Saturday, 22 February 2014

Don't Get Mad, Get Murderous

I don’t know about you, but I tend to judge revolutionary groups by just how much mayhem they cause. I’m not condoning it, but, if you really feel strongly about something, and you can’t settle it by democratic means, you should almost certainly leave a trail of blown up cars, robbed banks, assassinated politicians and burned out embassies in your wake.

Britain’s own The Angry Brigade took a gentler approach, trying to avoid hurting anyone if possible but, ultimately, they proved to be utterly ineffectual and got caught and imprisoned, so it was not a massively successful policy. I’m glad that they didn’t kill anybody, of course, but they might have got further if they had.

So what were they so angry about? Well,  is was all about that bloody System that people often rail about, the capitalist world that, in their eyes, grinds people down and reduces them as human beings. They hoped that by sending a few letter bombs and machine gunning some empty embassies they would incite the working man to rise up and violently revolt against their oppressors. Typical middle class radicals, really: banging on about freeing the proletariat but expecting them to do all the dirty work and the killing and dying while the instigators talk about who’ll be in charge of what in the new order.

Hilary and Anna. Hilary is on the far left , Anna is too.  
In 1972, ‘World In Action’ interviewed two out on bail Brigade members, Hilary Crick and Anna Mendelson. They don’t have much to say for themselves (Hilary is particularly, almost smugly, uncommunicative), and refuse (or are unable to) present a coherent view of events, or even something approaching a defence. Anna tries, but generally drifts off the point very quickly. That said, it must be remembered that these are two people in their early twenties who are under enormous strain and are each facing up to 15 years in prison, so their reluctance to incriminate themselves, and their inability to think straight can be forgiven, especially it is not thought that they were major players in the group.

Perhaps the final word should go to Jim Prescott, the only working class member of the group, a man who was prepared to kill and maim for his cause, but wasn’t allowed to and spent 10 years of his life in maximum security prisons anyway: ‘I realised that I was the one who was angry and the others were more like the Slightly Cross Brigade’.

What a very British revolution.

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