resistance - monthly bulletin of the Anarchist Federation (Britain and Ireland)
ISSUE THIRTY THREE - JANUARY 2002
The Argentinian state is on the brink of collapse following the explosion of mass class anger over the last few weeks. A series of continuing protests, demonstrations, occupations and outbreaks of looting has left politicians of all parties, judges, cops and bureaucrats fearing not only for their own personal safety but also for the future of the state itself. At the last count over 30 people had been killed, hundreds injured and five Presidents sworn in over the last three weeks.
Roots of Uprising
The uprising had been a long time coming – Argentina has been a favourite and faithful follower of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Structural Adjustment Programs which aggressively cut back on social spending in favour of tax cuts for business, whilst exporting billions in debt repayments – Argentina currently owes $150 billion. The spark that ignited the current wave of rebellions was the imposition of restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks and savings companies as a result of the IMF’s granting of $1.3 billion to cover falls in tax revenue. This resulted in workers not receiving their wages and the 50% of the economy that is irregular and cash based (street traders, etc.) losing their scarce income. Overnight, poverty came to a majority of the population, and those already in poverty faced starvation. It was only a matter of time before working class anger exploded.
Battle of The Plaza de Mayo
The insurrection that followed has been seen around the world, giving just a small indication of the anger that is building up in the IMF countries, this will surely not be the last. On the morning of 20 Dec thousands of people made their way towards the Congress Square to demand that President De la Rua follow his Economic Minister and resign. The crowds were banging pots and pans (cacerolazo), chanting slogans against all politicians and demanding an end to debt repayments. The sheer anger and volatility of the crowd left De la Rua with little option but to resign, along with the rest of his cabinet, but being a typical egoistic politician, he demanded he be allowed to make a final speech. This arrogance further inflamed the crowds besieging Congress and he had to be airlifted to safety.
Tensions were rising with the arrival of people from the outlying shanty towns (the Villas de la Miseria), who came prepared to use their traditional tactic of piquetora, blockading and occupying motorways and buildings. The large supermarkets were now being looted by the starving. As we’ve seen in similar cases, working class solidarity was very apparent with people fetching food for elderly people and those who did not want to risk defying the 35 000 cops now on duty. Piles of nappies and baby food were placed on corners for parents to take.
The Battle of Plaza de Mayo now kicked off proper with thousands fighting the cops. Hundreds of barricades were erected, banks and multinationals were completely destroyed, and very many were set alight. The cops ran out of rubber bullets and began using live rounds. Motorqueros (people on motorbikes) formed a ‘people’s cavalry’ and charged at the police. The battle lasted seven hours and left 26 dead. Similar class rage was being expressed all over the country.
The Argentinian state has clearly lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the working class – no one can be found to take political responsibility, the current President was investigated for corruption and use of drug money only two years ago – and this is the best they can come up with! Power is lying in the street. The left are working feverishly to contain and curb the revolutionary urges of a class in revolt, calling for an end to the looting, formation of a constituent assembly, Union power – all the failed bourgeois crap of the last century - and this whilst the proletariat is actively engaged in insurrection!!! A further danger is that politicians will try to recuperate the anger into a ‘national defence’ against the IMF, to get people to rally around Argentina, this is already apparent with national flags starting to appear at protests. Whatever happens, this is only a taste of what’s to come…
THE STATE IS YOUR ENEMY
The response of states around the world to the attacks of Sept 11 have come as no surprise to anarchists.
In Britain the removals of our supposed human rights is continuing to gather pace. The terrorism act of 2000 re-defined all effective forms of protest as terrorism and made participants liable to be arrested and held in secret for seven days without trial. The new emergency laws bring in indefinite detention for foreign suspects.
In the USA, things have gone even further with over 1,000 people already imprisoned without even being charged. And for the few that do come to trial it won’t be in open court but in front of a secret military tribunal - with the power of the death penalty if judges decide to use it.
Democracy and human rights are nothing more than myths - whenever states feel even slightly threatened they are swept aside in an instant.
ON THE FRONTLINE
Railway workers were back on strike in January, with the promise of more to come if their demands are not met. Workers on South-West Trains rejected a 7.6% pay rise (unthinkable until recently) and struck for 48 hours leading to the cancellation of around 1700 trains. As we go to press more strikes have been announced for the next few days. Other rail workers are unhappy at inadequate staffing levels that are affecting safety, with many drivers simply refusing to start their trains.
Class Struggle in China
A factory owner and his wife have been ‘imprisoned’ by Chinese workers until he agrees to pay them their wages. The owner of the toy factory in Sheyang city, Jiangsu province has been held for over three weeks while his wife has been released to try and raise the money to ensure his safe release. The police have been too scared to intervene, and the local authorities have also washed their hands of the affair. Spontaneous protests like these have been increasing in frequency with the ‘liberalisation’ of the Chinese economy, and frequently end in mass battles, (e.g. Wuhan 1999, Sichuan 1998). There have also been persistent reports of assassinations and bomb attacks on bosses and local party bureaucrats.
Direct Action French Style
A fine example of how militant direct action can prove a success is provided by the strikers at Cormelles-le-Royal, France. After occupying their plants for three months, holding the government’s negotiator hostage, burning down an unused warehouse and threatening to “blow the place,” the 4,400 workers at Moulinex finally won their demand. The bosses finally got the message and caved in to the workers demands. Direct action gets the goods yet again!
More anger being directed at the bosses in the Czech Republic where hundreds of cops were needed to stop a crowd of several hundred glass-workers from attacking managers planning to shut down their 300 year old industry in Kvetna-Strane. Again as in China, this is just one example amongst many. Class struggle in Eastern Europe is taking on an increasingly direct and confrontational form as people fight to protect themselves from ‘liberalisation’.
Bank workers in Scotland staged strike action in protest over having to work on traditional Scottish Bank Holidays.
A majority of staff stayed away on Jan 2 with those branches opening facing pickets outside.
CELEBRITY PRAT OF THE MONTH
‘...They leave work at 5pm, there’s Bank Holidays every minute. It’s irritating. I can’t believe how people don’t like work. I’m used to people in America working seven days a week’
SO PRATTLES on Madonna about British workers who ‘don’t put in long enough hours’, whilst slaving away for a pittance compared to what she ‘earns’ refurbishing her £6 million gaff. The vastly over-rated singer obviously believes that we lesser-mortals should be at the wealthy’s beck and call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, come rain, hail or shine. We’d rather take our inspiration from the likes of the Haymarket Martyrs who were actually executed because they fought to secure the 8-hour workshift during the early days of organised labour. What an insult from this positively uncharming, over-publicised purveyor of below par music.
Where would these pariahs on immature emotions be without the workers who slog and toil in mundane jobs for barely a fraction of these bleating ‘stars’ rewards?
Who exactly is it carries out the real work and just who is it that is a total waste of space? It’s us who keep the wheels turning. Do we really need bosses, controllers, false idols and would-be slave drivers like
Roll on the day when working class lads and lasses collectively realise the strength and power we hold within ourselves to turn things around in our own favour and interest. Roll on the revolution.
STUDENTS GIVE A LESSON IN RESISTANCE
The last month has seen lots of rebellious activity by students and pupils, which culminated in a presence at the anti EU demonstrations in Brussels. In the words of some of the organisers: “In our view it was a successful week of protests with a lot of actions in various EU countries and it gave a lot of students and pupils new energy. We are not at the end, we are at the beginning of a long and hard battle against the EU governments, transnational corporations and their instruments like the EU and the WTO (World Trade Organisation) who are still working at treaties like GATTS (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in order to commercialise education even more. It was an important and good step to internationalize our resistance and to make it more political.”
Some of the actions which took place are:
Germany: Strikes at the universities in Berlin, Halle and Augsburg. The “Free University” (FU) in Berlin which was occupied, was evicted twice by the German police and a lot of students are charged with “disturbance of domestic peace” and some are also charged because the police claim that they where insulted. A day of action at the FU Berlin is scheduled for Jan 16. Several actions took place in Berlin.
Greece: There where protests at the universities of Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras. In Patras there was a strike from 12 -17 Dec. At least 4 university buildings where occupied during this time. In Thessaloniki there where occupations of university-buildings and the Theatre school was being occupied. On Dec 14 there was a demonstration in Thessaloniki. In Athens some university buildings where occupied as well. We have information that there where strikes at 15 schools and universities in Greece.
Spain: More than 140,000 students where on strike on 12 Dec. There where a lot of demonstrations in several Spanish cities with tens of thousands of students participating. In Spain students are mobilising for the Salamaca summit in March 2002
Italy: There where student demonstrations in Milano, Trieste and Brescia. On Dec 20 about 100,000 students and pupils demonstrated against the privatisation of education in Rome.
Belgium: In Brussels the French speaking university of Brussels was on strike between 10-14 Dec. Lots of other schools and universities in Belgium where on strike on Dec 13-14. There where many alternative lessons and hearings about the Bologna-process and the GATTS-treaty.
Sweden: At the Södra Latin school in Stockholm there was an alternative hearing/meeting about GATTS and a new union was founded. In Luleå and Hässleholm there where manifestations.
Denmark: There where 3 demonstrations in Aarhus, Copenhagen and Odenske.
France: Montpellier students changed the names of university buildings to Bill Gates Building, Nike University, etc. A week of actions took place in several cities.
Austria: There was an action at the university of Innsbruck.
Netherlands: Students at the university of Utrecht removed all advertising from the university billboards and put up publicity about the commercialisation of education.
Switzerland: In Zurich students blocked the entrance of the university with a sit-down action.
ANARCHISTS IN BRUSSELS
A report from the anti-EU summit protests in Brussels from the AFers who went:
Fri 14 - The left wing demonstration
A bigger event than the official estimates of 20-25,000 livened up by a large, militant anarchist block. The pigs stood back while 2 banks and 2 police stations were redecorated en route with 1 cop shop being completely trashed by some of the more hardcore crowd (see picture).
In true left wing fashion the demo was totally pointless, directing people towards the summit before taking a u-turn to a convenient place for a police hem in job. As a result of this people were searched on the way out and about 40 arrests were made with a further 120 being nicked at a solidarity demo later that night. If people had kept their wits about them they would have been able to disappear down a side road not blocked off by the police until a good half hour after the containment operation began.
Sat 15 – The anarchist demonstration
The anarchist ‘manifestation’ was superb, with roughly 5,000 present, the majority serious and committed anarchists. For the weekend the Centre Libertaire was the hub of things for anarchists. Brussels Alternative Libertaire group were the main organisers of the demonstration. They were a sincere and committed bunch who had clearly thought about the purpose of the day. They wanted a demonstration that was not anti- this, that, and the other but a positive manifestation of anarchist ideas and strength to the people of the city. Rather than take their message to the politicians (a totally non-anarchist thing to do) they wisely planned a route through the city’s working class areas.
On the day concerns about police repression proved to be excessive, as did rumours of an attack by fascists who wisely stayed well away. We then wound our way through the streets of Brussels with anarchist flags flying, singing songs of solidarity and spreading anarchist leaflets. The march ended and we headed off towards the street party that had just begun. En route a complacent copper got his van bricked and chased away and many CCTV cameras were destroyed too.
For the whole march the police stayed well back, respecting our ability to take them on and give them serious aggro. The one time they did slip up and come too close they were met with a hail of rocks and a couple of Molotovs for good measure. The message was a clear “Stay away, or else”.
We reached the street party and the sound systems moved off. Thousands of us followed them as they wound their way through the backstreets of the St Gilled district - a working class area with a tradition of political radicalism. We went on to occupy the Porte de Hal after the police had made a failed attempt to stop us from reaching the park, where the street party continued until we’d all had enough. A few arrests were made but as with the day before, with a little common sense and awareness of police movements this could be avoided. People gave out messages on the sound system advising us of what the enemy was up to.
All in all we were impressed with the organising skills of our Belgian comrades. They got away with everything they planned and forced the police to leave them alone. It didn’t kick off like Nice or Gothenburg but to be honest this really didn’t matter, especially as this was to do with the police fearing our strength and keeping well clear. These events shouldn’t become ritualised. Our actions should depend on what is going on around us, and how we all feel at the time.
MUMIA MUST LIVE!
The campaign to free radical journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has had a partial victory. It has been decided by Judge Yohn to throw out the death sentence, though he upheld the conviction. Mumia will be re-sentenced soon and the death penalty could be re-imposed. This is despite a mass of evidence that Mumia is innocent, including a confession from gangster Arnold Beverley. Mumia Must Live! in the UK has copies of affidavits (http://uk.geocites.com/mumiauk) from people who were involved in events that led to Faulkner’s death and the corruption surrounding the legal process since his death.
Help to save Mumia by raising awareness of his case. Contact Mumia Must Live on: email@example.com
The death of Stalin, the Soviet Union’s bloodthirsty dictator, led to unrest in the satellite countries of Eastern Europe. Uprisings began in Czechoslovakia and East Germany. In the forced labour camp of Vorkuta in Siberia there was an uprising of 250,000 slave labourers. By 1956 Kruschev, the new leader of the Soviet Union had to take a softer line because of unrest among the working class. This itself triggered an uprising in Poznan, Poland, starting off at the locomotive works.
A demonstration in solidarity with the Polish workers was called, by mostly young people with a small number of workers downing tools to join in. 50,000 assembled in central Budapest. The demonstrators were denounced over the radio as counter-revolutionaries. By evening 100,000 assembled and marched on the radio station with the request that their demands be broadcast. A 26 foot statue of Stalin was toppled on the way there. At the radio station, the secret police opened fire, killing many. These hated scum were overwhelmed by force of numbers. Some police and soldiers handed over their weapons to the crowd. One Stalinist leader was replaced by the more ‘liberal’ Nagy, who proceeded to call in the Russian army!
By now both workers and students had started setting up a revolutionary council calling for a general strike. Barricades were built to stop the Russian tanks, behind which workers and students fought back.
The revolution spread to all the main industrial towns and mines. Workers councils were set up in the mines, the steel mills, the power stations and many other workplaces. Farm workers and peasants organised deliveries of food to city workers.
Budapest prison was captured and all the political prisoners released. The Nagy government tried to calm things down, but by now the Russians were swarming into Hungary. Fighting broke out and went on for over a week. By November 4 the revolution had been crushed. The secret police re-emerged from their holes and began hanging workers. A massive repression began. Nagy himself was executed by the Russians. Revolution was slandered as a ‘counter-revolutionary’ ‘fascist’ plot. But the struggle remained in the hands of the working class that was looking towards a real, free communist society controlled by the majority of working people through the councils they had already started forming.
For more on the Hungarian revolution read the AF’s ‘A brief flowering of freedom’ available for £1 from London Anarchist Federation.
Gothenberg prisoner is moved
Paul Robinson has been moved from the remand centre in Gothenberg to a prison in Karlskoga - a small place in the middle of nowhere. His new address is:
Paul Robinson, KVA Karlskoga, Box 7,
69121 Karlskoga, Sweden.
For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org
News from Paul: He’s fine and he says the prison is 100 times better than the remand centre in Gothenberg. He is relieved to have finally moved. He has his own room with no bars on the windows, there is a kitchen where the prisoners can make their own tea, coffee and sandwiches, there is a gym, a sauna and he is now, finally allowed to exercise outside. He is only locked up at night. He is spending his time reading, writing and watching TV. He says he has had no problems from any of the other prisoners, and everyone is friendly and laid back. Please keep sending Paul letters, magazines and newspapers. He is really grateful for the solidarity.
Oppose injustice! Challenge racism! Fight repression!
Robert King Wilkerson was held in solitary confinement in Angola maximum security prison in Louisiana USA for 27 years for crimes he did not commit. King was framed because of his political organising at the prison as a member of the Black Panther party. He was released in February 2001 after a long campaign and is now spending his time doing speaking tours around the world raising awareness of the brutality, corruption, racism and injustice ingrained in the Louisiana criminal justice system.
King’s co-accused Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace are still in prison and entering their thirtieth year of solitary confinement. King is an inspirational person who is devoting his life to fighting against racism, repression and injustice in modern day Louisiana USA. People are hoping to be able to arrange for King to do a speaking tour in Britain and need to raise funds to pay for his air fare etc. Help make King’s speaking tour to Britain a reality. For further information or to find out how to help Email: email@example.com or Tel: 0161 370 1113.
Write letters to prisoners
Tomasz Wilkoszewski, Zaklad Karny, Orzechowa, 598-200, Sieradz, Poland.
In 1997 Tomek was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking part in a fight, in which a nazi skinhead died. There isn’t any possibility to change Tomek’s sentence in legal proceeding. The only chance for Tomek is the president’s pardon. Next year Tomek is going to ask for earlier release.
If you publish or distribute a zine, CDs or T-shirts, send one to Tomek by mail at the prison’s address.
Dawid Hass, Wlodzimierz Matuszewski, Janusz Szewczyk, Areszt Sledczyuk, Ciupagi, 103-016, Warszawa, Poland.
Dawid, Jakub, Wlodek and Janusz were detained and arrested on 27 Dec 2000 after having a fight with neo-nazis. They were charged with beating of one of the nazis. Their stay under arrest has been lengthened and the trial has been postponed for several times. Three of them are still under arrest. Jakub was released until the day of the trial in order to take his matriculation exam. More info from: www.ack.most.org.pl or ACK (ABC)
Poland, PO BOX 560-966, Poznan 31,
Poland or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org