The Agitator
Date:September 1998
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

13th August 2012

Here’s an interesting document that seeks to list ‘autonomous, non-hierarchical groups’ in Britain and Ireland. It defines the above as ‘if you would broadly describe yourself as autonomous of any political party and working in a non-hierarchical way’. In the introduction under the heading ‘So You Want to Change the World? You are not alone!’ it notes that:

This directory, created by people from Counter Information, Haringey Solidarity Group & the Anarchist Distribution Service, contains details of autonomous, non-hierarchical, libertarian activist groups, magazines, bookshops, etc. This is the first edition and we accept the list is probably not complete. Can it ever be? Details have been provided by the groups themselves (unless otherwise stated) and we have not edited any entry. However, inclusion in this directory does not necessarily mean we support everything they do.

And it continues:

We have created this directory as a way of encouraging information sharing, solidarity and networking between groups and individuals who are actively involved in the struggle against the oppressive and exploitative society we live in. Groups and individuals who are agitating for a society based on freedom, equality, co-operation, self organisation and mutual aid. We want to be part of creating a culture of resistance, encouraging people to organise reclaiming their lives. We can change society by the way we act, live and relate to one another. We think better communication and sharing of ideas and experiences is a step in the right direction to recognising our collective strength and to stimulating active struggle for social justice.

And it concludes:

Lets get organised, get active and go change the world - rather than just talking or dreaming about it!

The document is organised under various headings including ‘Local Groups’, ‘National Groups’, National Networks’, ‘Autonomous Centres’, ‘Bookshops’ and others.

A broad range of groups are included, and overall the balance tilts strongly towards Britain, perhaps unsurprisingly. So one will find the Animal Liberation Front Supporters group, Dublin Abortion Rights Group and Kent Socialist Alliance (“we are a very broad (socialist, anarchist, anti-fascist, animal rights, trade unionist) network of activists…”) and the Equi-Phallic Alliance/Proles for Modernism (“We campaign against ‘mysticism’, particularly when it is combined with ‘green’ direct action… we are against the ecofascist current in ‘green’ politics. We pitch ourselves against the forces of reaction and demand nothing’).

National Groups includes Anti-Fascist Action, Class War and so on. The Irish groups included under that heading are a heterogenous mix, including the Irish Mexico Group.

As a snap shot of various strands on the libertarian left while self-admittedly subjective it does provide a fascinating insight.


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  • By: Mark P Mon, 13 Aug 2012 11:25:31

    This is fascinating, so thanks for posting it.

    There’s quite the range of groups listed in this pamphlet, many of which have little obviously in common with each other (and some of which would probably hate each other), but precisely because of its not very coherent catholicity it gives a great picture of a segment of the left at a particular time.

    It also gives a sense of the transience of organisations on that section of the left. A large majority of the groups listed are, I’m pretty sure, extinct. And the bookshops listing makes for some slightly depressing reading as a lot of them are gone too. There is a real dearth of left wing bookshops, of whatever flavour, in Britain nowadays.

    The Kent Socialist Alliance listing is peculiar at first glance, but makes sense when you see the date of publication. The first incarnation of the Network of Socialist Alliances was very varied and included a fair number of self-described anarchists or “libertarians” and they tended to be concentrated in a few local alliances. IIRC it was only around the time this appeared that the SAs started to become more electorally focused and more homogenous.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 13 Aug 2012 17:58:44

    In reply to Mark P.

    I like the document too. Very true re left wing bookshops.

    BTW Proles for Modernism had a website which is still acessible. Situationists! I smell situationists! 🙂

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  • By: The Weekly Archive Worker: Landshuter Fürstenhochzeit ’78: Die Bourgeoisie feiert die Tradition ihrer Raubzüge gegen die Völker des Ostens « Entdinglichung Thu, 06 Sep 2012 09:50:13

    […] The Agitator – A Directory of Autonomous, Non-Hierarchical Groups and Such Like in Britain and Ire… (1998) * Paddy Carmody: Socialism and Democracy […]

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  • By: Some interesting documents posted up in the Left Archive over Summer 2012 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 24 Sep 2012 03:59:29

    […] Then there’s The Agitator – A Directory of Autonomous, Non-Hierarchical Groups and Such Like in Britain and Ireland, September 1998, an interesting round up of left libertarian and other groups during that period. […]

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