Do or Die

An article from Do or Die Issue 10. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 1-101.

I: Growing Counter-Cultures

We need to catalyse living, loving, fighting counter-cultures that can sustain rebellion across generations. In both collective struggle and our everyday lives we must try to live our ecological and libertarian principles. Our counter-cultures must be glimmers of ecological anarchy - fertiliser for the growth of collective imagination. Fulfilling this task is what will enable the others to be fulfilled over the long haul. The counter-cultures must be bases from which to carry out 'thumb in the dam' actions and give support to rebellions beyond the core. In times of crisis they should act decisively against authoritarian groups. The counter-culture's eventual aim should be total social transcendence - (r)evolution.

"[An anarchist society] can hardly come about when isolated groups follow a policy of resistance for the sake of resistance. Unless we can first prove that anarchism works through creating libertarian communities, the critical level of support that we need will never materialise, for the mass of workers will otherwise continue to be influenced by authoritarian propaganda..."

"[One] reason for developing a libertarian social and work structure is that it is a bulwark against authoritarian groups when the upheaval comes. If we have not yet learnt the lessons of the Russian and Spanish revolutions when the communists savagely attacked the freedom of anarchism, then we do not deserve to survive as a movement. We start at a severe disadvantage vis-à-vis our authoritarian 'comrades', and they will easily destroy us again unless the shoots of libertarianism are already pushing through the crumbling remains of the old society."

- Stuart Christie, Towards A Citizens Militia.

Map Reading in the Social Desert

Things are going to shit. They have been for a long while (10,000 years) but now it's getting really serious. Social solidarity is imploding and ecological systems are being ravaged as never before. What is needed is an entire change of direction for global human society. We need to find each other and together find our way back to nature.

We must totally dismantle the technological web of slavery and dependence that we have been born into. For the earth's remaining forests to stay up, the world's factories have to come down. To do this we will have to take on the most murderous ruling classes ever to disgrace the earth.

Of course, within the realm of contemporary politics, these solutions are not only unrealistic, but also unintelligible. That hardly matters. The biological meltdown is fast making the logic of industrial society irrelevant.

Reformist manoeuvres in this context resemble rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Global ecological and libertarian revolution, though incredibly unlikely, is a far more realistic strategy for defeating apocalypse and global slavery than recycling or voting for the Socialist Alliance.

A consensus in plenary at the 1997 EF! Gathering was that 'the movement' saw itself as an ecological revolutionary network.[1] This is a considerable change from the past radical ecological view that sees no hope for positive social change this side of industrial collapse.

So, if we set ourselves the task of advancing (r)evolution here in the core, how are we going to go about it? We are talking vast change here. Lefties just want to change the rules of the game leaving hierarchy, ideology and industry intact. We want to stop the game and start living. While they want to build workers power (power for lefty ex-students mostly) we want to destroy power and abolish work. This is a massive (though not a mass[2]) undertaking.

The mythical Revolution is not something that will just happen suddenly one day after we've polished some ideology long enough. (R)evolution is a process of individuals and collectives reclaiming what has been taken from us, rediscovering our power and creativity together. Sometimes gradually, sometimes in huge leaps during times of greater struggle.

Expand the Cultural Oases

"If we are to actually change things then there are some things we have to do: We have to build our own economic, justice and social systems. We have to do this all the while maintaining an equal emphasis towards destroying the existing culture and its fucked up systems"
- Making Punk A Threat Again [3]

(R)evolution is about practical change in everyday life, class consciousness, solidarity, love and imagination.

(R)evolution is the evolutionary process of the creation of new worlds.

Ecological direct action could be just an exciting holiday of autonomy between leaving school and entering the world of work and parenting. If that's all it ends up being, then it has still given me and thousands of others some of the most beautiful, exhilarating and just plain weird moments in our lives.

However if we really want to kick this system in and grow a new world we have got to build a multigenerational culture that can sustain us for the long haul.

In growing ecological libertarian counter-cultures it is worth looking at past experiences of anarchist (r)evolution. Probably the best example in the West remains that of the historical Spanish anarchist movement.

The Spanish Anarchist Counter-Society

Us anarchists have a tendency to fetishise Spain 1936. In the non-insurrectionary times that we live, looking back to a 'golden age of anarchism' can seriously get in the way of analysing and struggling in the here and now. We are a long way off from the cataclysm and clashes of the Spanish civil war. However there is a lot to learn from the Spanish experience - less in the trenches of Aragon and more in the movement that gave them birth.

A simplistic view sees the Spanish revolution as starting in 1936 and ending with Franco's victory. In fact the (r)evolution had started decades before. Franco's attempted coup d'etat and the ensuing civil war was the rich's (eventually successful) attempt to stall the growth of a culture that was reaching transcendent levels in many parts of Spain. Increasingly class conscious and combatative workers organising in (largely) anarchist unions were immersed in a multigenerational culture which not only opposed, but replaced, much of Spain's state/church backed infrastructure; they were maturing into a movement that given a few more years, would have been almost impossible to destroy. In learning about the movement that Franco had to unleash a sea of blood to wash away we can see in part what needs to be done in our own times.

In his brilliant book about the pre-civil war anarchist movement Murray Bookchin has this to say:

"The Spanish anarchists left behind them a tangible reality that has considerable relevance for social radicalism today. Their movements 'heroic years' 1868-1936 were marked by a fascinating process of experimentation... [They] had evolved an astonishingly well organised subculture within Spanish society that fostered enormous freedom of action..."[4]

"What these Spanish anarchists aimed for, in effect, was a 'counter-society' to the old one. It is easy to mistake this for an 'alternate society', one that would co-exist with capitalism as an enclave of purity and freedom, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The Spanish anarchists expressly rejected the concept of an 'alternate society' with its hope of peaceful reconstruction and its privileged position in a world of general misery... Since social or personal freedom could not be acquired within the established order, they viewed a 'countersociety' as terrain in which to remake themselves into revolutionaries and remove their interests from any stake in bourgeois society... The bureaucracy, state, and church were the anarchists mortal enemies; any voluntary dealings with these institutions were to be avoided. Children were sent to libertarian or union schools."

"Wherever the [anarchist movement] had a substantial following it established Centro Obreros, which functioned not merely as union headquarters but as cultural centres. Depending upon its resources, the Centro Obrero might provide literature, books, classes, and meeting halls for discussion on a wide variety of subjects. This institution exercised a profound influence on the personal life of the worker who belonged to anarchist influenced unions... Ricardo Mella recalls Seville "with its enormous Centro Obrero, capable of holding thousands of people.""[5]

"Far more important than the episodic revolutionary uprisings, individual atentados [assassination of bosses or bosses men], or the daring escapes of small circles of comrades was the ability of the Spanish anarchists to patiently knit together highly independent groups (united by 'social conviviality' as well as by social views) into sizeable, coherent organisations, to coordinate them into effective social forces when crises emerged, and to develop an informed mode of spontaneity that fuelled the most valuable traits of group discipline with personal initiative."

"Out of this process emerged an organic community and a sense of mutual aid unequalled by any workers movement of that era."[6]

We are in a very different situation today and we are quite different people. The Spanish counter-culture was an expression of a transitional class captivated by an ideal that reflected its rural communal past and its harrowing social present.[7] Yet we should take inspiration and practical guidance from their example.

In Britain a similar - but significantly different - working-class culture of mutual aid grew in nineteenth-century industrial communities. This culture sought to resist the intrusions of an industrial system into every aspect of people's lives and was the domestic flipside of defensive workplace struggles.

People endeavoured to mitigate for each other visitations of sickness, the death of children, the perishing of women in childbirth and a continuing inadequacy of basic resources. Much of this was the work of women, and was possible thorough networks of kinship and neighbourhood, as well as the associations in the workplace, through trade unions, co-operative societies, burial clubs and friendly societies.

Many radicals saw in this lived working class solidarity culture an embryo of a non-capitalist society, but thanks to industry and ideology it never embraced libertarian insurrectionry fervour like its Spanish relative; in fact, the opposite. Despite - or perhaps because of - the monumental mistakes made, we can learn a lot from the still warm corpse of the British labour movement.

Its continuation into the relatively recent past underlines what many libertarians have pointed out. Under the veneer of illusory command it is voluntary co-operation, mutual aid, nurturing, human solidarity and love that keeps society from imploding. Here though we are concerned with something grander than mere survival - living free.

Love's Labours Lost

In Britain - birth place of industry - the transitional class came much earlier than elsewhere. Defeated in a bitter class struggle Britain's poor had internalised industrial logic and embraced social democratic ideas even in the midst of continuing struggle. The working class (under significant influence from marxist socialists) created the hopelessly reformist Labour movement which in turn institutionalised the culture of working class mutual aid in the welfare state.

Thus whereas Spanish working class solidarity grew anarchist (r)evolution and the CNT, British working class solidarity produced the welfare state and the Labour Party. The post war 'triumph' of the labour movement and the founding of the welfare state was the near total subsumption of the working class by the state, not the other way round as lefties choose to believe.

The welfare state produced a security for capitalism which enabled it to set out on a period of expansion such as had not been seen since the exuberance of the early nineteenth century. An expansion which is bringing life to the brink.

The inter-generational culture of the British labour movement has now been destroyed over the last 20 years or so by Thatcherism/ Neoliberalism. With the decimation of heavy industry and the restructuring of the economy most of the old strongholds of the British workers movement no longer exist - e.g. mining, shipbuilding, the docks and the nationalised industries.

30 Years of Temporary Counter-Cultures

Beyond the 'First World' significant counter-cultures are arising. Yet here in the capitalist core since the 'proletarian glory days' there have been no (r)evolutionary counter cultures on the kind of seismic scale that evolved in Spain. This is no surprise given that the 'class in transition' that defended the barricades of Paris, Barcelona and Kronstadt is largely no longer found in the core.

Since the '60s upheaval Britain has seen quite number of anarchist/ecological counter-cultures form then dissipate through inertia, state repression, or simply assimilation. These autonomous cultures - squatting, feminism, travelling, punk, back to the land, ecological direct action camps, animal liberation, anarchism etc. - have all predominantly been youth movements operating in the heady (and vanishing) space of dole autonomy.

They have remained temporary because they have largely been generational; failing to either accommodate the changing needs of their ageing members or having any ability to involve younger generations. The one major exception has been travelling which has evolved into a multigenerational culture - there are now three generations of 'new travellers' on the road together. Unfortunately travellers have suffered more state repression then anyone - resulting in a mass exodus from Britain of tens of thousands.

The temporary nature of these counter-cultures - though not invalidating them - does significantly limit their scope from a (r)evolutionary perspective. The struggle then is to first join the dots, link up these generations of libertarians by creating multigenerational counter-cultures.

To a certain extent we have been going down this road for a few years. The inspiring actions of the '90s have brought many different age ranges together. Yet our radical ecological circles still remain very much 'Club18-30'. [I first wrote the previous sentence around four years ago and it may be truer now to say 'Club 21-33'! Rather worrying considering the next paragraph... ho hum.]

The next few years will show whether our movement will share the fate of the Trots (who, bar students, are mostly in their late 40s having been in their 20s in the '60/'70s upsurge) - an isolated political generation moving through time shrinking with every year.

The creation of multi-generational counter-cultures is essential simply from the perspective of our network survival.

Opening Up Space

More than anything else we need to open up space for (r)evolution to grow. Keeping ourselves undigested within the bowels of the system is going to be difficult. Later in Task II I will talk about biological meltdown and some of the steps we must take to combat it. Yet just as civilisation is destroying nature all over the globe so too it is haemorrhaging our internal nature. ("The best kept state secret is the misery of everyday life." - Raoul Vaneigem ) This ever speeding emotional meltdown is resulting in an epidemic of depression, self-harm and violence. Without hope the oppressed will always turn their violence on themselves and each other. Ever more people in the core are turning to damaging pseudo-escapism; alcoholism, drug addiction and even religion are all on the rise. These panaceas only further poison society. Those without hope but also without the ability to fool themselves turn in larger numbers to an escapism that is in no way pseudo - suicide.

"Suicide is now the single biggest killer of men under 35... The rate - three times that of women of the same age - has nearly doubled since 1971. Working class men are at particular risk, with suicide rates four times those of men in professional occupations... The Samaritans believe the figures could be much worse as examination of road-traffic accidents involving just one driver suggests that some of them may well have been deliberate."[8] Although women - especially the young - lag behind men as 'successful' suicides, they are way ahead when it comes to attempts.

Speaking personally I have already lost too many friends and comrades to death, depression and drugs. Many of these were great warriors and brave, good people who shone during the '90s land struggles. But after these struggles and the culture it spawned ended, their shield from the world was gone. Soon after, so were many of them - if not in body then in spirit. I believe that for quite a few the temporary counter-culture of land struggle put off for years their NOT inevitable descent. It is from this that I take the belief that the growth of counter-cultures can go some way to re-instilling - and sustaining - hope and authentic human behaviour. Yet if we are to make these cultures (at least Semi-) Permanent Autonomous Zones then we need radical spaces and communities that will hold. To a large extent we have already started building (well, buying or breaking into mostly) the structures we need:

Our strength is in our ability to take action ourselves and by doing so inspire others to take action. To a large extent both the Land Struggle Period and the Global Resitance Period were catalysed initially by a very small number of people. Our network's strategy has been one of empowering others to replicate our activity rather than expand ourselves as such. It is both a duty and a pleasure to live our ecological and libertarian principles and if we do so as coherently and consistently as possible I believe it is quite infectious. Most of us, after all, got hooked on the laughs and commitment of others.

While counter-cultures should act as partial sanctuaries we should never forget the importance of defence through attack. In the words of the SPK (the '70s armed German psychological 'self-help group'): "Civilisation: This sick society has made us sick. Let us strike a death blow at this sick society."

IMAGE: South Downs Mass Trespass: Radical ramblers on a subversive stroll across stolen land. Illegal picnics liberate space for those otherwise stuck in the city. Kids play as plans are plotted over packed lunches.

Changing Change

Too often radicals decry others' inability to face up to the desperate need for change. A few years back Jeremy Seabrook interviewed many radicals in an attempt to find the root of their failure to change society:

"We were becoming uneasy about the recurring theme that 'people must change'. We began to wonder if the reason why the parties advocating radical change were so unsuccessful was because they were striking against the resistance of people who had changed, who had been compelled to change, too much. The experience of industrialisation had been driven and relentless change, and continues to be so. Even countries which pride themselves on having reached an advanced stage of development, of being post-industrial, of being 'developed', constantly require accelerating change from their privileged populations. So why should we expect that exhortations to change will be welcomed by those who have known little else for at least two centuries? In this context, the desire to conserve, to protect, to safeguard, to rescue, to resist, becomes the heart of a radical project."[9]

In the capitalist core, development is simply renamed progress and the ground is always moving from under our feet. Our 'thumb in the dam' defence of ecologies over the last decade has garnered vast levels of support. A similar but far more subtle process must be carried out to defend threatened positive social relationships.

We must first root ourselves in surviving communal and ecological practises, preserve them, extend them and link them with the emerging counter-culture.

In this way the base for (r)evolution is not merely 'new' relationships fostered by 'radicals' but age old radical (in the original meaning) relationships. One example is allotments and the connection to the land and sense of autonomy they breed - under constant threat from development.

The oppressed multitude needs to wrest control of change from the elite, becoming no longer change's subjects but its agents.

IMAGE: Children learn to grow their own on allotments - the people's land.

Counter (R)evolution

The elite pre-empt counter-cultural transcendence with civil war.

To attempt to seriously change the world is to put realism in the attic, a worthy piece of Spring cleaning. Yet to embark on a project of change without taking heed of the likely reaction is not merely idiotic but terribly irresponsible.

"A truly revolutionary culture that is effective (demonstrating realistic, sincere designs aimed at the overthrow of established power) will be attacked by the built in automatic survival instincts of the established power complex creating a need to counter-poise the violence of power. Without the ability to organise a counterforce to neutralise the violence of established power, antithesis dies. We are not contending with fools." - George Jackson[10]

The rich will try to pre-empt and destroy by military means any movements of the multitude which have the potential to transcend and destroy power. In Spain, Hungry, Latin America, Indochina - social threats and state massacres.

Relatively peaceful social struggle and construction is only possible up to a point - the point at which it begins to seriously undermine elite power.

It is of course most likely that we will never get anywhere and therefore fail to bring the roof down on ourselves. However if we believe radical social change is at all possible than we must think and prepare for the reaction.

The leaflets for June 18th 1999 proclaimed that: "To work for delight and authentic festivity is barely distinguishable from preparing for general insurrection". I'm a bit of a sucker for Situationist semantics but I have to say that pretty banners and samba bands do not armed militias make! Don't get me wrong, I like a good street party as much as the next twenty something; but let's call a spade a spade.

Situ slogans like this have been made common radical currency by the events of France 1968: rioting students in the Sorbonne, factory occupations, red and black flags in the sunshine.

France '68 is often used as justification for the idea that spontaneous revolution can succeed without the need for significant (r)evolutionary preparation. In fact the failure of France '68 proves the opposite.

From the boredom and misery of everyday life a momentous social upsurge swept across France without warning. President De Gaulle was freaked out and doubting the loyalty of the French army left French soil for the relative safety of troops stationed in Germany. Great! But just as the upsurge had appeared, suddenly so too it dissipated. Why?

There are a number of reasons - the Stalinist stranglehold on the unions chief among them. One simple factor, often ignored, was De Gaulle's appearance on national television to basically proclaim 'if you want civil war I'll give it to you'.[11] He insinuated he had the loyalty of a large part of the army while 'revolutionaries' could claim the loyalty of none. While this was not entirely true (action committees had been formed within camps of conscripted soldiers to organise break outs), it was mostly true. Trusted regiments were deployed around Paris and widely photographed.

A near million strong mass march of the forces of reaction took to the streets. Faced by this threat and sizing up the fight a large section of the working class, already disorganised by the Stalinists, understood its own weakness and abandoned the moment. Skirmishes at factories continued but De Gaulle's broadcast really was the turning point. Imagination is Power but the power of imagination is not enough when confronted with the armed might of the state. What is needed is class strength - an armed people.

IMAGE: One million march through Paris in support of De Gaulle's declaration of war on the movement and spirit of '68. Thousands chant for the well known anarchist Cohn Bendit to be sent to Dachau. He is a German Jew.

The failure of France in '68 was that coming so suddenly, the rebellion never really went beyond negative opposition to move to positive social growth and defence.

When offered civil war - the blood and the horror - many workers couldn't envision a future worth it. They also knew that they didn't have the class strength to get through a civil war. The lack of a decade by decade counter-culture left those who occupied the factories nothing tangible to defend and expand and not enough weapons to do it with.

By resigning itself to the resumption of party politics instead of engaging in a bloody slug fest it would lose, the French working class was entirely logical. The failure of many radicals to size up fights - and as a result see the centrality of an armed class in (r)evolution - says more about their class background than anything else. Stuart Christie, long term British anarchist, founder of Black Flag magazine and attempted assassin of Franco, puts it well:

"One of the fundamental rules of guerrilla warfare is to spread the struggle to every piece of territory and to every facet of life. Unless the seeds of anarchist freedom have already been sown there, we are doomed to perish however good our military preparation might be."[12]

IMAGE: Troops storm Free Derry in Northern Ireland. The Bogside had been barricaded by the community to protect itself from unionist attacks and to create a functioning autonomous zone.

IMAGE: Any area declared free from state control will feel the might of government attack. As the graffiti illustrates, (r)evolution - the politics of the people - needs armed struggle to survive.

Surplus Baggage

Despite our professed militancy and radicalism we still carry a lot of baggage from the political terrain many of us first got involved in - single issue campaigns. As has been pointed out elsewhere, our move into 'revolutionary politics' has often been carried out by pressure group methods.

Our responsibility to any (r)evolutionary process is not to make revolution, but to evolve counter-cultures that can make revolutionaries.

Ideally counter-cultures can have enough time to evolve, through struggle, to a point at which social transcendence, total (r)evolution, is possible. By such a time it would be able to field considerable armed class strength and possibly defeat elite attempts to drown it in bloody counter (r)evolution.

Of course history rarely leaves anyone alone with their plans and this is just such a case. Here lies the rub, in the words of a Canadian army military historian:

"Revolutions are not, in fact made by revolutionaries. The professional agitators, the terrible exiles of history have seldom succeeded in raising even the smallest revolutionary mob. The best they can hope for is to seize control of the course of the revolution once it has started. The thing itself is caused by the persistent stupidities and brutalities of government." [13]

That 'revolutionaries' don't make revolution is no bad thing considering those who executed most of the last century's revolutionary hopes were the very people who described themselves as revolutionaries - socialists like Lenin and Hitler. As libertarians a large part of 'our job' is to stop these murderous parasites from seizing control of the course of tidal waves of change. How far we are away from crises of this scale is unknowable but discussed in Task III - Preparing for Crises.

By strolling on to the terrain of revolution (at least theoretically) we are confronted by a plethora of leftist ideologies. Thankfully as libertarians we are inoculated against infection from some of most virulent - and stupid - authoritarian dogmas. For instance we have rightly rejected out of hand much of the (ridiculous) party building and fetishism of organisation which characterise the 'revolutionary (HA!) left' in particular and capitalism in general.

There is an opposing left tendency that disagrees with almost any activity aimed at preparing for the tumultuous events that punctuate history. In times of social crisis faith is put in the 'revolutionary impulse of the proletariat'. One can sum up the theory of this tendency as 'It'll be alright on the night'. There is unfortunately little evidence from history that the working class - never mind anyone else - is intrinsicly predisposed to libertarian or ecological revolution. Thousands of years of authoritarian socialisation favour the jackboot and this is the very reason why libertarian counter-cultures are so important.

Some Proposals

The practical work involved in this task is far more than all the others.

Really the list is too long to go through. I will not even attempt to catalogue what ingredients good counter-cultures needs - social evolution and the individual situation will do that.

The two primary divisions in this society that need to be overcome are our disconnection from each other and our disconnection from the land. Practically there are some very obvious things we can do now as an evolving counter-culture.

Reconnecting with each Other

1) Build a British Social Centre Network

Social centres - which place politics where they should be, in friendship - are the key to viable counter-cultures. Probably because of the post '70s travelling culture Britain is unusual in not developing a social centre network. Across Europe social centres are at the very heart of anarchist counter-cultures. (This is also true incidentally of Irish Republicanism and Basque separatism). This process has begun and from this one act of organisation a thousand acts of resistance will follow. [Since this was first published a London Social Centres Network has formed and plans are afoot for one nationwide.]

2) Prepare for Strike Support

Our circles, despite inhabiting a economically peripheral social position (casual labour, dole, single parenthood) have a far better record in the last 10 years in supporting strikes than the left. To quote a shop steward from the Liverpool Dockers: "others talk, these people do!" A small amount of thought can make our ability to use direct action to intervene in workplace struggles much easier. Solidarity among the poor - the very basis of counter-cultures and anarchy.

3) Resist Together, Train Together

While a (r)evolutionary culture can include everything from cabbage growing to hip-hop, without active resistance a culture will not hold. We need to be up against it to make sure both that the petty things don't split us and the big things bring us together. Living in a mundane world you can know someone for years and not truly know them as you do after a day of struggle.

Acts of purposeful resistance build our collective strength but we shouldn't just rely on events but train to grow our power. Run Faster - go running with a mate. Trash Better - learn sabotage skills before you need them. Find Direction - go orienteering at night. Get Fitter - give up smoking collectively. Hit Harder - spar with friends. Strength is infectious.

IMAGE: In 2002 the 1 in 12 club in Bradford celebrated 20 years as a libertarian social centre. Formed out of a claimants' union in 1981, it hosts a bar, café and infoshop. Offshoots range from Mayday festivities to a Peasants' Collective. Today, with hundreds of members, it's part of a growing network of legal and illegal centres across Britain.

Reconnecting with the Land

1) Grow the Land Community

Allotments are available to us all thanks to Nineteenth Century arson, but hundreds of sites every year are being destroyed by developers. More direct action is needed to stop this haemorrhaging of an inheritance born of struggle. More work allotments in Britain than work in farming and it is only from this land community that any hope for ecological autonomy can grow. The experience of growing your own food is (r)evolutionary.

Allotments also offer a jump point for those committed to leaving the cities and towns. On these small patches we can learn many of the skills in miniature needed if we are to grow out of our dependency on the industrial. From farm communities in Cornwall to land projects in the Scottish Highlands many of our circles have gone 'back to the land' in the last decade. Many more will follow. The call of the soil cannot be drowned by the cacophony of traffic. [15]

"In the final analysis, all revolutions are fought over the question of land."
- Malcolm X [16]

2) Rewild Ourselves

Get out beyond the streetlights and join the stars. Hear the darkness and see the sounds of the night. Learn skills, light fires. Discover wild foods. Sit quietly in a wood and wait. Guide kids to the true joy of mud and spiders. Wear down the soles of your walking boots, harden the soles of your feet. Get naked in the sun and snow. Pack a heavy rucksack with everything you'll need for a weekend camping, then leave it on the bed and walk out the door. Nurture saplings, plant the spring. Improvise shelters, get nifty with a knife. Don't go to work - fuck in forests.

3) Continue Ecological Land Struggles

In Britain our struggles over ecology and wildness are powerful theatres for the growth of ecological sensibility. In living on, for and in defence of the land, one forges an immensely strong connection. Fluorescent bibbed cops grappling with tree defenders brings out into the open the age old conflict. On one side the property/state axis, on the other wildness, diversity, freedom. By creating these situations of struggle, mythic discourse is shattered with a power no essay or clever turn of phrase will ever have. Unleashing these revelatory (r)evolutionary moments is at the heart of our action. With every broken illusion we take a step back from the abyss. [17]

Task Conclusion: Grow and Live

For new worlds of land, liberty and love there will be both kisses and gunfire.

Taking responsibility for our own lives and those around us is daunting. It's not just the cops, the bosses, the scabs and the poverty that keeps people working for the man. It's the terror of the blank page. We are schooled to be dependent on fictions and commands, not to believe in ourselves. Growing and defending new worlds is a daunting task, yet the alternative is far worse. An acceptence of a tide of void that consumes species and peoples while it daily drains us of dignity.

The aim of our counter-cultures should be total social transcendence - (r)evolution. That (r)evolution is extremely unlikely (there is no point pretending otherwise) does not fundamentally question the need for counter-cultural growth. Counter-cultures are not only new worlds for the future but barracks and sanctuaries for today.

Next (Task II)


1) Simply wishing this doesn't make it a reality. It may be truer to say that we aspire to become ecological revolutionaries.

2) Civilisation needs us all to become increasingly isolated individuals that can only exist as part of a mass. Authoritarian 'revolutionaries' and reformists alike often talk of the need for a 'mass movement' to create change, yet libertarian change only happens in 'everyday life'. Check out the pamphlet: Anti-Mass - Methods of Organising for Collectives.

3) Making Punk A Threat Again by Profane Existence.

4) The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936 by Murray Bookchin (AK Press) ISBN 187317604 X, p. 288

5) Ibid. p. 146

6) Ibid. p. 288

7) 'Peasants and the Transitional Class' at the end of Task IV explains this further.

8) 'It's Good to Talk', Observer Magazine, 09/06/02.

9) The Revolt Against Change by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook, ISBN 0 0993 090 17, p. 3

10) Blood in My Eye by George Jackson (Penguin Books, 1975) p. 50. Black Liberation fighter Jackson was killed by the screws inside San Quentin prison only a few days after finishing this book.

11) Enrages and the Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May '68 by Rene Vienet, ISBN 094606105X, p. 94

12) Towards a Citizens' Militia (Cienfuegos Press, 1980).

13) 'The Coup D'Etat' by Lt-Colonel DJ Goodspeed in the interesting, but slightly weird, Civilian Resistance as a National Defence edited by Adam Roberts (Pelican).

14) A good point from another DoD editor: "In some ways, I really don't like the extrapolation of the 'personal is political' that some of these proposals represent. Instead of all social relations being subsumed/made subordinate to capital, they are subsumed to the task of building the counter culture/revolution. Have you not considered that people drift apart because they realise that they simply don't like each other any more - and that it might be unhealthy to stay together for the sake of the revolution?"

A danger correctly spotted. This is why it important to grow substantive cultures made up of interlinked small human sized groups. A good example was the Newbury Bypass Campaign. One of the factors that made it so good was that there were over thirty camps - each with a different atmosphere. Living in many different bands enabled us to be a strong temporary tribe. If we had all been part of one organisation we could never have held together at all. 'Affinity groups structures' (read: groups of friends!) grow counter-cultural unity by separating people as much as bringing them together. Here lies another major difference with authoritarians. In large organisations personal clashes are channelled into competitive scrambles for dominance over the mass membership.

15) In the cities isolation from the land can drive you mad, in the countryside isolation from other people can have the same affect. For this reason it is important that those moving onto the land do so collectively and/or stay in regular contact with those elsewhere. The take-over of land - legal or illegal - should be seen as an extension of the counter-culture not a flight from it. For more on allotment history, forest gardening and land struggle see 'Farmageddon: Confronting Industrial Agriculture', Do or Die No. 7, p. 40

16) Quoted by Stokely Carmichael (ex-prez of SNCC) in Black Poets and Prophets: A Bold, Uncompromising Clear Blueprint for Black Liberation edited by Woodie King and Earl Anthony, (New American Library, 1972).

17) "Or maybe a step closer to despair and the loony bin" - says another DoD editor.

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