Anarchist Federation monthly bulletin
THERE IS NO doubt that, despite American protests, global warming has made the hurricane season worse. But now is the not the time to tackle those issues. The hurricanes have come and have gone and they have left the poor, working people in a disastrous situation. But it has not been inevitable! Back in 2001 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognised that a hurricane was the third most likely cause of disaster to hit the USA. Money needed to finish levee building, $20-$40m of it, was redirected to Bush's favourite cause-WAR!. To all intents and purposes New Orleans, sitting below sea level, was a disaster waiting to happen.
The State's Response
We would have thought that a huge country with such an enormous amount of money, like the USA, would have had a state plan to deal with such a crisis. They sent men to the moon didn't they? So what really happened? The media would have us believe that gun toting vigilantes took to the streets looting everything they could get their hands on. That, without the law and order structure supported by the police and National Guard, chaos was the order of the day. Whilst no doubt some people behaved badly, the truth is that those who did behave the worst were the New Orleans and New York Police Departments and the National Guard.
Police fire over heads of survivors seeking shelter
Two paramedics Larry Bradshaw and Lorie Beth Slonsky tell how two hundred people "walked to the police command centre at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told...that we were on our own and that they had no water to give us. ..We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action." When the group became an embarrassment to the police by their presence the commander told them buses were waiting to take them out of town. As they approached the supposed pick-up point the sheriffs shot over their heads to disperse them.
Others tell of the murder of three young black men who tried to take over a hotel to set up a clinic for the young, old and sick away from the hell of the convention centre. And more tell of how people who waded neck deep in toxic water floating their grandmother in a fridge were turned away from the bridge to safety by police carrying guns.
Shoot to kill Curfew
The police imposed a shoot to kill curfew after 8.00 at night. One witness saw a desperate man trying to find his family at a community computer centre only to have to leave at 7.30 to get home before the curfew come in at 8.
Dump The Red Cross
The Red Cross has a history of mis-spending money. After the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York it received $564m of which only $154m was given to victims families. The rest was kept to fight the war on terror. In the same way the Red Cross is behaving badly now. Survivors in New Orleans ask for money not to be sent to the Red Cross.
Get shot of the poor
Evacuations had two purposes. Parts of the land are drowned, toxic and dangerous. Some areas are not safe to stay in and people need to be safe. But, other parts, though damaged, are still good enough to be rebuilt and lived in. The authorities are making little distinction between the two. They want to clear the whole area so that rebuilding will get rid of the poor and the black and make a city for the rich only. The Wall Street Journal, America's main financial paper stated, "The new city must be something very different with better services and fewer poor people." Where are the poor going to go? They sure as hell aren't going to disappear over night. But they won't be welcome back either!
Already big construction and weapons businesses like Kellogg, Brown and Root has a $500m contract to rebuild naval bases. In exchange for the contract it donated a measly $1m to the disaster relief fund. Seems a good exchange!
The People's Response
Working people in New Orleans and other hard hit areas are organising themselves. A media centre has been opened in Algiers, one of the drier areas of the city. It has free bikes, food, showers and play facilities for kids. There is a community-run organisation offering mutual aid to all. They have doctors, lawyers, paramedics and "volunteers of all creeds and stripes" and are working more effectively than the organisations tied up with red tape.
The sick, the poor and those who chose to remain in the affected areas need dry clothes, food water and medical supplies. These were available in the shops and pharmacies around the city.
Anarchists believe that what we need should be there for us to have. The survivors acted in an anarchistic way and took what they needed. The police, protecting the owners and bosses, reacted violently. They shot and beat up those who took what they needed, in other words looters.
While the state continues to let people down we are encouraged to see the way working people in affected areas are supporting each other through imaginative and creative ways. If you want more info check out the common Ground website.
Support their work and that of other self-managed groups in New Orleans. by contacting them at www.commongroundrelief.org. with links to other groups available from there.
Where is the President when you need him most?
Sun Aug 28th Bush on holiday in Crawford Texas. Day
before the hurricane hit
Mon Aug 29th Bush acting as salesmen for drug companies in California and Arizona Katrina Arrives levees break
Tues Aug 30th Bush playing guitar for a photo shoot in San Diego The city is drowning
Wed Aug 31st Bush finally arrived to view the death and destruction - by plane, thousands of feet in the air!
A NEW CONSTRUCTION workers rank and file coalition has been formed to oppose new contracts imposed by the bosses with the connivance of full-time union officials. They want help distributing leaflets around building sites.
Major construction firm, Laing O'Rourke imposed a new Contract of Employment on all its site workers. This means large pay cuts for many and an employers 'discretionary bonus'. These attacks were fully supported by the full-time officials of the three major building industry unions - UCATT, TGWU and GMB. This ensured that where resistance did occur it was fragmented and unsuccessful.
No bosses stooges wanted
Hot on their heels, other employers are now following suit. It's not too late for workers to begin real, organised resistance to these attacks, as long as it occurs at a grassroots level independent of the management stooges who run the builders' unions. A meeting took place on 14th June in London to coordinate the fightback. This led to considerable interest from individual workers as well as the national Rank and File Building Worker Group and union branches such as the GMB SOLO branch and Northampton UCATT.
This new Rank and File coalition aims to spread resistance to the new contracts nationally whilst also fighting for improvements in wages, working hours, sick pay, pensions and the constant deaths and injuries caused by so-called 'site accidents'. To escape victimisation, they need support from other sympathisers to hand out newsletters and bulletins on their local building sites.
This type of grassroots initiative needs to be both
supported and repeated in other industries. Get in touch
and get involved.
Building Worker Group: 07767 615 354
ANARCHISTS AND OTHER activists have organised pickets outside the Blue Arrow offices in Manchester and Liverpool. The Liverpool actions twice managed to shut the Blue Arrow offices, despite the police trying (and failing) to use local by-laws against 'touting for trade' to move the pickets on the first time . Both pickets received considerable support from passers by. Like scabs the world over, Blue Arrow staff and managers prefer to slip in and out by the back door than face up to what they are doing.
Shame on them!
For info of more pickets, contact:
ANARCHISTS IN THE North West, from Liverpool, Preston and Manchester have met to form a campaign against the way employers are using casual labour and denying workers even basic employment rights. A web site is being set up, information can be obtained by contacting the Solidarity Federation: PO Box 469, Preston PR1 8XF
CNT, THE SPANISH anarchist trade union reports that after 117 days on strike, workers at Aussa in Seville have won their strike. The bosses had tried to sack the workers, but due to their amazing solidarity, not only did they get their jobs back, they also had working conditions improved.
WITH THE NATIONAL identity database and card bill poised to have its new 3rd reading in October, the Home Office has been trying to pour cold water on anti-ID campaigning by the launch of an 'ID Road Show' that apparently started in Manchester Airport in mid-September and might be coming to a place near you! That should provide some fun and games for Defy-ID who have been at the forefront of libertarian activities against the scheme. But how prepared are we to fight ID if it comes in? A popular campaign of outright refusal will surely be needed.
Defy-ID groups around the country have mostly been hitting the right message, but recently some individuals have suggested supporting left of Labour campaigns like NO2ID. Anarchists have real problems with this. NO2ID are asking you to 'write to your MP', and are putting their energy into lobbying the Labour Party conference. They have even set up a 'pledge' where they ask you to pay into a fighting fund for others can act - so you don't have to!
Lobbying of political parties and this kind of centrally organised fighting fund is typical of the socialist left who don't believe people can be self- empowered to fight. And who are the official refuseniks that will benefit from the pledge money, should it be raised? You guessed it, the same leftie organisers who are always going on about workers power but deep down think we are too stupid to fight our own struggles.
In addition we are hearing far too much of the 'won't stop fraud, won't stop crime' arguments against ID which just add to the fears we are currently living under. Instead of creating solidarity they actually reinforce the opposite, making us feel we need the state to protect us from others. It is especially sickening to hear 'won't stop benefit fraud' repeated again and again by the likes of Liberty and NO2ID - implying that surviving by working and claiming dole or living in the grey/black economy is something that we should worry about.
Let's not forget what ID was really about before the 'war on terror' and other bogus political messages took over before the general election. ID was about 'entitlement' to public services. The rich will be able to pay for their anonymity in society as they will not need to use services that the rest of us will have to access with our national ID. So underneath it all, ID is a big class issue.
Defending Anonymity, an AF Pamphlet on ID is on http://www.af-north.org/anon.pdf (and in various formats via www.afed.org.uk).
Ideas for action, www.defy-id.org.uk/ideas_for_action.htm
Discussion forum, www.libcom.org/forums
DISSENT HAD THEIR post-G8 get together in August. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the failures and successes of the mobilisation.
The dissection naturally led to a huge big pat on the back for us all. Fair enough. Dissent did mobilise thousands of people and organise a large space where our ideas for a future society were realised briefly, but the actual event, like the gathering reflected the inertia of summit hoppers to see forward to what could actually be achieved. What is Dissent? What does it represent? It was difficult for people to solidify an answer to those questions. Language is a scary thing for some people and there was a fear of "restricting ourselves with labels". The idea of Dissent focusing its attention where it matters, namely on the day-today struggle for working people was an idea accepted but forgotten in place of spectacles like DSEI.
The Anarchist Federation believes that moving out of the lifestyle ghetto and into our communities is how we can build alternatives. Dissent is meeting again in October and the point of community action will be raised again.
Saturday 22nd October 2005
The Resource Centre,
365 Holloway Road, London N7.
10 till 6.
More details from Anarchist Bookfair website
THE VERY FIRST Anarchist Bookfair was in 1983. It's happened every year since, getting bigger and better each time. This coming one is the 24th Anarchist Bookfair and it is the largest and most important regular gathering of Anarchists in the world. It reflects the full range of Anarchist groups, publishers and activity. Alongside the day length Bookfair, where you can get the latest books, pamphlets, magazines and all the other stuff, there are continual meetings and discussions on all aspects of anarchist activity. These are open to all. Through the day there is a professionally run creche and hot food.
The venue is on the Holloway Road in North London. It's just a couple of hundred metres from the Holloway Road tube station and is a convenient location. The Bookfair has moved because they needed a bigger space.
The Anarchist Federation will be there, so if you want to meet us, this is an excellent opportunity.
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