This is just a starter.
I’m often quizzed on my politics, and if pushed I generally say I’m an anarchist, though that’s just shorthand for something that would take a lot longer to explain. Most people don’t have the time, and when breezing over sex, politics and religion at parties, I just say I’m an anarchist, get that inevitable wry look, and move on.
I dislike ascribing anything definitively to any specific category. Beliefs and politics are intuitive and change with the situation; so pigeonholing myself into a specific ‘label’ (as pretentious and arty that sounds) seems pretty counter-intuitive. However, I’m attempting to dissect my own thoughts towards, well, life in general, and this is a step in that direction.
Predominantly my leanings are towards anti-capitalism, and I would say that I also indulge in environmental, anti-war, syndicalist, and feminist beliefs too, but I think anti-capitalism encompasses all of that. From day dot I’ve been brought up in a liberal, anti-war and feminist household, and that remains entrenched in my thinking. However, exposure to radical ‘environmentalism’ (and not in the Dobson definition of the word, thank you Andrew) at a fairly critical age shaped the way I think. Introductions to various people and certain scenes – think Freedom Bookshop, the White Hart AKA “Anarchist centre of the universe” etc. – added more to the mix and shook things up a bit. Certain events stand out and have changed my direction – the first time I went to Smash EDO, for instance, or Kingsnorth Climate Camp 2008.
I’ve been trying to quantify my politics for a long time, and I only now feel like I’m beginning to make sense of it. As I see it, I have 2 strands of thinking. Firstly there’s the eco side of things. I can justify direct action like D-locking oneself to runways and throwing paint on things in this context particularly, because I think it looks better in the papers and helps the ‘cause’ more than smashing things up. I think that kind of high profile, media-whorish Greenpeace style action is less applicable to anti-capitalist or class politics. Of course it’s useful, e.g. in UKuncut style occupations, but I think there are more effective ways of expressing dissent and generally doing things, for instance by unionising and organising within the workplace.
I can say with certainty that violence to property, as one tactic in a toolbox, is a good thing when dealing with corporations with huge profit margins, gross tax evasion and negligible workers’ rights. Hitting these companies in the pockets is useful because it’s often the only thing they understand. Preventing the functioning of a branch of a bank or an airport works; it makes them angry. The distinction I see is quite subtle. By being stopping the function of an airport, one is a) stopping the airport functioning and hence preventing further additions of dangerous greenhouse gases to the atmosphere b) causing the airport financial difficulty and c) exposing the inherent issues to the wider public. By targeting, say, a bank, one is achieving only the first and last of those. The media reaction is very different in each context, however. In the past, the predominantly white and middle class eco movement would have got a better responses; either the “well-to-do people doing something good-ish” or “filthy hippies stopping the rest of us going on holiday to the costa del sol” line; rather than “anarchists smashing up our towns and cities”. There seems to have been a dramatic growth in support for anti-capitalist politics recently in the general public opinion and media. Widespread disgust at the banking system, with tax evasion, and disillusion with the political establishment is more rife than ever – the rise of Occupy is indicative in that.
Going down the legal route is another essential part of the armoury, but any tactic can only achieve something when coalesced with other strategies. A concerted attack from all sides is necessary to get anything done, and a combination of multiple strategies (union organisation, consistent lobbying, direct action, community building…) from multiple groups is essential.
I have an ACAB patch on the back of my leather jacket, and that part of my politics often provokes discourse. “How can all cops be bastards? Surely you support them when they’re stopping rape and murder?” It is sad that the police don’t often prevent rape and murder. I feel like the high levels of crime and violence are a product of the society we live in; class division, economic oppression and a lack of community are all a fault of capitalist endeavour. Police protect the state, like guard dogs. They are the enforcers of the rules that keep the elites safe in their ivory tower. They provide the moat and the bricks and mortar of the CEO fortress, while politicians are manipulated in front of us like puppets. Money wields real power, and we are supposed to be appeased by a semblance of democracy and representation, otherwise known as a bunch of silver-spooned monkeys dancing around Westminster.
I loathe injustice. I hate the idea that anyone should have any more power or influence or sway over anyone else, particularly when there is oppression taking place; the mistreatment of workers, the enslavement of poor people in sweatshops and latifundias, the economic oppression of people shackled to their own debt, and that of their governments. All of that whilst the privileged few trade in derivatives and packages of debt – creating money from nothing by buying and selling non-existent money ‘products’. Elitism is rife in our society; it is little wonder that virtually all of the government comes from a privileged background – born into the upper echelons, fast-tracked through Harrow and Eton, then Oxford and Cambridge, and then into the Cabinet. I see one cause of that inequality and unfairness, and that is the capitalist ideal: not for me, thank you.