Tag Archives: anarchism

Repost: If you care about politics, don’t vote | Ray Filar

If you care about politics, don’t vote | RAY FILAR (Click for full article)

Ray don't vote
“Even where governments have been voted in on substantially different platforms – as with the 1945 Labour government – political power remains concentrated in the same place. Voting doesn’t change the current system, it maintains it. Political engagement isn’t voting, it’s dismantling party politics altogether. It’s abolishing parliament. And short of that, it’s having a truly participatory democracy where peoples’ choices feed through to representation. If you want to engage with politics, forget about the election.”

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Repost: Vote With Your Feet! | SolFed

Vote With Your Feet! | SolFed (Click for full article)

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“Voting is a waste of time and only serves to dull our anger. On the other hand anarchist tactics – grassroots organising and direct action – are making a difference right now. If all of us who don’t vote got together and took action (voted “with our feet”), then we could take back all the rights and benefits we lost under the last Tory government, with more besides. So let’s get organised, get active, and give ’em hell!”

Mayday Stalls, Elections Seminar, and the Sunday Swap Shop

Hi all,

Just putting together a really quick post to update folks on the events I was able to get to over this Mayday weekend. First  up where the stall on Mayday itself, where a good number of the cities anarchist and libertarian groups came out and set up a stall, linking the history of working class struggles with the struggles in the here and now. For our part we made some red & black biscuits and put out some publications, stickers and badges to help raise forms for the Baltimore Bail/Legal fund.

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Working folks in Glasgow were keen to show their solidarity with those fighting white supremacy in the streets of Baltimore and the generous donations raised $161.62 (a bit over £100). Thanks to everyone who said hi during the 3 hours we were were in the street!

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Later that night the good folks from Critisticuffs (writers of the libertarian communist journal Kittens) had come up from London to give a seminar to examine the function of elections in  capitalist state society. We’ll try to get a full review of the event up shortly.

Finally, on Sunday evening I was able to drop in to the end of the second Glasgow Social Centre pop-up event, a free shop with food and music. While things were winding down as I arrived just close to 6pm it looked as if the day had been a success, with everyone who attended getting well fed, the swap shop still having lots to rummage through, and the event having made a bit of money to towards getting a permanent social centre up and running.

Happy International Workers Day!

Whether you work for a wage, get a social wage, or scam your way by the best you can, today is a day the working class everywhere. We’ll be keeping the spirit of the Haymarket Martyrs alive by heading out on the junction of Buchanan Street and Gordon Street with a stall collecting money for the ‪#‎baltimoreuprising‬ legal/bail fund, and we’ve made a few wee treats to help in the task. Swing by and say hello between 12 and 2 this afternoon 🙂

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This is what democracy looks like?

What follows is the very rough notes that where used for the introduction to the the first of our Angry Not Apathetic discussion groups. This evening we looked at what elections are, and the role of parliamentary/representative  democracy. It would be great to carry on what was a really engaged discussion, so if you were at the talk (or even if not) it would be awesome if you could put a summation of any points you either raised or took away in the comments bellow.

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This is what democracy looks like?

The general election is a contest to see who will win the job of running the state, so to understand elections, you need to understand the role of the state:

  • An organisation of all the lawmaking and law enforcing institutions within a specific territory.
  • Controlled and run by a small minority of people.
  • Claims that only violence that takes place with it’s sanction is legitimate.
  • Acts to protect the capitalist interests of a specific segment of the ruling class, while also keeping capitalism in check so it doesn’t all fall apart, as the success or failure of a state rests on the success or failure of capitalism within it.
  • To maintain social order and class society.

There are a whole lot of reasons thrown up for why elections make sense, none of which stand up to even a light level of scrutiny. Here are some of the most common:

Standing in elections gives a platform to talk politics
This was the reasoning behind the German socialist parties in the early 20th century, it has been the call of many small minority parties since, and today it is used by the anarchist group Class War. The thing is it wasn’t taking part in electoral politics that contributed any success these groups had, it was direct action at the points where we had struggles in our lives. If anything for CW formal involvement in elections has weakened their argument and made their position seem contradictory and muddled, while socialist parties just get trapped in a mire of elections and don’t go beyond that. Politics and power isn’t external in the state, it is everywhere and available to us, and pretending that elections are special hides that power from us.

Voting for the lesser of two evils
No matter who you vote for, the government that forms is going to undertake the same tasks. It may present them differently; in fact New Labour were able to be far harsher than he Tories due to the lack of criticism and scrutiny given to them by the unions. Parties outside of power will always be able to look better than those in. When we look at the policies and actions of government they have never been taken in direct reply to an election so much as the militancy and power of working class movements at any given time. Rather than pretend that elections have any real meaning we should look at ways or organising ourselves so that no mater who is in power, they will need to provide concessions to us as a working class.

A radical minority can pull the state leftwards
Nah, the ruling party will spin things to justify the plans it was going to undertake whatever. A radical minority will be ignored as it can’t be used to further the agenda of those in power (unless painted as a scapegoat and villain – red scare). On the other hand a minor far-right party (such as Golden Dawn or UKIP) can be used as the excuse to drive through harsh laws and reactionary positions because that is what the government wanted to do all along. BNP got used this way without even having an MP.

We need to change the way we vote!
The voting system being the used isn’t the barrier or the key to change. No matter how they are chosen, elected officials are largely unaccountable except to their own party and the tasks of government. Regardless of how they are selected, the main way to see real changes is through organising with those around us, while the electoral process itself is still a massive distraction from building this kind of working class power.

We need to counter voter apathy
This one is half-right. Apathy is a problem, but voting or not voting is beside the point. Apathy comes from a feeling that change is not possible, a feeling that the focus on voting creates. We need to work to build a culture where people feel they can resist the state and capitalism, but that won’t happen by posing a new candidate to vote for; that will only breed more apathy.

We can change the system from the inside
The closer a group gets to executive decision making the more it’s interests start to side with the status quo. We can see this recently with the SNP, where they dropped their pledge to leave NATO, thus indicating to others in power that their commitment to scrap trident is nothing more than hollow rhetoric and that once in power they would (with a regretful face on) keep things as they are.

In Conclusion: I’d argue that anarchism should be a tool for understanding how power and hierarchy works, and as such we should use it to be truthful about elections and work to demystify them. Pretending they are somehow important just holds us back.


 

Next month (on the 15th of April) we will be looking at the question of what anarchists actively put their time into, so keep your eyes peeled on this blog  for details of our second talk in this short series: Direct action gets the goods!

Go Beyond the Law

Today we went out to a rally to remember Leelah Alcorn, the young trans woman who recently took her life after her parents attempted to put her through conversion therapy. In her suicide note Leelah had called for laws to be introduced to end this torture of trans youth, and that was the initial focus for the day.

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The event  had been called by the city’s queer students, acting autonomously to hold an event for their community. It was widely reported that both the council and the police had done everything they could to try hinder the event, from lying about legal requirements to demonstrate, making up the need for insurance and a list of named wardens, right through to forcing changes in the date and location. Despite this the folks organising the day powered through and the attendance was strong. The newly formed Glasgow Food Not Bombs came down with scran and donations were taken for local LGBT Youth projects.

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We were also involved in chasing off some SWP scumbags who claimed they were attending in solidarity. They did this in front of one trans women they had attacked on George Square and one of our members who they had attempted to drag off while threatening to knock their teeth out, both times for calling out their members involvement covering up rape by Martin Smith (the specifics of the case are linked from here, here, and here). They bold-face denied their part in rape apologism, and at the same time were trying to say they were there as individuals while handing out fliers for an SWP front group! They really are a shameless cult that have no concept of solidarity except as a word employed to further their party.

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Our group was offered a spot to give a short talk and while it went off script a couple of times (due to nerves, emotions, and the freezing cold weather), here is what was being read from at the time:

“My name is Tanya and I am part of the Anarchist Federation of Britain.

Many of the signs brought here today call for human rights and legal protections to be put in place by the institutions that target us with their violence today. Leelah Alcorn’s own final message asks specifically for laws to prevent the torture that is conversion therapy. These calls are understandable and I am glad when things are made easier for us.

However I want put forward a warning: that setting our sights on changes in the law will only benefit a privileged few. We already have laws against murder and yet trans women are killed at an alarming rate. We have laws against child abuse, but our young siblings are still driven to suicide due to neglect.

Laws should not, and can not, be our goal. Anything that can be granted – rights, laws, or charity – can be eroded or turned against us. We can see this with marriage equality, and again with the push for acceptance in the military. Laws are compromises made by a government trying to break up a strong movement.

We need to go beyond the law.

Our goal has to be for liberation from gendered oppression, and nothing less.

This is a struggle that can only be won by finding others who we share an interest with, and organising collectively, first to understand the causes of our oppression, and then in taking action directly at their roots, to remove them for ourselves.

However, at the same time we must recognise that this is a fight that will involve many different groups facing different problems, and it is vital to our struggle to build solidarity across the working class as a whole.

We can see this in our shared history:

The huge waves of self-organisation and militant direct action used to face down the AIDS epidemic and Section 28. The solidarity between inner city queers and the miners that had a real chance of victory against all the state’s institutions. And going all the way back to when black and latina trans women fought back during police instigated riots (most famously at the Stonewall Inn). Remember that these same women would go on to form organisations like STAR – the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries – organisations that would lay the groundwork for the gains that trans and queer people have made today.

My final thought then is to take a look into my own experience and those of my friends, and look at the physical manifestations of gendered oppression. Our problems come from social isolation, medical gate-keeping, and crippling poverty. We’re estranged from family, constantly forced into dangerous situations, and denied well-being in our lives that leaves us in a precarious position both physically and mentally.

We need to make the space for one another to breath. We need to make the space to understand the causes of our problems. And we need to make the space to find freedom in our lives.

Thank you.”

An anarchist watches: Steven Universe

If you are looking for a fun wee family friendly TV show to keep you entertained then I wouldn’t look much further than Steven Universe. One blurb I found said:

Steven Universe is a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, a chubby and happy-go-lucky boy and the youngest member of an intergalactic team of warriors called the Crystal Gems. Together, the Crystal Gems fight and protect the Universe, while Steven strums up a cheesy tune on his ukulele.

Here are three clips that show why I think it is worth a watch, no matter how young you are…

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

1) Big Issues
On the whole it takes the world as it is and puts forward big concepts in a way anyone can understand. Take this killer critique of work as a good example of what I mean:

 

2) Collective Living
It addresses ideas of alternate family arrangements in a positive way, with Steven’s mother being dead, his dad living in a van while still caring for Steven as best he can, and our would-be-hero living with three of his mother’s friends/sisters/crystal alien superhero protectors of earth, all of whom are caring for one another in a far more collective fashion than we normally see depicted. That said it’s not always in the most productive ways…

 

3) Strong Diverse Cast
The characters all come from different backgrounds, with a good mix of race, gender and body-types all presented in a super-positive way. Central to this are three powerful ‘women’ who all hit certain tropes without being cheezy or insulting. It also al Oh, and they get all the best kick-ass fights sequences:

 

So if this takes your fancy then you can watch it online here.