George Walford and Adrian Williams: Class War

A letter from Adrian Williams

Sir,
IC 53 carries an advert for Angles on Anarchism which includes the statement “… the anarchist movement has settled down among the other members of the political cast; accepted almost respectable but of mainly theoretical importance.” I enclose with this letter a copy of Class War issue 49, which seems to me to be an anarchist publication. It has virtually no theory but it has stories of demonstrations, riots and mini-riots, attacks on police officers and expensive cars. In its editorial it attacks capitalism and supports “… real socialism (not the bureaucratic Party version)… ” I submit that the anarchists of Freedom have settled down but there are other anarchists who have not and this paper is an example. Would you like to offer an opinion?

Yours etc. Adrian Williams

REPLY
We find ourselves compelled to agree that some anarchists have settled further down than others, and the Class War group less than most. The half-page of their journal reproduced opposite can, fairly and without exaggeration, be described as blunt even to the point of rudeness. Yet we have to add that the difference hardly goes beyond shades of emphasis. Class War the journal devotes more space to attention-catching grimaces, and less to theoretical exposition, than Freedom or the Socialist Standard, but clearly a change in the reader’s thinking is the end the journal aims at, the aggressive posturing the means used to reach it. The cover shows the armed hero of the film Terminator, but demands only that the “Rich Scum” should be “thought-Terminated.” The centre spread announces the agenda: “packed with lots of thought-provoking topics, workshops and interesting debates,” and it requires some little expertise in the minutiae of anarchist theory to distinguish the position defined in the statement of principles ciples “This is Class War” from that of the (A-)SPGB. (Except, it must be admitted, for the insistence that politics should be fun). The statement on violence, that it “is a necessary part of class war, but only as mass class violence out in the open, not as elitist terrorist actions,” finds its equivalent in the declaration (Principle No. 6) that the working class must organise to use the armed forces of the nation as an agent of emancipation The violence advocated even by the Class War anarchists remains mainly theoretical; they practice hardly more than fisticuffs. Indeed, it hardly ranks as violence at all beside the horrors committed by peace loving nations. We have yet to hear of any anarchists, even these, burying their enemies alive, or bombing a fleeing mob until even the killers were too sickened by the slaughter to continue. At the recent Anarchist Book Fair the Class War people were decorously offering their publications along with the rest, and the very title of the movement and its journal expresses their commitment to esoteric theory. Practically all the disorder and violence reported takes place not between classes at all but between people who work for a living; a long (and dubious) chain of argument intervenes between observation of these activities and the conclusion that they provide evidence or instances of a struggle between classes, let alone a war.

The following paragraphs are reprinted from Class War No. 49 (undated):

The CLASS WAR FEDERATION is an organisation of local groups and individuals who have come together to do something about the society we live in.

WHAT WE BELIEVE This society is divided into classes based on wealth and power. The ruling class, who are supported by the middle class, and the working class…

This can only be sorted out by the destruction of the ruling class by the working class. This is class war.

Real change can only come about by working class people organising themselves to deal with the problems they experience, using direct action… Violence is a necessary part of class war, but only as mass class violence out in the open, not as elitist terrorist actions… The law… must be ignored and broken as the need arises.

Above all, the CLASS WAR FEDERATION believe politics is life, and life is politics. We reject the boring character of the so-called “revolutionary left.” Polities must be fun, it’s a part of ordinary every day to day life and must be able to take the piss out of itself…

The CLASS WAR FEDERATION produce and distribute propaganda; a paper, journal, local leaflets and newsletters. We are involved in working class struggles and we encourage involvement in the CLASS WAR FEDERATION to do the above, for discussion, and for a laugh!

from Ideological Commentary 54, Winter 1991.