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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Crass not really anarchists- shock horror discovery

Just been fact-checking via 'The Story of Crass' about Crass' relationship with the 'traditionalist' anarchists and found the following on page 170.

The context is the release in May 1980 of the Bloody Revolutions (Crass)/ Persons Unknown (Poison Girls) single which financed the Wapping Autonomy Centre set up by Iris Mills and Ronan Bennett with support of Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie after the persons Unknown anarchist consipracy to cause explosions trial of 1979. I think it is fairly clear from the following that Crass/ Penny Rimbaud (quotes are from Penny)were very wary/ dubious about the whole thing and that Crass' version of anarchism was somewhat 'untraditional' ie. not connected to the Black Flag (Christie / Meltzer) tradition of anarchism.

Possibly Crass were closer to the anarchism of Freedom newspaper which Stuart Christie describes [Granny made me an Anarchist, page 320) as run by 'Tolstoyan and Ghandi-influenced middle class-pacificists and academics... who used the paper to argue the case for permanent protest -as opposed to class struggle - and who believed the idea of revolution 'outdated'.'

However, as 'The Story of Crass' shows, post-Falklands War, Crass' postion did move from the pacifist-anarchist sentiments of 'Bloody Revolutions' (freedom has no value if violence is the price/ i don't want your revolution, i want anarchy and peace) towards a more 'anarchy and class war' position. "Now you see the violence inherant in the system" - Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Quotes

1. We had a big debate , cos we didn't know, we thought, well if they are making bombs then we shouldn't really be supporting them . We turned a bit of a blind eye to the possibility they might have been. Suddenly we were hoisted on our own petard - we'd been playing around with it to some extent - using the anarchy flag ust to get the left and right wing off our backs. We weren't looking at what it might otherwise involve... that was the crossover point - that was when we stopped being just a band with something to say and tunred into something which was much more politically hardline and out there in the political arena.

2. Rimbaud denies the idea that Crass built up an ideology on the fly as people asked them about the meaning of 'anarchy and peace'

" No , because there was a fundamental ideology which was fundamentally anarchistic that I had. From organising the first Stonehenge festivals to Exit all the things that have gone on here, it was part of my ideology. I am posing the question : do I actually look at serious anarchists tracts to see to what extent I can defend them? Actually I choose not to . I thought bollocks, my anarchist tract is my life. I am not actually interested in what Bakunin or Proudhon said. I have read bits and pieces - more than bits and pieces since. There was this fear of being drawn into something we couldn't control - not in the sense of being control freaks, but we didn't want to find ourselves publically allied with something that we couldn't wholeheartedly support. I was very nervous about Persons Unknown."


Blogger Transpontine said...

Many of the best things happen despite people's intentions. Crass may not have had a clue about anarchism when they started, but they opened a few windows for people to look in and find out a bit more about it for themselves. I could right a book about the limitations of Crass, and had many an argument about their politics back in the day, but really they were just one node in a much wider network of music, information and action. To set them up as this terrible reactionary force or as the group that single-handedly launched a social movement are two sides of the same myth.

7:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, Steve Ignorant aside, Crass weren't punks either, inasmuch as they didn't like punk music or go to punk gigs or involve themselves in any punk culture outside their own.

So, with apologies to Steve, the innovators of the anarcho-punk movement could be seen as neither anarcho nor punk!

8:13 pm  

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