A Rich Field
Since the start of the industrial revolution Glasgow has always been rich in its production of independent radical newspapers, bulletins, free-sheets etc. Over the years the various radical groups have plied their wares by selling or handing out these independent publications at street corners, public meeting places and workplaces or where ever. However Counter Information (CI) stands out as probably Scotland’s best agitational paper in the late 20th century. Heavily influenced by Anarchist/Libertarian Socialist ideas on how to organise, resist and report on all manner of resistance, (CI) achieved a standard and a circulation that probably hasn’t been reached since.
Born of Conflict
Counter Information (CI) started life during the miners’ dispute of the 1980's to counter the lies and propaganda of mainstream media. We were involved in many aspects of the miners struggle and because we were working with and within mining communities and seen the autonomous nature of the organising at grassroots level, we felt we had to report these happenings to a wider audience. As the miners’ strike came to a conclusion it was decided to continue with the news-sheet. We had built up so many and varied contacts throughout Scotland, Wales and England that we felt we could produce an informative and inspiring source of resistance.
A Radical Pedigree
C.I. was a collective (some of us had been involved in the past with such projects Paisley Gutter Press, Practical Anarchy, Here and Now, Black Bairn, Glasgow Bookshop Collective and others I canny remember) where everybody had a say in the content of the paper. We had regular meetings in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Grangemouth. These were usually on a rotational basis but the cities were where the actual physical lay-out took place, in the days before computers! The editorial meetings discussed letters, articles, papers, magazines, ideas we had received from around the world. We had contacts in all 5 continents and these took up a large part of the editorial content. We gave priority to those we received as eye-witness accounts or from participants themselves and these became known as “from our correspondent”.
Midnight Oil Editorials
The editorial meetings are a thing of legend and at times could take up to 8 hours to agree on the content, style, spelling and grammar! A lot of heated argument at times took place but overall the collective stayed focused and cohesive. We had a no alcohol policy during meetings but once the meeting had finished we would head for the pub or crack open some cider to celebrate. Its thirsty work talking for so long! The news-sheet was self financed by the members of the collective and from the many grateful donations made by our supporters in the form of standing orders, cash, cheques or stamps. C.I. tried to come out on a 3 monthly basis and also do “one offs” if need be. We had a print run of 12,000 minimum and this was often added to due to demand. We had contacts in other areas of the world who also printed; photocopied and other wise reproduced the paper as well.
Counter Information was also invited to many discussions around the globe most notably in South Korea in 1988 to discuss what the idea of what peace meant. This had been organised by the remnants of the Korean Anarchist movement that had been decimated during Japanese occupation in the 1940’s. And another notable invite was to a Self-Determination event in Govan, Glasgow, where the main speaker was Noam Chomsky. We also attended the Anarchist Bookfair in London annually along with other regular Anarchist periodicals to discuss and formulate national activities.
Last but not Final Copy
The last ever Counter Information was published in summer 2003 and can be viewed online or at any Radical Independent Bookfair Event, where an archive of past printed C.I. s are available to read. The actual collective members are now getting on with their lives, some are involved in the Industrial Workers of the World, some are active in ACE in Edinburgh, some are involved in global solidarity issues and some are involved in community projects, some (believe it or not) have even stood for the SSP!! The legacy of Counter Information can be seen in newssheets such as Schnews, Indymedia and a host of local Anarchist newssheets from South Wales to Glasgow, covering events and reporting resistance to authority. Long may they continue!
This material was supplied by Stevie Gallagher. Thanks Stevie.
Posted by John Couzin