Tag Archives: anarchist communism

Repost: Anarchist Thugs Respond: A Word About Saturday’s Events at Downing Street

Read the full article here.

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“The masters of London have to be made to understand that they are surrounded by enemies. We outnumber them. Their entire strategy has been based on the assumption that we are better people than they are. They’re right of course. We are. We would never dream of kicking anyone out of their homes – even them. We’d never resort to guns and bombs like they do. But that very sense of decency that makes us refrain from doing so compels us to take action.

That’s what we did on Saturday.

The Tories need to know that their every move will face determined—and if need be, militant—opposition. When police attacked a peaceful protest, this time, protesters fought back. History must now record the very first day of the new regime was marked by battles in the streets. It will not be the last. And history is very much what’s at stake here.”

 

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Post-election thoughts pt1: The SNP

Some thoughts by one of our members on the SNP in light of the recent election results. You can also read another member’s response here.

yellow tories

The leadership of the SNP must be the happiest people with the recent election results outside of the Tory front bench. Everything has lined up perfectly for them. But why would I say this when the polls were strongly hinting that the SNP could have been part of a coalition government and forced more devolved powers to Scotland? Surely they have missed out on making things better for the working classes here in Scotland?

The SNP as a political party doesn’t have the goal of making things “fairer” or to look out for us. That is the rhetoric of any opposition party the world over, and it is used to build membership and support. Once in power the SNP would get on with the same job that every government has, running the state 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. At the moment that means implementing austerity and progressing the privatisation of public services; the working class will always be hard done-by.

The puzzle for the SNP  is that the segment of capitalist interest they fight would benefit most from independence. If they were seen to be helping run Britain then they would have a harder time looking out for their own interests. By missing out on coalition they also miss out on the LibDem problem of being a supporting part of whatever cuts the government were making. However, would the same fate awaited them as hit the LibDems, that of rapidly destroying their base of support? Not quite, but kinda.

The twist here in Scotland is that the SNP can always play the Westminster card, and they do, time-and-time-again. If something goes wrong, no matter what, it is down to London (or Tories or some other boogieman) and the solution is independence. It doesn’t matter that the horrendous attack on working class services by Edinburgh council are SNP led, or that they have clearly shown that they have no intention of scrapping Trident as they intend to remain in NATO, or even that a whole host of their white paper promises are for things already devolved to Holyrood. These are not the failings of the SNP, liberal democracy, or a capitalist system. Nope. It is all Westminster.

The problem for the SNP is that to keep voters on-side for now they need to be seen to be centre-left. This means giving us in the working class just enough concessions to make things look like they are trying their best until they can secure independence and then get on with looking out for their  interests in the way they want to. The less the SNP have obvious control over the better they look. If powers are devolved slowly, bit-by-bit, then they would either have to concede more and harm their interests or it would become clearer that they are just the same as any other party.

So for the SNP having a Conservative majority is perfect: they can fight and lose to them and look great while awaiting another referendum, and at the same time any flack can be avoided by saying the Tory’s are the cause and that the failure to provide opposition was the failure of the Labour Party in England.

My other thought on the SNP landslide is that it stands as another landmark point in the furthering of nationalist views in Scotland. The role of nationalism is to hide the struggle between ruling class and working class, having us in the working class to support actions that prop up a part of the ruling class rather than work on understanding our own interests and fighting to have our lot improved. Now the main narrative is that things will be made better if we get behind independence, something which has no guarantees and diverts us from taking part in grassroots struggles where we can make a marked improvement in our lives.

At the same time we can look at the voting figures in England and get a rough feeling over why people voted a certain way. On the other hand it is far more difficult to judge up here in Scotland, where the SNP present themselves as whatever will be popular in the area (so centre-left in Glasgow and centre-right almost everywhere else). Add to this the feeling of disappointment over the lack of change post-referendum and it becomes impossible to get a measure for the views of the SNP voter base. My feeling is that this time around most of their voters want a better society and some real change, but that they have been set-up for future disappointment as the SNP  fulfils it’s role as a part of the machinery of a neo-liberal social democracy.

So, if it is just a case that the yellow tories are in, what should we be doing? I’ll be putting up a post in the next few days with some more hopeful and proactive thoughts on that topic.

Brutal attack on anarchists movement in the Czech Republic

Over the past two weeks the Czech state has launched a massive attack on the anarchist movement under the name Operation Phoenix. Dozens of people have been arrested on terrorism and hate crime charges; flats, squats and social centres are being raided/evicted with alarming speed and brutality (with court orders that would normally take years to process being rubber-stamped overnight and water canons getting deployed); while the Anarchist Federation, the Anarchist Black Cross (prisoner support), and several other radical groups have had their servers taken.

These brutal attacks have been authorised due to the efficiency and effectiveness of the anarchist movement in recent years, with the local solidarity network growing in numbers and so being able to take on bigger and bigger targets, while social centres have provided the space for sharing of experience and ideas while building working class solidarity.

The Belarus ABC have been putting up info as they have it (here and here), while the ABC-Czech is collecting money for the legal support and can be contacted at abc-cz@riseup.net.

Solidarity with our friends and comrades, and if you can’t do anything else then considerer spreading news of this.

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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.”

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.

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.

scum


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!

Cut Military Spending? Scrap Trident?

john stewart

In 1998, the UN estimated that we would need $40 billion annually to sustain the entire WORLD population. This translates to roughly $58 billion today and would cover housing, food, clothing, health care, education, and a lot lot more. Any one of the countries listed in the picture above could provide that money if that where all it took.

You might be thinking that all that is needed is for a party to get in that will get into power that can reform the system and divert some of the money to meeting our needs, but capitalism cannot be reformed.

The closer a group gets to controlling power, or at least as groups get absorbed into the decision making structure, the divisions between rich and poor disappear from view and the status quo becomes less and less flawed. Preserving the current order (with the odd cosmetic difference here and there) becomes the goal.

As elections draw near there will be more and more calls to scrap trident, with the vulture political parties circling around our anger and horror about nuclear war and hoping to pick it apart for votes. No matter if we vote or not, or if the candidate agrees with us or not, the demand to scrap trident, by itself, is doomed to failure.

Many supporters of the SNP, the Greens, and the smaller socialist parties all think that the lip service for scrapping trident that their parties give now will translate into action if only we all get behind them and vote them into power, but lets look at what has already happened to see what will come down the line.

As the SNP have gotten closer to power they have had to change their posture so that they look appropriate for that power. This has manifested in their U-turn on leaving NATO, instead guaranteeing that an independent Scotland with them at the helm would remain a member.

The Trident missiles themselves (if not the warheads on them) are an american weapons system housed at Faslane under lease to the Royal Navy through a NATO treaty. It is impossible to scrap it without leaving NATO and the pissing off the US government.

The only reason the Greens and smaller parties can get away with still saying they would leave NATO is because they are not getting any closer to power at this time. They can remain a minority voice that will ultimately be ignored by whoever has power.

So let’s keep in mind that the cry to scrap trident is falling on deaf ears and by itself leads to a dead end of supporting political parties and electoral politics. Instead, as we shout out for trident to be scrapped, let’s also start shouting out for what we really need – a world without wars and a life where our well-being is met because we are alive – and let’s do it through building working class power with those who are around us.

After all, why back one party when we can build so that any of them would have to give us what we want least we take it for ourselves? And if we can take it for ourselves, well, that’s where real freedom lies!

Angry Women Win!

The latest issue of our Resistance free sheet is on the streets! This special issue looks at the struggles of women, both historically and today. Articles include a look at:

  • Abortion struggles in Ireland and Spain
  • Legal battles for women in the UK
  • Gender and Factory Resistance in China
  • Women & LGBTQIA in Ukraine today
  • Free Women of Spain in the 1930s
  • Dealing with sexual harassment at work
  • Transgender struggles being side-tracked by mainstream acceptance
  • The Angry Women of Liverpool
  • Single mothers fighting social cleansing in East London

You can download the issue here!

A look back at AFem2014

Sunday the 19th of October seen the first International Anarcha-Feminist Conference, aka AFem2014. The seed from which it would eventually grow fell from the tree back in August of 2012. That tree was the St Imier International Congress anarcha-feminist round table. This was series of meetings that took  place on each of the five days of that event. In the closing session it’s participants announced their plans to host an anarcha-feminist congress of their own within several years. This was met by thunderous applause from the congress floor. Busily contacts were exchanged, interested parties came forward, and a group agreed to take lead on the project.

Then nothing.

Months passed.

The Anarchist Federation started to get occasional contacts asking if we knew of any organising on the Anarcha-Feminist Congress. Our international secretaries put out inquiries thought our sibling federations in IFA as well as any other contacts in the global anarchist movement. After some investigation it appeared that no planning had happened, and those who had stepped forward at St. Imier were out of contact. Sometimes things just can’t get done, such is the nature of being in a struggle, and definitely not something to be ashamed of.

That may have been the end of it if it wasn’t for one federation member deciding that this idea was necessary to both counter the failings of feminism outside the anarchist movement, with all other branches of thought happy to throw more and more people under the bus in the name of capitalism; and also within, as we see elements of the anarchist movement where misogyny and sexism are rife and where little more than lip service is given to overcoming the power structures surrounding gender, especially in regard to groups marginalized even by other feminists.

Discussions were had and soon proposals drafted for the fed to kickstart the previously proposed international event. The discussions were thorough and some of the goals laid out at this early stage. This wasn’t to be a project hosted only by the AF (as had previous anarcha-feminist events we had been involved in organising), or just undertaken by our international the IFA, but was to be born from the AF and gain its own autonomy. It had to provide a strong class-struggle perspective to provide a counter to the dominant feminist movement’s lack of liberatory potential. It also had to not only be inclusive to groups normally marginalized within the anarcha-feminist movement but also counter the prejudices they face. After some debate the federation reached a consensus of agreement to go forward and feelers were put out to other organisations.

Early on sibling federations throughout the IFA were keen to help, while here in Britain the SolFed joined and they made contact with their international federation the IWA. A meeting at 2013 London Anarchist Bookfair gathered support from independent anarcha-feminists, as did the creation of a web presence. After several months a consensus emerged on the criteria for organisation where those involved had to:

As planning went on things looked touch-and-go at times whether an event would be possible at all. New people got involved and others took breaks. Fundraising took place but money was short. Speakers and workshops started to came forward but then the programme had to be made to work. The inclusion policy was agreed along the lines of the form of oppression suffered which caused ripples in a field normally only looking purely to identity to give an indication of attendance. The safer spaces agreement was put in place and people needed to help on the day. Eventually everything started to come together.

Key to the whole event was the way in which different strands of the conference timetable would be given to groups usually marginalized within feminism (such as the disabled, sex workers, trans women, etc). This gave longer discussions over the course of the day about certain subjects, and it was hoped that this would highlight struggles from those who found their voices normally sidelined, vilified or lost entirely in feminist organising.

The day came and everything went past in a blur. Personally I spent the day either volunteering, supporting others, or helping to present the community accountability strand so I’m going to leave the nitty gritty of reviewing the strands to those who were there purely as attendees  This was the first time something like this had been attempted and it was all a bit experimental – but if we are ever to succeed in our goal of social revolution we have to be brave and try stuff. I think AFem did that and made a success of it all, though not everything was perfect.

I’ve also not kept up with the internet feedback but I know there has been moaning online. I find forums are a draining, negative space, and hearing that folks were griping (often folks who were not even in attendance), I haven’t gone to look for it yet – that can wait until I’m more rested. On the other hand I spent the days following AFem hopping between different people who had been in attendance. The feedback I’ve been getting in person has been overwhelmingly positive. One person said it was best anarcha feminist event they had attended (and they were not green in this kind of thing). All of them gave feedback of negative points, but it was fell into fairly similar areas, constructively phrased, and the positives were overwhelming to them. A quick rundown these:

+ Big open/close
Folks loved the opening and closing sessions which gathered everybody in attendance together and were kept on track by the organisers. The way people set goals for the day meant there was a collective feeling of active participation expected from folks attending.
+ Developing ideas
Everyone I talked to had learned new ideas and methods to take back home, and many otherwise liberal feminists were not only exposed to anarcha-feminism for the first time, but engaged and took away lessons from an anarchist perspective.
+ Strands
The way in which strands were organised was loved by all. It led for more discussion and time to work on things. People said this was SO MUCH BETTER than how bookfairs and other conferences run their meetings and it rarely felt like you were just being talked to but were part of a discussion.
+ Atmosphere
On the whole people found the atmosphere at the event to be positive and liberating, with people able to build solidarity against shared opression. ot only that but international links were forged and space for meeting other anarcha-feminists took place. They also commented on how easy it was to find organisers and volounteers, and upon how friendly and approachable they all were.
+ Safer Spaces Policy
Every person commented that it was refreshing to see is attempting a safer space policy that goes far beyond what most conferences would do, and think we have struck some new ground in how this could be put in place at similar events, though some areas do need development.
+ Self Care
Food Not Bombs provided lunch for anyone who was skint and was loved by all. At the same time a decent quiet space and the readily available interpretation and safer space volunteers made everything a lot more manageable.
+ Internationalism
The international aspect was seen as being vital to the experience, with at least 19 different countries represented in attendance, and something others would hope to see us expand.
+ Enthusiasm to continue
Overwhelmingly people wanted to see this happen again, if not next year then in 2016.

The constructive criticisms raised to me were:

– Time table clashes
These can almost never be avoided, and people acknowledged this, but at the same time everyone said there was some clash at some time for them. We tried the best we could but always worth keeping this in mind.
– TERF infestation
A group of trans exclusionary radical feminists (known as TERFs for short) tried to undermine the event. Someone who had been on the organiser list from the start lied about their willingness to uphold the inclusion policy to other organisers. They then positioned themselves to help present the Introduction to Anarcha-Feminism where they went off the presentation planned with the co-facilitator in order to spout some transphobic bile. At the same time they were seen conferring with other terfs before they dispersed into each session and parrot the same transphobic talking points, and appeared to be using the quiet space to regroup and plan. Attempts were made to remove the TERFs by some of the organisers but this unity was undermined and they used the confusion caused by sabotage of the consensus we had otherwise forged for the event to hang about. Despite this betrayal and sabotage, everyone I talked with found that any move towards transphobic discussion was quickly shut down and made unwelcome, and that the issue was handled better than most events. However, there was still a lack of consistency on how those breaking with the safer spaces agreement were dealt with.
– Cultural appropriation/racism
Lots of white people turned up using fashion displays from cultures that had been othered by white imperialism with no respect for the cultures they were came from and then got defensive when this was fed back in a negative light by the POC strand. Again, while the safer space policy had words on this subject we didn’t have a consistent process on what we were actually doing about it.
– Lack of resources
We didn’t have enough full programmes  for the attendees (though everyone did get a timetable), and while we had people on hand to read out the timetable we did not have large print versions. This was a major slip up and something that I will not be repeated.

On the TERF gang, it is unfortunate that but not surprising that they would go to such lengths to try and ruin the event. However if after a year of planning the best they could manage was to get one person to lie about their intentions and then protect the five or six die-hards that came along in the center of London then they have played what may be their hardest hitting attempt to disrupt at a time where the conference was vulnerable and gone home with plumbs. The problems that have been highlighted have came with constructive suggestions for improvement and the organising group are already moving forward with these, thought we are going to need to take a wee break before launching into any serious planning.

AFEM banner

AFem has now been fully realized as its own organisational entity,  separate to the groups that nurtured it early on. As a member of the AF this is a key example of the worth of the federation, and illustrates the way in which anarchist organisations differ from their authoritarian counterparts. Where others would use this as a front group and co-opt the struggles of others for self gain, anarchists work to create mutual aid and forge solidarity between truly autonomous groups, with struggles directed by those who are oppressed.  I have every confidence that this has been the start of an ongoing series of truly international events to build a modern anarcha-feminist practice and will start to ensure that anarcha-feminism is central to anything that could be regarded today as anarchist practice. As such, the last thing to say is a big thanks to everyone who contributed to making AFem 2014 a resounding success. Thank you all!