NHS - from the cradle to the grave
The general practitioner Harold Shipman was responsible for murdering at least 15 of his most vulnerable patients. These and perhaps scores more of middle aged and elderly women who placed their total trust in this man died of massive morphine overdoses. Whilst Shipmans acts were probably extremely isolated cases the fact remains that all people are vulnerable in the hands of the medical profession.
The NHS has long been a source of pride for politicians and, in particular, Labour politicians but there are serious flaws in this organisation. Anyone who has visited a hospital will be aware of the class system which operates. The consultants are gods who claim special knowledge and special salaries. Typically, they treat less qualified doctors and all ranks below them with contempt.
Even patients are often barely tolerated by all levels of medical specialists. There is an underlying authoritarianism throughout the health service and at the bottom of the pile come those who need medical help. It helps, of course if you are upper or middle class. Then your GP or medical specialist might even explain about the treatments given, the risks, etc. Working class people are often barely considered human by the know-all professionals and accordingly are often expected to take the treatment offered without any explanation.
Modern medicine and health care does not generally concern itself with the whole person. People are treated as mechanical objects who can be repaired piece by piece as problems arise. As technology advances, new techniques are developed which are enormously expensive and so the cost of health care constantly goes up. There is great financial reliance on technology to identify problems and give treatments and a consequent rationing of this treatment because of cost.
Treatment by the medical profession is positively life threatening. Patients have the wrong kidney removed or suffer as a result of mis-diagnosis and prescription of the wrong drugs. Hospitals are highly dangerous places to stay. Because of the failure to use even basic methods of hygiene such as the washing of hands by surgeons, the risk of serious infection is ever present. According to a recent report, nurses who tried to remind doctors of their need for hygiene were put in their place and steamrollered into obedience.
System of Authority
From an anarchist approach the issues are clear. Patients come first, not the practitioners. There should be emphasis on prevention rather than on repair jobs. Patients should be treated as whole human beings rather than as passive, unthinking machines. Medicine as a science should be made open to all. The class structure of medicine and health care needs to be swept away along with the prevailing militaristic, authoritarian structures. Finally, working people need to take control over health and medicine as well as other aspects of our lives.
Harold Shipman was able to kill people for years because of the system of authority on the one hand by medical professionals and accepting submission by everyone else. Shipman is a symbol of the whole system. It must be destroyed.
People are still getting sent down as a result of J18 last year. Several of those jailed have already been released.
The prisoners below would appreciate letters - but please remember that letters to prisoners are opened and read by prison officers so dont write anything that could jeopardize anyones freedom. Remember theyre in there for us, were out here for them
Sean Brown (Sept 99? sentenced to 12 Months)
BP5610, HMYOI Ashfield, Sherwood Road, Pucklechurch, Bristol, BS16 9LY
Jeff Booker (21/1/00 sent. 21 months)
DN7071, Elmley, Eastchurch, Sheerness, Kent, ME12 4OZ
Stuart Tokam (21/1/00 sent. 12 months)
DN7072, HM Prison, Jebb Avenue, Brixton, London, SW2 5XF
Thomas Wall (4/2/00 sent. 18 months)
FF4431, HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead, London, SE28 0EB
Kuldip Bajwa (7/2/00 sent. 21 months)
DN7230, HM Prison, Jebb Avenue, Brixton, London, SW2 5XF
Jon Barnett (11/2/00 sent. 6 months)
FB5538, HMYOI, Bedfont Road, Feltham, Middx, TW13 4ND
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union leftie groups that support the Leninist form of capitalism have been in terminal decline. In a desperate attempt to prolong their undead existence they have now started to lurk around the libertarian movement.
The Socialist Workers Party have got involved in the Mumia Must Live! campaign (which has had people with a wide range of politics involved) by sending full timers to meetings to bully, intimidate and even gurn at other people there. Then when they didnt get their own way theyve just used to name of the campaign to promote their own meetings.
Another Leninist group, Workers Power have come to MayDay 2000 meetings to argue for a semi-state (where presumably well be semi-imprisoned, semi-tortured and semi-shot).
All Leninsts support a strong capitalist state - with themselves in charge. It is not revolutionary to allow people like this into our organisations. Campaigns need to be organised with clear principles. In some campaigns it is possible to work with some Leninists - as we have done for over a year in Mumia Must Live! But we should never forget they are our enemies.
For us communism is a society without prisons
Network for Workers Autonomy. Italy.
On Tuesday 7th December 1999 Italian police carried out raids in several towns homes of around 20 communist militants were raided. Five were arrested, some beaten in police stations. Those arrested have been charged with subversion and membership of an armed group. They have been accused of belonging to an organisation named by the Italian State as the Partisan Groups of Sabotage (GPS). No such group exists! One of those the police have targeted, Diego Negri who is involved in the Network for Workers Autonomy whose politics condemn all elite organisations armed or not! They know that only a massive social movement can really take on and destroy capitalism and all states. These arrests and charges have been carried out under the emergency laws that were introduced by the Italian State in the 1970s. During that period in Italy and other parts of Europe there was a powerful wave of working class militancy. This repression is about stamping a State boot right on the face of any new beginnings of working class resistance in Europe. Currently most of those arrested are now out on bail but could be facing prison sentences of up to 15 years.
Defence fund donations to:
Lidia Triossi Precari Nati. via Jussi 4 40128 Bologna Italy.
In this country the Labour party are pushing new anti-terrorist laws through parliament. These new laws will be aimed the opposition movements that act outside and against all institutions. People and organisations involved in direct action the only way we can ever really change anything in this world could be deemed TERRORIST! In the near future we will organise solidarity actions in support of those arrested in Italy and as way of acting against the new repressive laws here in the UK.
STOP THE TERRORISM BILL!
SUNDAY APRIL 30TH 2PM @ HIGHBURY FIELDS, LONDON, N5, TUBE: HIGHBURY & ISLINGTON. A30 GROUP: C/O DEPT. 29, WILMSLOW ROAD, MANCHESTER. M14 5LW. 0161 226 6814
American prisoner Susanne Owens has repeatedly been denied parole despite being in prison for nearly a quarter of a century. Write to the South Carolina parole board asking:
1) What is the parole procedure presently employed by the State of South Carolina?
2) In Ms Owens case, what reasonable expectations does the parole board have if she is to be a successful parole candidate?
You can contact the board at:
State of South Carolina,
Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services,
Director Stephen K. Benjamin,
2221 Devine Street, Suite 600,
Post Office Box 50666,
Columbia, South Carolina 29250, USA
Susanne would love to hear from you!
Susanne Owens 086789,
Leath Correctional Institution M-1-204-B
2809 Airport Road, Greenwood,
South Carolina, 29646-2945, USA H
There was an anarchists 40 strong anti-war demonstration in Moscow, on February, 12. We had black and red-and-black banners, some slogans against state terrorism and for class solidarity. We were selling newspapers and producing leaflets. Common people were interested in this action, many of them supported us. The demonstration lasted one hour and forty five minutes. In Moscow it was a fifth anarchists antiwar demonstration. Some
anarchists actions, graffiti and leafleting against war took part in Moscow, Krasnodar, Novorossysk, Kasimov, Sankt-Peterburg, Niznii Novgorod. Further actions are planned.
DO YOU NEED THE WAR IN CHECHNYA? We believe that anti-terrorist operation is not an apology for thousands of killed soldiers and inhabitants. We think that massive bombings are inadmissible in modern society. We realise that only the ruling class benefits from this war, which creates a
nationalist hysteria. To ours mind war expenses ruin our country. As long as we are silent, the authorities think that all the country agrees with this war. In the West people have experience of anti-war actions. Hundreds of thousands of American people joined demonstrations against USA war actions in Vietnam. During so-called Kosovo operation there were anti-NATO actions in all European countries. If you dont like the events in Chechnya, say NO!
The American physicist Freeman Dyson wants to create habitable conditions on other planets by planting genetically engineered trees in order to facilitate space tourism and the export of surplus population to protect the earth from ecological disaster. Call us cynical but we dont think he agrees with our ideas of surplus - bosses and politicians. Such nonsense from scientists is a result of a science which sees humanity as dominating (and so exploiting) the rest of nature. Science and technology are not pure or neutral and can never be, but part and parcel of society. Capitalist science develops technologies which maintain and increase the profit and control of the few (the ruling class) at the expense of the working class majority. Scientists and politicians like to present decisions on future projects such as airports, roads, and GM food as purely technical/technological to try and convince us to leave it to the experts - Sometimes you have to tell people whats best for them as Professor Bainbridge, chair of the government advisory committee on novel foods and processes said about whether consumers should have choice regarding GM foods.
Ecuador: 1999 saw an economic slump in Latin America (while USA and EU analysts proclaimed theyd never had it so good!). The Sucre (currency) halved in value against the dollar, to a point where the economy was dollarised. Bank accounts were frozen for those who had them, though not before government officials had withdrawn over $200 million of their own ill-gotten loot to foreign banks. Food prices increased 70%, service costs rose sharply too, and many public services had already been withdrawn. Many children were forced out of school, as they now have to pay for education. The basic salary has increased only 30%.
This crisis came only 4 months after the IMF imposed a structural adjustment plan to cope with the slump. Ecuador is supposed to enrich itself by following export led growth, where it is at the mercy of wildly fluctuating global prices it has no control over. It meant more oil drilling, more flower growing, farming more shrimp, and growing more bananas. This has had a devastating effect on the environment, and yet the people are still living in abject poverty. External debt has increased 500%.
People are fighting back though , led by the Indigena (indigenous tribes are 40% of population). Roads have been blocked, barricaded and dug up; sealing off neighbourhoods and crippling communications. Electricity offices have been occupied, communications towers seized, catholic church offices have been occupied (for supporting the government), and demonstrations have taken place.
A state of emergency has been declared, and 30,000 troops deployed. However, police are unpaid and soldiers are sympathetic, though military leaders have moved to back the government. Industrial lobbyists have been calling for tough repression. Over 400 have been arrested and at least 13 shot. The Indigena have been joined by taxi drivers, teachers and medical staff (unpaid in months), transport workers, banana workers, informal sellers, oil unions and students. A peoples parliament has been set up to bring these groups together. They are calling for civil disobedience. Also less positively, they are demanding a new ethical government (Surely an unreasonable demand!), and a strong decentralised state. The Indigena call this a fight for life, against hunger.
Mexico: UNAM (national autonomous university of Mexico) students have been striking since March 99 against World Bank inspired attacks on free education, with campus buildings being occupied. Following a media led campaign to criminalise the strikers, the campuses came under attack. On 2.2.00, 251 were arrested, 37 injured, and 1 striker was stabbed to death, as 200 students were forced from a building they were occupying. Anti-strike demonstrators (hired thugs and student members of the PRD, who control the Mexico City government) attacked them with sticks and rocks. Once in they were supported by 150 from the university security force. Having regrouped strikers fought back and retook the building. 400 federal police PFP arrived and arrested the strikers. Police are banned from the campus following previous excessive behaviour! However, the rector of UNAM called them in.
On 3.2.00, arrest warrants were issued for 430 students. On 6.2.00, the auditorium was stormed early morning by the PFP while a meeting between strikers and non-strikers was taking place. Over 600 were arrested, bringing the total to around 1,000. In December, 70+ people were arrested at the US embassy during a demo in support of Mumia Abu Jamal. The government of President Zedillo, with the support of the Mexico City government (PRI - PRD cross-party co-operation), clearly want to smash this resistance. The students though have merely extended their demands to include the release of those imprisoned. An offer of their release in exchange for the ending of the strike was rejected. As education is privatised world-wide its good to see a fightback. Perhaps the NUS in Britain would like to review their gutless inaction to similar cutbacks here?
Austria: 27% of a vote gave the far-right Freedom Party a place in the new conservative coalition government. It was widely seen as a protest vote against the cronyism of the two main parties - the Peoples Party and the Socialist Party. Its leader Jörg Haider (the Hitler fan) shrewdly remained outside the cabinet. Their inauguration into the government was met by large protests and running battles with police in Vienna.
On 18.2.00, 5,000 school students in Vienna walked out of lessons to show their disapproval of Haider in the streets. Other governments, including some in the EU made a show of their disapproval, though without doing much of significance, after all fascist parties in the Euro Parliament are nothing new. There is some suggestion that it was more to send a message to other central European countries including Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland, where racism is currently much more open, to tone it down (its okay to be racist, just not to be seen to be racist!), as they are likely to be the next EU members.
In reality anti-immigrant attitudes are rife throughout the EU where the Fortress Europe mentality is deeply enshrined in Euro law. Haider claims many similarities with Tony Blair, which could well be our only point of agreement. The British government is institutionally racist (to steal their current slogan), and thinks nothing of locking up torture victims, or sending asylum seekers back to certain death. Foreigners the world over make great scapegoats for governments desperate to conceal their own crimes in pursuit of profits for the few!
An anarchist organisation must allow for complete autonomy and independence and therefore full responsibility to individuals and groups; free agreement between those who think it is useful to come together for co-operative action, for common aims.
Malatesta. Italian anarchist. 1927.
Groups such as the Anarchist Federation aim for a mass anarcho-communist movement. But how do we, in our revolutionary struggle and if there is a revolutionary transformation of society avoid the problems of bureaucracy and élites? For an anarchist organisation to operate effectively its members must unite freedom with responsibility. There should be full participation by all militants in the decision-making process with a commitment to carry out collective decisions. No anarchist organisation can be effective if its members act against the collective aims and methods. However, no organisation can be anarchist without the total freedom to take part in the formulation of goals and methods plus the freedom to withdraw from the process. Federalism is a form of organisation that combines the maximum individual autonomy with collective direction. The idea is the reversal of forms of organisation in which decisions are made by a ruling elite, visible or not, but carried out by an obedient rank and file. With federalism, autonomous members organised in groups or branches at the base make decisions that are carried out by the whole organisation. This way political power flows from the circumference to the centre since organisation is horizontal. Anarchist organisations should be expressions of the collective voice not directing centres that control people. Anarchist Fashion For a federal system to operate in an anarchist fashion there must be the greatest possible involvement by members plus open and free communication to prevent the existence of any elite group or leadership. Each layer/segment of the organisation represents its views to the whole body directly through instantly recallable delegates. Not only the anarchist organisation but also an anarchco-communist world society could be run on a federal basis. The Basic social unit would probably be the commune or council which would federate to a wider body, say the region or province. Delegates from the councils would form bodies that would concern themselves with issues of relevance to their mandate. These regional organisations would in turn affiliate to the national body or equivalent since artificial nation-states would disappear in a post-revolutionary world. However, federalism alone cannot create or preserve a free society. It must be combined with the elimination of centralised power, hierarchy, authority and inequality. Where these are preserved federalism becomes a sham. Free federation is possible. It is the task of revolutionaries to create it.
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