(I’m just in front of the tree on the left – the one wearing the green shirt)
Although I’ve put this in the text “1969: Revolution as Personal and as Theatre”, I’ve decided to put it here as it was the first public text I helped write, when I was part of “North London Revolutionary Socialists”, a mix of young people some of whom had been involved in “Schools Action Unions”, others who’d been around Essex University during the occupation of 1968 and had sabotaged the University computer (at a time when computers were massive expensive things which filled whole rooms). This was produced by me and others during a brief occupation at Goldsmith’s College to be handed out the next day at the Stones’ concert.
On the day of the concert I managed to lose my ‘comrades’1 (including some who later were part of the Stoke Newington 8, and some part of the Angry Brigade) in the crowd and bumped into an old friend and his girlfriend and we popped some pills. At that sombre moment when Jagger read out a poem by Shelley in memory of the recently deceased Brian Jones, a load of cans and bottles were chucked at a large crowd who were standing up and obscuring the view, people shouting to them to “Get down!” as they hurled their missiles. An innocent age. Just as they started playing ‘Street Fighting Man’ I suddenly saw in the distance my ‘comrades’ prancing and jumping and dancing up and down with great big flaming torches held up high, chucking the leaflets up into the air to distribute them. When the song was over, the creepy presenter denounced, through the monopoly of the mic, my group for trying to spoil people’s fun. I heard later that they’d been taking the piss out of him, clearly not his idea of fun.
Not a great leaflet but….
What the hell are you doing here?
Have you come here to escape the boring repetitiveness of your schools, your jobs, escape your boss, your parents, your hang-ups, the fuzz, the politicians; the system that kicks you around and tells you what to do?
Do you control your life?
Aren’t you pissed off with this hypocritical, repressive, profit-mad society which denies you control of your life, makes you merely a cog in a massive machine which exists only for those who press the button; for THEM not us?
Do you control your mind?
You are free to speak your mind, but is your mind itself free? Through the TV, the newspapers, the schools, the colleges, advertising, your mind is moulded, so that it accepts the system.
If you step too far out of line, if you get high, if you squat, they bust you.
Do you control your culture?
O.K. So you’ve come to 3 free concerts every summer in Hyde Park, but the pop industry is profit-orientated, commercialized, 90% computerized bullshit. Somewhere someone’s getting fat on your bread.
Are you involved in the music? Do you think that by sitting on your backside sucking in what’s being churned out, you become part of it? The music may be good, but have you stopped to consider what’s behind it?
You have no real control over your life, over your mind, over your culture – so what are you going to do about it? Do you care? Do people around you care? Have you asked them?
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CONTROL YOUR LIVES, SMASH THE SYSTEM AND ULTIMATELY CREATE A SOCIETY WHICH EXISTS FOR US, AND NOT FOR THEM
1The term “comrade”sticks in my throat a bit, though it was constantly used at the time (and still is sometimes). It’s the leftist equivalent of ‘business partner’ or ‘colleague’, so formal and stiff. Above all, it’s specialist, separating politico relationships from friendships. It also sounds a bit militaristic – soldiers often call each other ‘comrades’. It also has corny Stalinist connotations, like those nasty Reds in cold war spy movies. However, it seems sometimes necessary – how else can one refer to people who aren’t exactly friends but are on your side in a fight with authority?