Last months petrol crisis has certainly shown this arrogant government of ours that even the most popular of administrations can be rocked by effective direct action. Cutting off the petrol supply quickly ground the country to a halt - something to remember for future struggles! The irony of the blockade of petrol refineries and depots by road hauliers and farmers is that this direct action was not carried out by militant workers but by small businessmen. The workers have largely forgotten the effectiveness of direct action, mainly due to manipulations of union bosses (who, incidentally, roundly condemned the threat to the government).
Why was this action so effective? The answer lies in the temporary coincidence of sections of all Britains classes which each had something to gain from a cut in petrol taxes. The working class, largely supported the hauliers action since many of them own cars and welcomed the opportunity to save some money. Petrol taxes are unpopular.
The farmers, who are alreaday massively subsidised out of taxes saw the opportunity to join with road hauliers to gain even further cuts in costs. The road hauliers too saw the chance to increase profits and realise their financial self interests.
The capitalists sought to gain from a cut in petrol taxes to maximise their already massive incomes. This explains the ease by which a handful of blockades stopped fuel distribution. The simple truth is that the petrol companies actively colluded in the stoppage of petrol flow, helping the hauliers and encouraging the tanker drivers to hang around the depots on full pay, doing nothing. The idea that petrol companies genuinely supported a cut in petrol prices was quickly revealed as nonsense when they jumped at a price hike at the earliest opportunity. Petrol companies also wanted to pressurise the government to keep crude oil tax free.
Given the cross-class temporary alliance, the police chose to back an action which they could easily have broken. Fifteen year earlier they enthusistically smashed the much more powerful striking miners. This time they did nothing. So, given a highly unusual coincidence of class forces, Britains road ground to a standstill. And the forces of the right wing cheered! You know somethings wrong when the leader of the Tory party congratulates pickets! On such crises, the foundations of fascism could be laid.
A report from Yugoslavia: Of course the US is going to establish a puppet regime. I don't need Milosevic's propagandists...to tell me that. But TODAY WERE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FUCKING RIOTS IN THE RECENT HISTORY OF BELGRADE! ...a fucking dictatorial regime has been overthrown. Besides, RIGHT NOW, THERE IS NO FUCKING GOVERNMENT IN DOWNTOWN BELGRADE - THE STREETS ARE RECLAIMED, THE COPS HAVE SURRENDERED OR BEEN DISARMED - MOST PEOPLE ARE GOVERNING THEMSELVES. Expensive cars have been used for barricades all over the city, half the fucking economy is on strike, the pigs took the most wonderful beatings, offices and shops of rich assholes were smashed and the fucking TV Bastille, the fortress of state television has been smashed and burnt! ...If this all is not reason to be joyful, I don't know what is! I know that this situation may not last long, but I'm gonna enjoy it fully while it lasts. And I hope that we remove the next democratic regime in the same way, but in less time!
On 8th September Gareth Williams was sentenced to 6 months in prison for affray from N30, despite what his solicitor described as one of the best pleas in mitigation he had heard. It is clear from this that anyone who pleads guilty to similar charges from N30 or Mayday will be sent down. It should also be noted that Danny Penman, a press photographer who was injured at N30 and has been asking for help in suing the police (see Schnews bulletin) refused to give a statement about his own injuries to help in this case. Anyone who thinks they can trust jurnos be warned. Gareth would appreciate letters.
Write to: Gareth Williams FT7291, HM Prison Pentonville, Caledonian Road, London N7 8TT.
There was better news on 12th September when it was found a woman who was charged with assaulting a male cop (when 6 cops arrested her!) had no case to answer after hearing the cops evidence. Whilst a great result, unfortunately this prevented a challenge to the legality of the s60 Order (part of the repressive Criminal Justice Bill) imposed by the cops.
info from: Legal Defence & Monitoring Group,13/9/00
Anarchist prisoner Mark Barnsley has been moved and can now be contacted at:
Mark Barnsley WA2897, HMP Frankland,Brasside,DURHAM,DH1 5YD.
He is currently amongst the general prison population (not in segregation).For those of you unfamiliar with previous bulletins,in April this year Mark was beaten up, along with 6 other prisoners while at Long Lartin and charged with 'barricading a cell'.
After being moved from prison to prison for nearly 5 months he was moved to Wakefield last week where a kangaroo court was held over the incident. Screws blatantly lied about what had happened and Mark was subsequently found guilty of 'barricading a cell door'. The result being that he will spend an extra 3 weeks in prison through lost remission.
Justice for Mark Barnsley Campaign, c/o 145-9, Cardigan Rd, Leeds, LS6 1JL e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or look at the web:
for when youre next rioting to overthrow a dictator or disrupt a capitalist meeting:
STICK TOGETHER. If you can, go with a group of mates, people you trust. Keep an eye out for each other, count up after police charges, arrange meeting points in case you get separated.
MASK UP. These days the old bill film us from the start of demos. If you dont want to get lifted later on, wear a mask or scarf over your face.
GO EQUIPED. Some items worth taking along: Junior hack saw, to cut through official locks and chains; a D-lock, for locking places in our own interests; paintbombs and spray cans, to cover cops visors and journo cameras.
BUNCH UP. A solid line that moves around is harder to break up than isolated individuals.
UN-ARREST PEOPLE. If someone is grabbed by a snatch squad, they can be snatched back by a determined small group. If you grab someone back, its useful to swap clothes to confuse the cops looking to re-arrest them.
THROWING STUFF. People who throw stuff inaccurately from 50 yards back are wankers. Have some bottle, move up nearer the front and do it properly or dont bother.
FLUFF OFF. If you arent into the fight, or are against violence, we suggest you move out of the area.
DONT SAY CHEESE. Attacks on Press and TV cameras needs to be stepped up. Small groups of us could decide to concentrate on this in a given situation. Or well find ourselves on the front page of The Sun.
LEGAL OBSERVERS. People with orange bibs, saying LDMG/Legal Observer, are there to gather info on people nicked, get people to witness for them, and get them a solicitor. Help them help you, give them names, descriptions, statements on people whove been nicked.
USE YOUR EYES. Watch what the cops are doing, if theyre preparing to charge, moving back, vans or horses being moved about. Watch out for spotters pointing out people in the crowd, warn people whove been pointed at.
KEEP ON YOUR TOES. Dont stand still, move around, keep the filth on the run. Dont get trapped in dead ends.
IF YOU GET ARRESTED. Try and make sure people around you, prefereably your mates are aware of it and can act accordingly. Dont make a statement to the police, dont admit to anything: NO COMMENT is the only reply to questions. Although they can now bring your silence up in court, the best place to start making a defence is with a decent solicitor and access to witness evidence.
This text is taken from the 1997 Hungry Brigade leaflet, the full text (A3) is available from Woking Anarchist Federation
Prague was the setting for the latest protests and counter summit against the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and WB (World Bank). The events were organised by Inpeg, the Initiative against globalisation, an umbrella group incorporating people holding a wide range of views - liberals, environmentalists, Marxist-Leninists and anarchists. The Czech anarchist movement, and their influence in Inpeg, appeared small. Under the banner of anit-capitalism or the even vaguer anti-globalism all sorts of groups are to be found. Many of these do not in fact want to destroy captialism and the state, they just seek to reform it. Some of the Czech anarchists had withdrawn from Inpeg as it was dominated by these liberal ideas.
Our first port of call was the Inpeg info centre in the middle of town, to find some details of the events. We were surprised that there were people taking pictures inside the building and there seemed to be no security. This irresponsible lack of planning caused problems later.
There were various events happening in Prague - a seriously dull counter summit (when we arrived someone was droning on about cashew nuts) and an art and resistance festival. Most of the talks at the counter summit seemed to be liberal, academic or both so we didnt miss much when we left..
Most people were at the convergence centre, two huge old industrial buildings hired by Inpeg. This was the best place to meet other people and get the latest info. Endless meetings seemed to be taking place in English and Spanish, thought it was difficult to hear what was being said.
In the afternoon there was an anti-fascist demonstration. We had some reservations about this as anti-fascist ideology has often been used to provide support for democratic states instead of saying the state should be smashed. In Britain, the Anti-Nazi League has even called for state powers to be increased! We neednt have been worried though as in the square around a thousand anarchists gathered and the few Marxist-Leninists who turned up were told to leave by Czech anarchists. First there was a rally with speeches in several languages and then an impromptu and illegal march though most of Prague city centre. It was inspiring to see anarchists from so many countries working together. There was hardly a cop in sight and no fascists to be seen, though apparently some got battered at the train station and the fascists called for police protection!
The next day there was another march, supposedly part of the art and resistance festival. A welcome change from what were used to was that the anarchists were at the front with the lefties trailing behind. Again, though illegal, the march passed peacfully.
For Monday a meeting of Anarchist Communist groups had been organised by the Czech group Solidarita-ORA. Unfortunately the venue was only sorted out at the last minute and details couldn't be got to us in time. Were sure we'll meet again in future.
We spent most of the day planning for the events of tomorrow. We scouted out where the IMF meeting was taking place, got supplies and tried to work out what we would be doing. Inpeg had come up with the daft plan of not blockading the capitalists getting into the conference but to blockade them inside and stop them going to the opera in the evening. Three marches would set off at 11am following routes labelled blue, pink or yellow (the colours were due to the marker pens used, not any deep political significance).
Anarchist Communist groups had put out a call for a meeting about forming a 'red and black revolutionary bloc' on one of the routes. Anti-fascist groups also had a meeting to determine their plans. Our team split between these two meeting, but neither meeting could come to a conclusion. There were difficulties as delegates from the various groups could not commit themselves to following a particular route without consulting with the rest of their group. But the main problem was when the lack of security became apparent. An (unfounded) rumour went round that the information centre had been attacked by fascists so most people dropped everything to dash to the city centre. If a group had been delegated to deal with security problems this chaotic response would not have happened. So before the big day we had no definite plans, though most anarchist organisations had said they would be on the blue route.
When September 26th arrived we found that sure enough the black bloc was forming at the 'blue' meeting point. The biggest group on the yellow route was the Italian direct actionists Ya Basta, and on the Pink route there seemed to be most of the Marxist-Leninists as well as British Earth First and a samba band (though the latter two groups had their own plans as well).
It took a long time to leave the park but once we were out we marched unopposed to within a few hundred metres of the conference centre. Here we hit the cops and we hit them hard. The streets of Prague are cobbled and a constant rain of rocks fell on the cops for over two hours. Some people had also had the foresight to equip themselves with petrol bombs, which are always a crowd pleaser! On the down side we were advancing up a steep hill, there were thousands of riot cops and they had water cannon, stun grenades, and tear gas. Gas masks proved to be a sounder investment than any the World Bank has ever made. Eventually though the cops gained the upper hand and we were beaten back and dispersed.
When we were making our escape from the rampaging riot cops we chanced upon the Marxist-Leninists from the pink route. Though they were marching along chanting for revolution at the tops of their voices there were only about half a dozen cops in sight and none of them were in riot gear. It made quite a change from the pitched battle wed just left and shows that the state knows where the real threat lies.
Sporadic skirmishes continued on and off throughout the day. The opera was cancelled and the capitalists at a banquet found the arrival of 200 anarchists hard to digest and, of course, McDonalds was trashed.
Very few arrests happened whilst all this excitement was going on but the cops soon made up for this the next day, arresting anyone they could get their hands on. People at pickets were rounded up en masse and anyone who looked like a protestor ran a high risk of being nicked. In total the police say 859 people were arrested, though it seems only 25 have been charged. Prisoners were treated brutally, and reports of beatings are common.
London Anarchist Federation and NE London Solidarity Federation had organised a picket of the Czech embassy for the day after S26, to hightlight the cases of Czech anarchists already suffering state repression, and in support of those in Prague. We were able to get word to them that mass arrests had been taking place and several more pickets were organised by activists in London. Continuing prisoner solidarity work is vital. The Czech anarchist movement desperately needs money to deal with the legal cases. A comrade from Solidarita-ORA is coming to the Anarchist bookfair in London so remember to dig deep in your pockets when the collecting bucket comes round. Another benefit gig is also being planned in London on the 28th October. Contact us for more details.
The events of S26 were in many ways a success. Though none on the marches broke the police lines (indeed one march didnt even try) some people did manage to get through, and the IMF/WB meeting was seriously disrupted. Most of the delegate were too scared to go to the meeting the next day and the conference closed a day early. We certainly devastated the avenues near where the wealth meet. But we should not delude ourselves that days of action can bring down capitalism and the state. Only mass class struggle can achieve that and create a libertarian communist society. H
A look at the new face of 'caring capitalism':
Third World Debt: The world's seven richest countries, the G7, agreed in Cologne in 1999 to end Third World debt. Actually they agreed to cancel around 40% ($100billion) owed by the 40 worst affected countries. So far only 5 countries have benefited and only Uganda comes anywhere close to total debt write-off. $11.9billion has been written off, mostly as a result of agreements pre-dating Cologne. The G7 promised to cancel all debt owed to them. They haven't, even though this represents a fairly small amount. Most debt is owed to the IMF and World Bank, who are outside of these agreements.
Haiti: Haiti owes Western banks $1.2bn (it pays $45m per year), 40% of which was amassed under the Duvaliers (a U.S. puppet regime). Jean-Claude Duvalier fled in 1986 with $900m now deposited in Swiss banks while he lives it up in France. Under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative of debt cancellation, Haiti will receive absolutely nothing! Why? Because their debt isn't large enough! A situation Western bankers are working hard to rectify.
East Africa: 2 years of crop failures due to unusual weather have left 12million people facing starvation. The biggest cause however, has been war. Famine relief has been hampered by the closure of the Assab seaport (see resistance14) due to the territorial war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In Sudan the muslim north has been fighting the christian south, largely for that very reason, while Somalia remains embroiled in internal conflict, and Uganda continues to be involved in the Congo conflict.
Basic infrastructure in the region is still almost non-existent, what there is has been supplied by aid agencies. While oil pipelines never seem to pose a problem to construct, the same cannot be said for water pipelines.
D.R.Congo: In 2 years 1.7m people have died. 200,000 died fighting, the rest were civilians killed as a result of infrastructure collapse. The UN brokered an agreement to remove the 7 foreign armies to their own borders, while disarming thousands of Rwandans fighting in the Congolese army who were previously responsible for the attempted genocide in Rwanda.
Sierra Leone: While fighting continues in the north, in the diamond producing areas disarmed pro-government militia dig for diamonds alongside RUF rebels, who then sell them to dealers in government controlled towns, while UN peacekeepers watch the banned trade.
Poverty, mass starvation, non-existent infrastructure; Wars fought between the armies of governments, would-be governments, religious fanatics and profiteers; Spiralling debt and spiralling profit; Rich excess and poor misery, colonialists and slaves; Paper laws and meaningless agreements, duplicity and lies. Starting to see a pattern? It's business as usual!
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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