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Sunday, 11 November 2012 20:52
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The following is a report send to the Anarchist Federation and other from our comrades in the the Libertarian Communist Group (LCG, Athens) about the events of last week in Greece. Members of the LCG took part in strike action and the popular protests seen this week in Athens. During the last few days another package of austerity measures was passed through the parliament at the behest of the Troika(EU-IMF-ECB). As with the previous austerity measures there was a popular backlash with strikes throughtout and week and a 48hr General strike on the days the measures were voted leading to protests and clashes with the police. With the measures passed the Greek state is now awaiting the decision of EU meetings in the coming days which will determine if the Greek bailout programme is to continue.

The new measures package

On Wednesday 7th of November the Greek parliament voted for the new austerity measures package. It is almost impossible to describe in detail all these measures and their impact on Greek people 's life even in broad outline but generally speaking we could say that by including a lot of redundancies, further decrease of salaries, pensions and benefits, they bring down whatever remains standing after three years of austerity.

The age of retirement raises by 2 years which means that the majority of the workers will go into retirement at 67 years old even those who are ready to be retired next year. They cut down all pensions by between 5% and 15% and they cut out the Christmas and Easter bonus for all pensioners and public servants too. Depending on the case, the working sector and conditions, they either cut down or even stop welfare state benefits, such as unemployment, poverty, family/child care and even handicap benefits.

They also introduce a retrospective change in the national agreement of labour which has been called anti-constitutional by a specialist committee of the parliament itself but that seems not to bother the government. According to this change the minimum wage will be frozen and from now on will be regulated by the minister of labour itself, there will be no increase for anyone to the scale of payments, the  employers will have the right to give shorter notice before discharge, lower redundancy pay, lower contribution to the pension and health funds and the working hours also will depend on their will. Finally the employers are not obliged to follow the national agreement if they do not want to sign it!

There are also further increases in indirect taxes, measures against the income of farmers, redundancies in the publicsector and total flexibility of the public servants. The package contains further privatization of the public sector, enforcing also further privatization of hospital treatment which includes a price for hospital admission (a patient who will need to be admitted to a hospital will have to pay 25 Euro just to start with). This, for a country with more than 30% unemployment, means that thousands of people will not be able to afford medical treatment.

Greece, November 6th and 7th: General strike

A 48-hours general strike was called in Greece by the general confederation of the Greek unions for 6th and 7th of November.

On Tuesday 6th of November, first day of the general strike, a few thousand people gathered in the morning at the strike demonstration gathering point at the national museum near to the Polytechnic school. It seems that the strikes in the transportation sector and the continuous general strikes during the last period prevented people from attending. Despite the presence of a lot of riot police squads, undercover policemen and motorcycle police units in most streets and side-streets leading to Syntagma square, demonstrators marched toward the square and they filled it until 1 o' clock when they started to leave the place. It was a quiet and quite disappointing day of strike!

On the second day things seem to be different. There were several calls for gathering outside of the parliament in the afternoon when the measures package will be voted. Plenty of strikers have been detained by the police as its units attacked and blocked demonstrators who were trying to go to the gathering point. Additionally metro stations in the center of Athens were ordered closed by the police and policemen on several occasions made preemptive detentions, in order to prevent demonstrators from reaching syntagma square.

Despite the police mobilization at least 100.000 demonstrators managed to gathered at 18:30 in front of or next to the Greek parliament. At 19:00 demonstrators started pushing the metal fence and the barriers which protected the parliament and as soon as they managed to destroy a small part of it riot police units attacked people. Molotov Cocktails (petrol bombs) were thrown by the demonstrators in order to defend themselves from police attacks. Huge amounts of teargas and stun grenades were used by riot police squads in order to force demonstrators to abandon the square. But people wanted to stay in the square and they regrouped again every time they were forced to disperse by the teargas. The pressing from demonstrators was so  intense that police officers decided to use water canons for the first time against people during a strike.

There were clashes outside the parliament and around syntagma square for hours until the rain started. It was amazing to see that people did not want to leave the area! But the combination of the teargases with the rain turned the whole area into an unbearable field for the majority of the demonstrators. Most of them started to leave under the continuous attacks by the riot police squads. As the blocks of strikers were leaving the area, police units attacked, causing a lot of people to be wounded. There were reported at least 40 injuries, some of them helped by striking doctors and nurses in a kind of DIY health clinic inside a hotel in the area.

After a final attempt to re-take syntagma square, riot police units finally cleared the area from the strikers under heavy rain around 10:00. There were reported to be 103 detentions, 5 arrests, at least 40 injured demonstrators and 7 injured policemen.

The package of severe austerity measures has passed through the parliament  after a midnight vote. 

COMMENT ON 48-HOURS GENERAL STRIKE

Cops with APCs, with chemicals, with guns, with motorcycles. At the same time that inside, Parliament voted for the slashing of wages and pensions, for the dismissal of thousands of people and many other shameful things (in a shameless manner), outside another giant police operation of repression unfolded against the demonstrators. Even in the rain, the cops choked Syntagma Square in tear gas to disperse the protesters who had remained. For all that, the state certainly has money. It has money to enforce a police state in the streets. It has money to purchase tons of chemicals and APCs. It has money to armor like lobsters the special units of repression.

As long as people are not willing to lose even one day's wages, to risk two or three most basic things, then their misery, physical and moral, is certain. This whole system of suppression, the spraying with tear gas, the cordoning of the streets around the Constitution by riot police lined like laces, is aimed at nothing more than to force us to stoop our heads and shut up. Its aims are that we empty the streets, stay at home immersed in depression, or head to the mountains, or
board a plane and emigrate. But this place does not belong to them. The struggle for this land and its freedom is a struggle that we have been fighting for years now. No matter how many cops they put up, this struggle is not going to stop.

No matter how many measures they take, how many electoral backstops they have in parliament, nothing is finished, and nothing will end the way they want it.

We have nothing else to do than to give a way to rage, as a recent anarchist slogan goes in an Athenian street ...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 20:00
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Aims and definitions

 

The purpose of this paper is to outline a class struggle anarchist analysis of Privilege Theory. Many of us feel “privilege” is a useful term for discussing oppressions that go beyond economic class. It can help us to understand how these oppressions affect our social relations and the intersections of our struggles within the economic working class. It is written by members of the women’s caucus of the Anarchist Federation. It does not represent all our views and is part of an ongoing discussion within the federation.

 

What do we mean – and what do we not mean – by privilege? Privilege implies that wherever there is a system of oppression (such as capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity) there is an oppressed group and also a privileged group, who benefit from the oppressions that this system puts in place1. The privileged group do not have to be active supporters of the system of oppression, or even aware of it, in order to benefit from it. They benefit from being viewed as the norm, and providing for their needs being seen as what is naturally done, while the oppressed group is considered the “other”, and their needs are “special considerations”. Sometimes the privileged group benefits from the system in obvious, material ways, such as when women are expected to do most or all of the housework, and male partners benefit from their unpaid labour. At other times the benefits are more subtle and invisible, and involve certain pressures being taken off a privileged group and focused on others, for example black and Asian youths being 28% more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white youths2. The point here is not that police harassment doesn’t happen to white youths, or that being working class or a white European immigrant doesn’t also mean you’re more likely to face harassment; the point is that a disproportionate number of black and Asian people are targeted in comparison to white people, and the result of this is that, if you are carrying drugs, and you are white, then all other things being equal you are much more likely to get away with it than if you were black. In the UK, white people are also less likely to be arrested or jailed, or to be the victim of a personal crime3. Black people currently face even greater unemployment in the UK than they do in the USA4. The point of quoting this is not to suggest we want a society in which people of all races and ethnicities face equal disadvantage – we want to create a society in which nobody faces these disadvantages. But part of getting there is acknowledging how systems of oppression work, which means recognising that, if black and ethnic minority groups are more likely to face these disadvantages, then by simple maths white people are less likely to face them, and that means they have an advantage, a privilege, including the privilege of not needing to be aware of the extent of the problem.

 

A privileged group may also, in some ways, be oppressed by the expectations of the system that privileges them, for example men under patriarchy are expected to not show weakness or emotion, and are mistrusted as carers. However, men are not oppressed by patriarchy for being men, they are oppressed in these ways because it is necessary in order to maintain women’s oppression. For women to see themselves as weak, irrational and suited only to caring roles, they must believe that men are stronger, less emotional and incapable of caring for those who need it; for these reasons, men showing weakness, emotion and a capacity for caring labour are punished by patriarchy for letting the side down and giving women the opportunity to challenge their oppression.

 

It makes sense that where there is an oppressed group, there is a privileged group, because systems of oppression wouldn’t last long if nobody benefited from them. It is crucial to understand that members of the privileged group of any of these systems may also be oppressed by any of the others, and this is what allows struggles to be divided and revolutionary activity crushed. We are divided, socially and politically, by a lack of awareness of our privileges, and how they are used to set our interests against each other and break our solidarity.

 

The term “privilege” has a complex relationship with class struggle, and to understand why, we need to look at some of the differences and confusions between economic and social class. Social class describes the cultural identities of working class, middle class and upper class. These identities, much like those built on gender or race, are socially constructed, created by a society based on its prejudices and expectations of people in those categories. Economic class is different. It describes the economic working and ruling classes, as defined by Marx. It functions through capitalism, and is based on the ownership of material resources, regardless of your personal identity or social status. This is why a wealthy, knighted capitalist like Alan Sugar can describe himself as a “working class boy made good”. He is clearly not working class if we look at it economically, but he clings to that social identity in the belief that it in some way justifies or excuses the exploitation within his business empire. He confuses social and economic class in order to identify himself with an oppressed group (the social working class) and so deny his own significant privilege (as part of the economic ruling class). Being part of the ruling class of capitalism makes it impossible to support struggles against that system. This is because, unlike any other privileged group, the ruling class are directly responsible for the very exploitation they would be claiming to oppose.

 

This doesn't make economic class a "primary" oppression, or the others "secondary", but it does mean that resistance in economic class struggle takes different forms and has slightly different aims to struggles based on cultural identities. For example, we aim to end capitalism through a revolution in which the working class seize the means of production from the ruling class, and create an anarchist communist society in which there is no ruling class. For the other struggles mentioned, this doesn't quite work the same way - we can't force men to give up their maleness, or white people to give up their whiteness, or send them all to the guillotine and reclaim their power and privilege as if it were a resource that they were hoarding. Instead we need to take apart and understand the systems that tend to concentrate power and resources in the hands of the culturally privileged and question the very concepts of gender, sexuality, race etc. that are used to build the identities that divide us.

 

A large part of the resentment of the term "privilege" within class struggle movements comes from trying to make a direct comparison with ruling class privilege, when this doesn't quite work. Somebody born into a family who owns a chain of supermarkets or factories can, when they inherit their fortune, forgo it. They can collectivise their empire and give it to the workers, go and work in it themselves for the same share of the profits as everybody else. Capitalists can, if they choose, give up their privilege. This makes it OK for us to think of them as bad people if they don't, and justified in taking it from them by force in a revolutionary situation. Men, white people, straight people, cisgendered people etc., can't give up their privilege - no matter how much they may want to. It is forced on them by a system they cannot opt out of, or choose to stop benefiting from. This comparison with ruling class privilege makes many feel as if they're being accused of hoarding something they're not entitled to, and that they're being blamed for this, or asked to feel guilty or undergo some kind of endless penance to be given absolution for their privilege. This is not the case. Guilt isn't useful; awareness and thoughtful action are. If you take nothing else away from this document, take this: You are not responsible for the system that gives you your privilege, only for how you respond to it. The privileged (apart from the ruling class) have a vital role to play in the struggle against the systems that privilege them - it's just not a leadership role.

 

Answering objections to privilege

 

So if they didn’t choose it and there’s nothing they can do about it, why describe people as “Privileged”? Isn’t it enough to talk about racism, sexism, homophobia etc. without having to call white, male and straight people something that offends them? If it’s just the terminology you object to, be aware that radical black activists, feminists, queer activists and disabled activists widely use the term privilege. Oppressed groups need to lead the struggles to end their oppressions, and that means these oppressed groups get to define the struggle and the terms we use to talk about it. It is, on one level, simply not up to class struggle groups made up of a majority of white males to tell people of colour and women what words are useful in the struggles against white supremacy and patriarchy. If you dislike the term but agree with the concept, then it would show practical solidarity to leave your personal discomfort out of the argument, accept that the terminology has been chosen, and start using the same term as those at the forefront of these struggles.

 

Another common objection to the concept of privilege is that it makes a cultural status out of the lack of an oppression. You could say that not facing systematic prejudice for your skin colour isn’t a privilege, it’s how things should be for everyone. To face racism is the aberration. To not face it should be the default experience. The problem is, if not experiencing oppression is the default experience, then experiencing the oppression puts you outside the default experience, in a special category, which in turn makes a lot of the oppression invisible. To talk about privilege reveals what is normal to those without the oppression, yet cannot be taken for granted by those with it. To talk about homophobia alone may reveal the existence of prejudices – stereotypes about how gay men and lesbian women behave, perhaps, or violence targeted against people for their sexuality. It’s unusual to find an anarchist who won’t condemn these things. To talk about straight privilege, however, shows the other side of the system, the invisible side: what behaviour is considered “typical” for straight people? There isn’t one – straight isn’t treated like a sexual category, it is treated like the absence of “gay”. You don’t have to worry about whether you come across as “too straight” when you’re going to a job interview, or whether your straight friends will think you’re denying your straightness if you don’t dress or talk straight enough, or whether your gay friends will be uncomfortable if you take them to a straight club, or if they’ll embarrass you by saying something ignorant about getting hit on by somebody of the opposite sex. This analysis goes beyond worries about discrimination or prejudice to the very heart of what we consider normal and neutral, what we consider different and other, what needs explaining, what’s taken as read – the prejudices in favour of being straight aren’t recognisable as prejudices, because they’re built into our very perceptions of what is the default way to be.

 

It’s useful to see this, because when we look at oppressions in isolation, we tend to attribute them to personal or societal prejudice, a homophobic law that can be repealed, a racial discrimination that can be legislated against. Alone, terms like “racism”, “sexism”, “ablism” don’t describe how oppression is woven into the fabric of a society and a normal part of life rather than an easily isolated stain on society that can be removed without trace, leaving the fabric intact.5

 

Privilege theory is systematic. It explains why removing prejudice and discrimination isn’t enough to remove oppression. It shows how society itself needs to be ordered differently. When people talk about being “colour-blind” in relation to race, they think it means they’re not racist, but it usually means that they think they can safely ignore differences of background and life experience due to race, and expect that the priorities and world views of everybody should be the same as those of white people, which they consider to be “normal”. It means they think they don’t have to listen to people who are trying to explain why a situation is different for them. They want difference to go away, so that everybody can be equal, yet by trying to ignore difference they are reinforcing it. Recognising privilege means recognising that differences of experience exist which we may not be aware of. It means being willing to listen when people tell us about how their experience differs from ours. It means trying to conceive of a new “normal” that we can bring about through a differently structured society, instead of erasing experiences that don’t fit into our privileged concept of “normal”.

 

Intersectionality and Kyriarchy

 

Kyriarchy is the concept of combined systems of oppression, the idea that capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, theocracy and other systems that we don’t necessarily have names for, are all connected, influencing and supporting each other. The word “kyriarchy” is also a handy verbal shortcut that saves having to list all the systems of oppression every time you want to explain this concept. It means everybody who’s fighting oppression of any kind is fighting the same war, we just fight it on a myriad of different fronts.

 

Intersectionality is the idea that we are all privileged by some of these systems and oppressed by others, and that, because those systems affect one another, our oppressions and privileges intersect. This means that we each experience oppression in ways specific to our particular combinations of class, gender, race, sexuality, disability, age etc. 6 7

 

Class struggle analyses tend to mark out capitalism as separate from the other systems in kyriarchy. As explained above, capitalism operates differently from systems of oppression based on identity or culture, but it would be too simplistic to dismiss these oppressions as secondary or as mere aspects of capitalism. Patriarchy, in particular, existed long before modern industrial capitalism and, there’s evidence to suggest, before the invention of money itself8, and it’s not difficult to imagine a post-capitalist society in which oppressive gender roles still hold true9. As anarchists are opposed to all systems of oppression, we recognise that fighting capitalism alone is not enough, and that other oppressions won’t melt away “after the revolution”. If we want a post-revolutionary society free of all oppression, we need all the oppressed to have an equal role in creating it, and that means listening to experiences of oppression that we don’t share and working to understand how each system operates: in isolation, in relation to capitalism and other systems of oppression and as part of kyriarchy.10

 

We're used to talking about sexism or racism as divisive of the working class. Kyriarchy allows us to get away from the primacy of class while keeping it very much in the picture. Just as sexism and racism divide class struggle, capitalism and racism divide gender struggles, and sexism and capitalism divide race struggles. All systems of oppression divide the struggles against all the other systems that they intersect with. This is because we find our loyalties divided by our own particular combinations of privilege and oppression, and we prioritise the struggles we see as primary to the detriment of others, and to the detriment of solidarity. This is why the Anarchist Federation's 3rd Aim & Principle11 cautions against cross-class alliances, but we should be avoiding campaigns that forward the cause of any oppressed group against the interests of any other - not just class. That doesn't mean that every campaign has to forward the cause of every single struggle equally, but it does mean that we need to be aware of how our privileges can blind us to the oppressions we could be ignorantly walking all over in our campaigns. We have to consider a whole lot more than class struggle when we think about whether a campaign is moving us forwards or backwards as anarchists. Being able to analyse and point out how systems of oppression intersect is vital, as hitting these systems of oppression at their intersections can be our most effective way of uniting struggles and building solidarity across a number of ideological fronts.

 

Some examples:

 

In the early 1800s, there were several strikes of male textile workers against women being employed at their factories because their poorer pay allowed them to undercut male workers12. The intersection of capitalism and patriarchy meant that women were oppressed by capitalists as both workers and women (being exploited for lower pay than men), and by men as both women and workers (kept in the domestic sphere, doing even lower paid work). When changing conditions (mechanisation) made it too difficult to restrict women to their traditional work roles, unions finally saw reason and campaigned across the intersection, allowing women to join the unions and campaigning for their pay to be raised.

 

From the 70s to the present day, certain strands of radical feminism have refused to accept the validity of trans* struggles, keeping trans women out of women’s spaces (see the controversies over Radfem 2012 and some of the workshops at Women Up North 2012 over their “women born women” policies). The outcome of this is as above: the most oppressed get the shitty end of both sticks (in this case cisnormativity and patriarchy), with feminism, the movement that is supposed to be at the forefront of fighting the oppression that affects both parties (patriarchy) failing at one of its sharpest intersections. This also led to the fracturing of the feminist movement and stagnation of theory through failure to communicate with trans* activists, whose priorities and struggles have such a massive crossover with feminism. One positive that’s come out of these recent examples is the joining together of feminist and trans* activist groups to challenge the entry policy of Radfem 2012. This is leading to more communication, solidarity and the possibility of joint actions between these groups.

 

The above examples mean that thinking about our privileges and oppressions is essential for organising together, for recognising where other struggles intersect with our own and what our role should be in those situations, where our experiences will be useful and where they will be disruptive, where we should be listening carefully and where we can contribute constructively. Acknowledging privilege in this situation means acknowledging that it’s not just the responsibility of the oppressed group to challenge the system that oppresses them, it’s everybody’s responsibility, because being part of a privileged group doesn’t make you neutral, it means you’re facing an advantage. That said, when we join the struggle against our own advantages we need to remember that it isn’t about duty or guilt or altruism, because all our struggles are all connected. The more we can make alliances over the oppressions that have been used to divide us, the more we can unite against the forces that exploit us all. None of us can do it alone.

 

The myth of the “Oppression Olympics”

 

The parallels that are drawn between the Black and women's movements can always turn into an 11-plus: who is more exploited? Our purpose here is not parallels. We are seeking to describe that complex interweaving of forces which is the working class; we are seeking to break down the power relations among us on which is based the hierarchical rule of international capital. For no man can represent us as women any more than whites can speak about and themselves end the Black experience. Nor do we seek to convince men of our feminism. Ultimately they will be "convinced" by our power. We offer them what we offer the most privileged women: power over their enemies. The price is an end to their privilege over us.13

 

To say that somebody has white privilege isn’t to suggest that they can’t also have a whole host of other oppressions. To say that somebody suffers oppression by patriarchy doesn’t mean they can’t also have a lot of other privileges. There is no points system for working out how privileged or oppressed you are in relation to somebody else, and no point in trying to do so. The only way that privilege or oppression makes your contributions to a struggle more or less valid is through that struggle's relevance to your lived experience.

 

A black, disabled working class lesbian may not necessarily have had a harder life than a white, able-bodied working class straight cis-man, but she will have a much greater understanding of the intersections between class, race, disability, gender and sexuality. The point isn’t that, as the most oppressed in the room, she should lead the discussion, it’s that her experience gives her insights he won’t have on the relevant points of struggle, the demands that will be most effective, the bosses who represent the biggest problem, the best places and times to hold meetings or how to phrase a callout for a mass meeting so that it will appeal to a wider range of people, ways of dealing with issues that will very probably not occur to anybody whose oppression is along fewer intersections. He should be listening to her, not because she is more oppressed than him (though she may well be), but because it is vital to the struggle that she is heard, and because the prejudices that society has conditioned into us, and that still affect the most socially aware of us, continue to make it more difficult for her to be heard, for us to hear her.

 

Some would argue that governments, public bodies and corporations have been known to use arguments like these to put forward or promote particular people into positions of power or responsibility, either as a well-meaning attempt to ensure that oppressed groups are represented or as a cynical exercise in tokenism to improve their public image. This serves the state and capital by encouraging people to believe that they are represented, and that their most effective opportunities for change will come through supporting or petitioning these representatives. This is what we mean by cross-class alliances in the 3rd A&P, and obviously we oppose the idea that, for instance, a woman Prime Minister, will be likely to do anything more for working class women than a male Prime Minister will do for working class men. It should be remembered that privilege theory is not a movement in itself but an analysis used by a diverse range of movements, liberal and radical, reformist and revolutionary. By the same token, the rhetoric of solidarity and class unity is used by leftists to gain power for themselves, even as we use those same concepts to fight the power structures they use. The fact that some people will use the idea of privilege to promote themselves as community leaders and reformist electoral candidates doesn't mean that that's the core reasoning or inevitable outcome of privilege theory. For us, as class struggle anarchists, the identities imposed on us by kyriarchy and the politics that go with them are about uniting in struggle against all oppression, not entrenching social constructs, congratulating ourselves on how aware we are, claiming special rights according to our background or biology, and certainly not creating ranked hierarchies of the most oppressed to put forward for tokenistic positions of power.

 

In the AF, we already acknowledge in our Aims and Principles the necessity of autonomous struggle for people in oppressed groups; but rather than analyse why this is necessary, we only warn against cross-class alliances within their struggles. The unspoken reason why it is necessary for them to organise independently is privilege. Any reason you can think of why it might be necessary, is down to privilege: the possible presence of abusers, the potential of experiences of oppression being misunderstood, mistrusted, dismissed, or requiring a huge amount of explanation before they are accepted and the meeting can move onto actions around them, even internalised feelings of inferiority are triggered by our own awareness of the presence of members of the privileged group. This may not be their fault, but it is due to the existence of systems that privilege them. The reason we need to organise autonomously is that we need to be free of the presence of privilege to speak freely. After speaking freely, we can identify and work to change the conditions that prevented us from doing so before – breaking down the influence of those systems on ourselves and lessening the privilege of others in their relations with us – but the speaking freely has to come first.

 

To equate talk of “privilege” with liberalism, electoralism and cross-class struggles is to deny oppressed groups the space and the language to identify their experiences of oppression and so effectively organise against the systems that oppress them. If we acknowledge that these organising spaces are necessary, and that it is possible for them to function without engaging in liberalism and cross-class struggles, then we must acknowledge that privilege theory does not, of necessity, lead to liberalism and cross-class struggles. It may do so when it is used by liberals and reformists, but not when used by revolutionary class struggle anarchists. Privilege theory doesn't come with compulsory liberalism any more than the idea of class struggle comes with compulsory Leninism.

 

The class struggle analysis of privilege

 

This may all seem, at first, to make class struggle just one struggle among many, but the unique way in which ruling class privilege operates provides an overarching context for all the other systems. While any system can be used as a “context” for any other, depending on which intersections we’re looking at, capitalism is particularly important because those privileged within it have overt control over resources rather than just a default cultural status of normalcy. They are necessarily active oppressors, and cannot be passive or unwilling recipients of the benefits of others’ oppression. The ruling class and the working class have opposing interests, while the privileged and oppressed groups of other systems only have differing interests, which differ less as the influence of those systems is reduced.

 

This doesn’t make economic class a primary oppression, or the others secondary, because our oppressions and privileges intersect. If women’s issues were considered secondary to class issues, this would imply that working class men's issues were more important than those of working class women. Economic class is not so much the primary struggle as the all-encompassing struggle. Issues that only face queer people in the ruling class (such as a member of an aristocratic family having to remain in the closet and marry for the sake of the family line) are not secondary to our concerns, but completely irrelevant, because they are among the few oppressions that truly will melt away after the revolution, when there is no ruling class to enforce them on itself. We may condemn racism, sexism, homophobia and general snobbery shown by members of the ruling class to one another, but we don’t have common cause in struggle with those suffering these, even those with whom we share a cultural identity, because they remain our direct and active oppressors.

 

When we try to apply this across other intersections than economic class, we don’t see concerns that are irrelevant to all but the privileged group, but we do find that the limited perspective of privileged activists gives campaigns an overly narrow focus. For instance, overwhelmingly white, middle class feminist organisations of the 60s and 70s have been criticised by women of colour and disabled women for focusing solely on the legalisation of abortion at a time when Puerto-Rican women and disabled women faced forced sterilisation, and many women lacked access to essential services during pregnancy and childbirth. Although the availability of abortion certainly wasn’t irrelevant to these women, the campaigns failed to also consider the affordability of abortion, and completely ignored the concerns of women being denied the right to have a child. Most feminist groups now tend to talk about “reproductive rights” rather than “abortion rights”, and demand free or affordable family planning services that include abortion, contraception, sexual health screening, antenatal and post-natal care, issues relevant to women of all backgrounds.14

 

We have to challenge ourselves to look out for campaigns that, due to the privilege of those who initiate them, lack awareness of how an issue differs across intersections. We need to broaden out our own campaigns to include the perspectives of all those affected by the issues we cover. This will allow us to bring more issues together, gather greater solidarity, fight more oppressions and build a movement that can challenge the whole of kyriarchy, which is the only way to ever defeat any part of it, including capitalism.

1 A common form of blindness to privilege is that women and people of color are often described as being treated unequally, but men and whites are not. This…is logically impossible. Unequal simply means ‘not equal,’ which describes both those who receive less than their fair share and those who receive more. But there can’t be a short end of the stick without a long end, because it’s the longness of the long end that makes the short end short. To pretend otherwise makes privilege and those who receive it invisible.” Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power and Difference (2006).

5 While it is important that individuals work to transform their consciousness, striving to be anti-racist, it is important for us to remember that the struggle to end white supremacy is a struggle to change a system, a structure…For our efforts to end white supremacy to be truly effective, individual struggle to change consciousness must be fundamentally linked to collective effort to transform those structures that reinforce and perpetuate white supremacy.” bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism, 1995

7 Intersectionality as a term and an idea has been developed by, among others: Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, Leslie McCall, if you are interested in further reading.

8 Graeber’s ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ suggests that young women were used in some pre-money societies as an early form of currency or debt tally.

9 See the chapter with all the beautiful and sexually available house-keeping-cleaning-serving women in William Morris’ utopia News from Nowhere.

10 One anarchist analysis of intersectionality: http://libcom.org/library/refusing-waitanarchism- intersectionality.

11 “We believe that fighting systems of oppression that divide the working class, such as racism and sexism, is essential to class struggle. Anarchist-Communism cannot be achieved while these inequalities still exist. In order to be effective in our various struggles against oppression, both within society and within the working class, we at times need to organise independently as people who are oppressed according to gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. We do this as working class people, as cross-class movements hide real class differences and achieve little for us. Full emancipation cannot be achieved without the abolition of capitalism.” http://www.afed.org.uk/organisation/aims-and-principles.html

12 See Chapter 7 of The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class by Anna Clark.

 

13 Selma James, ‘Sex, Race and Class’ 1975

Friday, 17 August 2012 18:00
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Call for solidarity with imprisoned comrades from Belarus - all welcome.

Read statement below, agreed at the IFA Congress in St. Imier, Switzerland, August 2012.

Update: London demonstration at Embassy Of Belarus organised for 23rd September 2012 (election day) at 1:00pm.

Details: http://london.indymedia.org/events/12738

See also, demos in Paris and Rome on 22nd Sept: http://www.afed.org.uk/component/content/article/323.html

Freedom to Belarusian anarchists! Down with the dictatorship! Solidarity demo, 13th December 2010, Sofia, Bulgaria

One of the previous solidarity demonstrations for Belarus prisoners, 13th December 2010, Sofia, Bulgaria.


It has been a long time since the last call for solidarity with the Belarusian anarchists appeared. Today we have to admit that the new wave of solidarity is needed urgently to help them out from the prison. That’s why we call you to participate in days of action in solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners on 22nd-23rd of September (parliament election day is 23rd) .

The activists Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Artsiom Prakapenka, Pavel Syramolatau, Aliaksandr Frantskievich, Jauhen Vas’kovich that were detained in autumn 2010 and winter 2011 and then sentenced to 3 to 8 years of prison in May 2011 for a series of attacks on state and capital symbols are finishing their second year in jail. During this time their comrades and relatives did their best to help them feel comfortable in custody and set them free. In October 2011 they were acknowledged political prisoners by right-watch organizations. This fact gave them bigger chances to be freed as soon as possible, because at the moment the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, faces pressure from the European Union with the demands to set free all the political prisoners and decriminalize them. From August 2011 he has already pardoned more than 30 of them, but none of our comrades was granted freedom. Lukashenko said publicly, that he will pardon only those, who will write the petition for pardon, thus admitting their guilt and asking him personally for mercy. All the rest will remain in prison, he stated. In fact all imprisoned anarchists were many times asked if they want to sign such petition. Five of them refused to do it. Artsiom Prakapenka signed it under pressure but he is still in prison. Now there are 15 political prisoners left in Belarus, among them are 5 our comrades and 1 more, imprisoned for the action of solidarity with them. All the prisoners are experiencing different kinds of pressure from the administration of the prisons they are held in*, because Lukashenko wants to be a winner in this situation and make it as if it is not the EU that forces him to set free the political prisoners in fear of more political and economic sanctions, but as if it is his good will to pardon them, again only if they ask for it. We strongly oppose the fact that our comrades are now traded for benefits form the EU and condemn the pressure that they experience*. We call everybody to protest against these tortures and demand the immediate liberation of the political prisoners of Belarus, including anarchists.

We welcome solidarity actions of ANY kind starting from now on to accumulate amount of it on days of solidarity, we also ask you to make solidarity actions at least once a month if you find it possible even after the days of solidarity. We need constant pressure on the regime and the EU politicians in this situation.

The International of Anarchist Federations, August 2012.

http://i-f-a.org

Thursday, 16 August 2012 17:59
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Anarchists Detained by Counter-Terrorist Police on Return from Swiss Conference [plus French, Spanish, German, Italian translations]

For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across Europe have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering (8th-12th August 2012) took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) police. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists. In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory, irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the police, said "We were treated like criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and Dictaphone but they said I was lying. One officer said 'You said you are an anarchist, I've seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles'".

The counter terrorist officers either didn't know or chose to ignore that, during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and residents in St. Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.

With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity, or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about local anarchists ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), anarchists suffered harassment for their political viewpoint.

As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political ideology.

Editors Notes:

Anarchism is a political philosophy that seeks to build an egalitarian society in which mutual aid, co-operation and direct democracy replace capitalism and the state.

The St Imier Congress was a gathering of anarchists from all over the world to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first international anarchist gathering in the Swiss town of St Imier in 1872.

The Anarchist Federation is a federation of class struggle anarchist-communists in the UK who seek to build an egalitarian society.

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French translation

Anarchistes détenu-es par la police anti-terroriste à leur retour d'une conférence en Suisse

La semaine dernière, des milliers d'anarchistes de toute l'Europe ont convergé à St Imier en Suisse pour célébrer le 140ème anniversaire de la création de l'Internationale anarchiste. Cette rencontre a pris la forme d'un festival et d'une conférence, avec de la musique, des films et des divertissements aussi bien que des ateliers et des débats.

A leur retour de St Imier, deux anarchistes, l'un-e d'entre elles-eux membre de la Fédération Anarchiste du Royaume-Uni, ont été détenu-es pendant près de deux heures à l'aéroport d'Heathrow par la police SO15 (anti-terroriste). Durant leur détention, les anarchistes ont été informé-es que leurs droits n'étaient exceptionnellement pas applicables et ont du donner leur nom, adresse, adresses email, ADN et empreintes digitales. Les anarchistes détenu-es ont également été contraint-es de signer des formulaires -dont la valeur légale est incertaine- dans lesquels ils-elles renonçaient à leur droit à garder le silence et à un avocat. La police a également effectué une fouille complète de leurs effets personnels, a photocopié leur passeport et la propagande qu'ils-elles transportaient et a copié l'information de leurs téléphones et de leurs appareils photo.

Durant la détention, la police les a constamment accusé de mentir et d'avoir pris part à des activités criminelles et ont prétendu qu'ils allaient poursuivre l'enquête au sujet d'un-e des anarchistes détenu-es. De plus, les agents SO15 ont posé un certain nombre de questions provocatrices, insultantes et sans aucun rapport, y compris 'que feriez-vous si quelqu'un violait votre mère?', une tentative évidente de causer un tort émotionnel et de solliciter une réaction violente ou hostile. L'un-e des membres (28 ans) qui n'a pas souhaité être nommé-e par peur de représailles de la police, a déclaré “Nous avons été traité-es comme des criminel-les. Je leur ai dit que j'étais allé-e au congrès en tant que journaliste amateur-trice et que j'écrivais des articles sur le militantisme. Ils ont vu mon carnet de notes, mon appareil photo et mon dictaphone mais ils ont dit que je mentais. Un officier a dit “vous dites être anarchiste, j'ai vu des anarchistes aux infos: ils-elles sont violent-es, jettent des cocktails molotov et dérangent la vie des gens, elles-ils n'écrivent pas d'articles.””.

Les agents anti-terroristes ignoraient, ou on décidé d'ignorer le fait que le premier jour du congrès, l'Internationale des Fédérations Anarchistes (dont la Fédération Anarchiste britannique est membre) a fait une déclaration rejetant toute tactique terroriste comme moyen de parvenir à une société anarchiste.

Contrairement aux actions des forces de sécurité britanniques, la presse locale et les habitant-es de St Imier ont fait un bilan très positif des rencontres anarchistes.

A travers cet incident, nous constatons une nouvelle dérive vers une criminalisation des idéologies politiques au Royaume-Uni. Les deux anarchistes détenu-es n'ont jamais été impliqué-es dans des actions illégales ou violentes, ou aucune action qui relèverait de la police anti-terroriste. Comme par le passé, lorsque la police métropolitaine de Londres avait appelé à la dénonciation des anarchistes ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), les anarchistes sont harcelé-es sur la base de leurs idées politiques.

En tant qu'anarchistes de lutte de classe, nous pensons que l'état sert les intérêts des riches et des puissant-es au détriment des intérêts des gens ordinaires. On le voit de façon très claire lorsque des gens critiques de l'état sont traitées comme des terroristes et des criminel-les. Nous voulons une société sans classe, fondée sur la liberté, l'égalité et la coopération. Nous croyons en la capacité des gens ordinaires à gérer la société eux-elles-même, sans interférence des patron-nes et des politicien-nes. Cet incident n'était pas en réaction à un crime quelconque et constitue un acte de répression et de criminalisation d'une idéologie politique.

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Spanish translation

Dos anarquistas que regresan al Reino Unido de una conferencia en Suiza, fueron detenidos, se les negó un abogado e interrogados por agentes de lucha contra el terrorismo.

Durante la semana pasada, miles de anarquistas de todo el mundo han ido convergiendo en St.Imier, Suiza, para celebrar el 140 aniversario de la fundación de la Internacional Anarquista. La reunión tomó forma de un festival con música, películas y entretenimiento, así como talleres y debates.
Al regresar de la reunión de San Imier, dos anarquistas, una miembro de la Federación Anarquista de Reino Unido, fueron detenidos durante casi dos horas en Heathrow por el SO15 (antiterrorista) de inteligencia que en un principio se negaron a identificarse a los detenidos. Durante la detención, los anarquistas se les dijo que sus derechos normales no se aplicaban, y tenían sus nombres, direcciones, direcciones de correo electrónico, ADN, fotografías y huellas dactilares tomadas. Los anarquistas detenidos fueron obligados a firmar los formularios - que puede o puede no ser legal - renuncia a sus derechos a guardar silencio y un procurador. La policía también llevó a cabo una búsqueda minuciosa de sus pertenencias personales, la literatura fotocopiada y pasaportes y se llevó la información de los teléfonos y cámaras.

Durante la detención, la policía acusó a los anarquistas constantemente de mentir acerca de la participación en actividades delictivas y alegaron que se llevaría a cabo una acción de seguimiento policial en contra de uno de los anarquistas detenidos. Además de esto, SO15 oficiales pidieron una serie de preguntas inflamatorias, irrelevantes y ofensivas, incluyendo "¿Qué harías si alguien violó a tu madre?" Evidentemente, en un intento de provocar respuestas emocionales de ira o malestar violentos e ilegales. Uno de los miembros (28) que no quiso ser identificado por temor a represalias de la policía, dijo: "Nos trataron como delincuentes. Yo les dije que fui al congreso ya que soy un periodista aficionado, y escribo artículos sobre activismo. Ellos vieron mi cuaderno de notas, cámara y dictáfono, pero me dijeron que estaba mintiendo. ", Dijo un oficial-Usted dijo que usted es un anarquista, he visto a los anarquistas en las noticias, que son violentos, lanzar cócteles molotov y perturbar la vida de la gente no escribe artículos ".

Los oficiales de lucha contra el terrorismo, o bien no sabía o prefirió ignorar que, durante el primer día de la reunión, la Internacional de Federaciones Anarquistas (del cual el Reino Unido Federación Anarquista es miembro) había emitido una declaración rechazando todas las tácticas terroristas como medio de lograr una sociedad anarquista.

En contraste con las acciones de las fuerzas de seguridad del Reino Unido, la prensa local y los residentes en St.Imier informó de manera muy positiva en la reunión anarquista.

Con este incidente, estamos viendo una diapositiva más hacia la política policial y la criminalización de las ideologías políticas. Los dos anarquistas detenidos no han tenido ninguna participación en ninguna actividad ilegal o violenta, o cualquier actividad que se referiría a la policía contra el terrorismo. Al igual que en el pasado, cuando la policía metropolitana hicieron un llamamiento a la gente a dar información acerca de los anarquistas locales (Anarquistas deben ser reportados, informa Westminster policía antiterrorista | Reino Unido Noticias | The Guardian), los anarquistas sufrieron el acoso de su punto de vista político.

Como anarquistas de lucha de clases, creemos que el estado hace muy poco, excepto servir a los intereses de los ricos y poderosos a expensas de la gente común. Esto se ve claramente cuando las personas que tienen puntos de vista crítico de la situación son tratados como criminales y terroristas. Buscamos crear una sociedad sin clases, basada en la libertad, la igualdad y la cooperación. Creemos en la capacidad de la gente común para ejecutar la sociedad a sí mismos, sin la interferencia de los jefes o los políticos. Este incidente no fue en respuesta a un crimen y constituye la represión y la criminalización de una ideología política.

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German translation

englische anarchist innen nach rückkehr aus saint-imier in heathrow vorübergehend inhaftiert

während der letzen woche kamen tausende anarchist_innen aus europa in saint-Imier, schweiz, zusammen, um das 140. jubiläum der gründung der anarchistischen internationalen zu feiern. das treffen hatte die form eines festivals und einer bildungsveranstaltung mit musik, filmen, unterhaltung, ebenso mit workshops und diskussionen.

bei der rückkehr vom treffen in saint-imier wurden zwei anarchist_innen, einer von ihnen ist mitglied der anarchistischen föderation großbritannien, für nahezu zwei stunden am londoner flughafen heathrow vom so15 (terrorismusbekämpfung) in gewahrsam genommen. während der ingewahrsamnahme wurde den anarchist_innen gesagt, dass ihre normalen rechte keine gültigkeit hätten. ihre namen, adressen, emailadressen, dna und fingerabdrücke wurden genommen. die in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen wurden auch gezwungen, verzichtserklärungen zu unterschreiben – legal oder nicht legal – betreffend ihr recht zu schweigen und ihr recht auf einen rechtsbeistand. die polizei führte auch eine gründliche durchsuchung des persönlichen besitzes durch, fotokopierte literatur und ausweise und entnahm informationen von telefonen und kameras.

während der ingewahrsamnahme beschuldigte die polizei ständig die anarchist_innen zu lügen in bezug auf ihre beteiligung an kriminellen aktivitäten und behauptete, dass sie weitere polizeiaktionen gegen eine_n der in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen durchführen würden. zusätzlich stellten so15-offizier_innen eine reihe von provokanten, irrelevanten und beleidigenden fragen, einschließlich „was würden sie tun, wenn jemand ihre mutter vergewaltigen würde?“. augenscheinlich taten sie dies, um einen gefühlsausbruch und strafbare, wütende oder gewalttätige antworten zu provozieren. ein mitglied (28), das aus angst vor polizeirepressionen nicht namentlich genannt werden möchte, sagte: „wir wurden wie kriminelle behandelt. ich sagte ihnen, dass ich zum kongress ging, weil ich amateurjournalist bin und artikel über aktivismus schreibe. sie sahen mein notebook, meine kamera und mein diktiergerät, aber sie sagten, ich würde lügen. ein_e offizier_in sagte: „sie sagten, dass sie ein_e anarchist_in seien. ich habe anarchist_innen in den nachrichten gesehen. sie sind gewalttätig, werfen molotovcocktails und stören den alltag der leute. sie schreiben keine artikel.“

die terrorismusbekämpfungsoffizier_innen wussten nichts davon oder entschieden sich dazu es zu ignorieren, dass während des ersten tages des treffens, die internationale der anarchistischen föderationen (bei der die anarchistische förderation großbritannien mitglied ist) eine stellungnahme veröffentlicht hatten, die alle terroristischen taktiken, um eine anarchistische gesellschaft zu erreichen, ablehnt.

im gegensatz zu den britischen sicherheitskräften berichteten die lokale presse und die einwohner_innen von saint-imier sehr positiv über das anarchistische treffen.

mit diesem zwischenfall sehen wir einen weiteren ruck richtung politischer polizeiarbeit und der kriminalisierung politischer weltanschauungen. die zwei in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen waren nie in irgendeine illegale oder gewalttätige aktion involviert oder in irgendeine aktion, die die terrorabwehr betreffen würde.

wie in der vergangenheit, als die londoner polizei die menschen dazu aufrief, informationen über örtliche anarchist_innen weiterzugeben ( „anarchist_innen sollten gemeldet werden, ermahnt die westminster antiterrorpolizei“ | uk news | the guardian ), erlitten anarchist_innen schikane für ihre politische überzeugung.

als klassenkämpferische anarchist_innen glauben wir, dass der staat wenig tut, außer den interessen der reichen und mächtigen zu dienen auf kosten der normalen leute. dies tritt klar zu tage, wenn menschen, die kritische ansichten in bezug auf den staat vertreten, wie kriminelle und terrorist_innen behandelt werden. wir wollen eine klassenlose gesellschaft schaffen, die auf freiheit, gleichheit und kooperation basiert. wir glauben an die fähigkeit der normalen leute, die gesellschaft selbst zu verwalten ohne die einmischung durch bosse und politiker_innen. dieser zwischenfall war keine reaktion auf irgendein verbrechen. er zeigt die unterdrückung und kriminalisierung einer politischen überzeugung.

anmerkungen:

anarchsimus ist eine politische philisophie, die versucht eine gesellschaft der gleichen, in der gegenseitige hilfe, kooperation, und direkte demokratie den kapitalismus und den staat ablösen, zu errichten.

der kongress in saint-imier war ein treffen von anarchist_innen aus der ganzen welt, um das 140. jubiläum des ersten treffens der anarchistischen internationalen in der schweizer stadt saint-imier im jahr 1872 zu feiern.

die anarchistische föderation ist eine föderation von anarcho-kommunist_innen in großbritannien, die eine gesellschaft der gleichen errichten will.

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Italian translation

Anarchici detenuti dalla polizia anti-terrorismo di ritorno da una Conferenza in Svizzera

Per tutta la scorsa settimana, migliaia di anarchici provenienti da tutta Europa si sono incontrati a Saint-Imier, Svizzera, per celebrare il 140esimo anniversario dell’Internazionale Antiautoritaria. L’incontro ha preso la forma di un festival, con musica, film e intrattenimento accanto a seminari, assemblee e tavoli di discussione.

Di ritorno dall’incontro di Saint-Imier, due anarchici, uno dei quali membro dell’Anarchist Federation (UK), sono stati detenuti per circa due ore all’aeroporto londinese di Heathrow dalla SO15, la polizia antiterrorismo inglese. Nel corso della detenzione, agli anarchici è stato comunicato che i loro normali diritti erano sospesi e gli sono stati presi i nomi, gli indirizzi, i contatti email, il DNA e le impronte digitali. I detenuti sono stati anche obbligati a firmare dei moduli – cosa che può o meno essere legale – di rinuncia dei loro diritti all’avvocato e della facoltà di non rispondere. La polizia ha anche effettuato una perquisizione approfondita dei beni dei compagni, di testi fotocopiati e dei loro passaporti e ha preso informazioni da telefoni cellulari e fotocamere.

Durante la detenzione, la polizia ha accusato costantemente gli anarchici di mentire riguardo al loro coinvolgimento in attività criminali e ha affermato che avrebbe svolto in seguito un’azione di polizia nei confronti di uno dei due anarchici arrestati. In aggiunta a ciò, gli agenti dell’SO15 hanno fatto alcune domande infamanti, irrilevanti e offensive, incluso «Cosa faresti se qualcuno ti violentasse la madre?», in un tentativo evidente di causare sconvolgimenti emotivi e scoppi di rabbia o reazioni violente. Uno dei due compagni (28), che non vuole essere citato per timore di rappresaglie da parte della polizia, ha dichiarato: «Siamo stati trattati come criminali. Ho detto loro che ero andato al congresso dal momento che scrivo articoli sull’attivismo sociale e politico.

Hanno visto il mio notebook, la mia videocamera e il Dittafono ma hanno detto che stavo mentendo. Un ufficiale mi ha detto: “Hai detto che sei un anarchico. Ho visto gli anarchici ai telegiornali: sono violenti, lanciano molotov e rovinano la vita delle persone, non scrivono articoli”.»

Gli agenti antiterrorismo o non sapevano o hanno scelto di ignorare, tuttavia, che durante il primo giorno dell’incontro a Saint-Imier, l’Internazionale delle Federazioni Anarchiche (della quale l’Anarchist Federation UK è membro) aveva rilasciato una dichiarazione rifiutanto qualunque tattica terroristica come mezzo per la realizzazione di una società anarchica.

A differenza delle azioni repressive perpetrate dalla polizia inglese, l’incontro anarchico è stato accolto positivamente dalla popolazione di Saint-Imier e dalla stampa locale.

Con questo incidente, siamo di fronte ad un ulteriore slittamento verso politiche securitarie e la criminalizzazione delle ideologie politiche. I due anarchici arrestati non hanno avuto mai alcun coinvolgimento in attività violente o illegali, o in attività che debbano coinvolgere le forze antiterrorismo. Come nel passato, quando la polizia metropolitana ha invitato le persone alla delazione e a fornire informazioni sugli anarchici locali ( che devono essere segnalati, ricorda la polizia antiterrorismo di Westminster, Uk News, The Guardian ), questi hanno subito vessazioni per le loro idee politiche.

Come anarchici, sostenitori della lotta di classe, crediamo che lo stato faccia ben poco se non servire gli interessi dei ricchi e dei potenti alle spese della gente comune. Lo si vede chiaramente quando persone che hanno una visione critica dello stato sono trattate come criminali e terroristi. Noi cerchiamo di creare una società senza classi, basata sulla libertà, l’eguaglianza e la cooperazione. Crediamo nella capacità di tutti e tutte di gestire la società da noi, senza l’interferenza di padroni o politici. Questo incidente non era in risposta a un crimine e costituisce un atto di repressione e criminalizzazione di un’ideologia politica.

Note editoriali:

L’anarchismo è una filosofia politica che cerca di costruire una società egalitaria in cui il mutuo aiuto, la cooperazione e la democrazia diretta rimpiazzino il capitalismo e lo stato.

Il Congresso di Saint-Imier è stato un incontro di anarchici e anarchiche da tutto il mondo per celebrare il 140esimo anniversario della prima internazionale antiautoritaria tenutosi nella cittadina svizzera nel 1872.

L’Anarchist Federation è una federazione di anarchici inglesi per il comunismo libertario e per la lotta di classe che mira a costruire una società di libere ed uguali.

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With thanks for the translations from IFA federations and friends, and alsoi for recently received solidarity statements from organisations including the Solidarity Federation-IWA in Britain, Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) in the USA and the Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes (CGA, Anarchist Group Coordination) in France.

StateWatch have kindly done a follow-up investigation which contains some important new info,'Police use anti-terror powers to detain anarchists on return from conference in Switzerland': http://www.statewatch.org/news/2012/aug/08uk-arrest-of-anarchists.html

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http://www.afed.org.uk

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 19:58
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Public statement from IFA Congress Saint-Imier 2012, 9-12th August to other exploited and oppressed people of the World.

The St. Imier meeting has enabled a lot of groups and militants that are members and non-members of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) to meet each other. IFA would like to sum up the events of the last few days.

One hundred and forty years ago in this town an international movement of ‘anti-authoritarians’ was founded. It played a major part in the creation of an organised movement of anarchists. They worked then for profound social transformation, and in this manner we have participated, as IFA, in the international meeting in St-Imier. What we have to offer is the best sort of society that humanity is capable of achieving. We want to create a world in which there is complete economic equality, by which we mean that there should be no personal property but that we produce and own everything communally, with no need for money.

But as well as economic equality, there would be maximum personal freedom. This means that we live as we want and no one can make us do anything we don’t want to do, or prevent us from doing what we want to do unless this limits the freedom of others. So, there would be no hierarchy or oppression of any kind. There would be no need for a state or police because we would not need controlling or coercing. There would be no need for wars or global conflict because we would have no political enemies and no desire or need to seize any resources from anyone else. This is what we call Anarchism.

Anarchists reject the idea that it is human nature that one personal exploits another and that we are unequal. It is the case that rulers and states throughout history have maintained this system. This lie justifies Capitalism as a ‘natural’ system. We hear that there is a ‘crisis’ of Capitalism, but Capitalism is crisis. It is a recent system in historical terms and has already brought humanity to its knees many times before producing the current situation. But people all over the World are seeing through this lie and are resisting states and capitalism as never before and seek to coordinate their efforts across national boundaries. This makes an anarchist society more possible than ever.

But Anarchism is not utopianism. Obviously, for such a society to work, many things must first change, and our task now is to help bring about these vast transformations and provide an analysis that is useful to them. The working class, by which we mean all exploited and impoverished people, ourselves amongst them, has to operate as a mass movement. Crucially, it must not entrust the struggle to new leaders with old ideas, but by determining its own path.

Today, social movements are practising new ways of organising which draw heavily on anarchism, for example taking action directly against obstacles to their progress and experimenting with non-hierarchical organisational forms. They include student movements, action against destruction of the natural world and common resources, anti-militarist struggles, those against G8 summits and capitalism in general, and most recently the fight against austerity which unites the international working class. Movements such as Occupy and the Indignados and similar movements of self-organisation against the banking system have shown the importance of using direct action to reclaim public space. The uprisings of oppressed indigenous peoples in recent decades, such as the Zapatistas, have inspired the new social movements and have influenced anarchism itself. Such new movements create large assemblies to make decisions together without leaders. They practice horizontal decision-making. They link-up federally, as organisations of equal status without decision-making bodies at their centre.

But these attempts often fall short of what is possible because meaningful social change requires also that we change as individuals. We seek to be free and equal as individuals, but there must also be voluntary, personal responsibility and self-organisation. The working class itself contains divisions and oppressions and hierarchies which do not disappear just because we want to have no rulers and want to be equal. As members of the working class we therefore struggle internally against our own racism, sexism and patriarchal attitudes and practices. Equally we fight the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm, or that clearly defined categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ are ‘normal’. We must identify and oppose discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age or ability. Until internalised inequalities and deference towards hierarchy are identified and abolished we cannot be free, and so we identify and oppose them in social movements and workers organisations as well as in society in general.

Finally, to create this free and equal society, the working class itself must bring down rulers and capital. We call this a ‘social revolution’. Anarchists try to build confidence within the working class in our ability to be successful as quickly and with the least violence possible. We do this through joining with other workers to win small victories. We do this best through direct action not through reforms and negotiation with bosses. Direct action means not waiting but taking what should belong to all of us. We need to support each other’s struggles through mutual aid. This means practical solidarity in times of hardship. As well as helping us on a day-to-day basis, this demonstrates to people what we are about. So we practice anarchy now as far as we can in how we organise and how we struggle to prove that an anarchist society is possible.

We salute those comrades from the past, their work and the personal sacrifices they made for human emancipation. We continue their work, and critically develop their ideas and apply them to our situation. They would in turn salute the global working class at this point in its history, as it strives for real freedom and equality.

IFA has dealt with many themes over the last 5 days and in particular:

  • The economic crisis and social struggle
  • International solidarity
  • Anti-militarism
  • Anti-nuclear and alternative energies
  • Migration

On this basis, the IFA has reinvigorated its own activities and invite all exploited people to struggle for transformation of society, for anarchism.

The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA), 12th August 2012.

http://i-f-a.org

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German translation:

Öffentliche Stellungnahme des IFA-Kongresses in St. Imier vom 9. bis zum 12. August 2012 - German version

Spanish translation:

Declaración pública de la IFA el Congreso de Saint-Imier 2012, del 9 al 12 de agosto a otras personas explotadas y oprimidas del mundo.

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See also: Regional press videos of the St. Imier events and a scanned newpaper article (in French):

Video 1: http://www.rtn.ch/rtn/Actualites/Regionale/20120813-L-anarchisme-tranquille-a-St-Imier.html

Video 2: http://www.rts.ch/video/info/journal-19h30/4193648-saint-imier-be-accueille-les-rencontres-internationales-de-l-anarchisme-durant-cinq-jours.html

Positive local press (reporting on summing up of gathering and also about Japanese contingent): http://www.afed.org.uk/pdfs/st_imier_anarchist_event_local_press_13_August_2012.pdf

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