Across the city today Bristolians woke up to the latest barrage of ‘journalism’ about how great their city was. Any initial pride that was felt back in say, 2013, has been replaced by resigned groans and the question: best place to live for who exactly?. We’re not exactly sure who picks where to live due to articles in The Times, but it probably rhymes with ‘annoying prats’.
‘I guess there are lots of those exciting redevelopments‘ said one local woman ‘like how they replaced our local with a bunch of trendy but cramped and expensive flats, and opened up a food bank down the road’. ‘I thought it meant all those new restaurants, that are supposed to be quirky and original but are just samey and over priced’ interrupted her friend, before rethinking it and adding ‘but that would make all these articles just self congratulating circle jerks on behalf of the rich, and I’m sure that can’t be the case’.
It’s certainly not a celebration of the interesting areas of Bristol grown over the decades by marginalised members of the city’s working class and migrant communities. Those were all here long before the national press decided our city was ‘cool and creative’. Most of the changes we’ve seen lately are related to the ever increasing costs of living and renting. We’re not against nice things for Bristol – but they shouldn’t come at the expense of having to kick out the people that made the place so interesting to begin with.
“It’d be easy just to blame all the people moving here from that London” said one astute Bristolian before continuing “but I guess they’re only here because this is exactly what happened to all the working class areas over there”.
Think it should be none of the above? Then join us in the streets this Saturday & Tuesday!
The fight against cuts has been a long and tough one, but we can’t afford to let up. Not when peoples’ livelihoods, well-being, and very lives depend on it. It won’t end with the upcoming protests (see below for details). In fact, it will need to step up a gear in the months afterwards, if it is to have any impact.
The government in Westminster continues to demand cuts to essential services, still telling the same old lie that it is for ‘the sake of the economy’ or to lower the national debt. The reality of the past seven years says otherwise. Councillors across the country have spoken about being ‘anti-austerity’, but so far have only put their careers and the easy life first, passing on the cuts, regardless of which party they belong to.
In reality, these cuts are an attack on working class and vulnerable people across the country. It’s about giving less of the wealth that we produced to us – whether we receive it in our wage packets, our benefits, or our access to state services – and giving more of it to the few at the top. Privatisation goes hand-in-hand with this, creating yet more profit for the millionaires, and it’s all the easier to implement when services are already stretched to breaking point.
So, what can we do about it?
Austerity (or cuts as most of us think of it) is a hard pill to swallow. Services are closed or run into the ground with ‘efficiency savings’, jobs are lost, and benefits cut. Still, it’s a necessary cure right? Us ordinary folk can’t continue to have luxuries like care for the elderly. The state needs every penny to help pay off the national debt. You know, that one that got built up by bailing out the bankers. After all, those bankers need to maintain the bare necessities of life, like their multi-million pound salaries and private yachts.
Surely after six years it must be working? Well… Continue reading
Good news, everyone! Bristol Anarchist Federation has been running its monthly discussion nights for an entire year. Over the past twelve months, we have covered a range of subjects from ‘anarchism and violence’ and ‘revolutionary women’, to ‘mental health under capitalism’ and ‘a world without money’. The talks have been consistently popular, with most meetings seeing about 40 people attending – although, over 200 people showed up for our talk on mental health! We have met lots of new people, some of whom have gotten involved in anarchist organising in Bristol and helped to develop our ideas and actions. Continue reading
We wanted to show our opposition to their owner’s cowardly & selfish decision to lay a trap for their own workers, rather than risk a fine. By joining in with the UK wide campaign we aim to hurt Byron Burgers economically and show our solidarity with ALL workers – regardless of where they are from.
The demonstration certainly had an impact, the entire time we were present (7pm-9pm on a Saturday night!) only one group of people went into the chain, and there were only a handful of deliveries. Whilst it was a ‘little’ empty inside, the entire front of the shop was taken up with protesters, who were spilling out either side in front of the neighboring (closed) shops. The response from passers by was largely positive, many reminded of the news story and talking about it as they went past after seeing us. We handed out hundreds of leaflets, only stopping near the end when we simply ran out. Meanwhile, the trouble makers down in Wessex Solidarity Continue reading
A failure to understand consent and rape culture is nothing new when it comes to police forces around the world. Even by these less than stellar standards handing out a pamphlet entitled ‘R U asking 4 it’ marks a low point. Especially when you consider the recipients were a group of Bristol teenagers attending an educational session on consent.
This was apparently the result of a ‘blunder’ on the part of the police, but it is telling none of the professionals handing the leaflets out realised anything was wrong. It was up to the teenagers present to point out how fucked up it was. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago we hosted our most popular discussion to date, on the above subject. Somewhere between 150 and 200 people showed up barely squeezing into our emergency ‘bigger than the bookshop’ meeting space. It seems the subject really struck a chord with people.
Our own experiences, and the media, tell us we are in the middle of an ‘epidemic’ of mental health issues. Yet the standard response is to treat and talk about them as if they are solely individual issues (or failings) rather than looking at the situations we find ourselves in and the material conditions and wider culture of day to day society.
Many people present were keen to continue to meet on the subject, to that end we have set up a mailing list (click here to subscribe). What form this new group will take will be decided by its participants – information sharing, mutual support, campaigning and skill sharing were all ideas on the night.
There were some great contributions from AFed folks and from many folks who came, who covered a wide spectrum of society including many people who have issues with their own mental health, study it, work in the field, or have extensive experience supporting others or using services themselves.
For those who are interested the full minutes are online. We hope to compile them into a more easily readable form and into a video in the near future.
While we’ve got your attention there are a few more events coming up in the near future:
Saturday 5th March: March for the NHS!
Linking the struggles of the Junior Doctors against their unsafe working conditions being forced on them, the removal or bursaries for student nurses, and the moves by the local clinical commisioning group to open up the running of NHS services to tax avoiding corporations! Meet 1pm at the Fountains. Facebook Event.
Wednesday 9th March: Support the Junior Doctors Strike!
Junior doctors will be holding a 48 hour strike beginning at 8am. Get down to the picket lines for 8 if you can, or join later in the day! Picketlines will once again be at the BRI and Southmead. We all need to support them in their stand against further destruction of the NHS. More info from the British Medical Association.
Tuesday 15th March: Is JC Really our Savior?
The next of our discussion evenings. This time the topic is Jeremy Corbyn and the campaign building around him. How do we, as grass roots activists engage with this? Critical support? Utter indifference? Active involvement? Hydra Books 7pm Facebook Event.
Tuesday 19th of April A world Without Money?
A talk and discussion looking at why our world could and should work without money. It’s often one of the hardest ideas of Anarchist Communist to first get our heads around, as it is so opposed to the way our current society works. The idea that money is essential to a functioning society is constantly re-enforced, but who’s doing the re-enforcing..? Hydra Books 7pm
Saturday 30th April: Bristol Anarchist Bookfair!
Our cities largest radical event is back again at Trinity from 10-6 Website
Sunday 1st May: May Day
International workers day has come around again, this year the local trade unions are organising a march in the centre, and we’ve some fun ideas of our own!
A report from Octobers Reclaim the Path march from one of our members, and a reminder that Reclaim the Night will be taking place in central Bristol on Friday November the 27th. Contains reference to assault.
The cycle path between Bath and Bristol has seen a lot of sexual violence and harassment over its history. Including several friends of mine who have been attacked by men, with threats of rape. There has also been a lot of street harassment around Easton, including of a friend who challenged her harassers and was then knocked to the floor and threatened at knife point. Continue reading
Upcoming events in Bristol…
Prisoner solidarity is an essential part of any activism or revolutionary action. Prisons rarely, if ever, act as a deterrent to the crimes that can threaten our communities and they are downright counterproductive when its comes to ‘rehabilitation’ further oppressing and alienating people. Meanwhile the rich folks who start wars, exploit workers, destroy the environment or profit from our misery? Highly unlikely they’ll ever see the inside of a cell.
What Prisons do well is help to control the poor, marginalised, desperate, and anyone trying to take a stand and change society. The rate of this repression can vary immensely over time and place. When the state is feeling particularly vicious – or the resistance to it is looking particularly effective – you get widespread arrests and detention, such as Operation Pandora in Spain, and more recently Operation Phoenix in the Czech Republic. Continue reading
Cameron remains in Downing Street, now with a majority (having successfully cannibalized his former LibDem partners). A lot of people are understandably depressed by this, and now to top it all off Farage hasn’t even resigned. FFS politics, give us a break. We don’t have much say in what policies they try and force upon us – after all we had ‘Vote Tory for capitalism and austerity’ and ‘Vote Labour for the same, only a bit less and our heart isn’t really in it’. What we DO have a say in, is how we react to them.
Reaction One: Voter Apathy
Non voters are often accused of apathy, but if after going to the ballot on the 7th you are planning to sit back and do nothing for five years than you are being truly apathetic. Of course the same is true if ‘not voting’ is the sum total of your protest against the system. Maybe to kill time before the next general election you can try to change Labour from the inside, or help the Greens get half a dozen MPs early next decade. If you’re really inspired maybe you could put your energy into reforming how we vote for our ‘representatives’. Although many countries use other systems and they still aren’t socialist utopias yet either. Lets get one thing clear though, would Ed Milliband be screwing us over aswell? Hell yes.
Reaction Two: Fight for What We Have, Fight for What We Need
We are often presented a doctored version of history. One where the oppressed asked the government nicely for reforms, where they appealed to their ruler’s reason and conscience, or simply voted in nicer leaders.
A closer inspection reveals a very different narrative, where everything we have was fought for tooth and nail. Where workers faced down the army for the right to have the evening off rather than work 14 hour days, where women bombed pavilions and learnt martial arts before they were recognised as capable of decisions, where people faced down battalions of police who were trying to force a fascist march through the east end of London. It is the latter telling of history that should inform how we react today.
Everything we have we fought for, and everything we fought for they want back. As soon as we stop fighting – in our work places, in our communities, in the streets and in the fields – we will lose everything. The good news? If you want to take action there are plenty ways to do it. Here are just a few based on some Tory policies.