Resistance bulletin issue 114 July/August 2009
RESISTANCE bulletin issue 114 July/August 2009 [PDF]: http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist114.pdf
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Also available: Organise! magazine no.72
Full contents of the July/August 2009 issue:
· Refinery walkouts: the return of solidarity
· Iran: on the brink?
· Solidarity wins! – workers beat victimisation
· On the frontline: workplace roundup
· Popular protest saves Glasgow park
· Hunger strike and rioting in immigration prisons
· SOAS occupation gets the goods
· Sussex uni students occupy land over job cuts
· Greece: immigrants and anarchists struggle against racist attacks
· The BNP: time to panic?
· What is anarchism part 3 – from capitalism to a free society
REFINERY WALKOUTS:THE RETURN OF SOLIDARITY
The sacking of 650 workers for wildcat strike action at the Total-owned Lindsay Oil Refinery has led to an unofficial walkout by thousands of riggers, laggers, fitters and electricians at the site, plus solidarity actions by thousands more at other sites up and down the UK.
Workers around the country have acted in support: Thousands walked out at the Ensus bio-fuel plant in Teeside, and hundreds struck at Stanlow in Cheshire, Aberthaw in South Wales, Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire and a number of other sites.
The workers were sacked after a walkout over access to new jobs. Around 50 workers who were due to be made redundant by one contractor were not offered work going at another, in a clear attempt to get rid of workers who had been involved in prior strike action.
Despite Total bosses attempting to portray themselves as not being party to a dispute between workers and contractors, it has been revealed that Total management instructed their contracting partners not to take on workers from another project on-site as they were being made redundant, and to employ new workers instead. This is against industry agreements and standard practice, and clearly an attempt to punish workers for previous strike action. According to the GMB union, Total managers claimed they were “not prepared to recommend to the contractor that they take on ‘an unruly workforce who had taken part in unofficial disputes and who won’t work weekends’.”
An AF member who works at a large refinery commented on the relationship between refinery owners and contractors: “The refinery owner has a say in how many staff can be fired or hired. The contractor then does the work of the sackings. It’s even more complicated if the contractors are an agency – basically they are employed by Total or whoever and are bound to that refinery. They only work at the refinery not anywhere else where the contractor has interests, unless a worker specifically wants to transfer. At the end of the day it’s the refinery owner who makes the decisions whilst the contractor wears the overalls of an engineering company etc.”
IRAN:ON THE BRINK?
Since the elections on June 12th, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the results, which are widely believed to have been rigged to ensure victory to the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is good reason to believe that the hard-line and reactionary President was not the victor – not only were there reports of missing ballots and coerced voting on behalf of the Ahmadinejad campaign, but Iran has a strong history of rigged elections, it is all part and parcel of the Islamic dictatorship in Iran.
Soon after the results were announced rage spread right across the world. The extent of the regime’s meddling in the elections was so obvious that protests were inevitable and even as this edition of Resistance goes to print (some two weeks after the election), Iranian workers are braving the militarised streets of Tehran to demonstrate their anger and let out decades of frustration with the Islamic Republic.
These protests however are not about the elections any longer. Reformist supporters have been seen on television the world over calling for a recount, there has even been talk of a ‘Green revolution’ in Iran (Green being the adopted colour of the Mousavi campaign) – but what started as a reformist protest quickly bloomed into something radical with working class Iranians hijacking the protests to spread their own, more militant message – these demonstrators had no illusions in either faction of the Islamic regime. Iran is possibly the clearest case of an official Islamic country in the world, but these protests have been testament to the fact that that many Iranians have no faith in political Islam. Despite brutal crackdowns on the demonstrations, every day since the results were announced has seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets from right across Iran. This is not the result of the elections, nor of Mousavi or any other part of the theocracy, rather this is catharsis on behalf of the Iranians having suffered brutal clerical rule for 30 years. Clashes with police and chants such as ‘Marg Bar Diktator’ (Death to the Dictator) echoing throughout Iran illustrate the clear discontent Iranian workers have not just with Ahmadinejad, but with the whole rotten theocracy.
Even with the world watching however the Iranian state has not been tolerant of protests – be they peaceful or more militant. Ayatollah Khomeini has banned them and the Basij militia and Revolutionary Guard police have done all they can to violently disperse them. So far reports of those killed in the protests range from 30 to 200. Whatever the number, it is set only to increase over the coming days and weeks. Also set to increase however is the militancy of the protests, statements from strikes of medical staff in Tehran and Khodro car-manufacturing workers talked not of the elections but of their discontent with clerical rule. In addition hundreds of university lecturers have gone on strike protesting the treatment of students on campus who have been beaten and even kidnapped by the regime for their part in the protests.
As anarchists we do not side with either faction of the Islamic ruling class in Iran as we know that any differences between them are superficial. We encourage everyone to publicise the plight of Iranian workers and support them in their struggle against barbarism that has plagued them for 30 years (and of course against the ever looming threat of imperialist intervention). ‘Marg Bar Diktator’!
Bosses have been forced to reinstate a sacked union convenor after workers threatened open-ended strike action in his support.
Rob Williams was sacked following what his employers at Linamar called an “irretrievable breakdown of trust.” Rob, a convenor for the Unite union, had been highly active and vocal in his support of the workers in the recent Visteon dispute, and as an industry militant is highly respected by the workforce. He is co-chair of the national shop stewards’ network, and is a leading activist in the car industry. He was among the first to visit the occupied Ford/Visteon plants in Belfast and Enfield and pickets at the plant in Basildon.
It is due to this fact that bosses at the Linamar plant in Swansea where he worked moved to sack him, as Linamar had bought the former Visteon factory in the city. Linamar’s board includes Steve Gawne, the Visteon manager whose country mansion was visited by the sacked workers during the dispute.
The sacking sparked an immediate walkout, as the production line staff left their posts and went to support Rob, who had locked himself in the convenors’ office. He was evicted, and later called back to work only to be formally sacked for good. Foremen were reported to be threatening production staff against further wildcat action in response.
Workers were balloted over industrial action in his support. 88% voted for indefinite strike action, on a turnout of 88% of the workers.
The threat of indefinite disruption terrified employers into giving Rob his job back. He was unconditionally re-instated.
?Union Convenors are workers who are appointed or elected from the shop stewards at large workplaces, such as factories or local government sites. They serve as a link between stewards and the union.
?The Visteon dispute was a series of occupations and demonstrations following the sacking of workers at car parts plants owned by Visteon, a compant spun off from Ford. Workers were denied promised redundancies, and owed back pay. See Resistance 112 and 113 (available online) for details.
?Linamar bought the former Visteon factory in Swansea after the site and workforce were run down by Visteon management (who had secured their own pensions well in advance).
ON THE FRONT LINE:WORKPLACE ROUNDUP Royal Mail Strikes
Royal mail workers have struck over job cuts and attacks on services and pay.
Workers in London and Edinburgh began a two day strike on the 19th June over job losses, with 91% of those balloted voting in favour of strike action. Another 500 workers across Scotland struck on the 20th over jobs and services
Unfortunately, the Communication Workers’ Union has been attempting to manoeuvre itself into a snug partnership position with the government, offering itself as a partner in keeping the workforce in line should it agree negotiated ‘modernisation’ with the union rather than a privatisation. The union is offering a three month strike ban if the government agrees. Privatisation, however, is not currently an option given the economic climate.
Jonathan DeCarteret, from consultancy Post-Switch, predicted a “long summer of industrial strike action” at the Royal Mail.
Rail dispute goes nuclear
Rail drivers delivering nuclear materials to Sellafield nuclear power plant are set for industrial action over pay.
The ballot – organised by train drivers’ union ASLEF – saw a majority supporting action up to and including a strike. The dispute could involve up to 130 workers.
The drivers are employed by the nuclear freight firm DRS. The company is refusing to honour a 3.5% pay increase agreed between the union and employers three years ago. Workers are also being made to change the way they take annual leave, with the existing arrangements being scrapped and replaced with much more rigid structures.
Actions over academy plans
Teachers at the Belmont school in Country Durham undertook two walkouts against plans to turn the school into an academy. They are backed by parents, who are also opposed to the plans.
In a statement, the NASUWT union said: “The overwhelming weight of local opinion is for these misguided plans to be rejected.
“The teachers at the school are dedicated and committed and are not taking this action lightly but in the face of a totally intransigent local authority they have no alternative.”
POPULAR PROTEST SAVES GLASGOW PARK
A moneygrabbing scheme by Glasgow City Council and Go Ape to build an expensive visitor attraction destroying a large area of a much loved park has been defeated after an imaginative and energetic 18 month campaign by local people.
Pollok Park is next to the working class area of Pollok in Glasgow. Go Ape was planning on charging £25 per person for a “highwire forest adventure” – not exactly something you’d go on every week then! Go Ape would have taken over one third (32 acres) of the woodland in the park, and the car parking, queues, and noise would have destroyed the rest.
Pollok Park was gifted to the people of Glasgow for “quiet enjoyment” but Glasgow City Council has previously proved itself bad caretakers of this land by building the M77 motorway through it in the 90s. To oppose this, local people set up a protest camp directly on the route of the motorway and declared themselves “Pollok Free State”. As well as objecting to the building of a motorway through their working class community and greenspace, they also challenged who should make decisions about the use and development of public space. Although the motorway was built, it cost the road builders lots of time and energy to evict hundreds of local people from their protest camp.
Perhaps fearing a repeat of these expensive evictions, and in the face of massive popular opposition, the council and Go Ape have now cancelled their scheme. The protesters aren’t stopping at that though – they are now campaigning for park users to be involved in all future decisions about developing the park and that all facilities in it should be free to use.
HUNGER STRIKE AND RIOTING IN IMMIGRATION PRISONS
On June 12th, a group of detainees at Brook House immigration prison began resisting lockdown. Rioting quickly broke out. The guards, who are employees of private contractors G4S, fled the wing, which was taken over by the prisoners, who damaged the contents of the administration wing and cells. A large fire was set in the courtyard.
The riot was put down the following morning by specialist ‘tornado team’ riot officers. During the disturbances, which were confined to the A Wing, many detainees throughout the centre were locked down for 24 hours and given only an apple and a KitKat to eat during that period.
Two days later, the detainees at Yarl’s Wood immigration prison went on hunger strike, refusing to go to the cafeteria. This action was taken in response to the inhumane and humiliating conditions being imposed on prisoners – who include young children and those with medical conditions – at the Serco-run private prison.
The following day, detainees prevented the deportation of a family, and on the Wednesday they began occupying corridors in the detention centre. Serco responded by bringing in over 30 guards to violently remove the detainees, and stripped two of the female hunger strikers in the process. Detainees report that a prison guard humiliated one of the women by filming her on his camera phone.
One of the woman detainees told a supporter “I have never ever seen such violence. They were beating the men like they were animals. They say if we dare to go back into the corridor they will spray us all over [with pepper spray]. We need your help from outside. We don’t have any rights in here. We need your support from outside.”
Though there are guidelines outlining that children and those with mental health issues should not be detained in such facilities, they are routinely ignored. Earlier in the year the Childrens’ commissioner reported that young children, many with health problems, are being locked up with “scant regard to basic welfare needs.” The report found that children with serious health conditions were denied treatment, and many have been delayed emergency hospital attention, including a baby with pneumonia.
Yarl’s Wood has been subject to controversy since it opened, with investigations by newspapers and reports by investigators finding institutional racism, humiliation of detainees and racist attacks. In 2006 Legal Action for Women reported that many female detainees had no access to lawyers, and were subjected to sexual and racial intimidation by guards. Booklets detailing prisoners’ legal rights have been confiscated by Serco guards.
Hunger strikers’ statement:
1. Children, some as young as five months old, are sick in this detention centre. Most were struck down with a virus, they are not eating properly since they are not used to the food here, not sleeping properly, restless and suffer other psychological manifestations including nightmares, bedwetting, screaming at night, violent behaviours and other emotional outbursts like crying etc.
2. A recently bereaved family of three, who lost their twins and buried [them] just about a month ago, [are] being detained and [have been] given removal directions without even a chance to say farewell to the grave at Everton cemetery, where three of their children are buried.
3. Pregnant women, some with complications, are detained with total disregard of their well-being, including a pregnant lady, who is also suffering from depression and anxiety.
4. A lady recently went through a major life-threatening operation for ectopic pregnancy a couple of months ago, and is now detained without even sufficient time to recover.
5. An epileptic lady who suffers multiple seizures, up to six times in a twenty-four hour period, with only a 14-year-old son to look after her. The occupants tried to assist in such distressing times.
6. Families in considerable distress [are] being plucked out of their beds early in the morning and transported in mobile prisons for long hours to the airport.
7. The continuing detention has placed considerable stress on families and, as such, we have decided to rise with a single voice and say no to detention of innocent people.
8. Hence, this is the second day of a continuing hunger-strike. Also tonight [Tuesday, 16th June], all occupants here, with the children, have decided to spend the night protesting outside [in the court yard].
9. We will appreciate any help and advice we can get from you.
SOAS OCCUPATION GETS THE GOODS
An occupation on behalf of migrant workers at London’s School of African and Asian Studies has won powerful concessions from University Management following negotiations.
The protests began in reaction to the rounding up of migrant cleaners following a meeting the week before. The raid followed attempts by the cleaners to win union recognition for themselves and the London Living Wage, with many believing the it was orchestrated as “revenge” by the management. Nine people were detained by over 40 police in riot gear who had been waiting in hiding at the meeting, with five deported soon after. The rapid deportation of these workers, without the chance to get legal advice or to challenge the decision, and the university management’s complicity with the Home Office in this outraged the community.
University buildings were soon occupied following protests on campus against the unfair dismissal and deportation of the cleaners. The occupation received messages of support from SOAS academics, alumni and other activists across Britain and the world.
After several days of negotiations, including the threat of eviction for the occupiers, the university management agreed to several of the occupier’s demands. These included working with the Home Office to demand immediate return to those deported, to review health & safety implications of the raid and to begin a wider investigation of their use of outsourced cleaning services.
The victory here is important for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, the cleaners have a reprieve from deportation and losing the lives they have build for themselves in Britain. Secondly, this action shows the power of students and workers to force through their demands for concessions from managements and bureaucracies. Successful occupations like this are a great example of how ordinary people can empower themselves and others in the face of seemingly powerful institutions. They help to build our confidence in our ability as the working class to organise, resist and win, as the occupiers themselves say “We are strengthened in this struggle for a united cause and urge everybody to start a campaign in their own workplace or institution safe in the knowledge that they are not alone. That united we stand, divided we fall!”
More information on the occupation can be found at http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com
SUSSEX UNI STUDENTS OCCUPY LAND AGAINST JOB CUTS
On 21st of May a group of anarchist and like-minded students at the University of Sussex set up a protest camp outside the university management offices. This was in response to the Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing’s pro-market “restructuring” programme which has seen attacks on university workers’ contracts, pension schemes and job security, as well as the closure of many undergraduate courses. All of these measures were pushed through in ways that evaded what little democratic mechanisms exist at the university.
The recent decision to close the Linguistics course (the 2nd highest rated in the country according to government league tables) led to widespread public criticism in the mainstream press, including from internationally renowned linguist and anarchist writer Noam Chomsky, who gave the campers his support.
Students were able to make use of the camp to hold workshops, revision sessions and meetings with staff from various departments and unions. They faced constant threats of disciplinary action from management, but despite this were able to hold out for over 2 weeks. Then on the 6th of June they were woken at 4.30 in the morning by private security guards trying to dismantle the tents while people were still asleep in them! They were also served with a court injunction which effectively makes any form of occupational protest a criminal offence until January 2010, enough time for the restructuring to be complete without further opposition (or so they hope!).
The camp did, however, force the management into negotiations with linguistics students whose protests they had previously ignored or suppressed, even threatening to forcefully shut down an awareness raising gig in a student union bar.
As universities around the country push through pro-market reforms that attack workers and students’ education alike, they will always resort to more and more draconian measures to silence dissent and create tighter hierarchies of control. Only students and staff uniting together to take direct action against these measures can stand a chance of achieving results, as the camp at Sussex shows. British students should take inspiration from our comrades across Europe who have created mass, militant student movements against the marketisation of education, with amazing results. To find out more about militant student activism in Britain go to https://www.autonomous-students.net/, the website for the autonomous student network formed at the anarchist movement conference June 6th-7th.
GREECE: IMMIGRANTS AND ANARCHISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS
Throughout December, Greece was alive with working class dissent. Police stations burned, luxury shops were ransacked, roads blockaded and the centre of Athens saw continuous running battles with aggressive riot police (often in collaboration with neo-Nazi paramilitary organisations).
An important factor that was to colour the December events was the sheer diversity of those involved. Anger at the murder of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by police was shared across Greek society. This and the continuing attacks by the state on workers’ conditions in response to the economic crisis served to fan the flames of wider political dissent across the country.
But this time the streets were not only filled with the usual gang of hooded insurrectionists. Factory workers, school students, university students, teachers, health workers, the precariously employed of the so-called “seven hundred Euro generation”, immigrants, agricultural labourers, the unemployed (and many more) all took to the streets in outrage. Helena Smith of the Telegraph reported on the 14th December that, to her horror, even “middle-class rioters are buying rocks”. It seemed that everyone was starting to see the rotten state of the system.
Yet, the mainstream media inside Greece, and later the professor’s of Greek Universities, would continue to tell two stories about the riots. The first, that it was just a mob of hot-headed youth. This wasn’t political, these people were just bored and disillusioned. All they needed was better jobs and better opportunities. The economy had failed them, we know what’s best for them, oh the folly of youth etc. The second accusation betrayed a far more vicious agenda and introduced a political scapegoat for the violence. That poor Greek youths had been led astray by immigrants whose only aim was to loot and steal from native Greeks.
In the media, distinctions were continuously made between the naïve and hot-blooded actions of Greek youth and the criminal behaviour of immigrants and minorities. Such accusations were also backed by a very real campaign of intimidation and violence against immigrant communities by Fascist organisations.
In early May, for example, a rally called by fascist groups quickly turned violent. Neo-nazis began randomly beating immigrants with iron bars with the police looking on. Later, under the protection of the riot police, the neo-nazis attacked buildings where immigrants find refuge with stones and flash and sound grenades.
Such anti-immigrant activity, however, was not limited to the streets. The European elections saw the ascent of LAOS, the populist rightwing Popular Orthodox Alarm Party, to 4th position with 7% of the vote. This, combined with the governing party’s landslide defeat, led the government to endorse the core of the extreme-right wing policies of LAOS. The Minister of Public Order, Mr Makroyannakis, announced the launch of a mass pogrom of immigrants in the centre of Athens. He pledged to “clean” immigrants from the city centre and displace them in what he called “a ghetto” at the outskirts of Athens. The camp, which will use the old NATO base of Aspropyrgos in the city’s heavily industrially polluted rustbelt, is expected to hold more than 2,000 ‘illegal’ immigrants. The premises had been proposed in the past as a temporary concentration camp for immigrants, addicts and homeless people during the 2004 Olympic Games but the plan was abandoned after a huge public outcry.
Immigrants and their allies are not taking these attacks lying down. Early March, after all, saw protesters, in response to an attempted hand grenade attack on an immigrant community, break into the offices of Neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn (Xrysi Avgi) and torch them to the ground. On Friday 29 May immigrants and solidarity protesters also marched to the Greek parliament despite a fascist counter-demo and media scaremongering. Tensions are high, however, and attacks on immigrants are likely to escalate.
Early June saw anarchists in the area of Agios Panteleimonas move to unblock the entrance of the local children’s playground which the fascists want to keep locked in an effort to impose segregation between Greeks and immigrants, and “to preserve the blood purity of the white race”. While unblocking the playground the anarchists were attacked by fascists who were soon routed before the arrival of riot police forces.
During the clashes one policeman was injured and five protesters were arrested on criminal charges. After the end of the clashes, a local Greek father, Mr Tasoulas, took his son to play in the coveted playground. Soon they were surrounded by fascists who blocked the exit of the playground and threatened to lynch the father calling him a traitor. After he managed to hand the child to a sympathetic neighbour, the fascists beat the father in full presence of the chief of the local police station.
THE BNP: TIME TO PANIC?
In the wake of the election of two BNP MEPs, it is important to recognise the hysterical nature of some of the response to the European elections. Both the left and liberal sections of the media talk of the ‘rise of the BNP’. Even the Daily Mail – a paper which supported Hitler and Mosley’s blackshirts until it was threatened with the gag by the British government – splashed the headline ‘March of the Extremists’ across its front page the morning after the elections.
The BNP got 943,598 votes. In the areas where they gained seats, they actually lost votes. The BNP got in mostly due to external factors; the low turnout, the total collapse of the Labour vote in the wake of the expenses scandal and the increased distribution of votes across smaller parties. The turnout was extremely low, just 34.48% in the UK .
The fact that UKIP came second – picking up two and a half million votes – has mostly gone without commentary, despite the fact that like the BNP it stands for the halting of all further immigration, imposing a ten-year freedom of speech restriction on immigrants, for the imposition of ‘unicultiralism’, would restrict ‘British jobs for British workers’ and calls for the prosecution of ‘disloyal’ opinions.
None of this is to say that the BNP aren’t scumbags. They are a racist party whose core movers have long histories of involvement in fascist politics. They stand for an all-white Britain, and the elimination of ethnic minorities through ‘firm but voluntary’ ‘repatriation’ schemes. Quite how these schemes are ‘firm’ is never explained, but given that they consistently claim that they stand to put white people first, they must therefore plan to put none-whites second. The pressure of being a second-class citizen is presumably the ‘firm’ incentive to leave the country. Moreover, they aim to repeal all anti-discrimination legislation and give employers free reign to deny people employment on the basis of skin colour. They want to grant whites first preference in jobs, housing and education, in other words bringing in legally sanctioned racism.
Their concern for maintaining the ‘identity’ of Britain is quite clearly racist – they wouldn’t halt all immigration, as immigration would still be allowed for Western European whites! They want to outlaw mixed-race marriage and ‘miscegenation’ irrespective of the cultural ‘identity’ of the children born.
However, they do draw support at local and European elections as people attach their problems, insecurities and alienation to immigration and vote for the BNP. Poor job security, unemployment, the housing crisis and deteriorating public services gets bound up with immigration not just in BNP propaganda but in the pages of the Sun and the Mail. The BNP prey on these myths, but they are not solely responsible for propagating them.
We need to counteract the various racist, nationalist and xenophobic myths surrounding immigration, attacking the attitudes which the BNP feed off but which are much bigger problems in themselves than the BNP getting members in the European parliament. We must also oppose the practical effects of these myths, as it has been a Labour government which has been attacking immigrants in a concrete way – the same Labour government which the mainstream anti-BNP campaigns wanted us to vote for.
With this in mind, here are facts which give a clearer picture than myths and feamongering about immigrants provide :
There are over 5 million UK citizens living abroad, and nearly 3 million currently working in other countries. If Britain expelled migrant workers we could expect other countries to do the same – leading to a flood of ‘repatriated’ Britons who would more than make up for the replaced migrant workers. The competition for jobs would still be there.
Asylum seekers aren’t stealing our houses. They can’t get council housing.
The housing crisis is the result of the sell off of the social housing stock under right-to-buy, and the fact that recent governments have failed to invest in new social housing projects. Over a million homes lay empty after being bought as speculative investments. The problem is that capitalism doesn’t function to meet our needs; it functions to ensure that invested money becomes more money.
Attacks on immigrants
The BNP, UKIP and their ilk might be an unpleasant bunch of bigots, but we have to remember that it is the Labour government which is sending thugs into immigrants’ houses at dawn, and expanding the deportation system.
The current Asylum and Immigration Bill making its way through Parliament would restrict immigrants’ ability to claim benefits and apply for council housing for at least five and up to ten years.
Under New Labour deportations are up and new immigration detention centres are being built around the country. There are 13 of these immigration prisons in the UK. 30,000 people pass through them every year,including 2500 children.
The difference is that the BNP and their fellow-travellers can only fantasise about attacking migrants; the Labour Party has been doing it since the 1960s. The Tories look likely to pick up the torch after the next general elections. We need to carry on the fight against these real attacks and not lose sight of them thanks to the appearance of the BNP in the European parliament.
If we allow bosses to divide us up on the basis of nationality, we won’t be able to join together and struggle in our interests. The London Underground workers are fighting together irrespective of ethnic or national origin, and the workers who recently occupied the Visteon plants in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield overcame the racial, national and sectarian divides erected to divide workers.
A VIEW FROM THE FRONT
Nick Griffin had his night of victory in the elections for the European parliament seriously tarnished by the presence of a hundred or so demonstrators in Manchester. Griffin tried to get in the side entrance to the Town Hall for the count, but was stopped by an angry but determined group of people, including members of the Anarchist Federation and other non-aligned anarchists. His car was egged and he was driven away, unable to get in. Later in the evening he attempted to enter again. This time his vehicle’s windows were smashed and the car had to pull away. Griffin, being the racist coward that he is, then was forced to sneak in across the bridge from a neighbouring building.
During the course of the evening, he and the square-necked thugs were protected by the police. They were as concerned with keeping the demonstrators away from the fascist BNP as making false arrests of comrades. One demonstrator, whilst on his own, was approached by a man and a woman and asked whether he was with the BNP. He replied “You are with the BNP and all!” and promptly found himself arrested on a section 5 of the Public Order Act charge, for swearing in a public place in an aggressive manner. He had not sworn. The two had no visible numbers or uniform and had been attacking demonstrators earlier on. A comrade who tried to get the arresting officers to give their numbers was threatened with arrest. The police on this day were as much of an enemy to the working class as the BNP themselves.
WHAT IS ANARCHISM PART 3 –FROM CAPITALISM TO A FREE SOCIETY
How do we want to get to anarchist communism?
What we have described until now sounds good and it is hard to believe that anyone would oppose it. However, there are many. The ruling institutional structures are designed to prevent any real challenge to power and privilege. If individual corporations or governments decide that the current system is unfair and try to change it, the corporations will go bust or be bought out, and the governments bringing in progressive policies – if in isolation and not forced by a mass movement – will fall victim to capital flight, media smears and potential military coups. We need to take power away from them and exercise power ourselves over our own lives. However, although workers out-number the bosses by millions across the country (and by billions across the world) there are the police to beat us up, the prisons to lock us up, the military to shoot us, the schools and the corporate media to mislead us and many other institutions used to keep us soft and obedient.
This is why we need a revolution.
Firstly: of ideas. We need to stop believing in capitalism. We need to start seeing each other as equals and unite as workers, as a class, which has been successfully divided with racism, sexism and all sorts of stupid prejudices for centuries. However, changing our ideas is not enough. Because the capitalist class won’t give up their power without a fight, we need to be able to defend any gains in freedom that they would try and take from us.
Communities will need to be put under direct community control. Workplaces will need to be taken over by the people who work there and run for the benefit of the community, not the bosses. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. We just need to realise our collective class strength.
What should I do now?
Organise. Get together with like-minded people in your community and start a group to build solidarity in your neighbourhood. Set up community groups and residents’ associations and learn to live together without cops, landlords or other assorted government and big business representatives.
Unite with your workmates to demand better pay and conditions and if your bosses refuse, take collective action like slowdowns and strikes to get them. Organise strong rank and file networks within workplaces and trade unions. Get together with other workers and sack your boss! Link up with other people in your school, college or university and fight for improvements. If they try to raise tuition fees at your uni – organise mass refusal to pay.
Whatever you do, make sure your organising is based in your normal everyday life. Only by engaging with issues that matter directly to us can we ever build a powerful movement to build a better world.
Collective action of working people and their families in this country has won massive increases in our standard of living over the past 200 years, for instance by stopping Maggie Thatcher’s Poll Tax in 1990. Across the world working-class action has made revolutions, toppled dictators, won shorter working hours… the list is endless. When we work together, we can achieve anything.
[Adapted from http://libcom.org See parts 1 & 2 in previous issues of Resistance.]
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk