Reading group #4

Our reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, aka 21st August 7pm at Freedom Bookshop. This month we’re looking at culture, power and consumerism with the following texts on Situationism and the well decent band, Crass, in an article confusingly written by someone called Cross. Cross on Crass, then.

Matthews: An Introduction to the Situationists (

Debord: Decomposition: The Ultimate Stage of Bourgeois Thought, In: Report on the Construction of Situations, p.6 (

Guy Debord: Chapter 8 – Negation and Consumption Within Culture, In: Society of the Spectacle, p.68-77 (

Cross: “There Is No Authority But Yourself ”: The Individual and the Collective in British Anarcho-Punk (–there-is-no-authority-but-yourself-the-individual?rgn=main;view=fulltext)


Reading group #3 write up

This month we looked at anarchist economics and selected three pieces which cover this, including practical examples of anarchy in action. We read: Chapter 3 of Anarchy Works by Peter Gelderloos, Eric Buck: The flow of experiencing in anarchic economies. In: Contemporary Anarchist Studies and Uri Gordon: Anarchist Economics. The discussion covered a number of topics which roughly split into the following areas:


One of the issues we face is that the examples given are usually only at very small scale and are limited by their need to interact with capitalism to function (e.g. workers’ co-ops). For example, permaculture has been proven at the scale of a small farm in Wales, what we need now is it to be proven at the scale of feeding Wales! This is unlikely to happen without a revolution which changes land ownership.

This has long been a criticism of anarchism, however, and Kropotkin did a lot in Conquest of Bread and Fields, factories and workshops to provide the detail of how an anarchist economy could function and that it could provide for the basic needs of the people.

At the scale anarchist economics has been practiced it is not a threat to capital, but perhaps that isn’t the point- perhaps all we need is to change culture and values such that people become less consumerist and operate more on principles of mutual aid and solidarity. This is laying the groundwork for a social revolution.

Culture and values

Marketing has created a consumerist culture where we are defined by our possessions and our purchases. We need to change this so that community is valued in our decisions. Does this have to do with the ‘death of God’? That consumerism has filled a hole in our belief system? Even discussing this is difficult as all of us have internalised neo-liberal ideology (and some of us are compulsive hoarders of jazz records…).

To change a consumerist culture we need to focus on education as well as skill sharing and access to knowledge. The examples in the text suggest removing part of our consumption from what could be considered ‘the economy’ by repairing your own bike or similar- creating a DIY culture. There seem to be lots of examples of this working.

What if we don’t share common interests and values with our neighbours, how would it work then? Perhaps federalism is the answer- start at the scale of a block and work up based on geography, needs and interests so that decisions are made by those affected by them. Also, in revolutionary Spain there was not one way of doing things- some areas abolished money, some kept it and others replaced it with labour tokens. We don’t need a right answer, we need to try new things and keep the ones that work (keeping in mind different people and cultures).

Parecon and hybrid systems

This seems to be a hybrid between where we are now and what we’d like to get to. Seemingly similar to universal basic income (needs are provided for) and with a focus on democratically planning consumption rather than a focus on production in current economics. Not ‘each according to their needs’ as you can work more to get more stuff.

How far can such a hybrid model take us? Has been tried in many intentional communities but ultimately failed. Could it be used as a way to bring the public around to our ideas? Ultimately, the ruling class will not allow us to vote away their wealth so there will always be a limit at which point we face repression. Perhaps we could get enough people on-side through a hybrid model such that we have enough to achieve a revolution.

The Black Panther’s breakfast program was mentioned as a powerful example. Perhaps we should all join Food not Bombs? As long as these actions have a political agenda they seem effective.

Complex production

What about pharmaceuticals for complex conditions? Not everything is going to be resolved by self-care and herbalism (as hinted at in Anarchy Works). Again, education may be key- we will still need specialists. We do not reject technology, we just need to consider its use more effectively.

Conflict resolution

Example given of farmers in Spain who decide on irrigation between themselves and sanction people as a community if they break the rules. But, these farmers share the same expertise- what if there is a disparity in knowledge (e.g. pharmaceutical production)? We need some kind of arbitration- the ‘authority of a third party’. This kind of authority is not bad as long as we agree on how the third party gains that authority to arbitrate. There will be less incentive to break the rules if we have removed the profit motive.


Our anarchist reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7pm at Freedom Bookshop. The next texts will be announced asap!


New podcast: Fuck the Bins

Our long awaited, much hyped podcast is now available for you auditory delight. This episode we’re covering Ulrike Meinhof, news from Indonesia, a review of Peter Gelderloos’ book The Failure of Non-violence and an antifascist call out in London.

Listen on Soundcloud here:

Or download via here:

Anarchist Reading Group #3

This month we will be looking at anarchist economics and have selected three pieces which cover this, including practical examples of anarchy in action. The meeting will be 7pm on the third Tuesday of the month (17th July) at Freedom Bookshop, 7pm.

Chapter 3 of Anarchy Works by Peter Gelderloos (

Eric Buck: The flow of experiencing in anarchic economies. In: Contemporary Anarchist Studies, p.57-69 (

Uri Gordon: Anarchist Economics (

Simon Springer at Larc, 29th June 7pm

London anarchist federation are please to welcome Simon Springer, anarchist geographer, to discuss ‘Beautiful Anarchism: Geography, Possibility, Hope’.

Simon is the author of the Anarchist Roots of
Geography, Fuck Neoliberalism, the handbook of neoliberalism, among others. More information is available on his website:

We will be taking donations on the night to maintain the LARC space and for London AF publications and events.

FB event here:

Anarchist Reading Group #2 write up

London Anarchist Federation held their second reading group looking on anarchism and education.  We read: Colin Ward, Schools no longer, Judith Suissa, Anarchism goes to school, Jeffery Shantz, Learning to Win: Anarchist Infrastructures of Resistance, Justin Mueller, Anarchism, the State, and the Role of Education.

Below we present some of the talking points during the discussion, hastily jotted down as notes by one of our members.


The talk was roughly split into two parts: the first where we talked about union/community education discussed in Shantz’ piece and the second where we discussed education of children.

Part 1

Shantz seems to be nostalgic for an earlier time of union organising where everyone had one boss, one workplace. The world simply isn’t like this anymore. His suggestions on the need to include non-workers, non-union members etc are valid and seem to fit with what Unite are doing with community memberships. He seems to focus on space at the expense of any online organising- is he being optimistic in how well groups using the same space will cross-pollinate? Where do you draw the line on groups you’ll share space with?

The idea of structures of resistance that the community can go to with their problems and which achieve ‘small victories’ seems to be what SolFed are working towards with their pickets of landlords and employers. Utopia is indeed far off so we do need to be reminded what it’s like to win. Similarly, these types of project are good at developing a collective memory of how to organise and past victories.

Part 2

School is an efficiency machine for capital- it allows workers to be at producing for the boss rather than looking after kids. What would an anarchist syllabus look like? Even if directed by the child would we need to establish what is worthwhile? Hierarchy of knowledge seems unavoidable (In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the bootmaker: Bakunin), however we need to be careful that this is not abused and methods and knowledge are still questioned. Perhaps all we can say is that educating to question and challenge authority is all we can do for certain. Ivan Illich proposed that we should get rid of the school altogether and instead rely on learning webs, apprenticeships and the like. Is this desirable or is there still a role for the teacher as facilitator and the school as a physical place (albeit open to the community)?

If we opened an anarchist school tomorrow, who would come? Would it be working class people or those who have a safety net so are not so worried about getting qualifications for jobs? Ideally we would not be teaching to A-Levels and uni entrance exams, but if we gave this up would that change who came even further? The Social Science Centre in Lincoln is accrediting degrees in an experiment of free education which is self-directed. This could be a model to follow.

We agree that better ratios of students to teachers and the encouragement of independent and critical thinking are important- is this not what UK public schools do? (Yes, says the bloke who went to one- except they also tell you that you are born to rule and encourage upper-class solidarity) So perhaps we need Eton but with working-class solidarity and a focus on mutual aid rather than competition.

Practical examples- Freire and critical pedagogies, feminist consciousness raising (although not necessarily anarchist). Both to an extent have been forgotten but were huge in their day- another lost memory of a victory? The Antiuniversity in London is a good example of anarchist educational organising but is only one week a year- the time and money required to actually run a school are so vast the only groups capable outside the state are likely the bigger unions and the church. There is a risk of recuperation once they’re running and need money to stay afloat (Red University in Germany relies on big pharma now). Perhaps simple ways forward are to focus on books that can change how students operate in the current system (Little Red School Book- anarcho version?) and kids’ books which challenge the dominant ideology.


Reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (17th July), 7pm Freedom Bookshop. Details of the next text to follow.

Anarchist reading group #2

After discussions at the last reading group moved into ideas around education, what is it for and what is a ‘good’ education, this reading group looks at some texts on anarchist pedagogies. We’ve selected a few which cover both theory and practical examples.

Come and join us for a discussion of these texts on the 3rd Tuesday (19th June) at 7pm at Freedom Bookshop. The texts themselves are fairly short (8 pages for one- cheers, Colin!) so shouldn’t be too onerous and all available online as pdfs.


Colin Ward, Schools no longer (In Anarchy in Action, p.79

Judith Suissa, Anarchism goes to school (Escuela Moderna and the Ferrer School) p75-88 (in Anarchism and Education: A philosophical perspective

Jeffery Shantz, Learning to Win: Anarchist Infrastructures of Resistance (in Anarchist Pedagogies

Justin Mueller, Anarchism, the State, and the Role of Education (in Anarchist Pedagogies