Interview with Santa Semeli & The Monks

Photo by Ben Buchanan.

Love, Life and Happy Endings?

Santa Semeli and the Monks are eclectic, impossible to pigeon hole they veer between European avant garde and punk, echoes of Henry Cow, Nick Cave and ‘Cabaret’ sit alongside full on rock! Their lyrics confront and engage with the human condition, the real lived experience that each of us uncomfortably recognizes, dealing with hope, disappointment, love, lust and our own inconsistencies. Full of honesty and warmth their album is like listening to the soundtrack of you life-not your Facebook life your real life-evoking memories that make you smile and wince. In a pub near Camden Semeli Economou and Haraldur Agustsson agreed to an interview with Tim Forster.

Q: How long have Santa Semeli and the Monks been a musical entity? How did you meet and decide that you wanted to collaborate musically?

S: We got together as a musical entity in September 2013. We studied together at the same drama school, but we are a few generations apart. We actually met in December 2012 when I cast Haraldur in my short film The Burning Bush. Here’s a funny little anecdote: I got hold of Haraldur’s phone number to ask him if he was interested in playing a part in the film. I called a few times and left some messages to no avail. Eventually someone on a bus who sounded like a young kid and drunk picked up the phone. I asked if he had time to act in my film. ‘What’s the part then?’ So I started telling him all about the abstract nature of it…’Do you know Kokoschka?’ ‘Nah what’s that?’ I then asked if he was free to shoot on Saturday ‘Nah I’ve got school.’ ‘What on a Saturday?’ ‘Yeahhh’ We eventually hung up the phone. I thought he was the rudest guy ever. I told some people about it and they couldn’t believe it…Long story short I was given the wrong number. Haraldur could not be more different than the guy I’d spoken to. Thinking about it makes me laugh! Who did that poor kid think I was? A secret admirer? A prankster? Hahaha!!!

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Liam O’Flaherty: Leader of a Four Day Revolt

Liam O’Flaherty is regarded as one of Ireland’s finest writers of the 20th century, but before he rose to literary prominence, O’Flaherty led a little known and short lived occupation of the Rotunda Concert Hall in Dublin city just days after the formation of the Irish Free state in 1922. Born on the Aran Island of Inis Mor in 1896, O’Flaherty served with the Irish Guards during World War I. After experiencing severe shellshock in Flanders he was discharged with a disability pension and led a somewhat nomadic life for the next few years.

O’Flaherty’s travels took him around the Mediterranean, South America, Canada and North America. O’Flaherty had long held left wing values but, during these travelling years his left wing ideals swelled and he brought such political convictions back home to Ireland with him in Christmas 1921. He became involved in left wing politics in Dublin city and became a fixture on O’Connell street where from a small news stand he gave out political pamphlets and sold The Workers Republic newspaper. It wasn’t long before he gave up that role in order to lead a small working class revolt just a few yards up the street in the Rotunda hall. On Monday January 16th 1922, the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State was announced and two days later approximately 200 unemployed men, made up mostly of unemployed dock workers, marched into the Rotunda Concert Hall and Pillar room which is now the Gate Theatre and occupied it. O’Flaherty was at the head of this band as the chairman of the Council of Unemployed in Dublin and ordered garrisons be divided into companies and red flags be hung out the windows. This act of defiance by O’Flaherty and his army of unemployed happened during a time when Ireland was adjusting to the outcome of the War of Independence, it was a time when society across Ireland was slowly falling into a state of anarchy. Workers strikes no longer had any impact because the social atmosphere in Ireland at the time demanded something more, and this is why ordinary strikes transformed into workers flying the red flag and taking over their place of employment through occupations. O’Flaherty admired workers like those in Limerick and Cork who took over workplaces to set up their own soviets and he sought something similar with his occupation of the Rotunda concert hall. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Badger Cull: Not Just About Badgers

September 8th marked the start of another season of Badger Culling, a practice deemed by most to be both unwanted and unnecessary. Last year’s pilot was an unmitigated disaster for the Government, whose attempts to appease dairy farmers and the NFU led to an eight week extension which still only resulted in 39% of the total number of badgers to be culled making the cut. This was a result of direct action in the killing fields of Gloucester and Somerset, where Hunt Sabs and a collection of badger enthusiasts organised effectively for months to fight for the rights of British wildlife to remain unanswerable to the whims of the Countryside Alliance.

However, despite the high cost of policing (£4000 per dead Badger), the need for an extension, the rise in badger populations after the cull and the complete lack of scientific evidence to suggest that badgers are the major contributor to the spread of Bovine TB in cattle populations,  the Badger Cull has been given the go ahead to continue its proposed 4 year stint in Gloucester and Somerset once more. Plans to roll out the Cull across the country have been put on ice, for the time being. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Interview with AFem 2014

Freedom News is delighted to bring to you an interview with one of the organisers of the Afem 2014 Conference. Held on October 19th, 2014 at Queen Mary University of London, there is still time to get involved for those interested!

 

How are you organising the conference- have you started from scratch or are you modelling its organisation on tried and tested methods such as the Anarchist Bookfair?

 

We are organising the conference in strands, with a goal of various sessions/workshops/meetings to be held within each strand. Strands include: International Anarchafeminism, Sexism within our movement, Workplace organisation, Control of our bodies, Anti-fascism, People of Colour, Sex work, and Gender. We’re still confirming meetings and speakers within these strands so if anyone has an idea for a discussion that they’d like to propose please get in touch! We are certainly building off of the bookfair, although also hoping to improve upon the model in some ways! We all feel strongly that a robust safer spaces policy is needed and are working on putting one together which we will be using during the conference. I think many of us have had unfortunately had bad experiences with misogynist manarchists at the bookfair and are looking forward to having our own conference where they are not welcome. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Green Anarchism: Towards the Abolition of Hierarchy

Freedom presents an essay by contributor Corin Bruce, intended as an  introduction to ‘green anarchism’ and the ways in which it can challenge hierarchies.

In the last few decades new forms of activism have begun to emerge that concerned not merely the fate of human society, but of the non-human world – including non-human animals and the environment – as well. In their most radical forms, these struggles culminated in what has been termed by some as ‘eco’ or ‘green’ anarchism. Green anarchism can be taken to consist in any political doctrine that takes some of the key components of anarchist thought – whatever these are deemed to be – and applies them towards critiquing the interaction of humans with the non-human world. This definition is a good start, but is perhaps like many definitions of anarchism unsatisfactorily vague. This essay will propose a more specific definition of green anarchism, which will later be explained as the political doctrine that strives for the abolition of hierarchy in general. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Who Cares? The Care UK strike, why it matters and what you can do about it.

A guest writer for Freedom takes a look at the current Care UK strike and asks the question: why is it important, and what can anarchists do to help?

Care UK workers in Doncaster, having already been on strike for 48 days, have just begun another three weeks’ worth of strike action, from 7am at Monday 25th August to Monday 15th September. A dispute of this length and intensity is almost unheard of in the context of present-day UK trade unionism, and so it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s going on, and what we can do to help

 

Services for people with learning disabilities in Doncaster, previously provided by the NHS, were flogged off to private provider Care UK earlier this year. As part of this process, care workers were told to accept a 35% pay cut, and new workers were brought in on £7 an hour. They responded by striking, demanding that the wages of the lowest-paid staff be brought up to a living wage of £7.65, and that more experienced staff should also be given a basic wage rise to keep them in line with NHS conditions. Care UK bosses have been unwilling to give ground, and so the workers have made a determined stand: they first voted to strike in February, and they’re still fighting on today after having lost nearly 50 days’ pay so far, in one of the longest-running strikes in the history of the healthcare sector. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Critical Reflections: Unity, Affinity, And Social Ruptures

There exists a discourse, and strategy, that has existed longer than the ‘left’. It has existed since the first revolutionary group decided to wage war against their masters. They wondered, “hmmm, what if we were all united against this single enemy? That would be more effective no?” Alas, false unity was born. Putting aside ideological or personal differences for the sake of similar ideological goals. Pretending like tensions between two schools of thought don’t exist, and burying those feelings deep down. Like a sad alcoholic who does the same thing over and over. False unity has been repeated so many times, and like the sad alcoholic, it pretends problems can be pushed down by those facing them. If you ignore it long enough, and numb it, it will disappear. False unity is strategic alcoholism, but unlike most strategies, there is never a scenario from which it can succeed.

It attempts to white-out tension lines between groups, ideologies, or schools of thought. It pretends like the ride doesn’t  matter, only the destination. Imagine taking a road trip with your whole family, in the same car. It would be horrible!  On the ride they would be nagging me, annoying me, and generally pushing my buttons. When, and if we ever reach the destination, I would feel like crap. I’m here, now what? That is what false unity does to us. When we take a ride with our enemies to achieve a singular goal we build up rage, and build it up and build it up, until finally we explode in a ridiculous and emotional fury. Once said destination is reached, it would be hell. Imagine working with every single Leninist to smash capitalism, just imagine that. It sounds like torture. Imagine all the rage you would build up, and all the hatred you would feel when they suddenly declare, “Nah homie, lets use the state!” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Kropotkin and the Prison System

At the time of writing (12th August 2014), Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has come to the conclusion that much of the country had come to months ago- that Tory policy on prisons is dehumanising, that being imprisoned makes you ‘uniquely vulnerable’, and that our current public discourse in regards to prisons is myth-laden and exasperatingly underdeveloped. Mr. Hardwick has a decent attitude toward the purpose of the prison system: ‘you’re sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment’, but he’s also hardly an anarchist. Nevertheless, I believe that any reform of the prison system ought to consider what Peter Kropotkin had to say on the matter, in his work ‘Prisons: Universities of Crime‘, originally read to the British Medical Association in 1913.

This article is not written with anything resembling the belief that Chris Grayling, the sadistic dullard afforded the title of Justice Secretary for now, would even consider what Kropotkin had to say about the prison system, or indeed that he would reform it in any way other than via a cloying privatization that merely pushes the problems outside of the democratic domain. This article is written is an affirmation that the anarchist position on prisons is the most humane, understanding and just. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Notes from the US: July

Louis Further rounds up the news from the US you may have missed in the month of July. 

Violence

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan, on whose imprisonment Freedom has reported recently, was freed from Rikers Island jail in New York City in July. A short time afterwards a report by the ‘New York Times’ exposed the extent of brutal attacks by prison officers there. New York city’s health department carried out a secret study and found that abuse was widespread and routine. Over an 11-month period in 2013, ‘serious injuries’ were inflicted by staff on as many as 129 prisoners. In 77% of cases, the prisoner had a mental illness. (Rikers now houses approximately the same number of mentally ill people as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York state combined.) Typical seems to be one instance when jailers intervened to stop a prisoner from hanging himself. But he was forced to lie face down on the floor and punched so hard that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery. Another prisoner was beaten so badly that he nearly died. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

From the Land of Proudhon

Thom Holterman brings us the first of a regular series of news and book reviews from the French anarchist movement. 

 

I.          Tarnac affair

On the 11th of Novermber 2008 ten young people were subjected to early morning raids in the French village of Tanac, garnering widespread media attention. They were investigated under suspicion of sabotaging French railway lines and the Minister of the Interior at the time deemed it necessary to inform the country of a, “anarcho-autonomous clandestine structure,” that was,” focussed on committing violent acts.”

 

Now, nearly six years later, the police and other anti-terror organisations have failed to turn up any hard proof. The case appears stone cold and unsurprisingly clear records of police manipulating and falsifying evidence have come to light. The unmasking of undercover British cop Mark Kennedy has thrown the case into even further doubt as he stayed with some Tarnac activists during the summer of 2008. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading