Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 92 - March 2007
Also read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk
Contents of the March 2007 issue:
SLAVERY TODAY - 200 years after the abolition (in law) of Britain's involvement in the Slave Trade
FIGHTING FASCISM IN READING - opposing the BNP
THE BATTLE OF BELLE VUE - cops beat up kids in Manchester
NO BORDERS ASYLUM DEMO - outside Heathrow detention centres
WILLY WALSH - British Airways chief goes on the offensive
DEAD NAZI BLOG - online fun and games in 'celebration' of the timely demise of a fascist thug
SUBVERT - events in March, plenty of things to do.
TWO HUNDRED YEARS ago, Parliament passed a law outlawing Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. Now, two hundred years later, there are around 27 million people still living in slavery across the world. But surely things can’t be that bad in Britain? Today people are still slaves here. They work in the sex trade, as servants, in prisons and as bonded labourers. Anarchists believe that all of us are in a milder form of slavery too. We call this one wage slavery.
Trafficking of women and children to work as prostitutes is the most well-known form of slavery. The newspapers carry stories of how young women are lured away from their homes with promises of jobs, only to find themselves beaten into prostitution. The police estimated that in 1998 there were as many as 1,420 women brought into Britain that way.
The US Govt said, “The United Kingdom is a destination country for the trafficking of women into prostitution and the trafficking of labourers, mainly men, into agriculture, sweatshops and industry. Female victims are trafficked from Eastern Europe, notably the Balkans. Trafficked labourers come from a variety of countries, including China, Congo, Angola, Colombia, Romania, Yugoslavia and the Indian subcontinent.”
If it is so bad, why don’t they just leave?
It is very difficult to escape. The slaves are often locked in, beaten and also shackled. They are told that, if they leave and the police find them, they will be tortured and imprisoned. Often coming from a country where this frequently happens, it is all too believable. They cannot read or speak English and are extremely vulnerable.
Many more are brought in to work cheaply in sweatshops or factories as bonded labourers. That means that they are told they have to work to pay off their travel and other debts supposedly wracked up in getting them here in the first place.
The 21 Chinese cockle pickers who died in Morecambe were trafficked over here. They were forced to work in slave-like conditions to “pay” for their travel and living expenses.
Although the government has said it tries to help these people, in practice it often doesn’t. The BBC reported, “Vietnamese are also smuggled in to work in Vietnamese nail salons. Recently the UK authority planned to deport over 500 children back to Vietnam who had been smuggled into the country.” This hardly makes it easy for victims to seek help.
In the USA
Meanwhile, the US admits to an even bigger problem, ‘Secretary Powell reported that some 50,000 women and children are trafficked annually for sexual exploitation into the United States. “ If this is what the Americans are admitting to, then the reality could easily be much worse.
Slavery is Big Business
Slavery is big business. There are 12,300,000 victims of forced labour worldwide. 2,400,000 are in forced labour because of trafficking. The annual profits from forced labour are $31.6bn.
Working conditions in British prisons amount to little more than slavery. Prisoners have a choice. be locked up for 23 hours or work for a pittance. The Campaign Against Prison Slavery reports, “the Scottish Prison Service [produces] goods at low costs for profitable private companies ranging from bed manufacturers to Highland G8 getaway, Gleneagles Hotel. The SPS receives £2.00 - £3.50 for each mattress produced by HMP Shotts inmates for Airsprung beds, but the company sell them on for up to £250 in high street stores such as Argos. Prisoners’ wages can be as low as £4 a week Other companies profiting from prison labour include Wilkinsons and Asda.
Capitalism Creates Slavery
Anarchists are not surprised by these tales. Capitalism exists by exploiting people. We all go to work and are paid less than we produce. The bosses call it their “profit”. The fact remains that if we didn’t do the work, they wouldn’t get a penny. Slavery is just one step away from this exploitation.
Capitalism tries to buy and own us during the working day. The slave owner, the sweatshop owner of bonded labour, the pimp, they all just want to extend the owning even further.
As long as it is seen to be right for a few to get rich on the backs of the many, then slavery in all its forms will continue. It was supposed to have been abolished 200 years ago. If we are going to abolish it in reality, we’ll have to act together to abolish capitalism, which is its cause. ★
Celebrity Prat of the Month
IN JANUARY, 96% of British Airways 11,000 unionised cabin crew voted to strike over pension deficits, low pay and a harsh regime of sickness 'interviews' which saw staff living in fear of calling in sick. The union called the strike off after a T&G 'deal' that gave management almost everything it wanted and left members so angry the union website had to be closed down to stem the flow of outraged attacks on the bureaucracy. The union sell-outs have a lot to answer for, but nothing compared to this month's biggest bastard: British Airways CEO, Willie Walsh.
Walsh is a corporate bully-boy of the worst kind, making profit for shareholders by threats and intimidation and leaving a trail of unemployed workers and slashed pay behind him. In 2002, as head of Aer Lingus, he responded to a one day strike by pilots with a three day lockout, calling the cops on picketers and getting 25 of them arrested. Over a third of Aer Lingus staff lost their jobs. There were no regrets from Walsh who 'make[s] no apologies for focusing on profit'.
Coming to British Airways, Walsh did little to change his tune. He started shadowing his predecessor and taking decisions in April 2005. This was only a few months before changes in the BA contract in August with Gate Gourmet. The changes led to the sacking of hundreds of workers and the persecution of baggage handlers at Heathrow who struck in sympathy. Was this Walsh's idea? He's certainly been quick to condemn any industrial action. His trademark consists of tactics to crush organised workers, slash pay and worsen conditions.
Since taking over in October 2005, Walsh has kept up the good work by cutting thousands of jobs and playing the bastard in negotiations. In the run up to the averted strike, he offered £200 per day in 'travel expenses' to any workers prepared to scab. The union may have been wrong to cave in, but the pressure that caused it was all coming from one direction. With the workers divided between ground staff, cabin crew and pilots, and the unions giving in to intimidation, Walsh is free to wield the axe as he has done so often before. This habit that makes him more than worthy of being this issue's bastard of the month. ★
In response to the BNPs plans to start organising locally, the people of Reading from various political backgrounds rallied together on Wednesday the 21st of Feb, with only 2 days notice. The massive turnout (which was not expected), with such little planning, proves one thing. The people of Reading are not happy about the BNPs plans to bring it's racism and bigotry to our streets. The attacks on our community ranging from the closure of the postal centre, to various developments and the building of databases, were not caused by immigration or multiculturalism, they were caused by the capitalists and politicians in their attempts to make Reading more profitable. The BNP cannot trick us into ignoring that simple reality.
Plans for building an antifascist front, to combat the long term threat of the BNP to our community are underway. ★
ON SATURDAY 10TH February, 150 people descended on Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres to show how they felt about companies like Sodexho who run them and about the forced deportation of Iraqi Kurds, which was due to start on Monday 12th February.
Private business is awarded thousands of pounds per week for each Asylum Seeker held in detention centres, cynically profiting from the plight of vulnerable, terrified and destitute people who we should be welcoming with open arms instead of locking up.
Far from being safe for Iraqi Kurds to return home, they face violence and insecurity in the hell hole that this war has turned Iraq into.
Police expected about 30 people at the demo and had allocated us our own little detention centre, a fenced in area not visible from the road or by the detainees themselves. Instead, the cops had to accept that the entrances were effectively blockaded by the sheer number of angry protesters.
Detainees still couldn’t see us from at the entrance, but they knew we were there. We made contact with people inside by banging on the fence around the back and waving and saluting them.
Get involved with Asylum-Seeker support: http://makebordershistory.org/workspace ★
It was with great sadness the UK antifascist movement received the passing of Mick ‘Belsen’ Sanderson – yes he was actually nicknamed after a holocaust deathcamp – at the hands (well, knife) of a friend in a fight outside his house last November.
Luckily, an online memorial blog was set up so we could all pay our last respects! After initial queries about how his friends could be saddened by one death yet applaud 6million were deleted, more subtle tactics were adopted. The calibre of genuine memorials was funny enough in itself ‘Mick – gone to Vallhahalla. We’ll miss you white brother, 88’ – so it was decided to simply copy them. ‘MICK YOU WERE A TRU WORRYER OF THE WITE RACE, GOOD BYE COMRAID YOU ARE WITH THE FUHRER NOW IS IT NICE? PROBABLY. 88!’. Sincere epitaphs from ‘Blood and Honour Calcutta’ were also of note.
This lead to a number of messages being deleted, and as they were indistinguishable, a lot of genuine ones too! When it was discovered the picture gallery was also editable, carnage reigned. Viewers were treated to pics of dead Nazis, facemorphs of Mick, antifa action and of course, hard core gay porn. At this point the boneheads claimed the whole site was a sting attempt to harvest the IP addresses of ‘reds’ and report them to the police (for having a sense of humour?). That might have worked if the site was run by them, but its actually a massive public website like myspace or livejournal. Lads, if you could hack a site like that you wouldn’t be the fat also-rans of the master race that stab each other so often you are more of a menace to yourselves than racial minorities.
Keep it up!" ★
ON JANUARY 20TH a rave was planned by the Manchester Rave Systems Alliance (MRSA); a collective of all the different sound systems in Manchester. It was attended well, by around 1000 people. Unfortunately, the police crashed the rave almost immediately it started, and were extremely aggressive, causing intimidation and fear.
Only 4 people were arrested, but far more were attacked and injured by the police, and their dogs, which landed one person in hospital.
Many of the ravers blockaded the roads, and fought back. This was The Battle of Belle Vue. Following several baton and dog charges, we all headed in the direction of Piccadilly Gardens. On the way, we blocked roads with fencing from building sites, wheelie bins and various other items that we could get our hands on. We were gradually dispersed leaving only about 20 in Piccadilly Gardens.
Despite the general good feeling of resistance, it was very disappointing that the rave didn’t go ahead, and also that some idiot smashed an ambulance window. The media latched onto this.
On Saturday 3rd February, the rave organizers held a demonstration and march against police brutality, attended by 150 people, consisting of ravers, crusties, punks, some members of the Solidarity Federation, the Anarchist Federation, and Rhythms of Resistance Manchester who added some real energy to the demo. Many had not been to demos before and hopefully there are some who got more politicised as a result of the rave.
A stall was set up before and after the march, where free propaganda was distributed and copies of Beyond Resistance, Ecology and Class, and Organise! were sold. The demo went very well, without violence and got a strong, serious message across to people.
Free parties are important as they take money out of the music. They have a more idealistic tendency, with a great sense of community allowing, people become to be less atomistic. There are many people who have similar personalities to themselves, something that people who go to raves can find very difficult in normal mainstream society. This community gives a very positive effect to the self and the collective. ★
Remember: When going on demonstrations stay sober, don’t talk to the police and if you are arrested give only your name and address and then say “no comment” to any other questions. For more info visit www.ldmg.org.uk.
4th-15th Slavery - The Hidden History. Organised by Bristol Radical History Group to mark and critique the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. Please check out the latest programme at http://www.brh.org.uk
10th Benefit gig raising money for Oaxaca rebellion in Mexico. Punk, Ska and hardcore bands. Spoken word stuff and political stalls. Starts 4pm at the Face Bar, Battle St, Reading. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
15th Manchester Anarchist Federation. 7.30pm, the Basement, 24 Lever St, Manchester M1 1HW - Ecology and Class
15th Merseyside Anarchist Group. Liverpool Social Centre, Basement 96a Bold Street, Liverpool. L1 4HY
23rd London Anarchist Federation, Anarchism and Work, 7 p.m. @ Marchmont Community centre, 62 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N, nearest tube Russell Square and King's Cross.
31st No One Is Illegal Trade Union Conference Against Immigration Controls. 12.00 – 5.30, Asylum Link, St Annes Church, Overbury St, Liverpool L7 email@example.com ★
The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists aiming to abolish capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism. We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.
As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as working through parliament and national liberation movements, as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.
Organisation is vital if we’re to beat the bosses, so we work for a united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations. The Anarchist Federation has members across Britain and Ireland fighting for the kind of world outlined above.
Contact us at:
London, WC1N 3XX.
Also visit: http://www.afed.org.uk and http://www.iaf-ifa.org
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