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Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Even anarchists like a little romance

May Day protesters kiss by a row of police officers

By Jon Kelly
BBC News

Anarchists share few of the beliefs of mainstream society - except the desire to be with someone special on Valentine's Day. So the once-notorious group Class War is marking 14 February with a speed-dating event.

It's the day every singleton dreads. If recession, bad weather and global turmoil aren't enough to make a lonely heart's blood boil, then surely the arrival of 14 February must turn every spinster and bachelor into a committed anti-St Valentine dissident.

Roxy the penguin at London Zoo, who has no mate (despite 431 friends on MySpace)
Ugh. Valentine's Day is too commercial

Happily, salvation is on hand from an unexpected quarter: Class War, anarchist agitators of tabloid infamy, and now Britain's most unlikely matchmakers.

Better known for generating outraged headlines - the group was blamed by Fleet Street for instigating 1990's Trafalgar Square poll tax riots, and featured a regular page three "hospitalised copper" in its own newspaper - its activists have arrived upon a fresh tactic to advance the downfall of bourgeois society. Speed dating.

This Valentine's night, the outfit once condemned by the Daily Mail as a "sinister urban revolutionary band dedicated to turning the nation's inner cities into no-go areas for the police" wants to help introduce curious insurrectionaries to each other for fun, friendship, or possibly more.

Dance if you want to

True, the self-proclaimed "anarcho-speed-dating" evening will be a far cry from most events of its kind.

Co-organiser Pinki, who hopes those attending will meet someone nice

Proceedings at the Cross Kings - a boozer in an as-yet un-gentrified corner of north London - will be overseen by a dominatrix known as Miss Scarlett L'amour. There will be no segregation by gender, out of respect to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender attendees.

Anarchist literature will be on sale all through the anti-Valentine's evening. And entertainment will be provided by punk bands with such names to set the heart a-flutter as Active Slaughter and Headjam.

It is, nonetheless, quite a change of tone for an organisation which, during the 1980s, staged "Bash the Rich" marches through Kensington, Hampstead and Henley-on-Thames, with supporters carrying banners proclaiming: "Behold your future executioners."

But just as the anarchist heroine Emma Goldman famously insisted that she didn't want to be part of the revolution if she couldn't dance, her ideological descendants are equally reluctant to be part of any struggle that won't let them look for love.

Emma Goldman in 1919
I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy
Emma Goldman (1869-1940), after being told agitators shouldn't dance

And the very incongruity of the event is what inspired Pinki, the 26-year-old social worker and Class War activist who jointly came up with the idea.

The night is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, she insists, hence the dominatrix: how else are anarchists meant to be kept in line?

But Pinki hopes that staging it against the current backdrop of recession and financial turmoil will illustrate the anarchist argument about poverty and working-class self-organisation.

"Things are pretty grim right now - and the poorest people are going to suffer the most," she says. "But it's at times like this that you feel a sense of community, and anarchists believe in mutual aid, in helping each other.

"To a lot of people, Valentine's Day is commercial love day. We just want to let people have a giggle and meet lots of nice people."


One attendee who is looking forward to doing just that is Aileen Greiner, 21, a warehouse worker from west London, who learned about Class War through the punk scene.

Aileen seeks a man to make her laugh

A veteran of the G8 protests "and various other things I shouldn't talk about", her four-year relationship came to a traumatic end over New Year. Although an aficionado of young gentlemen who sport the "psychobilly" look - a rock subculture that marries punk style with Elvis-esque quiffs - she says that all she is looking for is someone to make her laugh.

"I find myself in quite a lot of trouble, so he'd need to be able to stick up for me," she smiles.

"Anarchism is all about unity. It's about bringing people together. Isn't that what speed-dating does?"

Also on the lookout is Tommy Munroe, 21, a music student and singer-songwriter from Woking, Surrey, who stuck up a friendship with anarchists while performing on London's alternative scene.

"I'm not expecting to run away with somebody lovely, but you never know your luck," he laughs.

He doesn't mind if that somebody is "a boy or a girl, as long as they're pretty". And he doesn't find anything strange about agitators being equally committed to bringing down the system and finding companionship.

"From a distance, when you think of anarchists you think of big boots and fighting with policemen," he says.

"But all the ones I've met have been very nice, very committed people. They believe in something and they want to find love, just like everyone else. Why would that surprise anyone?"

Perhaps it shouldn't. And who, whatever their position on the political spectrum, could begrudge them that? Happy Valentine's Day.

Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

According to legend, St. Valentine himself was martyred by the state for his subversive, anti-establishment activities. I think it's very appropriate. Have fun.
Matt, Princeton, NJ, US

As an individual with anarchist leanings myself, I can understand how sometimes it's hard to find someone who can at least sympathise with my politics and preferences. I think that it's a good idea for these people to be brought together to find love through common interests. I wouldn't dare suggest that they follow society's mores and get married though.
Heather, Willenhall

Heather, going on today's figures, to make a stand against society's mores, perhaps marriage would qualify as a rebellious action considering how rare it appears to be now.
Andy, London

Anarchists, get together and make babies, not molotovs. I welcome our new ideological overlords, and their dominatrix, since the other three ideologies (fascism, communism and consumerism) have already been tried and have obviously not led to much except lots of pain and false expectations. Seriously though, good to see an article about anarchism - it's grossly mis/under-represented in the media, and even a light subject like this is better than it being stuck within the pages of indymedia. I think opposites attract, and I hope some bankers get a go dating the hot workers-co-op-squat-starters. Think about it, bankers - everyone hates you, thinks you smell, and no-one listens. So much in common.
Ale Fernandez, Bristol, UK

Proof of the "Anarchists just need a hug" theory?
Alex Chesser, Southend

Anarchy is the rebellion against society, society is the rebellion against anarchy. As long as both are around, things will always progress. Adherents to both sides, however, are joined by the simple basis of being human. Humans, being an essentially social lot, will always want company. What strikes me as truly funny is that it's news that anarchists are seeking love, rather than the more strictured people, as there is nothing more anarchic and chaotic than love. Good luck to everyone abroad on Valentines looking for a touch of cheer and basic human contact.
Rich, Bristol

My boyfriend is total punk and he is the sweetest guy. We are living together now nearly four months and still very loved up. So its not all about big boots and fighting policemen.
Lisa Lowlife, Navan

Anarchism is consistently portrayed in the media as a brutal doctrine glorying in violence, disorder and self-interest. The reality, clear as soon as one looks into it, is that it is a noble set of beliefs based on mutual aid, love and respect but since it is the one ideology that challenges classical liberalism, fascism, communism and the industrialist ideologies in general, suppressing it is the one of the few matters upon which they agree. Read Chomsky, Kropotkin, or Berkmann to get a true impression. And Happy Valentine's Day.
David Traynier, Colchester, UK

Everyone needs love, even people who put themselves forward as defenders of our liberties. Does mainstream society really not believe in equality, peace and the freedom to dance to ones own drum? It seems to me that that's what these people mostly want. And some of them are hot too, judging by your article.
Acab Ismael, London, UK

Not very anarchic if you organise it, is it?
PS, Newcastle, England

PS, I'd have to disagree. Though the word anarchy does get misused as a synonym for chaos the literal translation is actually "without rulers" and not "without rules". Though you may disagree that one is possible without the other, most anarchists believe in horizontal organisation and believe that organising is necessary to weaken the power of rulers.
Simon, Leeds

Anarchists disagree with the power structures that have been in place all our lives. We are conditioned to accept these powers as normal, correct and essential for our survival. During the English Civil War, some passages written by the 17th Century conditioned man predict the fall of the monarchy as the end of the world. People don't change. Nevertheless, since the majority of people would not want a revolution, it is a good time for anarchists to date.
Dave, Birmingham

"Anarchists share few of the beliefs of mainstream society". Really? A desire for freedom and equality? I thought those principles were quite common myself.
Simon Linskill, Sheffield

Simon, whilst anarchists also share the desire for freedom and equality, you'd be hard pushed to find anything else that can walk the middle of the road. Last time I checked, two things quantifies "few".
John Knight, Neath, S Wales

Good for them. I hope they have fun.
Ewan, Hull

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