Ideological tensions and political competition
Based on the above hallmarks it is clear why political rivalry between anarchist and socialists occurs. In 2001, British activist groups with socialist connections emerged, such as Globalise Resistance and Stop the War Coalition. The Stop the War Coalition emerged in response to the war in Afghanistan (2001) and later the one in Iraq (2003). Globalise Resistance campaigned with the Stop the War Coalition on these issues, but also held a clear anti-neoliberal stance. They campaigned on issues directly linked with what they saw as capitalist exploitation and oppression. Examples included supporting the living wage campaign for janitors in London's Canary Wharf in 2004. They also connected up with various unions and left of New Labour MPs who were not happy with the right-wing stance taken by the then New Labour leadership.
From interview evidence (chapter 5), socialist activists commented on how they found the early riser, direct action, anarchist groups quite inspirational. A definite anti-capitalist culture and activist scene had emerged in the UK - what I call the British anti-capitalist movement field (chapter 3). However, as the socialist groups entered this field, an ideological and conflictual dynamic started whereby socialists and anarchist groups began to propagate their version of anti-capitalism. It was in 2001, then, that the political rivalry between anarchists and socialists (re)emerged. Critiques of the socialist groups' political tactics were published on anarchist websites and in their literature. For example: Schnews and Do or Die - which are anarchist publications that Earth First! and Reclaim the Streets contribute to, among other DIY activists. This reached a crescendo in
2004, when the Greater London Authority was involved in organizing and hosting the European Social Forum in London. The socialist groups operated from a position that accepted compromises with electoral and institutionalized politics. Anarchist groups, among others, felt this was unacceptable and established a counter-summit called Autonomous Spaces: Beyond the ESF. This is an example of a key source of contention between anarchists and socialists, the fact that socialists will work with electoral and institutionalized politics from time to time. As a consequence of this perceived compromise, anarchists become suspicious and critical of socialists' motives.
In readiness for the G8 summit to be hosted by the UK in 2005, and partly as a response to the renewed popularity and success of socialist campaigns, the said British anarchist networks re-formed into the Dissent! network. Ever since the G8 summit in 1998, held in Birmingham, UK, and the 'Battle of Seattle' protest in the US in 1999 against the WTO, the summit meetings of supranational organizations have attracted protest groups. The G8 summit of 2005 was no different. The separate mobilizations, which accord broadly with the predominant ideology of the protest groups, were also very apparent. There was the Make Poverty History coalition which encompassed church, charity and NGO groups (which forbids socialist groups and Stop the War campaign from joining it). There was the G8 Alternatives network, which included Globalise Resistance, the SWP, the Scottish Socialist Party, Respect Party and others. Finally, there was the Dissent! network, which was predominantly a network of anarchist groups with an affinity to anarchism. There was no overt conflict between anarchist and socialist groups at this event; the separate mobilizations certainly were fuelled by ideological competition, however. Both the G8 Alternatives and Dissent! network mobilizations were thwarted somewhat by the authorities, while the Make Poverty History coalition was endorsed and supported by the then New Labour government. Although mobilizations against supranational institutions continued after this period, the ideological competition and conflict between socialist and anarchist groups seemed to subside.
In 2008, the global financial crash occurred, which gave political impetus to anti-capitalist groups to mobilize again. This, along with the revolutions in the Middle East and the emergence of the Indignados in Spain, inspired not only established political activists but new ones and so the global Occupy movement was born. The effects of the financial crisis brought a broader populace into the political mix, who were otherwise not normally active or engaged in politics, but who realized they were affected by precarious and insecure employment conditions, even though they had conformed to the rules of meritocratic game.