Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 87 - September 2006
In the September 2006 Resistance:
GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE YOUNG: fingerprinting of children on the rise
Ahead of its national Identity Card juggernaut, New Labour is creating
separate databases for children. The information they want on file is very
wide-ranging - school achievements, health visits, social security and
police records for all young people under 18. It’s all about child
protection, we are told. But the government should not be believed. Even
before the Children Act (2004) was passed, the state was confusing its
message. Margaret Hodge, in her Blair-created role of Children’s Minister
admitted, in true New Labour style, that such databases could “also be used
to support service planning and delivery”. So it’s clear they will want to
use information to control entitlement to public services needed by
children, in the same way they want to use the National Identity Register
for everyone else. We now hear that the government is intending to allow
children of 'celebrities', which will undoubtedly include top politicians,
to be exempted from the database in case their identities are abused. This
proves that identity databases are not at all secure, and that money and
power can buy anonymity. ID is most definitely a class issue - it will not
affect everyone the same way.
Worse still, moves are afoot in the European Union to get children
fingerprinted for passports, residence permits and visas. The 25 EU states
plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland met in July to discuss making it
compulsory for children aged over 12. This basic plan was supported by
Portugal, Hungary and UK. But any EU member state will also be allowed to
decide if they want to do it to even younger children. Already the Spanish
state has decided to take fingerprints and facial images from children at
birth, the Czech Republic say they will be taking fingerprints from age 5
and facial images from birth. Latvia and France are in favour of
fingerprints from age 6 and facial images from birth. So it’s vitally
important that we make links with activists across Europe.
At the same time, in Britain and elsewhere in the world, pupils and parents
are getting more vocal and organised in their protests against the growth of
fingerprinting in schools. Private companies are known to have installed
thousands of these noddy biometric systems across the country already. Many
schools are now taking students’ fingerprints, and even iris eye-scans, for
every school dinner, at registration or for taking out library books. It’s
very encouraging to know that school students in Britain are starting to
organise against this. At Edgbarrow school in Crowthorne, Berkshire, six
formers are opposing their school’s plan to pilot a fingerprint registration
scheme that is due to start in September. Plus it’s amusing to hear that
children could easily fool the system with fake fingerprints and register
friends who are absent, and that systems often fail to recognise real
Headteachers and other teachers who are wowed by these new technologies need
to be opposed. Many people already see schools as places where our children
learn conformity, and so understand that biometrics in schools are a way of
conditioning them for ID cards and a lifetime of being tracked by the
authorities and future employers. One campaign, LeaveThemKidsAlone, has a
website opposing fingerprinting and is compiling an A-Z list of schools,
plus there are numerous reports of fightback on the Indymedia newswire.
The second edition of the AF's free pamphlet, Defending Anonymity, is still
available online at http://www.afed.org.uk, and from our postal address (please
send Stamped Addressed Envelope).
The first comprehensive listing of British companies involved in Iraq is
published in Corporate Carve-up, a report by the independent research
organisation Corporate Watch. The report reveals that British companies are
playing a major part in the effort to create an Iraqi economy based on
neo-liberal, pro-corporate principles.
Everyone knows that the invasion of Iraq was a war fought for the control of
oil, but many still do not realise that the war had another economic
purpose. This was the penetration of US and UK corporate capital into the
Iraqi - and wider Middle Eastern - economy. The 'reconstruction' of the
Iraqi economy is the vehicle for this penetration, and as such is an
economic invasion and occupation that complements the military invasion and
Through privatisation, and projects remarkably similar to a PFI scheme,
corporations are being brought in to dominate Iraqi industries, services and
natural resources. In the words of the senior British officer in Iraq,
Lt-Gen Sir Robert Fry, the aim of the US/UK forces is 'to take what was an
entirely moribund state socialist economic system and begin to introduce it
to the disciplines of the market.
The report shows that UK companies have made over £1.1 billion from Iraq
since the 2003 invasion. There is no doubt that this is a lot of money.
This figure is certain to be much higher - but many corporations have
forbidden the government to give out information about their activities in
However, the £1.1 billion amounts to only a fifth of what the British
government has spent on the military invasion and occupation - and is a
small slice of the $40 billion total funds for Iraq reconstruction. Most of
this money has gone to US companies. In the first year of occupation, more
than 80% of major contracts were given to US companies.
The hundreds of millions of dollars that UK companies have made in Iraq must
be compared to the many billions that US companies have made. In March 2003,
just a few days after the invasion of Iraq, Patricia Hewitt made a public
plea to the US that British business should not be overlooked as
reconstruction contractors. This supplication may have had some effect - in
March 2004 a partnership of US firm Fluor and UK construction giant Amec was
granted one of the bigger reconstruction contracts.
This report by Corporate Watch shows that while British firms may have been
excluded from the main reconstruction bonanza, they play a major role in
three sectors of the corporate invasion.
Firstly, private security. British-run firms provide a large proportion of
the armed escort and guarding services that accompany all private
contractors in Iraq. British private military companies (PMCs) such as
Erinys and Aegis were formed shortly before the 2003 invasion to exploit the
burgeoning Iraqi market in security provision and have mushroomed from small
firms worth thousands to major operations with turnovers of tens of
millions. In terms of revenue British security firms are easily neck and
neck with their US counterparts.
Second, British companies have also taken the lead in ‘selling Iraq’.
British government agencies, or enterprises with close connections to the
government, have organised fifteen of the most important corporate
reconstruction meetings on the Iraqi conference circus. Access to those
conferences for some smaller British firms has enabled a few to crowbar
their way into the reconstruction markets.
Third, UK firms such as the Adam Smith Institute, the Hedra Consortium,
Solace Enterprises and Bell-Pottinger have played a major role in shaping
Iraq's government, civil service and media. British firms have provided a
crucial network of information and public relations services which provide
the propaganda, intelligence and knowledge resources required to transform
Iraq into a neo-liberal corporate-friendly economy.
The US/UK led reconstruction is designed to put corporations at the centre
of Iraq's economy, through giving them contracts to run services such as
power and water. Meanwhile, British consultants, such as Adam Smith
International, attempt to foster an Iraqi civil service that is just as
wedded to the idea of privatisation and public-private-partnerships as the
US and UK governments already are. The damaging effect this has on Iraqi
society is obvious, as Iraqi expertise is ignored and profit-driven US/UK
companies deliver meagre results for the billions ploughed into
The report Corporate Carve Up, the role of UK companies in Iraq since 2003,
can be obtained from Corporate Watch for £5. Contact 01865 791 391 or visit
ON THE FRONTLINE
We’ll start with an important battle in east London this month, where 200
cleaners, porters and other domestic staff employed at Whipps Cross hospital
have begun a three day strike to force Rentolkil Initial* to fully implement
wage parity with NHS members as agreed following another strike three years
ago. The management have unilaterally decided to only give around 33% of the
back money owed as London weighting. This is an important fight with wider
consequences for other non-NHS employed hospital staff nationwide.
Fire-fighters on Merseyside have been out on two 4-day strikes over plans to
cut around 150 jobs. Over 1000 walked out and the strikes have been solid so
far, with the prospect of further action over the coming weeks.
The usual trouble in the Post Office as well, where management bullying has
lead to yet another local strike, this time in west Oxfordshire where a
three day walkout with two more to come by staff has led to severe
Driving test instructors are not really what springs to mind when you think
of industrial militancy but this month they’ve been out on strike at plans
to shut down a number of driving centres and dilute the knowledge necessary
to pass the test, effectively bringing down safety standards not just for
themselves but for everyone. Four thousand tests have been cancelled so far
following two one day stoppages. Talks seem to be blocked so it looks like
there’ll be a few more walk outs yet.
Finally, a crucial struggle is brewing in the NHS logistics department,
which in a very telling move has just been privatised with DHL taking over
in October. NHS logistics organise and delivers supplies to all of the
hospitals in the country. A ballot is currently being held amongst the 1700
workers who are to have their contracts switched to the private sector,
informed comment expects a strong yes vote for strike action. These 1700
workers have the potential to shut down every hospital in the country if
they do decide to walk out. Even a go slow, a work to rule or other partial
obstruction can do massive damage. This is a central part of the plans to
sell off the entire NHS piece by piece - already private companies are
performing all sorts of surgery and have started buying up Doctors
practices. This struggle has to be seen in the light of the longer term
plans, and support needs to be offered as soon as the ballot results are in.
Piecemeal battles are the way the state has planned it’s campaign, not one
mass battle like the miners strike this time.
*In the first half of this year Rentolkil Initial made £102.1 million
SONIC WARFARE AGAINST YOUTH
Few people like mosquitos, but a new breed of mozzie menace has recently
began appearing in the UK. This particular mosquito doesn’t fly or bite you,
but it may leave an unpleasant ringing in your ears. Some victims report it
causes headaches and mild nausea, even from a short exposure.
“The Mosquito” in question is a sonic device, marketed as an “anti-social
teenager repellent”, that property owners are being encouraged to buy and
install in order to disperse groups of youths. It creates an increasingly
unbearable whine using high-pitched sounds that only younger people can
hear. (No, this really isn’t a joke!)
This device is being encouraged with rapturous praise by local councils,
the Home Office and the Police. It’s nothing short of a deliberate assault
on an entire section of society - regardless of whether they are “trouble
makers” or not.
If councils didn’t have such chequebook-shaped eyes, and weren’t continually
turning our streets into sterile altars of capitalism, removing anything
that’s not a shop, a bar or some other profit-making venture, then this kind
of “preventative” measure wouldn’t be needed.
Instead of installing dehumanising repellent devices, why not just leave
some non-commercial town centre spaces for people to hang out?
Little wonder that many youngsters behave badly when the State encourages
capitalists to treat them like worthless rodents! The council “town
planning” morons are patting each other on the back with glee - well done
indeed, for disinfecting the streets of the cancer of unruly youth!
As ever, these corporate bastards and their lackeys view anyone who isn’t a
good little consumer trapped in the big rat race, as simply a parasite to be
steam-rollered out of the way. Few people stop to consider who the real
parasites are - the business owners and politicians, seeking to eradicate
all traces of youthful rebellion from the corporate high street, sucking the
very lifeblood from our society and replacing it with nothing but hollow
Evidently “anti-social behaviour” now includes such shocking crimes as being
young and having nowhere better to hang out with your mates. Meanwhile,
business owners carry out a form of sonic assault on kids, and the
politicians and Police hail this abuse as a “success”.
ANARCHISM MEANS CHAOS, RIGHT?
No, we want no division between rulers and ruled, workers and bosses,
leaders and followers, order givers and order takers. We want a world run
from the bottom up, where decisions are made directly by those affected by
them, not by authorities, elected or imposed.
Surely workplaces need bosses to run them?
No, In an anarchist society, workplaces, communities and other associations
would be run by face-to-face meetings of all their participants, with
everyone having an equal say on the decisions that effect them. Rather than
promising to obey an authority, individuals would participate in making
their own collective decisions, their own commitments to their fellows.
Let’s put it another way, if the boss got off your back, would you work
smarter or harder? Sure you would. Just about everything that needs doing
can be done without anyone telling us to do it, and gets done better. You
could work alone, with a few people or as part of a big organization,
without bosses and on your own terms.
Who would run things, then?
You’d run your own life, and so would I. But we might do the things we can’t
do alone together and so would society. We could stop the wars, the poverty,
the disease, the tin-pot dictators tomorrow if they’d let us, by working
together to do the right thing. And we’ll decide what’s right, for ourselves
and no-one else.
Simple administrative tasks could be carried out by elected committees, but
these would have no authority, only the duty to carry out the wishes of
those who appointed them. The delegates would be temporary, given binding
instructions (mandated) and would be instantly recallable if they step
outside their mandate. That means they could be sacked at any time!
You mean loads of endless meetings?
Well, if you don’t like them, don’t go, that’s your freedom. But if you
want to be involved, no-one can keep you out and your say is as important as
everyone else’s. Imagine your workplace as somewhere enjoyed by everyone,
working as equals. Imagine that instead of being told what to do by the
boss, the government or policeman we could live without orders and rules,
regulations and restrictions; but together! That’s anarchism.
Want to find out more? Then visit our website: http://www.afed.org.uk
LABOUR'S NANNY STATE
“‘We can clamp down on anti-social children before birth,’ says Blair”,
“Teachers warn over school uniform debts”, “Parents pack focaccia and sushi
in lunch boxes”. Three headlines in one paper on one day recently, the
measure of the society New Labour is making. A society of enforced
conformity with middle-class tastes and values. Values defined and shaped
by capitalism’s endless search for profit. Blair thinks that working class
kids born on estates he is afraid of, to parents he dislikes, will
inevitably become “a menace to society and a threat to themselves”. He
intends to criminalise people not for what they have done but who they might
become, a racism of class, a eugenic program for the poor. Why not just
sterilise us Tony, and get it over with?
Nanny Labour thinks all school kids should wear school uniforms but is
strangely quiet when it comes to the companies making huge profit by
monopolising their supply. Why should schools be able to tell children what
to wear or force parents to buy only from certain places they’ve approved in
sweetheart deals? We are compelled to send children to school, served
parenting orders when we refuse, our children bullied when they go and
expelled when they complain, force-fed an education that only those who
conform can benefit from.
This enforced middle-class conformity doesn’t just extend to what we wear or
are allowed to think but also to what we eat and how we behave. Due to
peer-pressure ‘to be fashionable’ and ‘cool’, apparently 20% of parents are
now putting focaccia and ciabatta in lunch boxes while thousands of little
Tamsins and Timothys regularly tuck in to sushi and smoked salmon, an
affectation costing £2bn a year! No wonder the priggish, prissy, stuck-up
little lords of creation are regularly getting mugged for their iPods and
Capitalism is seducing us with the lure of equity windfalls, gap years and
endless holidays. Conform, get on, climb the corporate tree and capitalist
society will shower you with wealth, wealth taken from the billions who
labour and redistributed unfairly. If you don’t or can’t, then poverty,
suspicion and control by the nanny state is all you get. It shouldn’t be
this way, should it?
DON'T DRINK AT STARBUCKS
Starbucks hate unions. They hate it when their workers stand up for
themselves. Now they are sacking workers in the USA for joining the
They’ve just sacked Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) member Daniel
Gross after more than three years of organizing at the company. His crimes
were to go on a union picket line to support a fellow worker and refusing to
grass on his mates.
Daniel is the fourth union member to be sacked in a year. His union are
asking people not to buy Starbucks coffee till they get their jobs back.
Drink somewhere else.
Solidarity actions with the fired baristas have taken place in Germany,
Austria, the British Isles, and the United States. You can help by taking
part in an email action. http://starbucksunion.org/node/1015
For more information, visit the union’s website at http://www.starbucksunion.org
On Wed 9th of August, Krzysztof Wantoch-Rekowski - a longtime activist of
the Polish Anarchist Federation and Food Not Bombs from Poznan - was
detained by the police. He has been put into jail for six weeks for...
destroying his identity card (article 276 of the Penal Code).
We are calling for expressions of solidarity with Krzysztof:
1. sending protest letters to the Ministry of Justice
2. sending solidarity letters to the prison where Krzysztof is being
Below is a sample of the letter to the Ministry:
I, signed below, protest against the detention of Krzysztof Wantoch-Rekowski
- a longtime activist with the Polish Anarchist Federation from Poznan and
Food Not Bombs group - in prison in Poznan. His sentence is unnecessarily
harsh and illustrates the repressive character of the Polish state. I demand
his immediate release!
Address of the Ministry of Justice:
Al. Ujazdowskie 11
00-950 Warszawa, POLAND
Sygnatura akt (file signature): WK 1481/03/4
Solidarity letters to Krzysztof (postcards, letters, leaflets, newspapers,
etc. please remember that all of them will be filtered by censors).
Address of Krzysztof in prison:
61-729 Poznan, POLAND
Anarchist Federation Poland/Poznan
Anarchist Black Cross/Poznan
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: www.ldmg.org.uk
15th - International Day Of Action Against The Icelandic State Aan Alcoa No
matter the environmental and social cost, no matter the ever increasing
protests from the Icelandic and international communities and the
intensifying warnings fom the scientific sector, the Icelandic government is
hellbent on going ahead with its plan to inundate the projected Hálslón
reservoir at Kárahnjúkar between 15-30 September. They must be stopped!
16th - Campaign Against Climate Change - Race Against Climate Doom Put on
your jogging gear, join the race and spread the message! Gather 12.30pm
outside ExxonMobil London Offices, St Katherines House, on the corner of
Kingsway and Aldwych. Finishes at the US Embassy for a party.
16th - Party For Global Climate Justice Climate change will affect the poor
the most. Come and show solidarity wth those at threat around the world and
call for climate justice. 2PM - 6ish US Embassy, Grosvoner Square (Bond
Street Tube) 0207 8339311 or 07903 316331 email firstname.lastname@example.org
19th - Justice in the Middle East. March for Peace Silent March Starting
from Despenser Gardens, Riverside, Cardiff at 2.30pm. Please wear black.
3.00pm Rally City Hall.
23th - Time To Go Demonstration Troops Out of Iraq, No Attack on Iran, No
Trident Replacement, Get Blair Out, End Israeli Terror. Manchester assemble
1pm Albert Square, Brighton coach tickets - only £10 return (call 07917
300419) London coach Leaves 7:00am, Shepherds Bush Road, (outside Old Fire
Station)., near Hammersmith, Police Station. W6 Tickets: £15 waged, £6
unwaged, £3 under 18s. Call Explo on 07984 405307 Or email:
email@example.com for more info on London coaches.
23th - "No Trident Replacement, Don't Attack Iran" - a demonstration on the
eve of the Labour Party conference, Manchester, called by CND and the Stop
the War Coalition. Meet 1pm, Albert Square, Manchester. For more info see
BM ANARFED, London,
WC1N 3XX, England.
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