We would like to point out that these comments are in no way related to John Harris Photography of Norwich.
Those who were at last year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival may recall an attack on the Radical Workers’ Bloc stall. The RWB is an annual celebration of class struggle anarchism focussing on Sunday’s march. For the past two years a collective of libertarian groups has manned a stall acting as a meeting point and a distro for literature and other items for which we will accept donations in the hope of covering our costs. We don’t actually sell anything ourselves although we’ve carried stock for our comrades of Freedom Books, Hunt Saboteurs Association, Anti Fascist Network and Solidarity Federation, the proceeds from which went directly to those bodies.
Insofar as any transaction takes place, it is between the bloc’s supporters and South West TUC who provide us with a pitch for sixty of your English pounds (debt tokens, beer vouchers, symbols of the state’s monopoly on coercive force or whatever you conceive money to represent). That pic of Lesley Boulton at Orgreave has been widely shared on this 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike; it’s all over the Internet, in all forms from thumbnail to posterised to high definition. Anyone can click ‘print’ ‘save’ ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ on one of these images, and countless thousands do. We had a couple of them on display though we couldn’t say for sure whether any changed hands. Imagine our (W.S.) astonishment when the following message was received through our contact form:
Name: John Harris
Comment: If I catch you selling or using my pictures from Orgreave without my permission I will be after you! Pastpixels & OTJC have my permission.
Unlike some we do not have a private income & have to earn money to reproduce ourselves so my family can eat & we can carry on taking pictures
I hope that is something you can understand!
Here, a comrade who was present on the day, but did not witness the incident, makes reply:
“John Harris, you’re coming after us are you? Come on then. Your arrogance verges on self-parody, with your exclamation marks – are you stamping your little feet? You’ve provoked us with some hostile language but sadly there are no words in the English language rude enough to express our contempt for you. Were you ever a protagonist in the class war, or just a tourist? We have within our ranks photojournalists who have risked life and limb to document social struggles the world over, not just to make money. Whatever you may or may not have achieved in your life you have just pissed all over it.
The field of Orgreave, on which working class heroes shed their blood, and the near-execution of a fellow photographer, provided you with the photo opportunity on which you have been dining out for three decades. Those workers fought to reproduce themselves and feed their families, and many have struggled to do so ever since, whilst you have made – who knows? Enough to show for a day’s work?
On the 30th anniversary of that great conflict, you stand, not facing the enemy, but facing your own Class petulantly demanding your royalties. You are the living embodiment of the self-serving moral bankruptcy that defeated the 20th century left.
As to your puerile threat, we fervently hope you mean it, but we suspect what you actually intend to do is invoke the bourgeois concept of litigation in defence of the bourgeois concept of property.
John Harris, do your worst, win, lose or draw the actual working class doesn’t give an actual fuck.”
– Jo Gonmush.