The Sparrows’ Nest is a self-styled ‘Centre for Anarchist Culture and Education’ in St. Ann’s, Nottingham. It was set up in Autumn 2008 by the Anarchist Federation’s Nottingham group. We wanted to make contemporary, classical and international Anarchist ideas accessible to an even wider number of people in a town already vibrant with anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist culture.
Posts Tagged ‘Miners’ Strike
by Lazy Worker
Wildcat strikes are the kind of thing workerists have wet dreams about, so it seems strange that when, after several decades of hibernation, the sleeping lion should finally arise in the former of the oil refinery strikes in early 2009, that the British radical scene wasn’t more excited.
Many activists seem to have decided that because a handful of BNP members might have said something vaguely supportive of the strikes (not that the party could mobilise a serious or effective response) then it was necessary for those of us in the Army of Light to condemn them.
Now it is certainly true that there were reactionary elements involved in the walkouts, how could it be otherwise given the low level of political consciousness in this country? But to say that this means we can’t support the strike seems strange. Anybody claiming in 1984 that the miners should be opposed because a lot of them were misogynistic, homophobic and/or racist would have been dismissed out of hand as an apologist for Thatcherism – quite rightly. The same remains true today.
In fact the Miners’ Strike is an instructive example insofar as the interactions between strikers and other groups who decided to throw their lot in with them did much to open the formers eyes to an array of perspectives they might otherwise have dismissed out of hand. Miners’ magazines which had once carried pictures of scantily clad females found this position untenable given the integral role played by Women Against Pit Closures and other women’s groups. Gay groups who supported the strike, initially shunned by miners would later find themselves maneuvered to prominent positions on marches. Sikhs who raised money for strikers helped to address the prejudices of those they supported.
This is not to suggest that the recent wildcats are comparable to the Miners’ Strike (probably the last major battle in the class war in the UK and a defeat from which the working class has yet to recover), but rather an argument for engagement rather than dismissal. The strikes are a spontaneous response to poor working conditions and a perceived grievance. They have not been mediated by the trade union bureaucracy and show that the anti-trade union legislation is not all powerful. While the cause may not be the one we would have chosen the the slogans may not all be to our taste, this could be a first skirmish in a resurgent class struggle. I for one am not prepared to abandon that to the BNP. I hope I’m not alone.