ISSUE TWENTY THREE
Unless they've all come down with foot and mouth disease sometime soon we'll see another display of force from the ruling class, disguising itself as a march from the 'countryside'. It is also supposedly a march about fox hunting. This is what many of the anti-march protesters will be focusing on. But this is a mistake. Though this may be one of the issues, the march has a wider agenda. So what's it all about?
One of the main purposes of the march is to challenge the Labour government in the run-up to the General Election. The Tories know that they have little chance of winning the election, but they want to make sure that the next Labour government gives up any ideas of pushing through anti-hunting, freedom to roam legislation and cutting farming subsidies. The Labour Party has never been allied with the section of the ruling class that has strong ties to the landowning aristocracy and farmers. Their support lies with those sections of capital that would like to see reform of the farming system and a more pro-Europe and free market trading position. Therefore, they have not given in to the many calls from farmers for more money. In addition, the Labour Party gained support from the urban middle class by promising certain reforms such as the right to roam and a ban on hunting with dogs. These were seen to be easy promises to make that could help them win the election.
MORE BLAIR BULLSHIT
It is doubtful whether Blair ever had any intention of keeping these promises. Though the access to the countryside and the anti-hunting bills have been passed, it is unlikely that they will ever get implemented. It will be years before those areas of the countryside designated as open access will be decided upon. And you can be sure that landowners will be fighting every step of the way. So Blair has been able to appear to have kept his promises without really have done anything. And meanwhile, the freedom to roam lobby, like the Ramblers Association, are very quiet. And they will of course be urging their supporters to vote Labour in the next election. So even though Labour isn't really a threat, the Tories want to use the occasion for rallying their supporters. The vast majority of demonstrators will be Tories. Also, the landowners do feel threatened by Labour to a certain extent, mainly because of the slow withdrawal of support for farming. Under the Tories, the rural middle and upper class had a lot of power relative to their numbers and could always count on handouts. The balance of power has shifted to the urban areas.
COUNTRYSIDE VS. CITY?
What this march is really about is power and privilege. A key section of the ruling class feels under threat and they don't like it. What the march is definitely not about is the countryside. To talk about the countryside vs. the city is wrong. Britain has been a mainly urban country for longer than any country in Europe. Most big landowners have a strong urban connection. March supporters like the Duke of Westminster and Andrew Lloyd Webber can hardly be considered your average 'country folk'. The bulk of the demonstrators will be from areas just outside the main cities. These people will not have jobs where they live but will just be Tory-supporters who live in some gentrified 'ye olde village'. Many of those who get involved in fox hunting come from the city in any case, renting a place on a hunt. Scotland, with the most non-urban land, has only 10 hunts a year, and these in the very south of the country, within easy reach of Glasgow and Edinburgh! Like the city, the 'countryside' is divided by class. The rich landowners and farmers of the Countryside Alliance have nothing but disdain for the rural working class who they are bribing and brainwashing to go on the march. They spend more time with their urban counterparts in the gentlemen's clubs and corporate boardrooms of London than they do with their gamekeepers and tenant farmers. The march organisers want to hide this fact.
WORKING CLASS ALLIANCE
Unfortunately, there are many amongst the rural working class who will be there in genuine support. The landowners and their cronies have made the Countryside Alliance into a very successful and powerful propaganda tool. They have used legitimate concerns about decline in farm incomes and rural services to forge a cross-class alliance. Though it is necessary to challenge damaging farm practices and the 'get off my land ' attitude, rural workers' anti-city feelings have themselves been fuelled by the arrogance of the urban rich don't actually know much about the countryside, except as a playground.
As class struggle anarchists we need to form a working class alliance, that is willing to take the concerns of the rural working class seriously. Land reform, support for the pay and working conditions of farm workers and estate workers, rural transport and housing are all issues that the urban working class can offer solidarity and support. The Countryside Alliance and the Labour Party are the enemies of both the rural and urban working class. It's time to make some new friends.
Organise!, the magazine of the Anarchist Federation, has been running a series of articles on land use in Britain. Subscriptions available for £3 from: AF, c/o 84B, Whitechapel High St, London, E1 7QX.
HONG KONG STRIKE, 1922
Hong Kong, Pearl of The Orient? Bastion of democracy against communism? Or a battleground for 200 years between worker and master? In the 1920s prices quadrupled but wages did not. Revolt against foreign domination swept China but the arrogant merchant houses held on in Hong Kong. In January 1922 the bosses refused to concede a 40% wage rise and closed shop, so the Seamen's Union went on strike. As ships arrived in Hong Kong their crews deserted and joined the strike. The Union had an armed militia that enforced the strike and blockaded all food by rail or sea. Tens of thousands of strikers and their families left Hong Kong for Canton where the local government housed, fed and paid them a wage. The bosses had to negotiate with the strike committee by telegraph! The government declared the SU and three others illegal and brought in scab labour from China. The Union forced the railway to levy a 30% surcharge on all tickets to support the strike. On the 28th February the SU called all other workers to join them. Disaster for the bosses! Not only rail workers and stevedores but bakers, cooks, clerks, coolies and servants joined the strike. The ruling class now had to cook its own food and queue to buy it. No clothes were washed, no shirts were ironed. Ministers had to wander government buildings delivering their own messages but there was no-one to carry out their orders. The army was called out and commandeered food and vehicles, workers were pressed into forced labour. With their workforce disappearing, the bosses banned anyone from leaving Hong Kong, which meant no-one could visit the graves of their ancestors in China, a fearful thing. A 'freedom' march against the ban led to confrontation, riot and massacre at Sha Tin. With the Colony descending into dare we say it, anarchy - government crumbling and business losses mounting (merchants lost $500m during the strike, a massive sum), the bosses capitulated. A 20% wage rise was agreed, the union legalized, labour leaders freed, half-pay for the days on strike and compensation for the massacre victims. But because the bosses stayed in power, they prepared well and defeated and even bigger general strike three years later. The strike of 1922 is a model for the revolution of the future. But when we leave the factories we should not just go home: we must seize the barracks, police stations and government house as well. Wherever power is, we must be there to destroy it.
A day of discussion is being hosted by the Anarchist Federation on 7th April, at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. Nearest tube Holborn. 10am-5pm. Entrance £2/free for unwaged.
Revolutionary Anarchism: Past, Present and Future.
Against Parliament, Against the State.
Anti-capitalism and Class Struggle
In the evening a benefit gig is being organised to raise money for Turkish anarchist prisoners. At: The Button Factory, Hardess Street, Herne Hill Road, London.
"We are a fan of Mickey Mouse" Tony Blair
Yes, we have been under the impression for a long time now that you and your cronies have developed an affinity with Mickey and his silly symbolism but are you aware, Mr Goofy grinning Blair, that over in Thailand, Disney, your mentors anti-union creator, has recently sacked 1,145 workers replacing them with cheaper, sub-contracted labour, including 10% of whom are children considered to be well below working age in the West?
And this while Disneys chief executive, Michael Eigner 'earns' over $300 million a year. We bet those kids sweating the precious days of their lives away in a grubby Thai hellhole aren't such big fans of Mickey Mouse as you and your fat-cat corparatist pals are eh, Mr Blair?
Yet again we at resistance have been inspired by the anarchist nature of the ongoing struggle by posties against Royal Mail's 'New Way Forward' programme. This time things kicked off big time in Oxfordshire. On Thursday 1st February 137 staff at Osney Lane in Central Oxford walked out no union resolutions, no motions passed, no votes cast, just direct action.
The next day 27 drivers at the Cowley sorting office set up a picket line in solidarity. By Saturday the action had spread to Headington, east Oxford, Witney, Carterton, Wallingford and Bicester. All totally wildcat, all totally illegal. Three quarters of the county's posties 900 people all together were defying both management and the union by not working and things started to get even worse for the bosses when the strike began to spread to neighbouring Wiltshire with 100 workers at Swindon's Royal Mail Streamline depot having a go too.
Contrast the solidarity of the workers who refused to go back unless they got assurances that witch hunts and disciplinaries would not follow, to the union's statement that "If you are dismissed while taking unofficial industrial action, you will have no right to complain of unfair dismissal". Someone had better tell them that this isn't about "rights" and "fairness", which are bosses values, but about our values; defiance, solidarity, direct action and VICTORY.
Whistle-blowing workers at CSL (see resistance #19) have been sacked. Cost cutting and 'private sector management methods' have resulted in a very poor service and workers leaving the company almost daily. The sacked workers had dared to speak out about this. The union, UNISON, has unsurprisingly done nothing to help them.
For more info contact:
CSL3 Support Group,
PO Box 1681, London, N8 7LE.
Anarchists in Hackney, London have got together and are producing a bulletin - the Hackney Heckler.
Contact them at: email@example.com
Depleted uranium (DU) is nuclear waste. It costs a hell of a lot to dispose of it, so it was given free to the arms industry as core and coating for shells and missiles. It was used massively in the Gulf War. Between 320 and 900 tonnes were dumped on Iraq. The UK Atomic Energy Authority, who supplied the DU, admitted that a residual 50 tonnes could cause half a million potential deaths within 10 years. Doctors in Iraq are now witnessing birth deformities when babies are born. DU was again used during the recent Balkans war. DU has been much in the news because of Gulf War syndrome among military veterans. Ministers John Spillar and John Prescott have consistently attempted to cover up the truth behind DU. Spillar said in Parliament on January 9 that there was no rise in kidney ailments or cancers among Gulf veterans. In fact many veterans suffer from these diseases, and 521 have died among the British forces., whilst out of 600,000 US troops deployed in the Gulf War, 130,000 are ill. The emphasis has been on sickness among the veterans, with little mention of what is happening in Iraq. Will we soon have a Balkans war syndrome epidemic, and will again armed forces veterans be highlighted whilst those suffering in the Balkans are side-lined? Modern war is getting to the stage where it is lethal to all concerned: armed forces on both sides, as well as civilians and the environment. Many are forced through economic circumstances to join the military. Now war becomes ever more risky and government and the military create a smokescreen around its lethal results. Be warned, the Ministry of Defence is lying - War is the health of the State!
Another fascist "Heretic's Fair" advertised, another non event (see also resistance #14). We should know, we and some friends had it covered. The fascist's of the National Revolutionary Faction and Alternative Green magazine have been doing ideological somersaults to appeal to the direct action / eco movement, and they are not alone:-
The Leninist-lefties of the SWP have been attempting to jump on the anti-capitalist bandwagon. They recently held a national tour on the subject. The one meeting a couple of AF members were unfortunate enough to find themselves in was about the Seattle anti-WTO protests. The SWP had shipped in some liberal pacifist from the States who droned on about how we should all be working with human rights and church groups to create a broad based movement. The SWP then went on about how we all need to build power and influence in the trade union movement. Needless to say the word revolution wasn't mentioned once. Nor was J18 which, as it took place without a lefty paper seller in sight, had to be airbrushed from history. None the less they still tried to sound radical and anti-authoritarian which is a joke. Now that their efforts to get inside and recruit from the anti-capitalist movement have failed, they seem to be trying that old lefty tactic of setting up a front organisation, in this instance called, wait for it 'Globalise Resistance'. No doubt they will be hoping to capitalise on political awareness raised by J18, Seattle, Prague etc amongst the general population.
The SWP and other Leninist groups have also been trying to get accepted at Mayday monopoly meetings. One lot are now pretending they're against the State. Of course they're against nothing of the sort , they're just saying so to be tolerated in anti-capitalist circles. When their guru Lenin was in power he urged his followers to "study the state capitalism of the Germans, to adopt it with all possible strength, not to spare dictatorial methods in order to hasten its adoption". Which is why Anarchists should do what the vast majority of the population does and give these types a wide berth.
This pamphlet is a frank and unromantic account of several years spent at the front line of the anti-fascist movement in Britain. It details the highs of disrupting fascist activity and giving the bastards a good kicking, along with the lows like physical and mental pain, arrest and imprisonment. There is little on the actual politics of anti-fascism, in general or in particular about Anti-Fascist Action (which has had big changes since the writer was active). But there are some useful practical tips for maximising anti-fascist effectiveness.
Available for £1.50 from:
Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane, London, WC1N 3XX
Anarchist prisoner MARK BARNSLEY has been moved yet again. He is currently
at: HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield, WF2 9AG, England.
For more info e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to:
Justice for Mark Barnsley, PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX, England.
FREEDOM FOR SILVANO PELISSERO!
Silvano Pelissero is a 38 years old anarchist from the Piemont area in north-west of Italy. He was sentenced an January 31st, 2000 to seven years of prison after being arrested in march 1998. He is under house arrest, you can write him in French, Spanish or Italian. He was sentenced under the fake accusation of being responsible for several attacks/sabotage in connection with the building of a high-speed train line through the "Val di Susa" valley, between Torino (Italy) and the French border.
Current address: Silvano Pelissero, Com, Mastrolietro, Via Ferrerinoli n°2, Sanponso, 10080 Torino, Italy
STOP THE FRAME-UP AGAINST AN ANARCHIST IN MADRID (SPAIN ).
Eduardo García has suffered a frame-up because of his public activism, supporting the prisoners struggle and he has been in jail since November 8th 2000 on charges of terrorism. He was arrested because the state wants to cut-off communication and solidarity between prisons and the street. The state has choosen Eduardo García, 22 year old, because he is one of the best-known anarchists in Madrid.
They accuse Edu of sending 7 letter-bombs to 6 journalists (known for attacking the prisoners struggle) and a politician. The charges are obviously false in many points. Edu is now in Soto del Real´s jail and is suffering isolation. He will be judged in some time (could be up to 2 years). PLEASE SUPPORT HIM. Just painting on the Spanish consulate in your city would be OK. Demonstrations, leaflets, stickers, or any other thing you decide would be wonderful.
Please send your ideas, questions, actions and, of course, support letters to Edu.
You can also contact his support group at:
CNA-ABC (Madrid)Paseo Alberto Palacios nº2, 28021 Madrid. Spain
Or e-mail: email@example.com
Colombia: The US government as part of its so called 'war on drugs' is planning to spray coca producing regions with a toxic fungus Fusarium oxsporum EN-4, which they and the manufacturers claim is harmless to humans, animals and plants, with the exception of coca. Of course, this is a lie! The mortality rate for people infected with Fusarium is 76%, rendering this as little more than carpet- bombing. Despite a decade of chemical spraying, coca production has increased, while attempts to have growers paid realistically for alternative crops have been rejected by both Colombian and US governments.
Turkey: The Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) is a 22 dam hydroelectric scheme on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It has already displaced over 100,000 people into urban slums creating localised infrastructure collapses. The Ilisu Dam will control water supplies in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. Turkey is one of three countries to refuse to sign a UN convention to prevent border disputes over water (the rest just ignore it!). Even the World Bank has refused to fund the project since 1984, and private banks have followed suit. However, an international consortium of construction companies subcontracted to build the Ilisu Dam have sought financial backing from Export Credit Agencies in nine countries including the USA, Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden for $850 million. None of this money is for the 25,000 Kurdish people who will be displaced.
Bolivia: Farmers, teachers and others formed an alliance to press their various demands. Schools were closed, food ran short, roads were blockaded, and this just six months after a near uprising against water privatisation. They were also opposing the US sponsored military build up in the coca growing areas. 20,000 troops were deployed, at least 10 people were shot dead, while hundreds were injured or jailed.
ON THE FRONTLINE
Zambia: 300 arrested for protesting against President Chiluba.
Jakarta, Indonesia: Railway commuters joined students in pitched battles with police, as Golkar party offices firebombed.
Johannesburg, South Africa: Squatters battle police as their township is demolished, supposedly to eradicate cholera and not of course for property speculation.
Birmingham, UK: 6 people arrested at an anti-capitalist demonstration walk free from court.
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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