APRIL 2013 RESISTANCE #150 is out. WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL? (The Labour Party), Food prices, Mayday, Belarus ABC info-tour report. Wildcat strikes worldwide, Thatcher death parties, Prisoner news, Bristol Anarchist Bookfair.
WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL?
15 years ago we launched Resistance after a year of New Labour. We have come a long way since then, and the Tories may seem worse than ever, but it’s worth remembering how we got here under the last Labour government.
We are ten years since the start of the first Iraq War, but Labour’s first major war of their time in power was in the former Yugoslavia, where they ordered the bombing of Serbian cities over repression being meted out by the military in the region of Kosovo. We argued against NATO’s warmongering in print and on the street before, but to no avail. Many more people have since suffered the consequences of Labour’s adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As the Coalition launches a new wave of benefit attacks, let us cast an eye back to another snippet from Resistance issue 1, where we reported that Newcastle benefits agency had carried out a sustained months-long victimisation campaign against Incapacity Action member Chris Marshall. They confiscated his benefit book and paid him nothing for weeks on end. Chris, who was waiting for joint replacement surgery, was told by the SS to “get a job instead of sponging off the State” (yes, it really was still called Social Security in 1998!).
This is worth bearing in mind whilst the Labour opposition and its Trotskyist apologists bleat about how much they are against the unfairness of the Bedroom Tax and the other nasty welfare cuts that begin this month.
Massive NHS reforms also get underway this month, with almost the entire budget passing to the control of GPs and a National Commissioning Board, with immense pressure to buy as cheap as possible. But let’s not forget that when it was last in power Labour massively pushed forward the ‘purchaser-provider split’ in healthcare that was begun by the Tories in the 1990s. It is this that is allowing more for-profit companies into the NHS. Not only this, but Labour were responsible for the creation of Treatment Centres and outsourcing of NHS purchasing to the logistics company DHL. They also presided over further contracting out of cleaning and of GP out-of-hours services.
So the record of Labour in power is clear and anyone who thought they were better last time around, and has maybe forgotten what they got up to, would do well to examine the history books and not be fooled again.
Resistance is the regular bulletin of the Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Read more in Resistance bullletin, issue 150, April 2013.
Leaflet from the Anarchist Federation (London group) on the wave of occupations and upsurge in class struggle as austerity bites, arguing the working class to unite separate struggles.
Unite the struggles
The present system is in deep crisis. It is trying to get out of the situation it is in by making us, the mass of the population, those who work and produce, pay for it by slashing pensions, services, jobs and pay and conditions. Meanwhile the bankers are bailed out time after time. The world-wide anger at this is reflected in the occupations of public areas in 750 cities and towns around the world. It is reflected in the waves of strikes that have swept through many countries, in particular Greece, which is suffering under horrendous austerity measures. It is reflected in the birth of a new and radicalised student movement in Britain, prepared to engage in direct action and occupations. It is reflected in the beginnings of a new militancy in the workplace.
In the Arab speaking world a movement that began in Tunisia and Egypt and spread to other countries showed that it was possible to break with years of apathy and repression , bring large numbers of people together, and topple regimes. This process in the Arab-speaking world is far from over but it showed people all over the world what could be done. Previous massive mobilisations against the G8, G20 and International Monetary fund in the last two decades may also have had their effect.
In the West, the movement that began in Spain and spread to other parts of Europe and to the USA made wide use of social media just as had happened with the “Arab Spring”. The power of this new technology at spreading news and information quickly, in a form of communication relatively freer than other media like newspapers and television, brought a wide and diverse range of people and groups out on to the streets. This variety was seen in the number of different ideas co-existing within this new movement. Common basic demands can however be picked out:
• Replacement of the present capitalist system- although sometimes this involved calls for reform rather than removal of capitalism
• Unity of all those who are feeling the effects of the crisis
• Against the banks/finance capitalism
• Against financial chaos and State corruption
• Defence of previous gains- health, welfare, pensions, education and employment
• Anti-war with some links being built with anti-war movements
These occupations of public spaces have involved grass-roots activity and collective decision-making through mass assemblies. The movement is not homogeneous and involves a number of competing and sometimes competing ideas.
The reaction of the State has been at first to ignore these happenings. This has been followed by “limited” police suppression, with a desired aim of not aggravating and escalating the situation (although this involved many arrests in some circumstances as in the States. The next stage has been legalistic measures aimed at removing people from the spaces as well as a media war. This media war comes in the form of at first ridicule (people are portrayed as naïve, as clueless, as clowns). A further escalation of this media war will probably occur soon with accusations of “rent-a-mob”, “outside agitators” and “extremism”. Alongside this will be attempts to coopt , to present the movement as “tame”, to divert it along reformist channels.
In Britain other struggles are happening at the same time. The attack on electricians in the building industry on pay, conditions and pensions has brought about many weeks of actions involving hundreds of workers with use of road blockades and occupations of building sites.
Similarly, people have been fighting cuts imposed through local councils by using similar tactics. Recently people massed outside libraries in Brent in London that had been condemned to close and stopped them being boarded up. They were prepared ( like the movement outside St Paul’s) to stay all night, and they were supported by other local people bringing them food and drink, blankets and hot water bottles.
All of these actions have to be linked up. The way was shown on Wednesday October 19th when some people from St Paul’s went to help the electricians’ actions. It was followed up by a march from the action up to St Paul’s to a warm welcome. Anti-capitalist speeches and expressions of solidarity were given from the steps of the cathedral. This is the first step towards unity and must be followed up.
• Unite the struggles- create links between the Occupy movement, workers fighting against cuts in pay and conditions and pensions, students in schools, colleges and universities fighting against the austerity measures, pensioners, the unemployed and the anti-war movement
• Attacking the bankers is only part of the solution, the whole of the present system is unjust and rotten. It cannot be reformed. There is no such thing as a “nice” capitalism. It must be replaced with a new society based on equality and social justice, a society based on mass decision-making and mass participation, without exploitation, hierarchy, injustice and war
Printed and published by Anarchist Federation (London)
BM ANARFED LONDON WC1N 3XX
Freedom newspaper launched in new its monthly format on Oct 1st at an event that took place at Housmans bookshop. The new paper has colour inside and 24 pages. The new cover price is £2. Regular subscriptions including postage to UK addresses are £22 a year.
Details of the event and contents of the first monthly edition, plus full information about subscriptions and how to contribute to the paper are available on the Freedom Press website:
Also read the AF's monthly paper, resistance, online at: http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/resistance-bulletin
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).
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