Saturday, 28 July 2012

Political Perspectives #3: Some Thoughts on the Olympics Opening Ceremony (Guest Blog)

This is the third in an occasional series of posts on the various political perspectives of those involved in activism in the Bath/Bristol area. The views expressed are those of the respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Standing Stone.

Some Thoughts on the Olympics Opening Ceremony

by Katy Gent

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you will, in some way or another, have witnessed the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics last night.

Many have taken the Olympics this year as a beacon of hope and celebration amongst hard times, much like the Jubilee earlier this year. Whilst others have decreed it a waste of money and a complete farce to disguise the turmoil that is reaping our green and glorious Earth.

Firstly, I'd like to talk about the ceremony itself. I watched it at my boyfriend's house with his dad. I had intended to watch it, purely out of curiosity and for the fact that it's a part of history. Regardless of the tax evasion, regardless of the fascist police forces and the blatant disregard for human rights; it is a part of history. I have to say that the ceremony itself was fantastic. It was funny, it was impressive and it was British. Danny Boyle did a fantastic job (although like all Doctor Who fans I was a little disappointed to see that David Tennant did not carry the flag into the stadium but I digress...). The inclusion of children's literature, James Bond, Mr Bean and many others highlighted what it means to be a part of this country. I was very happy to see the suffragettes involved too and also that this is the first Olympic games where all participating countries have a female team. To quote Jacques Rogg "it's a brilliant step for gender equality". I also don't think anyone could have predicted a 50ft inflatable Voldemort either.

Unfortunately, although the opening ceremony was a fantastic display of British culture and history, that is all it was. Why the pointless Queen had to be involved is beyond me. I am the last person who would support Cameron but at least he's elected and he SHOULD have been the one to have opened the games. Not some tax avoiding anachronism. Usually I will keep quiet about my blatant republicanism on occasions like this because I feel it's unnecessary. To highlight her involvement would overshadow the fantastic job that the performers did. But I couldn't help myself. She didn't smile once, she didn't even watch the ceremony, she didn't give a fuck. Phillip and she sat there with a disinterested look on their faces throughout the entire evening. They don't give a toss about these Olympics. Just like they don't give a toss about this country. They did not deserve to play a part in it.

Much like the jubilee, it was fantastic to see so many people united behind one cause. To celebrate something that unites us all in a time when the entire world is suffering under a less than ideal economic climate. However, it is under this economic climate that thousands are losing their jobs, their pensions, their welfare and their union rights. Why on Earth were we celebrating the NHS when there's nothing left of what it used to be?! Why pretend to maintain this charade of Britain as the factory of the Earth and the green and lush pasture of times past?! A better portrayal of this country would have been the Occupy movement surrounded by homeless people with a giant inflatable pig shadowing everything. That would have been a better representation of what this country is about at the moment.

So, do not think for a second that I am a cynic. I found the opening ceremony a fantastic celebration of what it means to be British. I thoroughly enjoyed every second. But it is a shame, that underneath this celebration of the best of humanity's abilities, is a murky swamp of poverty, greed and despair. It is a shame that we cannot celebrate our unity as a country. Our unity behind equality, liberty, gay rights, gender rights and democracy. That is what this country should celebrate. That is what this country needs to do to show the rest of the world how fantastic we are. Take the first step forward out of the swamp, into a new Britain, that stands for something that we WANT to celebrate. Something that the rest of the world can follow in making our Earth, our planet, a better place.


Political Perspectives Series:

Part 1. What is Anarchism? (B.A.R.F.)

Part 2. What is the Zeitgeist Movement? (Bruce Galliver)

Part 4: Thoughts on Cambodia (Dave Stephens)

Part 5. Thoughts on Meditation and Revolution (Simon Jilley)

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Badger Cull - The Facts, Alternatives and How to Help Stop It

NOTE: A longer and more in-depth version of this article has also been published here:

Last week, the proposed badger cull was declared legal, despite a challenge from the Badger Trust.

There's a badger sett not far from where I live. Often I see them out in the evening searching for food and in the summer there are often young badger cubs playing on the edge of the fields. I have a great fondness for these creatures, and naturally wouldn't want to see them butchered. But regardless of that, there are several other reasons why I oppose the badger cull.

What's the problem?

If you haven't heard already, badgers carry Bovine Tuberculosis (TB), and the disease can be passed to cattle (and likewise, cattle can pass the disease to badgers). In 2011, 34,191 cattle were slaughtered due to TB - there is no denying that this disease impacts on the livelihood of cattle farmers (although those of us that don't consume cow products may argue that most, if not all, cattle farming is unethical, unsustainable and unenvironmentally friendly, but I'll leave that issue for another day). Government compensation per cow ranges from £98 to £4,913 depending on the age, breed and sex of the cow - that's your taxes. Understandably, many farmers are concerned that having badgers on their land is a major threat to their herd and their business. Eradication of badgers would seem like a logical method of preventing the spread of Bovine TB.

How is TB transmitted?

In 2005, scientists at Oxford University found that cattle-to-cattle transmissions of TB "substantially and consistently outweigh" all other factors. Cattle catch the disease from breathing in air from the lungs of other cattle, particularly in poorly-ventilated spaces such as barns. The disease may be brought into the herd from new cows, shared breeding bulls and coming into contact with infected cows at markets and shows. Cows are, of course, tested for TB - however Defra estimates that the test only detects around 80% of infected cattle. Furthermore, a team from Liverpool University has found that the presence of a common fluke that parasitises the liver of cattle can reduce the chances of TB being detected by the test. This fluke has increased dramatically in numbers over the last 15 years, the same period that has seen a large increase in incidences of TB in cattle.

It is thought that TB is transmitted from badgers to cattle primarily via urine and dung left in fields, and laboratory studies have shown that cattle can catch the disease from infected badgers under controlled conditions, albeit in an enclosed environment. Testing for infected setts is unreliable, with only around a 40-50% success rate, and therefore only targeting infected setts would be expensive and unreliable.

Badgers are not the only wild animals that carry TB. Deer carry TB and tend to wander much further than badgers. Fallow and red deer in particular have high incidences of the disease. Foxes, squirrels and rats also carry TB. However, following two studies indicating the relatively high incidences of of TB in deer, Defra concluded that they are unlikely to pass the disease onto cattle. The Badger Trust responded: "This statement is plainly nonsense to those of us who have watched wild deer grazing alongside cattle at pasture."

As David Williams, Chair of the Badger Trust put it - “Until the science is clear, we should not be making the badger a scapegoat. Remember DDT, myxomatosis and Thalidomide. We thought we knew that these were scientific certainties but they were disastrous. We should be wary for the future.”

What's the problem with culling?

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham, speaking to The Telegraph, opposes the cull and said "...their death would most likely be in vain as scientific studies suggest that culling them could increase the risk of transmission to bovine cattle rather than reduce it." Wildlife documentary legend David Attenborough echoed these concerns in The Guardian - "Survivors will carry the disease into areas that have hitherto been unaffected. There's good scientific research available to show that culling badgers can make things worse and not better." The evidence for this claim comes from studies, including the RBCT, that suggest that culling increases dispersal in badgers, infecting the areas on the edge of the cull area. This leaflet produced by the Wildlife Trusts explains the reasoning behind this.

In the 1990s, Lord Krebs conducted a long-term study on the effectiveness of badger culling, and his initial report can be found here. Back in 1997, Lord Krebs supported the development of a vaccination for cattle - "We recommend that the best prospect for control of TB in the British herd is to develop a cattle vaccine. This is a long-term policy and success cannot be guaranteed. But the potential benefits are substantial and we consider this should be a high priority." In 2011, speaking to The Guardian, he re-stated his view that development of a vaccine should be a priority and called for "biosecurity measures" to reduce incidences of cattle coming into contact with badgers and other sources of TB, and from passing the disease between cattle. He also put into context the pointlessness of the cull - "You cull intensively for at least four years, you will have a net benefit of reducing TB in cattle of 12% to 16%. So you leave 85% of the problem still there, having gone to a huge amount of trouble to kill a huge number of badgers. It doesn't seem to be an effective way of controlling the disease." The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) was undertaken between 1998 and 2005 and the final report can be found here. This report stated "While endorsing the need for continued research on vaccine development, we recognise that substantial obstacles need to be overcome in developing an effective vaccine and therefore advise that vaccination, of either cattle or badgers, should be considered only as a longer term option" and also "...there were insufficient data on the efficacy of [vaccines] in badgers to assess whether or not it represented a viable vaccine candidate."

In summary, the government's own advisors have admitted that culling won't completely solve the problem, and that vaccination has potential, although it is untested.

How are they intending to cull? 

Two methods will be used - shooting badgers in the field and cage trapping followed by shooting. Full details of the methods they intend to employ can be found here.

Where are they intending to cull?

For security reasons, the exact location of the cull areas have not been disclosed. In January, the BBC reported that the locations would be around Tewkesbury and the Foreset of Dean in Gloucestershire, and in the Taunton Deane area of Somerset.

So what's the alternative to the cull?

The Welsh Government has scrapped plans for a cull and has now embarked on a badger vaccination programme. To date, 430 badgers have been vaccinated. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust has also begun a 5-year vaccination programme. Badgers are trapped and injected with the vaccine and then set free again - with the benefit of being immune to TB. Although it is far too early to tell how effective this will be, if Lord Krebs is right, it would make sense to put off the cull until we some results from Wales. Continued research into a vaccine for cattle would be a sensible use of time and money.

In the meantime, biosecurity measures would limit the spread of the disease in cattle, such as putting up badger-proof fences, keeping cattle in smaller sheds and improving ventilation, as well as more rigorous testing. A recent study suggests that managing farms for conservation can reduce the risk of transmission of TB from cattle to badgers, and makes some recommendations for farming practices.

Who is opposing the cull?

A poll conducted by the BBC suggests that 63% of the population are opposed to the cull. A wide variety of scientists, celebrities and organisations have come forth to oppose the cull. As previously mentioned, Lord Krebs, David Attenborough and Chris Packham have been outspoken against the cull. Queen guitarist Brian May is also passionately opposed. Wildlife and animal rights organisations against the cull include The Badger Trust, RSPCA, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, League Against Cruel Sports, Badger Watch and Rescue, Humane Society International, Network for Animals, Viva and an organisation I was not previously familiar with, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting.

The Stroud 100 group has "sealed off" 1,000 acres of land in Gloucestershire by getting landowners to declare their land a no-cull area.

Both the Green Party and the Labour Party have voiced their opposition to the cull.

The National Trust's position can be found here. Relevant extracts are as follows: "Where a comprehensive package of measures is in place, and where the scientific criteria for a successful cull can be met, we would not object to a humane and effective cull of badgers taking place on our land. Research shows this can help reduce the spread of the disease... Effective vaccination of badgers and cattle is an additional tool for tackling bovine TB in the long term, which is why we have launched a vaccination programme for badgers on one of our estates."

What can I do to help oppose the cull?
Please contact Standing Stone's Blog if you have any details or news of future campaigns, protests or petitions against the badger cull - standingstonesblog [at]

Sunday, 15 July 2012

EDL Outnumbered by Counter-Demonstrators in Bristol

The dreaded EDL march in Bristol on 14th July 2012 became the cause of much laughter and the butt of many jokes from counter-demonstrators when it transpired that their turnout was far lower than expected. That said, their march was not without incident, and the EDL took several swipes at counter-demonstrators and police. Here follows my eyewitness account of events admist chaos, confusion, projectiles, kettles, cordons and the occasional violent outbreak.

Standing Stone's Blog has made a short video showing many of the incidents documented below:

Stepping off the train at Temple Meads, myself and a small band of Bath activists were greeted by around 20 police, whom we were able to walk past without hassle. Some Bristolian friends we had arranged to meet near Temple Meads had been moved on, and we arranged an alternative meeting point. En route to meeting with our Bristolian friends, we took a look at Castle Park, where the police were under the impression the counter-demo would be starting from. The surrounding streets were lined with riot vans, but the only people in the park itself were a couple of dog-walkers.

We arrived at the pub around 10:50 and waited for the rest of our friends to turn up. While waiting, we were informed that around 30 EDL were in the pub next door, including Mickey Bayliss, the organiser of the EDL march. Shortly afterwards they left the pub and walked past the window. News came in that there were around 70 EDL at Temple Meads and around 150 anti-fascists, and news came in from elsewhere about a racially-motivated attack by the EDL. Our friends arrived just as we had decided to head to the fountains for the large demo, only to learn that they were being kettled. After a long round-a-bout hike, we ended up near Redcliffe Church, where we saw the EDL march for the first time. A large group of anti-fascists had gathered, but the two groups were separated by a blockade of police vans and a line of cops. We soon decided to head off and see what else was happening.
EDL marching in Bristol, 14th July 2012

Police cordon near Redcliffe Church
Soon we encountered the union march being kettled by police, with mounted police on standby close by.

Kettle of trade union march
Mounted police
We were able to get around the kettle and headed for the riverside, where we were able view the EDL demo from afar, moving very slowly across the bridge. As they were scheduled to finish at Queen Square, we made our way onto Prince Street to attempt to get close. Here we encountered the Pride anti-fascist demonstrators, dressed largely in pink and all holding placards. One of them was handing out free veggie burgers - much needed after a long morning of walking.

One of the Anti-racist Pride marchers
A large contingent of anti-fascists then made their way up Prince Street, and were soon confronted by riot vans and police cordons. Riot vans soon lined the entrance to the bridge, and a police cordon made its way towards us. We rushed into a nearby pub to escape trouble, and when we came out we saw an EDL member being dragged into a riot van to the sound of cheers and clapping from the remaining anti-fascists.

We had a call saying that there was a plan to block the EDL's exit, so made our way around, only to be confronted by a huge police blockade. Another meeting point was arranged, and after a long detour we met up with a large group of anti-fascists on the riverside, and soon mobilised to finally confront the EDL. We took a route that led us up to a cliff overlooking an area of waste ground into which the EDL were starting to pour into. From here we could see the whole lot of them, and people laughed and joked at the feeble turnout of around 250 morons. Shouts of "Racist scum" and "Equality" erupted from the anti-fascists. The EDL then sang us a song. The monsters, it seemed, were merely a tone-deaf third-rate street-theatre outfit. They unveiled a Pride flag to much laughter.

The EDL march was this small.
And then the pelting began - stones flew over our heads and several people were hit. Several highly-aggressive EDL members somehow made their way up to us and were stopped by police. The police then came at us with batons and formed a line to move us on. Several people were pushed and shoved against their will. Dogs and mounted police showed up. We moved backwards slowly until we came to a bend, at which point we left, went up the road and turned a corner. A girl was clutching a towel to her head after having been hit by a stone thrown the EDL. Bastards. We made sure she was ok and got her friend to call for an ambulance and wait with her. A huge soundsystem on a trailer rounded the corner heading in the direction we had just come from. Back we went, dancing to our new soundtrack. We soon got turned away again, so headed back onto the roads in order to catch the EDL on their way to the train station. On the way we passed a pub with a group of EDL members sat outside. Recognising us, they threw several glasses, one just missing my leg, and began to give chase. I ran as fast as I could, and myself and a few others dived into a hedge. Several EDL ran past, one with a large rock, which he kept throwing at the pavement. They were spreading out looking for us. Police came up the other end of the road, so we took our chance and ran again. We joined a large group of anti-fascists at a high point overlooking the EDL march. The EDL were fighting and struggling with the police, who kept them contained. From here we were able to launch a mini counter-demonstration, but soon the police came with dogs and forced us to move on. We stopped again and continued the demonstration, and again the police and dogs moved us on. We headed out into the road and a police cordon began to form around us. They moved us back and split us, and we were moved back towards Temple Meads. From here we were prevented from being able to reach the end of the march, but the video below shows what happened next. Our only option was to backtrack, and so we headed to College Green to show solidarity with the Pride festival, and celebrate with a beer.

With less than 300 people, the EDL showed Bristol that they were an insignificant minority, and their violent and aggressive behaviour towards counter-demonstrators and the police throughout the day put rest to their claim that they demonstrate peacefully. The police did their best to divide us, but even though we were separated into lots of small groups, we were united in our cause. People came out in force to make it clear that fascists are not welcome in Bristol, and I would like to congratulate all of those thousands who marched and lined the streets in opposition to them. Well done people. Let's hope they never come back.

There were many incidents of violence and aggression by the police. If you witnessed or were a victim of one of these incidents, please contact NetPol

Bristol Indymedia article on the demo here.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Political Perspectives #2: What is the Zeitgeist Movement? (Guest Blog)

This is the second in an occasional series of posts on the various political perspectives of those involved in activism in the Bath/Bristol area (Part 1 can be viewed here). The views expressed are those of the respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Standing Stone.


by Bruce Galliver


Understanding what it is The Zeitgeist Movement exists for can be addressed in many ways. One could take an intricate economic or cultural or scientific or ethical approach to giving information about the tenets involved that would lead to a better world overall. But as Einstein so profoundly stated, apparently: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."So before I go into detail, I shall start very simply.

Simply put, the goal of the social system that The Zeitgeist Movement is working towards is: To maximise the health of the human species.

If you start at that very base level of what is that constitutes good health in a human being, it is possible to extrapolate a train of thought, completely derived from very simple truths, of how to build a healthy society. Unfortunately this is not a perspective that permeates the general public's understandings and most activist organisations tend to act from the rationale propagated by our current socioeconomic system, that is, to attempt to fix problems within the framework that presently exists. Such as more environmental legislation, harsher penalties for human and animal rights abuse, reducing the monopoly held by big business in favour of local community commerce, a "sound" money system, abolish the federal reserve etc. All of which do not address the fundamental core motivation for the vast majority of detrimental behaviour we see around the world today.

As has been cited in a previous blog post, we live in an overwhelmingly dominant system that makes the pursuit of profit the be all and end all of human endeavour. Although individual motivations may vary, it is the consistently reinforced method of achieving, as basically promoted by the mainstream educational structure. Hence many people define their self worth by their financial status, their identity by their employment and their respectability by how high up the proverbial ladder they've climbed. However, I expect that most of those reading this blog can recognise that as completely false representation of self worth, in place of relating to your environment and your fellow human in a positive way.

This is the kind of mental framework that The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) is attempting to shift the general "zeitgeist" towards.

So with these simple understandings of how to go about approaching social organisation with the goal of maximising health, we must begin with the lowest common denominators of human health, such as food, water, housing and clothing. With this understood, it is clear that these needs can be met from strategically managing our planetary resources. We currently have all the resources and technology to feed, clothe, house and provide clean water for everyone on the planet, but it has not occurred. We must recognise the underlying motivation for that, which as I understand it, lies primarily within the economic system, as unfortunately, sharing does not increase profit margins. This shift in perspective, I believe, is tremendously important to make. Moving from one of a monetary perspective, to a technical perspective.

Eliminating world hunger is completely technically feasible, but it is not monetarily feasible.

It is this simple but huge structural change in our social approach which tends to cause a bit of an identity crisis in those that have a vested interest in the continuation of this system. As mentioned before, many people have invested themselves (both monetarily and personally) in the current system, and for this simple truth to be heard can result in believing this new kind of economy would "take away everything I've earned" or "it's totally against human nature" or "nobody's ever gonna work for free" etc, you get the point.

Unfortunately throughout history, there tends to be a cultural lag behind our current scientific understandings. The acceptance of a heliocentric solar system to the emergence of renewable energy has been far slower than the speed at which they have become evident or technically feasible. The same goes for the construction of a sane and healthy society. It is this cultural lag that TZM is attempting to speed up. To quote Einstein yet again: "Our technology has surpassed our humanity." We have the technology to provide for everyone on the planet, and we also have the ability to cause a global nuclear winter. What happens is completely down to which way the dominant values in society swing.

This new globally, human family, health oriented social system that I'm hoping humanity can come round to, can be termed: A Resource Based Economy (RBE) (YouTube "Project Earth" for a more detailed visual and audio representation of what I'm essentially about to describe).

A RBE puts human and environmental well-being as paramount, and a society can be constructed around maximising these attributes in the most sustainable and efficient way. For example, say that hypothetically, this was understood by the majority of the population, we would locate the areas of land most suitable for agriculture, understand the fresh water supply and how to use and distribute it sustainably and recognise how much housing is needed for the population of the planet. We would also need to make sure we don't run out of these resources, and hence, the tracking of rates of consumption and renewability is necessary where relevant. Over time, we have developed technology, tools that can help us in our labour. Therefore, it makes sense we apply the best technological capabilities we have in the construction of these extraction, production and distribution methods.

All of the attributes that make up the standards of living for any person, are completely technical. Access to food, water, transportation, energy and housing are all technical aspects. Therefore, there is no need for human opinion or politics as it operates today, with regard to meeting the needs of the human population. There is no cultural relativism to the approach that a RBE takes. It is applicable to everyone. Visualising a society which no longer encompasses two teams of blokes dressed in suits on two sides of an old building barking and guffawing at one another may be hard to do, but I'm sure if you understand what I'm writing about, you wouldn't particularly miss that would you? I've watched BBC Parliament with a full house of commons, it's not pretty.

To give an example of this economic system's approach, in a given area, such as a city, there may be a population of say, 4 million people. With an understanding of the amount of nutrients and energy required by that population, agriculture can be locally constructed dependent on meeting those requirements. This objective method of social operation can be termed: The Scientific Method. Although this seems very simple, it is an approach completely absent in the economic system today, in which your access to goods and services is dependant upon your purchasing power. This wouldn't be a case of only allocating resources as they're needed, but assessing demand based on what is the most healthy allocation possible. If there was still demand for the equivalent of a happy meal, then production could adjust to such demands, but in a society such as this which would be far more in touch with the benefits of science and no such advertising, hierarchy and materialist tendencies, people would likely align themselves with what scientific understandings could do for them.

Within the current system, you are only as free as your purchasing power and so it's blindingly obvious to me that this system isn't designed to care about people. A RBE would simply attempt to meet as many human needs as possible. Essentially, we can work together for the common good, or destroy ourselves through unnecessary competition, as is intrinsic within the current economic system. 

So in order to help bring about this society, TZM functions on multiple levels of activism all over the world. However, most of it is an education and awareness approach, in the hope that as the simple truths and ideas permeate society, we can speed up the value system shift before there is total chaos on this planet. There was a global non-profit cinema release of an educational film: "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward" (Which you can find free online) which was shown in over 320 locations around the world, including one in my old hometown of Alton :) I'd encourage everyone to watch it, it's almost impossible not to learn something.

There are also 2 annual global awareness events on behalf of the movement, one is called: Zeitgeist Day, on March 13th which consists mostly of widely publicised lectures and the content of the event is mostly informative. Then there is The Zeitgeist Media Festival in early September, which could be phrased as "An Artistic celebration of Sustainability". In which socially conscious musicians, artists and the like come together to communicate this sort of message through the arts and show unity in an immaturely divided world. In general though, anyone who feels they understand this information well is encouraged to actively promote it in any viable way possible at any time. The Movement attempts to document all it's activism and so you can view hours and hours of fantastic lectures on the main youtube channel, which I'll list along with all other relevant links at the bottom of this post.

TZM is not an institution. It is simply a group of people that support this information that is scientifically derived from the world around us. By being a "member", you do not have to sign up to anything, but just understand and appreciate the information and have an interest to communicate it to your fellow man, or woman. (Although signing up to the Global and National E-mail list will keep you updated).

It is an educational process, and that's really the problem we're facing on this planet.

The movement is organised into groups of people in localised areas called "Chapters", such as The Alton Chapter that I have been co-ordinating back home for the last year or so, and also the recently started Bath Chapter for which I hope this will generate interest (See the link at the bottom of this post for the chapter group).

I'll now finish this post with the ending section of TZM's "Activist Orientation Guide" to summarise.

"There are many out there who would say that what we are describing here, that is the development of a Resource-Based Global Economy, would never happen. They would typically cite 'human nature', the 'power elite' or erroneous technical opinions in their defence. This cynicism has no support in view of humanity’s technical and social development throughout history.
We have come from a world of extreme superstition, abject slavery and extreme racism and social prejudice, to a slowly emerging world of race equality, scientific ingenuity and emerging values that desire to see humanity benefit as a whole.

We have gone from smoke signals to the telephone to electronic mail sent at near the speed of light. Everything that has once been considered impossible has gradually become possible. The Wright Brothers were told by “experts” that it was impossible to fly...years ago people who talked of traveling to the moon were dismissed and labeled as “Mooniacs”. To assume something is ‘impossible’ in this world is a failure of creativity.
If 120,000 people can come together to build a nuclear bomb, as was done with the Manhattan Project in the late 1930s, there is no reason why we cannot come together and use human ingenuity to accomplish incredible social achievements for the betterment of humanity. It is time we unleash our ‘Weapons of Mass Creation’ (WMCs) unto the world. It is time we take responsibility for each other and ourselves. We have the knowledge, means and initiative to devise an entirely new social architecture that can create a world we actually enjoy and flourish in.
Very simply, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to grow up."

Thank you for reading, if you got this far that is!

If you found this post interesting, please consider perusing the following links:

The Local TZM Bath Chapter Group - To stay updated on any local events and discuss relevant issues and media, all opinions welcome :) 

(Please only join if you're anywhere near Bath or it's fairly impractical, anyone outside of the bath area will find their nearest chapter listed in the “contact” section of the national website):

The Global Website:
The National Website:
The Main YouTube Channel:
The Global Facebook Page:
The National UK Chapter Group:
The Global Twitter Page: @tzmglobal

Or alternatively come knock on my door at 28 Livingstone Road for a chat! I make marvellous tea. 

Peace, Love and Sustainability



Political Perspectives Series

Part 4: Thoughts on Cambodia (Dave Stephens)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Anti-EDL Demonstration in Bristol - Information

This Saturday (14th July), the English Defence League will be marching in Bristol, and with it there will be counter-demonstrations by anti-fascists. "We Are Bristol" is a coalition of anti-fascist and activist groups, trade unions and other groups and individuals opposed to the EDL. See my previous blog post Anti-EDL Demo in Bristol this July for the statement from We Are Bristol.  The following is the most up-to-date information that I have on the counter-demonstrations, and I will update this post regularly up until Friday night/Saturday morning as and when I get any further information.

Last updated: 14/7/12 at 08:47 All info on this post was correct to my knowledge at 8.47am. I will not be updating this post anymore as i am off to the march. For latest updates, I recommend following the live updates at Bristol Indymedia. Please note that this post is not an "official" source and the information contained within has been collated from my contacts and information posted elsewhere on the web.

My detailed eyewitness account of the counter-demonstrations can be found here:

  • The EDL have agreed a route with the police and full details can be found on the Avon and Somerset Constabulary website here.
  • There will be three separate counter-demonstrations. Currently two of these are planned to start at 11am, at Bristol Temple Meads and at the fountains opposite the Hippodrome. The third will involve a group of LGBTQI people marching as an Anti-Racist and Proud Block on We are: Proud Pride Parade. For this march, meet at Berkeley Square, just off Triangle at 10.30am (the march leaves at 11am)
  • Several media sources have today printed a story saying that the demonstration has been moved from the fountains to Castle Park. My sources from the Socialist Party and Bristol AFed (part of We Are Bristol), along with this Indymedia article claim that this is not currently the case - Castle Park was not agreed upon in any meeting and the DEMO IS STILL STARTING AT THE FOUNTAINS. At 6.16am on Friday, Bristol AFed tweeted "the official position is still meet 11am at the fountains, we'll update if this changes. " I was informed at 14:50 today (Friday) by a member of Bristol AFed that this is still the case and that the Temple Meads demo is still happening. Bristol Anti-fascists tweeted the following around 16:00 today (Friday) "we've heard the police are having their own march against the EDL at castlepark. Try not to get mixed up in it yourselves though!" - follow them at @stopedl. BADACA have also stated today that the demos at the fountains and Temple Meads will still be going ahead. The Bristol Indymedia front page was updated at 19:48 clarifying that the fountains is still the meeting point. An article was posted on Bristol Indymedia at 22:38 on Friday,  apparently by We Are Bristol, advising people to stay clear of Castle Park. Despite all of this, Unite Against Fascism seem adamant that the demo has been moved to Castle Park, and that there will be trade union appointed stewards re-directing people from the fountains. In which case, the fountains still seem a sensible place to head for, at least initially. 
  • A PDF of the We Are Bristol leaflet is here.
  • We have no idea how many people will be attending the EDL march or the counter-demonstration. A Facebook event "UNITY Against the EDL + Racist Hatred in Bristol" has 1719 people confirmed as attending with 419 as maybe attending. Many more have not, and will not, advertise that they are attending on Facebook (including myself), and also it is likely that some will not show up. This article from the Bristol Evening Post gives a figure of approximately 500 EDL members and 1000 police (700 according to the BBC). From past experience with the BEP (owned by the Daily Mail), I wouldn't trust any figure that they publish. Whatever the figures are, this is going to be a big one.
  • Police will be out in force. Street clothing (as opposed to obvious activist clothing) is advised, i.e. no T-shirts with Anarchy or other protest symbols, V for Vendetta masks, scarfs over face etc. Also, I would stongly advise not carrying anything that could be classed as a weapon, or any illegal drugs - you may be stopped and searched. The last thing we want is unnecessary arrests on our side. The more you look like an ordinary member of the public, the less likely you are to be stopped by the police.
  • There will be legal observers on the day, according to Searchlight Magazine, however they can't be everywhere at once. If you see anyone being arrested, make notes of the incident, including the badge number and name of the officer, and a name and/or detailed description of the person being arrested, and notes of the incident itself. Use mobile phone/video cameras if you have one. It may just help to let an innocent person off (or convict someone who has committed a serious offence).
  • A "Bust Card" has been produced with advice on what to do if approached or arrested by the police
  • A list of significant people who have signed the We Are Bristol statement can be found here. Two local MPs have also publicy opposed the EDL march and the Bristol NUT and South West Trade Union Congress (TUC) have also thrown their weights behind the We Are Bristol campaign.
  • Bristol Indymedia will be covering events on their website during the day, and also on their Twitter feed. Please inform them if you have any new information, prior to or during the demo.
  • A camera has been installed in Queen Square and the police rapid response HQ is nearby
  • Bristol Anarchist Federation have kindly created an anti-racist mix-tape for you to download to get you into the mood for Saturday Also, a few of us have been raving about about this classic EDL spoof anthem (free to download here).
  • Trains are likely to be heavily disrupted on the day, as the RMT railworkers’ union are to be on strike on ‘health and safety’ grounds, and taxidrivers will be refusing any EDL passengers  
If there is anything that I have left out or if you have any further information, please contact me either by leaving a comment below or e-mailing

Standing Stone's Blog will report back following the demo with an eyewitness account from the ground.

Political Perspectives #1: What is Anarchism? (Guest Blog)

This is the first in an occasional series of posts on the various political perspectives of those involved in activism in the Bath/Bristol area. The views expressed are those of the respective authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Standing Stone.


by B.A.R.F.


Entire books and decades of research can be thrown at this question, but the underlying core is this: anarchism is a movement for social justice through freedom and equality, existing and evolving since the 17th Century, but with roots going even further back. Far from meaning “chaos”, the term anarchism derives from the Greek “Anarkos”, meaning “without rulers”.

Anarchism has always been a challenge by the underprivileged against the wealthy and the powerful who seek to oppress and exploit them. It fights to abolish governmental power, and the greed of the rich, both of which serve only the interests of the few at the expense of the everyone else.

Capitalism is the current system, a system that values profit above all else, and as a side-effect, creates poverty, inequality, terror, slavery, injustice, environmental destruction and war. One way that the ruling classes (politicians, bosses and wealthy landowners) maintain their rule is by creating false divisions – like race, sexuality, sex, ability, nationality, faith or age – and turning us against each other, so we can’t face the real enemy. As such, anarchists fight for a world without capitalism, in which resources are distributed according to need, not income. We know that governments only serve to prop up the ruling classes (be they capitalists or communist party dictators), so we also believe in running our workplaces and communities ourselves, with everyone having a say.

We as anarchists are not simply dreamers, and we do not believe in a ‘perfect’ society. However, we do believe that the current system and the sense of alienation and injustice that it brings is a major cause of misery, crime and violence the world over. Anarchists seek to build a free and class-less society built on respect and cooperation, not profit and greed, where each human is assured a good standard of life and is free to develop into a valued and valuable person, free from the anti-social constraints placed on them in today’s capitalist society. We are well aware that a better society cannot be won tomorrow, nor will it be won without struggle. But it is up to us ordinary people to determine every aspect of our lives in our own interests, not professional revolutionaries. Anarchism is the catalyst that spurs us to struggle against things as they are, and struggle for things that might be. It is a struggle worth fighting.

And so, we anarchists do not stand aside from others’ struggles for freedom and dignity, nor do we attempt to dominate it. We seek to contribute to it practically however we can, and to encourage the highest levels of ambition, fairness and solidarity.

In truth, strands of anarchism can differ greatly, proposing anything from extreme individualism to anarchist communism. Many anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defence or non-violence, whilst others support the use of necessary force, knowing that our would-be rulers won’t give up without a fight. The rich and powerful won’t offer the common people peace and prosperity no matter how nicely we ask, therefore we see little worth in getting involved with political parties nor their legal system.

Functioning anarchist and pre-anarchist societies in history are often covered up by their destroyers, but here follow some examples:

From 1649 to 1651, between 100-200 self-styled ‘Diggers’ formed environmentalist communes on wasteland areas in England, sharing equally and seeking religious freedom. Though they were helped and supported by locals, the various colonies were torn down by landowner violence.

The Atlantic
The crews of the ‘Golden Age Of Atlantic Piracy’ formed 100 or more proto-anarchist fleeting shipboard democracies of various kinds for the mutineers and pirates of the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean Islands. A merry life and a short one, maybe, but Europeans, Americans and Africans made a brief expression of people power between 1690 and 1722.

The Ukraine
From 1918 to 1921, anarchist and military mastermind Nestor Makhno helped the peasants of the Ukraine break away from Lenin’s twisted vision of a communist bureaucratic U.S.S.R. and become the Free Territories during the Russian Revolution. Almost the entire country adopted anarchist ideas before they were eventually crushed by a combination of capitalists, monarchists and the Bolshevik ‘Red Army’. The revolution itself involved over 100,000 anarchists, all of whom were betrayed when the minority Bolshevik Party manoeuvred themselves into power.

Spain was heavily influenced by anarchist ideas, particularly around the Catalonia and Andalusia regions, for the years 1936 to 1939. After hard fighting, the peasants’ dreams of freedom were put down by a combination of fascist rebel aggression led by General Franco, and by their supposed ‘ally’ Stalin and his plot to disarm the anarchist peasants fighting on the front line, and instead funnel weapons to communists based away from the key battles.

Freetown Christiania is a self-governed commune in Copenhagen where over 900 residents, including businesses, have flourished since 1971, at a squatted former military base. Unfortunately, controversy over its open cannabis trade and autonomy has now led the Danish government and police to begin seizing back the town.

On the night of the 1st January 1994, men and women from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (the EZLN) began a 12-day offensive, taking back seven cities in one night from the corrupt Mexican state. Demanding control of local resources and freedom from corporate and military abuse, the native Mexicans from the Chiapas region still have their independence, making much use of the internet to gather international support.

From 1996, the Piqueteros movement began in Argentina, blocking roads and occupying government buildings against state corruption, eventually forming Unemployed Workers Movements (MTDs) who distributed food, goods and Services during the 2001 economic crisis, and re-opened factories such as FaSinPat, boosting production and work standards vastly.

These and other experiments form individual threads in the tapestry of collective human liberation. Some are successful, some are less so, but each speaks the truth that power originates in the people, and they alone have, together, the right to wield it.

“It is we who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute.”
Buenaventura Durruti, Spanish anarchist, 1936

Article reproduced with permission from BARF (Bath Anarchists).

Political Perspectives Series

Part 4: Thoughts on Cambodia (Dave Stephens)

Part 5. Thoughts on Meditation and Revolution (Simon Jilley)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Workfare Demonstration Outside WH Smith in Bath City Centre

Anti-workfare demonstration outside WH Smith in Bath city centre (Standing Stone)
On Saturday 7 July 2012, an anti-workfare demonstration took place outside WH Smith in Union Street, Bath. Members of BARF, Bath Against Cuts and Occupy Bath set up outside the shop at 11.30am with a large "Workfare is Slavery" banner and handed out leaflets and engaged with passers by. Despite continuous rain, the demonstration went on until 13.00 and hundreds of leaflets were handed out. No staff members from WH Smith approached the demonstration and the response from the public was overwhelmingly positive.

Originally, the demonstration was planned to target Holland and Barrett, however the day before the demonstration they announced that they were leaving the workfare scheme. More on Holland and Barrett here, and a previous workfare article on Standing Stone's Blog can be found here.

Next Saturday is the "We Are Bristol" march against the EDL - stay tuned for updates.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Holland and Barrett to pull out of Workfare

A planned week of action against the controversial workfare scheme starting from tomorrow has scored its first success, before the week has even begun.

Holland and Barrett, the target of many of tomorrow's pickets and protests has just announced that they will no longer be partaking in the workfare scheme. The following statement has was posted on their facebook page late last night:

"At Holland & Barrett, we take our responsibilities as a retailer and employer very seriously, and any possible compromise to the safety of our staff and customers from opponents of our work experience scheme is treated with great importance.

This factor, together with the planned introduction of a new full time, salaried apprentice scheme, means that the 60 people currently undertaking the work experience scheme will be the last to complete the eight week placement. After this time Holland & Barrett will not participate further in that scheme"

It appears that the threat of action has forced them to reconsider their involvement with workfare. However, many more corporations are still on board with the scheme, including Poundland, Argos, Tesco, Asda and Superdrug. Pizza Hut are currently reviewing their involvement with the scheme.