Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 105 - September 2008
Read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk
Contents of the September 2008 issue:
WELCOME TO MANCHESTER - Labour Party annual conference.
LOCALS SAY "NEVER AGAIN" TO SCUMFEST - Direct action at the BNP Red White and Blue Festival.
CENTRAL EUROPEAN WORKERS STRIKE BACK - In Iceland, following deaths at power construction site.
UNIONS SLAMMED FOR FAILING LOW PAID WORKERS - Women workers still getting a raw deal.
TAKING BACK OUR PRIDE - 18 years of the Manchester gay pride festival, but money talks too much.
E'ON, F'OFF! - A PLEASANT STROLL TO KINGSNORTH - Report back from the 3rd Camp for Climate Action.
TIME TO TRIM THE FAT (AND GET SOME EXERCISE) - Opposition to Wembley academy school.
SUBVERT - Diary dates in Manchester: Roma solidarity demo (19th) and Stop the War anarchist & no borders bloc (20th).
WELCOME TO MANCHESTER
The Labour Party is holding its annual conference in Manchester. Manchester Anarchist Federation have this to say: Welcome to Manchester, home and co sponsor of genocide! ‘Nuclear Free’ Manchester, City of Peace, this year welcomes key sponsors of the current Chronic World War - the Labour Party - for its annual conference. This is the party that brought us Bloody Sunday in 1970 when British troops massacred unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland. It brought us the war in Iraq current death toll over 1.7 million. Taking a break from efforts to start a war against Iran, Labour is hurling hypocritical accusations of genocide against the Russians.
We know that capitalism needs war and now Russia, like during the Cold War, has proved to be just another capitalist warmonger. After the Georgians annihilated the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, the Russians moved in with their militia death squads. Russia threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Poland, a NATO member. As Iraq cools down, so a new Cold War hots up.
We should not be surprised that Gordon Brown, who claimed to be a man of peace, is cheering this on. He is the same man who taxed us to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 1997, pushed for the renewal of the nuclear deterrent and the regeneration of the British fleet which is set to cost around £20 billion without a shot being fired. This is a great financial boost for business when times are hard. This is not a war-game nor is it an accident. It is the lifeblood of a system based on profit, competition and conflict.
Meanwhile the same system devastates the worlds' largely impoverished population and causes millions of bullet less casualties. Anarchists have mobilised in large numbers to demonstrate against not just this war or even all wars, but against its causes. We do not need better or more left wing governments. Neither do we need a fantasy crusade for an honest politician. We don't want to get a government back on track, or help a party regenerate. We are saying they are murderers! This is their system and a system they will kill to defend. War is the natural state of this system based on nations and borders as the organising form of international capitalism. Labour, through its membership of NATO, along with Russia, continues to promote and exploit every conflict it can. They will do this until they leech profit from the Caucasus and across the globe.
This new Cold War is of their making and it is to their benefit to keep us in danger and rallied to the interests of the state with all that entails. The state will use any method to keep us controlled, from nationalism to racism, from immigration and border controls to ID cards and from increasing detention to social control. Workers of the world have no country, should recognise no nation or border. Mobilise to fight the bosses not their wars!
LOCALS SAY "NEVER AGAIN" TO SCUMFEST
After a year of preparation by Notts Against the BNP (a coalition of anarchists and left-wing activists) August 16th finally saw a national anti-fascist mobilisation against the British National Party’s ‘Red White and Blue’ festival in Derbyshire. The so-called ‘festival’, which moved to Denby in 2007 on to the land of BNP farmer Alan Warner, is an annual rallying point for the party since it was started by their uber-fascist Nick Griffin. Last year the council were unable to prevent the BNP having an events licence when the police said they could handle it. This year was very different.
First the licence was denied unless the fascists put up huge fences around the site, so the BNP withdrew their application after a tantrum in the council meeting at Ripley. A second ‘mini-licence’ was also denied and the mighty BNP were forced to hold their family hate event as a private party. Door-to-door leafleting of local areas took place before the event. Then, on August 16th, a demonstration and rally took place in the nearby town of Codnor. Elsewhere on the day, anti-fascist activists took part in a creative direct action that gave the police a headache by blocking a road near to the festival site, in order to prevent access to the festival. Riot police were called in to put down the action, beating activists with batons and mounting a chase through fields in full riot gear with dogs and helicopter support. There were over 30 arrests and most were bailed to answer charges in a few months time. But the result is already clear. All the local papers are full of the news that the BNP is not wanted in the future, so anarchist direct action certainly showed its worth on the day.
As a result [of local campaigning before the event] a new Amber Valley ‘Stop the BNP’ has [recently] been formed. But from this point on it will be important not to let the trotskyists destroy all the good work of local campaigning with their bickering and competing for leadership. Unite Against Fascism (a front for Socialist Workers Party) really did the dirty leading up to the demo and on the day itself. They organised a later start time with the police, behind the backs of local campaigners. Other leftists within Stop the BNP seemed more concerned with this Unite Against Fascism betrayal than actually stopping the BNP on the day. There must also be a much clearer message as to how much the Labour Party and the opposition have aided fascism with their ‘war on terror’ and anti-immigrant policies. We know this is translating into the reality of increased detention & deportation.
It’s even worse in Italy, where the right wing government is in full swing, openly attacking immigrants and the Roma population. All in all though, the message ‘Never Again!’ against fascist organising is crystal clear.
CENTRAL EUROPEAN WORKERS STRIKE BACK
On August 20th two Romanian workers in Iceland suffocated. They had been welding pipes to help expand the electric power plant in Hellisheidarvirkjun. This is in order to power a new alumininium smelter.
The company tried to cover up the deaths. Because of this, foreign workers at the Altak firm (a contractor to public owned company Reykjavik Energy) held a meeting, and the non-unionised workers are now trying to get better safety conditions. Polish workers didn't go to work for two days and if bosses won't agree to their demands, say they will all call in sick.
Around 300 people are working for various companies on construction-related projects.
UNIONS SLAMMED FOR FAILING LOW PAID WORKERS
Trade unions have been slammed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for selling out low paid women members. Up to 150,000 women have received too little from local authorities and the NHS in land mark equal pay cases because unions ‘rushed into ill considered back pay deals and accepted too readily pleas of poverty’.
A low paid GMB member, who works for Middlesbrough Council as a home carer said, “I have been paying my union subs to the GMB for 11 years and the only time I have gone to them was over my equal pay claim. What I found out was that we counted for nothing”. Unions have been criticised for not taking equal pay claims forward, leaving women members with little choice but to take individual cases using private legal firms which can take up to 25 per cent of any pay out”. A retired Unison rep and ex-care worker said “for the last three decades the unions have been telling us how they are going to fight for equal-pay workers and nothing has happened”. She told The Observer that she earned up to £5,000 a year less than men doing an equivalent job.
Unions say they stand up for working class people but they don’t. They reckon that all they have to do is sort out the right compromise to keep everyone happy. This always means selling out their members. That is why anarchists say that we should always fight for the control of our organisations in the workplace and not trust union officials who will always put their own careers before defending our interests.
TAKING BACK OUR PRIDE
This year saw Manchester Pride celebrate it’s 18th birthday. Just like at most birthday celebrations there was a lot of drink, a lot of balloons and plenty of glitter. Sadly, not much else came from the event, unless of course you count the loss of the £17.50 it would have cost you toattend!
Once again the Pride organisers along with their profit-sucking sponsors such as Selfridge's and Co and West Properties decided that politics were a no no. Pride was to be strictly apolitical. In fact the organisers even went as far as to deny entry to the Pride parade to anyone with banners that had slogans such as ‘Pride not Profit’.
Sadly, Manchester Pride is not alone in forgetting that Pride should be a protest for LGBTQ liberation and not just some market driven celebration of ‘gay life and culture’- also known as ‘gay-only products’ and ‘gay-only nightclubs‘. At the opening ceremony of Pride several Anarchist and Queer comrades went and crashed the party. They hurled banners reading such slogans as ‘Too Poor To Be Gay’. Right throughout the Manchester Pride season they continued to antagonise the Pride cash cravers with mass leafleting and other activities. Not one negative comment was thrown our way by those we talked to throughout all our interventions. We sure we made our mark felt and heard. Our message was, and remains, perfectly clear. We won't sit back and watch as Pride becomes an event aimed solely at advertising products and corporate sponsors. We stand in solidarity with all LGBTQ individuals who feel that bosses and businessmen - Lesbian, Gay or otherwise - have nothing in common with our aim of liberation and shouldn’t be running our Pride events. At the same time we remind all LGBTQ peoples that liberation means more than begging the government for a civil partnership or equal age of consent. Our enemy is the homophobic, gender binding capitalist system.
E'ON, F'OFF! - A PLEASANT STROLL TO KINGSNORTH
The annual climate camp this year took place at Kingsnorth in Kent. Its aim was to shut down the coal fired power station as a criticism of the government policy of developing more sources of dirty energy. An AF member at the camp gives his personal account of the mass day of action:
The fluffy face of climate camp started out at 9am with a sanctioned march and, even with constant stalling, spirits were high. The police twice attempted to disrupt the procession but the march continued nonetheless. Upon reaching the entrance of Kingsnorth, one sharpwitted anarchist noticed a help-desk number on the main gates. After dialing, we were informed by a quite apologetic security guard that he’d be straight down to let us in! (needless to say he didn’t materialize) An hour later we were told that police dogs would be unleashed should we fail to disperse. Monty Burns, eat your heart out! After about 45 minutes of dragging our heels, the march slipped away with most people managing to give the police escort the slip to travel through the nearby village of Hoo St Werburgh. Reactions from locals were largely positive, with many coming out of their homes to cheer us on, showing that the gap between protesters and residents is largely fabricated. After all, there is nothing quite as heartwarming as seeing Anarchists dancing down the road with old ladies applauding.
Direct Action in the Countryside
Setting off across the fields, about half of green bloc managed to evade the police and continue the journey to Kingsnorth. There were many obstacles but luckily someone had left some harris fencing to help protesters across the perimeter fence. In a similar act of kindness the employees at E.on turned off the electric fence surrounding the station! It was only the giant concrete wall and lines of riot police that stopped the green bloc from completing the trip. Those that didn’t make it as far as the inner wall hung a banner from a nearby pylon reading ‘Shut Down Kingsnorth’.
Climate Camp was also able to boast its own naval division - the blue bloc. After ingeniously burying their boats months in advance, they managed to sneak past the police (dressed as pirates), and launch their boats onto the Medway, with many managing to evade police speedboats! A few of the rafts got to the coal loading jetty, hung banners and generally provided the police with a few headaches. Others managed to reach the water intake pipes before being arrested. Despite 26 police forces, constant stop and search and brutal police oppression all three blocs managed to outwit 1400 cops on land and sea!
The camp wasn’t without its problems however. The anti-authoritarian roots of the movement seemed to be being ignored at points with standing ovations for a Liberal Democrat MP and Monbiot (read: patronizing wanker) accusing anarchists of playing “political football” with the camp. It is crucial that climate camp, and environmental action in general, be kept in the hands of communities involved. It is not good enough to hope for mythical ‘good leaders’. And of course there was the usual liberal hippy presence on site which served to isolate the more radical campers - “No I do not want to hear your poem about fucking lentils!!”. As one camper put it while resisting police incursions to the camp ‘I can handle riot cops, but not this drum circle rubbish.’
TIME TO TRIM THE FAT (AND GET SOME EXERCISE)
Team GB has returned from Beijing with its clutch of medals, hyped up by the press and promoted by the government who want to boost their image by cuddling up to the successful athletes. A waning Brown and his sidekicks are sucking up to their success in order to increase their hopes of re-election. And who are the successful athletes? 60% of the medal winners come from fee paying schools for the rich where they can use first class training facilities. But, despite paying lip service to the obesity crisis and the poor health of the nation (the UK is the fattest nation in Europe) schools continue to be built on open land and playing fields in working class areas are sold off by councils for housing.
In Wembley, an academy school is planned for Wembley Park Sports Ground. Local people occupied the land in a struggle to stop the developers. At the moment the land can be used for as little as £1 a session. Once it is taken over by American and Swiss bankers, the cost will rocket. Although their tent city has been evicted, local people will continue the fight.
In Oldham, Lancashire five schools are to close. They are to be replaced by three academies. Two of these schools - Counthill and Breeze Hill - have huge playing fields. The current schools cater for school children during the day and local people of all ages in the evenings, together they boast a swimming pool, a full-sized astro-turf pitch and excellent rugby facilities. The new school is to have a couple of five a side astropitches! The Liberal council also plan to build a second academy on football pitches in the south of the town. Life expectancy of Oldhamers in the working class areas served by the proposed school is 6 years lower than neighbouring middle class areas. Students at the new school will have less chance to at least remain fit never mind develop high level skills in sport. Sport for adults will become something open to those who can afford monthly gym prices. Yet again, it's one rule for the rich and one for the poor. Oldham is a town known for its race problems. It seems like the new schools are helping overcome some of these.
Working class people from white, Bengali and Pakistani areas have all started to campaign against them. They are also realising that local politicians of all types only want to sell them out and feather their own nests. They have held large meetings and some exciting demonstrations. More are planned and the council can expect a rough time over coming months.
When going on demonstrations stay sober, don’t talk to the police and if you’re arrested give only your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any other questions. For more info visit http://www.activistslegalproject.org.uk or contact the Legal Defence Monitoring Group: ldmgmailyahoo.co.uk
19th - Roma Solidarity demonstration at 11.30am on Friday 19th September - Join the AF, Manchester No Borders & Roma groups at the Italian Consulate (111 Piccadilly Manchester, M1 2HY) the day before the big ‘Stop the War’ demo at the Labour Conference. The demo follows serious attacks on Roma people in Italy including physical attacks on camps, threats of fingerprinting of the Roma population (including children) and right-wing/fascist manipulations by Italian politicians & press that are linking Roma people to 'crime' and 'illegal immigration' which is increasing populist calls for their expulsion from Italy and destruction of Roma camps.
20th - For a world without borders, states and war! Saturday 20th September -
Assemble at All Saints, Manchester. Look out for the red and black flags. Details here: http://nobordersmanchester.blogspot.com/2008/07/no-borders-vs-labour-party-conference.html
Read/download this issue now in PDF format
The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists aiming to abolish capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism. We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.
As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as working through parliament and national liberation movements, as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.
Organisation is vital if we’re to beat the bosses, so we work for a united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations. The Anarchist Federation has members across Britain and Ireland fighting for the kind of world outlined above.
Contact us at:
Subscription to resistance in print costs 4 pounds from the address above for one year of issues (usually 10 as we have one month off in summer, and one over new year). Non-UK subs are £8. A two issue (annual) subscription to our magazine, Organise! for revolutionary anarchism, is 5 pounds (£6 Non-UK orders).