesday 3rd May and the start of serious election campaigning, we want to shift the Stirrers as swiftly as possible to avoid getting caught up with all the crap coming through people’s letterboxes. So if you live anywhere across the southern part of Essex, broadly support our anarchist politics and want to take a bundle of papers to hand out to friends, neighbours, colleagues, family, etc. let us know and we’ll sort out a way of getting them to you. Alternatively, if you run or know of a venue that’s sympathetic to our politics and want to take a bundle of papers for the patrons, get in touch and we’ll get them to you.

After being put into a position where we had no option but to walk away from having anything to do with the Southend Radical Fair on May 6th and losing the South Essex Heckler in the process (the Heckler e-mail was on the flyers and posters promoting the fair!) we feel that we’re on our way back, albeit trading under a new name. The last few months haven’t been easy and a lot of lessons have been and are continuing to be learned. The thing is we’re back with a new, more focused, somewhat spikier paper and blog – hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards from here…