ISSUE TWENTY SEVEN
Mass abstention from the elections, militant demonstrations against capitalism in cities around the world and a posties wildcat strike spread across Britain. A rejection of parliament clearly does not mean political apathy.
NEW LABOUR: SAME OLD CRAP
The general election in Britain showed that Labour has lost hundreds of thousands of votes among the working class. In London only 27% of voters in Old Labour areas voted for them. Despite the government changing the rules on postal voting, less than 3 in 5 people turned out at the ballot box. In some areas turnout fell below 50%, most spectacularly in safe Labour seat Liverpool Riverside where the turnout was 34.1%!
So, in fact, more people made a decision not to vote than voted Labour!
The rejection of the parliamentary system by millions has dramatically increased in the last 4 years. Only 1 in 4 voted for Labour. The increasing disillusionment with the system has so far not emerged as an active social opposition, but a passive one with conscious decisions not to vote. A number of strikes and inner-city disturbances, at the moment few in number, might herald the emergence of new militancy.
The fascist British National Party (BNP), taking advantage of the racist hysteria whipped up by the media in Oldham , did fairly well in seats there (though they managed exactly 0 votes in council elections in Nottingham). For their part, despite self-deluding boasts to the contrary, the leftists of the Scottish Socialist Party, Arthur Scargills SLP, and the Trotskyist/ex-Labour cartel Socialist Alliance did poorly.
A political vacuum is opening up in British society. The fascists are attempting to fill this vacuum , as are the leftists. It is up to revolutionary anarchists to get down to serious work, on a day to day basis, spreading anarchist ideas and influence in the community and workplace.
THE RIOTS IN OLDHAM
"We cant understand the ferocity of these riots", said Eric Hewitt, chief of Oldhams police. "Why did the Asian youth attack us with petrol bombs?"
"Its all because of outside agitators. NF (National Front) and BNP coming into town to stir up trouble. It wouldnt have happened otherwise", bleated the council chiefs. "Oldham is a thriving multicultural community."
Bollocks. The riots have been a long time coming and their ferocity should surprise no one. Oldham is a deeply divided town where different ethnic communities coexist, but can hardly be said to have many points of contact outside of work, schools, taxis or takeaways.
The immediate cause of the riots was revenge. Revenge against a racist police force who attacked Asian school kids when they had been called to deal with white racists attacking the kids themselves. Revenge against police who stood by two days later and watched the same racists beat up Asian boys and invade houses to attack their inhabitants. Revenge against police who routinely pick on Asian kids and subject them to racist abuse.
Tension was raised by repeated invasions of the town by fascists intent on making trouble. These were tolerated by the police and led to hysteria in all sections of Oldhams community. Hysteria that was pumped up by the local press, carrying repeated stories about how the NF were coming. People were frightened to leave their own community areas to go into the town centre.
The local rag, the Evening Chronicle had spent years reporting every mugging of a white person by an Asian youth as a racist attack, rather than the action of a piece of anti-social filth. This reporting was colluded with by the police, who claim that 60% of racist attacks in Oldham are Asian on white.
Oldhams racist housing department had made sure that council estates were ethnically pure. This policy created large deprived white working class estates, away from the town centre with few facilities. Growing up separately, people see little in common with each other. Unemployment and poor wages are common in Oldham. They are worse in Asian areas than white, but cut across the town causing a deep-seated sense of grievance. The grievances lead one group to blame the other for their problems, rather than seeing a common enemy in the capitalist system that ultimately causes them. They lead people to identify with race rather than class.
The riots were encouraging in showing that Asian youth have had enough. On the other hand they were depressing to the extent that they led to attacks on pubs and shops seen as belonging to whites.
What seems inevitable is that the state will foster the myth that it was all due to outside agitators. They will offer nothing of any real value to the working people of Oldham, but will feel content to blame them for the problems in the town.
More info from: Anarchist Federation, PO Box 127, Oldham, OL4 3FE.
ON THE FRONTLINE
Bin the bosses: On 13th June 250 refuse collectors occupied their works site in Hollingbury, Brighton. Management had decided to try and impose impossible new measures. Staff who refused to do these impossible rounds were suspended. The rest of the workers protested about the suspensions. Then Management sacked them all. 10 people, in solidarity with the striking binmen, invaded the offices of CIP (Catering & Industrial personnel employment agency). The management have decided that maybe it was not such a good idea, and on 15th June, all the binmen were re-instated.
Several hundred striking mechanics from AOM/Air Liberte blocked road access to Orly airport, Pariss second largest, and then invaded the runways as part of a demonstration over the financial state of the companies.
217 people went on strike at Original Cakerie in Delta, Canada on Wednesday, June 13th. Issues include wages, benefits, usage of the company handbook to oppressively discipline employees, and the use of non-union workers. The workers are mostly ethnic women, on strike for the first time. The strikers are requesting that letters of protest be sent to the company at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1,500 flight attendants stopped working for Aeromexico (Air Mexico) in a pay dispute.
On June 7th about twelve thousand miners converged on the city of La Paz, Bolivia. They are determined to stay until the government approves a fund for reviving their industry. They are demanding $100 million for this purpose, and will stage daily marches and blockades if the demand is not met.
1,500 nurses in Minneapolis, USA set up picket lines as they walked off the job as their shifts ended, saying a new contract being offered to them did not provide for adequate patient care.
Korean Air Strike: On June 12th a strike by pilots and ground staff grounded most flights at Korean Air and domestic departures by Asian Airlines. The state declared the strike illegal, threatening punitive action against workers who take part in illegal strikes. State prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 14 pilots union leaders as a result of the action.
...then the hospitals. On June 13th workers at South Koreas major hospitals, including Seoul National University Hospital, joined nation-wide strike action. Several thousand nurses from eight hospitals walked off their jobs after negotiations on pay and working conditions broke down. Emergency and intensive care units were unaffected.
A new issue of the long running anarchist news-sheet Counter Information is now out. Please note the new address: Counter Information c/o 17 W. Montgomery Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH7 5HA, 0131 557 6242 (ask for CI), email@example.com
Geri Halliwell said: "A lot of people knock Britain, but I am proud of this country and the opportunities it offers people. I genuinely admire and believe in Tony Blair. He has done a lot of good work in the past four years."
Er, like the opportunity of being force into taking a shitty McJob that pays only the barest minimum wage? Not much by way of opportunity that, Geri, is it?
Geri Halliwells dog, Harry, is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Pedigree Pet foods are in secret negotiations with the singer about using him in a world-wide ad campaign for a new range of specialist pet food.
O, right, we see. You meant opportunities for doggies. Especially pampered pooches owned by superstars like your grand self, is that it? On dumb animal in billions and, because its boss is you, its elevated to a position where it gets the opportunity to make more money than any ordinary human being could dream of, or earn, in a lifetime. Great, capitalism, innit? No crap minimum wage for celebrity dogs. Nice man that Tony Blair, to dish out wonderful opportunities like that. Might even consider voting for him next time ourselves. Woof! Woof!
There has been an almost continuous uprising by the indigenous Berber population in Kabylie, a mountainous region of Algeria since April. Horrific social and economic conditions - poverty, unemployment and lack of housing, coupled with savage repression by the forces of the state and opposing Islamic fundamentalist groups (who many think are manipulated by the state to camouflage their own repression). The Berbers have a tradition of secularism, free thought and radicalism and were at the forefront of the struggle against French colonialism. The death of a youth in police custody set off riots that have rolled across Algeria. Many state buildings have been destroyed and public warehouses looted. In Bejara, 300 flats were occupied by homeless families and in Boura 1,700 flats were occupied.
The authorities have responded with appalling ferocity, gunning down many people in the street and carrying out night raids, burning down villages and terrorising the Kabylie population. In mid-June a million Berbers demonstrated peacefully in the capital, Algiers, but the demo ended in a riot when the police attacked without provocation. Riots have continued since then, with great courage by the masses in confronting the state forces. Berbers and Arabs must attempt to unite now, and reject both the government imposed by the West/International Monetary Fund and the fundamentalist militias, both butchers of the people.
Abortion is still illegal in Ireland, but not in the international waters around it. This the thinking of Dr. Rebecca Grompeti (ex-doc on Greenpeace's 'Rainbow Warrior') who has procured the use of a Dutch ship to help out the 6000 or so Irish women each year who have to travel to the UK for their abortions.
The ship which this time round will only provide contraceptives, information, legal and medical training will later sail on to other countries around the world where abortion is still illegal. More information can be obtained from www.womenonwaves.net or you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems that the ongoing Dublin campaign against bin charges (see resistance #26) has got councils there on the run. Drastic measures were taken when Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown council inserted microchips in the bins of 1200 householders in the Ballyogan area of South Dublin. Chips are read by a computer on the bin lorry and if bin charges have not been paid the refuse is not collected.
A cunning plan? Methinks not. The Campaign Against Service Charges assure those affected that microchips inserted under the rims of bins can be removed by the equally cunning application of a screwdriver. Meanwhile the campaign goes on, spreading in the last few weeks to the Liberties and Walkinston areas of Dublin.
More info: email@example.com
Police in Manchester told an anarchist to remove anti-election leaflets from his window. Someone (a Labour councillor lives in the same road) had complained about the language of some of the leaflets. Not to be outdone the anarchist painted dont vote on the front of the house! In Manchester Central just 39.13% of the electorate voted.
In Oldham, members of the North West Unemployed Network including members of the Anarchist Federation and Solidarity Federation were arrested at Labour Party offices. The protesters were demanding to speak to MP Phil Wollas, who favours DNA testing for benefit claimants. He also said the law should be changed to deny benefits to anyone not registered on the electorial roll. Eight of them were held at Oldham police station for six hours before being released.
A new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows the Labour government has spent less on infrastructure, hospitals, schools, etc. than a certain Margaret Thatcher!
On Tuesday 22nd of May wildcat strikes by more than 6,500 postal workers at six sorting offices halted deliveries and collections in south and east London, Watford, Liverpool, Stockport and Chester. The wildcat strikes spread after management attempted to divert mail away from the Watford sorting centre where staff were on an official 24-hour strike over attempts to introduce flexible working procedures. Employees in Liverpool walked out because they were expected to send letters and packages to other centres to get round the Watford stoppage, staff at other offices followed suit with widespread effects. It is estimated that up to 50,000 workers joined the rolling unofficial stoppages including depots in Watford, London, Liverpool, Cardiff, North Wales, Manchester, Preston, Teesside, Maidstone, Stockport and Chester. Over 10m letters had been delayed by the strikes.
In Waterford, workers have been staging official walkouts in protest against new shift patterns, designed to deal with the rapid growth of junk mail. The union agreed to flexible working in return for higher basic pay last year, but striking London postal workers said they were not prepared to accept the imposition of a move from 5.25am to 4am shift starts, and working patterns which entrenched part-time working.
This month the leaders of the G8 industrialised nations meet in Genoa, Italy to discuss ways to increase our exploitation through economic globalisation. In solidarity with protesters actions will take place at the notorious Campsfield detention centre near Oxford.
Those escaping persecution, murder, torture and exploitation often find their reception - in what they had assumed were civilised safe states - can be harrowing.
Campsfield House (6 miles from Oxford) is the UKs flagship Immigration Detention Centre. All of its inmates are escaping from states like Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan. It was opened in 1993 and is run for profit by the private security firm Group 4.
Campsfield operates as a high security prison with visitor searches, restricted visitation rights, a 20ft razor wire-topped fence, extensive use of surveillance cameras etc. Inmates are constantly told that they are not welcome in the UK and that the people do not want them here. Racism and physical abuse are integral parts of the centres make-up. Many inmates become so worn down they accept voluntary deportation.
The fight against the prison industry and deportation is an important struggle in the fight against capitalism. The G8 are meeting in Genoa between 20-22 July. Ya Basta! will open a No Borders camp in Italy to coincide with the meeting. A camp has been opened near the detention centre in solidarity with those in Italy and those locked behind the wire inside Campsfields walls. Actions will take place demanding the closure of the centre. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
An eyewitness account of the events at the EU Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, by a member of the British based WOMBLES organisation:
Thursday 14th June: Arrive at Gothenburg to find out that many of our Finnish and Swedish comrades have been
surrounded at the convergence (meeting) centre. This happened at 10am in the morning when riot police wanted to search the building for weapons. At 8.00pm or so there was an attempt by a 500 strong Anti-fascist/Anarchist Black Bloc to break people out. This failed and a full scale riot kicked off.
Friday 15th: A strong crowd gathers for an already planned Red Bloc march onto EU summit. The Black Bloc numbers about 700 people. Police attack demonstration when it starts to move towards EU Summit. Black Bloc responds with cobble stones and bottles. Police charge with horses, many people injured here. People are chased down main avenue. At this point many people are extremely pissed off so decide to charge riot police with hundreds of cobble stones. Police again respond and chase black block a few hundred metres down main avenue. Barricades are placed in the middle of the road and are set fire to. The conflict continues for a few hours. At 6.00pm a peaceful 20,000 people, made up of trade unionists, commies, anarchists and liberals march towards EU summit. At 8.00pm a re-directed street party at Vasa Platsen starts with a techno sound system. About 1,000 people there, 10 fascists attack an anarchist, crowds responds and fascists are chased behind police lines. Police respond by firing 5 shots hitting 3 people: 1 in the leg, 1 in the stomach and 1 in the chest. A riot ensues in response to this and 150 people get arrested there many injured.
Saturday 16th: Official demo starts at 11.00am. The march is re-directed away from EU summit an returns 2 hours later for a rally in a park. During the day we hear reports of people being arrested on the streets (like in Prague). At 7.00pm an Anti-repression demonstration of about 300 people is surrounded by hundreds of riot police. We call for actions in protest at the violence of the Swedish state against protesters and for the shooting of our Swedish comrades. More info from: www.wombleaction.mrnice.net
The food shortages in Bolshevik-controlled Moscow in 1921, including staples like bread, ignited a whole set of demands amongst the working class. From January this discontent was voiced through mass meetings in plants and factories. Bolshevik repression was denounced and the call for free labour as opposed to militarised labour was raised. When Bolsheviks at meetings suggested that the discontent was just about stomachs they were shouted down.
The Bolsheviks responded with increased repression, unleashing the Cheka, the secret police. But it was the Moscow Cheka who had been one of the causes of the discontent. Between December 1918 and November 1920 they had shot 578 people, and arrested 40,000, 6 per cent of the adult city population. They shot 345 people from January-May 1920 and liquidated their stock with shootings of 2-3000 prisoners just before this.
Most of the arrests were of juveniles, forced to steal food and these were imprisoned in appalling conditions.
Strikes broke out and the metalworkers led the way. Denouncing the regime in a conference they held in February, denouncing the issue of special ration privileges to 10,000 top Bolshevik Party leaders.
Street demonstrations began, kicked off by a strike at the Vtorov money printing works. The soldiers called in refused to fire, and special armed Bolshevik detachments (ChON) shot at the striking workers killing and injuring several*. That evening mass meetings took place on the railways, at the womens higher education institute and at the university. Several factories struck the next day. 1500 people demonstrated and tried to call out the soldiers. These were disarmed by the Bolsheviks and locked in their barracks. All Moscows Bolsheviks were mobilised and armed. These fired on the crowd.
A demonstration on February 23 brought out 10,000 workers, where speakers made strong criticisms of the Bolsheviks. That day Moscow was placed under martial law with a 24-hour watch on factories by the ChON. Strikes had been accompanied by go-slows and calls on Bolshevik deputies to the soviets to be recalled. The Bolsheviks now made wide-scale arrests and some of these were among the 300 socialists beaten in prison by the Cheka on the night of April-25-26. Disturbances and unrest continued into March but the movement had been defeated. It was to herald the Kronstadt uprising against the Bolsheviks later in the year and showed the anti-working class and counter-revolutionary nature of the Bolsheviks.
*Lenin reporting to the Moscow Soviet (Feb 27) lied about this saying that "What did happen was that a gun went off in the hands of an agent provocateur, resulting in the death of a Communist. This was the only casualty during these rather unfortunate days."
Fitted up South African poet prisoner Mzwakhe Mbuli recently lost his latest appeal. Now his fate rests with the supreme court. All-out efforts have to be made immediately to get Mzwakhe his freedom. Write to: South African Ambassador, Ms. Cheryl A. Carrolous, S.A. High Commission, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DP. Urge British Minister Peter Hain at the Foreign Office to use his influence on the South Africans. Check out the campaign website for regular news: www.mzwakhe.org
Donations can be sent via: c/o Gill Lloyd, Artsadmin, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial St, London, E1 6LS. Mzwakhe speaks to his supporters around the world: I am the stone. When thrown in the river I create waves. Lets see to it that those waves reverberate right across the globe - Free Mzwakhe!
U.S. Anarchist prisoner Harold H. Thompson now has two official websites online:
email address is: email@example.com
Gothenberg EU protest prisoner
A number of people have been arrested, including an anarchist from the UK. Paul Robinson has been charged with violent rioting and battery, an offence which carries a maximum 4-year sentence. He is currently held on remand in a Swedish prison and his trial is being fast-tracked to take place in a few weeks. It is Pauls birthday on 4th July, so it would be great if he got hundreds of birthday cards. Write to:
Paul Robinson, Goteburg Remand Centre, (Haktet), Goteburg Polis Headquaters, (Polis Huset), Box 429, 40126, Goteburg, SWEDEN
For more information contact: LDMG, C/o BM Haven, London WC1N 3XX (please send a stamped self-addressed envelope); by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; and by phone: 020 8245 2930 (24hr answerphone).
At the start of June there were 18 people sentenced to prison in Finland for refusal of military service. The following 7 imprisoned antimilitarists would be happy to receive letters of support.
Janne Rantala is an anarchist.
Matias Raita (14.2.2001-1.9.2001), Suomenlinnan ty-siirtola, Suomenlinna C 86, 00910 HELSINKI
Ilkka Forsblom (26.3.2001-13.10.2001)
Jesse Kariluoto (14.5.2001-8.11.2001)
Johannes Milen (29.1.2001-30.7.2001)
kaikkien osoite: Helsingin ty-siirtola, PL 36, 01531 VANTAA
Lauri Kostiainen (3.1.2001-17.7.2001), Iskolan avovankilaosasto, PL 2, 74345 KALLIOSUO
Aleksi Sutinen, Naaraj-rven vankila, PL 1, 76851 Naaraj-rvi, (1.6.2001-17.12.2001)
Janne Rantala,(18.12.2000-5.7.2001), Juuan avovankilaosasto, PL 26, 83901 JUUKA
Framed Anarchist prisoner Eduardo Garcia (see resistance #23) is still inside awaiting trial for serious charges.
Please continue sending letters to:
EDUARDO GARCÍA MACIAS, Modulo 4, CP:Madrid V SOTO DEL REAL, 28791 SOTO DEL REAL, MADRID, SPAIN
Send money to:
CAJA MADRID: 2038-1022-21-3004669143 a nombre de Elsa, Sola Peces, Spain
Eduardo was active in an Anarchist Black Cross prisoners support group which can be contacted at: CNA Madrid, Paseo de Alberto palacios 2, 28021 Madrid, Spain
e-mail address is: email@example.com
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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