Tips for Radicals

Aiming to be a "blog of the gaps" to cover things that other radical blogs often miss — what we want, our journey there, and issues along the way.

To help you searching the blog, I use the following tags to categorise posts:

  • theory - ways of structuring the world
  • strategy - plans to achieve the theories
  • tools - specific ways to (help) achieve the strategy
  • tips - advice that could help you in your life and action
  • examples and analysis of existing campaigns

For more info, see the about this blog page.

Please send in your own blog posts, links, comments, or article ideas either as a submission or an ask - always welcome.
"if you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
– a. toffler

"What can we do today, so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?"
– Paulo Freire


I also run a more scatter-shot blog full of incoherent rants and tumblr arguments. Sorry about that.

Recent Tweets @tipsforradicals
Government deficits, the money supply, and GDP are abstractions that obscure the issues of power and distribution of wealth that are the consequence of a given political system. These abstractions make no sense as ends in themselves. A public deficit just means that a sovereign has spent money into the economy that it hasn’t taxed back. It doesn’t say whether that money was spent on bombs or schools or pure graft. A country can have a high GDP because a small subset of the population sells tons of luxury goods and financial instruments to each other while everyone else starves. Ultimately, what matters is the quality and distribution of resources. Those at the very tip of our economic pyramid understand that fiat money is unlimited, but most everyone below believes it to be scarce. We live under austerity and debt. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The idea that we don’t have the “money” to supply essential public goods to everyone is a pernicious myth that can only be maintained so long as we remain ignorant of how money actually functions. But this myth is merely justification for power structures that are ultimately backed by guns and the vastly unequal distribution of our finite planet’s resources. Knowledge is no substitute for political power. It is merely somewhere to start.
The World According to Modern Monetary Theory,” Rebecca Rojer, The New Inquiry (via mayhap)

(via anarcutie)

The rise of the nationalist right across Europe is terrifying, but imagine if they tried to integrate their views with the public belief in climate change?

When you mix right-wing populism and environmentalism, the result is often very scary: ‘tragedy of the commons’, eugenicist solutions to non-existent population problems, and the ‘country as a lifeboat’ framing that fuels austerity.

Asker hazelxvx Asks:
Just FYI herbivorexvx is an abuser, so it's important to consider that when using materials, graphics that they've made. The blog vulpesvulpesxvx has more info.
tipsforradicals tipsforradicals Said:

shit, thanks for the heads-up – I’ll delete the post that I reblogged (but will leave this one here as a note for all.

What happened to the anti-austerity movement?

Novara Media’s point abt “standard protest repertoires” is totally spot on.

Just as the radical left needs to get out of the rut of 'spend months mobilising for a big march, then do the same again, without any other tactics', equally we need to break the formulaic reactions to those repertoires i.e. 'invigorate marches by smashing up windows, without any other tactics'.

I actually don’t think it’s fair to generalise UK anarchos as actually only caring about smashing – where do loads of the supporters for the migrant justice movement or fuel poverty action movement come from? – but it’s definitely fair for some, as it’s also true for the UK Uncut style left.

Totally agree with what they say about the not-often-talked-about up-sides to organisation (e.g. support individuals through repression, and through taking a risk for the first time; discuss and select the best tactics), and what “unity” in the left means.

Also, on top of broad agreement with their piece 4 Reflections on the Anti-Austerity Movement, I think a large part of how the People’s Assembly could mobilise 50,000 for a march is because they have persuaded and cajoled their local group network to focus on recruiting for it (at the expense of actual grassroots organising). Sad times.

Cool little new online tool whatleads.to to help organisations discuss their “theory of change” - or, in clearer less jargon-y language, what leads to change.

Free too!

There are very valid critiques of how individualised lots of ways of talking about ‘trauma’ and ‘danger’ are, but this is not one of them.

Part one: on call-outs and their supposed triviality

Basically, it comes down to this: no matter how much people allege that call-outs happen because of “poorly managed trauma”, or a desire to “hold up proceedings”, I know that the only call-outs I ever see are people perpetuating strongly bigoted ideas.

Call-outs aren’t fun, and don’t bring waves of social kudos, despite constant assertions to the contrary. They normally bring silence, some challenges from people made to feel uncomfortable about their entrenched social privilege, and occasionally one “good work” comment one-on-one with someone a while afterwards.

It’s really dangerous to trivialise issues just because you don’t understand them and face them yourself. Just because you like your perfume, it’s not an excuse to make a space inaccessible to others by slathering yourself in it. Just because you think one person should be able to reclaim the word “tranny” (HEY SO DO I) doesn’t mean anyone should be able to use it willy-nilly without it being pointed out to them that that’s shitty.

I intended to write a more detailed put-down, but tbh lots of my disagreements are covered in my posts about how the anarchist movement needs privilege analysis.

As an aside, the constant thread through this piece that it’s almost sticking up for marginalised groups in queer feminisms is sorta laughable. It’s the queers of colour that often take the shit you’re lampooning the most seriously. Calls for “unity” with bigots are often only heeded by those who aren’t the targets of bigotry, remember.

Part two: on the structural and the individual

Despite Jack’s assertion, many “newer generations of queers” manage to successfully speak out against both capitalism and micro-aggressive racism. They’re not mutually exclusive to struggle against.

In fact, it’s often radical queers that have the best analysis of capitalism, in my experience. BUT those people also manage to take other people’s experiences of trauma seriously when organising. Because they’re not inconsiderate dicks.

That’s not to say the piece doesn’t talk around important issues: how to effectively organise in coalitions when oppressive societal dynamics come to the fore; age gaps and attitude gaps in the queer community; how LG “safe spaces” (read: bars and posh cafes) are often the forefront of gentrification, the tools we use to express issues and dissent within our community.

I just don’t think the way to tackle these wider problems are to mischaracterise the valuable work lots of queers/feminists have done in terms of addressing how structural problems often play out in our day-to-day lives.

thesubversivesound:

A list of the best radical book sellers operating in the UK

56a (London) is a volunteer-run, 100% unfunded DIY-run bookshop and social centre in Walworth, South London. http://www.56a.org.uk/

Active Distribution (London) is a well-known grass-roots and not-for-profit punk music and radical literature distributor based out of London, but whose stalls turn up at events all over Europe. http://www.activedistribution.org/

Africa Book Centre (Brighton) is an independent bookstore which provides books and music from and about the continent of Africa. http://www.africabookcentre.com/

AK Press and Distribution (Glasgow) not only publishes anarchist texts under their own imprint, but also distributes and sells a range of anarchist and related books, magazines, pamphlets, journals, t-shirts and badges. http://www.akuk.com/

Andrew Burgin (London) is an internet-based seller of political ephemera, providing an as wide as possible collection of graphic and ephemeral material from the political and social struggles of the last 50 years. http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/

Bookmarks (London) is an independent bookshop that specialises in Marxist theory, economics and socialist history. http://www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/cgi/store/bookmark.cgi

Calder Bookshop (London) is a beautiful shop in the shadow of the Old Vic, with its own adjoining mini-theatre, and a specialism in political theory and theatre books. http://www.calderbookshop.com

Calton Books (Glasgow) concentrates on socialist titles caltonbooks.wordpress.com

Cowley Club (Brighton) is a collectively run libertarian centre, which houses a cafe and bookshop during the day, a members bar during the evenings. http://www.cowleyclub.org.uk/

eco-logicbooks.com is  an online retailer of environmental titles based in Bath, and can be found at eco-logicbooks.com.

Five Leaves Bookshop (Nottingham) is the bookshop of Five Leaves Publications specialising in history, politics, fiction, poetry, lesbian and gay, counterculture, psychology, weird and wonderful, international writing, magazines and journals http://www.fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/

Freedom Press (London) is a long-standing anarchist bookshop and publisher based in Whitechapel, East London. http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/

Gay’s The Word (London) is the UK’s pioneering first (and is today the last surviving) lesbian and gay bookshop. Based in London, it opened in 1979. http://freespace.virgin.net/gays.theword/

Housmans (London) is a long-running radical bookshop in the King’s Cross area. It is a not-for-profit and non-sectarian bookshop, specialising in books, zines, and periodicals of radical interest and progressive politics. http://www.housmans.com/

Hyrda Books (Bristol) is a radical bookshop jsut recently opened at the end of 2011, and set up by a group formed around the Bristol Radical History Group. http://www.hydrabooks.org/

Just Books Collective (Belfast) focuses on libertarian and anarchist texts http://justbookscollective.org/

Left on the Shelf (Kendal) is a specialist second hand bookseller of material on all topics to do with Socialism. http://www.leftontheshelfbooks.co.uk/

Letterbox Library (London) is a  leading supplier of multicultural, non-sexist and special issue books for children. http://www.letterboxlibrary.com/

Newham Bookshop (East London’s) leading independent bookseller. http://newhambooks.co.uk/

News from Nowhere (Liverpool) is the leading radical & community bookshop for the city. It is a not-for-profit worker’s co-operative committed to social change. http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/

October Books (Southampton) is an independent community bookshop and not-for-profit cooperative based in the Portswood area of Southampton. http://www.octoberbooks.org/

People’s Bookshop (Durham) specialising in radical politics, with primarily second-hand stock.http://peoplesbookshop.co.uk/

Peterloo Bookshop based (Sheffield), but primarily trading online, a not-for-profit initiative making available second-hand political books as cheaply as possible http://www.peterloo.net/index.htm

Radish Books (Leeds) is an indie radical bookshop in a tiny space in the smallish urban community of Chapel Allerton. We offer a good range of quality adult and children’s fiction together with genres characterised as alternative or radical – hence Rad…ish. Radish is about local resilience and we try to practice our politics as an ethic that runs through us like stick-of-rock letters. http://radishweb.co.uk/

Second Wave Publications & Distribution sell radical and revolutionary literature via mail order, and hold stalls at various meetings and conferences throughout the year. Second Wave import literature from the regions of ongoing struggles abroad, and also occasionally publish our own literature in Britain, as a secondary activity.

Soma Books (South London) is an independent bookshop specialising in Indian books and fair trade crafts.http://www.somabooks.co.uk/

Word Power (Edinburgh) is a leading qulity independent bookshop opened formally by Booker Prize-Winner James Kelman in December 1994. http://www.word-power.co.uk/

Working Class Bookfair is a regular bookfair that tours towns in the north-east. The philospohy behind the organisation is the belief that the peoples’ needs are of the utmost importance. http://workingclassbookfair.vpweb.com

(via kropotkitten)

Queer & Trans Radicals Take The Streets Against Prison-Themed Party

I can’t get over the fact that the corporate pride organisers called the cops on the protesters, ON FUCKING PRIDE WEEKEND.

I can’t get over the fact that the corporate pride organisers literally reinforced the prison system in two separate ways in response to an anti-prison protest.

The shittery of these people…

This guy was arrested for impersonating a police officer. You have to admit, the resemblance is astonishing. (via NovaraMedia)

Against Classism

  1. Don’t assume that it is a working class/working poor/poor person’s job to educate you about your class issues. Read up on class struggles.
  2. Understand that knowledge from books is never as valid as knowledge based on personal life experiences.
  3. Understand that a middle class/upper middle class/rich position is privileged and not normative or average.
  4. Don’t assume that it is a working class/working poor/poor person’s responsibility to tell you their life story. Never force discourse.
  5. Never use a working class/working poor/poor person’s experience to further your political agenda, especially if your political platform is not designed to specifically address class issues.
  6. Understand how the amount of money you have affects every aspect of your life. With organisations, don’t assume that everyone can contribute the same amount of money.
  7. Understand how language can be exclusive. Understand that education and high brow language are often inaccessible to working class/working poor/poor person, but realise that class is not a defining marker of intelligence and never talk down to the working class/working poor/poor.
  8. Understand anger and allow space for discourse about your specific privilege and/or moneyed privilege in general.
  9. Design your specific political arguments with a class analysis. Ask yourself, how would this work for non-rich people?
  10. Understand that you are part of the class structure (that you have a class position), but that your position is privileged.
  11. Never whine about being middle class.
  12. Recognise how classism interacts with and is complicated by other systems of oppression: racism, ableism, oppression of parents [sic], etc.
  13. Recognise that the decision by many people in (usually white) subcultures to “choose” being poor or working class is a lifestyle choice, and is very different from actually being poor or working class. Your privileged background affects your present status (what’s in your head, how safe or comfortable you feel at any given time/situation, skills and behaviours privileged folks hold, etc.)
  14. Engage in anti-classist struggles (and don’t just focus on queer poor or working class people). Seek to build cross-class alliances.
  15. Share money if you can.
  16. Do not appropriate class struggles for your own uses.
  17. Investigate how your organisations are classist, how you are classist.
  18. Make meetings and events accessible (consider where you have them, when you have them, child care etc.)
  19. Understand that the right to have/adopt and parent/care for children should not be dependent upon class position or income, that society and communities have an obligation to provide for families.
  20. Recognise that class does not equal income. Education, geography, job, and many other factors influence class status.

Some of these points are weird/shitty (“don’t only work with queer working class people”? why??) but I’ve bolded some ones that have merit.

Like with other struggles, avoiding explicit displays of ‘classism’ isn’t enough to dismantle the class structure. That’s what working-class led socialist/communist/anarchist movements are for.

Taken from Unsettling Minnesota.