Anarchist Federation bulletin - Resistance 103 - June 2008
Read/download now in PDF format from http://www.afed.org.uk
Contents of the June 2008 issue:
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY: does it make any sense?, forthcoming change to Incapacity Benefit, Mayday reports, Prison system, Army recruitment action, Pauline Campbell, Credit cuts, CCTV, Fighting fund appeal & diary dates.
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY - DOES IT MAKE ANY SENSE!?
Understanding what’s going on in the world economy leaves us feeling out of our depth. All we know is that a ‘global recession’ is looming, but we are so overwhelmed by economic jargon that it’s tempting to just get our heads down, work harder or look harder for work, and hope it will turn out OK. We have problems we can’t quite understand (what exactly did the US housing market have to do with the collapse of Northern Rock??) and solutions that sound more like problems (‘Globalisation’, ‘Multinationals’, ‘neo-Liberalism’, ‘neo-Conservatism’). If the Big Picture feels as though it’s a bit out of control, that’s because it is!
Until recently the capitalist class had many of us convinced that working hard and spending lots of money meant that everyone would get richer. The international market meant that consumerism could put an end to world poverty: the ‘trickle down’ effect, we were promised.
Er…except it didn’t happen. The rich getting richer didn’t help the poor get rich. Fancy that! Instead, even the US economy itself is in melt-down. Its military and economic grip on oil-rich nations hasn’t saved it. The ‘global’ economy has in fact failed not only to increase economic opportunities for everyone - which Anarchists had been saying all along - but stopped even making many of the rich as rich as they expected.
So what can we do? Anarchist communists see three levels of opposition. First, there is the economic solidarity that comes from solutions to everyday problems that don’t exploit people: managing and sharing what we have collectively, helping destitute people get food, taking over empty buildings so we don’t have to pay rent, and other alternative economies (even Credit Unions and Skills Banks can be the start of this).
Then there is building national and international anti-capitalist resistance, where we build solidarity even with other people we don’t know because they are fighting back too. Resistance has often reported on the better parts of the global anti-capitalist movement, where communities all over the world identify with and support each other’s struggles, and workers’ organisations like the Industrial Workers of the World. Working class people must make even more of these sorts of structures.
Finally there is turning all of this into a movement that can change society for good. Capitalism is stupid, whatever label they give it. Let’s get rid of it, share out what we have, and make enough for everyone. How hard is that to understand?
SICK TO DEATH
James Purnell, the governments Work & Pensions Secretary, recently announced their latest contribution to the new welfare reform package. Incapacity Benefit, of which there are 2.6 million claimants, is to be replaced in October 2008 by a new work-focussed Employment & Support Allowance [ESA]. Each recipient of Incapacity Benefit will be re-examined by a doctor. From April 2010, those who “fail” the test will be driven back to work. Incremental benefit rates will also be abolished. A measure described by the government as “a key cultural shift in the benefit system which puts work at the heart of our support”. The bastards plan to work us till we drop, then dump us on the scrap heap when we are no longer of any use to them.
MAY DAY ACROSS THE UK
(1) Glasgow: This year's illegal street party was enjoyable: there was food, dancing, groovy tunes, and the police were not as heavy or annoying as last year. Members of the public got involved, in a very entertaining and inclusive event. After a few hours of fun, there was a march through town to Kelvingrove Park. There were stalls from Glasgow's new anarchist group, Industrial Workers of the World, the Unity Centre and the AF.
(2)Manchester : No Borders alongside many others participated in the annual 'Mayday march', this year held on Monday 5 May. There were over 200 people on the demonstration who marched around the city centre before attending a speaker event in Manchester's Peace Gardens. The march featured a huge anarchist presence, of which a sizeable proportion was composed of AF comrades. Manchester AF also had a speaker who talked of the persecution of the immigrants that marked the first Mayday (that of the Haymarket martyrs) and the need to continue the struggle against borders and for free communism for all.
(3) Nottingham: Attracting a couple of hundred people, this year's Mayday march was, as has been the case for the last few years, organised by an off-shoot of the Nottingham Refugee Campaign Group and led by an excellent samba band. There were also speakers from a range of local groups including Nottingham NUT & Nottingham Defy-ID. Stalls included No Borders Nottingham & our very own Nottingham AF.
(4) Liverpool : On Thursday, 1st May, there was a march and rally organised by Merseyside TUC. This was followed by a party at the Next To Nowhere social centre on Bold Street, organised by the Liverpool Social Forum and with the involvement of AF activists.
(5) Birmingham :The West Midlands branch of the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW) organised a Mayday celebration at a pub in Birmingham. Decorated with posters and the new, huge IWW banner, the room was packed with members and friends, who spent the evening watching films, chatting and drinking
(6)London: Cross-dressing 18th century lords and ladies gather to reinstate the celebration of the May Fayre in central London. Sound systems on bikes accompanied them, and provided the music for the maypole. www.spacehijackers.co.uk
Along with cross-dressing merry-makers, some also attended the traditional TU organised march from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Sq. As well as AF representation, Solfed, Class War, IWW and Black Flag were present. Finally, London anarchists were out once more on the 2nd May in a joint action against the mayoral elections and the BNP
SUPPORT OUR FIGHTING FUND!
We are hoping to make Resistance bigger and better than ever, but to do this we are going to need your generous contributions. If you wish to donate some money to our “fighting fund” then you can either send a cheque payable to the Anarchist Federation to - FIGHTING FUND, Box AF c/o The Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham, NG7 6HX or alternatively you can make a donation via paypal at the AF web site - www.afed.org.uk (please ensure to put “fighting fund” in the accompanying message). Your solidarity is appreciated.
Anarchist communism or Death!
This year in the UK, recent figures show a record number of 108,000 prisoners incarcerated in the system - a figure which is constantly on the increase. As well as the overall prison population on the increase, there is an alarmingly high rate of prison suicides. Around 80 people a year commit suicide in prison, this figure includes men, women and teenagers. An average of 200 individuals are resuscitated following serious suicide attempts.
A report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists notes that over 70% of sentenced prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders compared to less than 5% of the general population; and that over 60% of remand prisoners suffer from some kind of mental disorder. They further note that 9 out of 10 prisoners will experience some kind of mental disorder compared to 1in 5 of the general population.
Commenting on the UK prison system, Rebecca Roberts, sub-editor of Criminal Justice Matters, published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said that it “challenges us to think more critically about the role of the State and the extent to which detention is used as a form of social control.”
The Anarchist Federation envisages a world based on anarchist-communist principles. A world where we can do away with such institutions. Institutions that are an integral part of the economic system of capitalism and the repressive machinery of Statism. A system that is itself criminally insane!
RIP PAULINE CAMPBELL, 1948-2008
Pauline Campbell, a tireless campaigner for vulnerable women following the death of her mentally ill daughter in prison at the age of 18. An example to us all, an inspiration to people to stand up against the brutal system that murders without thought and destroys peoples lives everyday. Here is a person who said through her actions “I will not hide my voice”. The people who knew her will sadly miss her and the people who never met her, will be fired up by her courage as an individual making a stand for those suffering at the hands of state institutions.
BE THE BEST LOOKING BODY BAG
When anti-war activists turned up to confront Army recruiters at a Sheffield University careers fair, we weren’t sure what to expect... Perhaps a short, principled stand, followed by a humiliating ejection. We definitely didn't expect to be given a stall to take over and the chance to flood the fair with anti-militarist material.
Following the success of previous actions (including blockading a military recruitment office in the city centre), we marched in, blockaded the army’s stall and began giving out anti-recruitment leaflets, waiting for university security to throw us out... but in a bizarre turn of events, since Barclays Bank hadn't shown up (which should cheer up any weary activists - a small group of troublemakers managed to get their act together to turn up at the fair but one of the world’s biggest banks totally failed to do so), we were told by a rather nervous security guard that we could take over their stall!!!
Stalls at the fair normally range from £900 to £1000, but with a bit of agitation we were able to distribute our tatty homemade flyers for free (much to the annoyance of the corporate sponsors of the event). It also gave us an opportunity to gather signatures in support of our motion to kick the recruiters off campus for good. Watch this space for more campaign activity.
sheffieldactivistnetwork [at] gmail.com
BREAD AND ROSES
As the world economic crisis caused by capitalism continues to seemingly spiral out of control, from the Caribbean to the Far East, we have seen food riots which have raged across the globe. Recent figures reveal that 854 million people are defined as being “food insecure” and 1 billion people who survive on less than $1 a day are living in “absolute poverty”. In the relatively affluent countries such as the UK, the average annual food bill has increased by £800. Basic food supplies such as rice, pasta, milk, bread and cheese has increased in price by between 25 and 50%. As if we need further evidence that capitalism isn’t working.... well at least not for the toiling masses – the ruling classes always manage to survive.
They complain about losing millions, yet still make profits to the tune of millions!
We read in the daily papers pathetic and patronising guides explaining, ‘How to Survive the Credit Crunch’: Cut down on expensive dinner parties; Don’t spend hundreds on designer accessories when you can hire a Louis Vuitton hand bag for £60 a month; Cut out the private gym and health club and visit a Local Authority one; Cut back on the holidays abroad this year; Make your savings work for you by reinvesting; It’s all bollocks. How many ordinary working class people experience such indulgent luxuries in the first place!
There is only one realistic solution to the ills of capitalism and that is to abolish it. Replacing it with a society where people control their own lives. That is to say, a society based on anarchist communist principles.
CCTV IS WATCHING YOU
Only 3% of London's street robberies were solved by CCTV according to Detective Chief Inspector Nevile of the Met. “No thought” had gone in to how to use them he whinged.
He went on to say it was only supposed to be used as a preventative measure and officers needed more training “Because its hard work.” Ahh! “Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone in to how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court…there’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? They think the cameras are not working.”
Before you breathe a sigh of relief though, a data base is being piloted of CCTV images which police hope will help identify and track offenders (read activists).
The unit is also looking at ways of using software which can follow distinctive brand logos on the clothing of unidentified subjects (activists). A good reason not to be fashionable. If taking the tag off an expensive pair of Jeans can fuck up thousands of pounds of equipment, piss off a bored police man and save your identity and possibly being implicated in something messy you should do it.
Graeme Gerard Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Police said that CCTV was likely to equal DNA and fingerprinting in importance. But “More intelligent use of the technology are important to the future development of how we use CCTV.” Better not use police men then.
There are now 4.2 million cameras in Britain. Costing billions of pounds. Apparently all useless because sitting at a desk sifting through hours of footage as your limp cheese butty droops its bits to the floor in unison with your drooping eye lids is not as much fun as going out on a Friday night and bullying drunks and beggars.
When going on demonstrations stay sober, don’t talk to the police and if you’re arrested give only your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any other questions. For more info visit: www.ldmg.org.uk
1st- Stop the Arms Trade Week: http://www.caat.org.uk
3rd - The Climate Action Day that bites... food and climate change http://www.networkforclimateaction.org.uk
4th- Carnival against the Arms Trade - a national Smash EDO mass demo, Brighton, Wednesday meet at The Level, 12 noon.
7th- Manchester anarchist bookfair, 11-5 Jabez Clegg, Portsmouth St, M13 9GB (opposite Manchester university's student union) stalls, meeting, vegan food. http://www.bookfair.org.uk
The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists aiming to abolish capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism. We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.
As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as working through parliament and national liberation movements, as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.
Organisation is vital if we’re to beat the bosses, so we work for a united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations. The Anarchist Federation has members across Britain and Ireland fighting for the kind of world outlined above.
Contact us at:
Subscription to resistance in print costs 4 pounds from the address above for one year of issues (usually 10 as we have one month off in summer, and one over new year). Non-UK subs are £8. A two issue (annual) subscription to our magazine, Organise! for revolutionary anarchism, is 5 pounds (£6 Non-UK orders).