The government has shown itself to be what anarchists have always said about previous Labour administrations- a sweet little pussy cat for the bosses and a vicious yard cat with sharp claws for the working class. The way Labour has shaped up is no surprise to anarchists. We have never called for a vote for Labour- unlike the left who when it comes around to an election ditch their fake anti-Labourism.
We never doubted that this government would be not afraid to use authoritarian methods faced with any sign of dissent. In fact, we said that the election of a Labour government was looked on with pleasure by many sections of the boss class. The Tory administration was discredited, and a change was needed to restore confidence in parliament and the other British institutions. The old creaking structure of British society needed a few reforms, but not too many! These included a ditching of the House of Lords, a reformed (but not abolished) monarchy, concessions to the Scottish and Welsh nationalists -not to break up the United Kingdom but to preserve it- and a deal to sort out the burdensome and expensive situation in Northern Ireland, these were all needed in order to restore confidence in the British political system.
Alongside these were a package of various reforms, like the abolition of fox-hunting and greater access to the countryside by walkers, the abolition of Section 28, as well as a promised green approach to roads, public transport and industry. These were designed to win votes. Most of these promised reforms have never been, and are unlikely to be, delivered. The Blair government is terrified of passing even mild legislation that might upset either the industrialists or the rural rich.
In preparation for any escalation of unrest, be it either in the streets or in the workplaces, Home Secretary Jack Straw has prepared a whole raft of repressive legislation designed to muzzle any direct action movements, wherever these might appear.
At the same time, in the tradition of old Labour, the Blair government has continued with immigrant bashing by deporting at least 90,000 asylum seekers and creating prison camps for many asylum seeker. A huge prison building programme is under way, designed to house the spiralling numbers who fall foul of the system either through poverty or through active resistance. State surveillance is on the increase, through phone tapping, infiltration of meetings, vast displays of police power with demonstrations swamped by huge numbers of riot wagons, police helicopters, cops toting cameras and vide gear as well as the sinister contingents of Robocops and Judge Dredds!
All Labour governments have been enemies of the poor and dispossessed. This one has enthusiastically carried out the agenda of the bosses and the State. Dont listen anyone who tells you to vote Labour, dont believe any claptrap about the Labour Left either.
Which brings us to Red Ken Livingstone. Our Ken has tried so hard to further his career in the Labour Party by bending over backwards to please the Blair regime. He was an enthusiastic warmonger when it came to Kosovo recently. A more eager cheerleader for the bombings you could not find! The Left expressed amazement at this, saying they would not support him but surprise surprise, when it came to the build-up for the election campaign for London mayor, they have fallen over themselves to offer support in their papers, even the most supposedly anti-Labour of them. When it comes down to it, this anti-Labourism is a sham and the Left is revealed as a wing of Labourism, unable to break with it and develop any genuine revolutionary position. Livingstone is as much an enemy of our class as Blair. He voted for the privatisation package on the Tube and has now made a clever vote-winning U-turn. We do not call for a vote for him, on the misleading position that this might be at all progressive or left.
The Blair government is still popular among many people, it appears. But as the attacks on us escalate, be they economic or the stifling of any rights, resistance may very well grow rapidly. Already resistance to Blair and the ruling class behind him, is developing here and around the world. The opportunities for the growth of a revolutionary anarchist movement seem favourable. We must not shirk the tasks ahead.
FIRE FIGHTERS FIGHT BACK
11 East London firefighters were suspended on New Years Day for refusing overtime. Firefighters are planning strikes if disciplinary action is not dropped.
Demonstrate in support: Friday 4 February. Assemble 10.30 am, Homerton Fire Station, Homerton High Street, London E9.
DEAD HAND OF UNIONS
Thousands of health workers reacted angrily to the latest pay offer of just 3%. The union UNISON showed where its class interests lie by refusing to hold a ballot for industrial action saying they could negotiate a better deal. The union bureaucrats managed to come up with an improvement of under half a percent! Which just shows the need to organise direct action outside of union control.
Plymouth bus drivers have again refused to be suckered by measly pay rises - third time running. Drivers refused to settle for a firms original 2.5% offer and have rejected new offers of 3%. The bus company has made over £800,000 in profit for its share holders - the biggest of which is Labour run Plymouth council.
DONT HOLD YOUR BREATH
1999 saw the worst ever recorded fall in air quality in Britain. So remember to take fewer breaths between fags and dont inhale deeply.
DONT VOTE, MAKE TROUBLE
In the irrelevant world of elections, Labour are now refusing to guarantee a referendum on electoral reform, despite previous promises. Does proportional representation mean that if you dont vote nobody gets elected?
In 1997 Christmas bonuses handed out to 1500 city bankers and brokers in London topped £1billion, an average of £666,000 (the number of the beast?) each.
PINOCHET GOES HOME
Jack Straw has looks set to allow General Pinochet to return to Chile, free from the danger of having to stand trial for the torture and murders committed when he was in power there. Pinochet managed to successfully use the Earnest Saunders defence of senility. Hes expected to recover soon.
The Anarchist Federation has now been accepted as the British affiliate to the International of Anarchist Federations/lInternationale des Federations Anarchistes (IFA). IFA now has sections covering Argentina, Bulgaria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
In England and Wales, there is a strict definition of flu - you have to have the high fever and aching joints of the real influenza. In Scotland the definition is less strict. But even here the flu outbreak has been no more than 400 in every 100,000. An epidemic is officially 1000 in every 100,000 so the rate of flu infections is officially normal in Scotland, whilst higher than expected in the rest of the UK. Unless you are Professor Liam Donaldson, the governments Chief Medical Officer. Basing his figures on 200,000 people who have phoned the NHS Direct call centres asking for advice on flu like symptoms, Donaldson then doubled the number of flu cases from the official 144 -200 per 100,000 reported through GPs to the magic figure of 400. Bingo! There is now a flu epidemic! One of Labours five election promises - to reduce waiting lists in the NHS, is looking very wobbily indeed. There is no epidemic. If the flu outbreak - normal at this time of year - causes waiting lists to lengthen, this indicates not an epidemic, but a health service with little investment. The NHS is still being run the way it was under the Tories. If the beds are empty, then they are axed by the sharp suited managers running the health service. EVERYTHING IS GEARED TO THE MARKET. This fails to take into account things like epidemics and the need for patients to be dealt with quickly. Many people are dying because they cannot get the operations and treatment they need to save their lives. The flu epidemic is a smoke screen. By putting out such an idea and then saying there is no problem in the NHS, before making vague promises about more investment, Labour have shown that they are as unwilling as the Conservatives to put more money into the NHS. Their God, the market, will receive more sacrifices as more people die because they could not receive treatment in time.
The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is once again sniffing around what could be loosely called the direct action movement . Seeing the growing awareness in this scene of capitalism as our enemy , and gutted that an event of the scale and militancy of June 18th could pass with not an SWP paper seller in sight, the party leadership has obviously decided that were a prime target for recruitment.
The SWP has a long history of seizing on every new issue or movement and trying to dominate it, recruiting who they can and then moving on to the next big thing. These parasites on resistance are as much our enemy as the bosses. Just because theyve got sod all power at the moment is no reason to tolerate them. On the contrary, its the best time to discredit their ideas completely! Lots of people probably join the SWP because they were the first and only alternative they came across. Not everyone who sells the paper is totally committed to the Party, and hopefully more and more will pack it in and do something useful instead. But the party itself can only be our enemy. Its not, and never will be on our side.
So lets learn from the past and tell the SWP and their rivals to stick their leadership and their papers where the sun dont shine.
The next Global Day of Action against Capitalism takes place on May 1. So far 23 cities around the world have pledged to take action and more are following. In Britain, events are taking place in London, Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol. The London event plans 4-days of action around MayDay, networking, workshops, meetings, a bookfair, film festival, football tournament and loads more besides.
The group currently working on the 2-day conference are organising a pre-conference gathering to brainstorm ideas for workshops, meetings and the structure of the Saturday and Sunday events. Everyone is asked to bring along their energy, enthusiasm and ideas - it doesnt matter how sketchy they might be at the moment.
There will be a social event in the evening and ideas will be pooled the next day.
The Pre-Conference gathering takes place on Saturday 12th February at The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, London SE17, same street as 56@ InfoShop (nearest tubes Kennington and Elephant and Castle)
Burundi: Peace talks are taking place between 18 political parties in Tanzania, who also host some 320,000 refugees, to try and end the civil war started in October 93 when Hutu president Ndadaye was assassinated by Tutsi paratroops. More than 200,000 have died as a result. The accompanying cease-fire has been ignored, and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.
Reports also suggest Hutu rebels have been trying to buy arms from Zimbabwe, who currently have 11,000 troops in the DR Congo to repress the Tutsi led rebellion. They have also been accused of training Interahamwe Hutu militias fighting Tutsis in the Great Lakes region.
Some 850,000 Hutus are being held in concentration camps. There are no fences, but being caught beyond the perimeter amounts to a death sentence. 350,000 are being held on hills around the capital Bujumbura. Homes are being looted; disappearances and killings are taking place particularly targeting young men. The army killed at least 43 civilians near one of the largest camps on December 31st. Water and medicines are precious, and food is likely to run out soon as detainees are being prevented from replanting crops. There is little or no shelter, with malnutrition and disease becoming increasingly evident. Families were split during the internment, amidst shootings and chaos. Over half the camps are receiving no aid. Camps were set up after repeated attacks by Hutu rebels on Tutsi communities in Bujumbura, sparking killings by Tutsi militias. Tutsis are the majority in Bujumbura since Hutus were massacred 3 years ago by Tutsi militia. A similar policy in the north and east 3 years ago curbed armed violence but left thousands dead. The UN has pulled out after rebels killed 2 of its workers.
Kavumu camp has been shut off by the army following an apparent revolt by its 16,000 detainees!
Japan: The State has been tackling homelessness problem by employing 5000 homeless people in the past year as menial staff in nuclear plants. Paid equivalent of £60/day, for which many have been diagnosed as having contracted diseases such as leukaemia due to pathetic safety measures. A third of Japans electricity is generated by the nuclear industry, which is accused of putting profits before safety, a situation highlighted by the Tokaimura reactor coming within seconds of a meltdown.
Senegal: While the EU fishing industry blames each other, and calls for the wholesale massacring of pesky wildlife in the wake of massive reductions in quotas for fish such as cod depleted by decades of over-fishing, spare a thought for the people of Senegal. For centuries they have fished their coastal waters from small boats taking what they needed to live, using every bit of their catch. Now they are seeing fish populations devastated by trawlers from the EU and elsewhere. The EU fleet is one of the worldss largest. A third of their catch is thrown back into the sea - dead. A case of the rich literally taking the food out of the mouths of the poor!
Russia: IMF economic reform programme is being blamed for causing social disaster. Economic crashes in 92 and 98 led to hyperinflation wiping out most peoples savings. The percentage living below the minimum subsistence level of £22/month leapt 22% to 35%, over 51million people! An additional half the population have a monthly income of only £26. People living in the countryside fair worse than those in cities, with those in Moscow doing a little better. Western economists argue that the situation isnt as bad as it seems because the black market offsets poverty, and while TB has re-emerged they point to the rise of the domestic beer industry as a positive sign of economic progress. The first 5 months of 99 saw the Russian population fall by 346,700 primarily due to an increase in the death rate.
Venezuela: Following the December storms and mudslides which claimed 10-20,000 lives the government has admitted that at least 60 people were killed by the military supposedly for looting. Having been forced to admit the killings, President Hugo Chavez, a former paratrooper who has been involved with previous military uprisings, has sought to protect the military.
Sudan: Ugandan rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army killed 8 aid workers in Southern Sudan during an attack on their vehicle.
Sierra Leone: After 9 years of war which saw widespread murder and rape of civilians, and around 30,000 people with amputated limbs, a truth and reconciliation commission is to be set up, with the UK donating £250,000 towards it - a small price from their arms profits! So, once again, a few scapegoats, while the real perpetrators slip back into the ruling echelons?
Greece: 14.1.00. Demonstrators protesting educational reforms fought pitch battles with police at the Polytechnic University in Athens.
Pakistan: Police have been accused of having a shoot to kill policy in Punjab province. Since 97 over 850 people have been killed in so called police encounters. Police claim their convoys come under attack from accomplices on their way to visit crime scenes, and all the suspects just happen to get killed in the crossfire. Doctors, lawyers, and even some police admit that most if not all shootings are faked. Extra-judicial killings, torture, rape and extortion accusations have all been levelled at the police and the government, who are accused of operating this as policy. While obviously denying this, the now former government pointed to the 240 police killed in shootouts since February 97.
France: Eight hundred angry miners fought running street battles with
police, ransacking a tax office and leaving burning cars in their wake, following
pay protests in Eastern France. The miners march started in Metz, where a
number of police cars, used to block their advance, were set on fire. Police
repeatedly fired tear gas at the protesters.
Miners protesting in the nearby town of Forbach, just across the border from the German town of Saarbruecken, ransacked the local tax office later in the day.
Czech Republic: In Prague, on the anniversary of the founding of the state 4,000 (mostly bonehead) fascists of the National Front attend a rally to hear Vladimir Skoupy deny the Nazi Holocaust. 12 anarchist militants were able to disrupt the rally by climbing the monument from which Skoupy was due to speak, and unfurling two anarchist flags and a banner saying Lets stop the nazis together. Elsewhere in the city other anti-fascist demonstrations were taking place nearby. One was made up of the mostly anarchist AFA, carrying banners saying Against Fascism, Against Bolshevism. The police encircled them whilst nazis were free to go where they pleased.
Libertarian Socialist Discussion Group. Meets every second Wednesday of the month for action and discussion. 8pm in the Vine, Kenedy St. (off Fountain St.) near Manchester town hall.
Okasional Cafe. Squatted social space with film shows art exhibitions, food and drink and discussion meetings at 61 Brighton Grove, Birchfields, in Manchester area. Phone 0161 2266814.
In opposition to building of M25 relief road a protest camp has been set up in Gorse Wood in Essex. Contact the camp on 07957 715 977. Food, building materials, clothing, bedding and camping equipment are urgently required. Donations to Gorse Wood camp c/o Mick Stanners, 1 Wick Drive, Wickford, Essex. The local campaign is organising demonstrations and action against this and the building of 150, 000 homes in the Essex green belt. Donation to M Way No Way Campaign c/o 17, St Johns Green, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex. CM1 3DZ.
Long time anarchist prisoner John Perotti has recently suffered a heart attack and his spirits are understandably low. John was jailed over twenty years ago for stealing $7. Because of his work as a prison lawyer the American state has added more and more to his sentence. Send letters of support. Write to John W. Perotti 167712 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, Youngstown, Ohio, 44505, USA
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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