Also read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk
Contents of the December 2006/January 2007 issue:
It’s clearer than ever you shouldn’t believe a word that the state is saying. How many people believed in 2003 that the Second Gulf War in Iraq would be over in a couple of months and that British troops would be “home by Christmas”? In the years between then and now, the words of the press have shifted from ‘operation’ to ‘war’ to ‘invasion’ to ‘occupation’, and most recently to ‘civil war’. Politicians here and abroad have made various pledges that have not been fulfilled, like the Australia Labor Party who said its troops would be back by Christmas 2004.
Now as soldiers approach their fourth Christmas in Iraq we are hearing signs of more bullshit about a Spring withdrawal from the government who know that public opinion is turning against the bloodbath they have helped create, whereas army chiefs have planned to stay until 2010 at least. The military might be worried about losing battles if they stay, but they also have their eyes on cuts in military funding if they pulled out sooner. Never mind the reason they are there in the first place - to secure oil supplies.
Secrets and lies
The Spanish government cynically blamed the Madrid train bombing on Basque separatists, ETA, which turned out to be nonsense. Secret service claims that they have uncovered 30 terror plots in Britain, or 200 depending on which newspaper you read, just seem laughable.
You can add to all this a growing disbelief about Labour’s motives for promoting NHS electronic records and ID cards. Plus, the Tories may pretend they are now against ID, but they tried to introduce them in 1995 when they were still in power, so that’s an obvious lie by a party who will say anything to get elected.
The big question is, with all these lies around, who is left to trust? How many people believe anarchists when we say we’d be better off without governments and capitalism? Will more people turn to anarchism if they see that lies are all around them? The answers are not at all clear.
We respond in many different ways to being lied to. For instance, there are signs of a vocal movement that claims that the September 11 twin tower collapse was an inside job by the US secret services to justify the Iraq war, using planted explosives, or that the Pentagon was hit by a missile rather than an airliner. Supporters of 9/11 Truth and the home-grown July 7 Truth campaign are organising in Britain, setting up websites and supplying thousands of leaflets CDs and DVDs at anti-war and anti-ID events to ‘prove’ their theories. And we are told that more than half of British muslims do not believe that ‘arabs’ were involved in 9/11.
Making sense of a world that seems to be (and ultimately is) run by a bunch of ruthless liars is not trivial. The majority of the middle class may be comforted that they can buffer themselves against the insanity of capitalism by keeping their heads down and trying not to think too much whilst the poor are left to rot. A minority of the middle class who dares to think more deeply may start to be swayed by conspiracy theories bolstered by internet forums and their would-be celebrity leaders, or succumb to depression, or both. They may be fascinated by freemasonry and Da Vinci codes. Their problem is they think too much, complain, but mostly do not act. This is not surprising. How can you fight something that so mysterious, secret and hidden? Capitalism may result in a crazy system full of lies, but its roots are not really so hidden. Land, money and power is held by a few and the systems set up to maintain this inequality are out there in our everyday lives. Laws that protect private property are the basis of nation states and these laws are written down. The military and secret services have training colleges and are supplied by arms companies that are registered in Companies House. Even religious ideology is not too difficult to understand if you can be bothered to read the Bible or Koran.
Workplaces are set up to give bosses power over our daily lives, but these bosses are real people with homes even if they live in another country. Local councils are involved with implementing government plans for ID cards and databases which will include giving planning permission for biometric interview centres. The same goes for CCTV or traffic surveillance schemes.
The whole system is complex but it can be fought by collective action, often locally, and if not by building national networks and international solidarity. There is no more a need to invent a Big Brother than to believe in Santa Claus.
John Reid wins the award hands down for 2006, and he’ll be a good candidate 2007 too because of the wave of repression and misery he has in store for us.
Reid’s job as Home Secretary since May 2006 has been to implement the ID scheme with an ‘entitlement card’ and National Identity Register. To do this, he needs to classify foreigners as freeloaders so that everyone else will accept it. We must all give up personal privacy to prove whether we are entitled or not. If you doubt this is about restricting and monitoring everyone, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate says, “ID cards will implemented as rapidly as possible, starting with biometric residence permits for foreign nationals in 2008, and rolling to UK nationals thereafter”. Worse still, the government wants to make sure that the only non-EU nationals who come here ‘legally’ are business people, wealthy tourists or high fee-paying students.
Next, to convince us there is an ‘immigration problem’ and that the government has the right ideas for dealing with it, the IND expressed delight in July that “removals of principal asylum applicants increased by 91% from 1997-2005” and “applications for asylum are at around a quarter of their peak level”. This is surely not because the world is 4 times safer than it was before! Racist border police will be expected to profile anyone suspected of being ‘foreign’ and to monitor and make records of absolutely everyone going on holiday or whatever. Biometric visas and other paperwork will be needed to get on planes and will have to be gained before people leave their home country. We are told this is to “establish who people are and whether they are entitled to enter, and to ensure that they do not get here if they are not welcome”.
People ‘genuinely’ needing to flee persecution will not have the time, security and money to apply for a visa, nor produce legally supporting paperwork to prove that they are in danger of death, torture or imprisonment in their ‘home’ country. Reid also announced plans to allow anyone to shop those involved with ‘illegal’ employment through the ‘Crimestoppers’ phoneline. Although this is supposedly directed at employers, it will be used against illegal workers who are doing nothing worse than working for a pittance to survive, and also hurt ‘legal’ migrants and British ethnic minorities because of the racist suspicions it encourages.
On the other hand, you can win British citizenship if you are prepared to risk your life in Iraq or Afghanistan to get it. Commonwealth soldiers are to be offered ‘fast track’ British passports by Reid for this service to our colonial regime. This will encourage the 7,150 Commonwealth soldiers to stay in a force that sees 9,000 British soldiers leave it each year. This does nothing to solve the economic hardship that is the reason a Commonwealth citizen would take such a dangerous job in the first place.
During November, 10 police forces across the UK announced they were testing a roadside fingerprinting device. Stopped drivers were asked to prove their identity and, if unable to convince police of their name, offered the ‘choice’ of either having their fingerprints taken electronically at the roadside or of going to the police station for several hours while checks were made.
How you ‘convince’ police of a real name remains unclear, though not looking ‘dodgy’ and not questioning officers’ instructions probably help. A good citizen apparently has nothing to fear from allowing their fingerprints to be scanned and transmitted to police headquarters by this device. The biometric system makes checks against a database of 6.5 million fingerprints, which is set to grow hugely once ID cards and the national identity register come in.
The cops promise us that fingerprints aren’t stored in the system (for this test at least). But considering that if you are arrested now, fingerprints and a DNA sample are taken and permanently stored, even if you are released without charge, there would seem to be plenty of reasons not to trust them. The state is intent on collecting data on everyone and no one should be surprised if this is extended to cyclists, as well as motorists.
Fingerprints certainly aren’t infallible. Despite multiple experts being consulted, former detective Shirley McKie was wrongly accused of leaving her print at a murder scene, and came extremely close to facing 8 years. And that was a cop! If you are young or black or both, or your eyebrows are too close together, what chance will you have? Never mind that biometric scanners are only ‘94-95% accurate’ and errors get more likely as the database grows.
So when you get stopped and fall into that 1-in-20 margin where the machine can’t identify you or mistakes you for someone else, or you just don’t see why you should submit to dodgy technology to justify yourself to the cops - as they’re taking you in, just remember: if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.
Following the partial defeat of their cuts agenda this summer, Merseyside Fire Authority is trying to get its own back. Workers had struck to save essential frontline services. Three weeks ago, letters were served to fourteen emergency crew members, calling them to hearings over incidents during the walkout, including one for ‘smiling aggressively’. Now, a firefighter faces disciplinary proceedings after being caught having a cuppa while working at Buckley Hill fire station in Netherton. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service insists tea breaks can be taken only at certain times, and had emailed staff to say so.
Managers launched an investigation and told the firefighter, who was doing his daily checks and tests in the appliance room and had taken a hot drink with him, he would be put on a charge, and face disciplinary proceedings pending an initial interview. He could get a written warning on an otherwise exemplary service record, but the ultimate sanction is that he could lose his job.
Merseyside firefighters have a lot to smile about following their tremendous victory, which was won thanks to great solidarity, in spite of a corporate media campaign against the Fire Brigades Union. Not surprisingly, the bosses who tried to break the strike can’t bear to see happy - or even relaxed - workers.
For in-depth analysis of the dispute, visit http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/liverpool/2006/09/351022.html
In a classic appeal to corporate greed, the government sponsored ‘envirowise’ advice line have launched a publicity campaign ‘Dnt b wstfl’ with the byline MinimiseWasteMaximiseProfit. Geddit? It’s going to take more than losing a few vowels and spaces to save the planet, when capitalist growth is the main driver for global resource and energy use!
In launching this scheme, the government are playing along with the latest business obsession with ‘Lean Thinking’ which is all about stripping their operations down to the bone. This redrafting of the idea of ‘downsizing’ means a lot more than saving money (sorry, trees) by printing on two sides of the photocopier paper. It’s got much more to do with working out which employees have the biggest impact on ‘customer satisfaction’ and getting rid of the rest of us - human waste, if you like.
For a more in-depth analysis of economic growth and the environment, check out the latest issue of the AF’s magazine Organise!
In a desperate attempt to portray themselves as just another political party, the fascist British National Party held their annual conference at a seaside town on the weekend of November 25-26. Not quite having the numbers to fill the Grand Hotel in Brighton, they plumped for the rather less grand New Kimberley in Blackpool, presumably having been turned away from several of the hundreds of other equally down-at-heel hotels.
Unlike the other parties, they found it necessary to keep the location of their conference secret for fear of attracting protesters. It was all in vain as the intrepid local anti-fascists tracked them down anyway and so on Nov 25th a march was held from the city centre to where the fash were lurking. Despite a fairly disappointing turnout (about 200 people), a long walk along a very chilly prom was made more bearable by the number of people who saw us on the street and took leaflets (and the very friendly gent who, when I offered him one, said “I don’t need one of those to know they’re a load of shite”).
When we got to the hotel, we were cheered by the sight of how small it was and were informed that there were only 50 of them inside as many others had been told not to come till the following day when there wasn’t a demo on. “Shit party, shit hotel” as we sang to them. Media reports that 600 were expected to attend can be discounted as laughable – the hotel wasn’t big enough for more than 200 at a push. The few who turned up goaded us from the window, safe behind the lines of police who seemed more keen to watch us for any prohibited hand gestures, although one wannabe hero who came to the window and started posturing was soon sent running away like a naughty schoolboy when a cop tapped on the glass to tell him off.
An encouraging demo then as, despite a few boneheads Sieg Heiling when protected by the watchful eye of the police, the fascists were pretty shy and heavily outnumbered by antis. However, there is no reason to become complacent. In other areas of the North, the BNP do have numbers and serious support from voters, and we need to continue challenging them and exposing the reality of what they stand for, not what they tell the people they want votes from. We also need to send more people from Liverpool to the demos as only 7 people went this time in a hired 24-seat minibus, which meant money raised at benefits had to be wasted on empty seats. Yes, it’s important to show support with your spare cash at fundraisers but we need enough people to turn up on the day as well to show the BNP we won’t stand for their racist bilge.
60 people attended the event hosted by Nottingham Defy-ID at the Sumac Centre on November 25th from (at least) London, Surrey, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Burnley, Coventry, Lincoln & Notts. In the morning, the conference covered themes including how and why we have arrived in this state of intense surveillance, and a range tactics that had worked in other struggles that might (or might not) work for ID cards and databases. In the afternoon the meeting covered ideas to take the fight forward – anti-ID arguments, direct action and networking amongst activists. The meeting concluded by agreeing to prevent opening of 69 Identity and Passport Service ‘Authentication by Interview’ centres that are currently being set up around the country by a private contractor, Mapeley.
See Defy-ID: http://www.defy-id.org.uk
Defending Anonymity is a free pamphlet by the Anarchist Federation. Send an SAE for a copy or find it on our website.
We anarchists like a good party as much as anyone. Most of us like to put our feet up, eat too much, have a few drinks and relax with our families and friends. So on the whole, we pretty much enjoy ourselves over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
But there are a load of things that really annoy us too. Firstly, the way the shops use it as a way to con people into spending more than they can afford. Secondly, the credit card companies that make obscene profits by conning people into borrowing more than they can afford. Thirdly, all the nonsense that the Christians come out with. We’re sick of hearing about “Baby Jesus, Meek and Mild” and his “Loving Father”.
Let’s have a look and see how loving their God really is. These were some of the Bible’s instructions of what to do with sinners:
- Children that disobey, eat too much and get drunk should be stoned to death.
- Women who wear showy jewellery and clothing shall be punished by misery, baldness, ugliness and death.
- People who eat too much should die of the plague. A bit of a problem around Christmas time, we think.
- Jesus said that anyone who has sex before marriage will wind up in Hell.
- Single parents shouldn’t be punished, but their children will go to Hell.
- Women who have sex with more than one man should have their noses and ears cut off.
- Those who failed to sell everything they had and give it up to Jesus were struck dead.
- All gays should be killed.
So, we hope you have (or had) a good holiday, steer away from too much debt and remember what a load of bollocks religion is.
We got the information for this piece from our favourite church website: http://www.landoverbaptist.org. We thoroughly recommend it.
Wishing a happy new year to all our readers too ...
5 - Smash The Big Brother Exhibition. This December Olympia hosts the Counter Terrorism World exhibition, where security and police forces from around the world meet, and this time they will be looking at new surveillance equipment, software for sifting through emails and tapping phones. Prominent guests include a large Israeli contingent. There will be a demonstration outside Olympia at 1pm (Olympia tube). More info from: http://www.londonclasswar.org
11 - Block the Builders at AWE Aldermaston, Newbury, West Berks - where Britain’s Trident nuclear warheads are assembled. AWE is spending millions of pounds recruiting scientists, building the huge new ORION laser facility – capable of simulating nuclear weapons tests – and many more buildings at enormous public expense. The action will take place in the morning, and free accommodation is available for the night before - tel: 0207 700 2393. For more info visit: http://www.blockthebuilders.org.uk, http://www.cnduk.org, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
15 - Just Defy! Anti-repression benefit gig, at the RedStar bar, Camberwell Green, London. From 10pm, 5 pounds on the door. DnB, Breaks Techno, Grime, Dubstep, Post-punk, Ska, Reggae, Electroclash and Indie.
28 - Social Centres Gathering - space for discussion, practical workshops, sharing ideas, skills & experience followed by MAYHEM cabaret and cocktails at the 1in12 Club, Albion Street, off Fulton Street, Bradford, BD1 tel: 01274 734160 web http://www.1in12.com. Accommodation available contact 01274 745002 or email@example.com
29 - Phone In Sick Day - bring the country to a stand still, by encouraging nation to phone in sick! For more info call 07737 020 496, email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: http://www.thesicknote.com
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