Tag Archives: glasgow

Jewellery & Capitalism; gender, class and the environment. Thurs 16th Feb

Jewellery and Capitalism talk and discussion, Thursday 16th February 7-9pm at GAS

Jewellery is a universal form of adornment dating back tens of thousands of years. This talk presented by Maddie, a jeweller and anarchist, explores some of the history of jewellery; its socio-economic significance, how it relates to gender, class, the environment and how it has been used and adapted by over the ages. Prepare to learn a whole new side to jewellery; a vast global business based around mythology, sentiment, status, ownership, exploitation and extremely successful marketing.

Magpies picking over deer carcass

 

Stateless in Lesvos: screening and Q&A with film maker

Awareness and fundraising film screening and Q&A with film maker Guy Smallman who is just back from Lesvos, and visiting Scotland for 2 days only.

Donations will be going to support refugees in Greece.

Edinburgh:
Tuesday, December 15 at 5:30pm
Hunter Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, EG3 9DF

Glasgow:
Wednesday, December 16 at 7:00pm
Boyd Orr room 513 (Lecture Theatre D), University of Glasgow

Eye witness report & film from the Frontline of the refugee crisis in Lesvos.

We are very lucky to be able to screen this short (25min) documentary shot this November on one of the islands considered the front-line of the refugee crisis. Focusing on the solidarity of ordinary people in the face of government-led racism and incompetence, this film will show how the working class in Greece are defying the state and showing their solidarity with refugees.

The director, Guy Smallman of Reelnews, will be travelling to Scotland fresh from the press film screening and will be on hand to give a Q&A on his first-hand experiences. You can check out his travel-blog for the project here: http://reelnews.co.uk/the-lesvos-blog/

This event is free to attend. There will be an opportunity to give a financial donations to send to Lesvos, but it is just as important to come along and raise awareness.

Glasgow event co-hosted by Glasgow AFed and Glasgow Uni Anarchist Soc.
https://www.facebook.com/events/194379107567573/

Edinburgh co-hosted by counterinfo lab and the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh
https://www.facebook.com/events/106327519737862/

poster

SPUC Off!

SPUC off! We went out yesterday and joined the protest to tell the Society for the Unborn Child that their misogyny wasn’t welcome in Glasgow. When they marched down the street four of us were able to drown them out completely while others cut them off and formed a welcome party at their destination. It was a good show, but with abortion being devolved to the Scottish Parliament we are going to have to keep pushing home the issue that bodily autonomy is fundamental.

Here are a few pics from the evening (click on them to view full size):

SPUC off

SPUC off 2

SPUC off 3

SPUC off 4

An Apology to Free Pride (and some hopefully constructive notes)

So, I wrote this piece yesterday and comments on the fb page said it was inaccurate. I did some digging and I have to agree that I owe an apology to the Free Pride group; they do appear to be aiming for an anti-capitalist event, while my criticisms did not go into any explanation and so lacked any historical perspective or constructive edge. Worse than that I dived into attacking their group on the basis of the actions of other groups past, something they did not need at a time where they are hoping to build something better. So, first a sincere apology to the folks involved with Free Pride. I really do hope you fulfil your manifesto.

Along with this apology I’m going to take the time to expand on the reasoning behind some of my some cynicism in the hope it can become something more constructive…

The past week has seen a whole host of horrors for anyone who considered themselves queer. There has been the news of Jennicet Gutiérrez being dragged off amid people jeering at the issues she raised by a room full of well-to-do members of rights organisations who then went on to cheer a Nobel Peace Prize winning Butcher. UKIP were allowed to march on the sly by the organisers of London Pride, but I suppose given the involvement of police, armed forces the crown prosecutors and the prisons in Glasgow’s events is adding a band of fascists really that much different? Added to that were the pictures of London Pride stewards helping the police hold down anti-capitalist protesters. Of course there has been all the icing smothered over these events to turn them into a wedding cake to contend with too. Having mass celebrations over state sanctioning encroach further into our lives would have been bad enough, but already the queer groups dealing with homelessness and poverty in the US are reporting the beginnings funding flight, exactly as predicted would happen.

The history of how mainstream Pride events and the gay rights movement (and yes, in this instance I’m purposefully saying it is a gay right movement) came to be this way started with radical manifestos. They read much like the Free Pride manifesto. However the structures to back them up were not there. Those involved had an open door to folks to approach them. Even today the door to Glasgow Pride is theoretically open to anyone. The problem is that not everyone starts with the equal ability to take up that offer, and even if they could there may be things a the other side of the door that are driving people away.

In most Pride events this would be a combination of the ability to get involved been kept within certain circles, the organisations that they have historically and currently invited to participate being the same organisations involved in oppressing large segments of the queer community, and the way in which they fund events through sponsorship and buy-in controlling the outcomes. The balance of power and control would grow to mirror those in wider society because the structures were never in place to prevent that happening. An open door let a radical protest to be co-opted towards addressing middle class concerns such as inclusion in civil society, rather than the demand to replace it with something that is fundamentally better.

Free Pride having a manifesto is a good start, however every indication so far is that (like the pride events past) it hasn’t been backed it up with the structures required to hard-code these values. Meetings are taking place in university campuses and follow the trends in campus organising. Due to this I’d be very surprised if there is anyone is involved in the panning has not attended a university at some point. While I’m sure the right groups will be invited to have a space, I worry that they won’t be the ones creating the event.

The only way I’ve seen to go any distance towards countering these problems is through giving up organisational power and ceding it to those to whom it is usually denied access to it along with a commitment to long-term support for whatever is growing out if it. Actively reach out to those who are homeless or live in poverty, who have migrated and seek asylum, and to people actively maligned and ignored within the wider queer community. And don’t just invite them to have a stall or a space or a workshop at the event, but give them controlling power in it. The event may go in a different direction entirely, but if it is being led by those who your manifesto says it wants to give a voice to then you will be succeeding in a far more profound manor. Examples in recent history include Gay Shame events, Ladyfest groups that have had active criteria and quotas on who runs them, Queer Mutiny in Edinburgh being self-organised by folks who were effected by homelessness and poverty, Afem2014 in London giving organisational power and physical space to marginalised groups, and in Glasgow the collective self-organisation by most of the cities Unity projects (and their spin-offs).

I also don’t know where Free Pride is taking place yet – it doesn’t seem to have been announced – but given the methods or organisation being followed I have grave concerns that it will be in a building either on a uni campus or in arts space. That said, I understand the conundrum. Glasgow has a distinct lack of social spaces to call upon, accelerated by the plans of Glasgow City Council to gentrify the few areas where these developments could take root, so in retrospect some of what is happening is the best that can be done given current conditions. I apologise for blaming the symptoms of this on the Free Pride group themselves; the real culprit is destruction of anywhere that isn’t arts or uni space to hold events, and the solution is to work towards establishing long-term non-commercial spaces here in Glasgow.

So, despite my over-arching cynicism and concerns of history repeating itself, and with the fog of disappointment that now seems to go along with June 28th having passed by, I do hope that Free Pride fulfils the points of their manifesto because we could all do with it.

I’ve been thinking about Christopher Street Liberation Day

[This piece was followed up with ‘An Apology to Free Pride (and some hopefully constructive notes)’ by the same author, who suggests reading both together.]

The first pride event was Christopher Street Liberation Day. It was held one year after the Stonewall Riots and aimed to bring together an oppressed community to rally against the forces of the state and capitalism that were keeping them down. Fast forward to Glasgow in 2015 and our pride event (in August, whatever), has stalls confirmed from such members of “the community” as:

  • The Army, Navy and Air Force; you know, the same army, navy and air force who are being deployed to stop people fleeing persecution for being queer.
  • Police Scotland who, when 1 in 4 homeless youth are queer; help keep homeless people out of safe places to kip, protect shopfulls of food from being passed to those who are hungry, that are making sex work unsafe for those who rely on it to get by, and who attack migrants and refugees.
  • The British Transport Police (these are traditionally the ones they draft in to beat you if you are protesting too loud).
  • The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service – yeah.
  • The Scottish Prison Service – …
  • A host of corporations that help maintain the systems of oppression and exploration that helps keep the untidy working class queers in their place.
  • A bunch of organisations claiming to look out for queer issues but who spend a majority their time clucking about council forms having the right options rather than helping give any sort of power back to queers who are worst off in society. Organisations – if you aren’t actively supporting and empowering queer youth, looking to end poverty, active in promoting sex workers rights, and/or working towards the ideals of prison abolition then I’ve got some bad news: your organisation is just tinkering around the edges and is likely part of the problem.

Pride went so far astray due to the idea that everyone should be included on the basis of their identity alone. Lesbian bosses who exploit others? They can march. Gay politicians? Let them speak. Gay Police Association and corporate sponsors? We couldn’t do anything without you. Oh, and don’t forget the allies. This gets stretched to the point where in London the pseudo-fascist UKIP were allowed to sulk back onto the march by organisers after being given a cursory ban (in what looks to have been a lie told to  defuse any attempts to eject them from the march).

The biggest problems we face are realised in crippling poverty and the prison system. These will never be addressed (let alone solved) pink-washing the division between the exploited classes and the ruling classes that benefit from our oppression. As the methods we use now will be a reflection of the end point we reach, methods that gaining privileges for a few will always be based on deepening the exploration of others.

So what was it about the Glasgow event’s betrayal of the ideals of Pride is the Glasgow queer scene most offended by? What has driven a group to action? Was it violence, poverty, imprisonment, exploitation, torture…?

No.

It was the fact that you have to pay to go to the event.

They call their alternative Free Pride. More like Cheap Pride.

A place where they will likely show films about Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (and perhaps, just maybe, someone will mention Brenda Howard, though I doubt it), but nobody will think that they need to take the same path as these pieces of “our” history. They won “their” fight, surely, because today’s fight is just to have a free event…

Some folks will go along with it thinking that at least some of the radical history will take root where it is needed, but in all likelihood Free Pride will take place on a university campus or art crowd space that is so alien to the queer struggles of today that it might as well be taking place on the fucking moon.

Another Pride: Where friendly faced (and well paid) politicians and union bureaucrats will be welcomed.

Another Pride: This time only inviting the ‘nice’ capitalists.

Another Pride: The same as the first Pride, just that ‘they’ cost money and ‘we’ are free.

And I know a lot of the folks involved have their hearts in the right place. I just think there is a collective denial in some as to how bad things are and a near purposeful avoidance in others; because to tackle the real problems would mean confronting their own assimilationist positions. The lessons that have led to the failure of current Pride events are being ignored and the same paths followed; some under the impression that it will lead to different results, others quite happy that liberation will never be given anything more than lip service.

That said we can work out the ways oppression and exploitation attack us. We can act in solidarity with those who find themselves sidelined most in these struggles. And we can build the tools to liberate ourselves together.

From here on in that’s the way I’m going to remember Christopher Street Liberation Day.

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.

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.