The media and press have been hav ing a field day about refugees, par ticularly Roma: claiming that they are 'swamping' the country, part of criminal gangs, and demand money with menaces; they cynically have children with them when asking for money to exert moral blackmail (perhaps beggars should put their children in a creche?). They are also called 'benefit cheats' claiming money when they have jobs , and are said to be jumping the council housing queue. Refugees and asylum seekers generally are a big area of debate at the moment, particularly after the war with Serbia and Labour's passing of the Asylum and Immigration act. Roma people (or 'gypsies' as they are commonly called) have been persecuted for hundreds of years, those who have recently arrived are fleeing racist repression from the Romanian government. New Labour have shown they are just as bigoted, with (for example) junior minister Paul Boateng spouting racist drivel about them. They divide refugees into 'political' (fleeing repression, may be allowed to stay), and 'economic' refugees (just after a better material life). It is a false distinction and one that also panders to racism.
Refugees are created by government policies, and the worldwide capitalist system: war, famine, 'natural disasters' and political repression force people from their birthplaces. They leave homes, families, friends, jobs, culture to try to settle somewhere else where they have few or none of these, they may understand nothing of the language, and face indifference, prejudice, or racist hostility.
World of plenty
Most people in the world, given a real choice, would prefer to live where they grew up. Refugees are not swamping Britain: The Waiting list is large (100,000) due to long term computer failure and bureaucratic bungling. 58,350 were allowed to settle between 1988 and 1998, a small number, particularly when compared with other countries (and don't forget 70,000 emigrate every year).
So, what of the Roma? We're against begging, as we are against homelessness: in a world of plenty (food, resources, houses, building materials), there is no need for either; they are created by bosses, landlords and governments who have stolen the means of life in order to enslave the majority and enrich themselves. People living on benefits are usually struggling to survive. Asylum seekers are particularly badly off as they are not allowed to work, through the Asylum bill they receive food vouchers and pocket money amounting to 30% lower than the lowest level of income support. They are bussed around the country (and that's for those 'lucky' enough not to be on prison ships/camps). Benefit 'cheats' (those claiming money they are not entitled to or also in a job), are usually supplementing rubbish benefits; in any event they are not depriving anyone else of benefits. The real filthy scroungers are the millionaires and big companies that employ people (accountants) to advise them on how to avoid/minimise paying taxes, yet the receive millions of pounds of subsidies from the State. Governments force people into slavery and exploitation (jobs), or poverty (dole), or both (the worst jobs/workfare) Scroungers The Labour government is giving construction company Balfour Beatty £200 million (via the Export Credit Guarantee Dept.) to build the mega (unnecessary) Ilisu Dam in Southern Turkey, which will also conveniently displace thousands of Kurdish people. Not forgetting similarly promoting British arms sales to other thugs such as the Indonesian government -£45 million. Billions of pounds of taxes were spent on privatising Water, Gas, Electricity, the Railways: how can ordinary people buy shares in nationalised companies that they already own? Labour are continuing this gigantic scam - £1.5 billion is lined up for the partial privatisation of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, and another £2.5 billion to rescue the part-privatisation (PPP) of the London Underground. Billions of our money goes to agribusiness through the European Communities' Common Agricultural Policy, and to the MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture) to subsidise destroying food (to keep prices high), poisoning food, the water table and the environment through the mass use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, not forgetting the criminality of Salmonella, BSE-CJD (mad cow disease), GM food...?
Ken Livingstone has attracted every imaginable charlatan and conman to his campaign to be London Mayor. From the likes of millionaires such as impresario Malcolm McClaren (how to make money out of packaged subversion) and high priest of crap TV and radio Chris Evans, via "street fighting revolutionary" turned media businessman Tariq Ali to practically every sort of leftist racket , there's been a three ring circus show of mystification to sell us the Livingstone package as some sort of radical alternative to Labour. It seems fat cat Ken - who earnt 150, 000 smackers over and above his MP's salary last year is in fact a Socialist hero! Ken has been very clever - or is it lucky? - in harnessing these leftists in order to wear the mayoral chains. But Ken is no Socialist- he's your average career politician. As soon as he announced he was throwing his hat into the ring of the mayoral circus, he distanced himself from the leftist groupies by failing to turn up at a public meeting put on to support him by the London Socialist Alliance. As it's now too embarrassing for most Trots to call for a vote for Labour (although some of them persist in so doing) Ken comes along and gives them the opportunity to call for a vote for a Labourite again, with what they think is a lesser embarrassment. The Labour Party, either "Old" or "New" is an enemy of our class, the working class. It always has been, and always will be, no matter how it's packaged. Livingstone did a U- turn on funding for the London Underground. We've seen his track-record on supporting NATO in the Balkans. We do not believe in fostering illusions in Labour, whatever form it takes. That's why we won't be calling for a vote for Livingstone - or anyone else. We believe that we have to break with all of this! Revolutionary ways of thinking and acting have to be put back in the spotlight. Our power lies not in the ballot box but in organisation and direct action in the workplace, the estate, the street. The leftists are there to stop this happening. Against all their shoddy manoeuvres we say: DON'T VOTE! ORGANISE AND RESIST!
From our Midlands Industrial Correspondent (23.3.00): "Rover employees who are 'working' at the Longbridge site in Birmingham the Friday just gone went on a 'we don't even care anymore' strike over the way they have been treated and were told of the plans thru the press and not employers or unions. Also they are planning more strikes, the Cowley plant near Coventry went out on Friday also. Steven Byers came down to talk in front of the media outside the longbridge plant 'sob...so sorry..making BMW answer searchring questions...labour are truly concerned... etc,etc'. Workers were taking it in turns to shout abuse at him during the interview so that had to be moved to a 'better view' to be completed in relative quiet. The comment ran along the lines of 'what the hell are you doing here, you have no say about the BMW decision, you didn't even know what they were up to' and 'don't expect us to vote in the coming elections as you're all powerless'. To be honest I think this is quiet cheering to see the usually docile workers seeing thru the WTO implications of all this. But it also reflects the fact that the work force has excepted from the off that BMW buying the Rover group was an asset stripping move and the chop was due at any moment, a lot of the workers have been planning to leave the rover group for over a year now. All the people I know who have or do work there hate the place and can't wait for it to close. More news as it happens..."
Letter from Serbia: "First of all, I am very sorry cause I wasn't able to stay in touch with AF as you probably already know, the situation in this country made me and most of my friends at first think of how to protect our own existence. I hope I don't have to explain and prove to you how cheap and hard human life is here in the last few years. It's horrible to meet with bombings; to be one from 10 million victims of American Imperialist New Order, in any event it is a very effecting experience. Even before this war people were at the edge of endurance, thanks to the sick fascist politics of Milosevic's Government in the last ten years. It's terrible to compare Belgrade today and the same city ten years ago - ruined Belgrade full of cripples , refugees and beggars, without smiling passers- by, with all inhabitants regardless of their religion, nationality, political attitude and other differences - angry, poor, unsatisfied, except a privileged few from Milosevic's surround. And all this is happening in one European capital at the start of the 21st Century - can you imagine?! In spite of all of this a lot of intelligent and beautiful young people are still hoping that there's still an exit from this nightmare to a tomorrow where we shall be free to decide for ourselves, where we will be able to live better. I am very glad that there is an organisation of free people, at least at some parts of this bloody planet. Thanks a lot for the newsletter, I am sorry I am not in touch even through your issues, cos every penny is important and necessary for food, taxes, electricity, etc, Lots of friendly regards from your sympathiser D. U."
Anarchists have long been associated with violence. The ruling class has often used 'anarchist' in scaremongering campaigns. But anarchists are not entirely without blame. Towards the end of last century many anarchists became impatient with the measly results of the 'propaganda by word' and developed the idea of 'propaganda by deed'.
At first this theory was understood as the physical action of determined groups of revolutionaries in the form of demonstrations, insurrections and collective direct action aimed at igniting already potentially revolutionary situations. But in later years this idea was identified with the assassination of individuals from the ruling class. It was thought that if anarchist militants took an active lead and physically attacked members the ruling class the working class would soon be inspired to revolution.
Hail of bullets
The policy of assassination was disastrous. With only twenty odd members of the ruling class dead (who were then replaced) a massive wave of repression followed. Governments passed fresh repressive laws aimed at militant organisations and the media whipped-up anti-anarchist hysteria. However the link between revolutionary activity and elite armed groups is strong in many minds today. The term 'terrorist' is mainly applied by states to 'national liberation' armies and other small armed groups. All states, of course, are allowed to terrify people with their armies and police forces whenever they need to. Also sanctions which result in starvation and disease in the countries that they are at war with is OK. Mass slaughter by bombing from the air is also fine (it's even considered to be a humanitarian act!) But what about revolutionaries bombing and shooting capitalists and the state out of existence today? The armed struggles for 'national liberation' and 'socialism' that are carried out by authoritarian groups have nothing to do with the social revolution that anarcho-communists organise for. Anarchists never support the elite armed groups that operate in name of freedom but are always new bosses in waiting. As anarchists we are constantly active in all areas of life hoping to increase the revolutionary process. At times we will need to defend ourselves against the violence of our enemies, sometimes we will go beyond defence and mass collective action will be violent. However no matter how hard our struggle is, or how frustrated we are in failure, we must never forget the old declaration "the emancipation of the workers must be brought about by themselves". Elitist groups of any kind will always be a hindrance to social revolution. Now the state is trying to portray all forms of protest as terrorism. See back page for details of a protest against this repression.
Czech Republic: On 6th of March 2000 two members of the Czech organisation of revolutionary anarchists Solidarita threw several eggs on the US state secretary, Madelaine Albright.
On 6.3. 2000 Albright gave speech to students of Masaryk University in Brno. Four of our comrades managed to get through a tight police and security control and mixed with students. When Albright was going to approach the students and let them to shake her hand, two of the comrades, Milan Naplava and Jindrich Lumbach, started to throw eggs at her, shouting a slogan: Death to the American imperialism! One of the eggs spoiled Albright´s dress. The police and bodyguards were absolutely shocked that several revolutionaries were able to get so close to M. Albright and attack her. Czech president Vaclav Havel - a faithfull servant of American imperialism - quickly denounced these brave anarchists.
Our comrades were immediately arrested by the police and detained from about 11.00 of March 6th to 14.00 of March 7th. They were interrogated by the police and photographed (probably by the CIA). This act of anti-imperialist resistance enjoys a wide support among Czech working class people, who are very sensitive to political and economic pressures of American imperialism (disguised as globalisation). A lot of angry ordinary people with anti-imperialist sentiments spontaneously phoned to the police station and protested against the arrest of our comrades of Solidarita and demanded their unconditional release.
After these protests they were released but are prosecuted for a criminal act of disorder and can be sentenced to prison for two years. An usual practice in such cases is to give to the disorderer a fine, but heads of Faculty of Law of Masaryk University and state prosecutor demand an imprisonment The Czech capitalist state proves to be nothing more than a lackey of imperialist powers - USA and EU.
This action was a protest against continuing attack on the Czech working class, which is more and more hit by the effects of the capitalist globalisation - the form of imperialism at the end of the second millennium. It was a symbolic act of revolutionary anarchist resistance to this capitalist globalisation and its chief engines: imperialist USA and US dominated transnational institutions like IMF, WB, WTO or NATO. It was a symbolic act of revolutionary anarchist solidarity with suffering workers, working peasants and the poor of Iraq, Cuba, Yugoslavia and Kosovo. It is they who are hit by imperialist embargoes and wars, not their murderous local rulers.
Our comrades need your solidarity and help. Please, organise demos at Czech embassies, petitions to Czech ambassadors etc. and demand that the charge against our comrades be immediately dropped. We also desperately need financial help as we will need to pay for a lawyer. If you want to help, write for more information to this e-mail address: email@example.com
In solidarity, V B
International Secretary of Solidarita
Mozambique: The worst floods in decades devastated Southern Mozambique. Flooding began at the start of February, which worsened considerably when neighbouring Zimbabwe opened dams upriver to reduce flooding there. Until Cyclone Eline struck on the 22nd there was no international response apart from neighbours South Africa (also suffering flooding) who sent in five military helicopters to pluck people from the waters. However, at this point the helicopters started to fill up with journalists and various UN officials to explain to the watching world that it was a flood - nothing gets past them! As they flew around looking for their human interest stories the bodies piled up.
Media organisations have since been somewhat coy as to how many they were responsible for killing. More vocal aid workers have accused them of hiring every helicopter in Southern Africa at rates aid agencies couldnt even begin to compete with. Meantime governments around the world sat by and did nothing! Not until the 29th did vitally needed helicopters and supplies begin to arrive, almost 4 weeks after the flooding began. It was March 4th before British aid arrived, by which time the waters had begun to fall. Meantime the Department for International Development, the MoD, and the Treasury were arguing the toss over who should foot the bill for their aid effort. This amounted to $1.2million in cash at this point; Mozambique pays $1.4million in debt repayments every week! The MoD claimed a preposterous £2.2million to send 2 helicopters. When supplies were finally sent a public inquisition began in the media as to how there had been a 2-day delay! The government did nothing for a month! It only got involved when international outrage could no longer be ignored. Can anyone have any doubt as to how little regard governments the world over have for their citizens?
West Papua: Indonesia has ruled out independence for West Papua. They sited international support from governments President Wahid had recently visited. However, the province may be renamed West Papua from Irian Jaya, and the capital Jayapura could become Port Numbay. They also pledged to focus on human rights. So thats okay then, we can all feel secure in the knowledge that we have seen the end to over 30 years of death and destruction. Also, the impending ecological catastrophe that is building as the Indonesian capitalists increasingly move in to asset strip the province will now of course, be averted. And if you believe that, youll believe anything!
Guatemala: Following the sacking of nearly 1,000 banana workers by Bandegua, a subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce, SITRABI a banana workers union planned a protest demonstration. At the planning meeting the day before organisers were surrounded by 200 heavily armed goons, taken at gunpoint to the local radio station and forced to broadcast messages calling off the demo. They were then forced to sign letters of resignation from the union and the company, and forced to make filmed statements that they were acting voluntarily! Finally they were told to leave or be killed. They fled to Guatemala City and sought refuse with MINUGUA, the UN agency monitoring the peace accords.
Colombia: 13.12.99. César Herrera Torreglosa, the leader of banana union SINTRAINAGRO was assassinated. Since 1989 over 400 of its members have been killed. Only the teachers union has a higher death rate.
Côte DIvoire: Swiss bank accounts of deposed president Henri Konan Bedie have been frozen following a request by General Robert Guei who deposed him in a christmas eve coup. Bedie now lives in France, one asylum seeker who had no problems. Obviously he left nothing behind for his successors to plunder.
Japan: Up to 7 new nuclear power stations are likely to be scrapped following the Tokaimura accident last year. The government had hoped to add up to 20 new plants to the existing 51. However, widespread hostility in Japan towards the nuclear industry has scuppered that idea. They are now claiming that theyll have to renege on their agreed targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Strange that reducing these emissions was intended to reduce pollution, so governments the world over decided to take the unbelievably stupid decision to expand nuclear plants instead producing pollutants that will be lethal for 100,000s of years. Can they do nothing properly? Apparently, this may lead to a fall in work for BNFL (ahhh!!), while Japan can look forward to 13 new plants ticking away by 2010!
Cambodia: 51 Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants duped into entering Cambodia were freed from a garment manufacturers in February . They had been promised salaries of about £ 63/month, and 8-hour working days; instead their wages were withheld and they were locked inside the factory in Phnom Penh and forced to work .
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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