This article belongs to the story Crass became ambitious in 1982: Christ – The Album.
This subarticle contains the full first (of a total of three) article that was published in the pamphlet A Series Of Shock Slogans And Mindless Token Tantrums, which was part of Crass’s fourth album Christ – The Album. I found a big chunk of the text on an archived version of the old, now defunct, Southern site. The rest I complemented by typing, using the original album’s pamphlet.
The Last Of The Hippies – An Hysterical Romance
In this cell that is ours, there is no pity.
no sunrise on the cold plain that is our soul,
no beckoning to a warm horizon.
All beauty eludes us and we wait.
‘No answer is in itself an answer.’
On the third of September 1975, Phil Russell, alias Phil Hope, alias Wally Hope, alias Wally, choked to death an his own, vomit; blackberry, custard, bile, lodged finally and tragically in the windpipe. Blackberry, custard, bile, running from his gaping mouth onto the delicate patterns of the ornamental carpet.
He died a frightened, weak and tired man; six months earlier he had been determined, happy and exceptionally healthy; had taken only that short time for Her Majesty’s Government’s Health Department to reduce Phil to a puke covered corpse.
‘The first dream that I remember is of myself holding the hand of an older man, looking over a beautiful and peaceful valley – suddenly a fox broke cover followed by hounds and strong horses ridden by red-coated huntsmen. The man pointed into the valley and said, “That, my son, is where you’re heading.”I soon found that out, I am the fox!’
Phil’s death marked, for us, the end of an era. Along with him died the last grain of trust that we, naively, had had in the ‘system’, the last seeds of hope that, if we lived a decent life based on respect rather than abuse, our example might be followed by those in authority. Of course It was a dream, but reality is based on a thousand dreams of the past; was it so silly that we should want to add ours to the future?
‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.’
Twentieth century logic from a military man.
World War Two was neither lost nor won, it simply created a horrific emptiness and within that emptiness there grew a desperation amongst the people of the world, a fear that civilisation had learnt nothing from the tragic lesson of the Nazi death-camps, or the cruel truth of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seemed that those in power were setting the planet on a course towards total destruction – the arms race was on, the cold war was on, the third world was starving, but the superpowers looked only to themselves. In the horror of this new world, people turned to bizarre ways of calming their fears.
To ignore is the greatest ignorance, but ignore became the keyword as individuals buried themselves in mindless materialism. The age of consumerism had been born. If you couldn’t find peace of mind, perhaps a Cadillac would do. If life had lost its meaning, perhaps a super deluxe washing machine might give it back. The ownership, this is mine, mine, mine, security boom had started, and you can’t have it. Buy, buy buy. Possess. Insure. Protect. The TV world was upon us, which one’s real? This one? That one? Mind- numbing crap to numb crappy minds. Buy this, buy that. Who knows which is which? Layers of shit to hide the awful facts of Life in a nuclear reality.
Meanwhile, governments turned to the business of developing nuclear arsenals, nuclear deterrents we were told, and the vast majority of the population, blinded with consumerism and media-junk, was happy to accept the lie. As long as everyone was having fun, no-one would question the behaviour of those in power as they played with their nuclear time-bombs; but all the time the fuse burnt shorter.
If the majority is always happy to be blown along in the prevailing wind, there are always those who stand against it, and if the fifties saw the birth of consumerism, it also bore two other phenomena – the peace movement and rock’n’roll. Both were a reaction against a world increasingly dominated by the grey men of war and their grey thoughts, both rejected the empty glitter of consumerism, both represented a revolution against the values of ‘normal’ society.
The peace movement in Britain found a platform in the newly formed Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament, CND! who by the end of the fifties were able to call 100,000 protesters onto the streets to make their voice heard.
A louder voice still could be heard at that time on the portable-radios and wind-up gramophones of millions of homes; the new, vulgar voice of rock’n’roll. Whereas the peace movement was predominantly middle-class, rock knew no class barriers and although it probably took The Beatles to finally bring together the various disillusioned parties, rock, revolution, desire for change and, inevitably, the peace movement, almost from the start, have been inseparable.
Sadly, by the beginning of the sixties, CND had become an accepted, and therefore contained, part of the British way of life; its shout of protest had been dulled by the voice of moderation. The aims of CND became increasingly obscured by political opportunism and the leftist vultures, heavily disguised as doves, moved in. The Labour Party saw the campaign as just another rung in the ladder to power. In 1964, as the opposition party, they promised to do away with Polaris, the nuclear submarine force; a few months later, after their election to power, they ordered four new submarines. The disguise wore thin.
Michael Foot, at that time a CND committee member, now leader of the Labour Party, when asked if he would vote for an anti-bomb Tory party rather than a pro-bomb Socialist one, replied “Certainly not!”; a bewildering testament to his desire for peace.
The present rebirth of interest in CND runs the risk of once again going up the political arsehole. Socialist power seekers have already moved in on the hard fought for peace platform. Speeches at the two Trafalgar Square rallies were directed more towards vote catching than peace making; when the issues weren’t so fashionable, the leftist doves were happy to be sharing peanuts with the rest of the pigeons in the square. Now they are promising to refuse to allow America to install cruise missiles in Britain; is this just another vote catcher that they’ll back out of once they’re elected in? The Labour Party will sell CND right down the river and sink it without trace if it’s allowed to do so. Nuclear disarmament and the wider issues of peace must not become political soap-operas in which the power hungry can play their insincere games.
It is unfortunate that there are people, from The Children of God to The Young Trotskyites, who, rather than contributing anything constructive, exploit CND peace marches by using them as leafleting grounds for their self- interested propaganda.
During the CND rally in October 1981, thousands of leaflets were handed out calling for ‘a mass uprising by the people against the capitalist system’. On the surface the leaflet was not a lot different to many naive statements of “revolutionary” intent made by playschool anarchists who think that anarchy is something to do with putting jumping- jacks in a policeman’s pocket.
It continued – ‘June Ist 1983 is the proposed date for the revolution. Pass if On, unite don’t fight. Anarchy peace and liberty. Crass.’
The leaflet was not produced by us, nor did it express views that we hold. Someone, for personal gain, had put our name to their own requirements. We have become used to people trying to rip us off, from T-shirt and badge merchants who, without our consent, commercialise and profit by our name, to the gig promoter; who overcharge at the entrance and underpay at the exit. We’ve come to almost expect it. But for people who, presumably, would claim to be anarchists to attempt to use us like that is insulting to both us and themselves. If they haven’t got the courage of their own convictions they should keep quiet and not use the name of those who they know have.
To put it in the words of a little-known Welsh anarchist, ‘Eat shit you fuckers’: Apart from the obvious threat of political exploitation, a very real danger to the long-term existence of CND and its allies is the current interest being shown in it by the music business, Peace has become a saleable commodity, a trendy product, and established record labels, the music press and bands alike, who four years ago dismissed those who opposed war as ‘boring old hippies’, are now bending over backwards to be seen to be supporting the cause. The only cause that they’re support- is their own; it’s good promotion, good sales, good business sense, and they’ll bleed it dry as long as it’s ‘this year’s thing’; when it isn’t, they’ll drop it, as they did RAR, like a ton of hot bricks.
If the power of protest had dwindled, the power of rock was showing no such faint heart. By the mid sixties, rock’n’roll ruled and no party conference was going to bring it down. Youth had found its voice and increasingly was demanding that it should be heard.
Loud within that voice was one that promised a new world, new colours, new dimensions, new time and new space. Instant karma, and all at the drop of an acid tab.
‘My advice to people today is as follows: If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously. if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out.’
Acid prophet, Timothy Leary.
Society was shocked, desperate parents backed off as their little darlings ‘tripped’ over the ornamental carpets. Hysterical reports that acid caused everything from heartburn to total collapse of decent society appeared almost daily in the press. Sociologists invented the ‘generation gap’ and when the long haired weirdo flashed a V-sign at them they got that all wrong as well, it was really a peace sign, but, either way around it meant ‘fuck off’. In the grey comer we had ‘normal society’, and in the rainbow comer sex’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll, at least that’s how the media saw it. The CND symbol was adopted as an emblem by the ever growing legions of rock fans whose message of love and peace spread, like a prairie-fire, world-wide. The media, in its desperate need to label and thus contain anything that threatens to outdo its control, named this phenomenon ‘Hippy’ and the system, to which the media is number one tool in the fight against change, set about in its transparent, but none-the-less effective way, to discredit this new vision.
Rock’n’roll had achieved something that had never been achieved before, it had proved the falsity of the socially created divisions of colour, class and creed. The social barriers were down, it didn’t matter who you were, where you were from, or what you did; if you ‘dug it’, you were ‘cool’.
Rock can not be politicised, despite what followers of Oi, or Marx, might say. Rock is about all of us, it is the collective voice of the people, not a platform far working- class mythology or socialist ideology. In rock ‘n roll there aren’t any workers to ‘wet’ about. Rock is about freedom, not slavery, it’s about revolution of the heart and soul, not convolution of the mind. To say that punk is, or should be, ‘working class’ is to falsely remove it from the classless roots of ‘real rock revolution’ from which it grew. Punk is a voice of dissent, an all-out attack on the whole system, it as much despises ‘working class’ stereotypes as it does ‘middle class’ ones. Punk attacked the barriers of colour, class and creed, but look at how it is right now, do you really think you’re freed? Oi and, more recently, Skunk, have been promoted in the pages of Sounds as the ‘real punk’, real suckers maybe, but not real punks. Whereas punk aims to destroy class barriers, Oi and Skunk are blind enough to be conned into reinforcing them.
Oi’s spokesman, Gary Bushell, who, like Marx, romanticises working class life whilst,in all probability,never having done a days manual work himself, claims that ‘only the working class can change society’ – presumably he realises that his ‘professional’ and privileged status as a ‘journalist’ prevents him from being in a position to contribute to his own pet theory – he wants to have his cake and eat it.
Bushell’s idea of what ‘working class’ means is nothing but a ‘middle class’ fantasy about a type of person who, except in the media-forms of Alf Garnett and Andy Capp, just doesn’t exist. His unrealistic view of workers as cloth- capped, beer-swilling, fist-waving jokers, is a complete insult to working people of whom he, clearly, has no understanding.
Oi would have been harmless enough if its comic-book caricature of the ‘workers’ hadn’t appealed so strongly to the elements that, inevitably, were drawn to its reactionary views – the so called ‘right-wing’. Rather than rejecting its new and possibly unwanted following, Oi appeared to revel in its image of being ‘nasty Nazi muzac for the real men’. Defending the trail of blood and bruises that it seemed to leave behind itself wherever it went, the ‘new breed’ claimed that ‘they weren’t advocating violence, they were just reflecting the way thing are’. Despite repeated evidence of Oi inspired violence, it became increasingly obvious that Oi the Bushell and Oi the Bands were either perfectly happy with ‘the way things were’ or totally incapable of controlling the monster that they’d created.
At a time when something could have been done to change the image, the ‘Strength Through Oi’ album was released, but rather than making an effort to shift the ‘right-wing’ emphasis, it deliberately promoted it. The attractive cover sported ‘yer average skinner’ about to land his ‘cherry-reds’ up someone’s ‘khyber’ – but that week “yer cherries’ also left their mark on an old aged pensioner’s face; but no matter, you can’t win ’em all. Inside the sleeve, Oi the Gaz wrote about ‘the sea of crop-heads running riot, knife-blades flashing in the moonlight’, well, it’s poetry, ain’t it? – but that week the knife-blades also falshed into an Asian youths stomach; but no matter, accidents will happen, won’t they?
The greatest ‘accident’ of them all, Southall, finally exposed Oi for the mindless farce that it was. An Oi gig in a predominantly Asian community was inevitably going to cause problems not only from the community itself, but aslo from organisations on the extreme left who might have seen the gig as an opportunity to flex their political muscles. It would be unfair to suggest that the vioelnce was deliberately planned by either the bands or the organisers of the gig, but, given the reputation of Oi’s following, it should have been obvious that ther could be trouble. Nonetheless, Oi the panto lindly marched on and, as the shit hit the fan, Southall burned and out jolly jokers, shaken and bruised, retreated to the pages of the press to protest their innocence – well, the Asians weren’t there for the concert, they only live there, don’t they? – this time round no one even giggled.
Oi had been a convenient label created by Bushell for a new wave of street level punk, the outcome of which neither he nor the bands could have predicted. Many of the Oi bnds are genuine people who really wanto to do something worthwhile but made the initial mistake of becoming a part of a movement over which they had no personal control. By accepting the label of Oi they must also accept responsibility for what Oi is – one man’s dangerous, ill-considered power game that backfired on them all.
Having been exposed as the uncontrollable monster that it is, Oi looked around for a way out. In his desperateattempts to make amends, Bushell’s hypocisy was falringly displayed – he started to promote ‘social causes’ in the name of Oi. Oi CND, Oi Hunt Saboteurs and, even more laughable, Oi Agianst Racism. Four years ago Bushell attacked us for being ‘middle class hippies who hid behind CND badges’ – ‘how relevant’, he had added as he dismissed CND that at the time offered him no personal gain. Well, who’s hiding now?
Not surprisingly, Oi the Social Conscience failed to convince anyone, leats of all Oi’s own following, and Bushell, who could now be found fraternising with his new found leftist public-school ‘comrades’, realising that he was on a sinking ship, bailed out in favour of his latest media creation, Skunk – the ‘real punk’.
Skunk rock is another attempt by Gaz the Lad to capitalise on the frustration and despair that thousands of young people feel when faced with a life of ‘no future’, something that he, in his privileged and secure position, will never feel. Skunk, like Oi, claims to be a ‘working class voice’, yet many of the bands that play beneath its umbrella are using the capitalist mouthpiece of established record lables, posing as independents, to get their message across. Secret make no secret about their practice of chart ‘hyping’, it’s good business, and how else could the Exploited have done it? Riot City is just another office with a back-door into EMI and EMI are one the biggest arms dealers in the country – small world, ain’t it? Skunk is about ‘real’ anarchy, you know, smash the cistern and things like that; real chaos like ripping people off at the Lyceum for £ 3.50 a go, but somehow, to me, that sounds a little bit more like the voice of capitalism tahn the voice of the working class anarchist, but then of course I wouldn’t know about that, I’m just an ageing middle class hippy pacifist, remember?
As long as the state can keep us socially divided it will continue to oppress us all without any real fear of opposition – falsely created ‘class divsions’ are typical of the way in which the state achieves those ends. Whereas punk attacks class divisions, Oi and Skunk not only accept them, but rpoudly sew them onto their Harringtons and leathers. Workers voice? – Bollocks! Like their privileged fellow thinkers the Marxists, they not only accpet the lables with which they are oppressed, they actually make attempts to glorify the class slavery that is the foundation upon which that oppression is built.
Get wise lads and what few lasses can stomach your exclusively male reality, you’re being used by the system and the media that serves it in the way they’ve always used people – like suckers. Oi and Skunk are simply Bushell’s way of dividing something that he and his media cronies just can’t control — real energy, real punk. Whatever they are labelled, the ‘real’ punks are first and foremost one thing – themselves. The system and the media set out to contain us within their labels – if you fall for that trick you’ll fall for the circled ‘A’s in the Total Chaos Column – what a joke!
The music press is guilty of making endless attempts to divide and thereby control the energies of the bands from whom they make their parasitic Living. Through the ‘gossip columns’ and carefully edited ‘interviews’, they fabricate differences and animosities between bands that in reality may well not exist. In their capacity as servants to the music business, they separate and divide bands who without their intrusions would probably be able to work together. Bands are often totally unaware of the aggressive and dis- honest tactics used to premote sales and hype charts by the tee record labels to which they have signed. As the labels get richer the bands invariably remain penniless; hyped by the business and lied about in the press, they slowly sink into a helpless position where the honesty with which they might have started their band is lost in the compromises that are forced on them by others.
It is essential that we prevent people like Bushell from stealing our energies and making them into this week’s media joke; we don’t need him and others like him ripping us off. Punk is not a media fashion, it’s a way of life – it’s up to us to tell the music business Mafia and their parasitic lackeys in the press to fuck off. ‘We can, and will, manage on our own. Punk’s the peoples music… let’s keep it that way.
By the late sixties, straight society was beginning to feel threatened by what its youth was up to; it didn’t want its grey towns painted rainbow, the psychedelic revolution was looking a little bit too real and it had to be stopped.
Books were banned, bookshops closed down. Offices and social centres were broken into and their files were removed, doubtless to be fed into the police computers. Underground papers and magazines collapsed under the weight of official pressure, galleries and cinemas had whole shows confiscated. Artists, writers, musicians and countless unidentified hippies got dragged through the courts to answer trumped-up charges of corruption, obscenity, drug- abuse, anything that might silence their voice; but nothing could, it all mattered too much.
As oppression became increasingly heavy, public servant ‘bobby’ became known as public enemy ‘piggy’; war had been declared on the peace generation, but love wasn’t going to give in without a fight.
And Charles said, “Let there be death”, and there was death and the media and its faithful followers recoiled in horror at the thought that it might have been their child ordering the slaughter.
‘Anything you see in me is in you. If you want to see a vicious killer, that’s who you’ll see, if you want to see me as your brother, that’s who I’ll be. It all depends on how much love you have. I am you, and when you can admit that, you will be free.’
Charles Manson, twister of words, psychedelic warlord, witch-doctor of religious perversion, high-priest of fascist sexuality, hit back at the society that had distorted his;vision with the distorted methods that society itself employs and teaches its young – violence.
And God so loved the world that he save his only begotten son, Charles Manson.’Piggy’ written in blood on the polished surfaces of social acceptance. No more shall ye walk alone.
Manson, his ‘family’, and the macabre killings for which they were responsible, sent shock waves through a smug and complacent society. Manson regarded the ‘elite’ of his Californian homeland as filth. These respectable people to whom he.supplied drugs and from whom he received no payment, were, to him, cheats and liars. These decent folk who wife-swapped, thrilled to video recordings of their sexual conquests, revelled in snuff-movies, who saw flesh as something to be devoured, were, to him, barbarians. These pillars of society to whom organisations Like the Mafia were a hidden support in their rise to grace, to whom the mysterious’ death of an opponent caused little more than a knowing lift of an eyebrow, were, to him, the enemy. He set out to destroy his enemy in the way that he believed they would destroy him. Violence breeds violence.
Hippies were fine as long as they accepted that they were third-class citizens who should not expect anything but the garbage of consumer society, they were fine as long as they were prepared to live in, and be treated like, shit. When they ceased to do so they came up against the whole weight of societies that have no place for the third class citizens that they have created. State violence is called ‘law:
Manson: Do you really know where we are?
Leary: Where are we?
Manson: This is eternity brother. This is the end of the line. No one ever gets out once they’ve been here. This is for ever.
Manson and Leary meet in jail.
The Manson killings gave-the media precisely what it needed. Suddenly hippies were no longer a passive, bead- wearing joke; they were potential psychopaths who, at the drop of a Beatles record, would knife their way to eternity. Forgetting that ‘hippy’ was a rejection of systems that govern with fear, control by force and in the name of God have slaughtered millions of innocent victims, straight society waggled its trigger finger at youth and said, ‘See I told you so, that’s what sex and drugs and rock and roll lead to.’ They’re still at it.
Ten years later, the same kind of media treatment was doled out to Sid. Despite attempts to silence it, punk had earned itself a voice and had become a household word, however, the media was determined not to pay out. Nancy’s sad death in a New York hotel brought out the same dull voices of self-righteous indignation as had the Manson killings. The trigger finger waggled again and when Sid joined her, there was an almost universal chorus of “See, I told you so”.
Manson and Sid were very different individuals with very different stories, but their usefulness to the system was the same – identify the threat, select a convenient scapegoat and use them to discredit the threat. Manson and Sid were both portrayed by the media as ‘typical’ of their kind and their actions were used to prove the ‘misguided’ nature of all those of a similar appearance. The fact that their actions were as much condemned by ‘their own kind’ as by anyone else was irrelevant to the media in its requirement to label contain and destroy.
Every day the TV, the radio and the newspapers manipulate and direct the thoughts of the general public, tell them what to think and how to think, but it’s not because they want to improve the ‘quality’ of thought, it’s more that they are required, by the establishment interests that run them, to reinforce ‘standard’ social values; serve that which serves you, or else. When media is controlled almost exclusively by the wealthy, ruling elite, censorship becomes unnecessary; money speaks louder than words.
For all those arseholes who think that they’re imitating Sid by wearing a Destroy T-shirt, a studded armband and a stupid sneer on their face, here’s a message – stop fooling yourselves, you’re just bad jokes.
‘As long as you’re a kid you’re aware and you know what’s happening. But as soon as you ‘grow up. . .’
Sid was a kind and gentle person but then he ‘grew up’ and got consumed by the violence and hate that he saw around him it’s exactly the kind of shitheads who think it’s big to abuse self and others that led him to do the same, and eventually to his death. Next time you gob at someone or threaten them with your sweaty fists, just remember where Sid ended up.
Sid IS dead, you wankers, cos you killed him through and through; if he could see your ‘idea’ of him, he’d laugh himself back to the grave.
Manson’s activities gave ‘hippy’ a new and, on the whole, unwanted dimension Acid casualties became media-satans, hippy cults became press-devils, and both were subjected to a new wave of shock he oi exposes.
Acid was blamed for endless hideous crimes by the drunken, pill-popping powermongers in authority, who, under heavy sedation from legally prescribed drugs, or reeling from the effects of excess alcohol, consider themselves fit enough to rule our world and qualified enough, should they consider it necessary, to destroy it.
Hippy cults were attacked for doing precisely what established religion and psychology had been up to for centuries – mind fucking. From Christ to Freud, there have always been those who, to compensate for their own personality defects, seek control and power by playing on the sense of loneliness and alienation of others.
However, despite attempts to dismiss all hippies as dangerous psychopaths, the movement, although increasingly forced ‘underground’, grew both in numbers and in political awareness.
Five years back, the message had been ‘do your own thing’, exactly the message that fifteen years later Johnny Rotten was to repeat. The politics had been one of rejection; society, the state and the system, had got nothing to offer, so they could fuck off. The early peace movement had been destroyed by political greed and academic back biting; this time around, peace was going to be a ‘way of life’, love was going to ‘rule supreme’.
‘They formed little groups, like rich mans ghettoes,
Tending their goats and organic tomatoes,
While the world was fucked by fascist regimes,
They talked of windmills and psychedelic dreams.’
Society, the state and the system, hadn’t fucked off, they’d not only stayed right where they were, they’d grown stronger.
Slowly, as people woke up to the fact that ‘turning on’ was turning off, and ‘dropping out’ was copping out, the horrific reality of the nuclear world forced its way back through the escapist blur of those ‘psychedelic dreams’. The acid revolution had been fun, but that’s just about where it had ended. Beneath the new space, the new time, the new dimensions and the new colours, the same old grey reality had ground relentlessly onwards – the dream was over.
The dream had been that if you created your own life, independent of the system, the system would leave you to it. Looking back on it now it seems pathetically naive, but for maybe fifteen years, it had sustained the lives of thousands of people. The ultimate failure of hippy was exactly that ostrich-like approach to life; a hippy utopia surrounded by a world of hate and war was like ‘snow before the summer’s sun’. Eventually those who weren’t too permanently entry stoned to guarantee pipedreams to infinity, pulled their heads from the sands to confront a society that had got on very well without them, thank you, for far too long, The hippy movement was finding a truly militant front for itself.
Manson’s activities, repulsive as they were, did represent a revolutionary stance, but because he acted out of ‘personal’ awareness he is condemned by leftists who openly support equally violent groups, like Baader Meinhof or the IRA, on the grounds that their awareness is ‘political’. This kind of double standard is the inevitable product of a society that sees its own boy soldiers as ‘heroes’ and those of the enemy as ‘murdering bastards’, to whom ‘our massacres are victories’ and ‘their victories are massacres’. Questions about the ‘morality of violence’ are pointless and self-defeating. There is, and can be, no morality in violence. The vicious circle of violence rolls on and on; it can only be stopped by our refusal to be, in any way at all, a part of it.
‘We are a generation of obscenities. The most oppressed people in this country are not the blacks, not the poor, but the middle class. They don’t have anything to rise up against and fight against. We will have to invent new laws to break . . . the first part of the yippy program is to kill your parents . . . until your prepared to kill your parents you’re not ready to change this country. Our parents are our first oppressors.’
Jerry Rubin, leader of the Yippies (militant hippies),
speaking at Kent State University, USA.
Within a month of Rubin’s speech, the university was in uproar. The mostly white, middle class students, to show their objection to the way in which both their campus and their country were being run, had staged innumerable demonstrations and burnt down part of the university. The authorities called in the army to ‘restore peace’, which they did in true mil tar fashion – by a shooting, dead four students.
‘After the shooting stopped, I heard screams and turned and saw a guy kneeling holding a girl’s head in his hands The guy was getting hysterical, crying, yelling, shouting, “Those fucking pigs, they shot you”.’
A Kent State student after the shootings
The system had got in first. What Rubin hadn’t accounted for, although past history should have been a lesson to him, was that parents would be prepared to kill their children rather than accept change.
‘Mother; “Anyone who appears on the streets of a city like Kent with long hair, dirty clothes or barefooted deserves to be shot.”
Question; “Is long hair a justification for shooting someone?”
Mother; “Yes We have got to clean up this nation, and we’ll start with the long-hairs.”
Question; “Would you permit one of your sons to be shot simply because he went barefooted?”
A mother speaks after the shootings at Kent.
The days of flower power were over; the piggies were out grazing in the meadows.
‘I am very proud to be called a pig. It stands for pride, integrity and guts.’
By the end of the sixties, throughout the western world, the ‘people’ had returned to the streets. The dream was cross-fading with the nightmare. In France, the government was almost overthrown by anarchist students; in Holland, the Provos made a laughing stock of conventional politics; in Germany Baader-Meinhof revenged itself on a state still run by ageing Nazis; in America, peace became a bigger issue than war; in Northern Ireland, the Catholics demonstrated in demand for civil rights; in England, colleges and universities were ‘occupied’, embassies stormed. People everywhere were calling for a life without fear, a world without war and were demanding a freedom from the authorities who for years they had dismissed as almost non-existent. The system, for far too long, had had it all its own way. Amongst the people themselves, however, a long standing animosity was becoming evident – the conflicting interests of anarchism and socialism.
From the mid eighteen hundreds, when Marx first forwarded his ideas, anarchists and socialists have clashed, sometimes violently, in their different definitions and approaches to ‘freedom’.
At the beginning of the this century, following the Russian Revolution, which anarchists had done much both to bring about and to win, the socialists, with whom they had joined forces, not only prevented them from playing a part in the new state, but actively and violently silenced them. In the thirties, anarchists and socialists fought against each other during periods of the Spanish Revolution where they had, supposedly, joined forces to oppose fascism. In the late sixties, French anarchists were in a position, given the support of the socialist unions, to overthrow the government – the unions backed off and the revolt collapsed.
Anarchists reject Marxist concepts as ‘dictatorship by the working class’ which they see as being no better than ‘dictatorship by the ruling class’. To the anarchist, all government, and any government, is oppression, regardless of who is in control of it.
‘The anarchist revolution that we want transcends the interests of a single class, it envisages the liberation of all humanity which is at present enslaved, either economically, politically, or morally.’
Anarchists believe that it is the right of individuals to make their own.decisions in life and that that choice is essential to any “real” freedom. They reject all forms of government on the grounds that ‘governed’ society is a society in chains. It is inevitable that socialist ideas of organisation and centralisation should cause friction, since both are a form of control, and control, to an anarchist, is slavery.
Socialism, like its supposed enemy, capitalism, is just another face to an age-old character: greed.
[Are ‘anarchism’ and ‘socialism’ opposites? Isn’t socialism gaining control over our own lives? – signed Your Friendly Libertarian Socialist Typesetter]
Disagreements aside, the movement for change continued. Anarchist, socialist, activist, pacifist, working class, middle class, black, white – one thing at least united them all, a common cause, a universal factor, a shared flag – good old rock ‘n’ roll.
In the late sixties, Woodstock in America, and Glastonbury in Britain, created a tradition in rock music that has now become part of our way of life – the free festival. Free music, free space, free mind; at least that, like ‘once upon a time’, is how the fairy story goes.
Many of the clashes between the authorities and the youth movement in the late sixties and early seventies were, broadly speaking, of a political nature, leftist platforms for social discontent, rather than anarchic demands by individuals for the right to live their own lives. The free festivals were anarchist celebrations of freedom, as opposed to socialist demonstrations against oppression and, as such, presented the authorities with a new problem – how do you stop people having fun? Their answer was predictable – stamp on them.
Windsor Park is one of Her Majesty’s many back-gardens and when the hippies decided that it was an ideal site for a free festival, she was ‘not amused’. The first Windsor Free had been a reasonably quiet affair and the authorities had kept a low profile. Next year things were different and the Queen’s unwanted guests were forcibly removed by the police and the royal corgis were, no doubt, suitably relieved, free once more to wander undisturbed. At the front of the clashing forces that year, dressed variously in nothing, or a pair of faded jeans and a brightly embroidered shirt emblazoned with the simple message ‘Hope’, was one Phil Russell He danced amongst the rows of police asking, “What kind’ of gentlemen are you?”, or mocking, “What kind and gentle men you are.” The boys in blue were probably men, but they were neither kind nor gentle. Phil came away from Windsor disturbed; he hated violence and was sickened by what he had seen. Love? Peace? Hope? It was shortly after this that we first met.
For many years we had been running an open house, we had space and felt we should share it. We had wanted a place where people could get together to work and live in a creative atmosphere rather than the stifling, inward looking family environments in which we had all been brought up. It was inevitable that someone like Phil would eventually pass our way.
Phil Hope was a smiling, bronzed, hippy warrior. His eyes were the colour of the blue skies that he loved, his neatly cut hair was the gold of the sun that he worshipped. He was proud and upright, anarchistic and wild, pensive and poetic. His ideas were a strange mixture of the thinkings of the people whom he admired and amongst whom he had lived. The dancing Arabs The peasant Cypriots. The noble Masai. The silent and sad North American Indians, for whom he felt a real closeness of spirit.
The American Indians regarded the land in much the way that we regard the air that we breathe, as something that could not be ‘owned’. How could anyone claim to have ownership of something that constantlY grows and changes? The ‘whiteman’ did, however, in his greed for land, make exactly those claims and the Indians were reduced to nothing more than prisoners in the concentration camps that the American government laughingly call ‘reservations’.
‘The earth was created by the assistance of the sun and it should be left as it was. The country was made without barriers and it is no man’s business to divide it. I see the whites all over the country gaining wealth, and see their desire to give us [the Indians] lands which are worthless The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of the land and the measure of our bodies are the same.’
An Indian describes his feelings about the whites’ attitude to land. Oppression of what remains of the Red Indian peoples continues to this day. Indians are forced to live at the arse-end of the society that has grown rich on the exploitation of their lands. Areas that at one time the US Government considered worthless and therefore ‘suitable’ for reservations, are, in the event of valuable minerals etc. being found on them, reclaimed. Naturally the Indians are resettled on still more ‘worthless’ ground. A race of people have been made homeless in their own homeland.
This race that possessed such ancient and noble wisdom, has been pathetically mimicked by idiots like Adam Ant whose romantic idea of the ‘redskin’ is just another form of gross exploitation. Ant Warriors be fucked, they’re just desperate media-clowns looking for this week’s identity. They’re an insult to the millions of Indians who died in the attempt to stop people like Adam and his ‘tribe’ from stealing their dignity, their land, and their life. The nobility that Adam claims for his following can be purchased in London’s Kings Road from any of the endless and identical fashion brothels that cater for those who need to ‘buy’ their personality; just another cheap product for the consumer’s head. Big Chief CBS, your time is up.
‘Yes, we know that when you (the white man) come, we die.’
An Indian remembers.
Phil had travelled the world and had met fellow thinkers in every place that he had stopped, but always he returned to England. Perhaps it was his love of the mythical past, King Arthur and His Knights, that brought him back, or perhaps he felt as we do, that real change can only be effected in the place that you most understand – home.
Phil could talk and talk and talk. Half of what he Spoke of seemed like pure fantasy, the other half like pure poetry. He was gifted with a strange kind of magic. One day in our garden, it was early summer, he conjured up a snowstorm, huge white flakes falling amongst the daisies on the lawn. Another time he created a multi-rainbowed sky; it was as if he had cut up a rainbow and thrown the pieces into the air where they hung in strange random patterns Looking back on it now it seems unbelievable but, all the same, I can remember both occasions vividly.
On our first meeting he described Windsor Free; we had always avoided festivals, so our knowledge of them was very limited. Phil outlined the histories and then went on to detail his ideas for the future. He proceeded to unfold what was, to us, a ludicrous plan. He wanted to claim back Stonehenge (a place that he regarded as sacred to the people and stolen by the government) and make it a site for free festivals, free music, free space, free mind; at least that, like ‘happily ever after’, is how the fairy story goes.
It is sad that none of that ‘freedom’ was evident when we attempted to play at the Stonehenge Festival ten years later. Since Phil’s death, it had been a dream that one day we would play the festival as a kind of memorial to him. In 1980 we had the band and the opportunity to do it.
Our presence at Stonehenge attracted several hundred punks to whom the festival scene was a novelty, they, in turn, attracted interest from various factions to whom punk was equally new. The atmosphere seemed relaxed and as dusk fell, thousands of people gathered around the stage to listen to the night’s music. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, a group of bikers stormed the stage saying that they were not going to tolerate punks at ‘their festival’, What followed was one of the most violent and frightening experiences of our lives. Bikers armed with bottles, chains and clubs, stalked around the site viciously attacking any punk that they set eyes on. There was nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape to; all night we attempted to -protect ourselves and other terrified punks from their mindless violence. There were screams of terror as people were dragged off into the darkness to be given lessons on peace and love; it was hopeless trying to save anyone because, in the blackness of the night, they were impossible to find. Meanwhile, the predominantly hippy gathering, lost in the soft blur of their stoned reality, remained oblivious of our fate.
Weeks later a hippy newsheet defended the bikers, saying that they were an anarchist group who had misunderstood our motives – some misunderstanding! Some anarchists!
If Phil and the first Stonehenge festivals were our first flirtations with ‘real’ hippy culture, this was probably our last.
Dream filled hippies were a phenomenon of the early seventies, lost souls whose brains were governed more by dope and acid than by common-sense. They were generally a bore, waffling on about how things were ‘going to be’ in about as realistic a way as snow describing how it will survive the summer’s sun. For all his strange ideas, Phil seemed different. Drugs, to him, were not something to ‘drop out’ with, but a communion with a reality of colour and hope that he actively brought back into the world of greyness and despair. He used drugs carefully and creatively, not for ‘escape’, but to help realise ‘a means of escape’.
In many respects we could never have been described as hippies. After the usual small amount of experimentation, we had rejected the use of drugs because we felt that they ‘ confused thought and generally interfered with relationships rather than contributing to them.
We had opened up our house at a time when many others were doing the same. The so called ‘commune movement’ was the natural result of people like ourselves wishing to create lives of co-operation, understanding and sharing. Individual housing is one of the most obvious causes for the desperate shortage of homes, communal living is a practical solution to the problem. If we could i learn to share our ‘homes, maybe we could learn to share our world and that is the first step towards a state of sanity.
The house has never been somewhere where people ‘drop out’, we wanted somewhere where people could ‘drop in’ and realise that given their own time and space they could create their own purposes and reasons and, most importantly, their own lives. We wanted to offer a place where people could be something that the system never allows them to be – themselves In many respects we were closer to anarchist traditions than to hippy ones but, inevitably, there was an interaction.
We shared Phil’s disgust with ‘straight’ society, a society that puts more value on property than on people, that respects wealth more than it does wisdom. We supported his vision of a world where the people took back from the state what the state had stolen from the people. Squatting as a political statement has its roots in that way of thought. Why should we have to pay for what is rightfully ours? Whose world is this?
Maybe squatting Stonehenge wasn’t such a bad idea.
The lives of millions upon millions of people are run by a small handful of ruling elites who own all the wealth, all the land and who have all the control. We are expected to be grateful to them for the privilege of having them rule our lives. We are expected to be grateful to them for the privilege of paying them for the roof over our heads. We are expected to be grateful to them for the privilege of being slaves in their factories and offices and for the privilege of accepting the miserable wages that they pay us. They grow richer at our expense, but we’re expected to look up to them as examples of success We are expected to be grateful for the privilege of paying them their huge taxes so that they can finance their oppression of us, the people. Finally, we are expected to be grateful to them for the privilege of fighting for them in their wars and killing other people like ourselves, or being killed by other people like ourselves. We are expected to love, honour and obey this wife beater ’til death, quite probably premature, do us part – in this particular marriage divorce is a hard case to fight for.
‘Do they owe us a living? – Of course they fucking do!’
Phil kept coming back to the house with new plans. His enthusiasm was infectious and finally we agreed to help him organise the first Stonehenge Festival, Summer Solstice, June 74.
‘Then called King Arthur with loud voice, “Where here before us the heathen hound, who slew our ancestors, now march we to them . . . and when we come to them, myself foremost of all the fight I will begin.’
By the beginning of 1974 we had printed thousands of hand-outs and posters for the festival and Phil had sent out hundreds of invitations to such varied celebrities as the Pope, the Duke of Edinburgh, The Beatles, the British Airways air hostesses and the Hippies of Katmandu. Needless to say, not many of the invitees turned up on the appointed date, but Phil was happy that a me ley crew of a few hundred hippies had.
For nine weeks Phil and those who were prepared to brave the increasingly wet summer, held fort at the old stone monument, watched in growing confusion by the old stone-faced monument keepers.
Wood-smoke drew into the damp night air, grey smoke against grey stones. Leaping flames illuminated the story-tellers who sat, rainbow splashes in the plain landscape, telling tales of how it was that this fire was lit in this place, at this time, on our earth.
‘Our generation is the best mass movement in history – experimenting with anything in our see search for love and peace. Knowledge, kicks, religion, life, truth, even if it leads us to our death, at i least we’re oil trying, together. Our temple is sound, we fight our battles with music, drums like thunder, cymbals like lightning, banks of electronic equipment like nuclear missiles of sound. We have guitars instead of tommy-guns.’
Phil Russell, 1974.
Rock’n’roll revolution, day in, day out, the talk went on, the rain came down and if this year there’d only been a battered old cassette player to pump out the sounds, next year they’d do better.
Eventually, the Department of the Environment, keepers of the old stone-faced monument, served the ‘Wallies of Stonehenge’ notice to withdraw from government property. The various inhabitants of the fort had agreed that, should the authorities intervene, they would answer only to the name of Wally; the name originated from a lost dog much sought after at the Isle of Wight Festival of many years back. The ludicrous summonses against Phil Wally, Sid Wally, Chris Wally etc. did much to set the scene for the absurd trial that followed in London’ s High Courts.
Fleet Street loved it, there hadn’t been any suitably unpleasant murders, rapes, wars or ‘natural’ disasters,so the Wallies, with their leader Phil Wally Hope, became this week’s ‘disposable’ stars. The grinning heroes appeared daily in the pages of the papers, flashing peace-signs and preaching the power of love, next to that day’s tits’n bums; an old message in a new setting.
Having lost the case and been ordered to immediately vacate the land, Wally Hope jubilantly left the courtroom to face waiting reporters announcing, “We have won, we have won Everybody loves us, we have won. ” Everybody was, if not in love with, certainlY confused by Wally and his disposable statement. All the same, for a day or two, the Wallies had been good copy In a way they had won, they had moved on, but there’s always a next year and a tradition had been born. In a way they had won, but the system doesn’t like being made a fool of; the tradition has now become one of the only yearly major free festivals. So, in a way they had won, but Wally Hope had pushed a thorn in the side of the system and the system wasn’t going to let him get away with it again.
From Stonehenge the retreating Wallies moved to Windsor. This year the festival had attracted the biggest gathering ever. Tens of thousands of people had come to ensure that Her Royal Majesty remained unamused and she, in turn, was waiting in the guise of a massive police presence. Tension between the two factions existed from the start and eventually things exploded when the police staged a vicious early morning attack on the sleeping festival goers. Hundreds of people were hurt as the police randomly and brutally laid into anyone unlucky enough to be in their way. People were dragged from their tents to be treated to a breakfast of boot and abuse. Protesting hippies were pulled away to waiting Black Marias to be insulted, intimidated, beaten up and charged.
The media pretended to be shocked and the government ordered a public enquiry, neither of which did much to improve the condition of the hundreds of injured people.
Government enquiries are frequently used to lead the public into thinking that something positive is being done about situations where the system has been seen to step out of line. These token gestures allow the authorities to commit atrocious crimes against the people while suffering no real fear of reprisal The tactic has been employed in cases of military and police violations in Belfast, Brixton etc; environmental violations such as deadly radiation leaks from power stations like Windscale in Cumbria; compulsory purchase orders, official theft, on land for motorways, airports and more nuclear plants, all of which are more likely to be a part of government plans for the event of nuclear war than to be for the convenience of the public; other ‘mistakes’ such as corruption by government officials, the maltreatment of inmates in prisons and mental homes, violence by teachers in schools, whenever, in fact, the authorities need a cover-up for their activities.
Those in government are perfectly aware that they and the authorities to whom they have been given power, daily commit crimes against the public and yet, unless they are exposed by that same public, who rightly might fear for their own well-being, nothing is done.
In cases where the public do become aware of inexcusable behaviour by the authorities, the government sets up its own enquiry to ‘investigate’ the issue. Something ‘appears’ to be happening and the gullible, silent, violent majority are satisfied that ‘justice has been done’. The crude fact however, is that the government will have done nothing at all except to have produced and printed a few White Papers that hardly anyone will read and no one will take any notice of. Meanwhile the ‘official crimes continue, unhindered.
Wally Hope came away from Windsor bruised and depressed. Once again he had danced amongst the boys in blue in a vain attempt to calm them with his humour and his love – he had been beaten up for his efforts.
‘I saw the police dragging away a young boy, punching and kicking him, I saw a pregnant woman being kicked in the belly and a little boy being punched in the face. All around the police were just laying into people. I went to one policeman who had just knocked out a woman’s teeth and asked him why he’d done it, he told me to fuck off or I’d get the same. Later on, I did.’
Wally Hope, after the party was over.
Bit by bit, we were learning. The days of flower-power were over, the piss were out grazing in the meadows. Our parents, At least their public servants, are our first oppressors. The daisies were being eaten. The nightmare was becoming reality.
‘Where today are the many powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the greed and oppression of the White Man, as snow before the summer’s sun.’
Things don’t seem to change much. We should have known Bit by bit, we were learning.
In the winter of that year Wally started work on the second Stonehenge Festival; posters, hand-outs, invites. This time round he had the questionable success of the first festival to point to, so the job was easier. Word of mouth has always been a powerful tool of the underground and already people were talking about what they would do to make it work.
Wally spent much of the first two months of’75 handing out leaflets in and around London. Dressed in his ‘combat uniform’, a bizarre mixture of middle-eastern army gear and Scottish tartans and driving his rainbow striped car complete with a full sized Indian tepee, a large multicoloured tent, strapped to the roof, he was a noticeable and colourful sight, a sight that those greyer than himself, in appearance and thought, would certainly not have missed. In May, he left our house for Cornwall; we had done all that we could to prepare for the festival and Wally wanted to rest up in his tepee until it began. The day of his departure was brilliantly hot; we sat in the garden drinking tea as Wally, glorifying the golden sun, serenaded us,and it, with a wild performance on his tribal drums. He was healthy, happy and confident that this time round he’d win again.
As the rainbow coloured car drew away from our house, Wally leant through its window and let out an enormous she t, something in between an Indian ware y and the words ‘freedom and peace’, he was too far away to be properly heard.
The next time that we saw him, about a month later, he had lost a stone in weight, his skin was white and unpleasantly puffy, he was frail, nervous and almost incapable of speech. He sat with his head hung on his chest, his tongue ran across his.lips as if it were searching out the face to which it had once belonged. His tear-filled eyes had sunk, dull and dead, into his skull like some strange Halloween mask. His hands shook constantly in the way that old men’s do on a cold winter’s day. The sun which he worshipped had darkened for him, he was unable to bear its light or its heat. Every so often he would take pained, involuntary glances around the walled garden in which we sat. Occasionally our eyes would follow his and always they were met with other more sinister eyes watching us from across the perfect lines of the neatly cut green lawns. Wally Hope was a prisoner in one of Her Majesty’s Psychiatric Hospitals, a man with no future but theirs. This time round he was not winning.
A couple of days after Wally had left us he had been arrested for possession of three acid tablets. The police had mounted a raid on the house at which he had stopped for the night claiming that they were looking for an army deserter. It just so happened that while they were looking for the deserter they decided, for no reason at all, to look through Wally’s coat pocket. Of course they hadn’t noticed the rainbow coloured car parked outside, nor were they aware of the fact that the owner of that coat was the laughing hippy anarchist who had made such an arsehole of the courts only a year before, or that he was the same colourful character that had been handing out leaflets about Stonehenge 2 in the streets of London just a few days ago. The police don’t notice things like that; their job, after all, is to catch fictitious army deserters.
Whereas most people would have been given a large waggle from the trigger-finger and a small fine, Wally was refused bail and kept in prison on remand. He was refused the use of the phone or of letter writing materials, so he had no way of letting people on the outside know what had happened to him. The people from the house in which he was arrested did nothing to help, presumably because they feared similar treatment by the authorities He was alone and hopelessly equipped for what was going to happen to him.
After several days in jail, he appeared on parade wearing pyjamas claiming that the prison clothing, which he was obliged to wear, was giving him rashes. Rather than suggesting the simple remedy of allowing him to wear his own clothes, the warden, clearly an expert in medical matters, sent him to see the prison doctor who, in his infinite wisdom, had no trouble at all in diagnosing the problem as ‘schizophrenia’.
‘Just because they say that you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean that you’re not being followed.’
Unknown hippy wit.
Since the beginning of time, mental illness has been a powerful political weapon against those seeking, or operating, social change. A lot of the definitions of ‘madness’ are bogus inventions by which those in authority are able to dismiss those who dare to question their reality. Terms like schizophrenia, neurotic and paranoid, mean little more than what any particular, or not so particular, individual chooses them to mean. There are no physical proofs for any of these ‘conditions’; the definitions vary from psychiatrist to Psychiatrist and depending on which is considered undesirable or subversive, are totally different from one country to another. Because of these different standards, the chances of being diagnosed schizophrenic in America are far higher than they are in Britain and this led one psychiatrist to-suggest that the best cure for many American mental patients would be to catch a flight to Britain. The label of ‘mental illness’ is a method of dealing with individuals, from unwanted relatives to social critics, who, through not accepting the conditions that are imposed upon them by outsiders, are seen as ‘nuisances’ and ‘trouble makers’.
The works of psychologists, notably Freud, Jung, and the school of perverts who follow their teachings, have, by isolating ‘states of mind’ and defining some: of them as ‘states of madness’, excluded all sorts of possible developments in the way in which we see, or could see, our reality. By allowing people to learn from the experience of their so called ‘madness’, rather than punishing them for it, new radical ways of thought could be realised, new perspectives created and new horizons reached. How else has the human mind grown and developed? Nearly all the major advances in society have been made by people who are criticised, ridiculed, and often punished in their own time, only to be celebrated as ‘great thinkers’ years after their deaths. As mental and physical health becomes increasingly controllable with drugs and surgery, we come even closer to a world of hacked about and chemically processed Mr. and Mrs. Normals whose only purpose in life will be to mindlessly serve the system; progress will cease and the mind-fuckers will have won their battle against the human spirit.
Once labelled ‘mad’, a patient may be subjected to a whole range of hideous tortures politely referred to by The Notional Health Service as ‘cures’. They are bound up in belts and harnesses, strait jackets, so that their bodies becomes bruised and their spirits beaten. They are locked up in silent padded cells so that the Sound of their own heartbeat and the smell of their own shit breaks them down into passive animals. They are forced to take drugs that make them into robot-like zombies. One common side effect of long term treatment with these drugs is severe swelling of the tongue; the only effective cure is surgical – the tongue is cut out — what better way to silence the prophet? They are given electric shocks in the head that cause disorientation and loss of memory. ECT, electro- convulsive therapy, is an idea adopted from the slaughterhouse where, before having their throats cut open, pigs are stunned with an identical form of treatment; ECT is a primitive form of punishment that owes more to the traditions of the witch hunters than it does to the tradition of science. The ultimate ‘cure’, tour de force of the psychiatric profession, is lobotomy. Victims of this obscene practical joke have knives stuck into their heads that are randomly waggled about so that part of the brain is reduced to mince-meat.
Surgeons performing this operation have no precise idea what they are doing; the brain is an incredibly delicate object about which very little is known, yet these butchers feel qualified to poke knives into people’s heads in the belief that they are performing ‘scientific services’, Patients who are given this treatment frequently die from it; those who don’t can never hope to recover from the state of mindlessness that has been deliberately imposed upon them.
Disgusting experiments are daily performed on both animals and humans in the name of ‘medical advance’; there is no way of telling what horrific new forms of treatment are at this moment being devised for us in the thousands of laboratories throughout the country. In Nazi Germany, the inmates of the death camps were used by drug companies as ‘guinea-pigs’ for new products. Nowadays the companies, some of which are the very same ones, use prisoners in jails and hospitals for the same purposes.
Mental patients are constantly subjected to the ignorance of both the state and the general public and, as such, are perhaps the most oppressed people in the world. In every society there are thousands upon thousands of people locked away in asylums for doing nothing more than question imposed values; dissidents dismissed by the label of madness and silenced, often for ever, by the cure.
Wally was prescribed massive doses of a drug called Largactil which he was physically and often violently forced to take. Drugs like Largactil are widely used not only in mental hospitals, but also in jails where ‘officially’ their use is not permitted. The prison doctor’s ‘treatment’ for ‘schizophrenia’ reduced Wally to a state of helplessness and by the time he was dragged into the courts again he was so physically and mentally bound up in a drug induced strait jacket that he was totally incapable of understanding what was going on, let alone of offering any kind of defence for himself.
When finally we did hear from Wally, an almost incomprehensible letter that looked as if it had been written by a five year old child, he had been taken from the jail, herded through the courts where he was ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act of 1959, and committed, for an indefinite time, to a mental hospital.
Sectioning, compulsory hospitalisation, is a method by which the authorities can imprison anyone who two doctors are prepared to diagnose as ‘mad’. It is not difficult, naturally, to find willing doctors, since prison hospitals are riddled with dangerous hacks who, having sunk to the bottom of their profession, are willing to oblige.
Once sectioned, the patient loses all ‘normal’ human rights, can be treated in any way that the doctors see fit and, because appeal against the court decision is almost impossible, stands no chance of release until certified ‘cured’ by those same doctors.
Recently Britain was forced by the European Court of Human Rights to allow patients, prisoners, the right to appeal against compulsory hospitalisation. Although this might appear to be an improvement on what existed in Wally’s time, patients still have to wait six months before the appeal will be heard, by which time, like Wally, they are i able to be so incapacitated by the treatment that they have received, that the appeal procedure would be impossible for them to handle.
Sectioning enables the state to take anyone off the streets and imprison them, indefinitely, without any crime having been committed; it enables the state, within the letter of the law, to torture and main prisoners and suffer no fear of exposure.
Compulsory hospitalisation is the ultimate weapon of our oppressive state, a grim reminder of the lengths to which the system will go to control the individual Whereas the bomb is a communal threat, sectioning violates concepts of ‘human rights’ in its direct threat to the freedom of personal thought and action.
When we heard of Wally’s fate, we were convinced that the experience would destroy him; some of us indeed, were convinced that the authorities intended to destroy him. Inevitably, we were assured by liberal acquaintances that we were ‘just being paranoid about the intentions of the state’; those same liberals say the same about any of the horrors of modern technological society, from the bomb to computer systems, that they are afraid to confront within that society and themselves. Paranoid or not, we made efforts, firstly legally, then, illegally, to secure Wally’s release. All of our attempts failed.
We spent days on the phone contacting people whom We thought might be able to help or advise us. The most useful and compassionate help came from organisations like Release and BIT, underground groups, some of which still operate today helping people over all sorts of problems, from housing to arrest. Critics of the ‘hippy generation’ would do well to remember that the majority of such organisations, plus alternative bookshops, printing presses, food shops, cafes, gig venues etc., are still run, for the benefit of us all, by those same hippies; old maybe but, because of the enormous efforts many of them have made ‘to give hope a chance’, not boring.
We found that appeal was as good as impossible and realised, in any case, that to follow ‘normal’ procedures could take months and by then we thought it would be too late. We employed a lawyer to act on Wally’s behalf, but the hospital made it impossible for him to contact Wally; letters never got through and telephone calls proved pointless. The ‘patient’ was always ‘resting’ and messages were incorrectly relayed to him.
When we attempted to visit Wally in hospital we were informed that no one but his close relatives could see him. His father had died and his mother and sister, neither of whom would have anything to do with him, were abroad. Gambling on the chance that the staff knew little about his family background, one of us, posing as Wally’s sister, finally gained access to the hospital. The aim of the visit, apart from simply wanting to see Wally, was to plan a means of kidnapping him so that he could be taken somewhere where he could recover from his ordeal.
On our second visit, two of us were able to see him without arousing suspicion. We had hoped to finalise the kidnap plan, but we found him in such a bad state that we decided it could be damaging to him to have to deal with the kind of movements we had planned.
What none of us realised at the time, was that his condition was the direct result of the ‘treatment’ that he was being given rather than the ‘symptoms’ of mental illness The sad shuffling half-people that can be seen through the railings of any mental hospital are like that not because of the illness that they supposedly have, but because of the cures that they are being subjected to. The social stereotype of the grey-raincoated loony is a tasteless twist more worthy of a B movie than a civilised society. The stereotype is one that is forced, either surgically or chemically, by an uncaring system, onto the ‘patient’ whose ‘moronic and lifeless appearance’ is used, by that same system, to ‘prove’ the patient’s ‘illness’.
Since his admission into hospital, Wally bad been receiving pills to ‘cure his illness’ and injections to counter-act the side effects of the pills. Naturally, he had been slipping the pills under his tongue and spitting them out later. The injections were unavoidable, the hospital nurses were mostly male and considerably stronger than Wally, so polite refusals weren’t much use, but in any case, as they were to cure the side-effects, they didn’t really matter. What neither he nor we knew was that the hospital staff had deliberately lied to him about which ‘medicine’ was which. The result was that the injections, of a drug called Modecate, of which he was receiving doses massively above those recommended by the manufacturers, were creating increasingly serious side effects that were not being treated. It should have been obvious to the staff that something was going amiss, they must have realised that Wally was gobbing out the pills, but that, after all, was part of their ‘cure’ – he was being made into a mindless moron.
Meanwhile, Stonehenge 2 took place. This year thousands of people turned up and for over two weeks the authorities were unable to stop the festivities. Wood-fires, tents and tepees, free food stalls, stages and bands, music and magic. Flags flew and kites soared. Naked children played in the woodlands, miniature Robin Hoods celebrating their material poverty. Dogs formed woofing packs that excitedly stole sticks from the innumerable wood piles and then scrapped over them in tumbling, rolling bundles of fur. Two gentle horses were tethered to a tree and silently watched the festivities through the dappled light that danced across their bodies. Old bearded men squatted on tree stumps muttering prayers to their personal gods. Small groups of people tended puffing fires upon which saucepans bubbled and bread baked, the many rich smells blending across the warm air. Parties of muse lar people set out in search of wood and water accompanied always by a line of laughing, mimicking children. Everywhere there was singing and dancing. Indian flutes wove strange patterns of sound around the ever present bird song. The beat of drums echoed the hollow thud of axe on wood. Old friends met new, hands touched, bodies entwined, minds expanded and, in one tiny spot on our earth, love and peace had become a reality. Just ten miles down the road, Wally Hope, the man whose vision and hard work had made that reality possible, was being pumped full of poisons in the darkness of a hospital cell.
A couple of days after the last person had left the festival site, Wally was, without warning, set free. The grey men had kept the smiling, bronzed, hippy warrior from his festival and now, having effected their cure, ejected a nervous gibbering wreck onto their grey streets.
It took Wally two days to drive his rainbow coloured car from the hospital to our home. Seventy miles in two days, two days of terror. He found himself incapable of driving for any length of time and had to stop for hours on end to regain his confidence. No one knew of his release and, maybe to restore some kind of dignity for himself, he was determined to do it alone. When he finally arrived at our house he was in worse condition than when we had seen him at the hospital; he was barely able to walk and even the most simple of tasks was impossible for him. It is hard to believe that he was able to drive those seventy miles at all. This pale shadow of the person who we had once known now found it age y to sit in the sun, his face and hands would swell up into a distorted mess. The sun that he worshipped was now all darkness for him At night he would lay in his bed and cry; quiet, desperate sobs that would go on until dawn, when he would finally go to sleep. Nothing seemed to help his pathetic condition. We tried to teach him to walk properly again, but he was unable to coordinate and his left arm would swing forward with his left leg, his right with his right. Sometimes we were able to laugh about it, but the laughter always gave way to tears. We couldn’t understand and we were afraid.
Finally, in desperation, we got Wally to a doctor friend who diagnosed his condition as being ‘chronic dyskinesia’, a disease brought about through overdoses of Modecate and similar drugs. Wally had been made into a cabbage and worse, an incurable one.
Bit by bit, the realisation that he was doomed to live in a half-world of drug induced idiocy made its way into what was left of Wally’s brain. On the third of September 1975, unable to face another day, perhaps hoping that death might offer more to him than what was left in life, Wally Hope overdosed on sleeping pills and choked to death on the vomit that they induced.
In the relatively short time that we have on this earth we probably have contact with thousands of people with whom we share little more than half smiles and polite conversation. We are lucky if amongst those thousands of faces one actually responds to us with more than predictable formalities. Real friends are rare, true understanding between people is difficult to achieve and when it is achieved it is the most precious of all human experiences.
I have been lucky in that I am part of a group of people who I regard as friends and with whom I can share a sense of reality and work towards a shared vision of the future. I have met many people whose only aim, because of their own cynicism and lack of purpose, appears to be to prevent people like ourselves from expressing our own sense of our own life; I see people like that as the dark shadows that have made our world so colourless.
Wally was a genius, I can’t pretend to have completely liked him, he was far too demanding to be liked, but I did love him. He was the most colourful character that I have ever met, a person who had a deep sense of destiny and no fear whatsoever in pursuing it. If friends are rare, people like Wally are very very rare indeed. I don’t suppose I shall ever meet someone like him again; he was a visionary who demonstrated more to me about the meaning of life than all the grey nobodies that.have ever existed could ever hope to do. Wally was an individual, pure energy, a great big silver light that shone in the darkness, who because he was kind, gentle and loving, was seen, by those grey people, as a threat, a threat that they felt should be destroyed.
Wally was not mad, not a crazy, not a nut, he was a human being who didn’t want to have to accept the grey world that we are told is all we should expect in life. He wanted more and set out to get it. He didn’t see why we should have to live as enemies to each other. He believed, as do many anarchists, that people are basically kind and good and that it is the restrictions and limitations that are forced upon them, often violently, by uncaring systems, that creates evil.
‘What is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?’
Phil Russell 1974.
We are born free, but almost immediately we are subjected to conditioning in preparation for a life of slavery within the system We are moulded by our parents, teachers, bosses, etc. to conform to what ‘they’ want from us rather than to our own natural, and unique, desires. Anarchists believe that those natural desires for peaceful and cooperative lives are denied us because they do not serve the requirements of the ruling classes. Life should and could be a wonderful and exciting experience. Despite what the politicians say, the world is big enough for us all if we could only learn to share it and to respect each other within it. Millions of people are governed by very few; millions of lives of grey slavery simply so those few can enjoy the privileges that are the birth right of us all. Surely, by sheer weight of numbers, we have the strength to take back what is rightfully ours? But do we have the right to use violence to force our demands? The anarchist answer would have to be ‘no’.
Armed revolution as advocated by extremists of the left is nothing more than destructive revenge, an unpleasant tactic learnt in the school playground and never forgotten To say that violence is the only way to achieve improvements for the common good, is to say that people are basically bad and unchangeable, an unacceptably cynical view that runs deep through most socialist thought. Those who advocate armed revolution are seeking to oppress those who they see as ‘enemies’ in exactly the same way as those ‘enemies’ oppressed them, the boot is simply on another foot. Force can only lead to resentment; if force is used to make someone do Something against their will, they will fight back, the same applies to armed revolution If a revolution is won by violent means it will inevitably create violent reaction; the vicious circle of violence rolls on and 0″ and nothing but the name of the oppressor will have changed. Anarchists believe that it is essential to break that circle of violence as it is precisely that which distorts and perverts people’s basic kindness and goodness. Anarchists believe that it is the right of the individual to make their own decisions and choices in life free from imposed restrictions and the threats of violence with which they go hand in hand. In demanding those rights for themselves anarchists are almost duty-bound to respect those rights in others and it is here that anarchy and all other forms of Political thought part company.
Because anarchists believe that people are basically kind and good, as an act of faith, they are able to conceive, consider and create revolution without violence. Other forms of political thought, lost in their cynical view of humans as bad and unchangeable, have no alternative but to resort to the immaturity of violence. Thus, unavoidably, anarchists must also promote pacifism, for if anarchists truly believe that they have the right to live their own life how can they permit the use of violence to deny others theirs?
Standing against violence doesn’t mean just passively standing by and letting it happen. Pacifists will, if forced, defend themselves and others from attack, not out of a sense of aggression or revenge, but from a need to demonstrate their strength, the strength of love. By opposing violence with a sense of love and respect, the aggressor is allowed to consider their own actions and is given the opportunity to back down. By opposing violence with violence nothing but an escalation can be achieved, nothing can be learnt and existing values, regardless of who is the victor, remain unchallenged. Likewise with larger scale conflict; if the state is opposed with violence it will reply with violence, if it is opposed with a desire to create love and respect, it is not impossible that love and respect could be the response. The choice is ours, it must be worth trying.
The personal risk involved in rejecting violence with love is, perhaps, far higher than the traditional approach of an ‘eye for an eye’. It takes a true sense of courage to reply to violence with love rather than fists, but the rewards are real and lasting. Violence has become such an accepted method of solving problems that people justify it on the grounds ‘that it is natural instinct’. Pacifists, like anarchists, believe that the ‘natural instinct’ is one of love and that violence is simply the result of that love having been stifled and perverted by oppressive and repressive social systems.
From domestic violence to global war, the rules have always been the same,’destroy that which you don’t understand’ – pacifists and anarchists seek to creatively solve problems by developing mutual understanding between people, rather than mutual hostility.
Violence only makes disagreements worse, it works on the principle of winners and losers and both pacifists and anarchists believe that no one should have to suffer the inhuman condition of being a loser and no one should have to benefit from the inhuman condition of being a winner. We’re not born that way, so why should we, or anyone else, live that way? All other forms of political thought rely on there being losers, who are exploited as slaves by the winners, who enjoy the privileges created by them. Both right and left wing states employ force to maintain power; people are reduced to simple tools servicing the machinery of the state and as such, are expected to live and, if need be, die for that state.
Anarchy is rejection of state control, a demand by the individual to live a life of personal choice. Anarchists believe that if each individual can learn to act out of conscience, rather than greed, the machinery of power will collapse. It is unfair and untrue to say that this is nothing but dreamy idealism. Throughout history people have created change without resorting to violence by simply, en masse, refusing to bow down to the authority that seeks to oppress them. History books rarely document these victories of the people because history books are concerned with, and serve, the politics of power rather than the lives of the people. It is true that the state has often overthrown shows of passive resistance with violence, but had that resistance itself been of a violent nature, the state would simply have overthrown it with a greater force; violence breeds violence. It is to cases of state violence that those who advocate armed revolution always refer when attempting to justify their own desire for violence. Never do they accept the enormous changes that have been achieved by anarcho- pacifist methods; their deep rooted cynicism and desire for revenge makes them blind to the strength of human goodness. These overgrown schoolboys and frustrated college Marxists advocate ‘armed revolution by the working classes’ to overthrow the oppressor. As is the usual case with macho-dominated politics, the privileged few determine the violent deaths of thousands of innocent people. The state has always sent the ‘working classes’ to the front lines of war, has always used the ‘working classes’ as a tool to its own power – in what way are these ‘brothers’ of the Marxist Revolution any different? What kind of liberation is it that uses the deaths of others, usually the under-privileged, as a means to achieve its ends?
The extreme left is largely made up from educated and privileged people who, because of their social background, are able to infiltrate organisations, from schools to the media, in which they can push their propaganda. The threat that they pose to the development of radical creative change is far greater than that of right-wing organisations. The right, because it lacks any true political ideology (at least, that which it does have is so laughably transparent) and because it rarely has the ‘social respectability’ of the left, relies on its appeal to a small group of people who, finding themselves on the bottom of the social scrapheap, rejected by leftists and liberals alike, take the only option that is on offer to them – violence. So-called ‘right-wing violence’ is generally not politically motivated at all, but is simply an end-of-the-line reaction against seemingly impossible odds made by people who are offered nothing by society but a life of slavery.
The left-wing ‘threat’ is an organised and calculated attempt by generally privileged people who to gain power and control will use those who are less privileged to fight their causes. Those that do not conform to their leftist requirements they label as ‘fascists’. At the same time however, they would happily recruit those so-called ‘fascists’ to achieve their own ends – in violence there is no morality.
We have the strength, by simply refusing to be used as tools to other people’s desires, to overcome oppression; but do we have the personal courage to stand alone, without our ‘party membership card’ or ‘Little red book’, and demand our right to live?
We are able to help create this change immediately in our own lives. We can try to live in harmony with our friends and amongst the people and the environment in which we move. We can try to be creative with the facilities that we and others make. We can learn to reject the stupid roles that we are told to accept; dominant males, submissive females etc. We can learn to share and cooperate with each other, to give back to life what we have taken from it. We can learn to understand the natural functions of the world around us; the seasons, the weather, the soil and everything that grows on this planet of ours. We can learn to understand what people, in their unthinking ways, have done to the earth. We can learn to reject the grey filth and shit that we are told is a ‘fact of Life’. We can demand and create something better. All these things, and a lot more, we can learn together with those who care and then, as individuals, we can go out into the streets and demand back the world that we know exists beneath the layer upon layer of crap that history has piled upon it – and we can start working towards something better. It’s Up to us, as individuals, together, to subvert the system that perverts our lives.
We must learn to be unafraid of those in authority – we must strive for what we know is right and rather than simply serving our own greed and selfishness find, creative ways to ‘break the back of the system’. We must write songs and poetry, make records, magazines, books, films and videos, spray messages in graffiti and attempt to gain access to all forms of media so that our voice can be heard. We must, however, be prepared to back up our words with actions.
It is impossible and unwise to advocate ‘direct action’. It is something that should be done and not spoken about. Each of us has our own level of fear and uncertainty and in taking direct action as a form of protest, we must be as certain as possible that we will succeed. It is foolhardy, unless we simply want to end up as martyrs, to attempt anything that we are not ready for. We must learn to overcome our fears gradually, rather than diving headlong into something that we find we can’t carry through.
In America, anarcho-pacifists broke into an air base and smashed up part of a nuclear missile; in France, they fired rockets at an unoccupied nuclear power station; in Britain, they built barriers across a railway line to prevent the transportation of nuclear waste. Other people jam up the locks of banks and offices with super-glue, or cut down fences around government installations Others sabotage operations at work, from redirecting traffic on building sites, to distributing goods through the back door of factories and shops. Everyone has their own way and their own ideas about what to do and anything that anyone does do further erodes the power that the authorities believe they have over us. Whatever it is that you do, keep your mouth shut and remember that those who do the talking very rarely make the actions.
At the same time as more ‘extreme’ activities, there are things that we can do within the existing social structures that will further weaken those structures as well as directly helping each other.
We can open up squats and, from them, start information services for those who want to do the same, or we can form housing co-ops and communes to share the responsibility of renting or even buying a property. In places where we already live, we can open the doors to others, form tenant associations with neighbours and demand and create better conditions and facilities in the area. We can form gardening groups that squat and farm disused land or rent allotments where we can produce food for ourselves and others that are free from dangerous chemicals and grow medicinal herbs to cure each other’s headaches. We can create health groups where we can practice alternative medicine, like herbalism and massage, that create healthy bodies and minds rather-than the drugged-up robots that are the results of conventional medicine; we can then, maybe, learn to love and respect each other’s bodies rather than fearing them. We can form free schools where knowledge can be shared, rather than rules laid down. Education, rather than being little but state training in slavery, can become a mutual growth and a true enquiry into our world where everyone is the teacher and everyone is the pupil. We can start community centres where people have an alternative to the male dominated, money orientated atmosphere of Britain’s only nightly social event, the pub. Centres could serve and further the interests of the community, rather’ than simply being there to finance the brewer. In Scotland, a group of people found an unused site hut which they squatted and having soundproofed and decorated it, put on gigs and discussion groups. The local council were so impressed by their efforts that they have been given official Use of it. We can run food co-ops that buy and distribute foods that have been grown by people that we know, or have been brought from sources who we trust are not exploiting the people who produced it. A lot of supermarket food is grown in the Third World where the workers are paid next to nothing so that the middlemen can make huge profits – food co-ops can break down that chain. At one time we ran a food co-op from our house that supplied over twenty other homes with food that had been produced outside the capitalist system. We can form ‘work banks’ where we can exchange our individual skills for the skills of others. If enough people are prepared to join a ‘bank’, money becomes almost redundant.
The only limitation is our own imagination. We can overcome the structures that oppress us, but only if we are prepared to work hard to do so. We have the strength, we have the numbers and with the courage of our own convictions, we can regain the right to live our own lives The non-violent revolution can, and will, be a reality.
Wally Hope had both the strength and the courage of his own convictions, but like ourselves had been hopelessly ill-informed about the workings of the state. He demanded the right to live his own life and was met with savage resistance, He was killed by a system that believes that ‘it knows best’. It is that system and hundreds like it, that oppress millions of people throughout the world. Left-wing oppression in Poland, or right-wing oppression in Northern Ireland, what’s the difference?
The prisons and mental hospitals of the world are full of people who did nothing but to disagree with the accepted ‘norms’ of the state in which they lived. Russian dissidents are American heroes, American dissidents are Russian heroes; the kettle simply gets blacker. To defeat the oppressor, we must learn its ways, otherwise we are doomed, Like Wally, to be silenced by its fist.
Wally sought peace and creativity as an alternative to war and destruction. He was an anarchist, a pacifist and, above all, an individualist, but because of the times in which he naively lived, and innocently died, he was labelled a ‘hippy’.
In the coroner’s court, the police officer responsible for investigating Wally’s death dismissed him in one sarcastic sentence, “He thought he was Jesus Christ, didn’t he?” Wally certainly did not think of himself in that light, but judging by the way in which the state dealt with him, they did. The same inspector claimed to have thoroughly interviewed everyone who had had contact with Wally from the time of his arrest to the time of his death. Although we had twice visited Wally in hospital and he had later stayed with us for around two weeks, this guardian of the law had not once been in touch with us. The few witnesses that were called had obviously been carefully selected to ‘toe the official Line’. Amongst them was one of the doctors who had been responsible for Wally’s treatment. Throughout his statement he told lie after lie and then, rather than being subjected to the possible embarrassment of cross- examination, was reminded by the coroner that he mustn’t miss his train – nod nod, wink wink.
The court passed a verdict of suicide with no reference at all to the appaling treatment that had been the direct cause of it. We loudly protested from the back of the courtroom – the grey men simply met our objections with mocking smiles.
Wally’s death and the deceitful way in which the authorities dealt with it, led us to spend the next year making our own investigations into exactly what had happened since he left us that hot day in May. Our enquiries convinced us that what had happened was not an accident. The state had intended to destroy Wally’s spirit, if not his life, because he was a threat, a fearless threat who they hoped they could destroy without much risk of embarrassment.
The story was a nightmare web of deception, corruption and cruelty. Wally had been treated with complete contempt by tile police who arrested him, the courts that sentenced him and the prison and hospital that held him prisoner. Our enquiries led us far from Wally’s case; as we tried to get to the truth of any one situation, we would be presented with innumerable new leads and directions to follow. We got drawn deeper and deeper into a world of lies, violence, greed and fear. None of us were prepared for what we discovered, the world started to feel like a very small, dark place.
We found evidence of murder cover-ups, of police and gangland tie-ups, of wrongful arrest and imprisonment on trumped up charges and false evidence. We learnt of the horrific abuse, both physical and mental, of prisoners in jails and mental hospitals, doctors who knowingly prescribed what amounted to poison, who were unable to see the bruises inflicted, by courtesy of Her Majesty’s officials, on an inmate’s body – wardens and interrogating police are requested to punch below the head, where the bruises won’t be seen by visiting relatives. We learnt of wardens who, to while the day away, set inmates against each other and did ‘good turns’ in return for material, and sexual favours. We learnt of nurses in mental hospitals who deliberately administered the wrong drugs to patients ‘just to see what happened’; who, for kicks, tied patients to their beds and then tormented them. The official line, that the purpose of prisons is ‘reform’ and of mental hospitals is ‘cure’, is total deception – the purpose is ‘punishment’; crude, cruel and simple – punishment.
Beyond the world of police, courts, jails and asylums, we were faced with the perhaps even more sickening outside world. Within this world, respectable people, smart and secure, work, day in, day out, to maintain the lie. They know about the abuse and cruelty, they know about the dishonesty and corruption, they know about the complete falsity of the reality in which they live, but they daren’t turn against it because, having invested so much of their lives in it, they would be turning against themselves, so they remain silent – the silent, violent, majority.
Beneath the glossy surfaces of neatly combed hair and straightened nylons, of polished cars and sponged-down cookers, of pub on Friday and occasional church on Sunday, of well planned family and better planned future, of wealth and security, of power and glory, are the ‘real’ fascists. They know, but they remain silent.
‘First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.’
Pastor Niemoeller, victim of the Nazis.
They remain silent when the windows of the house across the street are smashed and the walls daubed with racist abuse. Silent when they hear the footsteps at night and the beating of doors and the sobbing of those inside. Now, perhaps, a whisper, the quietest whisper, ‘They’re Jews you know’ – or Catholics, West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Irish, Gypsies, gays, cripples, or any minority group, in any society, anywhere – they only whisper it once before the warmth of the duck-down continental quilt soothes away their almost accidental guilt. Silent again as they hear them led away into the darkness. Silent, as through the cold mist of morning, they hear the cattle trucks roll by. And when they hear of the death-pits, of the racks, of the ovens, of the thousands dead and thousands dying – they remain silent. Because security is their god and compliance is his mistress, they remain silent. Against all the evidence, against all that they know, they remain silent, because convention decrees that they should. Silence, security, compliance and convention – the roots of fascism. Their silence is their part in the violence, a huge and powerful, silent voice of approval – the voice of fascism.
It is not the National Front or the British Movement that represents the right-wing threat; they, like the dinosaur, are all body and no brain and because of that will become extinct. It is the ‘general public’, in their willingness to bow down to authority, who pose the ‘real’ fascist threat. Fascism is as much in the hearts of the people as in the minds of their potential leaders.
The voices of silence, at times, made our investigations almost impossible. The respectable majority were too concerned about their own security to want to risk upsetting the authorities by telling us what they knew. They did know and we knew that they knew, but it made no difference – they remained silent.
From the enormous file of documentation that our enquiries produced, we compiled a lengthy book on the life and death of Wally Hope. During the enquiries we had received death-threats from various sources and were visited several times by the police who let us know that they knew what we knew and that they wanted us… to remain silent.
We felt alone and vulnerable. Finally our nerve gave out and one fine Spring morning, one and a half years after Wally’s death, we threw the book and almost all the documentation onto a bonfire and watched the flames leap into the perfect blue sky. Phil Russell was dead.
As nearly all the documentation that we had on Phil was burnt, this article has been written largely from memory. As a result, some of the fine details, exact periods of time etc., may be slightly incorrect. The rest of the story is both true and accurate.
We had never chosen to be a part of the system, we had decided to live our own lives, our own way, and for years it seemed to work. Phil had come along at a time when we were beginning to question the value of what we were doing – ‘was it enough?’ Out experiences both before and after his death showed us that it wasn’t. We had been prepared to believe that the system wasn’t ‘all bad’, that if we acted honestly with it, it would act honestly with us – although the writing has been on the wall for several years, well meaning liberals still justify their ‘Volvo revolution’ with that kind of false reasoning. At the time, however, we still naively believed that the system served the people, our experiences showed us that, in fact, it was the people who served the system… or else.
We had tried to demonstrate our sense of freedom with humour and love and we were met with violence and hate which we in turn attempted to combat with our reason and intelligence. We failed. We finally realised that the state, those who work within it and those who live beneath its authority, were the ‘enemy of our freedom’ and that we must look for ways other than well reasoned words with which to oppose them.
The system has at its command everything that it needs to control the people and to ensure that its conditions remain dominant. It has the family to limit movement and stabilise those conditions. It has schools to restrict the mind and brainwash with those conditions. It has employment, and taxation of it, to finance the authorities that maintain those conditions It has the law, the courts and the police to enforce those conditions It has the army to protect those conditions. It has prisons and mental hospitals to punish anyone who disobeys those conditions. It has the media to promote those conditions. It has royalty to flaunt those conditions It has religion and psychiatry to mystify and thereby threaten, at the deepest level, those who question those conditions. It has history and tradition to prove the ‘value’ of those conditions. It has the future in which all these things are employed to ensure that those conditions will remain unchallenged – we have nothing but ourselves, and each other.
The system quietly murders people like Phil, yet still it is respected by the majority. The system openly murders people like Blair Peach, yet still it is respected by the majority. The system noisily murders people like Bobby Sands, yet still it is respected by the majority. The system is prepared to wage vicious civil war, as in Northern Ireland, or to consider the horror of total annihilation in a global nuclear war, yet still it is respected by the majority.
The system and all those who support it, either directly or through silence, are guilty of premeditating the deaths of millions of people, from individuals like Phil, to the nameless, unidentifiable masses in some unspeakable war. They are guilty of ‘conspiring to destroy the planet, the people, animals, insects, plants, in fact everything that we know as life’. There, in their seats of power, hidden behind their masks of reason and rationale, sit people who are not only prepared to destroy our world, they are proud to admit it. It is these self-confessed ‘potential mass-murderers’ who it we permit to rule our lives; it is these mindless fools who are the ‘real’ mad-people, not gentle visionaries like Phil, yet who is it who is punished in their reality of double- standards and hypocrisy?
We know that they are not fit to rule our world, yet we allow them to do so. We allow them to build around us a hideously dangerous environment; Britain is at risk of be coming little more than a launch-pad for American missiles and a practice ground for Russian ones. Thatcher’s government intends to spend twelve and a half thousand million pounds this year, 1982, on the military alone and that doesn’t include the other thousands of millions on war-related expenses, from communication systems to government fall-out shelters and nuclear power stations. The British coastline is becoming dotted with potentially lethal nuclear power stations that produce very little electricity, about ten per cent of yearly UK requirements, and very big bombs. The first ‘power stations’ were built solely for the production of nuclear bombs; there is little to suggest that those being built now are for anything but similar purposes. The air, the sea and the land are becoming increasingly polluted with nuclear waste; the Irish sea is the most radioactive stretch of water in the world, people and animals have already died as a result of this mindless litter-bugging. Do we have to wait for the accident that will and must happen, that kills people by the thousands, before the authorities accept that there is a little bit more at risk than their self-important reputations? The nuclear programme has enabled the authorities to intensify enormously the development of their ‘security systems’. So not only do we have to suffer the insecurity of the threat of nuclear war, ,, also have to contend with the added insecurity of living in what is fast becoming a police state. Nuclear establishments have at their command an armed force who answer to no authority but their own, Britain’s ready-made 88, existing in a state within a state. The government recently approved plans to set up a new style ‘Home Guard’: a force who will be specially trained to deal with ‘domestic problems’ and that means me and you, so don’t be fooled by tales of ‘Dad’s Army’, this one isn’t a comedy. The authorities are increasinglY prying into our private lives.. From phone tapping to census forms, our lives are be- coming files in their dark offices. The authorities have just purchased a computer system capable of linking together all the other computers that store information about every man, woman and child living in Britain. At the press of a button, the authorities will be able to have details on our lives, from birth to the present time – fifteen years ago, we were claiming that computers were going to enormously limit individual freedom; naturally, we were accused of ‘being paranoid’, but, none the less, that’s exactly what they have done. Now, with the development of the ‘micro chip’ there is no way that anyone could imagine the effects that these new technologies will have on our privacy and freedom. 1984 has become a memory, a clumsy hypothesis that fell hopelessly short in its failure to allow for the horrific escalation in technological ‘hardware’. Private life is becoming a memory – we are becoming nothing but numbers in some bizarre lottery game and when your number is called run like fuck, but beware, they’ll probably have a print-out on where it is that you’re running to.
‘Just because they say that you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean that you’re not stored in their computers.’
Well known punk wit.
As the authorities increase military expenditure, the money for the so-called ‘social services’ is decreased. We are expected to live on less and less as the government spends more and more on their ‘war games’. In Great Britain, 1982, there are people who are suffering from malnutrition because they can’t afford food; they are almost freezing to death, many actually are dying, because they can’t afford heat; they are being made homeless because they can’t afford the rent; they are being moved into half-way houses because the councils can’t afford decent homes, where they are suffering from malnutrition because they can’t afford food; they are almost freezing to death, many actually are dying, because they can’t afford heat; when the deprivation finally makes them ill, they are being moved into hospitals where the authorities can’t afford to properly treat them. They’ll probably die young, but most people die eventually anyway meanwhile, Her Majesty’s Government is spending twelve and a half thousand million pounds this year, 1982, on the military alone and that doesn’t include the other thousands of millions on war-related expenses, from communications systah, blah, blah, blah, hello, hello, is there anybody there?
In Northern Ireland, citizens pay government taxes so that government forces can remain there in occupation, If just half of what was spent on maintaining those forces was spent on redeveloping the housing, the social facilities, and most importantly, the trust that those forces have destroyed, maybe a ‘solution’ would be a little easier to find. But of course the government is not looking for a ‘real’ solution, it is looking for a way in which it can continue its exploitation of the people and the land without opposition from any of the rival factions. The army in Northern Ireland is not a ‘peace-keeping force’ whatever the government may say, it is an army of occupation and all the people, be they Catholic, Protestant or indifferent, suffer accordingly. It was the English who created the ‘irish Problem’ when hundreds of years ago they first invaded Ireland for exactly the same reasons that they have invaded countless countries throughout the world, to exploit natural assets. As long as those assets continue to profit Westminster, the ‘Irish Problem’ will exist.
Young men whose only difference is the narrow strip of water, or perhaps more tragic still, the narrow strip of land that divides their birthplaces, shoot at each other across an atmosphere of accumulated hatred. Yet what can they ‘know’ to hate this way? They know nothing but what they have been told to know by the authorities, who care nothing for their deaths except what they might gain by them. See how Paper Tiger Thatcher cried crocodile tears for her lost son, yet see how little compassion she had for the families of H Block. Centuries of wasted blood, each vessel another lost son, each drop another stupid reprisal. Centuries of wasted tears, each vessel another childless mother, each drop another stupid reprisal. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?
Since writing this article the ‘FaIklands Crisis’ has developed graphically illustrating the complete madness of rulers. What should have been little more than a minor territorial dispute requiring discussion and diplomacy has blown up into a tense world situation where hundreds of young men have already died for the arrogance of their ‘leaders’.
Around one hundred and fifty years ago the British stole the Falklands so that they could maintain access into the Pacific ocean; since that time the Argentinians have me doesn’t repeated attempts to negotiate a return of the islands to their control If it had not been for the discovery of oil and mineral deposits in the area Britain would have handed back the islands without a second thought, but, because of the enormous wealth to which they gave access, Argentinian claims ware ignored. Eventually and inevitably the Argentinians re-invaded the Falklands and the British government, seizing it as an opportunity to divert attention from its enormous domestic problems, launched the country into war – however understandable the Argentinian aggression might be, it is as unacceptable as the British response. Violence breeds violence.
Historically Britain has no ‘right’ to the Falklands; it seems easy to criticise the Argentinian action, yet it was by exactly the methods that Britain now so self-righteously condemns that the islands were originally stolen. Thatcher, her government and other governments before her couldn’t care a fuck about the British people’ on the island, couldn’t care a sod about sovereignty – it’s the oil and minerals that they care about, the wealth and the power that they can exploit and if that means that hundreds of people are going to die for that privilege – tough shit! The nationalistic fervour that has been whipped up is just a crude cover that enables those in power to send young men to premature death and that creates an atmosphere in which it becomes ‘acceptable’ to brutally murder the so-called ‘enemy’. Thatcher talks of ‘peaceful solutions’ whilst ordering the slaughter of five hundred young men and claims that ‘our people’ need protection whilst already having been responsible for the murder of over thirty of them – she is a bigot, a hypocrite and a liar.
Obscene articles have appeared daily in the press. The dehumanising term ‘Argie’ has been coined to make the death and mutilation of fellow human beings appear ‘commonplace’ and ‘ordinary’ Page three pin-ups have appeared wearing an assortment of nationalistic insults. Desperate sweethearts flashed their knickers as the QE2 sailed away with its cargo of gun-fodder. Britain relived the ‘war years’ rallying to its blood-stained flag in some dreadful memory of a power that once held half the world in its imperialist grip – now that grip is a weak wristed fantasy that, through sheer arrogance, would risk the safety of the whole planet. How long must young men continue to die for the greed of governments? How long must young women exploit their bodies to support this psycho-sexual fantasy of war? The big bang, big fuck – enough. WE MUST LEARN TO SAY ‘NO’.
Through their massive taxation of us, the government finances its oppression of us. Northern Ireland has been a training ground for what the authorities believe is going to happen on the mainland. As the dividing line between those who can afford and those who can’t grows and as jobs become increasingly difficult to find and increasingly boring and pointless when they are found, so the overall quality of life deteriorates and the reasons for supporting those who are responsible for it become meaningless. As long as those who are in power can command the loyalty of ‘the general public’, whom they regard as slaves, they will continue to use ‘the general public’ to abuse ‘the general public’ – the rich get richer and ‘the general public’ fight amongst themselves.
Cities, where the vast majority of the population work, if not live, are becoming hostile islands of grey concrete where carbon monoxide poisons the air; where, because of commercial development, housing is almost impossible to find, and increasingly derelict when it is found; where the streets are not somewhere where you look for friends, but somewhere where you hide from enemies; where people are too scared to look each other in the eyes; where people only stop when the colourful posters or seductive shop- windows demand that they should. We are teased and titillated; buy this, buy that. The ad-men and the model- girls exploit and manipulate; buy this, buy that, consume, consume, consume. The parasites become wealthy at the expense of ‘the general public’; the parasites are the ‘general public’; the serpent eats its own tail. The glossy advertisements are almost pointless, they’re way above our heads; who can afford this trash? But all the same, those who can afford, buy and those who can’t resent it. Buy this, buy that. On all kinds of levels the posters and displays aim to make us feel inadequate – you’re not a man unless you’re not a woman unless … unless? … unless what? … unless you sip a Tia Maria? … Tia Maria? Nice idea … nice idea maybe, but who can afford the sundrenched pool in St. Tropez? Who can conform to the standard ‘norms’ of sexuality that those models so gracelessly display? Is mine big enough? Who can afford the drink, let alone the life style? But all the same, those who can afford, buy and those who can’t get angry. Buy this, buy that. So we are forced to accept second best to that which the system tells us we should aspire. We are told that to ‘belong’ we must conform to certain social stereotypes yet, at the same time, the system that creates the stereotypes knows perfectly well that very few people can actually afford the necessary credentials, The media creates and promotes standards of Ôrequirement’, from video-games to holidays in the Seychelles, that only the privileged could hope to afford, those who can’t afford but none the less want to conform, are left confused, belittled, and alienated. But all the same, those who can afford buy, and those who can’t finally explode into a frenzy of hatred and revenge and smash the seductive shop windows and take the things from the people who have manipulated them into believing that these are the things that they want. Buy this, buy that. Take this, take that – tit for tat.
So as Brixton, Toxteth and Moss Side burn, the system closes in to strengthen its grip and controls get tighter. The police are given even greater powers and the army, fresh from the training grounds of Belfast and Londonderry, wait in the shadows The government, those in authority, and all those who serve and support them, are placing the ‘people’ in an impossible stranglehold.
The age of consumerism, born out of the horror and guilt of World War Two, has failed to live up to its promise. Neither a Cadillac or a super deluxe washing-machine make the threat of annihilation any more acceptable, for a while they might have made it more bearable, but now the threat has become too real to be hidden by a layer of consumer junk which, in any case, even if it was wanted, very few can afford.
The authorities have lost their bargaining power, they no longer have anything to offer in exchange for the sacrifices that they ask us to make, so they’re no longer asking us, they’re telling us. They’re telling us to work for things that we can’t afford so that they can run the system that, without us and the money we make and they take, they can’t afford. As the system increasingly realises its failure, it strengthens the barriers that exist between ‘them’ and ‘us’ with all the authority that it can command, but all the authority that they command is us, so who are ‘they’? – we have reached a turning point.
Authority does not exist without the value and support that we give it. As long as we, the people, bow down to the system authority will exist and so will the system. Either we accept that we are to live as mindless robots in a world that is walking the tightrope of nuclear war, where security checks will become a way of life, where the streets are patrolled by tanks and the skies by helicopters, where people no longer dare speak of what they feel and believe for fear of those who might be listening, where love is a memory, peace is a dream and freedom simply does not exist – or we demand our rights, refuse to be a part of the authority that denies them and recognise that the system is nothing but a small handful of ruling elites who are power- less without our support. We have the strength, but do we have the courage?
We must learn to live with our own weakness, hatred, prejudice, and to reject theirs.
We must learn to live with our own fears, doubts, inadequacies, and to reject theirs.
We must learn to live with our own love, passion, desire, and to reject theirs.
We must learn to live with our own conscience, awareness, certainty, and to reject theirs.
We must learn to live with our own moralities, values, standards, and to reject theirs.
We must learn to live with our own principles, ethics, philosophies, and to reject theirs.
Above all, we must learn to live with our own strength and learn how to use it against ‘them’, as they have used it against ‘us’. It is our strength that they have used against us throughout history to maintain their privileged positions. It is up to me, alone, and you, alone, to bite the hand that bleeds us. THERE IS NO FUTURE BUT OUR OWN BECAUSE THERE IS NO AUTHORITY BUT OUR OWN, YOU AND I, WHO LOVE THIS PLANET ‘EARTH’, ARE ITS RIGHTFUL INHERITORS – IT IS TIME TO STAKE OUR CLAIM.
Throughout the ‘hippy era’, we had championed the cause of peace, some of us had been on the first CND marches and, with sadness, had watched the movement being eroded by political greed. Throughout the ‘drop out and cop out’ period we hung on to the belief that ‘real’ change can only come about through personal example, because of this we rejected much of hippy culture, notably the emphasis on drugs, as being nothing but escapism. It is sad that many punks appear to be resorting to the same means of escape while in their blind hypocrisy they accuse hippies of never having ‘got it together’ — neither will these new prophets of the pipe dream.
We had hoped that through a practical demonstration of peace and love, we would be able to paint the grey world in new colours; it is strange that it took a man called Hope, the only ‘real’ hippy with whom we ever directly became creatively involved, to show us that that particular form of hope was a dream. The experiences to which our short friendship led made us realise that it was time to have a rock- think about the way in which we should pursue our vision of peace. Wally’s death showed us that we could not afford to ‘sit by and let it happen again’. In part, his death was our responsibility and although we did everything that we could, it was not enough.
Desire for change had to be coupled with the desire to work for it, if it was worth opposing the system, it was worth opposing it totally. It was no longer good enough to take what we wanted and to reject the rest, it was time to get back into the streets and attack, to get back and share our experiences and learn from the experiences of others.
A year after Wally’s death, the Pistols released ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ maybe they didn’t really mean it ma’am, but to us it was a battle cry. When Rotten proclaimed that there was ‘no future’, we saw it as a challenge to our creativity – we knew that there was a future if we were prepared to work for it.
It is our world, it is ours and it has been stolen from us. We set out to demand it back, only this time round they didn’t call us ‘hippies’ they called us ‘punks.’
Penny Rimbaud, London, Jan/Mar.,’82.
Crass – A Series Of Shock Slogans And Mindless Token Tantrums image: darkentriesrecords.com
Crass – Christ – The Album image: spotify.com/apoplife.nl