Eighty years ago: Malaga, Jarama and Guadalajara.

The story so far: Madrid has been saved a second time by the Working Class, no thanks to the government which fled to Valencia. Durruti is dead, his column decimated, the remainder face militarisation and dispersal. Prime minister Largo Caballero has devoted his energies to re-establishing the power of the state in the republican zone, and Stalin’s grip tightens on it. The Russians have arrived, and so have thousands of foreign antifascists. The following lines from ‘The Authority of the Bootmaker’ by Mal Content.

The fall of Malaga to Italy on the 8th of February 1937 gave the dictator his excuse to unseat Caballero. Malaga suffered from the same government prejudice as Catalonia, agriculture on the coastal strip was mostly collectivised and the city had been held by Confederal militia, only three-quarters of whom were armed; they had sixteen artillery pieces in total. The government’s military representative was Communist fellow-traveller Colonel Villalba, whose incompetence on the Huesca front had inflicted significant losses on the Durruti Column. Weeks of fascist build-up in the surrounding countryside had been ignored. Mussolini’s Blackshirts, nine mechanised battalions worth, descended from the hills to the North and West in little turretless tanks and armoured cars. They were accompanied by thousands of African legionnaires and Carlist Requetés, supported by a hundred aircraft, three Spanish cruisers and the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The city had to be evacuated; some ten thousand prisoners were executed while four thousand refugees died on the hundred and fifty mile march to Almeria, simultaneously bombarded from land, sea and air. A nationalist officer wrote:

“During the first week, when no-one could enter Malaga, four thousand were shot. They were shot down in groups by machine-guns on the Playa del Palo. Later on, courts martial were set up. At dizzying speed, people were tried – if that is the right word – in groups of fifty to seventy. In this fashion, by the third month of Malaga’s liberation (sic) ten thousand people had perished.”

– Antonio Bahamonde y Sanchez de Castro: ‘Un Ano de Queipo: Memorias de un Nacionalista’

The reprisals continued for years, in August 1944 the death toll stood at twenty thousand as reported by the nationalist administration to the British consul. I could speculate that the liberal democracies’ indifference to the systematic extermination of non-combatants may have encouraged the Nazis to press ahead with their own genocide; it certainly did nothing to put them off.

The Communists claimed the defeat was due to treachery, and they may well have been right*. Villalba was arrested but swiftly released; the under-secretary of war, General Asensio, one of the few who had failed to join the party, was variously accused of incompetence and duplicity, and Caballero had defended him. He succumbed to the pressure, but his replacement was a left-wing socialist.

*Was Villalba a ‘fifth columnist’ who regretted getting stuck on the republican side? He was allowed to return to Spain after the war, and claim a Colonel’s pension; had he ever been of any use to the Republic he would undoubtedly have been shot. He seriously undermined the Aragon front from the start, when he prevailed on the anarchists to delay the assault on Zaragoza until it was too late. Did he sacrifice Malaga on Franco’s or Stalin’s orders? Or was he just an arsehole?

The Nationalists then sought to cut the road from Madrid to Valencia, which required skirting the south of the city and crossing the valley of the Jarama River. The action was intended to coincide with an attack on Guadalajara by the Italians but they weren’t ready so Franco went ahead anyway. Beginning on the 5th February the Army of Africa with a German armoured company surprised and overran Republican forces on the West bank. They defended their positions to the death, but by the 8th, the Western heights were in fascist hands. The river crossing on the 11th was led by Moroccan commandos who killed the sentries, immediately followed by cavalry that engaged the XIV International Brigade. Another column crossed the Arganda Bridge, which failed to collapse when its charges were detonated, but was halted by the Garibaldi Battalion of the XII I.B. German and Russian aircraft clashed overhead, the Russians retaining control.

The Eastern side was reinforced by the recently formed XV I.B. of British, Irish, Francophone and Balkan volunteers. The British Battalion went into action here for the first time. Things didn’t get off to an auspicious start; their commander Wilf McCartney was accidentally shot by the Brigade Commissar Peter Kerrigan (the Comintern’s British delegate) before they left their base at Madrigueras. McCartney was invalided out so Tom Wintringham took over. The first deployment of the XV was a cock-up; they were poorly equipped, had no maps and had not been told the enemy had already crossed the river, so they came under fire as soon as they began to descend the valley. The machine-gun company found it had been given the wrong ammunition. The truck carrying the replacement batch broke down, and when it arrived, the cartridges had to be belted by hand. The ridge of land that became known as ‘suicide hill’ was continuously swept with fascist machine gun fire, it was held for hours against terrific odds by one of the three infantry companies, led by I.R.A. veteran Kit Conway, who died there.

“Reaching the crest of the hills overlooking the valley and the river, the three companies of the Battalion met the full force of the Fascist advance. Up the slopes long lines of Moors and Foreign Legionnaires surged forward under cover of artillery and machine gun fire, threatening to sweep all before them. No one in his senses could have conceived that this line of riflemen could hold up that onslaught for more than a few minutes. And behind them? Nothing. A clear field down to Arganda, Morata and the Madrid road.

But men who had come hundreds of miles to fight, sustained by an understanding of the cause for which they are fighting, do not act in the way prescribed by the military textbooks. Rapidly deploying in open formation, the Battalion went into the attack against the advancing Moors. The Fascist troops faltered, then hastily dropped down to cover. Only the sheer audacity of this handful of men could have achieved this. Had the Fascist officers been aware of the true position on our side, they would have overwhelmed the Battalion by sheer superiority of arms and numbers.”

– George Leeson, antifascist: ‘Spain Today, February 1947.

The ridge was eventually abandoned, but as luck would have it, just as the fascists came over the top the machine-gunners managed to get re-supplied and mowed them all down. The following day’s chaotic infantry retreat left the machine-gun company exposed and most were captured. Forty infantrymen then charged the position, of whom six survived. On the third day fascist tanks pushed the line back to the road, it was ‘shit or bust’. Frank Ryan and Jock Cunningham gathered the survivors to counter attack, leading them in a chorus of the ‘Internationale’:

“Some were still straggling down the slopes from what had been up to an hour ago, the front line. And now, there was no line, nothing between the Madrid road and the Fascists but disorganised groups, of weary, war-wrecked men. After three days of terrific struggle, the superior numbers, the superior armament of the Fascists had routed them. All, as they came back, had similar stories to tell: of comrades dead, of conditions that were more than flesh and blood could stand, of weariness they found hard to resist.

I recognised the young Commissar of the Spanish Company. His hand bloody where a bullet had grazed the palm, he was fumbling nevertheless with his automatic, in turn threatening and pleading with his men. I got Manuel to calm him, and to tell him we would rally everyone in a moment. As I walked along the road to see how many men we had, I found myself deciding that we should go back up the line of the road to San Martín de la Vega, and take the Moors on their left flank. Groups were lying about on the roadside, hungrily eating oranges that had been thrown to them by a passing lorry. This was no time to sort them into units. I noted with satisfaction that some had brought down spare rifles. I found my eyes straying always to the hills we had vacated. I hitched a rifle to my shoulder.

They stumbled to their feet. No time for barrack-square drill. One line of four. ‘Fall in behind us.’ A few were still on the grass bank beside the road, adjusting helmets and rifles. ‘Hurry up!’ came the cry from the ranks. Up the road towards the Cook-House I saw Jock Cunningham assembling another crowd. We hurried up, joined forces. Together we two marched at the head. Whatever popular writers may say, neither your Briton nor your Irishman is an exuberant type. Demonstrativeness is not his dominating trait. The crowd behind us was marching silently. The thoughts in their minds could not be inspiring ones. I remembered a trick of the old days when we were holding banned demonstrations. I jerked my head back: Sing up, ye sons o’guns!

– Frank Ryan: ‘The Book of the 15th Brigade’ 1938.

The one hundred and forty volunteers who marched back up the road to suicide hill did not all speak the same language, but everyone knew the tune; to compensate for their lack of numbers they engaged the enemy with a high rate of fire. Evidently the Fascists had not expected to see the routed Brigaders again, and presuming them to be reinforcements, fell back. The breach in the front was filled overnight and did not move for two years. To their right the Dimitrov and Thälmann Battalions held off the frontal assault on their own positions.

There were several costly counter attacks that failed to shift the Nationalist lines significantly, Lister’s fifth regiment advancing across open ground in broad daylight took fifty percent casualties, the North American and Irish Abraham Lincoln Battalion fared no better under similar conditions, their first engagement immortalised in the last words of poet Charlie Donnelly: “Even the olives are bleeding”. Jarama seriously undermined the morale of the International Brigades; they were used as expendable shock troops by inexperienced Communist generals who wanted propaganda victories. A month of bloodshed left both sides entrenched in a stalemate reminiscent of the Western front.

It’s fair to say the republic suffered from a lack of military experience, the Spanish metropolitan army had been little more than a dining club, only those officers who had been to Africa had ever seen combat, or even been on manouvres. Their tactics were from old French textbooks* or gleaned from the First World War, to which they had been spectators. The Russian officers were mostly young and equally untested, as the Red Army was being purged. Their authoritarian culture stifled initiative and they were under strict instructions not to risk capture. The best of the I.B.s were those like the Irish, with recent battle experience, or veterans of the Great War.

*To the extent that Franco believed they were receiving training from the French armed forces.

Flushed with the carnage at Malaga, Mussolini planned a showcase for fascist Italy’s martial prowess; sending his Blackshirts to cut off Madrid to the North East at Guadalajara. Instead they took such a shafting as to acquire a reputation for military incompetence and retreat that outlived his regime. Instrumental in their downfall was the Garibaldi battalion of the 12th I.B., exiled Italian antifascists with a score to settle. On the 8th of March the motorised infantry swarmed into the pass in their fleet of little tankettes. With about five to one numerical superiority they initially made rapid progress but were slowed by bad weather and boggy ground. The vehicles began to get stuck and their air support was grounded whilst the Republican air force benefitted from the concrete runway at Albacete. The 14th division led by the Madrid bricklayer Cipriano Mera counterattacked. The rout at Guadalajara guaranteed Mussolini’s continued support for Franco, to save face, it also led to the latter rescinding Blackshirt military autonomy and caused observers to re-think their strategy regarding mechanised infantry. At the same time, in their capacity as members of the non-intervention committee, Italian and German navies blockaded the Mediterranean coast; the only supply route left to the Republic was across the Pyrenees, and the French were all over that.

Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair 18th February 2017.

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More wild speculation.

Don’t mention the war Boris you cunt.

The story so far …

The bourgeoisie will never forgive the tories for their mistake, Cameron had to jump or someone would have shot him. Boris remains the ‘useful idiot’. Hired at the last minute to lose the referendum for Vote Leave (plan b), he’s being retained to lose the negotiations. That nonsense with Gove was just to get him off the hook so he could fulfill this function, and bless him, he’s doing his best. Short of defecating on the table, it’s hard to imagine a worse faux pas than bringing up World War Two in a discussion on the continent’s political future.

Vote Leave regularly referred to Norway and Switzerland, both territories are in the Shengen free movement zone; Switzerland takes per capita four times as many E.U. migrants as the U.K. – if you care about such things. The best they can offer now is Canada, which does a roaring trade in maple syrup.

Theresa May’s strategy (plan c) is to make ‘brexit’ such a catastrophe that, they hope, the electorate (and more to the point their media sponsors) will get cold feet and bottle it at the last minute. She proved her toughness by hiding under the duvet for the duration of the referendum campaign, emerging into the light with the least crap stuck to her. After six months of suspense-building, intimating that tough negotiations were taking place behind the scenes, and egged on by the tabloids seig heiling in unison, May surrendered Thatcher’s beloved ‘single market’ without firing a shot. Bizarrely, she chose to do it draped from head to foot in Black Watch Tartan, presumably just to wave two fingers at the Scots.

“Just think for a moment what a prospect that is. A single market without barriers, visible or invisible, giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous people. Bigger than Japan. Bigger than the United States. On your doorstep. And with the Channel Tunnel to give you direct access to it.”

– M Thatcher April 1988

The prospect of the British state leaving the cartel on the worst terms imaginable delights the other leaders who are struggling to sell the E.U. and its austerity, to their own populations and desperately trying to hold on to their political careers. Aside from that, why would they give a fuck? Successive British governments have already wrung out of it every anti-Working Class concession and opt-out they could get.

The deal will be so shit that the repeal bill will fail to get through parliament, a vote of no confidence will force May to call a general election as a de-facto second referendum. Meantime UKIP, having outlived its usefulness, is being driven off a cliff to prevent it nicking votes from either party. I still think Scotland and the North of Ireland will be independent by the end of the decade, certainly if May prolongs the agony for the life of this parliament. That may be the price they’ll pay for hanging on to England

Now, then, the government’s tax haven threat was aimed not at its European counterparts, but at the British Working Class, who would be dragged into serfdom by such a move (plan d). Sterling having already lost a third of its value, the wounded bourgeoisie are demanding their pound of flesh.

We must not take their threats lying down. The infrastructure lies in tatters already and only a forcible takeover by its operators can save it. We should work together with our comrades on the mainland, to start a wave of social strikes, occupations and blockades. The ruling class has shot itself in the foot, we must swiftly kick out its other leg and put the boot in until we have truly taken back control of our lives.

– Mal C x

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Some thoughts on liberalism, identity politics and the left, by Mal Content.

As a contribution to this discussion on the South Essex Heckler:


The evolution of the ruling class.

The bourgeois revolution is incomplete, although it relied heavily on racism, patriarchy, hetero-normativity, nuclear families and a Christian work ethic to get underway, the logic of the market respects only the exchange of commodities. Our bosses are getting more diverse; the sixty-two individuals who control as much purchasing power as half of humanity are not all white, or male.

Meanwhile the ruling class hedges its bets; it offers on the one hand neoliberal ‘rainbow capitalism’ underpinned by a theoretical freedom and equality under the law but no safety net, and as a fallback position, what we might call ‘capitalism in one country’ with a degree of protectionism and social conservatism to reflect local norms. As the Class that must work for wages is only allowed to construe economics in terms of jobs and money it’s easy to see why the latter reassures a section of it. Wage labour is an abusive relationship however you dress it up, and the indignity of having your status defined by your abuse, relative to someone else’s, throws up some highly reactionary positions.

Both positions of course are bogus. Identities, like everything else, are marketable commodities and therefore must trade at different prices. The USA elected a black president who presided over the torture of Muslim prisoners of war, the enslavement of black workers in the prison-industrial complex, and the systemic assassination by cops of Working Class black youth. If there is ever a female president, a gay president, a trans’ president: they may become a rallying point for those communities but they will set no one free, it isn’t their job. The ANC revolution in South Africa created a new black bourgeoisie, which exploited exactly as before; their police gunned down striking workers as they did in the days of empire. The West is awash with goods produced in the sweatshops of recently independent Asian countries. As for protectionism, capital will always find ways to move around, and to reduce the price of labour to its minimum local reproduction cost.

There has never been, in any period of capitalism, an entirely free market without a heavy reliance on primitive accumulation (theft and murder) and military expenditure. Very expensive short-lived manufactured goods that do not have to compete in the market because the decision to buy them is taken by the executive. Corporations can always borrow money against this because it’s a blank cheque, underwritten by taxpayers, the bulk of whom are Working Class. It pays for technological innovations their bosses protect with patents. Virtually everything we take for granted in the modern world was developed this way, so above all, capitalism needs enemies.

For a century, this balance between market and state was maintained by the vanity projects of a handful of sociopaths: Bolshevism and fascism, the first almost immediately creating its mirror-image. ‘The end of history’ left two vacuums, one for the bosses and one for us. Post-war anti-imperialist movements, including the Middle Eastern ones, were mostly Bolshevik-influenced. Once the Soviet empire collapsed, ‘Radical Islam’ – which the West originally co-opted against it – proved an easier vehicle with which to rally marginalised and ill-informed populations against the tidal wave of global capital, with just a hint of the Maoist ‘protracted people’s war’ about it.

The left.

Since the mirage of state socialism evaporated, left-wing parties have been no more relevant than the flat earth society. They were deeply reactionary anyway; in 70 years of the U.S.S.R. they never managed to abolish racism, sexism, homophobia or religion, all those delusions resurfaced with a vengeance and they slipped seamlessly into a market economy with most of the same people in charge. In the UK it was the craft Unions who negotiated women out of the workplace after two wars, Labour governments that struggled in vain to keep the empire, then hold back migration from its former colonies.

“We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”

– Mikhail Bakunin: ‘Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism’.

Insofar as ‘left’ refers to position in a representative assembly – which I would have no truck with – relative to the other representatives, we only use it to distance us from the right. Whereas the old left existed to contain Working Class anger and prevent it from disrupting capitalist power relations, the new left’s project was to speed the bourgeois revolution to its conclusion; maybe they wanted capitalism to succeed so they could take it over as a going concern. Maybe they just wanted their hands in the till and a cushy retirement. Ten years after thatcher abolished society, isolating our Class, a smug posh-voiced tosser named Tony Blair told us we didn’t exist. Where does that leave us? Without Class the worker is an isolated individual with no social relationship to anyone but the boss – wasn’t that the aim of the twin totalitarian projects? Either way it’s inherently nationalistic (I include ‘Eurocentrism’ in this.)

The failure of the statist left to see beyond transaction and coercion not only paved the way for fascism in all its forms but preserved capitalism long past its expiry date. We need to look back a century to the ‘Great Unrest’ and the currents of revolutionary syndicalism and self-organisation that developed in the Class to see anything like a viable alternative.

Intersectionality, privilege and the Working Class.

Liberal politics of aspiration and contempt, of ‘social mobility’ challenge you to escape from our Class rather than work together to liberate it. You are Working Class if you’ve got nothing to sell but your labour, but talk of ‘working people’ sets the bosses as gatekeepers to the Class and they’re quite comfortable using the term when they get to define it. If your measure of self-worth is being selected by some bourgeois to add value to their capital – thereby increasing their power over you – no wonder your messiah is a narcissistic parasite with a gold crapper.

Intersectionality contradicts liberalism; I define liberalism as that which postulates a theoretical freedom and equality under the law, but takes no account of structural oppression. The concept of privilege requires acceptance that:

a) Oppression is the norm, society oppresses us all by default then mitigates it for each to different extents according to how well they fit into the oppressive structure, and that:

b) No-one achieves anything entirely by their own efforts, but through their membership of a collective.

This makes it an incredibly difficult concept for many people. As difficult as understanding that the pound in your pocket is not a reward for what you did last week, but represents a complex web of social relations, and that its value is reinforced by the threat of violence.

The advantage of intersectional analysis is that it gives a sharper understanding of how and where systemic oppression is applied in practice. Its limitation is the shift in emphasis from collective struggle to individual conflicts and alliances. It reflects, and indeed encourages, a loss of confidence in the ability of individuals to appreciate, understand and fight inequalities that do not afflict them personally. Worse, in my view, is it defines the individual according to the boundaries created by the hegemonic group, which, for simplicity, I will continue to refer to as the ruling class. They have taken great pains to replace the dangerously homogenous strata of similarly oppressed peoples with a socio-economic continuum. In parallel, our focus on privilege and identity has lowered our sights from universal liberation to the temporary relief of the most vulnerable, allowing them to be taken as hostages to the economy. There’s no getting away from the fact that the greatest structural oppression is the money economy and most of the others are mediated through it.

Identity politics.

The working class is more than 50% female*, disproportionately black, migrant and/or minority ethnic. If you are black, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated than if you are not; at each stage the odds are against you. If you have a mental condition, you are more likely to be homeless. We can only respond to these issues as a united, fighting Class. As a comrade pointed out last week, if the white Working Class don’t get it, it isn’t because we devoted too much attention to racism, sexism, homophobia etc, but too little. If you want to appeal to the white Working Class separately, why not the straight, white, cis, male Working Class? Further divide fully employed from unemployed and precarious, and you’re not far from the failed 20th century craft Union model. Personally, I’ve never identified as ‘white’ Working Class, I’m white in the sense that I’ve got no racialised characteristics. I’m also male, fit to work, with a skilled trade. I don’t need a university lecturer to tell me that’s a privileged position, and a potentially reactionary one, yet I’ve never wanted anything from this society but to witness its demise.

*Given the gendered disparity in income which, over a lifetime, exacerbates the gap in total wealth, by any socio-economic measure of ‘working class’, males will represent less that half. Single mothers and single retired women are especially disadvantaged in this respect.

Those groups who find themselves super-exploited fight the ruling class out of necessity; for the rest, what else is there to do? Some comrades defend Wetherspoons, X factor and a fetish for designer clothes as working class culture, now there’s identity politics! As an anarchist I’m not about to tell anyone how to express themselves; if a section of the youth decline to integrate with mainstream culture it’s because it has nothing to offer. I’ll defend the right to wear a Burqa because – just fucking try telling me what to wear.

I believe that a society based on mutual aid and solidarity can only be achieved through voluntary association, starting from a federated affinity group structure. Therefore I’ll not condemn anyone for choosing to organise with those who share their own experiences if it gets the job done. It will be fine, for a while, as long as there is a mechanism for communication and co-ordination so we’re not getting in each other’s way or duplicating effort. Post-capitalist councils of producers and users would of necessity call in delegates from groups with needs and interests that are not readily anticipated or understood by others.

So whilst I’m exasperated when privilege is played as a trump card to shut down discussion, it’s equally frustrating to have the ‘prolier than thou’ type refuse to engage with it altogether. We are dishonest with ourselves if we do not challenge oppression where we see it, and that may require some patience, but having two separate closed conversations about it serves no one but the oppressor.

“The problem is that left politics are perceived to be backward looking, while the right has ridden the tidal wave created by capitalism’s convulsions. That a significant proportion of our class see fascism as a viable alternative, we must accept as our failure. Even the anarchist movement, with which I identify, is too introspective and slow to provide practical solutions to everyday problems. What about building community solidarity by linking defence against hate crime with resistance to evictions over the bedroom tax, and general poverty relief, why are there no autonomous food banks?

In my view we need a message as simple as the EDL’s, only based on class unity, resistance to austerity and division, tying local struggles to global ones; and we need to make ourselves as visible and confident as they are.”

– ‘Life after Woolwich: a personal view.’ No Quarter issue 7.

Pie & mash embarrassment in Pompey.

Halloween came early to Pompey on Saturday via the ill-fated pie & mash (fash, get it?) group, sometimes called south coast resistance, formerly Portsmouth EDL. After a no show in Southampton last week that wasn’t worth reporting, the fascists announced they were cancelling their demo in the city to support an event in Telford. A community ‘stand up to racism’ demo was called off. As the Telford manifestation is not until next month, Portsmouth Antifascists smelled a rat, and mobilised 30-35 comrades just in case. It seems the babylon weren’t deceived either, maybe pieash have got an informer in their midst, or perhaps once filth have booked their overtime there’s no going back, anyway the antifascists were heavily pigged all morning. The Guildhall steps were occupied, to deny the fascists their favoured photo opportunity.

pomp0716

After an hour of watching paint dry, a dozen more cops appeared, escorting eight heavily refreshed youths in halloween masks, carrying a flag that appeared to depict a chicken eating a poppy with the caption: ‘lest we forget’. Forget what exactly? They stood, or swayed, for a full ten minutes, perhaps having forgotten the theme of their rally, they confined themselves to shouting personal abuse at a few locals presumed to be amongst the opposition, against whom they hold grudges. The only political content was a bit of seig heilling.

pieash
Plod then led them to the Surrey Arms (1-3 Surrey St, Portsmouth PO1 1JT), where they remained.

surrey-arms

Why do we bother? Unlike the fash, we’ve got lives, but we won’t let them get away with anything. It’s all very well shouting “stand up to racism”, “refugees welcome” and “black lives matter”, but if those groups are subject to the indignity of being abused by these arseholes in our community, it’s our responsibility. They may be a bunch of drunken inadequates but the ideology they promote, and the people they idolise: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc, were responsible for about sixty million deaths in living memory. They shall not pass.

Fascism, the state, and the Battle of Cable Street, 1936.

cablest

Background:

The ruling class openly flirted with fascism from the start; with the class system under threat on all sides, it’s easy to see how attractive the idea of obedient, conservative-minded workers marching about in uniforms was to the bosses. In 1920’s Italy, after two years of wildcat strikes, land and factory occupations by socialist and anarchist workers, landowners and industrialists funded Mussolini to recruit a scab army of Blackshirts to evict the workers and break up union meetings. They were supplied with arms and vehicles, the army supported them with training and logistics, and firearms permits were selectively granted to right-wingers. The state relied on the fascists for strike-breaking until they got out of control, then rolled over and asked them to form a government. When the official unions eventually organised armed resistance it was too little, too late.

Fascist tactics have changed little over the years. They set about to discourage and confound working class organisation through violent intimidation. Meetings were disrupted, premises and individuals targeted for attack. As they grew in numbers and resources, beatings gave way to assassinations, arson and kidnapping. The left politicians made the fatal mistake of relying on the law to protect their rights, to no avail. The courts gave the Blackshirts preferential treatment so that the violent clashes they provoked resulted in the imprisonment of antifascists. In a routine that will be familiar to present day antifascists, the police usually turned on whichever group appeared numerically smaller on the day.

Some of the stiffest resistance came from the anarchist groups and the syndicalist U.S.I. union, and they would bear the brunt of the violence. In the summer of 1921, these militants formed antifascist fighting squads ‘Arditi del Popolo’, organised along paramilitary lines. Each unit had autonomy and operated according to the political composition of its locality. Alongside anarchists and union organisers they attracted First World War veterans, republicans and members of the official Socialist and Communist parties. Rivalry between these two parties prevented them from offering support however, neither having any use for an organisation beyond its control. In August the Socialist Party signed a non-aggression pact with the fascists, requiring its members to withdraw, and P.C.I. activists were pulled away to do their own thing. The  ‘Pact of Pacification’ amounted to class collaboration between industrialists and Socialist functionaries claiming to represent the working class. It conferred an air of legitimacy on the fascists, allowing them a foothold in areas where they could otherwise not have operated. The Arditi understood as clearly as the bosses that both fascism and antifascism are outside the law. After twenty-plus fascists were killed at Sarzana, their commander lamented that the Blackshirts had got used to confronting people who ran away or offered feeble resistance, and had never actually learned to fight.

The following year, the Socialists called a legal general strike, which the fascists were largely able to circumvent with scab labour. In August 1922, three hundred and fifty Arditi successfully defended the city of Parma against twenty thousand Blackshirts who laid siege to it for six days after the police abandoned their posts. Putting their differences aside, workers built barricades, dug trenches and prepared to fight for every street with petrol bombs and axes. Eventually the fascists, who were still unprepared to take casualties, drifted away in disarray. Alarmed by such a display of working class autonomy and unity, the army occupied the town and took down all the barricades. In October Mussolini marched on Rome with a slightly larger force and the politicians capitulated. The Socialist leader Turati appealed to the King to uphold the constitution, but due to persistent lobbying by the General Federation of Industry and the Banking Association, he handed power to Mussolini, who at that time had only 35 out of about 600 deputies in Parliament. The fascists still didn’t have it all their own way, especially in the industrial North, but over years, the antifascist movement succumbed to assassination, imprisonment and exile.

“The Italian Socialists, blind as ever, continued to cling to legality and the Constitution. In December, 1923, the Federation of Labour sent Mussolini a report of the atrocities committed by fascist bands and asked him to break with his own troops. (Reference: Buozzi and Nitti, Fascisme et Syndicalisme, 1930) The Socialist Party took the electoral campaign of April, 1924, very seriously; Turati even had a debate at Turin with a fascist in a hall where Black Shirts guarded the entrance. And when, after Matteotti’s assassination, a wave of revolt swept over the peninsula, the socialists did not know how to exploit it. ‘At the unique moment,’ Nenni writes, ‘for calling the workers into the streets for insurrection, the tactic prevailed of a legal struggle on the judicial and parliamentary plane.’ As a gesture of protest, the opposition was satisfied not to appear in parliament, and, like the ancient plebeians, they retired to the Aventine. ‘What are our opponents doing?’ Mussolini mocked in the chamber. ‘Are they calling general strikes, or even partial strikes? Are they trying to provoke revolts in the army? Nothing of the sort. They restrict themselves to press campaigns.’ (Speech, July 1924) The Socialists launched the triple slogan: Resignation of the Government, dissolution of the militia, new elections. They continued to display confidence in the King, whom they begged to break with Mussolini; they published, for his enlightenment, petition after petition. But the King disappointed them a second time.”

– Daniel Guerin: ‘Fascism and Big Business’

Inspired by Mussolini, a Conservative Party faction known as ’British Fascisti’ along with the National Citizen’s Union (formerly the Middle Class Union) prepared for organised mass scabbing in the event of a general strike.  This led to the formation of the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies (O.M.S.), described by the Daily Mail as “defence against the reds” and announced on the letters page of the Times by the Home Secretary, Sir William Joynson-Hicks. The O.M.S. claimed to be non-political and had the backing of the government, who were initially uncomfortable with B.F. involvement; nevertheless many individual fascists joined and occupied prominent positions. The ‘British Fascists Ltd’ as they had become in 1924, were asked to change their name and generally tone it down a bit, they refused, though a small split complied. As the general strike approached, however, fascists swarmed into both the O.M.S. and the special constabulary.

Churchill spelt out the establishment’s position:

“Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.”

– Winston Churchill: speaking in Rome Jan. 20, 1927.

Quoted in: Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II and the End of Civilization. by Nicholson Baker 2008.

No one came out of the General Strike looking good; the Labour Party and T.U.C. had betrayed the miners, all the politicians had displayed cowardice and the far right became confirmed in its self-appointed role of defending whatever-it-was against an imagined Jewish-Communist conspiracy. The fascists’ anti-union position brought them into immediate and violent confrontation with the left; they also hoped to recruit the unemployed, as Mussolini had done, in direct competition with the National Unemployed Workers Movement.

Socialists, communists and anarchists lost no time in organising against them. They were hampered by the reluctance of the party leaders to work together as they competed for the allegiance of the working class. The most militant workers’ association, the Communist Party, was of course directed from Moscow, and faithfully followed the meanderings of the Comintern, unhelpfully labelling anyone who declined its control as ‘social fascists’. This policy had disastrous consequences in Germany, where the party focussed on its rivalry with the Social Democrats, leaving the way open for the Nazis, whom it refused to regard as a threat. The Labour Party sought electoral respectability, rendering it useless in what would become a street-level battle for control of territory. The original ‘Independent Labour Party’, distinguished by its opposition to WW1, and its more militant antifascism, remained affiliated to the parliamentary Labour Party until 1931.

Nevertheless more or less informal coalitions appeared at local level, driven by events. The uneven treatment of the two sides by the law is quite revealing; antifascists were typically charged with riot and sentenced to hard labour, whereas four fascists who hijacked a newspaper van at gunpoint were bound over for a year. The latter stunt was pulled by a splinter group, the National Fascisti who were more explicitly violent and racist than the B.F. and included the fanatical anti-Semite Arnold Leese and William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce.

Of course Leese was just a paranoid obsessive, wherever did he get it from?

“The part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistic Jews … is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from Jewish leaders … The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in (Hungary and Germany, especially Bavaria).

Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing. The fact that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship are excepted by the Bolsheviks from their universal hostility has tended more and more to associate the Jewish race in Russia with the villainies which are now being perpetrated”.

– Winston Churchill: Illustrated Sunday Herald 8th February 1920.

In 1931 fascism became the latest vehicle for the ambitions of Oswald Mosley, an opportunist Parliamentarian who had enjoyed electoral success as Conservative, Labour and independent candidate before travelling to Italy and meeting Mussolini. The B.F. had appealed mainly to the establishment, landed gentry and the right of the Tory party, and its ideology was confused even by fascist standards. One of its policies was to reduce unemployment by cutting taxes to the rich so they could hire more servants! With his roots firmly in the aristocracy, a military career behind him, and having like Mussolini wandered the political spectrum, Mosley set about concocting a platform populist enough to rival the Communist Party; based on nationalism, anti-Semitism, Keynesian socialism, economic protectionism and defence of the empire. Mosley’s target was not the workers as such, but aspiring middle classes, self-employed, managerial grades, farmers, market traders and so on, basically anyone who had a stake in preserving the status quo, but didn’t have the ear of the political establishment.

His last venture into electoral politics, the New Party, performed dismally in the 1931 general election, henceforth he embraced the fascist principle of taking power by force. In Germany the Nazi party was gaining ground by such means, and emboldened by the ambivalence of the state, the movement became increasingly violent. The New Party and other assorted groups were combined into the British Union of Fascists; they followed the continental fascists’ fetish for physical culture and paramilitary drilling, and adopted a uniform based on a black fencing shirt.

The German situation was like a slow-motion replay of the Italian one; since the Kaiser had been overthrown in the Spartacist uprising of 1918/19 the German bourgeoisie had been forced to compromise with the working class to prevent a Bolshevik style revolution, and they hated it. The balance of power was held by the Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.) with its gradualist, inevitablist conception of socialism. The most powerful labour movement in the world was integrated into the capitalist state; the Communists referred to this as ‘social fascism’ whereas the Nazis regarded any combination of workers as Marxist, and therefore part of a Jewish conspiracy.

“After Hitler had been released from Landsberg the National Socialist Party was refounded early in 1925. Once more he addressed his followers in the Biirgerbrau cellar: “To make a struggle intelligible to the broad masses, it must always be carried on against two things: against a person and a cause. Against whom did England fight? Against the German Emperor as a person, and against militarism as a cause. Against whom do the Jews fight with their Marxist power? Against the bourgeoisie as a person, and against capitalism as its cause. Against whom, therefore, must our movement fight? Against the Jew as a person, and against Marxism as its cause…” He considered it necessary for psychological reasons to have only one enemy, the Jews; his opinion had not changed.”

 – Francis L. Carsten: ‘The Rise of Fascism’.

He could have been paraphrasing Churchill from five years earlier. Because the Nazis had no constituency among the workers (never more than five percent of votes in the workplace committees) the Communists and Social Democrats ignored them, preferring to squabble amongst themselves. They remained a tiny, anti-union terrorist and propaganda group, sustained financially by the industrialists and landowners.

“If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work.”

– J. Goebbels, 1934.

So the delicate flower of fascism was nurtured and held in reserve until the start of the depression. The slump threatened to impoverish the German middle class, who resented the position of the industrial proletariat with its powerful embedded unions and negotiated guarantees; in September 1930 the National Socialists polled six million votes. Fearing revolution, the capitalists lavished money on them; by 1932 they were up to twelve million. Hitler courted the middle classes, making them all manner of unrealistic promises to break up big business and support individual enterprise, in fact the reverse happened, the Nazi government would fiercely concentrate capital into a military-industrial oligarchy.

During this period the U.S.S.R.’s own re-armament programme was heavily dependant on the goodwill of the German industrialists, who felt threatened by the pacifism of the S.P.D. The 1922 Rapallo Treaty, in which both parties waived reparations from the Great War, permitted Germany to test its military hardware in Russia as it was prohibited from doing at home by the Treaty of Versailles; this allowed both countries to benefit from the latest technology. Stalin paid for arms in hard currency, funded by wheat exports from the collective farms at the price of mass starvation, the German Communist Party must have seemed a small sacrifice. In 1931, the Comintern instructed the K.P.D. against its wishes, to vote with the Hitlerists in a referendum to unseat the Social Democrats in Prussia. Turnout was pitiful and the proposition was defeated, but this combination of complacency and sheer idiocy left the door wide open. At the 12th Plenum of the Comintern, Osip Piatnitsky  boasted that the blind obedience of the German Party was second only to the Russian one.* Nazism took hold in the universities, where the students found themselves stranded with little hope of reward for their academic achievements. As unemployment rose to six million over the next two years, the paramilitary S.A. ‘storm troopers’ provided food and shelter in their barracks and recruited a private army of three hundred thousand. The German working class was ready to fight, but its leadership capitulated again and again, preferring to ridicule the barbarians.

*’The Communist International 1919-1943 documents selected and edited by Jane Degras Volume III 1929-1943’
The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Hitler came to power in the spring of 1933, and the Rapallo accord held until January 1934, when Germany signed a non-aggression pact with Poland. The Comintern abruptly changed tack and decided it would work with the other antifascist parties after all, however in Britain the C.P.s street fighting image did not appeal to those with political ambitions and the united front failed to get off the ground. In fact the antifascist front was originally Trotsky’s idea and had only the year before led to mass expulsions of ‘counter-revolutionaries’ from the party for advocating it. Three years later, at the next congress of the K.P.D. (in exile, naturally) the blame would be laid squarely at the door of the German leadership; two absent members Neumann and Remmele were especially singled out by the Comintern delegate Palmiro Togliatti for “underestimating fascism, and their failure to make a real effort for a united front with the Social Democrats.”*

*(ibid)

Harold Harmsworth, the proprietor of the Daily Mail and briefly the Mirror, a personal friend of Mussolini and Hitler, made his papers a mouthpiece for the B.U.F. along with General Franco and Nazi Germany. This probably accounted for the fact that a quarter of the Blackshirts were women, the majority of the Mail’s readership have always been female. The erstwhile King Edward VIII was likewise a friend and admirer of Hitler who would have had Britain on the other side in the coming world war.

“I should like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial public support which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute to the enduring pacification of Europe.”

– Adolf Hitler to Harold Harmsworth, 7th December 1933.

“At this next vital election Britain’s survival as a great power will depend on the existence of a well organised party of the right ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed” …

– Harold Harmsworth: ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’,
Daily Mail 15th January 1934.

“Young men may join the British Union of Fascists by writing to the Headquarters, King’s Road, Chelsea, London, S.W.”

– Harold Harmsworth, writing as ‘Viscount Rothermere’: ‘Give the Blackshirts a helping hand’, Daily Mirror 22nd January 1934.

“… the Blackshirts, like the Daily Mail, appeal to people unaccustomed to thinking. The average Daily Mail reader is a potential Blackshirt ready made. When Lord Rothermere tells his clientele to go and join the Fascists some of them pretty certainly will.”

– “A Spectator’s Notebook”: The Spectator, 19 January 1934.

“My Dear Führer, I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country.”

– Harold Harmsworth, to Adolf Hitler, 27th June 1939.

“Despite her flaws, the only responsible vote in France next Sunday is one for Marine Le Pen.”

Richard Waghorne: Daily Mail Online, 20th April 2012.

“The German slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ is somewhat tainted by its connection with Nazi concentration camps, but its essential message, ‘work sets you free’ still has something serious to commend it.

  -Dominique Jackson: Daily Mail Online, 13th August 2012.

No change there, then. The Express also advocated appeasement until the last minute, and Edward was such an embarrassment they had to make him governor of the Bahamas to get him out of the way.

Because physical superiority was central to fascist ideology, the only effective means to halt their progress was to beat them at their own game, so physical resistance developed out of necessity, a plethora of antifascist associations were formed for this purpose, some with their own uniforms. Left and union events were invaded and had to be stewarded, Jewish interests and individual Jews were subject to assault, so they either joined existing groups or organised independently. Up and down the country, political meetings were turning into pitched battles. With working class communities under attack, everything the B.U.F. did became fair game so violence accompanied them wherever they went. In 1933 16 year old Ubby Cowan went along with a group of friends to oppose a meeting addressed by William Joyce:

“I heard Joyce speaking and it was too much to bear. So I charged the stage and threw him off the platform.

When I realised that this was going on week after week in Stepney, and I remember grabbing Joyce and just saying to him, get out of it, you lying bastard. I sent him flying,

Partly because of the disinterest shown by other political parties in what was happening to Jewish people in the East end, I joined the Communists.”

– Ubby Cowan, antifascist, to Islington Tribune 29th September 2011

What was glaringly obvious to working class Jews may have escaped their wealthier fellows however.

“On New Year’s Day 1934 was formed the January Club, whose object is to form a solid Blackshirt front. The chairman Sir John Squire, editor of the London Mercury said that it was not a fascist organisation but admitted that ‘the members who belonged to all political parties were for the most part in sympathy with the fascist movement’.“

– The Times, 22 March, 1934

According to Ted Grant,* Members of the January Club included Ralph D Blumenfeld, founder of the Anti-Socialist Union, former editor of the Daily Mail and Daily Express, and the prominent Zionist Major Harry Nathan, Liberal MP for Bethnal Green North East.

*’The Menace of Fascism. What it is and how to fight it.’ By Ted Grant: June 1948. The January club’s published records contradict this. It could be that the B.U.F. subsequently expunged the names of Jewish members, or maybe Grant was trying to make a point. Either explanation is plausible; truth is the first casualty of war. Please get in touch if you can shed any light on this.

Either way, British capitalists were busy re-arming Nazi Germany; in March 1934 the merchant banker and Chairman of Vickers, General Sir Herbert Lawrence, refused to deny it:

“I cannot give you an assurance in definite terms, but I can tell you that nothing is being done without complete sanction and approval of our own government.”

– Herbert Lawrence, Quoted by Henry Owen in ‘War is Terribly Profitable’

In Gateshead the fascists attacked the I.L.P. May Day rally outside the labour exchange and were seen off by the unemployed workers. This incident prompted the formation of the ‘Greyshirts’ Anti Fascist League, which effectively shut down fascist activity in the area. In June, Mosley addressed a triumphalist rally at Olympia and the fascist stewards ran amok, beating protesters and anyone who got in their way while the police turned a blind eye, then as antifascists scuffled with the Blackshirts outside the venue some were arrested; Stepney communist Marks ‘Barney’ Becow received the first of several terms of hard labour.

In the days and weeks after Olympia, B.U.F. meetings were attacked and disrupted in London, Leicester, Glasgow, Plymouth and Brighton. By the end of 1934 the continual violence had deprived the B.U.F. of any semblance of respectability and most of its middle class membership; Rothermere ceased his public support for the group, complaining bitterly to Hitler that his hand had been forced by Jewish businesses threatening to take their advertising elsewhere.

On the 4th of October 1935 Mussolini sent his armed forces into Ethiopia and fired the opening shots in the conflict that would shortly tear up three continents. He also had his eye on the strategic Balearic Islands while Hitler coveted the ores and mineral deposits in the Iberian Peninsula and Western Sahara. Spain and Portugal had long ago lost their political and economic independence and were no longer counted amongst the great European powers; a circle of vultures looked down, waiting to deploy their natural resources in the next imperialist kick-off. Events in Spain were going to have a transformative effect on the antifascist movement and European history.

“Before embarking on the Ethiopian venture, Mussolini analysed the composition of the British population in terms of age, noting that it included 24 million women against 22 million men. Some 12 million male citizens were over the age of 50, the limit for men liable for military service in wartime. Outcome: the static masses outweigh the dynamic masses of young people. The quiet life, compromise, peace. He told me of an episode which is not without piquancy: in order to press on with his reading of a detective story Baldwin simply could not be bothered for one whole Sunday with the envelope containing the instructions concerning the Laval-Hoare Plan. The delay was enough to fuel the controversy in France and to lead to the foundering of the plan.”

 – Gian Galeazzo Ciano: ‘Diaries 1937–1943’ 3rd September 1937.

Ciano was Italy’s foreign minister during the Spanish Civil war, explaining that the Italians had no fear of British interference with their blatant piracy in the Mediterranean. The Laval-Hoare Plan to carve up Abyssinia, provoked public outcry in Britain and France.

In London, Douglas Jerrold, editor of the far-right Catholic ‘English Review’, member of Mosley’s January Club and the pro-Nazi Anglo-German Fellowship, was approached by Luis Boli­n, London correspondent of the Spanish monarchist ABC newspaper. Bolin wanted to transport General Franco in secret from the Canary Islands to Morocco, where he would launch a military coup; Jerrold in turn hired British secret agent Major Hugh Pollard. On the 11th July their chartered De Havilland Dragon Rapide aircraft took off from Croydon aerodrome piloted by Cecil Bebb, who may or may not have been a spook as well, with Pollard as navigator. Pollard’s daughter Diana, and another woman, Dorothy Watson, went along to make the trip look a little less suspicious. International flights were uncommon at the time and were closely monitored by Special Branch. Pollard was a senior figure in the intelligence community, who had worked for the British in Ireland, Mexico, and Morocco. It’s inconceivable that his bosses didn’t know about and approve the project. Boli­n became Franco’s press officer and chief censor, and Pollard the chief of the MI6 station in Madrid, Bebb received an assortment of medals from Franco. Jerrold was a tireless propagandist for the nationalists during the Civil War, and later also worked for MI6.

Having failed to intimidate the left in the regions, the B.U.F turned its attention to provoking the Jewish community in East London. The fascists had a considerable following in Bethnal Green from which anti-Semitic incursions would take place; the area became a daily battleground.

“An informal anti-fascist bloc had developed in the East End. It spanned the political spectrum from left to centre and included Jewish anti-fascist bodies. On the left of the bloc stood the CP the YCL, the ILP, the NUWM, various trade union bodies, and the Labour League of Youth. The LLY continued to organise with the YCL despite the disapproval of its parent body. At its Manchester conference in April 1936 it agreed that ‘the possibilities of war and Fascism looming ahead of the workers demand a united front of all working-class youth organisations.’”

– Dave Hann, antifascist: ‘Physical Resistance. A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism.’

On the 4th of October 1936 the East End rose as one to stop Mosley’s Blackshirts marching from the City of London to Bethnal Green. The extraordinary cohesion, in particular the solidarity between the Jewish and Irish communities, that made this possible had been forged during the Great Unrest that preceded the First World War, when striking dockers and tailors had supported each other’s families. The Ex-Servicemen’s Anti-Fascist Association already had police permission to hold a march and meeting that day, but the cops insisted they make way for the fascists. Both the official Labour Party and the Board of Deputies of British Jews opposed the counter-mobilisation. The Communist Party initially opposed it then jumped on the bandwagon when it became clear its members were going to do it anyway, the instrument of’ Stalin’s foreign policy being powerless without its rank and file, who had a taste for self-organisation and wanted to bring the revolution home.

“This attitude clearly reflected what I already knew was the London District Party leadership’s position on Mosley. I was furious. I could hardly believe what I was reading. I had been fighting their ideas for years. Here was the confrontation and I could not withdraw. On the contrary, I knew that if the DPC line was carried, a heavy blow would fall on the workers of East London and workers everywhere. It would also be the end of me. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by fighting these pernicious tactics. …

… We in the CP were supposed to tell people to go to Trafalgar Square and come back in the evening to protest after Mosley had marched. The pressure from the people of Stepney who went ahead with their own efforts to oppose Mosley left no doubt in our minds that the CP would be finished in Stepney if this was allowed to go through as planned by our London leaders.”

– Joe Jacobs, antifascist: ‘Out of the Ghetto’ London 1978.

In the East End, materials were being collected for barricades and missiles, runners and spotters were recruited and fifteen first aid posts set up. Seventy years before the Internet and text messages, with few telephones and no television, the whole thing was organised in less than a week. The planned route along Whitechapel road was blocked on the day by a vast crowd, the only alternative, as antifascists had anticipated, was via Cable Street.

“Now because we’d suspected that the police might try to use this route as a secondary means of getting Mosley to his destination, we went round there the week beforehand to see what was cooking. We found a very convenient builder’s yard on the corner of Christian Street and, on several evenings leading up to October 4, the dockers came along and dumped little parcels there. It was agreed beforehand that the dockers would be responsible for preparing barricades in Cable Street should they be required. We sent a team with the dockers so that it was all organised.”

– Ubby Cowan, quoted by Dave Hann (op. cit.)

Most of the fighting was not with fascists, but with the police, who had orders to drive the B.U.F.’s paramilitary columns through at any cost. It was nothing more or less than a demonstration of state power in the face of the organised working class, it failed.

“The pavements were packed, the whole street – Aldgate High Street – was packed solid. Crowds were everywhere as far as we could see. It was impossible to make any progress. Parked in the middle of the street, towering over the crowds was a line of tramcars – marooned and empty. They could not have moved, even if anyone had wanted to move them.

The rumour went that the first tram in the line had been deliberately driven to the point by an anti-fascist tram driver, placed there to form a barricade against the fascists … My comrades and I never had a chance to get within a mile of Cable Street on that afternoon. In between us and Cable Street was a solid mass of people. Estimates afterwards said there was anything up to half a million people out on the streets of the East End that day. But no one could possibly have counted them … we gathered that the first protesters had been up early in the day and had been preparing a reception for both the police and the fascists long before either had arrived.

The fascists were assembling by the Royal Mint and police started to make baton charges, both foot and mounted, to try to clear a way for them to escort a march. They did not succeed. A barricade started to go up. A lorry was overturned, furniture was piled up, paving stones and a builder’s yard helped to complete the barrier. The police managed to clear the first, but found a second behind it and then a third. Marbles were thrown under the hooves of the police horses; volleys of bricks met every baton charge.”

– Reg Weston, antifascist, London, North Africa and Italy: from Libcom.

The following excerpts are from accounts quoted by Dave Hann in ‘Physical Resistance. A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism’ .

“One of my jobs, because I had a motorbike, was to go around the periphery of the crowd and report what was happening to the committee. … We had one doctor who was member of the Communist Party, Doctor Faulkner, who dressed up smart and went to where the Blackshirts were assembling at the Minories. The Minories was the main thoroughfare between Aldgate and the City and the fascists were all lined up there, about three thousand of them. He infiltrated them and said he was there to help out, but in fact he slipped away and passed information on their plans to the committee … Well, Doctor Faulkner very sensibly managed to get word to headquarters of what the fascists were up to and I was immediately told to go around and tell people to go down to Cable Street, not everyone, but enough to help the people already down there.”

– Lou Kenton, antifascist: London and Spain. (op. cit.)

“When the police started to move towards Cable Street, one runner ran ahead to warn them while another came to tell us. When we heard what was happening, we made a dash for cable Street and, when we got nearer, we could hear the sound of shouting and smashing and Lemonade bottles exploding. The barricades were up. They were quite high and the police were trying to climb over them but couldn’t, because people on the roofs were throwing bricks and water and goodness knows what else at them. We all started throwing whatever rubbish we could find and after about three-quarters of an hour someone on the roof shouted “They’re leaving.” We said “Who’s leaving?” and they said “The coppers.” So we climbed up the back of the barricade and the street ahead of us was littered with broken bottles and stones and all the rest of it but we could just see the back of the police horses as they were turning the corner.”

– Ubby Cowan. (ibid)

“Barrow boys used their barrows to block the way. People were even throwing piddle pots out the windows. The main thing I can remember because I was only nine at the time, was all the people fighting with the police. Because, of course, the police came in first and tried to clear the way for the Blackshirts. I can remember my grandfather fighting the police and I was very frightened because I thought he would get arrested because being black he would stand out.”

– Betty Davis, antifascist. (ibid)

The police were forced to withdraw and re-route the Blackshirts along the embankment. With red flags flying the antifascists marched to Bethnal Green instead of Moseley and his reception committee fled before them. The following day he flew to Berlin to get married at Dr Goebbels’ house, returning a week later to Liverpool and another hail of bricks from the locals.

“Mosley was finished in the East End after Cable Street. You could see the change in the ordinary people going about their day-to-day business. People were no longer scared of the Blackshirts. They were still wary of course, but they weren’t terrified anymore. Fear had allowed fascism to grow in the East End but once everyone had seen the Blackshirts beaten and humiliated, the fear disappeared. It was still dangerous to be a Jew on your own in some areas, but there was no longer this awful fear of what the future might bring.”

– Lou Kenton. (ibid)

The battle of Cable Street sent ripples across Europe and down the years; it demonstrated that ordinary people could organise themselves in defiance of their political leaders and take on the state. The Public Order Act became law in January 1937, banning political uniforms and establishing the police power to enter public meetings and ban demonstrations. Many on the left were in favour; however the new legislation would be used more often against antifascists than the far right. Mussolini cut off his funding to the B.U.F. forcing Mosley to go cap in hand to Hitler; his anti-Semitism became ever more rabid as Gestapo agents delivered regular payments from Goebbels.

“One week after 4 October, 5,000 anti-fascists celebrated with their own march, which gathered more and more numbers as it wound its way from Tower Hill to Victoria Park. With police attention, as ever, directed towards the anti-fascists, the Mile End Pogrom took place. A hundred youths ran the length of the road assaulting individual Jews and smashing the windows of Jewish owned businesses. A car was set alight. A man and a seven-year old girl were thrown through a shop window.”

– Dave Hann: (ibid)

The Communist Party was briefly kicked off the fence; a short-lived anti-fascist alliance was formed with the Independent Labour Party, the National Unemployed Workers Movement and the left of the Labour Party, the latter subsequently caved in when threatened with expulsion. The C.P. drifted away from opposing fascism at home in favour of aiding the republican government in Spain, but notwithstanding the valour of the International Brigades volunteers, Stalin had long since given up the idea of world revolution and would eventually hand victory to Franco for the sake of the internal security of the U.S.S.R.

On the 80th  anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street; consisting of excerpts from the chapter ‘Fascism and antifascism’ from a work in progress: ‘The Authority of the Boot-maker’ by Mal Content.

Defend the ZAD – a call for international solidarity: 8th & 9th October 2016

For over 50 years, farmers and locals have resisted the building of a new airport for the French city of Nantes (which by the way already has one).

Now in these rich fields, forests and wetlands, which multinational Vinci want to cover in concrete, an experiment in reinventing everyday life in struggle is blossoming. Radicals from around the world, local farmers and villagers, citizen groups, trade unionists and naturalists, refugees and runaways, squatters and climate justice activists and many others, are organising to protect the 4000 acres of land against the airport and its world.

Government officials have coined this place “a territory lost to the republic”. Its occupants have named it: la ZAD (zone a défendre) zone to defend.

In the winter of 2012, thousands of riot police attempted to evict the zone, but they faced a determined and diverse resistance. This culminated in a 40,000 people strong demonstration to rebuild some of what had been destroyed by the French State. Less than a week later, the police was forced to stop what they called “Operation Cesar”. For the last three years, the ZAD has been an extraordinary laboratory of new ways of living, rooted in collaborations between all those who make up the diversity of this movement. There is even a set of 6 points (see below) to radically rethink how to organise and work the land without an airport, based on the creation of commons,the notion of usage rather than property and the demand that those who fought for the land are those who decide its use.

Now, the entire zone is due for expulsions to start the construction of this absurd airport. Prime minister Valls has promised a “Rendez Vous” this October to evict everyone who is living, working, building and farming on the zone.

On October 8th , tens of thousands of people will gather on the ZAD to demonstrate that the determination of the movement is as strong as ever. Honouring farmers struggles from the past, we will come with wooden walking batons and leave them on the zone, as a sign of the commitment to come back and pick them up again if necessary. We will also raise a barn, built by dozens of carpenters during the summer, which will be used as a base, should evictions happen.

We are calling on all international groups and movements to either come to the zone on 8th of October or show their solidarity with the ZAD through actions directed at the French government or multinational Vinci in their own towns and cities on that day. The airport will never be built. Life on the ZAD will keep on flourishing!

6 points for the future of the ZAD. Since there will be no airport… Once the project is abandoned, we want:

1. That the inhabitants, owners or tenants who are part of a compulsory purchase or eviction order can remain on the zone and regain their rights.
2. That the impacted farmers resisting and refusing to bend to the will of AGO-Vinci, can continue to freely cultivate the lands that they use and recover their rights and pursue their work in good conditions.
3. That the new inhabitants who came to the zad to take part in the struggle can remain on the zone. That everything which has been built since 2007 as part of the occupation movement in terms of experiments in alternative agriculture, self-built homes or temporary dwellings (huts, yurts, caravans etc.) and forms of life and resistance, can stay and continue.
4. That the lands that each year are redistributed by the chamber of agriculture for AGO-Vinci’s, in the form of precarious leases, are handled by a body that comes out of the resistance movement and brings together all its elements. So that it is the anti-airport movements rather than the normal institutions that decide on the uses of this land.
5. That these lands are for new agricultural or non agricultural projects, be they authorised or not, and not for the expansion of already existing farms.
6. That these agreements becomes a reality through our collective determination and that we carry together an attention to resolve all eventual conflicts linked to them being put in place.

We are already sowing and building a future without an airport in our unity and diversity. It is up to all of us, from today, to enable it to flourish and to defend it.

FOR MORE INFO:

zad.nadir.org

zad@riseup.net

Back in the news: Neil Patterson, the god-bothering hunt.

As reported by our contributor Kate Bradley, hunting god-botherer Neil Patterson has been splashed all over the tabloids this weekend – no we’re not giving you links to the right-wing press, here’s another picture of the cunt on a hunt – wonder what he’s eating?

Cunt on a hunt

Rev. Neil Patterson, ‘bashing the fox’

Neil Patterson is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England, director of vocations and ordinance for the diocese and a former rectum of St Lawrence’s Parish Church in Weston-under-Penyard, Herefordshire.

rectum

The campaigners’ attempts to embarrass the church into sacking Patterson have so far proved fruitless. Annie Holden, director of communications at the Hereford diocese, said: “He has not done anything illegal or anything wrong. He is entitled to go hunting – it is legal.”

Patterson’s hunt, the South Herefordshire, has been filmed throwing live fox cubs into their hound kennels then sticking the dead bodies in the bin – which isn’t legal.

The god-botherers are not bothered, after all they can justify warfare, prisons and pretty much anything else the bourgeois state does. As the archdeacon Paddy Benson pointed out, their main business is property management.

You can sign Kate’s petition here.

Hunt Saboteur’s Association

Je suis burkini! By Mal Content.

Content warning: mention of racial violence and sexual abuse.

headscarfYou couldn’t make it up: an adult woman is resting with her family on a crowded public beach, wearing black leggings and a turquoise long-sleeved shirt, with a matching headscarf, the kind that covers only the hair. She is approached by four heavily armed men, who menace her with a pepper spray, to demand she remove an item of clothing, such as to expose more of her skin to public view. The officious pricks then appear to issue some form of penalty notice, her crime is: “Wearing clothes that are not respectful of good morals and secularism”

Police patrol the beach at Nice in enforcement of an ordinance imposed by more than 20 municipalities in France aimed at the unfortunately named ‘’burkini’ a piece of sportswear that bears no resemblance to the burqua. If anything it’s like a two-piece wetsuit made of fabric, but it looks too ‘Islamic’ to the French burghers, who have taken it upon themselves to regulate feminine swimwear. The 34-year-old mother, who gave her name as Siam, said: “I had no intention of swimming.” I fail to see how her treatment is other than sexual abuse at the hands of the state.

The justifications given are embarrassingly facile. It reminds the bureaucrats of the garb worn by self-styled Islamic State troops and is deemed a provocation to the secular and broadminded French public. Incredibly, the assumption that Muslim women are always attired under the coercion of male relatives is also used, to justify imposing a penalty on the women themselves. The mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet claims swimming in a burkini is “unhygienic”, he’s never worn a wetsuit in cold water then; SCUBA diving in February, we all used to piss in them to warm up. I can’t think of much less hygienic than swimming in the Mediterranean anyway, it is after all, a body of water in which billions of things shit, fuck and die.

Aside from religious observance, there are many reasons why a person of any gender might choose to cover their skin: sensitivity to light, sun- or wind- burn, allergies, injury, skin disease or disfigurement, or bashfulness, which is no crime. The garment offers protection not only from lecherous glances, but harmful ultraviolet rays, insects, jellyfish and other stingers that abound in these waters.

I think religion is bollocks, but so is the French concept of secularism, the creation of Joseph Fouché, the ‘butcher of Lyon’, who was enforcer for the Revolution’s National Convention, then Napoleon Bonaparte’s police minister, and ironically also the architect of modern policing with all its arbitrary pettiness and treachery.

So, a stupid law, that appears to apply only to female members of an ethnic minority, shows up law enforcement, and law itself, for what it has always been: the feeble posturing of inadequates in response to events they can neither influence, nor be bothered to analyse properly. The guardians of the French state are clueless as its colonial chickens come home to roost. Within living memory, that same state and its bastard offspring the O.A.S. slaughtered thousands of Algerian civilians, no surprise then, that many of its home-grown jihadists are of Algerian heritage. The death throes of the Roman Empire lasted hundreds of years; is it reasonable for the western powers to assume as soon as they’ve shut down the concentration camps, knocked off the rape and pillage and turned over the keys to the governor’s mansion they will simply be regarded as good neighbours?

Not that the R&P ever stopped in the battle for the Middle East that has raged ever since one Winston Churchill decided to switch the British Navy’s preferred fuel from coal to oil. This followed hard on a ferocious labour dispute in the Welsh coalfields resolved only by martial law, the recent discovery of petroleum in Iran and the formation of Anglo-Persian Oil (now B.P.) pretty much everything else has flowed – or rather been pumped – from that.

A youth walking the street in a hoody and baseball cap is more anonymous than a woman in a burkini. As for facial veiling, the recent obsession with exposing the face to scrutiny has been driven not by a love of openness and sociability but by the ubiquity of surveillance cameras and the invention of facial recognition software. We are not deceived, we mask up on demo’s not to scare the taxpayers but because we don’t want to be photographed, simple as that.

When I was growing up you could get in a fight at the bus stop for wearing the wrong trousers; you got beaten up for having long hair then you got beaten up for having short hair. Punks, hippies, Rastas, skinheads, got the blame for everything and were assumed by default to be up to no good; respectably dressed couples would show their disdain by spitting in your direction. “Are you a boy or a girl?” “Let’s see what you’ve got in your pocket, son.” “You’ll never get a job looking like that”. Hard to believe now that middle-management types get tattooed and shave their heads.

I will never accept anyone telling another how to present themselves, if you do that, you’re a prick.

Byron Hamburgers: “do you want grass with that?”

Staff of the Byron burger chain were called by their employer to 15 non-existent training meetings to lure them into Home Office immigration raids; 50 workers have been summarily detained and at least 20 deported, minus their personal effects.

“It is fucking disgusting. Some of these people worked here for four or five years and they weren’t even given a chance to say goodbye,”

CockroachByron’s, which is owned by the private equity fund and notorious tax avoiders Hutton Collins Partners, will pay dearly for their treachery. Protests have already been conducted by Anti-raids Network, Black Dissidents, Bradford IWW, Global Justice Now, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, London Black Revs, London IWW, London Latinxs, Malcolm X Movement, South London Solfed, United Voices of the World Union, Unite Hotel and Restaurant Workers Branches, and War On Want. Activists have taken to releasing insects into their restaurants.

Byron Burgers sending millions to owners offshore while workers are deported – Corporate Watch

Join us in stuffing it up these two-faced anti-working class parasites! Click on the cockroach to find a Byron’s near you. Here’s a flyer for it: 2 x A5 pdf

This Saturday, Bristol branches will be picketed by AFed and SolFed, Meet 6.45pm Saturday outside Bristol Museum. facebook event, and there will be a communications blockade to coincide with this, call 0117 925 6666 repeatedly. Dialling (141) before the restaurant’s number will hide your own number so they will have to pick it up each time.

Know your rights: Immigration raids, UKBA – 25 languages.

Original article from El Ibérico translated by Marcela of Latinxs:

British immigration police deported dozens of Latin American Byron Hamburgers workers.

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. Unimaginable situations in real life, can lead to shattered dreams and broken families, all due to the interests of a few to fatten their pockets. Something like this was experienced last July 4th in the hamburger chain Byron.

One of the workers of this company wanted to tell us what happened with the sole purpose of exposing the occurrence of this type of situations, that usually do not transcend public opinion. Out of respect for his privacy, because today they still work for Byron Hamburgers, the anonymity of the person interviewed will be maintained.

It was 9:30 in the morning, read more.

For a world without leaders, elections, jobs, money, nukes or fascists: Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2016.

naughty boyIt was a lovely sunny weekend, with a superb music line-up. We made some new comrades and enjoyed catching up with the Bognor contingent, Bristol Afed, Swindon A’s, North London, South Wales, West Midlands IWW and many musician friends. Big shout out to the Wob Kitchen for all the tasty vegan meals.

Tolpuddle festival is the Ascot of the left; the various historical re-enactment societies and activist groups rub shoulders in a more or less cordial way and Che Guevara shirts are worn without irony. The Radical Workers’ Bloc idea began in 2011, as a new generation discovered rioting, exasperated with the blatant futility of representative politics. Ever since, in the jolly festival atmosphere, we’ve had frank tactical discussions between Marxists and anarchists, antifascists, environmentalists, trade unionists and hunt sabs. There has been a tacit acceptance of the need for militant antifascism and mass direct action generally.

This was a weird one, the main topic of conversation being the tedious soap opera playing out in the Labour Party. The Westminster freak show is beyond parody, so we understand that the concept of any politician not being a crook or a sociopath is such a fucking novelty it could easily be mistaken for “a new kind of politics”. A good few of our comrades think so: “it isn’t really about Jeremy …” – well you could have fooled us. Each campaign group, union and Marxist party in turn pledged allegiance to the Leader. Even the bands made a point of endorsing Him from the stage. The SWP stall featured a large banner that commanded: “Join the Socialist Workers Party Today!” above a poster of J.C. proclaiming: “We’re the Labour Party and we’re here to stay!” Very confusing.

A more worthwhile discussion is the TUC’s failure to agree a coherent policy on the environment. Unite’s website insists Hinkley nuclear power station must go ahead without delay, plus the third runway at Heathrow– which 13 comrades narrowly avoided prison over recently. We understand there’s still a row going on in the GMB over fracking. If the workers’ organisations are not prepared to take responsibility for the fate of this lump of rock we’re all stood on, then who is? The bourgeoisie don’t give a shit.

Since the weekend three quarters of her majesty’s loyal opposition have voted for a new Trident doomsday machine, they must be stuck on the stench of burning flesh. The Corbyn movement now numbers at least half a million, maybe a million, fair play. So apart from keeping Corbyn what are their demands? They are split on the EU but then so were we. We’d guess they fancy a bit of social Keynesianism in place of the military variety, nationalisation and a progressive tax regime, but how and where are their different agendas going to be reconciled? If half a million people committed to direct action on one single issue – preventing deportation for example – there would be no more deportations. If they announced they would not permit anyone to be evicted from their homes, there would be no evictions. If that doesn’t grab anyone they could shut down fracking, blockade the factories that arm Israel and Saudi Arabia, or stop Trident dead in its tracks.

The only people feeling more left out were the Maoists, whose literature still fumes about the ‘counter-revolutionary renegade’ Leon Trotsky, apologises for the death toll of the Great Leap Forward and offers a defence of the Taliban against western imperialism – bless! I suppose if you actually want a boot on your neck, the left or the right one will do. The retrospective justification of mass murder, though unpleasant, is of little consequence when the perpetrators are a spent force. For sheer convoluted self-justifying, revisionist bullshit they’ve got nothing on Unite’s Executive Council statement on Trident which pre-emptively lays the blame for Armageddon at the door of anyone but the only people with the power to stop it.

Still our seditious anarchist literature flew off the stall, so someone must be reading it, follow leaders all you want, we’ll still be here when you get back. As for paying to vote for one, if anyone’s actually got 25 quid they don’t need it would be better spent supporting political prisoners such as Michelle Smith, a respected community activist, antifascist, and Unite the Union official from Merseyside. This comrade, who has our unreserved admiration, received a one-year sentence last Tuesday for helping the people of Dover defend themselves from neo-Nazis. It is entirely thanks to people like Michelle that the fascist threat is well contained. She is the single mother of two children, we send our solidarity and best wishes for an early release.MerseyAFN

A paypal account is being set up, in the meantime if you would like to donate, or write to Michelle, please send a message to Merseyside Anti-Fascist Network’s facebook page. There will be a fundraising event, Alerta! in Liverpool on sat 20th August 2016. Tickets are £5.

RADICAL WORKERS’ BLOC AT TOLPUDDLE 2016.

captswing2Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival and rally: Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July 2016. View map

We’re back again for the sixth year running, with the stall, Freedom Books, the Big Tent and our Wob Kitchen on the campsite catering for our comrades from Friday to Sunday (F.C.F.S). Camp with us, eat with us and march with us on Sunday. We will have a few of our new ‘Friends of Captain Swing’ T shirts made by the Sabcat anarchist workers’ co-op. If you fancy one for a tenner, let us know through the contact form and don’t forget to include your e-mail address and size. We may ask for a small deposit depending on how much we have to front up – we’re rubbish capitalists!

Pro

We’ve also got a limited number of these left in black or red, also by Sabcat, larger sizes only, but they do work best as a billboard!

Freedom Press

revenge of the working class!

Open Letter to BBC South Today from Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Politics eats itself, ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? – Mal Content.

broken_britain_now_fuckedI doubt any reader of this blog voted out because they were ‘concerned’ about migration, but if you did, you’ve been had, because it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference. If the net population of this island falls, it will be from petty bourgeois fleeing the crashing economy. We hear the people in the Calais jungle still fancy it though, and they are most welcome.

Whilst the media kept herding the debate back to migration neither campaign presented any plans or targets for reducing it and certainly not for removing existing EU workers. The reason is obvious –  capitalists don’t want to swap young, working taxpayers for retired bent car salesmen, and if they want to take advantage of the free trade area, they will have to accept free movement. Globalisation of capital means globalisation of labour, like it or not. We know that migration is not controlled by politicians but is entirely at the convenience of the bourgeoisie, but the Labour party and the TUC has been unable to say so because they are afraid of upsetting the bosses and being labelled ‘anti-business’. Plus, if you destroy the infrastructure of four countries, their populations are likely to shift, they couldn’t say that either, because most of them support the neoliberal wars. In short, the issue nearly everyone claims was central to the vote was all wind and piss.

You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see this coming.

No one offered us anything, it was all threats: poverty, higher food prices, fewer rights, more austerity, TTIP, a continent-wide security state. The official ‘remain’ campaign, led by people who’ve been telling us for years we must work or we’re not fit to live, was that in the ‘national interest’ we must compete for work on the bosses’ terms with citizens of 28 countries. The official leave message was just the first bit.

The left case for leave stemmed from the late Tony Benn’s failed ‘possiblist’ strategy of creating a socialist state in a capitalist world through parliamentary democracy. You’ve seen what happened in Greece:

“To suggest that everything is going to change because there’s a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality … There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

 – Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission

It was never fully elaborated, partly because of the fractured, authoritarian nature of the parties involved, but mainly because their priority was getting their man, Jeremy Corbyn elected with a parliamentary party that was mostly neoliberal. This version of Catch 22 left the field open to the state’s two right wings, with their appeals to fear and xenophobia; the racist media being fully let off the leash for the duration of the campaign.

The left case for remain was even thinner, all those who spoke of reforming the EU from the inside were unable to say how or when, and more to the point, why they had never mentioned it before. The Lisbon agenda was adopted in 2000 and the treaty ratified in 2009. John Major negotiated a full opt-out from the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, denying British workers its protection while exposing them to the worst excesses of the single market. Blair demanded a special protocol in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights so that it could not apply to the UK, then opted out of the EU Working Time Directive. Cameron negotiated further opt-outs to deny in-work benefits to new arrivals, thereby creating a two-tier workforce that would further drive down wages.

In radical circles the usual line was that the EU is shit but the alternative would be shitter, and usually concluded with “we’re all fucked either way”. How would you sell that in your factory canteen or union branch?

Successive UK governments have driven the most anti working class legislation in the EU, if I were a striking worker in Belgium, France or Greece, I would cheer to see those bastards dragged away from the table. If the British state ever reformed the EU, it would be for the worse. Now people are getting all emotional and waving EU flags as if they were symbols of freedom and equality. The only thing anyone ever liked about the EU was the conditional free movement of labour, which was always driven by poverty or the threat of violence, the result of EU policies. That is not freedom of movement.

Q. Why didn’t more people vote with their wallets?
A. Because their wallets are empty.

On the positive side, the whole sorry spectacle has put the ineptitude and dishonesty of politicians on display for all to see. It has utterly discredited the idea of voting, majority rule being no better than any other form of dictatorship. This undermines the basis for representative government. Half the voters didn’t get what they wanted, entire regions didn’t get what they wanted, and the other half will wake up in a little while and find out they didn’t get what they wanted either.

The Parliamentary Labour Party is shown up as a bunch of self-serving prima donnas after the choreographed flounce of the Blairites, who represented no-one whatsoever. Almost the last Bennite possiblist in the P.L.P. is Dennis Skinner who sheepishly backed the leave campaign. Corbyn now stands astride a chasm, as a possiblist who advocated something that makes his aims impossible.

bleeding_farageNo one wanted to see Farage gloating, and that probably influenced more remain votes than anything else, I sympathise, here’s a picture of him with his face smashed in:

Boris and Nigel are just a couple of shifty con men. I’d just finished a piece on why Boris wouldn’t be Prime Minister when he jumped. Gove has accepted the poison chalice because, as anyone in the teaching profession will tell you, he is a complete fucking idiot. He will go down in history as the politician who presided over the break up of the United Kingdom, because Scottish independence is going to happen now. The SNP government will not consent to the change, provoking a constitutional crisis. They will be overruled and the resulting fury will carry the day (don’t fuck it up, Nicola!) Britain will lose its last colony in the North of Ireland and the sun will finally set on its empire.

ewip logoMuch has been made of the fact that Porky declined to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon before resigning. That can’t happen until the 1972 European Communities act has been repealed. A bill must be presented to parliament and obtain a majority in both houses, which with their present composition is unlikely. This will get a lot messier, the next election will be fought between two labour parties and two tory parties, plus UKIP (renamed EWIP) and the others, so any trade negotiations will be conducted by a feeble coalition government.

Let’s make the country ungovernable.

Even Cornwall may go, so we could be looking at cantonalism, autonomous regions that aren’t economically self-sufficient so will have to federate, in the absence of any significant political power such federation will have to be mediated by the working class – because we do all the fucking work!

What matters now:

Fascists and racists think they’ve been vindicated, and the right-wing press are simpering about it; they need putting back in their box a bit sharpish. One racist attack is too many, though I believe a narrow remain vote would have provoked a bigger right-wing backlash. We are more than capable of containing this if everyone turns a hand, as shown by the size of pro-migrant demonstrations such as the one in London last weekend. Please contact your local antifascist group or send an e-mail to the Anti Fascist Network, who will put you in touch. The number of fascists willing to actually risk life and limb for their warped idea has been dwindling for some time, and this time it’s the right who are going to let their own side down because none of their deluded followers are going to gain anything from this.

It’s all about class and always was.

The ruling class have scored a massive own goal! We must seize the narrative and replace nationalism with class war, before they come up with plan B.

Working or otherwise, you need to be in a union, we recommend the I.W.W. or similar grass-roots organisations, but if your workplace already has a union presence get involved. The TUC unions are mostly weak and reformist but that is because there aren’t enough members. You can be dual-card and supplement collective bargaining with direct action tactics; get in there and radicalise the fuck out of them.

Let’s replace “take our country back” with Take Our Lives Back.

The air’s full of brickbat, shit and dust! By Mal Content.

Good morning!

EU bombIt wasn’t my little splinter off the anarchist movement that did this. It wasn’t Boris Gove, the far right or the hard left, UKIP, the SWP or the CPGB-ML. It wasn’t racists or bent landlords, the landed gentry or people who want to privatise the NHS and abolish sick pay, there aren’t enough of all those put together.

It was the Working Class, the poor downtrodden, defeated Working Class. The ones who get told how powerless they are, all those people who never vote because there’s never anything to vote for. Don’t tell us we’re thick or gullible because we’re not. We were given a spanner and we threw it.

This was not about immigration or jobs. It was a plebiscite on austerity, precarity, housing, inequality, on the dictatorship of the political class, on getting shafted by global money markets and the irrelevance of 21st century gesture politics.

People don’t need more jobs or even more money; they need food, clothes and a roof over their head. They want free education and healthcare, leisure and a community in which they can participate as a full member.

As anarchists within the workers’ movement, we need to stop telling people what can’t be done and start doing it. Pessimism is counter-revolutionary, defeatism is a form of collective self-harm. Whatever we said yesterday is irrelevant, there’s a new game on a different field. The bourgeoisie won’t take this lying down and they’ll use fascism against us. We must neutralise that first, then fight for every inch of the new terrain.

I would recommend comrades take stock of their local neighbourhood and draw up a list of priorities, assets, strong and weak points. Who, what, where and how? Find out who’s in struggle now and what support they need, organise together. Use the communications technology but be sensible and do the planning face to face. We will support picket lines, we will resist evictions, we will resist deportations, we will defend community spaces.

Everything’s up for grabs now.

Mal C x.

Does Anarchist Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan, Bashur, exist? – Zaher Baher.

Does Anarchist Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan, Bashur, exist?

By: Zaher Baher, June 2016

I was frequently asked this question in the meetings or interviews. I have always been frank and honest in my reply. I said there are not even an active anarchist group existing there let alone an anarchist movement. I would then be asked the second question ‘why’?

While there have been authority/state committed brutal suppression and repressions, also there was anarchism as a natural rebellious force of human being, so it is illogical to say there was no individual anarchists or no groups existed. There is no doubt that there was always resistance against the state/authority. People considered authority/power as evil forces. People have never seen any common interests with the states/authorities or any benefit from them. In addition, in the history of Iraq and the Middle East under Abbasid Caliphate or before, there were a few rebellion movements: Zoroastrianism, Mazdeism, Babakism and revolutionary movements like Zanj revolts, Kharijites, Karmatians and many more. Although this movement did not label themselves anarchist or communist but in view of many people they were a kind of communitarian, anarchist movements.

If we look into the history of Iraqi Kurdistan, Bashur, after the First World War we can see many reasons of the lack for anarchism and anarchist movement. In my opinion the main factors are the following:

  • Bashur was a part of Iraqi state, being dependent on the Soviet Union. The Iraqi regime since 1958 until 2003 was in Soviet bloc with the exception for a few years during 1960s.

Only the books, magazines and writings about Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, the entire communist and leftists’ movements in the world and religions were available in Arabic. All those books and writings were published either in Damascus, Beirut or in Moscow. The Syrian Communist Party under its leader Khalid Bakdash has played a big role in translating some of the books and publishing them. In addition, the Syrian’s regime was also in the Soviet Union bloc at least since Hafez Assad come to power.

In regards to the anarchism and anarchist movements in the world, they were described and introduced to us in a much distorted way. All publications about anarchism were written or translated to Arabic by the leftist communists and Russian agents, so they presented anarchism as anti-revolutionary and anti-humanist. They were the only available source showing anarchism as the opposite of what it really is. Anarchism was presented in a repulsive way, showing only it’s anti-state and anti-authoritarian aspect. We were told anarchists are rejecting power/state and leave the society in absolute chaos and disorder. No administration, no law and order, no protection – as a result of that the society would be in danger. These publications explained and described anarchism in the view of Bolsheviks and communists; they wanted to make the idea unpleasant and uninviting.

While they rejected anarchism and attacked it, there was not a single anarchist book or magazine available, not even an article in order for the people to read them before reading the hateful propaganda against anarchism. “The Poverty of Philosophy” by Karl Marx was available, but not the original Proudhon’s work, “Philosophy of Poverty” which Marx criticized.Many writings and propaganda against anarchism existed this way – without access to the ideas they fought.

In such environment, there was no possibility to learn about anarchism or anarchist movement. Consequently people were deprived from the basic knowledge of anarchism.

  • There were many political parties and people were very loyal to them

Towards the end of 1930s, Iraq and Kurdistan became the fertilized land that brought about many political parties: nationalist, patriotic, religious, liberal and communist. There was a fierce competition among them, struggling for power. They were using deception, propaganda and manipulation to bring people under their influence. Their best members and supporters were absolutely loyal to their parties and their leaders. The dependence of party members on their leaders was absolute. They were ideological fundamentalists. Killing political adversaries – members or supporters of an opposing party – was a legitimate method of ideological dispute. The war all fought against one another, during 1960s, 1980s and 1990s that we have seen is the best example. The loyalty of the party’s members became so serious, they never thought for a second of the integrity of the party polices and its leaders.

In an atmosphere like that, it is hard for new belief and thought to develop. The vast majority of people were divided over the political parties and became very tiny cogs in a very big machine of the political parties, so the parties could manipulate and to use them according to their need. They advised them to vote or not vote, to do this, not to do that, to fight one side, to be in peace with other side. In this situation the members and supporters of them become slaves of the party, they were unable to think, to analyze the situation nor to decide on their own.

Anarchism is founded on the individual’s right to free thinking and to make one’s own decisions, continuous in development and change. Blind loyalty to the power, hierarchy and state makes anarchism impossible to emerge.

  • Wars, killing and displacing people in Iraq and Kurdistan

Iraq and Kurdistan have not seen peace for over half of century. Iraq has gone through three major wars between 1980 and 2003: Iraq-Iran war, The Gulf War of 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. All these wars have intensely affected Kurdistan and its people directly or indirectly. This is in addition to the civil war, between Kurdish movement and Iraqi government that launched on 11/09/1961. This war went on and off until March 1991 when the uprising happened in Kurdistan. And from October 1992 to 1997/98 there was fighting among the fraction of Kurdish political parties themselves.

This war brought disaster to Kurdish people from both sides: the Kurdish movement and the central government of Iraq. It killed many innocent people, displaced thousands, maimed many more, destroyed thousands of Kurdish villages. The campaign of Anfal launched by Saddam Hussein between 22/02/1988 to 06/09/1988 resulted in the disappearance over 182,000 Kurdish people and over 5,000 people killed by chemical weapons.

Kurdish people in Iraq experienced the most horrible disasters of war. The suffering and trauma stay in the memory of mine and my father’s generation and cannot be forgotten.

Those of us who grew up in times of wars know how terrible the situation was. The only winners in the wars are the warlords, war traders, the big companies that make weapons and the other equipments of war and most of the time the states too. The outcome of wars to the rest of us is poverty, high prices of the daily necessity, unemployment, homelessness, and displacement, separation, forcing to move out of our lands, and becoming refugees in foreign lands. War can bring more disasters. Where there is war, there is everything except peace, unity and happiness. No doubt in the situation like that, we can only have time to think about our security, safety and running after our daily needs. This is not the moment to develop new ideas, like anarchism; in fact, hard times create more feeling of nationalism, racism and more hatred among people.

In a place where there is war, anarchism is hard to emerge – let alone to gain shape as movement. In a place where there is war, there will be growing number of state lackeys, traitors, betraying its own people. The war also quells dialog between people and restricts their freedom. Because of that not only does anarchism not develop, in fact if there is any anarchists, the war drives them to underground.

  • Kurdish society and its cultural dependence

Kurdish society in Iraq is rooted in a tradition, being a mixture of the religious and tribal hierarchy. These two elements are the base of the society and its culture. It reflects and preserves the economic structure.

We can see it in every cell of the society. Starting from the family, through nursery, school, university, company, factory, other places of work, administrations, the civil service, and the military to the very top of the society which is parliament and the leaders – all of it is based on hierarchy. In hierarchical organizations or hierarchical society, dependency is very strong. This dependency shapes the thought and mind of everyone. It is very difficult to break centralist approach, created by ever-present hierarchy. Reorganizing the society in horizontal way again is difficult; it needs educational, social, cultural and economic revolution.

In the hierarchical society with the help of its culture, culture of dependency, youngsters have to respect and obey the elders; the workers have to listen to the bosses, students to their teachers. In short the people in the bottom have to look to the top to get advice and order. This also applied to members of political parties, they had to listen to the leaders and carry out whatever they were told to do. Individuals are not independent, as they are supposed to be; they are not confident, they do not have enough trust and faith in themselves. This means everybody, every social group is restricted in thinking and making decisions. They have to obey and be loyal to their superiors and they lose their freedom of individual expression.

This is the cultural climate of Iraqi Kurdistan– Bashur, climate of many powerful tribes, many strong political parties, powerful religious faith and often “honour killings” of women. In such atmosphere individuals do not think, make decisions and sort their own problems out. They rather let others think for them, decide for them and resolve their problems whether they like it or not.

In a climate like this, while the individuals are not free, their thought and mind have been corrupted as well. Therefore, it is difficult for a new idea or thought to arrive, even harder to develop it any further.

Zaher Baher.com

False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis – from Corporate watch.

“This guide argues for opposition to the EU that is not based on discrimination or prejudice, to reclaim the space that has so far been dominated by far right movements. The crisis has cast aside any pretence of democracy; the kind of changes instituted are only possible with broad, general use of force, violence and appeals to nationalism and xenophobia. The guide documents the far reaching impacts of austerity politics and presents the main social, economic and political arguments to counter it.”

false-dilemmas

“The main conclusions to draw from this guide are that regardless of whether the country is under a Memorandum programme or not, certain rules are now imposed throughout the EU which preclude any alternative, independent economic policy that deviates even slightly from the neoliberal straitjacket.

The EU has revealed its true colours: an authoritarian, opaque, unaccountable set of institutions, governed by private lobby groups and unaccountable bureaucrats. It has spawned a racist and sexist resurgence, while drastically degrading democratic procedures, all of which have been made possible only through broad, general use of force. Debt has been used as an instrument of collective repression and as a lever to pass through extremely socially and environmentally harmful policies. To get some idea of the massive imbalance of power, we need only note that no one has been held accountable for failing banks or their debts, which were taken onto the public books, and are being paid for through the ruthless deterioration of our everyday lives.”

Download, read online or buy the book here.

Struggles for autonomy in Kurdistan: New book from Corporate Watch

Cover

Kurdistan is currently divided between four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. In each of the parts of Kurdistan, Kurdish identities and cultures have been repressed for generations. This book, by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson, gathers together first-hand accounts of the struggles for a new society taking place in Bakur and Rojava – the parts of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey and Syria.

The setting up of local assemblies and co-operatives, as well as radical women’s and ecological movements, are rapidly gathering momentum in Kurdistan. The book gives a simple introduction to democratic confederalism, the idea that has inspired many of those involved in these movements.

The book also compiles accounts from Kurdish people who are oppressed by the state of Turkey and profiles some of the companies that are complicit in their repression. The interviews give suggestions of how people outside of Kurdistan can act in solidarity.

Buy the book or download it for free here.

Who are the C.C.G. kidding, is it you?

save-our-wards

You should have been there on Wednesday at the Dorset open C.C.G. meeting; no, really, you should have. With protestors from all over the county we had just enough to fill the available seating and an overflow room but the long awaited angry pitchfork-wielding mob is still holding out on us. The whole rigmarole resulted from an off the cuff remark at an earlier open meeting last summer when one of our number asked to see the costing. The following day it was announced the decision was to be deferred until now. Evidently they hadn’t bothered to do the costing, since the decision had already been taken and they think we’re a bunch of fucking yokels. They’ve since spent £2.9 million on a ‘review’.

The suits staged a piece of choreographed P.R. bullshit, commencing with a presentation involving some silly diagrams projected on a side wall that fewer than half of us could see, accompanied by 30 minutes (it seemed longer) of that meaningless management drivel they all spout – what the actual fuck is a “pivotal provider”? We were subjected to a patronising lecture about how they were going to encourage us all to give up smoking and take more exercise, as if all our health conditions were our own fault. There’s going to be an ‘engagement road show’ (like Radio One?)

Hidden amongst the overarching visions, stakeholder engagements and enabling workstreams were a few gems. They face challenges in recruiting staff – why do you think that is? Having pissed off every other health worker the government is currently at war with its future consultants and that isn’t going to end well.

The threat to children’s services we have been staving off for so long remains, there is a recommendation to amalgamate these facilities with Yeovil hospital, which as a heckler pointed out, is in Somerset! Yeovil are not keen.

There is talk of care in the community or the home. The meaning of this will be familiar to anyone with experience of personal care. The council, or in this case the health service, pays a provider through the nose for half-hour care slots by agency staff on poverty wages. The half hour includes travel time so you only get twenty minutes, about ten of which are spent filling in paperwork.

Incredibly, the review has determined that aggregate travel times from Bournemouth to Poole, and vice-versa, are equivalent. This was challenged from the floor and we were dismissively told some folk had gone out with GPS and things.

The yokels were not impressed. It was pointed out that Poole hospital is a ten minute walk from the railway station whereas R.B.H. is a 40 minute bus ride from the Bournemouth one – when the bus actually shows up. R.B.H. sits in a traffic bottleneck that is virtually impassable for a couple of hours a day. Six streams of traffic converge on a single-lane roundabout then the eastbound traffic goes over a bridge that “was built for a horse and cart”. Even with a blue light on, the ambulance has to queue for traffic lights like everyone else, because there simply isn’t any room to make way. We recall a flooding incident that backed the whole thing up for an hour and a half.

I’ll spell it out for them: if I had an accident at Bournemouth rail station I would go to Poole hospital. The material accompanying the presentation even more extravagantly claimed that:

“… access to primary care and community services … would be possible by car within 8 minutes for 90% of the population … with just 25 [as opposed to 135 at present] well placed primary care locations”.

That’s pure fantasy. Tell you what, I defy any of them to drive into R.B.H. from Cooper Dean roundabout, park their car, and walk to hospital reception in 8 minutes.

There were many references to financial sustainability and overspending. We are told the N.H.S. has a huge funding gap, now we all know why this is, and it’s got nothing to do with obesity or the ageing population. Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) allow moneylenders to ‘own’ things other people require to live – such as roads, hospitals and schools – which, like everything else, are simply the products of our labour and ingenuity. With up-front privatisation thoroughly discredited, successive governments have handed the infrastructure over to cash-rich corporations who expect us to lease it back from them over decades at a huge premium. The advantage to the politician is that the transfer of public assets to the private sector is temporarily invisible, as is the magnitude of the debt. So it’s a sort of payday loan, by the time the payments become crippling the politician is long gone, having moved on and with luck, landed a job with one of these glorified pawnbrokers. When the state was forced to bail out the financial institutions after the crash it found itself paying for public assets it no longer owned. Servicing these loans is now given priority over providing services; vampire-like, they are sucking the life out of the N.H.S. The agenda of the government is to shut down and amalgamate as many non-P.F.I. hospitals as possible, nevertheless, the U.K. still spends a smaller portion of its G.D.P. on healthcare than Germany, France or the U.S.A.

Capitalists have a problem; every so often they run out of things to steal. A couple of hundred years ago they stole our land and forced us into waged labour. Every day bosses, bankers and landlords rob us of the fruits of that labour, leaving us only the barest means of subsistence. But as technology makes things easier and simpler to produce, labour gets less and less profitable, or even necessary. Even with us all consuming flat out, there isn’t much to do and most of us are simply an inconvenience to them, especially when we’re too sick, old or young to be adding value to their capital. All that’s left to pillage are things like education and healthcare, which are not commodities but social duties. How can any social grouping possibly “overspend” on the health and wellbeing of the very people who create its wealth?

Following some unconvincing questions from the panel, and a vigorous rebuttal from the floor, a farcical voting ritual unanimously endorsed their decision to concentrate A & E in Bournemouth and reduce Poole to a basic outpatients. This will do for the kid with the saucepan on his head and the rugby player with the singed arsehole, but nothing life-threatening. Here’s a consultant’s view We are told Dorchester is safe, and frankly we don’t believe a word. In 2014, a patients’ survey declared D.C.H. Emergency department as the best in the country. It would have looked a bit odd if they’d tried to shut it then so they went for the path lab instead, then when that was foiled decided to sneak up on it by squeezing out paediatrics and maternity.

A note to newspaper and T.V. editors: we are not “concerned”, we know what they are up to and we are fucking livid.

We hope for a larger and rowdier protest at the next one, bring your mates, and a pitchfork.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/30/accident-emergency-overhaul-shelved-warning-political-backlash

How PFI is crippling the NHS

http://www.nhsforsale.info/privatisation-list/surgery/the-great-pfi-swindle.html

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/peterborough-hospital-nhs-and-britains-privatisation-racket

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/anna-marriott/world-bank-pfi-hospital-and-destruction-of-nations-healthcare-system

More thoughts on the EU referendum – Mal Content.

La cinquante-huitième de Mars.

EU bombMy last post on this subject stirred a lively discussion so I’ll try and answer some of the points raised by people who generally express agreement with anarchist principles. Most activists are maintaining a dignified abstention from what they regard as an internal dispute within the British establishment, and none of the anarchist groups have agreed a policy as far as I can see. The arguments expressed in support of voting for the British state to remain in the EU verge on liberalism. As social revolutionaries we are presently fighting a rearguard action, some are confused and understandably torn between thwarting capitalist globalisation – a cause for which many comrades have lost their lives and liberty – and mitigating its short term effects on individuals.

This is not, as has been suggested, about opportunistically kicking the Cameron regime; the entire global bourgeoisie is in agreement on this issue*. They would like us to understand, without betraying their rising panic, that the British state’s membership of the EU is important to them. Of course, in every case we want the opposite of what they want: de-growth, de-alienation, an end to pointless commerce, futile toil, military activity, coercive power and capital accumulation. We must dismantle the political structures they rely on.

*”What about the tabloid press?” – They sell newspapers, and will continue to do so either way, it won’t make any difference to them and the next British P.M. will kiss Murdoch’s arse just like the last one. A few homegrown capitalists oppose it for opportunistic reasons, because they are insulated from it economically. Wetherspoon’s Tim Martin has cunningly engineered a captive domestic market that would probably stay loyal to him if he pissed on their shoes.

An out vote will wipe billions off their capital, which quantifies their power over the rest of us. It will seriously weaken the EU itself, destabilise the United Kingdom, and undermine the security of NATO. It will be a major blow to Western imperialism. Perhaps the most immediate benefit to our class, and the planet, is that it will balls up negotiations on the nightmarish TTIP treaty,* which, along with its Trans-Pacific counterpart would give a handful of unaccountable bourgeois oversight of local policy across the entire world. Working class militants, not only anarchists, are fighting these plans tooth and claw. The UK government’s own report on it, which they’ve been sitting on for three fucking years, predicts no benefit to the economy (See conclusions at the end).

*I recommend this article but the entire Z-Net site seems to have gone down this morning – coincidence? This is quite good, though I don’t share his faith in courts and parliaments, obviously.

Ask yourself: how many of us would hypothetically have to lay down our lives to do that amount of damage to our enemies? This is no time to hedge our bets, sometimes you have to gamble to win, especially when the status quo is intolerable. Cameron only called this referendum to staunch defections to UKIP and win the last election; and according to poll analyst Professor John Curtice it’s ”an awful lot closer than it was meant to be”. However uncomfortable the current climate might be, we’re not going to get another chance.

There is widespread confusion over the, European Convention on Human Rights adopted by the 47 states of the Council of Europe, which, despite using the same flag, is not related to the European Union and pre-dates it. The UK government is planning to do away with it anyway. Of more concern to libertarians is the European Arrest Warrant that allows governments to pursue dissidents across member states. It waives the convention in International extradition law that you cannot be extradited for an act that would be legal in the state you are being extradited from (called double criminality). Hidden among the list of heinous crimes this clause applies to is “participation” in a banned organisation. Since my last post the Spanish state has imprisoned two anarchist comrades for twelve years without a shred of evidence.

Some fear that a boost will be given to the far right, who will take it as a victory; fair comment, but they take everything as a victory anyway, and they were always going to be there. Was there ever a likelihood of the National Front campaigning for the EU? In Dover recently we were treated to the spectacle of Greek-Cypriot fascist and friend of Golden Dawn Paul ‘pitt’ Prodromou burning an EU flag with the words: “Stick it up your arse, we don’t want your foreigners” As a reflex comrades rushed to defend the institution, rather than just ridiculing the idiot. The EU cannot by any stretch be considered a buffer against fascism; xenophobic parties, including neo-Nazis are well represented at European and national level. In corporatist Europe ‘the left’ still means bureaucracy and top-down control for its own sake, and this contradiction gives the right something to get their teeth into. The Daily Express would be mostly blank without it. So is the EU in fact dragging the continent to the right?

Fear of the fash can be healthy, if it means you take care to steward public events, advertise wisely, monitor local fascist groups, ensuring you know where they meet and when, how many, how active, how mobile etc. But you’re doing that already, aren’t you? Clinging to the hope that if all else fails the state will step in is the triumph of optimism over a century of bitter experience. In 1920’s Italy, after two years of wildcat strikes, land and factory occupations, landowners and industrialists funded Mussolini to recruit a scab army of Blackshirts to evict the workers and break up union meetings. They obtained arms and vehicles, received training and logistics from the army and preferential treatment from police and courts. Firearms permits were selectively granted to right-wingers (like the brits did in Ireland). Left politicians invoked the constitution to protect their rights, but no-one was listening. When the official unions eventually organised armed resistance it was too little, too late. The same mistakes were repeated in Germany, Portugal and Spain. A world war, sixty million dead later and in London, Mosley was back in business with a police escort. There is no good or bad ruling class; there is one ruling class that operates differently over different terrain. Nobody is ever going to save anybody from anything out of moral sentiment.

“No government in the world fights fascism to destruction. When the bourgeois see power slipping out of their hands, they resort to fascism to hold onto their privileges.”

– Buenaventura Durruti

It has been suggested that workers settled here from the mainland may be removed; even the most rabid of UKIP spokesmen are not proposing this, it would wreck the economy instantly and remember there are far more British citizens over the channel than the other way round. Martin wouldn’t go for it either; he’s too fond of underpaying his staff. The British government is however, planning to remove all non-EU citizens earning below £35,000 p.a. leaving only the wealthiest.

The saintly Jeremy Corbyn having renounced his long-standing Bennism, the reason he’s struggling to make a socialist case for the EU is that there isn’t one. All his arguments are bourgeois; he speaks of the interests of “the people of this country” – which ones? If he actually believes workers’ rights are granted by politicians he needs to do a bit of reading. This is the kind of thing we’re up against in Poland and Hungary. Why is he pandering to this crap? Like everything to do with party politics, Corbyn’s conversion is dictated by internal power dynamics. He has chosen the parliamentary party over his social base, Momentum – bulked up by fractious Trots and tankies who aren’t allowed in the Labour party and are instinctively anti-EU – which declared neutrality so as not to embarrass the leader.

Cameron is on his arse and a good kick would finish him off. It’s Labour doing what it always does, offering to rescue the ruling elite just when its own venality has rendered it inoperable. Labour belongs to the possiblist tradition that holds that capitalism will eventually abolish itself if we would only be patient, and use the institutions it has given us. It the meantime, it’s not so much “bigger cages, longer chains!” More like what Unison might call “a negotiated and phased reduction in chain length and cage size”, to keep us all in alienated wage labour. Valiant French workers are fighting the bosses and the state right now, whatever they win will be theirs, let no one claim any credit because they voted for something.

If imported goods and overseas holidays become more expensive and cross-border trade falls, all the better for the environment. Maybe folk will be slower to chuck away food that’s been air-freighted around the globe. Perhaps consumers and farmers would by-pass the supermarkets and deal direct, as they do in Greece. We should be moving towards localised production anyway, repairing equipment instead of replacing it, like we all did only a few years ago, and we didn’t expect to eat bloody strawberries at Christmas. Weak sterling stimulates manufacturing, if that’s your bag. Scots who favour independence could vote ‘out’, to force the issue, and if an independent Scottish state benefits economically from re-joining that could even out the North-South wealth gap.

Meanwhile in NATO’s other bulwark against whatever-it-was, Turkey, persecution of the migrants being rejected by the EU is underway. The deal struck between big-hearted Angele Merkel and the Turkish state declared this despicable fascist regime a safe destination while it was burning women and children to death in their houses at Cizre. The Turkish state does not abide by the Geneva Convention and is simply driving the refugees back into Syria, according to this Amnesty International press release. It’s got a worse human rights record than some of the countries the Western powers have invaded in recent times, and US air force bases.

On radio 4’s Today programme of the 4th April, the day the agreement took effect we heard that two boatloads of our fellow workers had already been deported from Greece in defiance of international law. Both the EU and Turkish governments are ultimately responsible for the plight of these people (as proxies of the United States) but no one is going to hold them to account for it. That’s the thing about international law; it’s an agreement between the rulers of nation-states, which are subject to change from time to time. They make it up to suit themselves, and decide how and if it gets enforced. The Syriza-coalition government’s Migration Spokesman rather despondently absolved his administration of any responsibility for the resulting chaos and misery by pointing out that the arrangement was between the EU and the Turkish government, nothing to do with him. He couldn’t help mentioning that the Greek economy is flat on its back thanks to the measures imposed on it by its creditors in its desperation to remain in the euro zone. He proceeded to bang on about ‘economic migrants’, with as much venom as any neoliberal.

The Greek state has itself suffered the most complete loss of sovereignty since its occupation by the Axis in WW2 and subsequently becoming the first battleground of the cold war under the Truman_Doctrine. NATO interference in Greek affairs led logically to the CIA-sponsored military coup of 1967 by a group of former Nazi collaborators. It is now entirely the plaything of global capital, but the Greek workers do not look to Brussels for salvation, but their own efforts.

In the last one I hinted that climate change will make borders redundant before we do, here’s the article if you want it. I for one would like to see free movement of peoples, not limited to an arbitrary geographical area where most of the population happens to be white, and certainly not subject to the whim of politicians. European economic and political union is essentially a white-supremacist project; Europeanism is as unpleasant as nationalism. Europe being simply one end of a much larger land mass has always defined itself by what it isn’t. Its history is of the conquest and exploitation of everything that wasn’t Europe, and its creation of the capitalist hegemony through primitive accumulation (the economist’s euphemism for armed robbery). Its present cultural identity is framed in terms of antagonism to the ‘other’, and the myths of civilisation and enlightenment that were and still are used to justify slaughter and brigandage. Small wonder that we are being implored to think of ‘security’ – the continued hegemony of European cultures across the globe, and that includes the United States, an entity spawned by European imperialism. Boris Johnson’s racial slur against Barack Obama misses by miles. If his Kenyan heritage causes him to ‘hate Britain’ (whatever that means) he would likely bear similar animosity towards the territories of Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal Spain and the Netherlands, whose governments also perpetrated genocide in Africa, and most other places.

Fear of change has never been part of anarchist thought. We speak of building the new world in the shell of the old; soon we will have to crack that shell, and it will require personal sacrifice.

“It is we, the workers, who built palaces and cities in Spain, America and elsewhere, we can build them anew, and better. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a New World, here, in our hearts.”

– Buenaventura Durruti

SHUT DOWN THE VERNE DETENTION CENTRE! DEMONSTRATION 7th May 2016

Saturday 7th May marks the National Day of Action Against Detention Centres across the UK. Come and demonstrate at one of the UK’s most isolated detention centres, The Verne, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. Previously a prison, The Verne was reclassified as an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in September 2014, however it remains under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Aside from the its isolated location, which prevents many detainees from receiving visits, an HM Inspectorate of Prisons report in March 2015 reported high levels of violence within The Verne as well as considerable difficulty for detainees in obtaining legal representation. The inspectors found that just 30 minutes of free legal advice was available and many detainees “struggled to obtain representation to fight their cases”. The report also highlighted “excessive stays”, finding that 40 of The Verne’s 580 inmates had been in detention for over a year and one had been held for over five years.

This barbaric treatment of people seeking to remain in the UK must stop.Join us in support of those detained, and to call for an end to detention: SHUT DOWN THE VERNE! SHUT DOWN DETENTION CENTRES!

DEMONSTRATION 7th May 2016- 12.45 pm- 1.45 pm outside the Verne (bring things to make noise) 2.15 pm in the town.

TRANSPORT TO THE VERNE on the day or contact bristolclosetheverne@riseup.net.

For more information about the Close the Verne Campaign see https://www.facebook.com/closetheverne/?fref=ts

https://www.facebook event

Resist the Mayor’s Cuts in Bristol!

From Bristol Solidarity Federation.

mayor3George Ferguson, the elected Mayor of Bristol, is directly responsible for cuts to services in this city – including services for children. He has halved the number of beds at the Bush, a residential centre for disabled children. [1] Even though the council voted to preserve funding – he pushed it through personally. This month the Hawkspring, a vital service that helps families affected by drug addiction, almost closed after having its funding from the council slashed. It only stayed open thanks to a charity stepping in to help at the last minute. [2] This is all while having plenty of money for other things – like massive pay-rises for council bosses [3], and £2.3 million a year on public relations and marketing. [4]

Maybe if this one man is responsible, protests should be directed at him as well as the council? We’ve protested in the streets and at council meetings – but the mayor owns a chain of bars and cafés in the city that have been mostly untouched. Last year campaigners against cuts to disabled kids’ services organised a protest outside his home and business – the Tobacco Factory. Bristol SolFed thinks this was a great idea – we’ve always found picketing and communications blockades [5] far more effective than normal protests. We have found a list of some more of the pies the mayor has got his finger in, which should help anyone who wants to take this kind of action. We hope you find it useful…

List: http://pastebin.com/YfTAJ2ra

[1] facebook page for the campaign against cutting The Bush – https://www.facebook.com/No-to-Cuts-to-the-Bush-Residential-Centre-for-Disabled-Children-605680162863622. Debate between the mayor and one of the parents – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q5sRRX2ebA
[2] background from a Labour campaigner – http://amandaramsay.co.uk/council-should-fund-hawkspring/
[3] http://thebristolian.net/2016/03/11/town-hall-fat-cats-attempt-wage-heist/
[4] http://thebristolian.net/2016/03/01/spin-watch/
[5] a “comms blockade” is where on a set day/time, lots of people call up a business at once, fill their facebook with complaints, etc

Red and black telly: THE END OF THE UK STEEL INDUSTRY – AN ANARCHIST VIEW

We’re still going to need steel after we’ve overthrown capitalism! No pay cuts, no pillaging the pension fund; the workers need to take the plant, now. Then we would have something to fight for, starting a wave of occupations and expropriations building to a social general strike and a long hot summer! – W.S.

Fash in The Pan by Swindon Anarchists

A report from Swindon Anarchists’ latest meeting View original

On Wednesday the 9th of March, Swindon Anarchists held a packed public meeting, with numbers being boosted by a few poorly judged threats from a weird collection of fascist keyboard warriors.

Under 24 hours from our meeting ‘an introduction to anarchism’, we got a call from the venue saying they’d received information that far right groups were targeting the meeting. Sure enough, a quick trawl through facebook showed that an odd collection of fascist losers with a vivid online imagination but no street presence were claiming that local fascists were planning to ‘smash’ us. As our local fascists main hobby is drinking and in-fighting, we weren’t unduly fussed, but in the context of growing violence from the far right, we thought we’d better be prepared. The next 24 hours saw them swinging between claiming the meeting had been cancelled and that it was still on, but was going to get smashed up by ‘the lads’. Their weird posts attracted comments from even weirder individuals, such as infamous nazi and Todmoredon village idiot David Jones, who claimed he would be along to ‘smash the c*nts in with a sledgehammer’.

threat1

While the fascists were busy playing make believe on the internet, we were organizing. In response to the threat, we invited along anti-fascist comrades from the surrounding area and changed the topic of the meeting to ‘how to defeat fascism’.

On the evening, our event was a massive success, with over 30 people attending, including a dozen from nearby towns and cities packing out the meeting. We watched a film detailing the defeat of the National Front in the 1980s before a couple of short clips of the Nazis getting a pasting in Dover and Liverpool. This was followed by a lively discussion about the best ways of dealing with the increasingly minuscule, but increasingly far-right and violent groupsicles that constitute the fascist scene in the UK. At the end of the meeting, a hat was passed around, and we raised a decent chunk of cash which will all be ploughed in to local anti-fascist activity, before most of us headed to the pub.

groupphoto-blobs

Throughout the meeting, we had spotters out and about in the local area, with no sign of any fascists.

Ultimately, there are a few reasons why the fascists might have bottled it. It might have been that, while they talk a good game on the internet, they simply can’t muster the footsoldiers to do their dirty work. Alternatively, they might have turned up and bottled it when they saw a packed, diverse, well stewarded meeting, not the few liberal students they seemed to be expecting. Finally, it might have something to do with the fact that the night before, 7-10 fascists tried to attack an anti-racist meeting in Bristol, before getting chased off and taking injuries.

Either way, the Pie and Mash squad’s only response was the picture below, which they claim shows them marching through Swindon to confront us, before getting stopped by police. The obvious flaws in this argument are that our spotters in the area saw no sign of them, that the town in the picture isn’t Swindon, and that it is daylight in their picture, despite our meeting starting at 7.30pm!

blob

An anarchist argument for getting the fuck out of the European Union, by Mal Content.

EU bombAll the arguments currently being raised for and against exit are entirely bogus from my point of view, but it was still never going to be a difficult question. Basically, the fewer people rulers have to rule over the less power they wield, the more powerful we are. It makes sense therefore, to cut them down to size by always devolving power to the smallest administrative unit possible. For this reason alone I was excited by the near-miss of Scottish independence in 2014.

The trouble with politics of course, is politicians; their choices depend on precisely whose vested interests they are paid to lobby for. Both campaigns are focusing on what benefits the rich and how best to screw the poor: compromising their health and safety, suppressing their dissent, denying them human rights and benefits, spying on them, stopping them striking or moving about.

Whereas all parties stand for the bourgeoisie, the Tory party strives to represent the landed aristocracy as well. Within it there is a long-standing cognitive dissonance between giving free reign to global capitalism, and the palaeolithic idea that there ought to be some advantage to having been born within a given geographical boundary. Squaring up to pork and pigeon abusers Cameron and Osborne for a theatrical toff-off are posh buffoons Johnson and Gove, and the bungling ghoul Duncan-Smith. Never mind whether you despise any one more than the others, they are all our enemies, as are the proto-fascist Farage, the tankie gobshite Galloway, the parliamentary Labour party and that other bunch that John Cleese likes for some reason.

National interest – well there never was such a thing. What possible common interest could there be between the oligarch in their penthouse and people sleeping in doorways over the road? For the wage-labourers in between, neoliberal capitalism has taken great pains to destroy any commonality of interest by atomising our communities and turning us into a socio-economic continuum with each worker half a point above the next one. Whenever politicians use this term they mean the interest of the ruling elite in maintaining the value of its property and its dominance over the rest of us. The slimy use of the pronoun ‘we’ by hereditary millionaires talking to paupers sets my teeth on edge. I especially detest the phrase ‘UK-PLC’, but it does emphasise that this isn’t your island, you only work here.

“This ideological construct of a unified “national interest” includes the fiction of a “neutral” set of laws, which conceals the exploitative nature of the system of power we live under. Under corporate capitalism the relationships of exploitation are mediated by the political system to an extent unknown under previous class systems. Under chattel slavery and feudalism, exploitation was concrete and personalized in the producer’s relationship with his master. The slave and peasant knew exactly who was screwing them. The modern worker, on the other hand, feels a painful pounding sensation, but has only a vague idea where it is coming from.”

– Kevin A. Carson: ‘The Iron Fist behind the Invisible Hand – Corporate Capitalism as a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege’.

The Economy – fuck that! What has the economy ever done for us? It’s what keeps oligarchs in penthouses and their victims in doorways.

“Businesses hate uncertainty and that’s what we would give them,”

Cameron spluttered, and the I.M.F.’s Christine Lagarde echoed:

“Uncertainty is bad in and of itself. No economic player likes uncertainty. They don’t invest, they don’t hire, they don’t make decisions in times of uncertainty”

The poor bastards! No doubt these arguments will resonate with those in precarious employment, on zero-hours contracts, or under constant threat of sanction by the D.W.P. – You could give the bosses a taste of their own medicine, but Cameron’s probably counting on you being too repelled by their toff wars to participate. Referenda are directly democratic; we’re fine with practical questions being settled this way (with the proviso of course that a majority can’t vote away the freedom of a minority).

Let’s spy on another class enemy; this is from the C.B.I. website:

“The vast majority of CBI members are clear that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the costs, but that the EU must reform to be more competitive. Sir Mike Rake called for businesses to speak out on the benefits at our Annual Dinner in May, which an increasing number of CBI members are doing.”

It goes on to list the benefits to its class:

  • The importance of access to the Single Market
  • The value of EU membership for attracting investment
  • How EU trade deals help to grow exports
  • How EU free movement helps businesses to grow and create jobs
  • How EU reforms like digital single market, TTIP and other trade deals help businesses grow
  • Where reducing EU red tape and fewer rules can help make it easier to do business

Creating jobs – bollocks: ever wanted to do something more useful than making the rich richer? Saving the environment, feeding and housing people, fighting disease? The issue for them is how to reduce the price of labour to its absolute minimum and piss off with the proceeds before they have to give any back.

Cameron claims that ‘all countries friendly to the UK’, want it to stay in the EU.

“That’s what the New Zealanders think, the Canadians, the Indians, the Chinese, everyone. I’m yet to meet a serious friendly country, one that wants a stronger relationship with us, that thinks we will be better outside.”

He blithers on, betraying the infantile level of this debate:

“I say you should listen to your friends about what they think would be good for you and would be right for you.”

Let’s deconstruct that statement a little.

Even Porky couldn’t claim that the entire populations of those territories and this island are on friendly terms, much less that a third of the human race gives a flying fuck about the outcome of his referendum. What he means of course is that the rulers of China for example, a one-party dictatorship that presides over sweatshops in which 70,000 people die at work annually, are sympathetic to his ends. From human rights watch 2015 report:

“The government targets activists and their family members for harassment, arbitrary detention, legally baseless imprisonment, torture, and denial of access to adequate medical treatment.”

Both India and China retain the death penalty for civilians, the number of executions in China is a state secret, but is rarely below 2,000 per annum – more than the rest of the world put together. With friends like those, who needs Iain Duncan-Smith?

Sovereignty – another irrelevance; the sovereignty of a parliament full of crooked millionaires and politics graduates versus a load of crooked political appointees. The market is global, as politicians never tire of reminding you when they fail to deliver their promises. It really isn’t up to them but their corporate sponsors; they need the market and the market needs them. According to Alex Edwards, currency analyst at UKForex, the very fact of proles having a say in such weighty matters will terrify the global bourgeoisie, as it did in Greece:

“It’s going to be a very bumpy ride for sterling in the run up to June’s referendum, and we can expect new lows and increased instability as the rhetoric heightens, polls are released and rumours abound.”

Good.

The greatest ever surrender of sovereignty by the British state was its entry into NATO, which has led to the absurdity of professed allies fighting on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict. Although the Turkish state is backing deash against both the Kurds and the Assad regime, the U.S. government will never move against it because it keeps air force bases on Turkish soil, with tactical nuclear weapons.

Some workers fear the loss of social legislation, driven from regions where workers’ organisations are integrated into the state. But stop; if we have to rely for our emancipation on other people’s efforts, we really are in the cart. In the last century liberation movements thought they could get a better deal by being proxies of the U.S.S.R. The German unions have a lot of bargaining power; they also have a vested interest in the stability of the state, thereby supporting prosperity in capitalist terms. The French unions do well because they take to the streets and kick off, we don’t need the common market to do that! In Spain, a wave of political repression is underway that recalls the dictatorships of the twentieth century. Greek workers are at war with their government and the E.U.

Social change that benefits the working class only comes through direct organising with other workers, not through top-down institutions. Activists will continue to work with their overseas counterparts against capitalist globalisation, fascism and environmental destruction. Revolutionary syndicalism is international and does not rely on the political alliances of governments. When we make common cause with workers in European countries, or any others for that matter, we’ll sort it out between ourselves. The E.U. bureaucracy isn’t going to help us organise a Europe-wide general strike, is it?

Freedom of movement within the E.U. is likely to be curtailed in the short term as the squabbling partners all rush to get their fences up. Britain was never going to be in the Shengen zone, and they won’t even let you on the channel ferry without a passport any more. A bilateral agreement between the French and British states places the U.K. border firmly on the other side of the channel. Comrades are regularly accosted by state-terror spooks on their return from oversees events, and political integration of European states facilitates this. For the rich of any zone, travel has never been a problem and never will be, either way. For those of us who want the borders down, don’t worry, that’s going to happen anyway; no force on Earth can stop it. Over the next twenty years large sections of the planet’s surface will become uninhabitable, which is why the ruling class and its client media are relentlessly stoking fear of the ‘other’ to soften us up for some serious crimes against humanity. The very last thing we need is the rulers of Western Europe getting together on this behind closed doors and coming out with a plan.

The EU is nothing more than a bourgeois cartel that can only serve the interests of the bosses and we have an opportunity to break it. We don’t need Brussels any more than we need Westminster; both represent the hegemony of old, rich, white men. What’s more, if the Referendum produces an overall majority for exit this will most likely not be reflected north of the Scottish border* and will re-open their independence debate. It’s unlikely that many in the North of Ireland will want to see a ‘hard border’ with the South again and will be similarly reluctant to follow Britain. The result could be a move towards re-unification or at least to marginalise the bowler-hat merchants. If we’re very lucky, we could see off the U.K. altogether!

*Not because it’s in their interests, but because many are in thrall to a political movement that postulates a softer social democratic capitalism, and they would understandably rather tie up to the mainland than to England’s toffocracy.

Going back to my first paragraph, an independent England with a guaranteed Tory majority in parliament doesn’t scare me in the slightest; the present government acts with impunity already, despite representing less than a quarter of the population. I’d cheerfully take Dorset out of England if I could – and we’ve got the worst of the worst down here: Chope, Drax and Letwin – but we’d be fighting a ruling class so weakened and demoralised I doubt the toffs would have the front to set foot outside their houses.

Ignore all the fuglies on the out campaign; Cameron wants you to vote in, the U.S. government wants it, the Chinese Communist Party wants it, the C.B.I. wants it, the I.M.F. wants it, Hollande and Merkel want it, what more reasons do we need for voting out?

The devil mud run, all in a day’s work for Bristol Antifascists.

bristleOur comrades at Bristol Anti-fascists are taking part in the DEVIL MUD RUN, to raise funds. It’s a hardcore, hilly 8 kilometre course across open, rugged countryside and through woods featuring over 31 obstacles with plenty of mud and water thrown in!

Maybe you don’t run like you used to or you were never too keen on it in the first place, but some anti-fascists are going to do it for you. You can donate here to help ordinary working class heroes keep us all out of the gas chambers a little while longer. Tidy.

MPs Are Scared. So they Should Be!

From Trade Onion Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The recent report into violence and aggression shown towards MPs reveals an astonishing lack of awareness amongst our elected representatives when it comes to the effects of their policies. Whingeing about violence they receive at the hands of their constituents while they make laws which increase the likelihood of people suffering poverty, eviction and inequality. Many people will be shocked to see the level of anger and hatred shown towards people who are supposedly there to help us all and represent our interests. One MP has written a comparison between how people treat their MPs and their GPs. Of course there’s a major difference between doctors and politicians: doctors try to make you better and politicians always end up making things worse.

There are two issues that this report brings to light which have been overlooked. The first is the frustration many people feel when they discover that discussing things with their MP might not actually get them anywhere. That sense of powerlessness when the bureaucratic reality of life in a liberal democracy hits home can make your blood boil. This is linked to the second issue which is the structural violence of the capitalist system that can only function with willing bureaucrats ready to wring their hands of responsibility.

The power of the piece of paper telling an MP that nothing can be done in a situation because the law has been followed correctly is the most horrendous power we allow. It’s the power that props up every form of legalised abuse. It excuses a million crimes against the citizenry in the name of order and it unleashes violence against us daily. It is our civic duty to consider how that violence works and then vow to suppress it.

The rule of law is backed up with force, or violence. If the law says something is so then to oppose it means you are inviting violence against you in the form of the police, courts, incarceration etc. The very fact that inequality is backed up by law means that inequality is in itself a violent act. The boss that lawfully pays you less than your value is backed up with the full force of the law. The homeless, users of food banks, people needing benefits to survive, the list goes on – these are all victims of a violent system that protects the richest people at the expense of everyone else. It’s a morality that allows the richest to set the wages of everyone and then enforces that inequality and poverty. Rise up against it and you will be criticised for being violent, a thug, mindless and, shock horror, of not respecting law and order. It isn’t order at all. It’s a chaos that’s trikes fear in millions of people every day.

The message from MPs is clear: we make the laws for capitalism to function and you must obey. They ensure that this structural violence exists, in the interest of the rich. They keep this brutal system of capitalism going. They mix with, and enjoy the financial attention of the ruling class. Without them this chaos could be ended today and replaced with order. Not law and order but a harmony where people do not have to suffer the deleterious effects of capitalism and where power can rest with us all as equals.

Instead, we have the sight of these people who inflict aggression on our society pleading for help and protection from the dangerous population. What the reports really show us is that people fully understand the system and are mightily pissed off with it. That people are willing to abuse their MP on twitter or even go to their surgery and be aggressive in person is clearly linked to the hopelessness people see in this system. Democracy was supposed to give us a voice but instead it continues to give voice to the rich, giving them all the protection they need to enjoy life at our expense.

This system isn’t going to change via twitter or people lashing out on their own at their MP’s office. It’s going to change only when we all start to see it for what it is: a protection racket for the rich. It’s becoming increasingly clear that appealing to an MP for help is pointless anyway. It’s as pointless as voting for them in the first place. They’re not there for us and they have a thousand pieces of legislation ready to tell us why they can’t help. They’re better ignored and the system fought instead.

One positive thing to come out of this report though is that we can record how fearful they are of us. It should please us when our tormentors act like frightened little puppies. Our message to MPs should be clear: you are right to be afraid. We should take that fear and make it spread all the way to the top. On March 5th David Cameron has a chance to feel it as Class War march on one of his properties. Whilst his government is destroying housing for the poorest in society he’s creaming it as a landlord. Such things don’t go unnoticed and they will be acted on!

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The Corbyn delusion and the double-edged sword of truth – Mal Content.

“I can’t be cool … I read one too many books”

– The Clash: ‘Deny’

As an anarchist I regard the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn to the Leadership of the Opposition as a huge backward step. We were finally getting the message across that the political caste can do nothing for us, being in thrall to some distant, unaccountable people, and arbitrary market forces that no one understands, especially those who are paid fabulous sums to predict their outcome. Social inequality has reached Pharonic proportions, with 62 individuals wielding more purchasing power than the poorest three and a half billion. Through all the crises of the past five years, their wealth increased by 44%, while everyone else’s fell by a similar amount. The richest 1% is now worth as much as the rest of us put together. No state redistribution scheme is going to make a dent in this mountain of fictitious capital, and there’s simply nothing big enough to invest more than a tiny fraction of it in. In so far as it exists at all, except as a measure of the theoretical status of the socially useless, such wealth resides in tax havens, far from the workers whose needs and abilities it represents. The plutocrats amuse themselves with football clubs, islands and vast swathes of London, and use their newspapers and TV stations to install their lackeys in the institutions their class devised over centuries to keep it in power forever.

mugs

Our people still don’t know what they want, much less how to get it, on a recent TUC outing it struck me what a confused mess the left has become with all its different agendas. “Fight for every job”, one placard says; “a million green jobs now!” screams another; “NHS not Trident”, “stop tax dodging”, “positive banking!” – really? The GMB supports fracking, Unite sits on the fence over Trident. We aren’t helping much with slogans like “demand the impossible”; demand the bleeding obvious more like. With the Labour Party at last consigned to the dustbin of history, the mirage of political representation would evaporate revealing naked class struggle. The last thing we needed was someone breathing life into this anachronism and giving people false hope; it would be a tragedy if the young and angry spent the next five years campaigning for a Labour government when they could be kicking off, wildcatting and occupying the means of production. Like you, I’ve groaned at the false dichotomy of state-managed socialism versus state-guaranteed capitalism, shuddered at the grim spectre of Old Labour. It burns my arse that I’m sat here writing about party politics, just months after the Syriza fiasco exposed its futility.

messiahAs a matter of fact, back in July when the Messiah showed up at Tolpuddle to fill the gap left by Our Tone, I harboured a vain notion that I might have a quiet word with him at some point. He’s a nice geezer who works hard for his constituents. Having respect for his sincerity I would say: “For the sake of our class! Please don’t stand!” In the event, he floated in and out again, smiling beatifically, surrounded by swarms of entranced acolytes in their J.C. T shirts. After slogging away for decades to no good purpose, he’s having his fifteen minutes and loving it – well who can blame him? Had I waded through the selfie apocalypse to express such dissonance, I would have been denounced as a heretic and belaboured with copies of the Morning Star. Anyway, by then I was occupied with fucking off a pro-Israel group.

Corbyn was put up as a joke candidate by the Blairites, who no longer bother to hide their contempt for our class. He was to act as a foil for their argument that Labour had lost the election purely because they had failed to keep up with the Tories’ stampede to the right and were too soft on immigrants and the poor. New Labour had opened their leadership contest to supporters who paid a fee to register. This was mainly to reduce the influence of trade unionists, almost exclusively workers in the beleaguered public sector. This backfired spectacularly as thousands registered to vote for Corbyn. So they resorted to a range of dirty tricks, barred people from voting, even wheeled out the old war-criminal himself – big mistake; as Blair is the left’s most hated figure after Thatcher, perhaps even more so as he conned them into putting him in government. The result was that the 200/1 outsider polled three times as many votes as the next runner-up. Since His election, there have been a few unexpected developments, and some entirely predictable ones.

Kentucky fried MarxismFirst there was The Miracle Of The Trots. Every Marxist group that ever there was, SP, CP, SWP, TUSC, LU, AWL Counterfire – who all hate each other with a vengeance, abandoned their turf war to unite behind Corbyn. The factionalist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty even de-registered as a party so its members could join Labour.

As anticipated, the chattering classes have closed ranks, the corporate press and the state-corporatist BBC whine forlornly at the prospect of having to fight a battle they thought ended with the Miners’ Strike. The parliamentary Labour Party, an uninspiring gang of careerists and time-servers representing no one whatsoever, were oiked out of obscurity and are now on the radio every five minutes. A year ago it would have been inconceivable that anyone would ask Andy Burnham’s opinion on anything.

The message blaring from every speaker is that under the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism, a socialist agenda has no place in a national representative assembly, however many of its subjects may want it. This arrogance from the 24% seems to have galvanised the multitudes who want to wave two fingers at them into joining the Party, more have done so since His election than are in the tory party. Branch meetings are suddenly packed with people who have never belonged to a party in their lives. Who are these people and what do they hope to achieve? A crowd- sourced budget perhaps? I’m imagining the kind of people who follow Another Angry Voice and The Artist Taxi Driver. Green, anticapitalist, for free education and healthcare, open borders and public ownership, if not exactly workers’ control. I suspect most of them want to go a lot further than their leader would dare and don’t give a damn if he wears a poppy or kisses the queen’s ring. So they aren’t too fussed that Corbyn can’t carry a majority in the house, or win an election with all the tabloids and the Beeb against him. Anecdotally a few anarchists are joining in, no names no packdrill, that should give the Daily Mail something to froth about. The tories who were rumoured to have infiltrated Labour to vote for the unelectable Corbyn, are reduced to lamenting the lack of a serious (i.e. neoliberal) opposition being bad for democracy. So maybe the Labour party will become a campaigning network like 38 degrees, which doesn’t suffer from having to have a policy on everything. But why do we need another one?

reading1 (1)Those of us who read a bit were also quick to have a pop; we follow ideas not people. Corbyn’s ideas are neither new nor explicitly anticapitalist, and at the present stage of capitalist accumulation, impossible for any government to implement. Some of them are daft and obviously made on the hoof, his idea of building nuclear submarines without warheads smacks of Keynes’ digging holes and filling them in again. His Unite backers would prefer to while away their days building Trident, a mechanism for ending human history and making the planet uninhabitable, than be excluded from waged labour. As for back-door negotiations with deash, that would be a betrayal of the working class in both territories, and put Britain in the same sordid position as Turkey and Saudi Arabia – if it isn’t already.

defies-parodyIt’s a truism that politicians are out of touch with the people, having never done, been trained for, not had any ambition to do more than govern others. The media have long lamented the young’s lack of engagement with the Westminster circus. In reply they’ve thrown up only reactionary buffoons like Farage and hare-brained misogynist Russell Brand, whose boner melted before Milliband’s legendary charisma. Both are heavily reliant for their livelihood on the status quo. In the media-generated political mirage, the class that must work for wages is only allowed to construe economics in terms of jobs and money; they would have us believe that money has a value, is finite, and must be worked for. Corbyn cannot escape this mythology, so he chats about creating jobs, wealth and economic growth through investment as if these things were desirable. The trouble with Keynesianism, as Hitler and Mussolini knew only too well, is you have to have a war every so often to destroy surplus production. When Billy Bragg sang ‘Between the Wars’ thirty-odd years ago, Britain actually was – if you didn’t count Ireland, and the proxy wars going on in Palestine, Iran/Iraq, Timor etc in which British capital was invested. We are now in a continuous state of war and it will end when capitalism ends.

Capitalism rests on violence; it pervades every aspect of the culture. Children are taught to admire and simulate the taking of life as soon as they are able to grasp the concept of death. There are few computer games related to saving the planet, I tried a Google search and the latest entry was from 2011. On Radio 4’s Question Time recently a panel of liberals and worthies had a solemn debate on whether it was reasonable to lock away a fifteen year old for the rest of their life, for fantasising on the internet about killing strangers in a distant land. They agreed they didn’t have enough information to make that judgement and would leave it to others – a pretty sorry admission from would-be opinion formers. This was followed immediately by a discussion on whether it was irresponsible for a seventy-year old man to say he would never kill strangers in distant lands. The grown up common sense view is that not having a vessel under the sea, carrying more explosive than has ever been detonated, anywhere, would put us at risk – who, exactly is ‘us’?

Here’s the double-edged bit: unlike us Bookfair-goers, the braying toffs and media hacks are not just sneering at some fluffy old lefty and his 20th century politics; they are sneering at the needs and aspirations of our class. Those who aspire to bring their kids into a world that isn’t fitted with a self-destruct button, and is at least prepared to feed and house them. The young who see themselves as more than just creators of surplus-value, while the rich, breeding at our expense on their stolen land, see their own offspring as appropriators and accumulators of that value. The test of a socialist utopia will be whether you’re still getting up in the morning and taking crap off people you don’t respect. Within the drudgery of our lives we find that that the most significant things people do are done neither for reward nor to order but out of the instinct to altruism and goodwill. It’s just that we’ve all grown up in a society where greedy sociopaths rise to the top, are perceived to be successful and held up to be admired.

There are more useful things we could be doing than kicking Corbyn right now, we need to get amongst the disciples a bit sharpish and steer the conversation away from fixing the economy, a hateful thing that exists to maintain the dominance of the few over the many. Our class could break it irrevocably in a heartbeat, but we must abandon the attitudes, and to some extent the desires that sustain it. We work to live, or else we are raw material to the industry that generates its profits from managing our inactivity. In work or out of it we are confined by procedures, forms, assessed and audited by folk who have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, as are they in turn. We are required to sacrifice our dignity and be pacified with toys and entertainments, endless consumption without satisfaction. It’s bizarre that so many corporate-constructed cultural artifacts are claimed as ‘working class culture’. Capitalism robs children of their childhood and robs adults of opportunities to grow up. The economy makes us sick and trades our ill-health. False hope and desperation are commodities, or no one would ever buy hair restorer. Loving Corbyn is a commodity, so is hating Him; their stocks will rise and fall, the market will care little, and when the party’s over, there’s going to be a fucking great hangover.

What can we salvage from all this? Probably no more or less than from the occupy movement; sitting round the fire listening to tosh about chemtrails and the Bilderberg group, every now and then someone would ask: “seriously, how do we get out of this fucking mess?” Well I’ve a few ideas, but you’re going to have to put yourself out … fancy a pint?

Credit Suisse Research Institute publications, on which the Oxfam report was based

The Global Wealth Databook 2015 pdf

The Global Wealth Report 2015 pdf

Bristol Comrade sees off filth at airport.

Bristol Anarchist Chases Away Counter-Terror Police from RABBLE

Today at Stansted Airport, plainclothes police officers pulled aside a travelling anarchist (Tim from Bristol) and seemingly sought to coerce him into becoming an informant with a combination of intimidation, veiled threats, and offers of free alcohol. But when he started recording the officers on his mp3 player they quickly terminated the exchange and made a sharp exit.

He believes he was targeted by counter terror police because of his Anarchism, stating: “Anarchism is about ordinary people standing up to the rich and powerful – exactly what the police are there to prevent. These people claim to be protecting us, but they spend most of their time blacklisting trade unionists, spying on activists and harassing ethnic minorities.”

Here’s his full account of what happened today:

As I was leaving the EU e-passport gate about 1pm today, I was approached by a man who came out from behind the desk to the left. He was a similar height to me, with short light brown hair/beard, and a light northern English accent. He said “Hi Tim, I’d like to have a word with you. I think you know what this is about”. I got my phone out and called a friend as soon as he started speaking. I told him I had a phone call which I needed to take. A man who had approached in the mean-time from the right, wearing a grey suit-jacket, asked me to turn my phone off. I repeated that I had to take the call. When my friend picked up I asked them to call my solicitor.

The man in the grey suit identified himself as a police officer. The man who’d originally approached me asked me to go with him again. I asked “am I being detained?” and he said “it’s nothing like that”. I said that I’m busy and needed to get on. He said “so am I” and that it wouldn’t take long. He kept saying that he wants to talk somewhere else because it would be “in your interest” and I wouldn’t want to talk about it in public. I just repeated that I wanted to stay where we were.

I asked him what it was about to find out if I could leave, and he said that I’m “heading down a dark path” and repeated that we should talk in private and “I can buy you a drink”. At this point I’d had enough so I told him “if I don’t have to talk to you then I’m leaving” and started walking. He said “we’ll come with you”. I said “I’d rather not” but he walked by me anyway.

He asked another question about why I didn’t want to talk, to which I replied “I’m not obliged to answer that”. He was obviously not going to leave me alone even though I’d made it very clear I wanted him to go, so I visibly got out my mp3 player and set it to record. I held it up and asked “who are you, what’s your name?” (he had so far refused to identify himself). He said “You don’t need to record this”. When I didn’t stop he turned away from me without a word and walked off briskly, joined by another man dressed the same (short hair, dark grey jacket). I followed him, repeating the question several times but they ignored me. Eventually the man who said he’s a cop stood in my path and said “calm down fellas”, allowing the two others to walk away. I left the airport and called the solicitor Raj Chada of HJA immediately to let him know what happened.”

This isn’t the first time that British counter-terror police have fled when faced with being recorded either – see https://corporatewatch.org/videos/2014/activist-harrassed-counter-terrorism-command. This just goes to show that if you’re approached by the police to be an informant, standing up to them is the best response. They don’t like it when we record THEM and ask questions, or when we stick together instead of letting them intimidate us one by one. Police feed on our isolation, so it’s when we stand up to them publicly instead of keeping our heads down that they back off and leave us alone.

If you are approached to be an informant, there’s some great advice on the freebeagles website – http://www.freebeagles.org/articles/grass.html . As a quick summary we’d say:

  • Say nothing – you have nothing to gain by telling them anything, whether it seems important to you or not. Saying anything at all is a sign of weakness and makes you a target
  • We’re always safer together. Let friends and comrades know what happened and make it public as soon as possible. Your local defendant solidarity group may be able to help
  • Get in touch with a solicitor (see https://netpol.org/solicitors/ for a list of good ones in the UK)
  • Put THEM under the spotlight – it’s a proven fact that police hassle people less when they shout about it and talk to the media

For information on police harassment in general, the articles by Bristol Defendant Solidarity are also well worth a read, covering everything from the bare minimum you have to say, to what to do when faced with raids and arrests – https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/defendant-solidarity/police-harassment/

Greeks extradited to Italy for alleged mayday involvement

From a Greek friend in the UK.

I don’t know whether or not it has made any activist websites yet, but 5 Greek students are facing extradition to Italy (via a European Union warrant) where the Italian legal system hopes to imprison them for their participation in the 1st of May demo of 2015. After being arrested and then set free in Italy, Greek police bust into their houses this November. There is no evidence against them and the charges they face are pure bullshit (the translation is roughly one charge for “damages” and one for “extended resistance”- obviously referring to when they were snatched from the streets on the 2nd of May for no fucking reason). These offences carry sentences between 8-15 YEARS.

This issue should be of concern to everyone active in Europe as it represents repression on a variety of levels: 1. The students don’t have any evidence against them, so that is a huge issue in and of itself, 2. they are arrested for protesting, 3. the issue of extradition and the EU’s involvement adds a whole other dimension- if this passes, mass mobilizations like Genoa or like Paris recently will be much harder to organise. Imagine coming back from COP21 and getting snatched many months later while you are chilling with your family. This is next level criminalisation of protesting, ON A EUROPEAN LEVEL. This could set a very negative precedent and people need to be aware of this and be ready to organise.

After Fede, an Italian student studying at SOAS, was snatched in Frankfurt at the Blockupy demonstrations, solidarity actions were largely limited to people taking photo’s of themselves holding a cardboard sign reading “Free Fede”. The most antagonistic action was a 30 person demo outside the German embassy in London, whilst Fede was held in prison for months.

Obviously when lefty kids share solidarity selfies on social media, it raises awareness of the issue, slightly. But it’s had the effect of limiting solidarity to these simple, easy acts for a lot of people, instead of organising larger strategic actions, campaigns and so on. It also reinforces on a large, public scale, the idea that appealing to rulers could work, if only they were nice enough or saw enough sense to grant our wishes. But why should they? They know we’re weak, which is why they can snatch who they want, and profit from whatever they want to, protected by whichever racist or repressive policies they choose.

With solidarity actions for Kurdistan, Spanish anarchists, Greece, with individual cases that look to set dangerous precedents, and in general offensive struggles, we have the potential to build for much more. I think we need to use info from the organisations mapping capital like Corporate Watch, seeing who owns what, and how we can actually exert pressure on targets by reducing what matters to them, profit, rather than just trying to hurt their PR. An example would be how the German state own Deutche Bahn (now the biggest transport company in the world, and running London Overground, Arriva trains and buses, Cross-county rail and more) and DHL, the world’s largest logistics firm. Can we map the most strategic targets for social movements, or the most destructive infrastructures?

There are also huge similarities between anarchists and autonomous Marxists that can be worked on, and should be if we’re going to be able to spread our ideas effectively. It annoys a lot of anarchists (for good reason) that autonomists ignore anarchist lit and tradition when they ‘discover’ that parliamentary politics aren’t too useful, and that seizing the state isn’t the way to change society, but we need to work through our differences. This is especially important in getting beyond a to b demos, and showing how blocs can be done much better.

I don’t think we should be waiting until other groups or movements emerge and do the hard work of getting people working together, to then piggyback it and then get disappointed when things don’t go perfectly, or they get co-opted by liberals or statists. I also don’t think we should be waiting for widespread social unrest or spontaneous rioting to then try sustain the pressure. If there were ideas about how people could take control of their own lives before rioting, strategies, infrastructure to mass distribute information quickly, infrastructures set up to help counter the massive repression we saw in 2011, and help further politicise people that are facing repression (ie bigger than GBC and not just limited to ‘protests’).

So just to summarise, I’m saying I think its time we:

  • Build communication links and a BROAD strategy between groups, networks and orgs in the extra-parliamentary left and anarchist circles.
  • Keep mapping capitalism, but with ambitious, strategic actions in mind.
  • Get the people, money and buildings needed to start working on a much bigger scale (ie can people being priced out of London homes be accommodated in large euro-style housing co-ops in office buildings?)
  • Focus on strategically tailored propaganda and anti-repression infrastructure for when shit kicks off for real.

Convoys to Calais.

By Swindon anarchists

swinaidcalIn the last few months, Swindon Anarchists have been teaming up with our mates over at People’s Assembly and Swindon Calais Solidarity to offer practical solidarity to the 7,000 refugees living in the camps of Calais. As well as helping to meet the day to day needs of the refugees, we have been doing what we can to build bridges of solidarity and practically support refugees in resisting the violence and racism of the French and English states, whether in the form of tear gas and truncheon happy riot cops, or the razor-wire topped border itself.

In early December, Swindon Anarchists organised 4 vehicles rammed with supplies and volunteers to embark on our second trip to Calais. After a brief stop at a warehouse on the outskirts of Calais to drop off clothes, tents and sleeping bags, we moved on to the camp itself.

Read article

Anti-State communities in Kurdistan. 14th December Bristol.

ASK2Caught between the expansionist ISIS and escalating oppression by the Turkish state is one of the largest and most interesting revolutionary struggles of our times. Rojava, comprising three regions of northern Syria, is home to 2 million people while across the border in Eastern Turkey an increasing number of villages and neighbourhoods are declaring themselves autonomous and committed to self defence. Within these areas is a social experiment that incorporates feminism, ecology, has survived four years of military assaults. For much of this time they have been the only successful opposition to ISIS.

At 6:30pm on Monday 14th of December in the Malcolm X Centre join us for an evening of info and films including a first hand account of the new anti-state communities and an update on British Kurdish prisoner Silan Ozcelik. facebook event

Swindon solidarity with Calais.

image_1Our comrades of Swindon Anarchists have been involved in sending much-needed aid and solidarity to refugees stuck in Calais.

On the 24th of October, members of Swindon Anarchists, including SolFed members, took 3 vehicles crammed with supplies to the refugee camps of Calais. As numbers at the camp swelled to over 6,000, the group decided we had a responsibility to offer what solidarity we could to men, women and children forced into cramped, cold and unhygienic conditions just for seeking a life free of war, persecution, poverty and hunger. As well as hoping to improve material conditions in the camp, we reject the concept of national borders, embrace freedom of movement for all and support all those whose circumstances have forced them into conflict with the border regime, the political class and their stooges in uniform.

From the start of our campaign, we worked closely with Swindon People’s Assembly, who offered us invaluable support in raising funds and donations as well as organising a strong and well attended demonstration in Swindon town centre in support of refugees and migrants. We would also like to offer massive thanks to Swindon Pulse, who promoted our campaign, donated much needed supplies and acted as a drop off point for donations. We were also offered useful advice and practical support from Swindon-Calais Solidarity, who have been doing invaluable work in Calais for months. Read full report on SolFed dot org

If you can, a donation to cover their expenses would be really helpful! – Swindon chippenham aid to Calais

Racist club unmasked in Bournemouth: boycott cameo!

Bournemouth's racist club

We have reports that ‘cameo’ nightclub (map) in Bournemouth is operating a racist ‘colour bar’. Last night a group of black customers were turned away despite having paid in advance for a table booked two weeks previously. The party had all given their names with the booking but crucially the management didn’t know they were black. We call on comrades in the Bournemouth area to close this establishment down. Watch the video here:

BBC news item.

tripadvisor: tell ’em what you think!

Leonard Lionel responds to management’s response

The state’s sales pitch: Mal Content.

 

In order to survive the state must persuade each of its subjects, even the most downtrodden, that they have at least one enemy in common with the state.

piggate3

The enemy has ranged from Communists to drug barons, gang members, paedophiles and terrorists, latterly ‘Islamists’. The enemy will be fearsome, alien and ill-defined. Sometimes the state even claims to be waging war on an abstract noun: drugs, terror, knife crime etc.

Don’t be deceived; the state  always has far more in common with its own worst enemies than with any of us.

The most pious and liberal-minded government will be responsible for more killings, rapes and child suffering than the worst criminal you’ve ever heard of, it goes with the job.

Mal C x

Message from Riseup: The Rise of the Surveillance State.

Hello Beautiful Riseup Users:

Are we still needing funding for the coming year? Yes! We have gotten $35,000 in donations, which is amazing. Thanks all, and please donate to Riseup today, if you can.

Did you know the NSA (National Security Agency) has built a map of the entire world via the communication links of all email, chat, and financial transactions? This map tells a story to them about all of us. It knows who we know. It knows who our activist allies and relationships are.

And, as if that wasn’t crappy enough, the NSA is trying to undermine the security of the internet as a whole by putting in back-doors and weakening encryption standards so that they can spy better. They spend $250,000,000 USD per year on this. This makes the entire internet less secure, and makes it easier for people, governments, and corporations to exploit, scam, and spy on each other.

While the NSA claims they are targeting terrorism, they have been targeting foreign politicians and companies, with evidence that this is happening particularly in Brazil and Mexico. This is plain old espionage and corporate spying. Terrorism is merely the justification for astounding encroachments on our civil liberties.

Last, we have to assume this is all the tip of an iceberg. We have to assume there are other spy agencies across the globe doing similar spy work that we don’t know about (yet).

What can we do about this? We can fight it legally, we can provide support for leakers and journalists, and we can invest in infrastructure (like Riseup) that is building alternative tools for social movements.

Thanks, Love, and Rage,
The Riseup Birds

https://riseup.net/donate

Join the international week of solidarity with self-managed VIOME against the auction of the premises

vIOME_43

Foto: Andrés Lofiego

As a result of the legal battle waged against the workers of the occupied self-managed VIOME factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, the state-appointed trustee is now organising a series of auctions with the aim of liquidating the plot of land on which the VIOME factory is located. A possible sale of the land would create the legal ground for evicting the workers from the factory. Although the workers and the solidarity assembly are decided to stand their ground and defend the factory in all eventualities, the auction process represents a threat and it requires mobilisation in order to be prevented. A first step is to block, through direct action, the first such auction that is programmed for November 26th. This is why we reach out to you, to ask for help and mobilisation to put pressure on the government to satisfy the long-standing demands of the VIOME workers for legalisation of their activity, by expropriating the factory and granting it to the VIOME workers’ cooperative, which will operate it in a horizontal and self-managed way, as it has been doing for 3 years now.

We appeal for an international week of solidarity, from November 17 to 24. Facebook.

We urge you to sign the below resolution by returning your details (name, collective, place) to protbiometal@gmail.com, or even better, hand it in to the nearest Greek embassy or consulate demanding that it is transferred to the Greek Ministry of Labour. We welcome any international acts of solidarity, especially ones that involve non-violent direct action towards Greek embassies worldwide.

We urge you to organise screenings of the below 30-minute documentary by D.Azzellini and O.Ressler, detailing the struggle of VIOME through interviews and participation in its assemblies (English subtitles included). Write to us if you want a good quality copy. You can send us announcements of your events, and/or photos to be uploaded to VIOME´s website, to protbiometal@gmail.com, thank you for your support,

The Assembly of Solidarity to the Struggle of VIOME for Self-management.

RESOLUTION:

After being abandoned by the employers, the Factory of VIOME has been operating for nearly 3 years under workers’ control, through self-management by the workers’ assembly. Today, it constitutes an internationally emblematic struggle, which demonstrates that the real response to the crisis that leaves millions in poverty and unemployment is workers’ emancipation and a productive reconstruction based on society´s initiative and creativity.

The workers of VIOME, through the production of natural cleaning products in the premises of the occupied Factory, have proposed a new mode of production that responds to the needs of society, against exploitative labour relations and the drive for endless accumulation of capital.

Unfortunately, despite the promises of a series of governments to legitimise this important example of workers’ self-management, the workers of VIOME are now facing legal procedures that could lead to the liquidation of the factory premises and could threaten the continuation of the factory’s production.

We, the undersigned collectives and individuals, support the struggle of the workers of VIOME for employment, dignity and freedom against the judicial system that blindly serves the interests of the powerful.

We stand by their side in their decision to defend their productive endeavour by any means possible.

We warn the Greek authorities and the powerful business interests that oppose the VIOME struggle that an attack on VIOME is an attack on us all.

We demand that the Greek government stops the auction of the VIOME premises and that it offers a definitive solution by expropriating the land and granting it to the workers, on the condition that the factory keep operating under workers’ control and horizontal decision making.

We state clearly that we will not allow anyone to grab the factory from its legitimate owners, that is, the workers and the wider community. We will support this struggle in every step along the way.

The workers of VIOME will prevail, since they fight for the just cause of dignity and self-determination!

Occupy, Resist, Produce: VIOME / ΚΑΤΑΛΗΨΗ-ΑΝΤΙΣΤΑΣΗ-ΠΑΡΑΓΩΓΗ: ΒΙΟΜΕ

And here’s the film:

VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers’ control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. Find out how you can get involved and be part of the struggle at viome.org

This is the third in a series of short documentaries on the self-managed factories of Europe made by militant film-makers Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler. Find the other two here:

Occupy, Resist, Produce – RiMaflow


Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero

You are free to organise screenings in your town and use this film for any non-commercial purpose.

The closing video clip is “At utopia’s fiesta” by Greek militant hip-hop collective Social Waste. It was filmed at the factory of VIOME. See the full version here:

Message from Riseup, please support, we’d be buggered without them.

Dear Riseup Users,

Hello to you, and you, and you! This is our yearly user fundraising drive where we hope you will donate to Riseup and keep us going for our sixteenth year of existence. It has been a wild year of leaks around government and corporate spying, and while we finally don’t have to have boring conversations with everyone to prove why we exist, we are also serving a huge number of new users who became fed up with corporate services. Add to that the costs of doing some major security upgrades to our system, and, well, we really need money.

Donate

First though, here’s how we see our work at Riseup: there are many beautiful and important projects in this long march toward freedom and justice, and we are one tiny but important piece that provides the right for people and organizations to whisper. Not everyone needs privacy all the time, but organizing against dictators, running direct action campaigns against corporations, and journalistic autonomy are just a few places where privacy is essential. This, as we know, is hugely under attack. The way Riseup fights this is by providing good security embedded in our services all the time, so that when you do need privacy you don’t have to change your modes of communication (though you may want to use other security measures too, like GPG).

The Riseup collective loves building alternative tech infrastructures that at its roots are smart about surveillance and security. We love providing help services to troubleshoot any problems or questions you have. We love spending our Saturdays tinkering and upgrading at the hot and buzzing room where are servers live, and then going home smelling like heavy metals. As an act of mutual aid, we don’t charge for our services, even though they cost a lot in time and money. Therefore, we depend on those of you who can to donate money. Time and time again, you all have been amazingly generous in supporting us. This year we need $75,000 USD to cover our server and labor costs.

So, hello to you, yes you, with the big heart and dreams! Any donation is wonderful, but may we suggest a **recurring monthly contribution of $5-25 USD or a one-time donation of $15-$100?** That would be huge.

When you give to Riseup, know that you are also supporting a large portion of our users who rely on our services and are not in a position to give us money. Lots of folks live in the Global South, ie countries financially plundered by imperialism and neoliberalism, and we’d rather they donate to more local tech collectives. Likewise, lots of people deal with the ravages of poverty. We aren’t expecting or asking any of you to donate. But for everyone else who can throw a little mutual aid our way, your money not only supports our work, but the huge base of activists we support.

And, last, please know that we don’t ask for donations lightly. For anyone with money to give, there are so many places for it to go. If you can give to us, know that every dollar goes to collective members and/or our bills. We’ll be bugging you with some more emails over the next month, not because this is our idea of fun, but we really want to keep being part of the vital global struggles that you all are part of, too.

Love,

The Riseup Birds

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