ISSUE TWENTY SIX
Many working class people still believe that there is a point to voting. Here we challenge some misconceptions about voting for parliament.
This is one of the tragedies of democracy: People died for an illusion used to conceal the fact the ruling class are always in power.
Possibly, but we dont say just dont vote. We say dont vote
and organise for resistance.
Its a dangerous myth that voting will keep the far-right out - its
a battle which will be won on the streets. And governments across the political
spectrum will use extreme measures, including war and murder if it suits
Democracy allows for manageable dissent in order to make people feel that
a cross on a ballot box is all they need to do to bring change. This has
the effect of stifling direct action, the only way to bring real change.
Lying, which this tactics involves shows the contempt the Leninists which use it hold for working class people. Also the point is not that this group of leaders have let us down, but that all leaders will let us down by the nature of the parlilamentary system they enter.
In the build up to the General Election, one group will be offering themselves as a radical alternative to the mainstream political parties; the Socialist Alliance.
This group is made up of a cartel of Leninist groups, most notably the Socialist Workers Party plus a whole raft of ex-Labour lefts and undercover Trotskyists who had spent the last few decades trying to win the Labour Party to Socialism (ha!) and all yer lefty personalities, journalists and comedians.
You would think that such a group would offer at least some rhetoric that was anti-capitalist and revolutionary. But you would be wrong. All these assorted lefties have been so used to calling for a vote for Labour without illusions, to defend the unions (eh?), etc, etc - that they are completely transfixed by the fact that even for them to still do so, when anybody with any sense in the working class has stopped voting Labour, is completely daft! So theyve hurriedly put together a Frankenstein Monster that vaguely resembles the Labour Party, whose arse they were so far up.
So, no talk of overthrowing capitalism by a revolution involving mass action, and the seizure of the means of production by the working class. Instead some feeble demands about re-nationalising various sectors like the rail. They conveniently forget that nationalisation did nothing to bring about solid change, and still involved us, the working class, being screwed!
Like the Frankenstein Monster this Socialist Alliance is made up of different body parts. Most likely, like the Frankenstein Monster, it will start to rot after the General Election, as no-one votes for it. Take our advice; dont vote for em, and start thinking about taking direct action, in the workplace and in the neighbourhood.
For more information on the anarchist alternative to parliament read our pamphlet Against Parliament, For Anarchism, £2 from London Anarchist Federation.
Postal workers are promising to sabotage voting in London by refusing to deliver polling cards. South London posties have said they will refuse to handle polling cards or political party promotional material. The unofficial action is likely to cause massive disruption and confusion if its goes ahead. Thousands of voters are to be spared junk mail with arrogant, smarmy buffoons grinning out at them. They will be relieved of reams of paper from the different parties all saying the same thing. The initiative for this defiance of both management and the electoral process has come from the posties themselves and is due to the imposition of a restructuring programme by management.
Profit sharing schemes are a big thing in New Britain (a stake-holder society remember) and are always launched with a huge fanfare in companies run by slave drivers who want you to think that the system is fair, that they are reasonable, and that you really do have a great job. Were all in it together you see. You, me, Tony Blair, Richard Branson, and all the rest of the happy British nation. No excuse for going on strike, being on the dole, chinning you line manager or any other such nonsense. Just work hard, keep your head down, and let this new compassionate capitalism take care of everything else.
Now one AFer was lucky enough to work in a company where such a scheme was started, but even his well-honed cynicism was outdone by the figure on the cheque that landed on the doormat a year later. You couldnt make it up [picture of cheque for 99p].
Airstrike: About 500 Aeroflot flight attendants on Russias state-controlled airline went on week-long sick leave returning on the 16th of May. The strike was against the introduction of individual employment contracts with partial performance-related pay.
The unofficial strike followed a separate one-hour stoppage by Aeroflot technical staff at Sheremetyevo, Moscows main international airport, on the 13th. The action went ahead avoiding and ignoring the airlines four unions and was organised grassroots level.
Striking was never easy under the Communist regime of the Soviet Union in spite of its proletarian rhetoric. Labour laws with tough procedures would have made a formal strike hard to implement, and risked exposing those who took part to being fired. The residual social system made it easier for employees to seek medical leave for complaints, including backache, which Aeroflot managers complained were hard to verify.
Lufthansa airline pilots have also recently held a one day strike.
Thousands of Marks and Spencers workers from across Europe demonstrated against the closure of shops on the continent.
Hackney Council workers staged a one day strike on May Day.
In Panama riots flared in the capital on May 9th and 10th as bus fares were hiked from 15 to 25 cents. The rioting broke out after a march by thousands of building workers, the unemployed, teachers and students protesting moved through the city.
Police lost control of parts of the city amid widespread looting after the demos and protesters broke down barricades around the presidential palace. Unfortunately dozens were injured and arrested in the confrontations.
Union leaders winged about the lack of professionalism by the police who fired rubber bullets and CS gas to disperse the crowds.
In Greece there have been two general strikes. Predictably the strikes have been 24 hour efforts - the unions controlling exactly when people are permitted to protest!
Management at South West Trains advised staff wanting to work during a 24 hour strike to travel in groups and avoid exact booking on times in order to escape picket line violence. This follows incidents on the day of the last strike when four plonkers attempting to scab at Clapham Junction got a well-deserved kicking by pickets.
Heres our advice to any would be traitors DONT FUCKIN SCAB IN THE FIRST PLACE. The only people youre helping are the bosses. To shift the power back in to our hands were going to have to start sticking together. Anyone who attempts to break that unity cant complain when they get their just deserts.
US talk show host, Jerry Springer, is to be the face of channel 5s General Election razzamatazz. Scraping clinkers off the pigs arse or what! Just one more clown to add to the 3-ring circus they call elections. And us, the poor bastards who have to suffer the consequences of this tomfoolery, were granted the glorious opportunity throughout our lifetimes to place an X on a piece of paper about ten times. Yep, ten poxy Xs is our total input into the democratic process spanning our entire lives. Not much by way of participation is it? Well, we say a resounding bollox to Blair, Hague and Kennedy, voting is a waste of time; the only change we want to see will be brought about solely through direct action, community resistance, strikes and mass demonstrations of worker solidarity against the people and planet-wide exploitation of capitalism.
The ballot box gives us no control over our own lives. Politicians, talkshow louts, however they dress it up, theyre all jokers.
DONT VOTE - ORGANISE AND RESIST!
Seven years ago the Zapatista guerrillas launched an insurrection in Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Now they are in the process of turning themselves into a parliamentary pressure group.
With their long march to Mexico City last month the Zapatistas were in the final stages of their accommodation with the Mexican establishment. Their spokesman, Sub-Commandante Marcos prepared the ground by repeatedly saying that they were radicals and not revolutionaries.
Part of the Mexican boss class want to do a deal with the Zapatistas. This will involve the release of all Zapatista prisoners and the withdrawal of some military bases near their jungle stronghold. Presidente Fox is the most right wing, pro-market President in Mexicos history, who is committed to privatisation and cutting any social welfare programmes in existence. The Zapatistas have done a deal his administration, which promises vicious assaults on Mexican workers and peasants.
The deal with Fox calls for autonomy for indigenous groups with clear electoral constituencies for them. Funny though, but Mexicos constitution already has the most progressive promises to workers and peasants, promises that have never been fulfilled, with grinding poverty, peasants kicked off the land, and repression of the indigenous groups.
The opening-up of Mexico to the market will have devastating effects. The autonomous regions will be drawn into repression or exploitation, be they old-style government approved chiefs of more radical groups like the Zapatistas.
The cult of Sub-Commandante Marcos means that he has gained large support from the left, liberals and intellectuals including lapsed libertarian socialist/anarchist Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein, self appointed spokesperson of the anti-capitalist movement - much more support, indeed, than he has among Mexican indigenous peoples.
Many years ago, the Mexican peasant revolutionaries Zapata and Villa were welcomed in Mexico City. Because of a failure to link up with urban workers and to carry through the social revolution, both ended up murdered by the forces of the state. The modern Zapatistas do not even have the revolutionary outlook of their namesake predecessors, but they and the indigenous populations might yet pay a high price for the deal they have struck with the Fox.
Dublin City Council introduced a second round of bin charges in March. However the fightback against the charges has already started. Following the success of a similar campaign in 1997-8 against the imposition of water charges, activists are using direct action and non-payment of charges. At present, non-payment is 50% while campaign membership stands at a staggering 1000 members. The council have already started to buckle under the pressure exerted on them by local campaigners and have extended their waiver scheme from 50-100%. The campaign has been helped by its insistence on a bottom-up organisation and the refusal of its members to play party politics.
The campaign has even spread to other cities. In Cork, Householders Against Service Charges (HASC) has reacted to Cork Councils refusal to collect rubbish from the households of non-payers by regularly dumping their rubbish outside Cork City Hall! Fines under the Litter Act have been administered to protesters and three have been jailed for refusal to pay. Help with the campaign against Cork Corporation by :
1) Emailing the Lord Mayor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the City Manager (email@example.com).
2) Visit the Cork Corporation web site at http://www.corkcorp.ie and fill in their Feedback Form (http://www.corkcorp.ie/feedback.html). Tell them honestly what you think of their disgraceful action.
3) Very important: Pass this solidarity protest onto as many people as you know.
As Anarchists our vision of Mayday is of a day in which we celebrate existing struggles against capitalism and the state and commemorate the Chicago Haymarket Martyrs of 1886 (see resistance #1).
We in the AF think that only a movement based in working class communities and workplaces can have revolutionary potential, but at the same time see a place for large gatherings of people who want to get together to feel safety in numbers, unity and meet other revolutionaries. The last 3 Maydays have been the most eventful for years and have made International Workers Day a notable event again. However, Mayday events in Britain seems to have been sucked in to the fashion for days of action and as such has become the struggle itself rather than a celebration of those struggles. Is there the will amongst Mayday organisers and participants to move beyond one off events, to putting work in to building a movement with strong roots? Will this style of Mayday become an institution itself? Following are 3 accounts of May 1st from people who had different experiences, where some answers might lie.
I joined the demonstration at about 4pm, by this time the police had already corralled about 3000 people at Oxford Circus. The police were working to a very clearly defined strategy, segregate and contain as opposed to violent dispersal. One end of Holles Street was barred by a phalanx of coppers at one end and other end being sealed off shortly after. We were kept there for about three and a half-hours. There were a number of half-hearted attempts to break-out but these were neither organised nor violent. After about an hour and half of solid juggling and Samba playing, the POWs of Stalag Holles Street started to organise other entertainment. This included an improvised game of football with a stolen police officers cap, seeing who can make the most obscene gesture with a stolen truncheon and for two or three of the more pissed-up members there were the John Lewis security cameras to play with, their antics received a mixed reaction from the crowd.
Otherwise people just stood around bored and some were forced to piss in the streets. Towards the end and perhaps most Orwellian of all a helicopter hovered low and through its load-speakers we heard the police say something to the effect that if we all behaved ourselves they might let us go. Eventually we were allowed to leave, single file, through a very threatening gauntlet of police vans and officers.
The last thing my mates and I wanted to do on May Day was spend endless hours surrounded by storm-troopers. So at half four we moved off down a side street where we found ourselves in the company of the WOMBLES (the White Overalls Movement Building Libertarian Effective Struggles). They then headed off down this street and we joined the excited following. Quickly a line of riot cops came before us, slowly pacing back, single file. Unfortunately for them, once theyd gone past the first small junction, we all just turned, waving goodbye to the cops as we did.
Instantly, it was all over for the pigs preferred tactic of circling us in. The effectiveness of keeping moving was demonstrated because the police didnt know where to line up to stop us. At one point the cops did line up to stop us. The WOMBLES wear foam padding and had a large plastic screen, which they had held in front of them as they marched. After a minute to organise, everyone walked forward. With the screen up, the cops didnt know what to hit and they were shoved back and out of the way. We wombled round the back of some pigs who were trying to keep some people hemmed in. With hundreds of us coming round the back the poor little piggies found themselves in the middle and they were given the sort of treatment theyre so happy to dish out. Onward for another hour after, defying the police in controlling our movements. Passers by cheered, clapped and shouted encouragement on the streets and from the windows above. There were only 20 wombles there but it was so effective. I would strongly encourage people to get involved and keep the filth on the run!
8 in the evening, crowds fuelled with hate for the riot cops who had hemmed them in earlier and the disaffected youth from the local area, with all three ingredients combined all was set for a riotous stroll down Tottenham Court Road. Window after window went, alarms set off; barricades constructed across the street, rubbish alight and still no cops in sight. On the surface and to the public eye maybe the intention was seen as wilful destruction, and to the majority of the rioters it probably was. What was missing that day was a clear reason for resistance, we should question our failure to get the message out to the working class communities on the streets. Stickers and glossy pamphlets are not enough, forget the build up to the next mayday event we need to be out sowing and nurturing the seeds of resistance everyday with a passion. Resistance begins on the streets and in communities not in the meeting rooms above pubs.
There have been 96 arrests related to Mayday so far. If you witnessed any contact the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group on 020 8245 2930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are also much needed.
In Prague more than 200 Czech anarchists demonstrated, handing out leaflets and food
Colombia: Several thousand turned out for the Mayday march in Medellin including an anarchist bloc chanting Against the state and the bosses!, Anarchy and revolution.
Australia: Actions took place in Sydney where there was a blockade of the stock exchange, In Brisbane, where 600 tried to storm the stock exchange there.
Berlin, Germany: Protesters got one up on the cops by starting protests in the early hours. Barricades were erected, and running battles fought. Anger was increased by the banning of the annual demo, while a march by the far-right NPD was allowed and then protected by cops.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Clashes between demonstrators and police mark the day.
Harare, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions rally invaded by Mugabes War Veteran henchmen under police protection. Lucky for them as the thousands of workers threatened to explain to them in no uncertain terms exactly what they thought of them. Union leaders ended the rally early to avoid confrontation (as they do!).
In Mozambique thousands of workers marched through Maputo, the capital of Mozambique in Africa for the stopping of mass redundancies. Workers in the important cashew nut industry held banners saying Down with the bureaucrats of Washington and Maputo.
In South Korea 20,000 workers turned out in the South Korean capital Seoul against economic restructuring and police attacks against striking Daewoo workers. Several hundred broke through cop lines.
In Warsaw Poland 1,500 people joined one of the largest anarchist demonstrations in years called by, among others, the Polish Anarchist Federation.
Thai prostitutes observed MayDay this year in open style with the launch of their fortnightly tabloid Bad Girls. Bad Girls Editor Chantawipa Apisuk, member of a non-governmental organisation that champions the rights of prostitutes, said her editorial team would work under the slogan Good Girls Go To Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere.
She said: The theme is symbolic because sex workers had many paths open to them. Chantawipa said the first edition of Bad Girls would feature a front-page story on an international prostitution congress held recently in Bangkok.
I am no stranger to pain, isolation, detention and sorrow the words of Mzwakhe Mbuli, South Africas Peoples Poet who has been incarcerated since 1997, for speaking out against police involvement in drugs corruption by high-level government officials. To silence Mzwakhe they framed him on false charges and ensured he suffered a long sentence out of the public eye. Abandoned by much of South Africas new leadership, Nelson Mandela included, who are all afraid of the hot issues he raises Mzwakhe is now in need of outside support. Amnesty International are examining his case but much more needs doing on his behalf if Mzwakhe Mbulis voice is to be heard again. To help write to: The South African Ambassador, Ms Cheryl A Carolus, S.A. High Commission, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP. E-mail President Thabo Mbeki at: email@example.com. Get in touch with Mzwakhe via: Gill Lloyd, Arts admin, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial St, London, E1 6LS or check out www.mzwakhe.org for more info and on-line petition.
EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN FOR ALI KHALLID ABDULLAH
Black Anarchist Political POW, Ali Khallid Abdullah, has been diagnosed with throat cancer, and that Michigan prison officials are refusing to give him medical treatment. Anarchists have formed the INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT ALI KHALLID ABDULLAH, to make prison officials give him the medicines and treatment he needs to save his life, and to fight for his release from prison. They ask you to please support them in helping this brother.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Spread the word about Alis case, and get your organization to endorse the campaign.
2. Send protest letters to: Bill Martin, Michigan Dept. of Corrections, P.O. Box 3003, Lansing, MI. 48909
3. Join the International Committee to Support Ali Khallid Abdullah, c/o BANCO, P.O. Box 19962, Kalamazoo, MI. 49019-0962 (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Cynthia Ritsher, PPWC Information Center, P.O. Box 554, Lincoln, MA. 01773, USA email@example.com
4. Send letters of support and donations to Ali at Ali Khallid Abdullah, #148130, Thumb Correctional Facility, 3225 John Conley Drive, Lapeer, MI. 48446, USA
The Summit of the Americas is over... but the repression continues. Write letters of support to these prisoners with the name AND the date of birth on the envelope:
Stéphane Paquet, 15.2.80
Mario Bertoncini, 04.2.78
Alex Boissonneault, 14.4.79
Roman Pokorski, 09.11.78
Victor Quentin, 23.2.80
Serge Vallée, 03.8.79
Send to: Centre de détention de Québec, 500, rue de la Faune, C.P. 7130, Charlesbourg, Québec, G1G 5E4 , Canada
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
On 6th of April 2001 Rafal Rusilowski was arrested and accused of assault with dangerous item, after a street fight between members of Bialystoks Anti-Nazis and nazi skinheads, which ended with one nazi in a hospital. Please send protest letters and faxes to:
Sad Rejonowy, wydzial II karny, sekcja d/s nadzoru nad postepowaniem przygotowawczym, Ul. Sklodowskiej 115-950 Bialystok
fax. +48 85 74-59-336
Demand his freedom! Also send copies to email@example.com You can write support messages to Rafal - send them to Warhead and they will translate: WARHEAD, PO BOX 129, 15-662 Bialystok 26, Poland
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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