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

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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.

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.

Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch.

Dear All,

at a time of great domestic political upheaval it is easy to forget about the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people continues unabated and we have to continue to respond to it. On the 4th June Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with other groups around the country, held a day of action to highlight the role of the technology giant Hewlett Packard in providing technological services which allow Israel to profile and control the lives of the millions of people living under illegal occupation. National PSC has reported this here They have also set up a dedicated web-site about Hewlett Packard which can be viewed here. National PSC has set up an on-line pledge for people to sign to let HP know that they plan to stop buying Hewlett Packard products until such time as HP ends its support for Israeli human rights violations and war crimes which can be found on the home page of the Stop HP web-site.

Next month will mark two years since the beginning of Israel’s major assault on Gaza which killed over 2,200 Palestinians – over 500 of whom were children. Although the time-line of events shows clearly that Israeli violence was politically motivated, and therefore terrorist in nature, the British main-stream media insisted in parroting what can only be described as propaganda lies put out by the Israeli government. We therefore found ourselves in the position of having to protest, simultaneously, the Israeli attacks themselves and the biased coverage of the main-stream media including the BBC. This included protests outside of the local BBC offices in Southampton and an open letter from Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign to the BBC. Since then Palestine Solidarity Campaign has continued to campaign for a two-way arms embargo between Britain and Israel as part of the Stop Arming Israel campaign – a joint initiative of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade. We also run an on-going Fair News Campaign which aims to hold the BBC to account for its biased reporting and to which anyone who wishes to can contribute.

Recently we have had to try to defend ourselves against opportunistic efforts made by pro-Israel groups withing the Labour Party to use the controversy over remarks made by Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone to try to define anti-Semitism in a way that would severely curtail expressions of criticism of Israel within the Labour Party. In response to this Jeremy Corbyn set up an inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party led by Shami Chakrabarti. One good thing that has come out of this otherwise unpleasant episode is a wealth of excellent submissions to this inquiry explaining clearly and precisely the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel. A Free Speech on Israel web-site has been set up which has collected many of these submissions. Many of the submissions are quite long but are well worth the effort as they provide a very clear explanation of anti-Semitism, Zionism and anti-Zionism. Submission which I particularly recommend include the submission by Palestine Solidarity Campaign the submission by the Jewish Socialist’ Group and especially the excellent submission by the UK Palestine Mental Health Network. Alternatively you could take a look at my shorter submission which received over 500 shares on Facebook.

We have an active time over the summer and will be running stalls at the Tolpuddle Festival and the Southampton Left Fest. Feel free to call by and say hello if you are attending either event.

The struggle against racism and discrimination is one that we support both in Israel/Palestine and here in the UK. I have been asked to let people know that on Saturday 2nd July the Southampton and West Hampshire Trades Union Congress are organising a demonstration, meeting at 11am at Bargate in support of diversity and multiculturalism. This is a response to plans by a right wing group that plans to demonstrate at that time and the demonstration organisers hope to significantly out-number them with people committed to supporting our precious multicultural society and all minority communities within it.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Waterhouse Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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Report on the 2nd July from Southampton AntiFA

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.

Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch.

Dear All,

in view of the incessant accusations of anti-Semitism that have been flying around it seems necessary to try to explain what must seem like a confusing phenomena to many. In broad outline the situation can be understood as follows:

1) Israeli leaders have always sought to conflate Israel with Jewish identity. For example, Eli Groner, US-born Director General of the Prime Minister’s office has described Benjamin Netanyahu as “the leader of the Jewish world.” Countless other examples could be given. Some people believe such statements and on that basis develop hatred towards Jewish people generally believing that they are all like Benjamin Netanyahu and support the oppression of the Palestinians. Such attitudes can reasonably be described as “anti-Semitic” and must of course be condemned. However, it is a different form of anti-Semitism from the historical anti-Semitism of the 1930s in that it is based upon their assumed support for Israeli oppression and not hatred for Jewish people simply because they are Jewish.

2) Israeli leaders and pro-Israel lobby groups and media commentators are well-aware of the defamatory potential of accusations of anti-Semitism. Wishing to discredit them they regularly accuse all Palestinian rights groups and activists of anti-Semitism simply on the basis of their opposition to the actions of the state of Israel and its oppression of the Palestinians.

3) Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party this defamation campaign has gone into hyper-drive. Accusations of anti-Semitism have been chosen by the right as the weapon of choice to use against Jeremy Corbyn and many people who should know better have been taken in by this including Owen Jones and John McDonnell. Many newspaper columnists and MPs have jumped on the bandwagon.

4) Palestinian rights activists have always sought to differentiate clearly between Israel and Jewish people and opposition to Israeli policies and anti-Semitism. We have a moral responsibility to try to ensure that legitimate criticism of Israel does not fuel hatred towards Jewish people and we have a right to defend our campaign for peace, equality and justice from unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism.

Whether Naz Shah’s tweet was or wasn’t appropriate is a matter of debate but there is no rational reason for describing it as anti-Semitic because it said nothing whatsoever about Jews. I personally agree with the views that Tony Greenstein, a founding member of PSC who is of Jewish descent himself, has expressed on this matter:

“Naz Shah has confessed to her comments being anti-Semitic.  Isn’t that enough proof?  No.  The defendants in the Stalin purge trials also confessed to being Trotsky’s agents and more.  It is perfectly possible to create a psychological atmosphere such that people will confess to all manner of things, even though they are not guilty.  Police interrogators have, throughout the years, been quite skilled in obtaining false confessions without the need to beat people up or torture them.

So let me say it here – there is *nothing* anti-Semitic in what Naz Shah has said.  She made what was quite a flippant humorous joke in the midst of something that was anything but funny – the merciless use of American planes, white phosphorous and the most modern missiles and rocket technology against a people who had nothing except pea crackers to fire back with (the ‘rockets’ that Israel used as a pretext for the bombardment and invasion).   Let us not forget that 2,200 people were murdered in Gaza including 551 ‘terrorist’ children.” See his full article here

The accusations of anti-Semitism against Ken Livingstone appear to be equally without foundation. You can read a full transcript of his comments here.

For a comprehensive analysis of this phenomena I would recommend this talk by Dr Norman Finkelstein

It is noteworthy that at the same time as these inflammatory accusations are getting massive media attention Israel’s on-going human-rights violations against the Palestinians are being studiously ignored. In addition to the planned demolition of two Bedouin Palestinian villages and the countless other human rights abuses taking place, threats are being made against Palestinian rights activists in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. An especially alarming statement came from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. The term alludes to “targeted assassinations” which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.

You can read a full report of this published by Amnesty International here

Please sign and share this petition calling upon the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN High Commissioner to speak out strongly against this:

Kind regards, Adam Waterhouse Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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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

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

Who exactly is the terrorist sympathiser here?

piggyCameron and his cronies are faithfully following the daesh script; of course that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting backhanders from the arms industry as well. Even their own ‘foreign affairs’ select committee recognise that bombing Syria would be a fucking stupid thing to do, for anyone with the slightest interest in peace or stability in the region, or public safety in the West.

#piggate #dontbombsyria #terroristsympathiser

The Iva Valley Colliers.

Monument to the miners at Enugu, Nigeria.

Monument to the miners at Enugu, Nigeria.

On the 18th November 1949, 21 striking miners and a bystander were shot dead at a British government-owned coal mine at Enugu, Nigeria; 51 were injured.

The miners were fighting for back-pay owed to them for a period of casualisation known as ‘rostering’, later declared illegal, and had been sacked following a work to rule. They occupied the mine to prevent a repeat of the lock-out they had suffered during the 1945 general strike. Because Enugu was home to the Zikist independence movement, which included Marxists and other radicals; police were sent to remove the mine’s explosives, accompanied by Hausa troops drafted in from the North of the country; whose language and even their uniforms were unfamiliar to the Igbo miners.

Local Igbo constables fraternised with the workers, they were sure the government would pay them what they were due; in return the miners assured them they did not want to fight. They would not obstruct the police from removing the explosives, but refused to help because it wasn’t their job. They had strict work demarcation imposed by the British, these were hewers and tubmen: “This job is for timbermen, some special labourers, he should call them.”

Nigerian Coal had been of strategic importance during the war, and continued to be vital in the re-building of infrastructure by the post-war Labour government, who sought to maximise output in the Sterling zone to pay off its debt to the U.S. Many of the men had served in the British armed forces, veterans of guerrilla warfare in Southeast Asia. In 1943 with inflation raging they had been called on to make up the shortfall in the British coalfields caused by the war. They were acutely aware they had saved Britain’s arse and been led to believe their sacrifices would create a better world, whilst their bosses were planning for a future that didn’t exist.

They used their regular income to develop their communities, establishing the self-help mechanisms once familiar to mining villages in Britain, which were the inspiration for the welfare state, with free hospitals and relief funds for injured workers and their dependants. The Enugu Colliers supported maternity clinics, road building and clean water supplies. Rejecting the British government’s mass literacy programme, designed to prepare their children for a life of menial labour, they created permanent, stone-built primary and secondary schools. These commitments were undermined by the economic uncertainty of rostering.

The aspirations of these workers collided with Labour’s reconstructive ambitions and its cold war paranoia, plus the racism of the colonial management, desperate to maintain their privileges. As they had done at home Labour wanted to integrate trade unions into the state, using them to contain and defuse class struggle. The Colonial Office recruited hundreds of T.U.C. bureaucrats and despatched them around the empire to institute modern industrial relations practices. In this they were thwarted by the colonial officials, who considered African workers unworthy of political representation. The Igbo themselves had no use for the concept, their culture of open assemblies and mass meetings lent itself to Syndicalism; judging union leaders simply on their ability to execute the will of the workforce. Their Zikist General Secretary, Okwudili (Isaiah) Ojiyi, used his detailed knowledge of colonial labour law and thorough understanding of its political context to run rings around the bosses. Because striking was illegal he imported the Durham miners’ ‘ca canny’ go-slow tactic, translated to ‘welu nwayo’ in Igbo and spent many days in the mines teaching it.

A T.U.C. advisor named Curry tried to insert a layer of bureaucracy between Ojiyi and the rank and file by splitting the union into five occupational branches, in violation of Igbo organisational principles. They therefore interpreted this as the creation of five autonomous unions, rendering the negotiating structure redundant. The hewers began a wildcat go-slow, were sacked and occupied the mine, followed by the tubmen.

The violence was initiated by a British policeman called Captain F.S. Phillip; terrified of Africans and fearful of communist subversion, he spoke neither Igbo nor Hausa. The miners had tied strips of red cloth to their helmets and clothing to show their solidarity; to Phillip these were paramilitary insignia. As was their custom, facing the mass of armed troops they began to dance and chant to keep up their spirits. Philip panicked and shot dead a young hewer named Sunday Anyasado who had recently married and moved to the area. He then killed a machine man, Livinus Okechukwuma. Hearing the noise, tubman Okafor Ageni ventured out of the mine asking “Anything wrong?” and was killed on the spot. The firing continued for several minutes, some miners were shot in the back. Dead and wounded alike were left where they lay; blacksmith Emmanuel Okafor told Philip: “I surrender, take me to hospital”. Philip answered: “I don’t care” and walked away.

Those eighty-seven rounds sounded the doom of the British Empire; Labour’s strategies of using intermediaries to buffer class anger, and separating industrial disputes from their political context had blown up in its face. The ethnic, regional and even class divisions in Nigerian society were temporarily set aside, replaced by a collective momentum to do away with British rule.

“The radicals and the moderates, the revolutionaries and the stooges, the bourgeoisie and the workers, sank their differences, remembered the word Nigeria and rose in revolt against evil and inhumanity.”

– Nduka Eze

We are indebted to Dr Carolyn Brown, for information and sources. Mal C x

Further reading:

Syndicalist Workers’ Federation: How Labour Governed 1945-51
OWEI LAKEMFA: “One hundred years of trade unionism in Nigeria”
The link is to the first of five parts, dealing with the background to the 1945 General Strike, for the next part you have to click ‘previous article’ on the web page, and so on.
Bristol Radical History Group: Hidden histories of the British state revealed 2013
Carolyn Brown Phd: ‘We Were All Slaves: African Miners, Culture, and Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria.’ Heinemann / James Currey.
‘Africa and World War II’ edited by Carolyn Brown, Judith Byfield, Tim Parsons, Ahmad Sikainga Cambridge University Press.
‘POWER AND NATIONALISM IN MODERN AFRICA: Essays in Honor of Don Ohadike.’ Edited by Toyin Falola and Salah M. Hassan, Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2008.
Frederick Cooper: ‘Decolonization and African Society: the labour question in French and British Africa.’ (Cambridge 1996)
David Smock: Conflict and Control in an African Trade Union: A Study of the Nigerian Coal Miners’ Union.’ Stanford U: Hoover Institute Press, 1969
Agwu Akpala: ‘Background to the Enugu Colliery Shooting Incident in 1949’ – Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 3,2 (1965) 335-64
Paul Kelemen: ‘Planning for Africa: The British Labour Party’s Colonial Development Policy, 1920-1964’, Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol 7, No. 1 (January 2007), pp. 76-98.
Jack Woodis: ‘The Mask is Off! An Examination of the Activities of Trade Union Advisers in the British Colonies.’ London: Thames Publications, 1954