Monday, 15 June 2009

NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND - Provisional Timetable


'To Build a New Society in the Shell of the Old'

11 am - 6 pm, Saturday 20 June, Ruskin College, Walton Street
Supported by Oxford & District TUC & Oxfordshire IWW
Directions can be found here, Oxford City Centre, 5-10 mins from Bus & Train stations

If you are coming for the whole day you may wish to bring a packed lunch, but there are many food places near by.


A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING ENGLAND - the spectre of the 1st Oxford Working Class Bookfair. On the eve of the Summer solstice there will be a gathering of the tribes - a bookfair - a place to meet likeminded people and exchange ideas and information - There will be talks, badges, posters, DVDs, CDs, workshops, music, culture, short films, magazines, lectures, warm atmosphere, fellowship, meet new people, education, entertainment, magazine, newspapers and BOOKS!


2009 is the year when everything is out in the open, whether economy, politics, climate or empire. It is the year when students at 30 universities in Britain staged occupations and sit-ins in support of the people of Palestine, and more recently occupied against cutbacks in courses & today at SOAS against attacks on migrant workers and trade unionists; It is the year when workers at Dundee Prisme Factory, Visteon Car Plants in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon, and elsewhere occupied their workplaces in opposition to job losses with no redundancy pay, when parents, teachers and pupils barricaded themselves in Glasgow and London to physically stop the council cutting education. In France, workers have popularised a tactic of bossnapping of holding bosses hostage until they accede to their demands.

We live in credit-crunched times, this event will be a place to learn and share not only the skills we need to defend our livelihoods and communities from capitalism red-in-tooth-and-claw, but also our history: Looking at the lessons of yesterday to build the mass movements of tomorrow and beyond. The day will end with a discussion of the Ruskin College Strike of 1909 and the fight for radical and progressive education. With universities shutting courses, sacking lecturers and student fees, the lessons of yesterday will be useful for the battles of today and tomorrow.

During the bookfair, there will be showings of films such as Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, a reading of Lucy Parsons famous address To Tramps and other happenings in the Raphael Samuel Hall in the college + an exhibition in the library.


More background about the speakers can be found here. There are still other events and happenings planned, so watch this space!

11 am -

Malcolm Hopkins, Housman Books
The situationists were a radical political & cultural movement that was not confined to the streets of Paris. Their influence can be seen in the works of King Mob in England and Black Mask in the USA. King Mob shared the same interest in the Dada and Surrealist movement, the Provos, and avant garde artistic experiments.

Pete Dwyer, Radical Economics Tutor at Ruskin College (personal capacity)
Stories of how ordinary people have organised against the credit crunch, includes film footage of the recent Visteon factory occupation + a little dash of grand economics to explain the seismic shifts that have taken place in the last 18 months.

12 - 1 pm -

David Renton, Historian of Fascism & Anti-Facsism, Cllr John Tanner
As two veteran Nazis get elected to the European parliament, we hear the story of the Red Shirts, the anti-fascist group launched by Ruskin students and trade unionists to force Oswald Moseley's Black Shirts out of 1930s Oxford, the Battle of Cable Street & an assesment of the Anti-Nazi League in the late 70s that helped stop the march of National Front. How do we tackle fascism and racism today?

1 - 2 pm - WORKSHOPS -

Teresa Hayter, No One is Illegal, Author & Activist

Judith Orr, Author of 'A Rebel's Guide to Women's Liberation'

2 - 3 pm

Ian Bone, Class Warrior, Ciaran Walsh IWW (involved in Traveller education), plus one other speaker (tbc)
It has become common place to patronise working class people, whether those who tell us that we don't exist or the condescending description of us as 'chavs' etc. and 'dole scum'. We are working class and we are proud of it. The British working class is the oldest in the world created in the furnace of the industrial revolution and brutality of enclosures and destruction of the commons. We have our own cultures, tradition, language of which we can be well proud. This meeting will discuss how working class people have and can organise for a more democratic society.

3 - 4 pm

Andrew Burgin, Radical bookseller & officer of Stop the War Coalition among other things (speaking in personal capacity) tackles the thorny subject of 'left unity' in the light of the collapse of the Labour Party in recent elections, the rise of the far right, the credit crunch, more national co-operation between anarchists, the recent Open Letter to the Left of the SWP, trade unions such as RMT and PCS moving towards standing candidates etc. How can we make sure that the Left not the Right seizes the time. Plenty of time for discussion, debate, all perspectives welcome.

Steve Mills, Bristol Radical History Group, Elected Chair of Bristol UNISON (personal capacity)
Covering issues of land rights, the idea of 'the commons', the Diggers, St Georges Hill, The English Revolution, Kingswood miners and the squatting of forest land, and free mining, moving onto common law, the land is ours movement, forest rights, the one day house & the use of common land, finishing up with a good riot or two. Something for everyone: riots, community, historical rights, environmental sustainability, and links to now!

4 - 5 pm -

Richard Seymour, Author and activist associated with popular Lenin's Tomb blog
Following the collapse of the USSR, a number of prominent thinkers on the Left found themselves increasingly aligned with their ideological opposites. Over the last decade, many of these thinkers have become close to Washington; forceful supporters of the War on Terror, they help frame arguments for policymakers and provide the moral and intellectual justification for Western military intervention across the globe. Seymour traces the journey of these figures from left to right and explores their critical role in the creation of the new American empire andshaping of our post-9/11 world.

5 - 6 pm -
Colin Waugh, Radical Educator & Author of new pamphlet on the Ruskin College Student Strike

100 years ago students at Ruskin College staged a pioneering uprising for radical education, they argued that ordinary people needed a fundamentally different kind of education and formed anti-capitalist self help networks such as the Central Labour Colleges and Plebs Leagues to provide alternative education to hundreds of workers. Come and hear the story of their struggle and relate it to the struggle for a better education system today.

Stalls including Housmans Books (Radical booksellers), Pambazuka Books (Human rights, social justice, politics in Africa), MUTE Magazine, Bristol Radical History Group, Bookmarks - Socialist Bookshop, Project for a Participatory Society UK, Andrew Burgin - Badges, Posters and Ephemera, Stop the War Coalition, Unite against Fascism, LoveMusicHateRacism, Oxford Cuba Solidarity, Oxford Palestine Solidarity, usual lefty groups and other political groups, Trade Unions, ecologists, community groups, campaign groups, booksellers and history societies etc. If you would like a stall email us asap!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Oxford Working Class Bookfair says, No Passaran!

Oxford Working Class Bookfair to host meeting on history of anti-fascism in Britain from 1930s to Present day struggles. Saturday 20 June, 11 am - 6 pm, Ruskin College, Walton Street, Oxford Free admission.


'Don't Mourn - Organise!' - Joe Hill, IWW

Watching 2 veteran Nazis strutting around as they became MEPs must have turned many a stomach. Andrew Brons, the BNPs first elected MEP is a former member of the National Socialist Movement, deliberately founded on Hitlers birthday, whose members carried out bombings of synagogues and Jewish property in the 60s. In 1984 he was arrested for breach of the peace after he was observed shouting slogans such as 'Death to Jews' in Leeds town centre whilst trying to flog fascist newspapers.
Nick Griffin, the Fuhrer of the BNP is on record as denying the holocaust and has called for a 'strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan ‘Defend Rights for Whites’ with well directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate'.
So, What is to be done?


OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR is pleased to be hosting an emergency meeting - as part of a day of talks, discussion forums and workshops addressing the issues facing our people in these credit crunched times - discussing the lessons of anti-fascist campaigns and social movements in Britain such as the Battle of Cable Street in the 30s, the Red Shirts, a militant campaign set up by trade unionists around Ruskin College that forced Oswald Moseley's Black Shirts and British Union of Fascists out of Oxford, the Anti-Nazi League & Rock against Racism in the late 70s etc. with a view to discussing what we can do to stop the cancerous growth of fascism and racism today. Speakers will include David Renton, historian of anti-fascism & author of 'When We Touched the Sky, the Anti-Nazi League 1977-1981' and stuff on local history of anti-fascism in Oxford + local anti-racist, trade union & community activists. Come and join the debate and discussion



We are also pleased to announce a new workshop on the issue of immigration and solidarity with migrant workers at the Oxford Working Class Bookfair with Teresa Hayter, an acclaimed authour and activist on on migration and anti-racism issues. She has been active in the Campaign to Close Campsfield since the immigration prison was opened, near Oxford, in 1993. She is one of the authors of the No One Is Illegal manifesto. Before that, she was active in anti-racist and other workers campaigns. She has written seven books, including Aid as Imperialism (Penguin, 1971), The Creation of World Poverty (Pluto, 1981) and Open Borders: The case Against Immigration Controls (Pluto, 2000, 2nd edition 2004).

Right to Work Conference

Saturday 13 June, 11am-4pm, ULU Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY & SOAS, Thornhaugh St. Register at ULU

A couple of our people hope to leaflet this event for our upcoming workers & unemployed bookfair. Fact of the day: Karl Marx's rakish son-in-law Paul Lafargue wrote a pamphlet The Right to be Lazy that at one time was #2 on the socialist bestsellers list in Europe right behind The Communist Manifesto.

'For too long thousands of jobs have been destroyed without resistance. For too long the issue of unemployment—especially youth unemployment—has been ignored. It is time to organise the fightback.
The occupations and campaigns at Visteon, the occupations at Prisme in Dundee and the occupation at Waterford Crystal have changed the atmosphere inside the working class movement.
We desperately need more resistance.
The economic crisis, internationally and domestically, is leading to soaring unemployment, insecurity and devastation of communities.
UK unemployment is well over 2 million and headed sharply upwards. Young people are particularly badly affected. There are already 820,000 unemployed under the age of 25, and 600,000 people leave school this summer. Many will not find jobs.
The government has found hundreds of billions to bailout banks and financial institutions.
But instead of saving jobs, Gordon Brown is pressing ahead with policies that cut them—from Royal Mail to local government to the civil service to the NHS.
Individual unions and the TUC should be leading the fight against job losses by opposing redundancies, resisting closures and demanding a transformation of government policy.
This is a conference to learn from the experience of resistance, encourage more struggles, and bring together trade unionists, the unemployed, school and college leavers.'

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


'If there is hope, it lies with the proles' - George Orwell, 1984

Books, talks, badges, workshops, music, culture, short films, magazines, lectures, warm atmosphere, fellowship, meet new people, education, entertainment, magazine, newspapers etc. To book a stall/more info. email us! A flyer to pin on noticeboards/distribute can be downloaded here - our venue for the day is in the City Centre and 5-10 mins from Train and Bus Stations. Directions can be found here

Includes 100th Anniversary of 1909 Ruskin College Student Strike meeting, the first radical student uprising in English history that saw students breakaway to form radical and anti-capitalist educational networks such as the PLEBS LEAGUE and CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGES + Talks/workshops on anti-fascism and anti-racism, situationism/dada/surrealism, anti-capitalism, people's history, trade unions, war, peace & empire, radical bookselling, bash the rich marches, psychogeography, feminism & women's equality, social ecology, popular & radical education, poetry/culture/art, music etc

Speakers include -

COLIN WAUGH Radical educator/FE teacher, active on the Post 16 Educator journal, recently author of pamphlet on the 1909 Ruskin College Student Strike & Plebs League
RICHARD SEYMOUR Author of The Liberal Defense of Murder, a searing critique of the B52 liberals and pro-war left & the brains behind Lenin's Tomb, one of the best-known political blogs in Britain, listed in 2005 as the 21st-most-popular blog in the country.
IAN BONE English anarchist associated with Class War group. In 1984 he was labelled 'the most dangerous man in Britain' by a British tabloid newspaper & was involved in the legendary Bash the Rich marches on wealthier areas of England such as Kensington, Henley-on-Thames & Hampstead. He was also interviewed by Jonathan Ross, view here
TERESA HAYTER Acclaimed authour and activist on on migration and anti-racism issues. She has been active in the Campaign to Close Campsfield since the immigration prison was opened, near Oxford, in 1993. She is one of the authors of the No One Is Illegal manifesto. Before that, she was active in anti-racist and other workers campaigns. She has written seven books, including Aid as Imperialism, The Creation of World Poverty and Open Borders: The case Against Immigration Controls
JUDITH ORR Author of Sexism & The System - A Rebel's Guide to Women's Liberation
MALCOLM HOPKINS Our man from Housmans, London Town's oldest radical bookshop who boast the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and mags of any shop in Brtain! He also does talks on situationism, dada, and surrealism - top bloke!
Cllr JOHN TANNER Lefty Labour Councillor, supports good causes like the Palestinians and anti-fascism - top bloke!
DAVID RENTON Independent writer & historian. Written extensively on the history of anti-fascism including When We Touched the Sky a history of the Anti-Nazi League & Red Shirts & Black (Published by Ruskin College Library) the story of how the facist Blackshirts were driven out of Oxford in the 1930s.
ANDREW BURGIN Radical seller/collektor of books, badges, posters, pamphlets & other emphemera. As an officer for the Stop the War Coalition he has worked particularly closely with the Military Families against the War campaign. He has also been linked to the Public Reading Rooms in London . . .
CIARAN WALSH IWW/Wobblie Member involved in Traveller education. 'The IWW is a union unlike any other. It is a grassroots, democratic and militant union that seeks to organise ALL workers in ALL industries in ALL countries' ... Sounds like a good idea!
PETER DWYER has done many silly and good things including working with NGOs and the labour movement in South Africa and speaking at World Social Forums in Rio, Mali and Kenya. During the daytime he teaches radical economics at Ruskin College
STEVE MILLS Bristol Radical History Group, anarchist & allotment holder, Steve is also an elected Branch Chair of Bristol UNISON, representing in local government. He supports a member lead branch, and has been involved in running strikes, disputes and demos. Actively involved in his community, he is Chair of the Avon and Bristol law centre, which is still a collective & gives free legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it; this includes employment, discrimination, and immigration. He is also 'a happy hammer, but detests what capitalism is doing to our beautiful game'.
SHEILA COHEN (To be confirmed) Author of Ramparts of Resistance - Why Workers Lost their Power & How to Get it Back, trade unionist, labour educator and a national organiser for the National Shop Stewards Network
GUY DEBORD Sadly Monsieur Debord can't make this festival, but we have received a copy of The Society of the Spectacle - The Movie that will receive a free screening and Ruskin College premier during the course of the bookfair
LUCY PARSONS once described by the Chicago police as 'more dangerous than a thousand rioters', Parsons died in 1942, she will be brought back to life for one day during the bookfair with a public reading of her infamous address To Tramps

Levellers Day Outing (Oxford Working Class Bookfair On the Road)

The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make. - William Morris, Arts&Crafts movement/socialist agitator

May 1649, the LAST STAND OF THE LEVELLERS- radical fighters for liberty & democracy - 300 soldiers herded into a church in Burford after a MUTINY against Cromwell, 3 'ringleaders' then shot in the churchyard. The Levellers had REFUSED to be sent to fight in Ireland - England's oldest colony - seeing the Irish as fighting for the same cause of freedom as them. They also felt that they had been SOLD OUT by the leaders and wanted to push the revolution further.

360 years later & our OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR team for a world-turned-upside-down got up early to join a busload of revolting RUSKIN STUDENTS, RANSACKERS & TRADE UNION TYPES off on a daytrip to the annual LEVELLERS DAY commemoration where we hooked up with other revellers, lefties, woodcraft folk, morris dancers, workers etc. in remembering OUR MARTYRS.

This is just the kinda event we love & OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR gained a very warm reception & much enthusiasm from the punters as we distributed shedloads of leaflets & literature - many folks taking whole wads of flyers to give out to friends, family & workmates. It seems in these CREDIT-CRUNCHED TIMES locals are really hungry for an event of this kind. One kid even sellotaped a flyer for the event on his skateboard!

Several of our team report waking up the next morning with sore-heads consequent from numerous toasts & drinks & much merrie-making to the blessed memory of PERKINS, THOMPSON & CHURCH, our executed LEVELLER heroes!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

1ST Oxford Working Class Bookfair!

Saturday 20 June, 11 am - 6 pm
Ruskin College, Walton Street, Oxford

We cordially invite YOU to visit the 1st ever OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR! There will be books, talks, workshops, short films and more books and magazines . . .

We plan to recover/reclaim some of the hidden history of Oxford, with its gallery of rogues, rebels and revolutionaries, to touch upon some topics of contemporary relevance to the man & woman on the street today, provide quality entertainment, discuss the big issues past and present & hopefully have a real good time to boot! - All in a relaxed and warm atmosphere!

The range of local groups invited includes; political groups, Trade Unions, community groups, campaign groups, booksellers and history societies. If you would like to have a stall email us at the address above!

The event will include a commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the 1909 RUSKIN COLLEGE STUDENT STRIKE, a pioneering student uprising for independent working class education, that saw students breakaway to form a radical education and self-help networks based on an alternative progressive view of what education could be. They argued that it wasn't enough for the working class to have limited extended access to higer education, but rather that they needed a fundamentally different kind of education, curriculum & pedagogy to meet their needs and the needs of the class. They were involved in the PLEBS LEAGUE (a grassroots education iniative) and set up an anti-capitalist education network of CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGES, many of the leaders of the student uprising were miners and trade unionists who went on to be authors of THE MINERS NEXT STEP, a classic text of rank & file trade unionism and syndicalism written in S.Wales.

Along the way, we will learn the story of the RED SHIRTS, a group set up at Ruskin College to sabotage the attempts of Oswald Mosely's fascist BLACK SHIRTS to get a base in 1930s Oxford & consider how we fight against fascism & racism today.
There will also be workshops and talks on people's history, radical bookselling, situationism/dada/surrealism, popular education, music, culture, trade union & labour history, feminism/women's liberation, social ecology & climate, war & empire etc.

More information about speakers, events and other happenings planned will appear on our page shortly - watch this space! Sponsors include the local I.W.W and Oxford & District TUC

A flyer to distribute or pin on noticeboards can be downloaded here

E-mail us for more info. or to get involved!

Working class bookfair addicts in the North of England, may wish to attend a very interesting event happening in Sunderland that will include a commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Miners Strike.