Rather briefly! It’s the first TV news interview Bristol AFed has agreed to, perhaps we felt more optimistic about the chances of some good coverage after a relatively successful summer interview with BBC Radio Bristol. You can watch the segment that was broadcast today here, and a longer version of the interview on Channel 4’s website. Sadly we didn’t get as much on air time as DCI Andy Bevan, who they emotively interviewed at the site of a recent incident of arson.
The footage was taken from a much longer interview (about three quarters of an hour – not that we expected it would get shown in full!). We’re glad they kept in part of our definition of anarchism but perhaps the world would have been a better place if channel 4’s viewers weren’t subjected to our awful singing at a recent anti-workfare protest.
Predictably the rest of the segment, focuses on a series of acts of criminal damage carried out in the West Country over the past few years, including the destruction of a multi-million pound police fire arms training centre. Sadly there wasn’t much focus on the political policing and harassment of activists that followed, or local anarchists resistance to it. The cops still seem obsessed with tracking down Badger, a one time Bristol resident and anarchist activist. Despite the fact Avon and Somerset’s finest admit he probably left the country years ago and have only ever mentioned evidence allegedly linking him to the scene of one act of criminal damage – some broken windows. It almost seems that they are getting a bit desperate after failing to track down anyone responsible for the destruction of their own training centre (along with damage to the UK border agency, banks, businesses, politicians residences and cars) and are looking for someone to pin it all on. Its also worth noting, contrary to the voice over we are not ‘based’ at the community centre featured in the footage, although we do like it and use it.
As a group of individuals our opinions on criminal damage, violence and their effect on our lives and the larger political situation varies a fair bit. Violence has always formed part of our countries political history. From the acts of planned vandalism carried out by the Suffragettes who won the vote for women, to Bhagat Singh‘s armed insurrection that helped free India from the British Empire, or the spontaneous rioting of working class people over the decades who’s tolerence of capitalism and its bully boys in blue has often reached breaking point. There is no quick and simple answer to whether these actions are always ‘legitimate’, despite the journalists attempts to pin us down on the subject – they showed the closest to a simple answer they got after some lengthy and frustrating questioning on the subject. Even if there was an easy answer, our opinion on the matter is no more valid than yours or anyone elses. Sure, we’ve thought about these subjects and discussed them at length but Anarchism is a movement of the working class and the oppressed, not of experts and politicians.
One thing we are sure of however is that the routine daily violence of capitalism and the state is infinitely worse than any act of criminal damage carried out or even the ‘turgid prose’ that accompanies them. We’ll sign off with a recent statement following another news report on this subject:
“So we got a shout out in The Guardian (who seem to have actually checked facts and produced a relatively accurate story). They describe Bristol’s anarchists as part of a ‘non-violent alternative community’, which AFed have several issues with.
We (AFed) have certainly never described ourselves in those terms, and few anarchists we have met have done. We don’t play into the medias game of violent activists vs. pacifists, we are not morally opposed to ‘violence’ which is a vague near indefinable term anyway.
Is resisting bailiffs kicking an elderly person out of the house their bank wants to repossess violent?
Is de-arresting a protester the police have grabbed violent?
Is stabbing someone with your keys when they try and grab you outside of a bar violent?
Probably to all three (certainly in the eyes of the state), but does this make them ‘wrong’?
Is an execution without trial using a predator drone violent?
Is letting warehouses of food rot whilst parents can’t afford to feed their kids violent?
Is evicting an elderly person from their life long house violent?
Is condemning 100s of 1000s to prison violent?
Is forcing people off of disability benefits because they fail to convince an unqualified IT firm of their need violent?
Is devastating the rainforest for cheap animal feed violent?
Is centuries of systemic racism violent?
Is living a life of wealth while the people whose hard work got you there can’t heat their homes violent?
The ongoing day to day violence of capitalism is rarely questioned.”
If you are reading this and have any insights or questions, then leave a comment here or via social media/email.