Resistance 53 - September 2003

WAR IS THE HEALTH OF THE STATE The United States and Britain continue to get more bogged down in Iraq as casualties for troops from both countries continue to mount. The expectation that the military operation in Iraq would be a quick “surgical strike” is beginning to turn into a nightmare scenario for the Blair and Bush regimes as the situation in Iraq begins to turn into something that has a lot of the same hallmarks as the Vietnam war. Not only are casualties mounting but the task of reconstructing the Iraqi infrastructure is proving to be a costly operation. The mouth watering thought of American companies - with British companies running a poor second - being given the contracts for this reconstruction is also turning into a nightmare as contractors are killed and the prospect of carrying out these contracts becomes very risky indeed. Undoubtedly supporters of the Saddam regime, remnants of his huge secret police and elite Republican Guard, are amongst those offering resistance. But this fails to take account of the antipathy felt towards the British and American occupiers from the population in general. They were glad and relieved to see the end of the Saddam regime but are not well disposed to the Allies who have adopted an increasingly arrogant attitude towards the population, with the widely held suspicion that control of Iraqi oil supplies was the main reason for the war. The Allies have attempted to explain away the high level of anger directed at them by the Iraqi population by talking about the shadowy menace of Moslem fundamentalist terrorists infiltrating from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran! The United States is increasingly feeling that its military forces are spread too thin, with other parts of the world , like Liberia and Colombia requiring attention. Increasingly they are putting pressure on their other allies, who unlike Britain were not so keen on the Iraqi adventure, to get involved in sending military forces to Iraq. Understandably, countries like Pakistan are having second thoughts about this, with popular opinion at home being massively against the war. The Australian government, which did sign up for the adventure, are now facing mounting opposition to the war and occupation. Blair in it up to the neck At home, the Blair regime is facing acute embarrassment as the Hutton inquiry reveals how deeply they are involved in spin, subterfuge and outright lying to justify the Iraqi military venture. The corruption of our warmongering leaders is revealed more and more. The first military stage of the war against Iraq has been completed, despite millions of people taking to the streets across the world. The second stage, the mopping up of the remnants of Saddam’s forces and the “stabilisation” of Iraq under American control is now under way. Despite millions coming out on the streets for the first stage of the war, the demonstrations were kept within the confines of official “protest” and there were few examples of direct action breaking out of the confines of this straitjacket. The Leninist left, in particular the Socialist Workers Party, has had an important role to play in making sure that the anti-war mobilisations did not break away from respectability and legality. Now, we must try to help a break with this to come about. On the plus side, there is mounting opposition to the occupation both in the States and Britain. On the minus side, the inertia and passive outlook created among those opposed to the war and occupation is a major obstacle. Time will tell as to whether a major break with this outlook can come about, and minority actions to sabotage their war effort can be turned into mass actions. Direct action will be taking place against the DSEi arms fair between 6-10 September, and there will be a libertarian bloc on the demo against the occupation of Iraq on the 27th September. For more info see back page. --- ON THE FRONTLINE We’ll start this month with a bit of good news: 130 men sacked during the miner’s strike of 1984-85 have finally won the right to compensatory pension payments, after 18 years of struggle. The payments of up to £20,000 still fall far short of what they would have earned had they not been sacked (often for the most trivial of reasons - e.g. crossing a white line on a road outside their colliery.). And talking of trivial sackings a Royal Mail worker who was sacked after his delivery van was stolen (after 16 years of working there!) has been re-instated after his workmates threatened to walk out. Typical RM management tactics - they’re desperate to cut the work-force and impose changes and have been deliberately trying to lower staff morale so that people leave of their own accord. 3000 Nursery Nurses are set for a week long strike across Scotland in an escalation of their long running pay dispute which has already seen a series of 2 and 3 day strikes, overtime refusal and informal resistance. This dispute is taking on an increasingly militant shape with the workers forcing the unions to support actions they wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole before - at some point though, the union bosses will say ‘enough is enough’ and reveal their real agenda. Workers must ready for this and make plans now to organise autonomously with their fellow workers and link up with others in struggle. Yet another dispute on the buses, this time in Yorkshire, where 200 First-Bus drivers are set to strike despite their union failing to inform the company within the required 7-days warning, and thereby leaving the drivers open to being sacked. (Makes you wonder why people bother paying their subs doesn’t it?). First-Bus has also had previously trouble with drivers in Norwich, Oldham, Wigan, Bolton, Bury and Manchester. Workers at Fujitsu Services, Manchester have decided to take strike action in a dispute, which has revealed that 1/3 of the company’s staff receive less than the company’s own minimum rates; fifty employees walked out of the RM delivery office in Castle Bromwich due to low staffing levels, forcing management to get off their overpaid arses and deliver the mail themselves; and more than 400 workers at Aston Martin plants in Newport, Pagnell and Bloxham walked out for two days over their working conditions. Plenty more that we’ve not space for -keep it up! --- SCHOOLS TO CLOSE? We are getting closer and closer to seeing the closure of many schools. The government has changed the way that schools are funded, which has led to schools receiving less money. The government passes money set aside for funding education to the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) which then retain some of the money and pass a certain amount on to schools, the problem being that the government have underestimated how much it is costing schools to pay for the extra 1% that employers must pay on National Insurance and the 5% increase in teachers pensions. This is something the government has publicly admitted. But recently the government has accused the LEAs of retaining more money than they should’ve done. It’s difficult to tell who’s telling the truth here but it looks as if the government are trying to use the LEAs as a scapegoat. The government has also withdrawn most of the Standards Funds, which is money given to schools to raise standards. All this has left schools in a very tricky situation, being forced to make cuts so they can afford to pay staff salaries (which compose between 80-85% of any school budget). One area in which cuts are being made is supply teachers who cost schools approximately £150 per day. The need for supply teachers is unpredictable. Many local schools will no longer be able to pay for these teachers who are used whenever a teacher is sick or on a course. A lot of schools have been forced to stop employing classroom assistants. But the government is introducing ‘Working Time Directives’ in September 2003, which will take teachers out of the classroom for half a day a week. This has been bitterly opposed by the NUT (the teachers union) as it means untrained assistants will be put in charge of classes of children, but with the cuts being made it looks as if these people won’t even be there to cover! To try and settle school budgets the LEAs are letting schools access money set aside for repairing buildings, but this means that when the schools are damaged there won’t be any money left to repair them! Ultimately we are likely to see staff cuts in the schools if things continue the way they are. This is just another example of a government promising to make reforms to benefit the people and then getting into power and breaking all it’s promises. We’ve got to give up trusting things as important as our children’s education to politicians and take matters into our own hands. Schools should be run by the teachers, parents, and pupils, not by faceless bureaucrats in the councils and government. These people don’t know the problems there are in running schools but yet claim to have answers to all of them. --- ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS! Christianity must be the daftest of the major religions. The belief that God impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to Jesus (and later, his brother James) and still remained a virgin is just one piece of Christian nonsense. The idea that the consumption of wine and a biscuit on a Sunday in a church really is about eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood is another. In fact, the gospels are full of absurd myths and contradictions. Christianity rarely has much to do with the message of peace and love supposedly spread by Jesus (there is no historical evidence outside the bible that he ever existed). Saint Paul and later Christians ignored the message of Jesus and replaced it with a women-hating, anti-sex, slave-owning religion, which when in power from the late Roman Empire onwards justified all sorts of inhumane practices. Torture under the Inquisition, for example, fits perfectly into this Christian tradition. So, it should come as no surprise that self-proclaimed Christians such as George Bush and Tony Blair managed to combine piety on a Sunday with State brutality in their foreign policies. Bush has consistently supported Israel's brutal treatment of the desperately poor Palestinians. And of course, as recent events have demonstrated, the bombing of the Iraqis with thousands of civilian deaths presents them with no moral problems whatsoever. The fact is, that Christian or otherwise, all state leaders are egotistical, power crazed bullies who are totally indifferent to the human cost so long as the interests of the rich and powerful are preserved and extended. --- COMMUNITY RESISTANCE A couple years back, I was a tenant on the Holly Street estate in Hackney East London. It was one of those estates that had really been through the mill - it was a “high crime” area, most of the old blocks were cockroach infested, and it was claimed to be the 2nd or 3rd most deprived estate in the whole of the UK. So with this in mind, it became something of a political flagship of urban regeneration, and politicians took ample opportunity to pose around the estate looking for photo opportunities. And so the estate was eventually regenerated. Millions were spent and Tories claimed it as their success story while New Labour said it was theirs. The tenants got decanted into nice little cockroach free new-build properties and we began to feel happier and more positive about life on Holly Street. Then came the new Community Centre... in the early days, when the centre had just been opened, the tenants, particularly those who lived adjacent to it found it to be anything but a community spirited place. There was a problem. The Holly Street Community Centre had to gain the bulk of its revenue by booking out its main hall to private functions. Most of these parties seemed to be booked by people from the more well-heeled areas. When they ended late at night people would spill out of the hall, there would be regular fights outside the building and in the nearby streets, rubbish and broken bottles would be thrown into gardens, people would piss in tenants doorways, etc, etc. The noise would keep people up till about 5 or 6am and children would be kept awake frightened all night. This would all happen at least twice a week. The morning after, the tenants would have clean up the mess outisde their doorways. Tenants regularly complained to the council and the centre, who either responded with disinterest, or else made lots of promises which they forgot come the next party booking. Realising that appeals to those in authority was a complete waste of time, the short lived Holly Street Action Group was formed when a couple of feisty residents dashed off a quick leaflet and pushed it through every letterbox on the two streets, as well as the big tower block on the other side of the Community Centre. The result was, people came together. Crowded meetings were held in the living rooms and kitchens of the two streets while a plan of direct action was formed. Neighbours who barely knew each other were suddenly united by this struggle. The day after next big party at the Centre, the local residents were meticulous in cleaning up the two streets of rubbish, beer cans and broken bottles. They bagged it all up and hung about casually chatting in the street outside the centre. Then, as a journalist turned up, the tenants all marched into the community centre and dumped all the rubbish in the foyer. This was followed by some little kids marching in and kicking the rubbish all over the place. The photographer took his pictures and put them on the front page of the local paper. And so the parties at the centre stopped, with the promise that any future parties would never be so disruptive to the tenants. Without doubt, direct action got results. Yet the power those tenants once excercised, could also be harnessed for so many other things like problems with the council, harassment by cops, hassle with benefits. Such street and estate action groups could be a basis for real working class power on the community level - a power far removed from us passively relying on local politicians and “community leaders”. Maybe the veterans of the Holly Street Action group and other residents in working class areas up and down the country should think of the power they hold in their hands, and what they could do with that power, should they choose to excercise it on a daily basis. --- AMERICAS ROUNDUP Patagonia–Miguel Angel Mansilla, an anarchist involved in the Unemployed Workers Movement is one of the young people who have created a new anarchist movement in southern Argentina, the MALO (Anarchist Movement for Workers Liberation). The government has recently moved against any attempt to create a revolutionary movement, attempting to criminalise all propaganda and organisation from workers in struggle. The police have menaced activists, carried out illegal detentions, and beatings. Mansilla was arrested and taken to the local police station, stripped, beaten and kept locked up in secret for several days. He has now been framed on the bogus charges of armed robbery and attempted murder and may still be in prison. New York–Waiters in a Chinese restaurant have been on strike since May of this year. The workers were fired after demanding payment of tips stolen by the owner, union recognition and the end of sweatshop conditions. The waiters and supporters maintain pickets to also pressure the owner to recognize their demands. As well as to convince the public from eating at the restaurant. The struggle will take some time and the waiters are now in need of financial aid. To help see Cuba–“The time has come for the anarchist ideal to rise once again after 40 years of Castroist tyranny"–Members of illegal trade unions, young libertarians and others celebrated the Spanish Revolution for the first time in Cuba since the rise of Castro. Anarchists were once the strongest force in the Cuban working class, helping bring down two dictatorships, but condmened to prison death or exile since Castro’s reign. --- RESISTANCE ROUNDUP • Residents in the Hammersmith and Fulham borough of London are battling to halt the massive redevelopment of the Lots Road Power Station site despite councillors giving the go-ahead to a 37-storey skyscraper there- which would be the tallest building in the borough. Lots Road Action Group believe the Council take more account of the needs of big business than local people. None of the councillors live in the area. • On the 21st August the head office of Spearhead, the company organizing Europe’s largest arms fair, Defence Systems Equipment international (DSEi) was occupied by protesters. The “fair” will happen at the Excel Centre in London next month and a week of protests have been organized. Actions are happening around the country in the lead up to DSEi: For more information about Disarm DSEi actions see • DSEi exhibitor is targeted by activists: six activists gained entry to the Smiths Aerospace production plane in Wolverhampton on Thursday and climbed to the roof of the two storey office unit at the front of the factory. They stayed on the roof throughout the afternoon. At the same time another group of activists carried out a makeshift ‘weapons inspection’ gaining entrance to sensitive production areas. • A new squatted social centre has opened in Newtown, Wales. Music, food and cinema are all on offer. Call 0402 522485 for directions. • Gillette have withdrawn their trial of new intrusive bugging technology after protests, increasing press coverage, a boycott, and the growing mobilisation of campaigners against the intrusive use RFID tags by Gillette at a Tesco store in Cambridge. RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags are small tags containing a microchip which can be ‘read’ and tracked by radio sensors over short distances for market research but they could easily be used for more insidious purposes. • A new anarchist workers network is being created that aims to increase industrial activity and bring together anarchists who are trade union members and/or involved in workplace struggles, but is also open to unemployed and retired workers. The network will be launched at the Anarchist Bookfair (see back page). A temporary discussion group has been set up, to join send a blank email to: --- INSIDE INFORMATION Aircraft Saboteur Bailed Ulla Roder who last March disarmed a Tornado jet, has been released on unconditonal bail. She appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court near Edinburgh for a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday 12th August where a new date was set for her trial (22nd September), with another new pre-trial hearing on the 9th September (coincidently coinciding with the DSEi protests). In related news charges have finally been dropped against four activists who on 20th February blocked the runway of RAF Brize Norton in an attempt to disrupt preparations for war. Simon Chapman Update Simon was among 7 people framed during protests against the EU summit in Thessalonica, and is waiting to hear the results of a second appeal. We are hoping that this appeal will succeed. In the meantime, Simon and the rest of the Thessaloniki 7 need a great deal of support and solidarity. To help go to Raise The Fist Webmaster Jailed Sherman Austin, webmaster of, was sentenced today, August 4, 2003, to one year in federal prison, with three years of probation. Judge Wilson shocked the courtroom when he went against the recommendation of not only the prosecution, but the FBI and the Justice Department, who had asked that Austin be sentenced to 4 months in prison, and 4 months in a half-way house, with 3 years of probation. To contact sherman, email keepfistraised@yahoo.comUrgent: Mumia needs your help now! US Prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal has developed a potentially serious health condition affecting his feet, which have swollen painfully, making him unable to walk. Mumia suspects it may be due to blood clotting. Health conditions are serious matters for prisoners, and blood clotting can be fatal. Please flood the prison’s phone lines and demand that Mumia’s requests be met: that he be allowed to be examined by an outside doctor of his choice, and that he be given fresh garlic immediately to boost his body’s natural defenses. The prison says Mumia can only be examined by a prison doctor, not one of his own choosing, and that his request for fresh garlic cannot be granted because they don’t have any in the prison. Phone SCI Greene prison on +1 724 852-2902. From 8:00am to 5:00pm ask for Superintendent Folino from 5:00pm to 8:00am ask for Captain Hall. If gone during late night, ask for current Shift Director. Also send protest messages to Senator Vincent Hughes: --- Subvert and resist Take precautions when going on demonstrations and don’t take cameras, booze or drugs. If you’re nicked give your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any other questions. SEPTEMBER: – 5: and every Friday – Thessaloniki Prisoner Support benefit gig, 10pm, ETON MISSION SOCIAL CLUB, 91 EastWay, Hackney Wick, London E9 6: Close Dungavel Immigration Removal/detention Centre, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire, Scotland 12 noon. 0141 337 8100 Transport to Demo available. 6-10: Shut Down DSEi (Defence Systems Equipment International). DSEi is Europe’s largest trade fair for guns, bombs, military planes, small arms, mines and tanks. A mass international protest has been called. For more info visit: Tel: 0781 7652 029 or 07887 620 379. Highlights – 6: Libertarian Bloc on Disarm DSEi Unity March. meet 12noon at Cleopatra's Needle. 10: Destroy DSEi: Day of Direct Action. Mass actions planned along with assorted affinity group actions. 20-22: Days of international solidarity for Thessaloniki prisoners. Details to be confirmed. For more info go to 27: Libertarian Bloc on End the Occupation of Iraq Demo. Meet-up details TBA soon! OCTOBER: 25th – Anarchist Bookfair – all day event at University of London Union, Malet St., London. Nearest tube: Euston. --- Join the resistance 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: Anarchist Federation, 84B, Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX. Tel: 07946 214 590 Visit: Email: