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 following begins the editorial in the forthcoming issue of Organise! magazine issue no. 80 Summer 2013 which will be in print very soon.
Margaret Thatcher politely died just in time for us to commemorate her life appropriately, in the 80th issue of Organise! We will speak ill of the dead, and go to press in the hope that the celebrations that began on Monday 8th carry on, showing the extent of contempt for Thatcher throughout the British working class.
The world we now live in is more dangerous, corrupt, unequal, oppressive and impoverished because of her particular legacy. From the start of her leadership in 1979, she turned up the heat internationally to put Britain ‘back on the map’. She built up its military capability in the 1980s and established Britain’s place in the Cold War, so that a generation grew up in fear of a nuclear conflict with the USSR. In 1982, by ‘defending’ the Falklands with immense firepower (which included the notorious sinking of the Belgrano), she heralded in an era in which Britain has gone to war at the drop of a hat. She supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa, was best pals with the Chilean dictator general Pinochet and was hated not least in Northern Ireland, where working class people were brutalised and murdered under the divide-and-conquer approach to domestic dissent. Her racist policies supported the rise of the far-right in Britain, and black and white youth were forced to fight the police in the riots of 1980 onwards (especially 1981): an explosion of anger at what inner-city life had become. She passed the first anti-gay legislation for 100 years, known as ‘Clause 28’. In economic and industrial terms, key focal points of working class militancy were attacked in ways that were openly divisive and smashed much confidence in our class. The Miners, who struck in 1984-5, were tragically defeated, as were the Wapping print-workers in 1986 (Murdoch, please die soon as well).
These battles were not, of course, lost without a fight and hugely important acts of bravery and inspiring solidarity. But the only major working class victory in the Thatcher period was the struggle against the Poll Tax. This ideological class-based attack took place in the context of the dismantling and destroying things traditionally understood as social property: the major industries, public services, jobs and welfare. The abolition of the Poll Tax was announced in 1991. The power of opposition to the tax in Scotland since 1987 had quickly spread to England and Wales by amazing feats of working class solidarity, organisation and a willingness to take to the streets and fight. The Poll Tax riot of 1990 and smaller, but very serious, local disturbances were not organised by anarchists, as the state, the press and some left parties claimed (as though we could pull that off!), but neither did they come out of nowhere. In fact, for a time, it seemed that the working class could win.
This is not to suggest that things were great before Thatcher; ‘old’ Labour was an example of how not to share out common resources. And afterwards, ‘New’ Labour set about completing her legacy with their Thatcherite-Labourism, paving the way for the current cabinet’s unrelenting attacks on our class. As anarchists we clearly understand, and all this demonstrates, there is no hope except in a class-based revolutionary solution. But whilst all politicians are the enemy of the working class, some do more damage to us than others, and rightly we rejoice in the demise of those we have most to despise.
If it seems strange to some people that others would happily dance on the grave of a long-senile old lady, it’s because we are still her victims, after all this time. And though her death doesn’t alter the challenges we face, even small boosts in our confidence at this point in the class struggle are vital. If there is some sense of closure about the past as a result of giving her a raucous and disrespectful send off, we have to shake off the hangover and use these couple of weeks as an opportunity to talk to our workmates, friends, family, everybody about new beginnings and new possibilities. But first, let’s Party!
Read the full editorial of Organise! #80: http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/organise-magazine/364-issue-80-summer-2013.html
... Everywhere. Check out AF local blogs on our home page for local details - many many many parties today. Then London again on Saturday (according to long-time plan).
Neither mourning nor celebrating:
time for social struggles to become autonomous!
When an illness becomes serious, when medical attention becomes a vehicle
for myopic, politically motivated decisions and when a patient becomes
drunk with power, it can only end this way. The strongman has died, and
in so doing, he has initiated a substantial shift in the Venezuelan
What used to be the regime’s greatest strength has suddenly turned into
its defining weakness: it was all Chávez, and, without him, the only
solution is to fabricate an absolute commitment to his memory and his
plans for succession. The government’s true fragility can now be seen, a
government which tried to demonstrate its “popular, socialist” character
via a grotesque personality cult, a practice that has now been reduced to
the empty invocation of spirits. The deceased himself is to blame for this
outcome as the secrecy around his illness was propelled by the same
motivations as the extreme centralisation of power around him, while the
lack of ideological coherence amongst his followers has left them
scrapping for crumbs. The high-level “rojo-rojito” [chavista red]
bureaucrats and the upper echelons of the military are best placed to
benefit, as they negotiate impunity for their various misdemeanours and
For the right-wing and social democratic opposition, the new situation
finds them unable to overcome their losses of the presidential elections
of October 7 and the regionals of December 16, offering a “yuppy
populism” which promises voters that they will maintain and fine-tune the
clientelist tools of governmental power which were so useful to Chavez.
This accommodation assumes the belief that a fortuitous metastasis has
brought them within reach of the power that their greed, mistakes,
laziness and incompetence had kept them away from, power they will wield
with similar stupidity and greed as the Chavista bolibourgeoisie.
The backdrop to this load of petty opportunism – from both the Gran Polo
Patriótico [the Chavista coalition] and the Mesa de Unidad Democrática
[the opposition coalition] – is Venezuela, a country that faces its own
problems: out of control inflation, rising unemployment and precarious
jobs, the devaluation of the currency, shocking personal insecurity,
crises in electricity and water provision, education and health systems in
decline, a housing shortage, obsolete – or incomplete – public works, a
demagogic approach which pays attention to only the most extreme
scarcities experienced by the most desperate people... a whole host of
other problems which are equally disastrous.
These issues are not the central concern of the two gangs in competition
for Miraflores [the President palace/seat] and the oil booty. Our
collective response must be to not relent to their blackmail: support at
the ballot box in exchange for ‘solutions’ that either never materialise
or are ludicrously inadequate. Now is the time to overpower the rotten
powers that be and build – from below – a real democracy of equality,
social justice and freedom. We must unleash the generalised anger caused
by our suffering, and convert it into autonomous social struggles,
self-managed and extensive. We must spell out for the politicians in
power that we don’t need them, neither as intermediaries nor as gracious
givers of what we ourselves can construct – united and from the base –
without any need for “clean hands” or “red berets”.
EL LIBERTARIO Editorial Collective
El Libertario: Periódico de los movimientos sociales autónomos y antiautoritarios de Venezuela- periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com
The first of the Belarus ABC info-tour and solidarity events took place at Freedom bookshop in London yesterday evening with 24 people attending, which is a great start. The evening included a presentation with videos.
The tour continues in Brighton tomorrow night (Sunday) before returning for a second London meeting on Tuesday, then the tour will continue around England, Wales and Scotland for 13 dates in all until March 7th. Follow this link to find a meeting venue near you and to read background information about the tour: http://www.afed.org.uk/component/content/article/334.html
This is a major speaking tour about prisoners in Belarus by a visiting activist - a rare chance to find out about what is going on and to see how you can support them. Anarchists and political activists in general are facing intense repression from the Belarus government. Details about prisoners in English: http://abc-belarus.org/?cat=3&lang=en
The Info-tour is supported by the Anarchist Federation and the International of Anarchist Federations. Local anarchist and ABC groups have put in a fantastic effort to arrange and host these events.
We read the following on libcom about the Belfast Flag protests. Worth a look. Article by 'Belfast comrade' via Liverpool Solfed plus comments with link to WSM ones.
- A Class Struggle Anarchist Analysis of Privilege Theory – from the Women's Caucus.
- Anarchists Detained by Counter-Terrorist Police on Return from Swiss Conference [plus French, Spanish, German, Italian translations]
- Noise Demo. HMP Brixton. 5th June. 3pm
- AFed statement on kneecapping of nuclear executive by Informal Anarchist Federation
- Egham and Staines Workfare Pickets Report
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