LARC statement

The statement of LARC has been issued now via an email list. The arguments are pretty crap, though.[see body of text]. On another level, the local anti-G8 mobilising group Reshape was threatened to loose the funds for providing a convergence centre next year during the G8 summit, if there won’t be a PGA conference hosted in the convergence centre.

One problem with PGA is that it is not accountable anymore. As in Germany I watched a documentary “Das Unbehagen in der Globalisierung”, made by Swiss Television, about the beginnings of the PGA in 1998, and it has moved away a lot from the attractivity, enthusiasm, equality and visions it had then to a nearly totalitarian, monopolising position in the anticapitalist movement.

As said before, any criticisim will be perceived as a threat, even if it is raised internally, and followed by expulsion and withdrawal of resources (mostly money), and it is not realised that some critisism are actually raised to help the organisation to achieve more, to get a better reputation, to expand beyond a narrow viewpoint, It is quite sad, really. Any critisisms externally will be even more perceived as a threat, with reactions on trying to destroy the person’s reputation via gossiping, backstabbing, trying to push the person out of the left movement as far as possible and to discredit, break up political friendships, and similar.
Any critisisms externally will be ignored as being raised from people who don’t know anything about the projects anyway.

So what possibilities are there?

  • running away
  • fighting
  • giving up and adapting

Statement following LARC Annual General Meeting, 2.12.04

At this year’s London Action Resource Centre (LARC) Annual General Meeting, a decision was made (by majority vote) to exclude two individuals who had been behaving disruptively and often abusively for some time. They are now not welcome within the building. Their names are Fabian and Asim, part of a group called West Essex Zapatista.

We aren’t happy to have had to resort to such an emergency measure, but felt that the long-term of survival of LARC was under threat, since people from most of the groups currently using and maintaining the building have become so distressed by the situation that they will stay involved only if these individuals are no longer using it. (These groups include Queeruption, London Indymedia, London Rising Tide, Wombles & Rhythms of Resistance.)

Both these individuals have contributed a lot of their time and energy to LARC since they became involved but much of their political activity has consisted of parasitical ‘involvement’ in other groups, creating divisions and an atmosphere of mistrust both in the building and on a much wider scale. A situation has been reached where they are no longer trusted by the majority of regular users of the building. There seems to be a pattern of destructive, duplicitous behaviour going back many, many years in the case of Fabian, but we have decided to list examples from the last year or so, when they both became involved with LARC:

1.) The ‘Our Mayday’ website, set up in part by Fabian and Asim, has published statements and leaflets put out by the Wombles, but with several alterations so as to libel the Wombles. Maybe the strongest example was the posting up on Our Mayday of the Beyond ESF call to take part in an action to highlight Ken Livingstone’s involvement with the ESF and to disrupt his speech to it. Added to this text was a further text – not written by the Wombles – which called for Livingstone to be violently attacked, and for a fatwa to be issued from LARC. When there was a backlash against the disruption of the ESF meeting in protest at Livingstone, a letter of condemnation signed by several trade union and NGO ‘leaders’ cited this incitement as a sign of Beyond ESF and the Wombles’ bad behaviour, and as such diminished support for the action.

Further to that, it was reported that the incitatory text had been sent from a LARC computer (thus defaming LARC), and that the individual who had registered the computer was the same as the one arrested at the ESF rally on the Sunday. So he was forced to circulate a statement disassociating himself from the actions of this small group of people using LARC as their base.

2.) He and other individuals involved with LARC have experienced seeing their statements, emails etc. altered in order to misrepresent their positions and expose them to ridicule and unfounded criticisms. The use of Wiki technology seems to have made this sort of falsification easier to carry out.

3.) The Wombles have been subjected to a campaign of false accusation which has damaged their ability to outreach and work with others. False emails purporting to be from the Wombles were sent out from

4.) Peoples’ Global Action (PGA): We are aware that networks like PGA are far from perfect and can reflect many of the problems of the misuse of power that we seek to confront and transcend in the wider world. But nothing will improve in an atmosphere where people become afraid to speak or act for fear of being hyper-critiqued, distorted or even subjected to character assassination.

Several ongoing processes within PGA, for example in Asia and on gender, have been disrupted, undermined and manipulated in various ways by these two individuals, who actively look for (potential) problems or conflicts, in order to exaggerate them and/or undermine other individuals involved. It may not be worth going too deeply into the motivations for this sort of activity, but becoming the centre of attention and occupying the moral high ground seem to be a part of it.

There were problems at this year’s PGA conference in Belgrade, the most high-profile of which was when one of these individuals entered a daily meeting discussing day-to-day logistical issues concerning the conference, pulled down his trousers and pants and wiped his arse on the document that he considered to be problematic. Several people at this meeting, particularly those not familiar with his concerns, were disturbed by this action.

On returning from Belgrade, controversy was whipped up over what was presented as being an invitation extended at the conference for fascists to attend future PGA events. On further examination of the minutes in question, it became clear that nothing of the sort had been said, let alone agreed on as a proposal. It was agreed, however, at the most recent PGA London meeting that the wording was open to misinterpretation, and a suggested clarification of those minutes is currently being circulated in London before being sent to the PGA Europe process email list.
One of these individuals was excluded from a meeting held at LARC to discuss the possibility of a ’Climate Caravan’ to the global PGA conference in Nepal in 2005, and attended by people from the UK and continental Europe. He has claimed that this was done because he is Asian and because he regards PGA to be institutionally racist. In fact, he was excluded because he sees PGA as ’bankrupt’, and because he is not trusted.

Some people involved with LARC and PGA, reacting to the suggestion of the individuals in question that we should review PGA’s position as a ’PGA Infopoint’, suggested a facilitated meeting to discuss these and other concerns. This meeting was postponed due to lack of outside facilitation. It also never gained the support of the larger number of people working on the PGA process in London, for whom the breakdown of trust was so final that any attempt to patch up differences and move on – normally the best way of resolving strong differences – was thought to be pointless.

Many of these issues did come up at the PGA London meeting at LARC on 26.11.04, but while it agreed to send out the Belgrade clarification, it exacerbated tensions when Fabian cast unsubstantiated fascistic aspersions about someone who happened, fortunately, to be in the meeting and who was able to refute them utterly. (The minutes of this meeting are available for those who request them.)
********** We are under no illusions that LARC, while being an amazing potential and actual resource for our movements, needs more support if it is to really thrive.

The good news is that, as well as the groups currently using the space, there’s a lot more positive stuff waiting to happen, like groups queuing up to use the office space, a rebirth of monthly film nights, the installation of heating and a chance to install a printing press in the basement, to name four examples.

We hope that tonight’s meeting has gone a long way towards restoring an atmosphere of trust and mutual aid within LARC.

Thanks for reading,

The LARC Collective.

_For more info on events at LARC an other related information, see
Tel: 020 7377 9088
62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES.

Responses about the statement:

  1. The statement says it made the decision by majority vote. That is very unusual in the anticapitalist scene, where decisions are made by consensus (exclusive maybe the individuals concerned). It also does not sufficiently explain the process; the expulsion was not on the agenda of the AGM, and present refugee groups and individuals who protested against the process, were ignored.
  2. LARC under threat? The statement issued says, that the emergency measures were taken because they felt “LARC was under threat”. They state Asim and Fabian would be disruptive and abusive; whilst I can imagine they being disruptive, when injust and unfair decisions are made, I have never in the whole long years I know them, come across them being abusive to somebody. Also the “threat to LARC” they would pose is not specified. There is a bit of elaboration later on, which will be examined sperately.
  3. as reply to 1.) the Ourmayday site has been set up by us, by my friend and partly by me, not by Asim and Fabian. They just used it, but it was and is open to use for anybody. The website as such was purchased to maintain a domain for the mayday mobilisations, either to mirror already exsisting websites, or to prevent the domain getting lost, as happened frequently the years before with websites and domains associated with Mayday. As the domain was not used and we experimiented with different programs and tools, the associated revolutionary wiki came out of a result from our activity with Indymedia, as we saw what a usefull tool it is, and how open to anyone and easy to use it is. We tried various different wikis for different projects, and by accident the wiki we have for the ourmayday site is a BMD wiki, which does not need any registration, but displays the ip adress of the computer if people do not log in.
    Anyway, that statement which is refered to, was brought up by the SWP/GR/socialist party frontgroup types to denounce an action at the ESF against Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, speaking. There was an article on Indymedia UK – I desperately try to find it, but it’s tricky. Anyway I remember having a look at the newswire and calling out to my friend “look, our website is featuring as an argument of the SWP types to try to discredit the wombles!” Anyway, when looking closer what we actually had on our website (this is not an astonishing development for somebody who is involved in Indymedia, to not know what is on one’s website!) we found out that it was a silly joke, a scam, clear to everyone who cares to read the whole text. It was a situationist texts, for whom Asim and Fabian are famous of, and chapters and articles were and are written in books like “Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla” about them and their projects, so desperately needed to be translated in english, it seems, as apparantly parts of the British social movement scene is too stupid to understand the means and tools of communication guerilla.
    Anyway, the nmost stupid thing is that LARC is taking up the argumentation of their political enemies, the SWP/GR/Socialist Party types, against their process of excluding the grassroots from the ESF, they protested by storming the stage of one of their most prestigious talks and panel discussions. It was a very successfull action, but by taking up the argumentation of their political enemies to exclude other grassroot activists, the wombles and LARC have lost their victory and become traitors. This is really, really sad. I had an incredible good opinion of the wombles, untill this. Some people stated Fabian and Asim would not like the wombles, but that is not true, that has never been true, they liked the individuals, but did not like the wombles’ politics. I guess they are right. Apparantly, the wombles do not know how to deal with success, they did not even seem to recognize their victory, and turn it in a failure instead. What a bloody mess. I never thought the wombles would behaving so stupid! To take over the arguments of the political enemy against your own movement. Clearly, they can’t be trusted anymore. Damn shame, real pity, as they are the only group which could be strong enough to defy the SWP and the police tactics, and who could have been the basis for a strong left movement in Britain. No wonder the mass media hammered them with demonising press articles. Unfortunately they are behaving too stupidly and naively, so they are no real danger nor threat to the system.Haven’t got time, now, will get on with it later. As to what I also wanted to say is, that it is okay if people get annoyed with each other, especially over the years. However, expulsion is not a way forward.
    Conflicts happen always and everywhere, and it is significant on how they are dealt with.

    In Germany, I am part of an editorial collective of a newspaper (well slightly exagerated, as not being very active due to always being away), and once, there was a bitter argument about a writer who wrote something positive about pornography. Huge big arguments, gossip and backstabbing. Well this writer was active for several years in the magazine, and she clearly did not deserve that. I am happy to say, I negotiated a break from each other, and think, that both sides were happy with this outcome. The writer died a few weeks later due to an unrecognized septicaemia. I am very happy not to have participated in any unfair and unjust activisty to mob her out of the magazine, but to have negotiated both sides having a break from each other, and later on being able to join again. She would not have deserved to go in disgrace, and I am happy she did not die in disgrace, because she has done so incredibly much over the years for the movement.
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