The end of anarchy, now that the Class War is over

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The Independent Online
Class War, "Britain's Most Unruly Tabloid", the newspaper that brought us a regular feature called Hospitalised Copper and greeted the arrival of Prince William with the headline "Another f***ing Royal parasite", is no more.

Class War Foundation, the 50-strong group behind the newspaper, which went on sale for the last time this month has split.

It should also mean no more of the Committee of Public Safety, Class War's sticker campaign, which distributed stickers with messages like "Use your cross wisely: crucify a politician."

The 15-year-old anarchist group gained notoriety thanks largely to the tabloid press, which liked to strike fear into the hearts of Middle England by claiming Class War was travelling the country organising riots.

The group's newspaper lived up to this image by filling its pages with pictures of bleeding policemen and running a "Buy this man a drink" feature for those caught on film employing "direct action" on riot police.

But the group still managed to satirise its own image by parading on demos behind a huge banner reading "Class War - rent a mob on tour".

Other enemies of Class War included yuppies, the Royal family, the Labour Party and most of the rest of the revolutionary left.

Some of its slogans were fairly ordinary in anarchist terms: "All our lives will be better when all the rich are dead", for example.

But often the newspaper deliberately tried to provoke. In one issue it published a poem including the lines: "God bless you queen mum/The Sun thinks you're just great/but what we all are waiting for/Is to see you in a crate."

Much of its bile was directed at middle class people who "think the world can be changed by holding hands and singing `We shall overcome'."

It also targeted its biggest rival for newspaper sales, Socialist Worker, giving it a less charming sobriquet by altering the first and second letters of the word "worker". Class War wanted to see a working-class revolution led by the working class, not what it saw as middle-class students and lecturers.

Unlike Socialist Worker, which is sold at strikes, rallies and railways stations, Class War secured distribution in newsagents in what it deemed "working-class communities" and so claimed sales at its height of 15,000 copies an issue. Even now the group claims sales of 4,000 copies.

Glory days for Class War came with the Stop the City demonstrations in the Eighties, when assorted anarchists and protesters smashed up parts of London's financial centre. It also claimed much notoriety in the aftermath of the poll tax riot in Trafalgar Square.

In reality the organisation was tiny and was never considered much of a threat to the state. "It was always the case that they made more noise than action," says one police source.

But this didn't stop right-wing newspapers getting into a lather of disgust about its pamphlets explaining how to conduct a riot.

The group has not folded because Tony Blair's government is likely to fulfil their revolutionary demands.

Instead, the last issue, which is billed as "an open letter to the revolutionary movement", admits that Class War, and indeed the rest of the far left, has run out of steam: "We are marginal, fragmented and declining in influence.

"In short, what passes for a revolutionary movement in this country is pitiful ... if our ideas are so brilliant, why do we collectively amount to so little and have so little influence?"