Thousands of people have been occupying public squares in Greece to protest the government’s continuing austerity drive. Syntagma Square, in front of the parliament building, has been the principle focus of the occupations with thousands camping out and holding regular mass assemblies. The actions culminated in an attempt to blockade the parliament building on the day of the general strike, a plan that prompted widespread repression and confrontation with the police (including use of new motorcycle units who are equipped with metal clubs, tear gas and stun grenades). Police are also reported to have stopped ambulance crews from assisting injured protesters. An estimated 20-30,000 people filled the square, making it a far larger and more diverse action than any opposition seen so far. Protesters also attacked the luxurious Hotel Prince George and the Ministry of Economics. In response to the ongoing crisis the government has called for a “national unity” coalition, the assembly, however, has responded that it will continue to hold the square until governments, banks and the IMF are ousted.
The strength of the occupations, their size and their commitment to direct action and non-representational methods of organising are certainly inspiring and show the credibility of anarchist methods in practice. This aside, some in the existing anarchist movement have pointed to the need for more sustained intervention as there is an ongoing commitment to pacifistic methods (in spite of police provocation) and some of the actions are backed by nationalist sentiment, e.g. defending the Hellenic Republic from the “foreign” intervention of the EU and IMF. The latter has prompted the involvement of fascist groups who, in a surprising move, attended the protests during the General Strike (after a clash with anarchists they were ousted from the demonstration). More worrying reports have also come through of hostility to the use of anarchist banners and flags within the occupation itself. Nonetheless, the examples set by Greek workers are positive and testament to the power of direct action. Most importantly they point to a clear strategy – to escalate dissent to a point where the system is ungovernable – in the international fightback against austerity.
UK Unmasked and the New Kids on the Bloc
Analysis by a member of the Anarchist Federation on the "March for the Alternative" (March 26th 2011) and the political trends expressed within it, especially UK Uncut and the Black Bloc, in relation to the growing anti-cuts movement in the UK. From Organise! 76 - Summer 2011 (forthcoming issue).
This article comes from The Fargate Speaker, one of the many local AFed blogs that you can see there in the blogroll on the right.
Mark is a third year Biology student studying at Sheffield University and a member of the Anarchist Federation. He is one among many students currently occupying the Hicks Building on Sheffield University campus. The views expressed in the interview should be considered his alone and not that of the occupation’s general assembly.
- Why are you occupying the Hicks building today?
We are occupying for a variety of reasons but generally around the common purpose of being against the cuts in this university, to other universities and to education in general. Particularly we want to demonstrate against the proposed rise in tuition fees and the ongoing privatisation of higher education. However, we are also tying our actions to a wider struggle against austerity measures and cuts. So our occupation is about more than just education cuts but this is currently our primary focus.
- What has been the reaction of University security/the police so far?
They haven’t taken any action to stop us occupying yet but they have told us after 6pm that everyone who is leaving won’t be able to return. This will presumably be until tomorrow morning. It might open up again after 8am. We haven’t had any major trouble so far but police have been inside to observe what was going on. It should be stated thought that we have no intention of damaging university property. This is a peaceful occupation.
- Why should the occupation be supported?
Because the tactic of occupation, as opposed to lobbying or simply asking political representatives to make changes for us, is a tactic that has been historically successful. Clegg and his broken promise to scrap tuition fees is just one example, among many, that politicians cannot be trusted to make decisions for us. Direct action puts a lot more pressure on university management and by extension government ministers to act.Aside from the past success of these kinds of tactics what we are fighting for is essentially access to education for everybody regardless of income. We also recognise that there is a much wider struggle beyond simply what is happening to education right now. We need to extend these tactics into all of these areas where we are currently under attack. This is a fight that all of us should be taking on and working in solidarity with each other.
Sam of Sheffield Group has been disassociated from the Anarchist Federation due to a pattern of serious sexual misconduct. Sam committed a sexual assault upon one of our members. In different circumstances, he has been extremely manipulative and dishonest towards a comrade when trying to set up a sexual situation. Furthermore, when engaged in a relationship he has behaved in an emotionally and sexually oppressive manner. We are also aware of several other instances of sexual harassment that have taken place.
We are writing this statement because we wish other groups and individuals to be aware of Sam's behaviour, to be safe from him and to ensure that he works towards changing this behaviour. We deplore the fact that sexual harassment still exists within the Anarchist movement and believe that it must be challenged wherever it appears.
Our hope is that Sam now takes steps to relearn how to relate to other people and takes responsibility for his behaviour. When a harmful act is committed the perpetrator takes power away from the survivor. Any response must involve restoring the balance of power, not about ‘making everything OK again’ - to do so would be impossible.
As a first step in this process, which has been led by those affected, Sam has been asked to produce a statement of his own acknowledging what he has done, outlining the steps he intends to take independently, and committing himself to the process. We anticipate asking him to take further action. We feel strongly that those who are close to Sam should not be held responsible in any way for his behaviour.
It has been requested by those affected by Sam’s actions that AF members do not comment on any discussion following this statement. If a response is needed it will come through a mandated delegate, following discussion with those involved (Claire - bringyourownpetyahoo.co.uk ).
Polls show strong public opposition to immigration, a trend that has coincided with a rise in support for the far-right, in Britain and across Europe. What responsibility do the mainstream parties bear for these developments, what role is immigration playing in the current election, and how should the left address the issue?
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