JUNE 2013 RESISTANCE #152 is out. DIVIDE AND RULE (benefits & immigration), Brighton refuse worker wildcat, Salford blacklister injury, Rossport week of action, Asia factories, Greece prisoner action, Greek teachers' resistance and betrayal.
DIVIDE AND RULE
If the last few weeks in British politics have shown up one thing, it’s how easily suspicion of foreigners and the poor can be made into a major election issue, especially with help from the right-wing press.
Attacks on welfare seem relentless. The rich and privileged tell us that the reason Britain is in debt is that the poor, sick or old cost too much. They call us lazy or undereducated and try to put the blame on the individuals.
We have two things to say about this. Firstly this is a class war. In an unequal class system we should, if we can, find ways to control how much work we do and how much profit for our bosses. If we have a job and can stick it, fine. But if not, let the state pay us a ‘social wage’ - benefits in other words. ‘Worker’ must include those of us who are unemployed or they will run rings around us.
Secondly, the problems with capitalism are structural. Unemployment is used to keep wages don. The economic crisis means the government is getting a lot less in taxes and they’ve bailed out the banks, so national debt has increased. Since the economy is hardly growing, tax rates go up (unless you are rich or a company owner) or they make cuts, or sell off assets like the Royal Mail, or all three. It’s all part of the system. But it’s their fault, not ours.
So what do anarchist communists think about immigration? Well, people born in Britain go to work or live permanently abroad, and people from other countries live and work here. So what? We think people should be able to live and work where they want to, irrespective of borders. In fact, we don’t think that nation states should even exist. So arguments over immigration or Europe are just not on our level. To us, all workers are equal.
So what of divide and rule? A report, Tough on People in Poverty, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that in 2013, only 27% of Labour Party voters now believe social injustice to be the main cause of poverty, down from 41% in 1986 when Thatcher was in power. Individuals are blamed instead. It seems someone has found a neat way to deflect working class anger from the true cause of economic misery. If we don’t defend access to the necessities of life for everyone, the state will continue to cut away until we are left arguing over the scraps.
Resistance is the regular bulletin of the Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Read more in Resistance bullletin, issue 152, June 2013.
Comrades from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, England, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, Spain and Slovenia will be attending the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair 2013! We hope that comrades from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Poland, Romania and other countries will also find a way to join us.
At the Bookfair there will be open space for international exchange of experiences, ideas and proposals. We will also try to find ways how we can organize campaigns and actions across borders in the future.
Visit the International of Anarchist Federations website: http://i-f-a.org
Visit the AF's international page: http://www.afed.org.uk/organisation/international-iaf-ifa.html
In case you missed these elsewhere in cyberspace ...
1) See this compiled list of 2013 Mayday actions: Global Reports of May Day Actions 2013
2) Joint statement by USA/Canada groups and links to Anarkismo statements: Mayday. Remembering the past, fighting for tomorrow.
Read a nice summary of Mayday's origins in the USA from the Bristol First of May Group.
For a full history of the Haymarket Affair, the Haymarket Martyrs and the origins of May Day
watch this talk by Bristol Radical History Group from 2012 (YouTube video)
See also (from Bristol AF, 4th May 2013): Radical Block Marches in Solidarity with Bangladeshi Workers at Bristol May Day
See also (from Cyber Anarchia, Dundee, 7th May 2013): May Day: Thoughts and considerations
See also (from IFA website, 4th May 2013): May Day Resistance in İstanbul.
See also (First of May Anarchist Alliance, Detroit): Revolutionary Greetings – May Day 2013
MAY 2013 RESISTANCE is out. THE GREEN SHOOTS OF REVOLT (Bedroom Tax), Pro-choice in Ireland, Benefits interviewee campaign, Bristol Bookfair report (and forthcoming Sheffield bookfair), Greece migrant worker attacks, Bangladesh factory solidarity, Jock Palfreeman prisoner support.
The Green Shoots of Revolt
Spring finally came at the end of April. But the same month saw a raft of new attacks on living conditions being pushed out by the State. Especially nasty have been cuts to welfare that many people - in work or unemployed - depend on because of low-pay, lack of work or inability to do paid work.
One of the high profile changes is the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ which means many council house and housing association tenants are facing bills or housing benefit cuts for having spare rooms. As well as the bills, people are feeling under pressure to move to smaller places that may not even be available. Many people need spare rooms for a variety of reasons - and why shouldn’t we have space for friends or family anyway?
Quite rightly the Bedroom Tax has caused an anger which has seen people taking to the streets in many towns to say ‘Can’t pay, Won’t pay!’
Often this has involved pressuring local councils not to evict anyone who gets behind. Like in the anti-Poll Tax campaign that brought down Thatcher, local groups of campaigners are starting to get together to oppose the new tax. This is a very positive development, but as with the Poll Tax, it is vital that the campaigning is controlled by the people themselves. Otherwise it will be taken over by politicians and celebrities who will make their parties or themselves look good, but do little to strengthen our collective fight back.
Anarchists are well aware of the need for maximum participation and ‘direct democracy’ in campaigns. When the current economic crisis got started, an anti-cuts movement arose, with inspiring self-organisation by students. They did not trust the self-interested leaders of the National Union of Students who were making deals with the government. Networks involving universities and colleges operated with people treating each other as equals. This was a very good start. But overall, since then, anti-cuts campaigning has suffered in many towns from the agendas of this or that political party.
That is why it is encouraging that a regional Bedroom Tax campaign in Scotland has taken off with self-organising principles. A recent get together in Edinburgh and West Lothian agreed that decision-making power should be in the hands of local groups and that the co-ordination between them should be done through recallable delegates. This kind of ‘anarchy in action’ is vital to keep the struggle in the hands of the people rather than political parties. Anarchist Federation members are involved with this process and are hoping this way of working will extend to the whole of Scotland, and who knows, the whole of Britain.
Resistance is the regular bulletin of the Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Read more in Resistance bullletin, issue 151, May 2013
The Anarchist Federation's Organise! magazine #80 reviews the recent SolFed booklet Fighting for Ourselves, published in October 2012. The review is reproduced here as an AF blog article. The latest Organise! contains several other reviews of contemporary publications from the anarchist movement that we hope readers will find interesting.
Fighting for Ourselves: Anarcho-syndicalism and the class struggle.
Solidarity Federation. 2012. 121pp. Availability & pricing: http://www.selfed.org.uk/read/ffo
Since its publication in October of last year, Fighting for Ourselves has been the subject of much discussion and deserved interest in the broad libertarian left. The book constitutes the first major exposition of the political perspectives of the British section of the International Workers Association since Winning the Class War, their previous attempt at providing such an outline in 1991.The book attempts to give an historical overview of the workers’ movement, in what it describes as its ‘mainstream’ and ‘radical’ forms, before describing the phenomenon of 20th Century anarcho-syndicalism through the experience of three unions in Germany, Spain and Argentina. Indeed, the bulk of the book is taken up with history; only the last 17 pages focussing on present day anarcho-syndicalism and specifically the Solidarity Federation’s (SolFed) strategy for moving from being a ‘simple political propaganda organisation’ to a ‘revolutionary union’ (p.94). The historical section contains justification for why the SolFed believe that their particular version of anarcho-syndicalism has both universal and particular (or local) application.
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