Don't fear labels or dismiss aesthetics, open up and be a platform not a point of view – here's how to take a no bullshit approach to anarchy in the publishing industry
There’s no denying that London’s independent print community is thriving. From feminist zines and fashion magazines to publications supporting queer voices, marginalised communities are using the enduring power of print to amplify their editorial power and represent their own communities when the wider media industry so often refuses. However, despite the wealth of alternative media making the white, stale and male-led publishing industry seem even more irrelevant, can all this printed paper actually account for any societal shifts or concrete change?
Best known for their hijacking of the London bus ads with anti-police posters and pasting over tube ads with imagery forcing us to question our jobs and disrupt harmful advertising, STRIKE! Magazine is an anarchist, anonymously run magazine and non-profit platform. Focussing on grassroots resistance, anti-oppression politics and the philosophies surrounding these movements, the collective also ran the bookshop/radical publishing stall – No Borders – at Banksy’s Dismaland. Refusing to focus on individual voices or egos and instead prioritising the voices of people on the front line of political change as well those directly affected, STRIKE! is an accessible, no-bullshit approach to anarchy.
Here, the publications (anonymous) team outline how to subvert mainstream media, harness the power of meaningful community and push forward the radical print revolution.
DON’T (ALWAYS) FEAR LABELS
“We are predominantly women, we are feminists, we are queer and we run the magazine on anarchist principles: working co-operatively against hierarchies, profit, capitalism and towards decolonialsed, intersectional political futures. Sometimes these labels can leave you stuck in a bubble or putting people off, but they also provide roots and histories from which ideas and movements can grow and learn. Labels can be useful because of their collective nature, but we do our best to avoid promoting individual names. Since organisers have to commit so much time and energy, a risk with DIY media is that publications become vanity projects based on self-promotion. We don’t promote our own editorial voices, nor do we elevate one specific contributor over another.
We want to reclaim the word ‘anarchist’ from the manarchists who too often dominate radical spaces. Radical philosophies shouldn’t be confined to dusty bookshelves and university seminar rooms, but should be made cheaply and easily available to those who actually make up the spaces of radical politics. STRIKE! is about opening up these ideas, promoting counter culture and supporting the work of organisers and thinkers working to create radical change.”
“Capitalism by no means owns creativity. In fact, the left has all the good artists and while they may need to sell their work to survive in this system, many also want to use their energy for good” – STRIKE!
BE A PLATFORM NOT A POINT OF VIEW
“Mainstream media frequently misrepresents people and communities, particularly those who are the most oppressed. It attempts to produce media that everyone can understand and be represented by, but it is overwhelmingly created by a very specific kind of person. The majority of mainstream journalists are white, privately educated and went to elite universities – but even more inclusive media with journalists from diverse backgrounds fails to escape the agendas of editors and media owners who will always be part of the political establishment, and always fail to truly represent oppressed and minority groups.
We attempt to provide a platform for a range of voices without reaching too far outside of the political communities around us. As far as possible we commission people to write about themselves and their communities and struggles, rather than asking journalists to gaze in from the outside. Even the best journalist will always be bias, so why pretend to be impartial? We avoid letting people speak for or about anyone else because true empowerment can only come from within”
“In political communities it can be tempting to imagine you were born with all your radical, critical, alternative thoughts, but we are all born into a hetero-patriarchal, imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist society. It’s a privilege to be in groups that facilitate and nurture alternative thinking. We believe closed safe spaces and platforms can be powerful and productive, and that we shouldn’t water down our ideas or waste energy on those who fundamentally want to exclude and attack us. However we aim to make our publication an open space where people can come to radical politics and let their ideas grow.”
PRINT IS ALIVE AND WELL
“As mainstream newspaper sales plummet downwards, it may seem strange that so many radical print publications, such as zines and newspapers, are flourishing. But even in a digital age, there are many merits to print. Newsprint is a cheap, large canvas. As a physical object, print leaves a trail of ideas, each issue a timestamped snapshot of dissent that lives on in paper, while online content risks getting lost in the endless mass of pages. STRIKE! is 100% financed by the sales of our paper, our anthology and related products. While we are by no means rich and 100% not for profit, print allows us to survive without advertising or funding.
We’ve been inspired by generations of radical print media that came before us. Papers like Freedom, founded in 1886 and run by influential anarchists including Peter Kropotkin and Charlotte Wilson. The International Times, born out of the revolutionary energy of the late 60s, and Mute magazine, who began in 1994 and were early explorers of the relationship between new media and late capitalism.”
DON’T DISMISS AESTHETICS
“In some radical circles there is a feeling that art and creative design are a waste of time, but this attitude fails to recognise the radical potential of design. Often it is corporate entities that have time and money to invest in art and design, but capitalism by no means owns creativity. In fact, the left has all the good artists and while they may need to sell their work to survive in this system, many also want to use their energy for good. If we want to oppose mainstream media, our publications should look just as appealing, if not more.
The traditional red and black look of anarchism has its uses, but we move away from this because there is a question of representation; who are we speaking for or with and who are we speaking to? It’s important to create a platform where many visions can be incorporated, not solely the loudest or most confrontational. Rather than creating a single 'STRIKE! look', we aim to illuminate the individual voices of our contributors within each issue – hopefully resulting in a visual language that supports the work of artists and designers who are claiming autonomy in the disproportionately white, middle-class spaces of art and design.”
“When your mind is filled with a claustrophobic mix of apocalyptic despair and dreams of anarcho-feminist queer-topias, you’ve got to learn how to look after yourself” – STRIKE!
IF I CAN’T DANCE, I DON’T WANT YOUR REVOLUTION
“When your mind is filled with a claustrophobic mix of apocalyptic despair and dreams of anarcho-feminist queer-topias, you’ve got to learn how to look after yourself. At STRIKE! we think and talk about self-care a lot. We’ve seen far too many brilliant and committed activists burn out in spectacular ways. Any form of political resistance is hard work, made even harder when you feel like you are alone. We attempt to offer care to ourselves and our communities by putting on events that bring everyone together for a bit of inspiration a lot of dancing.
20th-century anarchist Emma Goldman said, “I did not believe that a cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy” and we are strong believers in that. While in the outside world we may be up against a lot of injustices, we aim to create spaces and events where people can feel supported, energised and have a great time. Although no group can be perfect in a society with so many fundamental injustices at its core, at each one of our events we have been proud and inspired to see the inclusive, open minded and indeed beautiful communities that surround, inform and create STRIKE! magazine. That’s why we make it and why we encourage anyone with an important message to build their own platform, share the stories of their communities and join the radical publishing movement.”