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A Letter To Catalunya~

Like many anarchists, the image of police breaking into polling stations, seizing equipment and dragging away would-be voters fills me with dread. Violence and repression has always been the most foundational of control measures that the state uses to legitimate itself.

Like many anarchists, the images of a festival of nationalist flags – whether Spanish or independentista – fills me with worry. Nationalism has always been the first step towards isolationism and discord.

Others have written eloquently of the dilemma facing the anarchic Left on the topic of Catalan independence; it is not for me to tell those on the streets, engaged with their struggle what they should and should not fight. Here in my own country there are similar forces calling for self-determination, and multiple struggles for national independence: Alba, Cymru, Eire, and even Kernow have all raised their flags, seeking to break away from Westminster centrality. That is the issue we have (it seems to me). Centralizing authority whose policies reflect the desires of the free market rather than the desires of citizens, made even more dangerous by a culture of exclusivity – politics here is a profession, not a method. No matter what stripes or colours of our flags, everything is laid down before the centralizing capitalist machine.

What is to be done, as anarchists? Do we join our voices to a flag, hoping that we can shout down the larger?

We can offer aid to those in need. We can question any move towards bigotry or centralization – whether inside the state, or inside the independence movement. We can question any move towards free-market capital. There are myriad ways that aid can happen in communities and on the streets as it does in our own social centres and collectives: Soup Kitchens, First Aid, Legal Observers, Info Points, Crash Spaces, Safe Spaces for the elderly or in need. Free Education. Activist Counselling, Legal Advice. We can put our bodies in the way of the policeman’s baton, the riot shield. We can grow and distribute food. We can sing songs that remind us of our shared humanity. Some might argue that this hand of support “enables” nationalist movements to continue, but with what better weapon than solidarity are we to combat exclusivity?

There are no easy answers – especially the dichotomous sort that any Referendum wants. But that is something that we anarchists are at least used to. The absolutist answer of “In or Out” is an inadequate one when we are talking about peoples lives, their families, and their futures. As anarchists we seek a praxis of solidarity and liberty, right now. We’re not content to wait for the answer of a Referendum, or for a movement to coalesce – we seek to provide aid where we can, and to deshackle each other from the centralizing, repressive economies that surround us.

I remember an anarchist meme that was doing the rounds; it was a little thing, a simple thing in a sea of punched-Nazi gifs. “I am an Anarchist:” it read, mimicking the occasional adverts you might see for political parties or religious denominations:

“If you are hungry, I will offer food; If you are thirsty, I will offer water; If you are cold, I will offer warmth; If you are in need, ask and I will try to help. I do not do these things for reward, but because I know them to be right.”

Keep marching. Keep singing your songs with a hopeful voice. Keep marching, and take the time to hold the hands of your sisters and brothers at your side as you do. Take the time to hold a thought for all those who cannot or will not – whether it be disagreement or fear or otherwise – be beside you either; for it is only through understandinghope, and mutual aid that any lasting victory can be won.


October Book Haul


Solidarity Forever, comrades! October is already shaping up to be a great month, with two new tomes to add to the home. I’ve been after a Chambers’ thesaurus for aeons, and an almost-forgotten Gift Voucher [thank you Trish + Allen] allowed that to happen. Chambers is the sort of thesaurus that could build fall-out shelters with if you had enough of them – a prospect which we might have to consider before too long, sadly –  it’s got a very pleasing “Word-lovers Gallimaufry” section on collective nouns, weasel words, manias, collectors and more.

The top book is, of course, October by the ever impressive China Mieville, a story of the Russian Revolution published by Verso*, hunted for me by my better (and much prettier) other half on one of her artist expeditions to the Great Canker, London – and it’s a signed copy, too! 😀


* The Place I Would Give Various Body Parts and Possibly Cake to Work at…

The Freelancer’s Clock

I shouldn’t admit to this, but there are a worrying amount of my out-mails that start something like “Given current time commitments, It may take a couple of days to get back to you…” It is an eternal bugbear, and one of the many rocks which I throw myself against. The urge to apologise for not being digitally available 24/7 is always there, possibly not helped by a writer’s sense of shame at ever having the audacity to grub words onto the page at all.

I know I must be terrible at time management. It’s a thing. I am working on it. Apparently I am not the only one however, as my sister-in-law once complained about “the [INSERT FAMILY NAME HERE] time” – which, I am informed is always approximately ten minutes on either side of late or early.

I wonder if time management is a biological trait. I wonder if, way back when, us [INSERT FAMILY TIME] were always the ones to turn up to the mammoth hunt halfway through, or else the day previously. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Daily notebooking helps. Project guides help. Caffeine definitely helps.

But then, I also have to wonder if it’s a part of the digital landscape that we occupy now. If the precarity of the Freelancer’s position is one that we have to make ourselves far more available than we would have 10yrs ago? My projects extend across the globe, and can be measured in GMT, PDT, CDT, CET, PHT and of course that ever-helpful UTC (Universal Temporal Chaos). I wonder about creating a sort of Freelancer’s Clock like the very sobering Doomsday Clock that I could display at the top of every email; the guage set to either Dangerous, Critical, Nervous Collapse, or SEND HALLP.

But then I realize that I still have work to do, and the coffee won’t drink itself.


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