Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 85 - June 2006
THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT!
It looks as though 2006 is going to turn out to be highly significant for
Here in Britain, the government, whose members are in line for whopping
great retirement pensions, are working out ways of cutting the pensions of
ordinary working people, while making them work until they drop. Make no
bones about it, this is a major attack.
And what are the unions doing about it? One day strikes here, and one day
strikes there. Given the low key response to the pensions crisis the
government is hardly quaking in its boots. Rivals Blair and Brown are
supposed to have come to a deal on this issue, so between them we can expect
to be screwed.
Contrast this softly, softly approach to what the French workers and
students achieved in March and April of this year. The French government
brought in a measure which meant that young workers under 26 within a two
year trial period could be sacked by their bosses without explanation.
And what was the response of the French working class? Well, millions of
them including young workers, students, older workers, families and
pensioners took to the streets. Not content with peaceful passive protests,
they turned to more dramatic, and effective, methods of persuasion. There
were riots, street clashes, many blockades of rail tracks and motorways.
France erupted into anger.
And the outcome? The law was scrapped and the humiliated government has been
forced to pay massive subsidies (£104 million per year) to encourage firms
to take on young unqualified staff. That’s the way to do it!
Now the Identity Cards Act has been passed, the building of 69 ‘in-person’
registration centres for gathering biometric data and vetting passport
applications is supposed to go ahead later this year. In the next couple of
years the centres will also manage compulsory entry on the National Identity
Register for passport applications, and Labour have made it clear that their
final goal is compulsory ID for everyone. Maperley [ed,correction: Mapeley ], the private offshore
company that already owns buildings for HM Revenue and Customs (but avoids
paying tax!) has been given the Home Office contract to run the new centres.
In the meantime, No2ID is asking that if you need a passport, it would show
the level of opposition to ID if everyone renewed or applied now, even if
your passport is not due for renewal yet (www.renewforfreedom.org).
Labour’s ID scheme is rife with private ‘enterprise’, which is not
surprising since the huge funds needed to set up and run one of the biggest
top-down Information Technology projects in the world seems to be an almost
bottomless pit of cash (the other British project vying for the title is
digitisation of NHS records). The size of the ID scheme is not just about
billions of pounds though. The Criminal Records Bureau have a computerised
system to do criminal record checks on job applicants, known as
“disclosures”, and say that 25,000 people were prevented from being
recruited last year. But in May, the CRB were found to have wrongly labelled
2,700 people as ‘criminal’ due to their personal details being similar to
someone on their database - an error of 0.03% in 9 million disclosures. Not
only that, but there is evidence of massive abuse of the database from
employers making illegal checks on potential employees for jobs involving
“no risk to children or vulnerable adults”, and excessive requests for
“enhanced disclosures” which impart additional information the police may
have about an individual, not just known convictions.
The ID cards system is much, much bigger. With around 4 in 5 of us being
over 16 years of age that means about 50 million people will go in the
National Identity Register. The possibility for errors seems endless,
whether it’s in entering the 49 pieces of information per person in the
first place, or looking up your identity hundreds or thousands of times a
year (not just for the occasional job application). Never mind the myriad of
ways that knowledge of many ‘correct’ identities will be deliberately abused
by the police or anyone else that has access to the database. Children’s
databases and plans for police logging of all car travel in Britain using
digital cameras are also underway, to make us even safer we are told. It’s
clear that the more invasive the State and its corporate partners become
through their huge IT projects, the more the potential for abuse will carry
Defending Anonymity, the AF’s anti-ID pamphlet, is available for free (send
us a SAE) or online at http://www.afed.org.uk
ON THE FRONTLINE
The big news this month was the return of the mass wildcat to a British car
factory for the first time in many years. A thousand workers at the General
Motors Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant downed tools and walked out when they
got wind of comments by the GM Europe President that job cuts were in the
pipeline, word quickly got around and the nightshift then failed to turn up
for work as well. The union quickly got the workers back inside the factory
though, all the better to ‘negotiate’ their jobs away - 1000 job losses were
agreed within a few days.
There was also a large wildcat in the West Midlands mail centre, when around
a 100 workers walked out after a racist incident. Further trouble is on the
way in the Post Office where a national strike is looking very likely
following management’s unilateral imposition of a 2.9% wage rise - something
that the workers are very unhappy with - it’s been suggested that in line
with the PO manager’s long term plans this is an attempt to further
demoralise post workers so that they leave, cutting the wages bill, and
making the company appear a better bet for investors with further
privatisation lined up over the coming years.
The nationwide lecturers boycott of exams continues and is now really
starting to bite with exams being called off around the country. The union
is still refusing to endorse a strike though, despite the clear need for
decisive measures to be taken immediately: and is only arguing for a slight
escalation via management boycotts and other partial steps.
Bus drivers in Wiltshire and Dorset are going be holding a number of 24 and
48 hour strikes next month over a derisory pay off. The surprising news is
that for once the company involved isn’t First.
Some bad news now - a CBI report has found that absenteeism is now at its
lowest point for 10 years, and that only 17% of days lost are believed to be
fraudulent. With the World Cup fast approaching surely with a bit of effort
we can improve on the 160 million days lost last year - pull your fingers
We bet the CBI didn’t bother to publicise another report that was published
last month, which discovered that leading company bosses enjoyed an average
pay package of £3.3 million a year - meanwhile, the average pay is £22,900.
The class war is over is it Tony?
HIGHER EDUCATION DISPUTE
For some time the university academic staff unions, the AUT and NATFHE, have
been instructing their teaching members’ not to set exams or mark their
students’ work, to pressure employers in the current pay dispute. Already
some university vice chancellors are threatening to deduct wages.
Lecturers and research staff were promised higher wages as a result of the
new tuition fees which will be charged from September, a promise that the
universities had no intention of keeping. Wages have dropped in value by 40%
compared with other public sector increases since the 1980s, whilst those of
vice chancellors have risen by an average 25%.
Due to the action many students will end the academic year without having
gained enough marks to progress, and if they are in their final year they
will not graduate properly. So is this action justified? Many staff as well
as students don’t think so, and see it as dividing their essentially common
University academic staff are taking the most traditionally effective form
of action – the withdrawal of labour. But why strike when other forms of
action are open? Students suffering is just a side-issue to trades unions,
because students are not their members. Other forms of industrial action
should be taken, something that unites staff and students and expresses both
of our interests whilst hitting the universities in the pocket.
Both students and lecturers have also been let down by the naive careerists
of the National Union of Students. These fashionably supported lecturers’
action at first, but then withdrew it when things got controversial. These
issues are not games. We need to work out where we stand, and remain firm.
The NUS strives for nothing beyond the status quo.
In the current situation students can only be expected to identify with
lecturers’ interests to a certain extent. We need to work hard to unite
lecturers and students in challenging both the employers and the power of
single-interest unions, which fail to represent us.
POLICE BRUTALITY IN MEXICO
The conflict began on May 3, when flower vendors from San Salvador Atenco
attempted to sell flowers in the nearby community of Texcoco at the site of
a planned WalMart megamall. Police evicted the vendors, beating many people
in the process.
The Atenco-based Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT) mobilized protests,
which were brutally repressed by police. News reports indicate police killed
at least two residents, and at least 50 or more are injured, some of them
critically. Eleven police were detained by Atenco residents who demanded an
end to the repression and the release of prisoners in exchange for the
release of the detained police. Instead of negotiating an exchange, the
Federal Preventative Police (anti-riot squad) entered Atenco during the
early morning hours of Thursday, May 4, declared a state of siege, and began
a house to house search for the detained police, severely beating and
The results of the police terror on May 4 were 275 people held in custody.
Many of the leaders of the FPDT were arrested when police searched their
homes without warrants, directed by a masked informant. Townspeople
recognized the informant’s voice as he directed police. Three of the top
leaders of the FPDT are in a maximum security prison, charged with
Now, 144 people are charged with a lesser offence for which they can bail
out if they can come up with approximately 24 thousand pesos (around $2,000
dollars). Charges against another 17 were completely dismissed. However, 28
remain in prison charged with kidnapping for the detention of police on May
3, including 3 FPDT leaders.
San Salvador Atenco is an autonomous (self-governing) community a little to
the east of Mexico City. The community is highly organized and is famous
for its militant protesters who participate in popular mobilizations across
central Mexico, including those opposing a WalMart store near the
archaeological site of Teotihuacán (close to Atenco). It appears that the
police were just waiting for the right excuse and the okay from above to
smash San Salvador Atenco, in particular the FPDT. Organise actions against
Walmart and put pressure on the Mexican government in support of Atenco.
THE BNP IN BARKING AND DAGENHAM
A political time bomb has exploded in East London. The racist British
National Party won at least 11, and possibly 12 seats on the local Council.,
making it the official opposition to Labour. The BNP has effectively, for
the first time in its history, gained a mass base in a community.
How has this situation come about? Firstly, it should be noted that until a
couple of years ago, the borough of Barking and Dagenham was almost totally
white working class. In this population the Labour Party has had effectively
one party rule for decades. The local Party is corrupt, arrogant and a
career base for the ambitious.
Much of the population was poor and neglected. They lived in the biggest
council estate in Europe. It is vast but the families in the community knew
that council housing was secure for them.
Then came Thatcherism, council houses were sold off, many being bought by
whites who bought to rent, becoming landlords (leeches), and depleting the
housing stock for their children. New rules about the right to council
accommodation also made getting a council house much more difficult.
Within the last few years, local people, in the town of Barking in
particular, became aware that large numbers of Kosovan refugees were being
housed in their area. Some housing staff actively promoted the idea that
Kosovans were responsible for the shortage of housing, fueling resentment.
Council houses in the borough became increasingly scarce after the right
to buy was introduced. Still, a few years ago they could be bought for
£60,000. Now a 3-bedroomed ex-council house costs over £180,000, well beyond
the reach of local people.
About 2 years ago, the ethnic character of the borough changed rapidly.
Large numbers of black people moved in and bought many of the ex-council
housing. Some, it appears, were given grants to help purchase their
properties by housing associations in inner London eager on moving them to
make way for new applicants. This fuelled resentment. The blacks, Kosovans
and other outsiders were blamed for the housing crisis.
The widespread poverty in the borough not only impacted on housing. Schools
and social services could not cope, adding further resentment.
Who is responsible for this rapid and widespread growth of racism? Blame
firmly rests with Labour. The local Party was complacent and corrupt. But it
was under Blair that mass racism in the borough was created. Blair and co.
have done nothing about the widespread and chronic housing crisis in
The only hope in the short term for the poor of all races, is more social
housing. Labour continues to oversee the sale of council houses.
The BNP success is now starting to take effect. Working class whites who
voted for them are becoming more vocal, more confidently racist in the
changed political climate.
What are the prospects? The BNP are noted for their incompetence in local
government. Maybe they will make fools of themselves and be voted out next
time. More worrying, if the BNP uses its public platform to criticise the
lack of progress under Labour and no improvements take place, especially
with housing, they could capture the whole borough.
There are no easy solutions. More affordable social housing and decent free
local health facilities should be available to all, this will only be
achieved through the poor of all races arguing out their differences, and
uniting against their common enemy, landlords, bosses and government (local
and national, of whatever party).
TIME BOMB: THE SPANISH REVOLUTION 1936
On July 19th 1936, forces within the Spanish Army, backed by the right wing
in the Catholic Church and among industrialists and big landowners, as well
as among the fascists of the Falange and the monarchists, made an attempt to
overthrow the young Republic.
Rumours and preparations for the attempted army coup had been obvious to all
but the government, which, afraid of the workers more than of the army,
refused the demands that arms should be distributed to the people. All the
attempts by the Army in the main industrial centres were defeated, with the
exception of Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba and Grenada.
Half a million workers were organised within the mass anarchosyndicalist
union, the Confederation Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), and many other workers
were in the socialist union the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT). In
Madrid armed UGT militants smashed the Army revolt. In Barcelona, it was the
CNT and the Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI) which captured the barracks
and thwarted the generals. So began the Spanish Revolution.
In Catalonia and Aragon, the regions with the highest concentration of
anarchists and those influenced by them, distribution of food, the
maintenance of public services, the opening of collective restaurants and
the organisation of armed militias was undertaken by revolutionary
committees outside the control of government.
Collectivisation of industry and the seizing of the land were set in motion
by CNT embers, and to a lesser extent UGT members. Often, anarchist militias
such as the Durruti Column, would actively promote and defend
collectivisations as they traveled to the frontline. Possibly 3 million
people were involved in collectives in 1936-37.
Working people began to cast off centuries of mental servitude. People spoke
to each other as equals. New groups involving themselves in artistic,
musical and cultural activities emerged in a surge of creativity unleashed
by the possibilities the revolution offered.
This far reaching revolution was attacked by the forces of Franco, and
sabotaged from within by the Communist Party and the liberal Republicans.
But that’s another story….
NEW ORGANISE! MAGAZINE NOW OUT
Organise! magazine #66 (Spring/Summer 2006) now in print, with articles on
ID cards Act, Spanish revolution 70th anniversary & artist Ramón Acín
Aquilué, Environmental struggles in West Ireland & USA, Venezuelan
interview, Anarchists and Media, Prisoner Support.
Available at http://www.afed.org.uk or from our usual address (see below).
Finnish anarchist jailed for refusing military service
Finnish anarchist MC Henrik “Iso H” Rosenberg began his 195 day prison
sentence for total objecting (refusing military service and alternative
state work) 20th of March. Iso H is not the first Finnish anarchist MC to go
down for total objecting - both Jus Aname representing Järvenpää and Tapani
Ganja representing Turku did their prison sentences in 2002. But differently
from Jus Aname and Tapani Ganja who are strictly underground, Iso H is a
commercially successful hip hop artist with a celebrity status. 11th of
November 2005 Iso H was performing in a successful joint benefit concert for
Union of Conscientious Objectors and Anarchist Black Cross, over stage there
was a big banner in support of American anarchist political prisoner Jeffrey
“Free” Luers. Paid audience was more than 500.
Total objecting is getting more and more mainstream, and currently vast
majority of objectors come from outside activist circles. For example of 25
people doing time 1st of march for “alternative service crime” according to
state statistics, vast majority of whom are political, only six had
contacted Union of Conscientious Objectors in order to get to their prisoner
list. You may subscribe a War Resisters International petition for Iso H at:
US anti-fascist jailed
An American woman, Lasandra Burwell, has been sentenced to 5 years
imprisonment for 2nd Degree Felony Assault, 1st Degree Felony Assault, and
Fourth Degree Aggravated Riot for throwing bricks at police cars and police
officers during the anti-fascist riot in Toledo, OH last October. She
welcomes books and letters of support. Her address is:
Lasandra Burwell W063658, Ohio Reformatory for Women, 1479 Collins Ave.
Marysville, OH 43040, USA
SUBVERT – JUNE DIARY DATES
When going on demonstrations stay sober, don’t talk to the police and if
you’re arrested give only your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any
other questions. For more info visit: http://www.ldmg.org.uk
3-11: Stop the Arms Trade Week – An opportunity for co-ordinated local
campaigning. Contact Campaign Against Arms Trade on 020 7281 0297 to order a
free campaign pack or to find out what is happening in your area, or visit
http://www.calltheshots.org for more
4: International day of Child Victims of Aggression - Bring the family to
Beith munitions depot in Ayreshire, Scotland - where a very large number of
bombs used in the Iraq conflict and conflict elsewhere are made, tested and
stored. Meet 1pm for picnic outside the gates. For transport from Edinburgh
and Glasgow tel: 07876 698 736 or email: email@example.com
10: 2006 Road Block national conference. Anti-roads campaigners take note.
The location is central Birmingham. Workshops and guest speakers. Get more
information and download booking forms here:
10: Norwich Anarchist Bookfair - Stalls, meetings, food, bar & music.
Blackfriar’s Hall, Norwich, 10am-6pm. Free entry. Beards optional.
11 until July 1: Art Not Oil, London. An exhibition and campaign committed to
showing powerful political/ecological art, to seeing an end to oil
sponsorship of the arts, and to helping build movements for climate justice
both here and throughout the world. For more info: email
firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 07708 794 665 visit:
Art Not Oil is a project of London Rising Tide:
16-18 June: PROJECTILE: A festival of anarchist film and culture
Newcastle, Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2BB
ADMISSION & ACCOMODATION: Weekend pass: £25 waged or £5 waged
Individual films: suggested donation of £3.50, free for asylum seekers
For more information, contact email@example.com
BM ANARFED, London,
WC1N 3XX, England.
Subscriptions to resistance costs £4 from the address above for 12
issues. A two issue subscription to our magazine, Organise! for
revolutionary anarchism, is also £4.
You can subscribe to resistance by email for free, or
download current (and back issues) from http://www.libcom.org/hosted/af/res/