organising national events with a londoncentric bias

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lucy82
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Mar 4 2005 00:28
organising national events with a londoncentric bias

why is it that when i put information up about a demo which the asylum seekers co-organising with us want to be an event that people will care about enough to travel to from across the country (and with the major publicity around this issue at the moment), i feel that people from london won't make the effort to get there? this isn't a dig at london people just an observation that whenever we get together on any large scale (for example, at the big anarchist book fair or at any major demos) its always london. is a demo only important if coaches are organised by STWC?

i've argued myself blue in meetings with people that london is not the obvious place for everything. i've had people telling me that london is important because its where the government is, where the centre of financial institiutions is, where its 'easy' for everyone to get to etc. etc. (!) Are these the criteria we should be deciding on when we choose where to hold events? Doesn't that sideline other cities where stuff is happening and also make people feel that the central locus of activist activity and organisation is london? is that what we should be doing? wouldn't it be useful to reach people through major events held outside london?

In Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow etc lots of other things are happening and support from people who do understand that it is actually a pain in the arse for us to spend hours on a coach to turn up in london, have three hours at the most there and then travel hours to go home would be welcome.

there does seem to be an attitude that if its not in london its not important. more with the SWPies granted, but also in other groups too when organising national events.

i think its important to make the effort to go and meet people (which is why i take my sorry arse to london). i want to tell people about what is happening in manchester, meet new people, discuss things and maybe get links together to create more. i would like to see the traffic coming the other way.

so birmingham next year for big national events? or Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester?

like i said nothing personal london people.

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gav
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Mar 4 2005 00:37

money has got to be an issue. at the 2nd AYN gathering, we had one person organise most of the train tickets (they worked for a train company) then took in donations, i think it worked out at about 10quid or less each. this meant no one was excluded financially.

it is certainly easier to just not travel for events, but i guess if you feel it is important enough, than you will.

lucy82
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Mar 4 2005 00:52

but the point is that events networked nationally should be held outside london also.

if its important enough you'd think people would travel but i've only ever met a few people from london who thought it was important enough to get a coach to travel specifically for that political purpose, not just that they happened to be in the city anyway. and also if all major networked events are held in london, and if anarchists never question that, then it is just the status quo and we will all keep thinking well if its important enough we'll travel to london. well anarchists talk about networks, about solidarity,about trying to reach out and create. if the default for everything national is london, it does alienate people.

and it does mean people on low incomes might just not come or come but find it really hard to get the transport money together (not everyone wants to say i can't afford it) and for the people who organise the transport its really hard work. i've put up 800 quid for a coach before now on my credit card with the hope that enough people will come along so i don't have to pay it myself when i was earning less than that a month. i really can't afford to do that and it was incredibly stressful but it was the only way to get the transport so that people from manc could get to london. i don't think people who organise national stuff in london all the time necessarily realise that.

but the transport issue is minimal really. its more about the message it gives to people in other cities outside london and what we should be doing to communicate with people across the uk that bothers me.

ftony
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Mar 4 2005 09:56

I'm with lucy on this one. i'm from Liverpool, and despite the fact that i'm moving down to London in september, i really think that part of the reason the anticapitalist movement is so strong there is that so much happens there. if we spread the love, then there will be more for everyone

ftony
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Mar 4 2005 09:56
Quote:
if we spread the love, then there will be more for everyone

god i'm such a self-absorbed middle-class crusty cry

JoeBlack
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Mar 4 2005 11:21

Its the same situation in Ireland where Dublin is the centre of everything. So with the Grassroots Gatherings (basically a big libertarian get together) every gathering is held in a different city. The 9th which is in Dublin will only be the 3rd held there - others have been in Cork (2) Limerick (1) Belfast (2) and Galway (1).

The Irish transport system is very centred on Dublin so this does mean that the ones outside Dublin are always smaller. But they also bring in new people who wouldn't travel to their first gathering if it was in Dublin and this has meant that all the gathering including the Dublin ones have got bigger over the years.

The other disadvantage is that the libertarian movements are far better organised in Dublin then elsewhere on the island so some of the outside Dublin gatherings have been pretty ropey on the organisational side. But in general the experience of holding them has helped organisation in the cities they were held in (including Dublin).

So basically there are disadvantages to doing 'national' stuff outside the capital cities in terms of numbers being a bit down. But if you want to break out of a capital centered movement its worth it.

phoebe
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Mar 4 2005 12:08

For my part the problem is that I'm absolutely skint but at least with London demos I can cycle into the city.

lucy82
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Mar 4 2005 12:28
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if you want to break out of a capital centered movement its worth it.

i think we should make an effort to do that, next time something big comes up that we are involved in the planning of.

the other problem is of course that if the event is held in london, then the people planning stuff are usually london based too so there is inevitably a bias in favour of london held events.

someone i know was elected to the STWC central organising committee at a massive public meeting right at the beginning to set up the STWC. She lives in Manchester. The meetings were held in London. She asked politely at first, and then later more aggressively time and time again for a meeting to be held outside London because it was impossible for her to get to London for a meeting in the evening on a weekday. She didn't even get a reply. She was completely blanked by the entire central organising committee (not all of whom were SWP), who didn't want to deal with the fact that they might have to actively experience some inconvenience themselves...

AnarchoAl
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Mar 4 2005 18:57

Manchester is a good meeting place IMO, takes a long time for me to get there but it's not near;y as awful as a journey to London.

It was cool to see a load of people up here for the dissent conference, shame it was before the social centres were open, but hopefully there'll be two come G8-time, which I'm looking forwards too and dreading in equal measure )

AnarchoAl
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Mar 4 2005 20:49

roll

lucy82
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Mar 4 2005 22:49

yeah, thanks for that Jack.

London is the centre of government and capital granted but so what? you storming the houses of parliament every day then so it keeps you so busy it stops you considering why it might be useful to move national events around? JoeBlack made a good case why and other people support the idea.

hey, surprise. other cities have airports and are part of the bus and train network. so why does it just make sense having national events in london?

in my SWPie days i argued for some major national demo to be held in birmingham. i was told that that the major reason why not was that the metropolitan police know how to deal with these things whereas some brummy cop would probably gibber. Most shit reason ever in my opinion. and i'd like to believe that anarchists would think that there are good reasons why a londoncentric movement is not a good thing and would try to change that.

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Anyway, all you fucks not paying South East housing prices can fucking afford to travel, cheeky little shits.

my heart bleeds.

lucy82
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Mar 5 2005 00:33

jack your just being an arse.

a national event does not have to take place in london. i don't give a shit about people in london being lazy or not. if you read back through what i've said, i have tried to avoid the insinuation that people in london are too lazy to travel because that is not anything to do with the discussion i wanted to raise.

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are the G8 protests going to be in London, too?

do we have any choice over where the G8 is held? no. so thats irrelevent.

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And I guess all the national events in support of the Liverpool dockers took place outside of Liverpool?

which were reactive in support of an issue. again not the same thing as thinking whether it matters why national events are held in london.

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lets not even mention practical things such as the much larger London 'activist' base makes organising big events easier.

i think JoeBlack has already answered that to some extent. if you move national events around the country then the activist base will build up and the skills of organisation will also grow. keeping it in london denys other people that knowledge and experience learnt through organising a national event. and in the process quite possiby bringing in people who would not travel to london.

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Oh right, and you fly down to London National demos, then?

and your being silly

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Yea, but nowhere is as accessable to as many places in the UK as London. For fucks sake, when I lived in Newcastle, it was easier to get to London than say, Manchester.

its a funny thing about trainlines, air routes and roads, they run in different directions. theoretically its possible to catch a train from london to other parts of the uk and survive. also its possible for people from Somewhere Else to travel to cities outside london on public transport without the utter hell of inaccessability. (i admit we're stuck in some hamlet with an ox-cart, it's really tricky getting the ox through the mud to pick people up from the train at piccadilly manchester).

Quote:
Well, if you see such national mobilisations as being such a defining point of our movement that the fact most national demonstrations are in London, then I think that points to a much bigger worry. Because people in London (and those, like me, who aren't in London, but see it makes sense to have national events there) just don't care about events that happen outside the South East, do we?

i didnt say that people in london don't care about events elsewhere. i questioned why national events are held in london.

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Oh Lucy, I love it when you get so fiesty from a throwaway comment.

Oh Jack, I love it when you deliberately miss the point. it makes me feel warm inside.

phoebe
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Mar 6 2005 04:24

londoncentrism is counteranarchistic because of the fact that it's centrism (and it'd suck if we were all focused on anywhere else). We need to balance the convenient areas with the inconvenient areas or we'll just not grow or go anywhere as a movement.

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gav
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Mar 6 2005 09:22
phoebe wrote:
londoncentrism is counteranarchistic because of the fact that it's centrism

i dont agree, this webite involves centrism, because it seeks to provide many anarchist resources, all in one place.

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Ed
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Mar 6 2005 11:54

Jack, why are you being such a fucking cunt?

lucy82
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Mar 6 2005 13:04
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it makes sense to have (for example) a national anti-war demo near the site of the seat of government who go for the war.

government and capital are not only in london. but actually i agree with the big feb 15th demo being held in london for the above reason you gave. where i don't agree is with the following series of demos continuing to be held in london. as i said earlier, i argued for the next demo after feb 15th when i was involved with STWC to be held in birmingham. i think it would have been more effective and inclusive to move that protest across the country. i thought that to keep holding the demos in london would mean people would just stop coming. and i thought that it was saying something about the movement to concentrate all protest in london.

i may not be right and i have used the events around STWC only as an example, but what i wanted then and now was some recognition that where events are held has implications for what "we" are, say and intend to create and because many people from across the country seem to feel it is important, then it should be discussed.

Quote:
f the basis of your skill sharing and building up organisational strength is based around national events, or who will travel to London, then there's a far deeper problem.

thats just pretty crap, jack. you know from other things i've posted and probably some stuff we've actually talked about that that isn't true.

and if its going to be reduced to you telling me the subtext of what i said is that i think london people are lazy, then i really don't see the point in even trying to talk about it.

AnarchoAl
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Mar 6 2005 16:06
Jack wrote:
Ed wrote:
Jack, why are you being such a fucking cunt?

I'm not, I'm being totally serious. I get really fucking sick of people outside of London always whining on about how selfish and Londoncentric everyone in the South East is, and acting as if the only reason most NATIONAL events are in London is that we can't be bothered to put the effort in. Whatever Lucy claims, that was the clear sub-text to what she was saying. I'm not claiming that every national event should be in London just that most of the time, it just makes sense.

Usually what happens is that if an event is in London it's eligible to be considered "national", like the bookfair. If the bookfair was in Manchester it'd be called the "Manchester Anarchist Bookfair" and only Mancunians and Liverpudlians would go. That's not the personal fault of everyone in London though.

LiveFastDiarrea
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Mar 6 2005 16:19

Does this mean everyone from up north will be coming to the anti-deportation demo being held in canterbury on the 3rd of april, 12 noon at the buttermarket?

Nick Durie
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Mar 6 2005 17:02

It's not just an overemphasis on London that needs addressing. The State is built on a centralized structure. Our organisation needs to avoid mirroring that structure if we are ever to have a communist society.

Most places are relatively easy to get to. The Outer Hebrides would be a bit of a pain but otherwise, there are no conceivable reasons why a 'national' event should not take place outside of the large or capital cities. I am sick fo events being arrogated to the position of 'national' events because they happen to take place in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and not in Brechin, Thurso or Falkirk (where they'd be considered regional). We're anarchists not Stalinists.

And jack your arguments are mince. Your saying basically that because something is crap now we have to continue with it. A distinctly uncommunist approach and one which singularly lacking in vision.

For Communism,

:red: Nick Durie :red:

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 6 2005 17:20

are you saying that you would deliberately have held a national anti-war demo in falkirk just to show how ''radical'' you were? jesus christ with that sort of attitude no wonder the SWP were able to hegemonise it so quickly, why do anarchists have to pick on every pathetic detail just to show how ''revolutionary'' they are. Its called a railway and motorway system, its gets people from a to b, deal with it.

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AndrewF
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Mar 6 2005 20:38

Is it possible to discuss simple enough stuff without calling each other stalinists or idiots?

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Spartacus
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Mar 6 2005 20:56
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Is it possible to discuss simple enough stuff without calling each other stalinists or idiots?

don't be ridiculous, this is enrager, therefore everyone automatically gets very angry and shouts at their pc when they log on.

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AndrewF
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Mar 6 2005 21:30
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Is it possible to discuss simple enough stuff without calling each other stalinists or idiots?

don't be ridiculous, this is enrager, therefore everyone automatically gets very angry and shouts at their pc when they log on.

It seems that way, can you imagine what it would be like if real life meetings were the same!

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Refused
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Mar 6 2005 23:10

Yer!

The sun revolves around Ireland. 8) grin

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 6 2005 23:53
revol68 wrote:
i think jack is talking absolute shite, as if manchester and Birmingham are somehow an incoveniance to get to compared to London.

roll eyes

and as for busting out wanky shite about national things being based in Lonodon well what an absolute pile of bollox. Surely thats just reinforcing the diea that social relations exist in a geographical area. I think the truth is simply that people in London tend to think the sun revolves around it.

Do we need to go over coach services aswell.... roll eyes

Seriously don't give me this oooh theres no geographical reali to the social relationship wank, clearly london is the largest city with the highest population and is the financial trading centre.

Mike Harman
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Mar 7 2005 00:07

The bookfair, as an example, since I don't know much about its organisation - are most of the people setting up/down and doing stuff beforehand based in London or close to it? If an event is only national because people from around the country attend it, as opposed to people from around the country organising it, then it makes sense for the people organising it to do so in the most convenient place to them as possible.

This community action conference on June 11th- there's only two groups organising it, and it's happening in the same 25% of London as those two groups are located, but it's billed as a national event because they/we want to make national links with other groups. For HSG/HI to organise an event outside London would be an absolute disaster in terms of logistics, and make no sense whatsoever. If other national events are the same, then no wonder there's a london-centric bias. Having said that, athough I'm not convinced of the usefulness of national/large-scale events, on principle if something happened successfully in London then it'd make sense to tour it to different towns, with groups in those towns taking responsibility for planning and booking, but trying to get contributions/attendees from outside the area the same as you would in London.

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 7 2005 09:59

grin look at the map, do you have any understanding of how transport infrastructure was constructed in this country, sweet jesus

Say i'm coming from the home counties, say a large town like brighton, or say i'm coming from the north east, and i want to get to liverpool, what do you notice about the transport system? Why are you even bothering to defend a position that can be shown to be wrong by one google search.

And of course it exists everywhere you silly over-intellectualising twat, clearly nobody is saying anything else, but the fact remains that the capitalist state is a centralised body. Capital creates epicentres of population, trade and finance, these provide both the domestic market and means of exporting goods, which was what london was during the industrial revolution. Or are you claiming that capitalist development and accumulation wasn't centralised and was in fact some sort of linear and harmonious process that advanced at a steady rate in every region roll eyes

LiveFastDiarrea
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Mar 7 2005 10:18

CantDo has a point, Where I used to live in essex it was easier for me to get into london then it was for me to get to any parts of essex north of chelmsford, infact, on the few times I went to colchester I had to go into london first, which was pretty shit seeing as london was in the wrong direction.

phoebe
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Mar 7 2005 11:03
gav wrote:
phoebe wrote:
londoncentrism is counteranarchistic because of the fact that it's centrism

i dont agree, this webite involves centrism, because it seeks to provide many anarchist resources, all in one place.

No. This website just happens to be one place. The internet on the other hand in general is very non-centrist. And I certainly don't only look at this website, and talk to the people on these forums.

JoeBlack
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Mar 7 2005 11:42

I don't think that the transport system is centralised around London would be news to all that many who have contributed here. It's just that not everyone feels that should be the last word on the subject.

I think in my post on the gathering I did a fair attempt listing the advantages and disadvantages of organising outside the capital. Ireland is quite a similar situation as Dublin is the transport hub for all the train services and major roads tend to go to and from Dublin. So you often have the saem situation where the fastest route between two provincial cities is not as the crow flies but via Dublin.

Yet we still manage to have 2/3 of the GG meetings outside of Dublin so its obviously something that can be overcome. Whethere you choose to do so or not is a political question.

JoeBlack
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Mar 7 2005 12:20
Jack wrote:
Well done, you've just proven you've never lived on the mainland.

Where is this 'mainland' your talking of? Are you suggesting holding demos in Paris or Berlin then?