Dave A (the editor)
Every so often, we feel that we should explain what we’re trying to achieve with the Heckler project to a) the people we want to reach in the south of Essex and suburban East London and b) the anarchist movement that if we’re being honest, we only operate on the fringes of. We make no apologies for saying that the punters out here are our main priority as they’re the people we have to convince if we’re ever going to build a movement that will bring about radical change. Having said that, we feel that we do owe some kind of explanation to the anarchist movement about the way we operate and why. So, this post is trying to address two quite separate audiences!
Basically, we’re about bringing power right down to the grassroots where the important decisions about the way we live, get along with each other and how our communities grow and develop are made at the neighbourhood level. We try to cover the more practical, positive aspects of how that can come about with our sister project, Alternative Estuary. A fair bit of what we do with the Heckler is calling truth to power in a way that people out here can relate to. By calling the local authorities in the area we cover to account, we’re starting to get to the nub of why the system of local ‘democracy’ we live under is dysfunctional and ultimately doomed. Recently, we’ve published a slew of articles about the multiple failings of Thurrock Council, laced with some black humour and piss taking, that hopefully, gets this over.
It’s only by relentlessly plugging away at this we can start to initiate the discussions needed about why power has to come right down to the grassroots. It’s a long, time consuming, unglamorous slog and to be honest, we’re only just scratching the surface on this one. We can just about cover Thurrock and Basildon, after that, we could really do with some regular correspondents from elsewhere in the south of Essex to help us out:) Given our limited resources, we have to focus on what we can do and the areas we’ve built up a level of understanding and expertise in. That expertise has been built up over the years, not just by working with the likes of Basildon & Southend Housing Action and the Vange Hill Community Group but going back fifteen years to when we were active in the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA).
The influences we have for the Heckler blog range from what we used to write ourselves and saw from other branches of the IWCA back in the 2000s through to what The Bristolian is doing now. Which is relentlessly holding the powers that be, particularly local authorities, to account, but doing so in a way that’s accessible, engaging and leavened with a sense of humour. FFS, with some of the shite we see from the local councils in our area, if you didn’t laugh, you’d be crying! We could write long theoretical pieces about power structures but they’d only have a limited audience in a select circle of political activists. Sure there’s a place for that but as I never went to university, I’m happy to leave that to other people while I carry on taking the piss:)
All of this means that we can’t allocate the time to certain issues that some other anarchists and activists would like us to do. To be honest, given the sensitivity and complexity of issues such as gender identity and toxicity of the rows around it, we would rather stay out of it. Sure, as and when we can, we read contributions from both sides and we’re trying to reach a nuanced understanding, but please appreciate that given the pressures we’re already under, we haven’t got the mental energy to get dragged into this one. There are only so many hours in the day and FFS, we need to take a break sometimes! If that’s not acceptable to some people, then sorry that’s the way it is. If that means we continue to stay out on the margins of the anarchist movement/scene, then so be it. We’ve got a network of groups and people we can work with and suffice to say, we’re happy with that…
Returning to the Heckler, we’re sure our regular followers will have noticed the difference between this blog and the paper. This blog is trying to carry out a balancing act between appealing to the punters out here in the south of Essex while at the same time, having some kind of reference to and relationship with, the anarchist movement. Trust us when we say this is a tough act and to be honest, we’re not sure we’re managing that balance well. As for the paper, we’ve moved to a position where it’s aimed one hundred percent at our target audience in the badlands of the Thames estuary. With the paper, we don’t aim to stand still and we’re constantly thinking of new ways of writing, presenting and distributing it to make it as relevant, engaging and entertaining as possible without getting done for libel or slander!
There are a few reason why we’ve written this piece. The most important is to try to explain to our audience out here how we’re trying to make what we do relevant to their life experiences. Also, although we are out on the margins, we feel that we do owe the anarchists we know an explanation of where we’re coming from. Lastly, we just needed to vent and get this off our chest:)