We’re back again for the sixth year running, with the stall, Freedom Books, the Big Tent and our Wob Kitchen on the campsite catering for our comrades from Friday to Sunday (F.C.F.S). Camp with us, eat with us and march with us on Sunday. We will have a few of our new ‘Friends of Captain Swing’ T shirts made by the Sabcat anarchist workers’ co-op. If you fancy one for a tenner, let us know through the contact form and don’t forget to include your e-mail address and size. We may ask for a small deposit depending on how much we have to front up – we’re rubbish capitalists!
We’ve also got a limited number of these left in black or red, also by Sabcat, larger sizes only, but they do work best as a billboard!
Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle: Martyrs Festival and rally: 17-19 July 2015
It’s our fifth anniversary! Usual deal:
scaring the taxpayers, winding up the Tankies – Winning friends, influencing people and impressing them with our revolutionary praxis. Every year we welcome comrades from as far afield as Wales, France, Spain and the Midlands; we enjoy frank but good-natured debate with fellow trade unionists and activists alike. A small contingent doesn’t want us there, but sod ‘em – The Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers was an example of working-class self-organisation – Stalin would have had them shot. Still we hope to extend our safe spaces policy to all festival-goers; their kids will learn to swear without our help and please be kind to the cosplay cops, the council would charge a fortune to close the public highway.
Visit our stall in the Martyrs Marquee, if you’d like to help run it, or you have anything you’d like to give away / accept donations for please contact us An advance party will pitch tents on Friday afternoon, we corral them together so that people can get to know each other. If you’re just marching with us on Sunday 19th July, Meet up as usual 1:30 pm outside the Martyrs Museum; bring your flags and banners, this year’s theme will be politicians heads on spikes…
This will be our fourth bloc on the Martyrs Festival and rally; from an inauspicious start with seven of us and a black hanky on a stick, we’ve more than doubled each year to about seventy-five in 2013, from as far afield as Wales, France and the Midlands. Our commitment is to the original spirit of the Martyrs: working-class self organisation in the face of a hostile bourgeois state, more relevant today than ever, owing to the abject failure of political and industrial representation to meet the needs of the people, and the increasingly repressive reaction of the state to autonomous protest and resistance.
Once again we have a stall in the Martyrs Marquee; we will be carrying stock from Freedom Books, Britain’s oldest anarchist publisher, plus flags, badges, zines and pamphlets for donations, and loads of free stuff. If you’d like to take part and help run the stall, or if you have literature you’d like to give away or accept donations for please get in touch.
For those who are staying for the weekend festival, an advance party will arrive on Friday afternoon to pitch tents; we corral them together so that people can get to know each other, exchange contacts and ideas, plan and plot another year of class struggle.
Report from last year:
You could say we got lucky with the weather – up to a point, the heat was actually quite challenging at times and the free showers were as welcome as the overpriced beer. Our stall attracted plenty of interest; we shifted a mountain of literature and took enough in donations to cover our expenses plus making a few quid for Freedom Books; our magnificent banner was supplied free of charge by our comrades at Sabcat Printing, the Anarchist workers’ T-shirt co-op.
The stall was operated by comrades from Brighton, Bristol and Solent SolFed, CNT-AIT Caen and Wessex Solidarity; Sunday’s Bloc was about double the size of last year’s, our militants ranged in age from 16 to a 96 year old Spanish Civil War veteran – a proper antifascist! It was good to welcome new faces from Cymru and Reading IWW, with community singing led by Bristol AFed. Shout out also to Bath Anarchists (B.A.R.F) – and anyone else we may have missed – give us a shout and we’ll link to your site.
Everyone we spoke to felt the mood was more militant than previous years; the Labour ‘got to be in it to win it’ line was challenged at every turn, the appetite for direct action is growing. What is the Tolpuddle story but an example of working class self-organisation crushed by the state? The Martyrs came together as equals; they didn’t form a trade union but a friendly society. You can fantasise about general strikes and armed insurrection all you want, the bourgeoisie will carry on chortling into their Dom Perignon; but get together and find practical solutions to the problems they cause you, outside of the structures they need you to rely on, and they will shit themselves.
We reiterate that we don’t come for a row, but to examine each others ideas and find ways of putting them to the test, so that we can give confidence to our class as a whole; the last thing the left needs now is a ‘tribal’. The 20th century is over; we must learn its lessons and evolve. We have the best opportunity for decades to give capitalism a kicking and if we fail, history will judge us harshly.
The above-referenced article on friendly societies is available by courtesy of the author, as an A5 pamphlet from one of our event stalls, or in our reference library, from where it can be downloaded for the princely sum of Fuck All.
Click on the picture at the top for the gallery:
2013 Festival and Rally, Friday 19th July to Sunday 21st July 2013 Press release, Download as: pdf pdf A5 Facebook Event
Following the success of last year’s bloc on the Martyrs’ rally, we hope to significantly expand the anarchist presence in 2013; the annual celebration of working class struggle is pretty meaningless without us, and allows reformists and reactionaries to claim the union movement as their own. Over the years there have been attendances by individual anarchists and the IWW has a stall. This year we’ve booked a table in the Martyrs’ marquee with the intention of inviting other groups to participate and share the space; we’re going to pitch a couple of large tents for ‘crash space’, first come first served or let us know in advance, also we will have a couple of cars to pick people up from Dorchester station.
Last year we visibly took everyone by surprise – to the extent that the CP decided to squeeze in front of us with their silly flagpoles. We should have expected it but we were busy introducing ourselves; we’d assured the organisers we weren’t out to start a ruck, and in the event it made them look childish and stupid.
If anyone would like to participate in a co-ordinating group to work out the logistics – not least how to publicise the event and arrange transport for everyone who wants to be there, encouraging as many anarchists as possible to march with us on Sunday – please use the contact form to get in touch.
Calling on Anarchists, Anarchosyndicalists, Libertarian Socialists, Revolutionary Unionists, Platformists, Wobblies, non-aligned working class radicals and all those who want to celebrate 200 years of class struggle without marching under the banner of a political party or the business unions that affiliate to them. Bring your red & black/(A)/pirate flags and let’s start putting the libertarian left back into the consciousness of our class. We’re portrayed as a disorganised rabble – show ‘em we can get organised and march together as a group.
The annual rally and march through the village led by the Agricultural Workers Union, will take place on the 21st July 2013.
Meet up 1:30 pm outside the Martyrs Museum; just look for the sea of red and black banners.
Our intention is not to hijack the Tolpuddle tradition or antagonise the organisers but to show our presence as libertarians within the union movement. The Tolpuddle story doesn’t end with the TUC, the labour party or the 4th international. There will be no more social democratic settlements; capitalism is reverting to type – the worker has no value beyond her capacity to create wealth for others. The rich must be bribed to go to work, the poor must be starved into it, and whatever representative government is elected can do nothing but facilitate this, by a combination of deceit and repression. Class war is now a daily fact of life for most of us; the post-war consensus is dead, it’s up to us to present an alternative to the reformist agenda.
Anarchy is order!
The Workers’ flag is red and black
they stabbed our martyrs in the back
‘ere they were shot at by both sides
their thirst for freedom never died
So raise aloft the red and black
the game is on, we’re coming back
it’s up to you lot now, you know
you’ll see it everywhere you go.