Letter [Anarchist and Plymouth support for miners strike]

Dear Black Flag comrades,

Congratulations on your, increasingly better, coverage of the current miners’ dispute. Unlike other anarchist journals, you haven’t joined in the arrogant position of high and mighty analysis which, in the final analysis, is comparable with the Sun’s etc. anti-Scargill stance. All that maybe important at some stage or another but at the moment it’s more important to get on and support the miners (which isn’t the same as supporting Scargill and the NUM)! For the miners and families have been doing things on their own initiative eg. miners wives action. So its best to find those positive things and report/support them not get bogged down in ideological clap-trap.

Its a great pity anarchists couldn’t have done more during the builders strike of 1972. The State of that industry now is a good indication of how workers can be divided by not having a clear objective. The miners have one albeit not our ideal, but a goal just the same. The building industry is rife with ‘self-employment’ a misnomer if ever there was one – how can wage-slaves ever be self-employed? The only real kind of self-employment is collectivisation and that needs revolution! Some anarchists and libertarians were telling us then that it was better to be ‘self-employed’ than directly employed & heaped scorn onto the campaign for direct labour. Well, history has shown us that they were wrong, for all it has achieved is a generation of petit bourgeois scabs and an industry far too competitive to bother about unless you want to burn yourself out by the age of 40 and make enemies of all your workmates.

All in all there’s too much desire to be different than the rest of the ‘left’ to the point where some anarchists can not see the wood for the trees. 

Obviously anarchism is unlike the ‘left’ but I object to putting down people’s genuine sincerity, and a hell of a lot of non-anarchists are getting on with supporting the miners families which can’t be bad. Some anarchists ought to be doing more leg work than pen-pushing unless they believe ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. That’s only true if you’re backed up by armies and police forces.

Here in Plymouth, where there are South Wales miners pickets and speakers, fund raising has brought out hundreds of closet pro-miners, from young unemployed to the old age pensioners who both donate the little they have each week. A claimant’s Union benefit do raised £163.65½ for them. This is a great achievement when one considers that many politicos come to Plymouth for a while, say the place is entrenched in reactionary ideas, then hot foot it off to London where the streets are paved with radicals.

Best wishes,


From Black Flag Quarterly vol 07 #07 (Autumn 1984) https://libcom.org/article/black-flag-quarterly-vol-07-07-1984