Rising with the Prices

Featured in Issue XXIII – June 2022

Transpennine Express strikers’ picket.

The Trade Union Congress has stated that we are now seeing more industrial disputes than at any point in the last five years. While it is important not to overstate this increase, it most likely represents a response to the rising cost of living, with inflation reaching 9% in April. Historically, inflation was often blamed on strike action, and while it was sometimes a factor, we can now see that if workers don’t strike, prices will continue to increase regardless, causing wages to fall behind.

Locally, there have been regular weekend strikes by train conductors working for Transpennine Express. Staff at the City of Liverpool College also struck, alongside five other colleges in the North West, on the 18th of May, specifically demanding a pay increase at least in line with inflation. This strike followed one of their leading shop stewards, Nina Doran, being fired; while the reasons for her dismissal are confidential, many staff believe she was victimised due to her union activities, since she is the fourth union rep’ to be sacked in the past eight years (this also led to a series of lunchtime protests by staff).

Nationally, we have seen industrial activity across the economy, from refuse to postal workers. Notably, over 40,000 rail staff (members of RMT) have voted to stage a national strike, with over 71% participation, and 89% voting in favour. This is a major strike, and a visible victory could build the confidence of workers in general, and lead to further strikes (which could help mitigate the cost of living crisis), with a loss having the opposite effect. While union disputes are facing an upsurge, it’s worth noting many have settled for pay offers far below inflation and some have been sabotaged by union officials before they even began – both risks in this case. However, there is also talk of whether the government would even allow such a major strike to take place.

Workplace disputes are not, and have never, simply been about hours and wages, they are connected to a range of social problems, from racism to authoritarianism. For example, after an incident in Hackney, London, where police started checking couriers’ immigration status and arrested members of the public who opposed this, the IWGB union held a rally against police harassment. On the 27th of May, in Larne, Northern Ireland, there was a protest against P&Os mass dismissal; only one lorry attempted to cross their picket line, and when it was blocked, “one officer shoved an ex-worker” into the road, and then “claimed the worker had assaulted him, and arrested him on the spot”. That very same day, three GMB members were arrested at a refuse workers picket in Wealden, East Sussex, for “obstructing the highway”.

Wildcat strike picket in Welwyn.

Strikes don’t have to follow restrictive legal processes, and can be “unofficial”. These wildcat strikes, while clearly a minority current, have also seen a resurgence. While riskier, they can sidestep trade union bureaucracy and take action without notice, making them more disruptive. They can lead to quick victories, for example, on May 16th, when 100 recycling, refuse and grounds workers staged a spontaneous walkout in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, they got their racist and sexist bully-boss sacked aer just one day. The next day an unofficial strike also spread to 16 oil and gas rigs in the North Sea. This was organised outside of their unions (GMB, RMT and Unite), none of whom even released a press release about it. In fact, the strike came to an end partly because Unite called for a return to work.

Anarchism emerged from the workers’ movement, and where it has become popular it has made itself relevant to people’s everyday lives. First and foremost we need to support workers through things like training sessions, industrial bulletins, providing places to meet and promoting different methods of organising such as rank-and-file associations or revolutionary unions. It’s also important that we don’t entertain illusions: that the state and its laws can be anything other than an institution which defends the interests of employers, that union leaders tend to act in the interests of their members, or that all our issues at work will end after a successful strike. These issues will only be solved if our society is fundamentally transformed, and the only people capable of doing this are the working class, who reproduce and uphold a system built on their own exploitation: capitalism.

This article was written on June 6th, since then RMT have announced three strike days: the 21st, 23rd and 25th of June.

Rudolf Rocker in Liverpool

Featured in Issue XXIII – June 2022

Milly Witkop and Rudolf Rocker

Rudolf Rocker was born in Germany in 1873. As a teenager he was expelled from the Social Democratic Party, and turned to anarchism. He fled repression and military conscription by moving to Paris, and then to London. In both cities he was welcomed into the Yiddish-speaking Jewish anarchist movement. In London he also met his lifelong partner and accomplice the seamstress Milly Witkop. Unlike Witkop, Rocker was not Jewish, and was also an atheist, which makes it all the more surprising that he later came to be known as the “anarchist rabbi”, and in a sense this journey began in Liverpool.

In 1898 the couple moved to Liverpool. A Jewish worker who had listened to Rocker speak in London stopped him in a street near the train station and took him to a local anarchist printer, Moritz Jeger. Rocker then moved into Jegers’ home. The Jewish anarchists in Liverpool were inactive. Unknown to Rocker, this was because 6 months earlier they had produced a newsheet called “Der Rebel”, and Jeger had fallen out with another editor, which dominated the group and led to low attendance. Nonetheless, a meeting of 12 of the old members decided to revive the group; Rocker described them as “plain, straightforward, active and thinking working class men and women.”

It’s worth noting, there was a separate english-speaking anarchist group in Liverpool (which some of the Jews had gotten involved with), which “was really active.” They had three speakers who spoke every Sunday in the city centre, where their papers and pamphlets sold well.

The new Yiddish group met in a rented hall in Brownlow Hill, and Rocker gave talks most Sunday evenings. In the absence of any other Yiddish anarchist papers in England, Jeger proposed they start their own, with Rocker as their editor. Rocker was alarmed, he couldn’t read or write Yiddish beyond the alphabet, and had no long-term plans to stay in Liverpool, but he agreed to act as an editor for three months.

The paper was four pages long and was called “Dos Fraye Vort” (“The Free Word”). Rocker found Jeger, who agreed to translate his writings, unbearable. Apparently, alongside being a poor translator and “adding a lot of inflated phraseology”, he also added “stupid reports … which made us look silly.” For example, when he covered sailors being eaten by sharks, he concluded that this was a result of capitalism. Finding this dependence on Jeger problematic, Rocker taught himself Yiddish. He thought that The Free Word was a poor paper, being too short to address theoretical questions, but it did receive a warm reception with congratulations and subscriptions coming from similar Jewish anarchist groups in Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. Initially the members of the group self-funded the paper, but after a few issues it paid for itself (nobody was paid wages, all the work being done voluntarily). The paper only ran for 8 issues, from July 29th to September 17th, and it had a circulation of just a few hundred per issue. Almost by chance Rocker had started his career as a yiddish editor, which continued in London, where Jewish anarchists were impressed enough by his paper to invite him to revive an eight page newspaper called “Der Arbeiter Fraint”, or “The Worker’s Friend.”

Der Arbeiter Fraint had originally started in 1885 and espoused atheism and anarchist communism. Before Rocker, it had dismissed unions as reformist, and focused on organising against rabbinical authorities. However, under his direction, it focused on workplace struggles, which proved “attractive to Jewish refugees, as the ruling elite within this ethnic community championed social peace by claiming that Jewish interests were the same, whether worker or owner, whereas unionism recognised the vital differences in circumstances between employee and employer.” This popular and long running paper helped Jewish-anarchism flourish. They were highly influential within Yiddish-speaking trade unions and had their own working class club which became a centre for entertainment, popular lectures and had a library. This radical community was not united by race or even religion. Instead it was held together by a shared language and culture. At the time there were many separate Yiddish speaking workplaces and historically the mainstream trade union movement had been hostile to Jewish workers. While the Jewish anarchist movement saw a decline after WWI, a New York Yiddish anarchist paper, “The Free Voice of Labour”, managed to continue publication until 1977.

Rocker opposed WWI on internationalist grounds, and along with Witkop he ran a soup kitchen. In late 1914 he was interned as an “enemy alien,” and their paper was suppressed in 1915, but Witkop continued her anti-war activity until she was also arrested in 1916. In 1918 Rocker was sent to the Netherlands in an exchange of prisoners, and Witkop soon followed. In Germany they participated in the anarcho-syndicalist and womens’ movements, as well as helping to establish the International Workers’ Association. Rudolf Rocker’s books on anarchism and nationalism are
widely read to this day, due to his clear and straightforward writing style.

The Yellow Union Congress

Featured in Issue XXIII – June 2022

On May 12th the Trade Union Congress (TUC) announced that GMB had struck a deal with the courier company Deliveroo to be officially recognised as the union of the couriers. Some have celebrated this announcement, finally seeing a couriers’ union. However, for the past few years many couriers have already been organising in independent unions and this did not include GMB. Others have been outraged that the GMB were undermining the work of the IWGB among others, while giving Deliveroo a sweetheart deal.

Anyone who has been following the labour activity of the couriers will realise that the latter is true, the IWGB is their primary union of choice. As anarchists we have our criticisms of IWGB: they are legalistic, reformist, and have paid organisers. However, our criticism of the IWGB does not undermine the fact that they have a militant presence amongst couriers and that Deliveroo is trying to undermine this, and freshen their image to boot by recognising another trade union. This deal still keeps the couriers in their “self-employed” status, something which remains contentious as it is frequently used to not pay riders the minimum wage.

It is apparent to anyone who is not ignorant or lying that GMB are acting as a Yellow Union (a union set up or controlled by the employer to prevent the establishment of a genuine trade union). Deliveroo hopes they can launder their dirty reputation with a TUC union. If you are wondering how the TUC could possibly endorse such a backstab, it might be because IWGB is a more militant and democratic union (though still legalistic and reformist) which undermines the legitimacy of the TUC. The IWGB split from two of the TUC’s largest unions, Unison and Unite, and are not affiliated with the TUC. The GMB by contrast is the TUC’s third largest union despite a declining membership.

As anarchists we have long ago rejected the notion that the establishment trade unions can be trusted, and this conniving, yellow bellied, scab behaviour from the TUC leadership against the IWGB only proves us right. The IWGB was never going to be a vehicle for radical social change, but the GMB’s manoeuvre shows that the so-called left won’t tolerate any kind of militancy from the working class. The TUC leadership have once again shown their true colours, to hell with them.

The 1775 Liverpool Sailors’ Revolt

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

The American Revolutionary War had a massive impact on merchant shipping in Liverpool, particularly the slave trade. Many ships sat idle, and by late August up to 3,000 seamen were unemployed. The merchant class saw their desperation as an opportunity, and a crew for the Derby expecting to be paid 30s a month were told they would only get 20s. On August 25th, they cut down all the rigging and left it on the deck. That day nine seamen were arrested by constables, and sentenced to prison by a magistrate.

Over 2,000 seamen surrounded the prison (The Tower of Liverpool) on Water Street. Armed with clubs and handspikes, they smashed its windows, ignored the riot act and threatened to tear it down. Eight prisoners were released, and the crowd marched off, before realising that one had been left behind. They marched back, freeing the ninth and a woman who had been imprisoned for assisting them. That night, and over the following days, other ships had their rigging cut down to prevent them from sailing.

On the 26th, men, women and children marched behind a red flag to the Exchange (where the magistrates and merchants were holed up, now called the Town Hall). They demanded an increase in wages and then paraded around the town. They organised themselves through daily mass meetings at 9am and apparently two leaders were elected, Jemmy Askew and “General Gage”. On the 28th pickets toured the docks and their demands were reiterated; on the 29th, a delegation met the Mayor. There are conflicting accounts as to whether he agreed or refused to the pay rise.

The magistrates had hired over 120 men, for 10s a day, and armed them, so that they could arrest the strike leaders. Frustrated by the lack of progress since their meeting that morning, the strikers surrounded the Exchange at 9pm. The seamen were unarmed, and up until this point no one had been injured, but some of them threw rocks and broke a pane of glass. The armed men inside the Exchange let out a volley of fire, and at least two strikers were killed. They responded by stoning the Exchange, and retreating into the night.

On the 30th, in response to the killings, strikers “ransacked” the houses of several merchants. This was a surprisingly orderly affair. Whatever was taken was broken or torn up in the street outside. The strikers organised sentries to prevent looting, and an effort was made to ensure innocent neighbours were not targeted. The intention was revenge for yesterday’s bloodshed, and so the first house targeted for “pulling down” was that of Thomas Ratcliffe of Frog Lane (now Whitechapel) who had apparently fired the first shot. While looting was generally prevented, many strikers drank wine instead of pouring it all down the drain, meaning many of them ended the day drunk.

That same day, another group of seamen collected weapons, such as cutlasses and muskets, from warehouses and gunsmiths’ shops, and a cannon was brought ashore from one of the ships. Beneath a red flag, and with red ribbons in their hats, around 1,000 seamen surrounded the Exchange at 1pm. They bombarded it from Castle Street until nightfall. Four strikers were killed in the process.

That night, a messenger on behalf of the magistrates reached Manchester seeking military aid. At 3am, on the 31st, 100 cavalry were dispatched despite heavy rain. Later that morning, the strikers attended a funeral for their fallen. Meanwhile the Mayor sent a delegation to meet some strikers defending their base at the docks, offering each seaman a wage of 2s a day, so long as they were peaceful. They could not make a decision without the other strikers present, so George Hill, a London sailor, who had been left in charge, promised to convey the message, but warned them they might still be determined to pull down the Town Hall. This offer was far higher than what they were demanding, and was likely a stalling tactic. After drying their muskets in Prescot, the cavalry were surprised to meet little resistance in Liverpool. Only a small party put up some opposition at the docks, most of the strikers had dissipated.

That night and the 1st of September, the military rounded up over 40 supposed ringleaders of the strike. The Liverpool Advertiser only had this to say about the dispute: “for a few days past we have had much disturbance in town, with the sailors, on account of their wages, which is now subsided”. The ringleaders were sent to Lancaster Prison, but the Mayor of Liverpool assisted them, and so only eight were successfully prosecuted, and all were discharged once they agreed to enlist in the Navy to fight in the war. This is surprising since they could have faced execution or transportation, and is likely because the working people of Liverpool sympathised with them.

There seems to have been a concerted effort to brush the whole affair under the rug. The strike was hardly covered by local papers, and was primarily reported on in London. Nonetheless attempts to suppress the spirit or revolt in Liverpool failed, with 1776 seeing seaman repeatedly and violently resisting impressment (a form of conscription), and in 1791 the town saw a large waterfront strike across several trades.

Rubbish Rules

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

From mid-April many rubbish bins have not been collected by Sefton Council for a matter of weeks. A council spokesperson claimed this was due to 27% of staff being off on the sick. However, three employees of their bin collection service separately contacted the Champion disputing this. One driver stated “every single one of us are in.” A loader explained the reason behind uncollected bins was due to a “work to rule” where staff were taking certain hours and a certain number of breaks each day, and that it was a “problem between the management and the workforce.”

Presumably this work-to-rule refers to the industrial action where workers follow rules and regulations, which often have to be ignored in practice, to hinder service delivery or harm the profits of their bosses. It tends to be far less visible than strike action, but it’s equally important that any anger is not directed at workers who are simply struggling to improve their lives, but at their managers and council leaders who are actually responsible.

Bin strikes have been spreading across the country, from Barrow to Cardiff. Many have won concessions, although there is a particularly bitter ongoing dispute with the Labour Council in Coventry. Work-to-rules have also been employed locally in other industries, with journalists at BBC North West voting to do one in April, and UCU members using the tactic with their disputes at the University of Liverpool this past year.

Axe Drax

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

Drax Power Station is based in Selby and is the UK’s single largest carbon polluter. Despite this they receive £892.5 million from government subsidies, which comes out of our energy bills as a surcharge, and is supposed to go to genuinely green energy sources (like solar panels or wind farms). Most of the wood they burn is imported from Canada and the United States, where the corporations producing the wood are reducing biodiversity and encouraging mono-cultures. This process of irresponsible tree clearing abroad for material to be burned in the UK, creating 13 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, can hardly be described as “green”. It also causes air pollution, traffic and wood dust, which (due to where these companies operate) disproportionately affect working class and racially diverse communities. This includes Seaforth, where much of the biofuel used at Drax is transported from the Port of Liverpool.

On the 27th of April, the day of Drax’s AGM in London, around 25 people protested against them outside the entrance of Peel Ports. As well as anarchists, members of Axe Drax, Biofuelwatch, Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Socialist Singers were present, as well as local campaigns to save Oglet Shore (South Liverpool), Rimrose Valley (Sefton), and to stop the Simonswood Incinerator (West Lancashire). Peel Ports are a driving force behind attempts to build a road through Rimrose Valley (which would increase their profits by reducing congestion into the port). Likewise Peel has a 45% share in Liverpool Airport, whose proposed expansion is threatening Oglet Shore. Protestors sang “Hit the Road Drax”, and leafletted dockworkers and drivers, who seemed supportive. As well as protesting against Drax importing biofuel through Peel Ports, they stated their opposition to P&O’s mass dismissals.

“The government is in the service of the corporations, its armies poised to defend their profits around the world and its secret police ready to infiltrate and disrupt any serious resistance at home. This system cannot be reformed. It is based on the destruction of the earth and the exploitation of the people. There is no such thing as green capitalism, and marketing cutesy rainforest products will not bring back the ecosystems that capitalism must destroy to make its profits. This is why I believe that serious ecologists must be revolutionaries.”

Judi Bari

Outside of Merseyside, there were protests in Hull, Leeds, London and York. York saw some street theatre, with a mock Drax AGM, where the board members had names like Iona Powerplant, Ivor Lodadosh, Bernie Trees and Prof. Greenwash. In London a member of Axe Drax sprayed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with orange paint using a modified fire extinguisher before both him and the woman filming him were arrested. He publicly stated that Drax “is accelerating the climate crises, whilst being labelled as the solution, costing taxpayers in their energy bills and is in court with the HSE for their work conditions.” It is our view that direct action, targeting Drax and its supporters, is the most likely way of stopping them from receiving funding meant for genuine renewables.

If you want more information or to get involved you can email biofuelwatch@gmail.com

Anarchist Communism

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

In workplace disputes, neighbourhood campaigns, and day-to-day resistance we can win small victories that change our lives for the better. Yet, the root causes of our problems remain unmoved. The capitalist economy and state power shape our lives entirely and determine the very nature of society. The underlying value of our struggles today is in how we develop new abilities, values, and relationships that will allow us to transform society itself from the bottom up, overturning old structures of domination, and constructing new forms of free social organisation.

Anarchist communism is based on the collective ownership of social wealth; production for human need, not profit; self-management of work and the community; and equal access to all the things that people need to live and flourish. With private property abolished, things can be organised according to use rather than ownership. No longer coerced by the threat of poverty into slaving away for a tyrannical boss, people would have the freedom to contribute to society according to their real interests and skills. Forgoing money and markets, the products and services collectively produced would be collectively distributed to ensure that everyone has their basic needs met, and provide the means for a free development of all individuals, communities, and cultures.

Hopefully it is clear that what we are speaking of here has nothing in common with the so-called “communism” of the historical USSR or any other socialist state. These countries were based on state ownership, overseen by a party-dictatorship and sprawling bureaucracy, while workers continued to be exploited and oppressed. Anarchists seek to dismantle the state and all other structures of hierarchy.

In place of state or corporate management, anarchist communism would involve people taking control over their own workplaces, democratically organising themselves through mass meetings and councils made up of temporary, recallable delegates who are given a strict mandate from those meetings. They would coordinate economic activity across the local and regional territory, up to the international level, alongside all other related organisations, in a greatly decentralised yet vastly interconnected web of planning and feedback. This could be efficiently facilitated by internet and computer technology.

Local areas would be organised into communes in which all people and their various associations could come together to determine and prioritise the needs of the community, as well as to address municipal, residential and inter-personal matters. These communes would be self-governing yet woven together into decentralised, democratic federations.

We don’t just want to change how our work is organised, but also the very nature of work itself. Having won our freedom as individuals and brought direct democracy to the workplace, we would aim to stimulate creativity and social consciousness; to enable people to voluntarily pursue work that is personally fulfilling or socially useful; and to foster an ethic of solidarity and responsibility. People would be able to perceive how their work fits into a connected process that begins and ends with the real needs of the people they live and work with.

A significant part of the effort expended today – for example in market profiteering or bureaucratic paper pushing – would no longer be necessary. Mass production of useless, wasteful, and harmful commodities could be halted. All this potential could be redirected, and therefore the work of each person massively reduced, opening up time and energy for the pursuit of knowledge, invention, and pleasure.

Released from the power of arbitrary market forces and self-interested politicians, we could re-align our perspective with long-term, global concerns, taking into account the social and environmental conditions for a free society. We would need to begin reintegrating our work and our communities into their regional ecology. Turning to renewable resources, limiting extraction and production, adapting to natural cycles of water, nutrients, carbon, etc. we could develop a sustainable society and begin healing the damaged biosphere, while mitigating the effects of now irreversible climate change.

This vision of anarchy is not an impossible utopia but a transformation of society that begins here and now with our fight against systems of exploitation and domination. By means of revolutionary class struggle we begin to develop new social relations and experiment with new forms of self-organisation that lay the foundations of anarchist communism.

Simonswood Incinerator

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

On Saturday 30th of April, over 100 people marched in Kirkby against plans for a medical waste incinerator. The proposed site, Stopgate Lane in Simonswood, is very close to Kirkby, and is also within five miles of areas like Fazakerley, Maghull, Ormskirk and Skelmersdale. Local residents are concerned about carbon emissions and air pollution, especially since Kirkby and Knowsley as a whole already has a 73% higher rate of lung cancer than the national average. Their slogan is “not in our town, not in any town”.

During the march, there was talk of sitting in the road. However, there was some trepidation that it might reflect badly on their non-violent protest, and so it never happened. Road blockades have been peacefully used multiple times by the Stop Edmonton Incinerator campaign in North London, and can be an effective tool in opposing these kinds of projects. Likewise plans to build an astroturf in Orrell last year were only held off due to locals blocking the road.

Electoral and conciliatory approaches are particularly hampered here since the Simonswood is technically in West Lancashire, and so comes under Lancashire County Council, despite the fact that many of the areas most at risk come under the Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton Councils.

It’s no coincidence that incinerators tend to be built in places like Kirkby and Edmonton, working class, northern and racially diverse areas are targeted. A report from Unearthed found nearly half of potential new incinerators are on track to be built in the UK’s 25% most deprived neighbourhoods. On the Mersey there are four incinerators in a short vicinity around Ellesmere Port, Runcorn and Widnes, the highest concentration in the country.

Anarchists Against Patriotism

Featured in Issue XXII – May 2022

Jim and Nellie

In 1908 the Liverpool Anarchist Sunday School was set up. In the anarchist newspaper Freedom, Toxteth-born Jim Dick explained why he was involved in the school: ‘To break down national prejudices and that patriotic piffle which is inculcated into the children in our present-day school is, to my mind, the finest propaganda we can do to ensure the solidarity of the workers of all nations.’

The First World War was only a few years away, and in this time of imperialist rivalry, the British establishment was putting a lot of effort into encouraging patriotism and militarism. From 1902, schools celebrated ‘Empire Day’ every May, and in 1908, the Territorial Force (better known as the Territorial Army) was established.

Volunteers in the Liverpool Anarchist School tried to break down national prejudices in different ways. For example, children were taught how to sing The Internationale in French, and when the hit play ‘An Englishman’s Home’ by Major Guy du Maurier came to town, intended to encourage enlistment in the Territorial Force, William Fairbrother (who, aged 23, sadly died of pneumonia a few weeks later) gave a talk to the children explaining and critiquing it. On Empire Day, the school’s pupils handed out thousands of copies of ‘Our Great Empire’, an anti-imperialist leaflet produced by the anarchists at Freedom.

At that time, anarchists were the most consistent opponents of patriotism in Britain. This made them targets of a hostile press. The local paper in Liverpool, The Daily Post and Mercury, accused the Anarchist Sunday School of teaching rebellious songs and encouraging children to be violent.

Nevertheless, anarchists remained committed to fighting back against patriotism and imperialism. In the aftermath of the great Liverpool general transport strike of 1911, Samuel Henry Muston of Smithdown Lane wrote to Freedom that he had taken ‘a number of “Our Great Empire” leaflets to a local military encampment, and after putting our view of the case to a crowd of soldiers, I was pleased to find they mostly agreed with us, and six of them took bundles of leaflets, promising to distribute them in the camp.’

As everyone knows, the brave efforts of a small group of anarchists were not enough to stop thousands of people marching off to war in 1914. By this time, Jim Dick had moved to London, and was helping his partner Nellie (both pictured above) at an Anarchist Sunday School in the capital. In November, he wrote to Freedom that ‘In spite of the struggle of many of our comrades to maintain the spirit of internationalism at the present juncture, we at least are still holding forth our ideal.’

Many years later, Nellie was interviewed by the BBC journalist Andrew Whitehead. Remembering the years of the First World War, she said ‘We were internationalists. For instance, when some of the boys who we had in the Sunday school got to be fourteen, and a couple of them were very well grown, tall, they were arrested and taken before the tribunal… and at that time, people around would pin a white feather on them. If they’d see a boy like that, fifteen and tall, they’d pin a white feather on him. So they had him arrested and he spoke up and he said he had no reason to join the army because he had no fight with the workers in Germany or anywhere else.’

It was a lonely and dangerous job to oppose patriotism and militarism and there were many defeats along the way. But, looking back, anarchists could proudly say that they had given some youngsters the courage to resist the war machine. We need their inspiration today.

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