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