ISSUE THIRTY SIX
The Taliban are overthrown and the terrorist training camps are in ruins. So why are more troops being shunted into Afghanistan? For the sake of a few Taliban leftovers up the mountains? When its more trouble to go after them than to leave them there?
The answer lies to the north of Afghanistan in the oil and gas fields of Central Asia. This is the traditional turf of Russian imperialism but now Uncle Sam wants to move in, and has done so with new bases all over thanks to the war against terrorism
These largely unexploited resources represent a new Middle East but the heart of the question is who gains?, the rulers of Russia, the U.S., China or Iran?, The problem for them is getting the oil and gas out of the region and to the world market. As it stands all of the pipelines are under the control of either Russia or Iran. So for the last few years the U.S. government have been looking to develop new pipelines, to Europe, and most importantly to South Asia. The only way south to the markets of India and Pakistan, other than Iran, is Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan local warlords are offering their services to rival imperialisms. Russia backed the Northern Alliance to take Kabul against American wishes, while various rulers in the north and east are being supported by Iran.
U.S. Army documents written less than two years ago openly call for military intervention as a way of controlling Central Asia for U.S. corporations. One of them talks of the need to be willing to commit even military forces otherwise Russia will be able to exclude all other rivals and regain hegemony over the area.
And they are not planning to leave: When the Afghan conflict is over we will not leave Central Asia. We have long term plans and interests in this region. says U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Elizabeth Jones. Next target is to be Iraq. Getting rid of the Butcher of Baghdad?
Well that was what was happening in 91 when the working people and mutinous soldiers rose against the Hussein regime. Then the U.S. airforce massacred deserting troops and ended open hostilities so as to give the Republican Guard a chance to quell the rebellion.
The real interests involved in the U.S. Middle East policy are economic and strategic. Look for example at the corporate interests in Saudi Arabia: Since 1981, U.S. construction companies and arms suppliers have earned more than $50 billion in Saudi Arabia U.S. investments in the country reached $4.8 billion in 2000 The U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. recently was chosen by the Saudi government to lead two of three consortiums developing gas projects worth $20 billion to $26 billion. (Washington Post 21/9/01)
And strategic in that being the military strongman in the region gives the U.S. ruling class a bargaining chip with the economies which are dependant on imported Middle Eastern oil (the E.U. and Japan for instance).
So what can we do to combat the cycle of slaughter and retaliatory slaughter? Recent opinion polls show a majority opposed to any new offensive on the Iraqi people, if even a small fraction of the country took action the Blair machine would be knocked off its tracks. There is an airfield or recruiting office near you, just waiting to be blockaded.
There is also the work of counter-information, of countering the murderous lies put out by the corporate media. Such as this bulletin and the poster illustrating this article (available from London AF, contact details on back page).
Read more on this issue on at:
ON THE FRONTLINE
The discontent on the Railways is still rumbling on as Arriva ticket office workers staged one day strikes timed to coincide with a work stoppage by conductors - which demonstrates the possibilities for linking up the different struggles that the bosses and unions are trying to keep fragmented. Commuters in the North of England were able to enjoy free travel for the day, and can look forward to more of the same in the first week of April when further stoppages are planned, whilst drivers from First North Western have announced their own series of one day strikes straight after Easter. Drivers on the Tyne and Wear Metro system have also decided on a series of one day strikes.
Half of Londons schools and around 500,000 kids enjoyed a day off on march 14th as teachers protested about cost of living allowances. Staff at Manchester airport are also out on strike over proposed job cuts a one day stoppage on 22nd March was followed up with a four-day walkout over the Easter weekend.
Big trouble is brewing in Consignia/ Royal Mail over 15,000 proposed job cuts this on top of the already announced 30,000, and another 10,000 already. The cuts are a result of the privatisation plans as the most profitable section, the bulk mail business, is been split off and opened up to competition, leaving the normal mail delivery section to fend for itself despite the vital social service it performs. The unions will of course be talking up their determination to stand and fight, whilst at the same time, working hard to minimise any chances of proper action that could put them at risk of losing funds. PO workers need to link up directly between themselves, deciding what action to take and when, and if possible extend this link up to other struggling workers.
Things are hotting up abroad as well especially in China where up to 50,000 protesters gathered every day at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province for nearly two weeks to protest at cuts in severance pay and heating subsidies promised them when they were sacked three years ago, and an increase in unemployment insurance premiums. In Liaoyang workers are protesting against the privatision of vast swathes of industry, and attacked the government offices. Where this could possibly lead is shown by the wave of killings of repressive bosses Important struggles have also been taking place in Kerala (India), as public employees went out on strike, South Korea where a number of big disputes are taking place, most importantly the power workers and a general strike is looking likely for the first week in April.
Poor old (hat) Billy Bragg. The folkie singer songwriter must have his fingers in both ears (or up his arse?). Hes still stuck in the tired rut of leftie thinking vote Labour and keep voting for them even when theyre elected as the capitalist government.
On his latest album the troubadour of tripe pleads: Can you hear us? Are you listening?/No power without accountability! Not just shit lyrics shit politics too!
For Bilious, some people feel driven to action such as trashing McDonalds because Labour hasnt acted on issues they care about, such as fox hunting. The radical alternative he proposes to direct action is reform of the house of lords, though apparently, Its not a question of whether there are hairdressers in the house of lords. They are no better than captains of industry. Well, we think Bill must have hair for brains if he thinks governments ever have been or can be accountable.
The only accountability is direct control over our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces through direct action, which means social revolution and an end to the puppet show of parliament.
Long-term squatters in Nottingham are due to be evicted from there home by the City Council. The grade 2 listed building that has been occupied since 1998 had been neglected by the council and up until its occupation was in an awful state of disrepair, the squatters known as The Forest Lodge Collective had carried out repair work, fixing leaks and unblocking drains, which, had they been left would have resulted in serious structural damage. They have also decorated, had heated the building protecting it from damp.
The council have refused to show that they have any plans for the building, or to enter into dialogue with the squatters. James Slater of the Lodge Collective said: It is our belief that the council have no plans for the building and that as before they plan to run the building down, maybe because they cant afford to renovate it, because they have spent to much money on an un-needed tram system, or because they plan to build a leisure centre in the area of the Forest Lodge
Visit the campaign website at www.forestlodge.150m.com
Former Argentine President Raul Alfonsins doorstep was transformed into a boxing ring when the old git came to fisticuffs with angry protesters banging pots and pans and shouting thief! Lacking pots and pans, Argentine passengers on a flight from Europe banged their seat belt buckles together to protest against the presence of Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf.
Ruckauf and Alfonsin are from different parts of the political spectrum, but both were targets of public anger that has exploded as Argentinians blame politicians for a crisis in their country. The people repudiate all of us, said Alfredo Avelin, a Peronist governor of San Juan province.
In elections in October 40% of voters turned in spoiled or blank ballots nobody won more votes than any of the political parties.
Every Friday in the district of Belgrano, hundreds of residents gather by posh homes of politicians to demand that they leave the neighbourhood with shouts of Oooh, kick them all out, dont let a single one stay. We are going to keep banging our pots and pans ... until they leave. We dont want these thieves in the neighbourhood, said one fuming resident on a muggy summer evening.
One legislator was forced to seek refuge in a cafe and wait for police protection after an livid mob threatened him.
Wigs, hats and dark sunglasses have become the latest fashion among politicians who do not want to be recognized.
On March 27th the Italian working class once again demonstrated that it will not allow itself to be walked all over by the Berlusconis vicious attacks on their social conditions. Three million people demonstrated in Rome bringing it to a standstill and this despite the states clear message that it is prepared to return to the strategy of tension of earlier years, if these protests continue. The target of this demo was the labour reforms that will make it easier for bosses to fire workers, then re-hire them at lowered wages. The anti-reform movement has grown rapidly in recent weeks, with protests of hundreds of thousands of people showing their anger in different cities. The next step is the General Strike called for April 16th the first since 1982 and after that
For several years anarchists and others in Britain have been holding events on Mayday, International Workers Day, to celebrate our struggles against capitalism and the state and reclaim our revolutionary history (see resistance #1 PDF file). This year in London a Festival of Alternatives will be held on and around Mayday. This is a mixed bag with some events about the anarchist alternative to capitalism and some events more about alternative lifestyles within capitalism. Check out the website www.ourmayday.org.uk or Tel: 07786 716 335 to see if anything interests you.
The libertarian socialist group Solidarity put it well when saying what they though was worth getting involved with:
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.
March 9th16th saw a week of protests against the European Union (EU) summit. Up to 600, 000 people were involved despite police intimidation (ID checks, stop and searches), violence and the labelling of the protesters activities as terrorism by the Spanish government.
On March 9th 3,000 were involved in a reclaim the streets party, followed the next day by a 400,000 strong protest against plans to re-route Spains largest river.
One hundred thousand trade unionists marched on the 14th, and 20,000 people took part in a range of de-centralised demonstrations on the 15th called by the Lobby Busters group against the power of multi-national companies.
A massive 500,000 people marched through the streets of Barcelona on March 16th, including a sizable red and black bloc against the European summit. There were black bloc groups, libertarians, CNT (anarcho-syndicalists), squatters, and many anti-capitalist and radical activists marching together with red and black flags, and shouting anarchist slogans.
There was direct action against symbols of the state and capital (two police stations, dozens of banks, military and judicial buildings, offices of a trade union), confrontations with the police, including attacks against their squads and vans, barricades, and the presence of thousands of people refusing to run away and shouting together VIVA LA ANARQUIA (long live anarchy), and POLICIA ASESINA (police assassins). This created an atmosphere of fiesta and revolt, of rage and revenge for the repression of the previous day, and all the repression, arrests and tortures of our comrades who fought all over the world, from Seattle and Prague, to Gothenburg and Genoa. In Barcelona it showed again that the struggle against global dictatorship of state and capital is not retreating due to repression and has not sold out to the reformists. The only limit is a world without states, borders, exploitation and oppression. We carry a new world in our hearts, and we make it alive through our efforts to destroy the existing hierarchical and repressive society.
Italy 1977 saw a spontaneous and creative outbreaks of rebellion demonstrating that the potential for revolution still exists in the working class of the industrialised west - no matter what the leftie cynics say.
Tension built up throughout 1976 with the growth of autonomi (groups outside traditional left / Union formations) and the Circollo Del Proletariato Giovanile (Circles of Proletarian Youth), both strong in the slum areas of the great northern industrial cities. They developed many confrontational tactics directly linked to working class needs. The most successful was autoriduzione (self-reduction), where price rises in essential commodities were not paid, or communities decided a fair price. Direct sabotage of capitalist property was also popular blowing their cars up, beating up particularly authoritarian bosses, or refusing to let them enter the factories. These tactics grew in popularity, worrying both the leftists and the capitalists, as all relations of dominance were brought into question.
Things blew up in Bologna in early 1977, when Lama, the leader of the Stalinist CGIL Union went to the University to lecture members of the Circollo and Autonomi (who used it as a base) and students, arguing they should join the Communist Party. He was chased from the building, and only saved from serious harm by his security team and the cops he had brought with him. The University head called in cops to restore order, sparking off a fierce battle leading to the occupation of all the university facilities, which became the focus for workers and students meeting (as in Paris 1968).
This soon developed into larger public manifestations, culminating in the physical capture of Bologna for three days in March, following the shooting of a demonstrator. An eyewitness wrote that Downtown, numerous shops and luxury restaurants were looted; side by side with young proletarians, old pensioners could be seen fleeing happily, pushing handcarts full of delicacies. For once in these streets and squares people were communicating over the next few days police found scores of guns and rifles hidden in improbable places, the fruit of an armoury raid. Similar episodes occurred in Rome, Milan and Turin. Radio Alice was set up, and broadcast the movements of police and troops, which helped extend the occupation. Eventually the movement was repressed, with all the political parties working hand in hand with the judiciary, but the lesson remains anything is possible!
What anarchism is
Building the free society
The free society realised
27th April, 10.30am-4pm, Big Issue office, Pace House, 25 Summer Lane, off Constitution Hill, Birmingham
Tel: 07866 443 407
All prisoners listed below have been sentenced to up to 197 days in prison for total refusal from both military and alternative service, and agreed to have their prison addresses published. Please write to them:
Valo Lankinen, (15.1.-2.8.2002), Pyry Nurmi, (17.10.2001-4.5.2002), Suomenlinnan tyosiirtola, Suomenlinna C 86, 00190 HELSINKI Finland
Sadri Cetinkaya, (15.10.2001-1.5.2002), Helsingin tyosiirtola, PL 36, 01531 VANTAA Finland. Sadri Cetinkaya is an anarchist.
Lauri Uusitalo, (7.1-24.7.2002), Satakunnan vankila/Huittisten osasto, Toivarintie 581, 32700 HUITTINEN Finland
Ville Laakso, (29.1.-16.8.2002), Kylmakosken vankila, PL 101, 37911 KYLMAKOSKI Finland
Andras Lahdelma, (23.1-9.4.2002), Ari-Pekka Tamminen, (6.1.-20.7.2002), Laukaan vankila, PL 55, 41341 LAUKAA Finland
Day of action in solidarity with Mark Barnsley
Demand that Home Secretary and Sheffield MP David Blunkett takes action in the case of Sheffield man Mark Barnsley, the victim of an appalling miscarriage of justice. Mark has so far spent nearly 8 years of a 12 year prison sentence in the worst conditions that the prison system has to offer.
Day of action - Saturday 13th April
Picket of the home secretary/ Sheffield MP David Blunkett. Meet at 11 am (prompt!) Meadowhall bus station (Near Sheffield).
Followed by information stall and mass leafleting in Sheffield city centre 1.30 pm onwards on Fargate.
You can write to David Blunkett (in Braille if possible) at: 50 Queen Annes Gate, London, SW1 9AT
Write to: Justice for Mark Barnsley - PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX,
You can write to Mark directly at: Mark Barnsley WA2897, HMP Whitemoor, Longhill Road, March, Cambs, PE15 OPR
Prison, Racism and Injustice - a conference, 8th and 15th May.
This conference aims to introduce some of the many cases of injustice within the prison system. Satpal Ram has been in prison since 1987 after defending himself in a racist attack in which one of his attackers died. He has suffered further injustices once inside: hes been moved to 72 different prisons and suffered beatings.
Another speaker will be representing Gary Mills and Tony Poole. These two men were tried in Bristol in 1990 for the murder of Hensley Wiltshire. They have been in prison for 13 years, but they still claim to be innocent and remain inside.
Among others invited are Raphael Rowe from the M25 two. Despite being released he was never recognized as innocent for a crime he didnt commit and he did 11 years inside. Also invited are the campaigns on behalf of Mark Barnsley and Winston Silcott.
On the 15th of May, the speakers are coming to represent the Angola three campaign (see resistance #33).
Bristol Prisoner Support Group- ABC, c/o Kebele KP, 14 Robertson Rd, Easton, Bristol BS5 6JY
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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