Monday, February 8, 2016

Distortion (1997)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors,

In ALB’s review (Socialist Standard, April) of the Anarchist Communist Federation’s pamphlet Beyond Resistance—A Revolutionary Manifesto for the Millenium he states that the “ . . . ACF proposes punishment beatings". Nowhere in the pamphlet is there such an advocacy of such an appalling tactic (interestingly, you failed to quote, because you could not find such a quote). Nowhere in its magazine Organise!, in its pamphlets, at its public meetings, indeed anywhere in its propaganda is there a single mention of such action and no member of the ACF has ever advocated such actions. It would be like saying that the Socialist Party advocates shaving heads of people who fail to vote for you. Similarly where in our description of building a culture of resistance does the ACF exclude any section of the working class. What we advocate is a situation where all sections of the working class can take part in a vibrant culture of resistance where peoples self-confidence, self-organisation and creativity are built up. We have always argued against lifestyle anarchism, and it is devious and crass of ALB to attempt to identify us as lifestylists. Obviously your reviewer failed to read our pamphlet closely enough. Let people decide for themselves by reading our Manifesto.
RON ALLEN (ACF member), London E1


Reply:
Our claim was based on the following passage from page 13 of the pamphlet:
"... we are involved as working class people in struggling for better community facilities, for resistance to police presence on our streets, and for working doss self-activity in dealing both with the authorities and with anti-social elements in our communities. But at the same time we point out that the enemy is the capitalist state, and so we oppose putting faith in soft-cop community leaders or self-appointed community controllers, such as gangsters or paramilitaries" (emphasis added).
Correct us if were wrong, but this is saying that “anti-social" elements (presumably, burglars, muggers, joy-riders, drug-pushers, child molesters and the like?) should not be dealt with by the police but by working people living in the same area where these "elements" live and operate. The pamphlet doesn't actually say how they are to be "dealt with" but things such as beatings, head- shavings. tarring-and-feathering, tying to posts, sticking notices on front doors, curfews and chasing out of town come to mind. Or was it "soft-cop measures such as counselling, supervision and community work that was being envisaged?

You say. as an individual member of the ACF, that punishment beatings are out. Other ACF members
don't appear to agree with you. such as the author of the article "Yobs and Boot-Boys" that appeared in the Oct-Dec 1994 issue of Organise! who wrote.
"None should cry over the odd hospitalised copper: they had it coming. And if Kenneth Clarke were found stabbed to death one day, we’d feel the same sense of elation we did when Ian Gow and Louis Mountbatten got their comeuppance”
The writer then went on:
" . . .  we should support each other in our communities against anti-social crime . . .  we should take inspiration from Derry in the ‘60s, the mining villages and Brixton frontline in the ‘80s and the bailiff busters in the ‘90s and build a real neighbourhood watch which will keep the yobs out even if they are in uniform. Then the only people who will ring the police will really be grasses and not frightened pensioners.”
The reference to Derry frightens us—and most of us are not even pensioners. This letter page is open for you to reply but don’t forget to specify how the ACF proposes to deal with persistent offenders and those who refuse to accept what is decided should be done with them.— Editors



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