Resistance #151: The Green Shoots of Revolt

Resistance #151: The Green Shoots of Revolt

MAY 2013 RESISTANCE is out. THE GREEN SHOOTS OF REVOLT (Bedroom Tax), Pro-choice in Ireland, Benefits interviewee campaign, Bristol Bookfair report (and forthcoming Sheffield bookfair), Greece migrant worker attacks, Bangladesh factory solidarity, Jock Palfreeman prisoner support.

The Green Shoots of Revolt

Spring finally came at the end of April. But the same month saw a raft of new attacks on living conditions being pushed out by the State. Especially nasty have been cuts to welfare that many people – in work or unemployed – depend on because of low-pay, lack of work or inability to do paid work.

One of the high profile changes is the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ which means many council house and housing association tenants are facing bills or housing benefit cuts for having spare rooms. As well as the bills, people are feeling under pressure to move to smaller places that may not even be available. Many people need spare rooms for a variety of reasons – and why shouldn’t we have space for friends or family anyway?

Quite rightly the Bedroom Tax has caused an anger which has seen people taking to the streets in many towns to say ‘Can’t pay, Won’t pay!’
Often this has involved pressuring local councils not to evict anyone who gets behind. Like in the anti-Poll Tax campaign that brought down Thatcher, local groups of campaigners are starting to get together to oppose the new tax. This is a very positive development, but as with the Poll Tax, it is vital that the campaigning is controlled by the people themselves. Otherwise it will be taken over by politicians and celebrities who will make their parties or themselves look good, but do little to strengthen our collective fight back.

Anarchists are well aware of the need for maximum participation and ‘direct democracy’ in campaigns. When the current economic crisis got started, an anti-cuts movement arose, with inspiring self-organisation by students. They did not trust the self-interested leaders of the National Union of Students who were making deals with the government. Networks involving universities and colleges operated with people treating each other as equals. This was a very good start. But overall, since then, anti-cuts campaigning has suffered in many towns from the agendas of this or that political party.

That is why it is encouraging that a regional Bedroom Tax campaign in Scotland has taken off with self-organising principles. A recent get together in Edinburgh and West Lothian agreed that decision-making power should be in the hands of local groups and that the co-ordination between them should be done through recallable delegates. This kind of ‘anarchy in action’ is vital to keep the struggle in the hands of the people rather than political parties. Anarchist Federation members are involved with this process and are hoping this way of working will extend to the whole of Scotland, and who knows, the whole of Britain.

Resistance is the regular bulletin of the Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk

Read more in Resistance bullletin, issue 151, May 2013