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(en) Send in the Clowns - Reply to Blair

From Joe Black <revolt.news@usa.net>
Date Tue, 3 Jul 2001 14:16:24 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Send in the Clowns =

by Anarcho 11:26am Sat Jun 30 '01 =

anarcho@geocities.com =

 Discussion of Blair's comments after Gothenburg =

and why "undemocratic anarchy" is far more =

democratic than any state. =

 Send in the Clowns...

 (an edited version appears in Freedom 30th June =

2001 -- Freedom's webpage is =


 Up to 25,000 activists from dozens of anti-EU =

and anti- globalisation groups descended on =

Gothenburg to protest against the EU summit =

being held there. =

 Unsurprisingly, a riot took place. According to =

The Independent the seeds of the riot had been =

sown "the night before when police surrounded a =

local high school where anti-capitalist =

protesters were staying, making dozens of =

arrests." On the day itself, trouble started =

when demonstrators tried to move from the square =

to the conference centre and found their way =

blocked. They were forced back onto the smart =

Avenyn shopping street. =

 Barricades were built and set alight. Slabs =

were thrown at the police. Three protestors were =

shot, one critically (a young, brick-throwing =

Swede was filmed taunting the police seconds =

before being shot and critically injured). Tony =

Blair condemned the riots: "Peaceful protest is =

an essential part of democracy. Violent protest =

is not, and there is no place in democracy for =

an anarchists' travelling circus that goes from =

summit to summit with the sole purpose of =

causing as much mayhem as possible."

 Of course, no mention of the police actions of =

the previous days. Apparently the surrounding of =

a meeting place and attempts to forcefully enter =

a building by several hundred fully equipped and =

armed riot police has a place in a democracy, as =

are numerous other police acts of repression =

which took place in the days leading up to the =

protests. Needless to say, such actions are part =

of the reason why anarchists oppose the current =

system. "The State's behaviour is violence," =

pointed out Stirner, "and it calls its violence =

'law'; that of the individual, 'crime.'"

 The other, of course, is that "democracy" in =

practice means the rule by a few bureaucrats and =

politicians who obey the dictates of big =

business, regardless of what the majority wants. =

This is clearly seen from the EU conference =


 Foot in Mouth strikes again!

 Blair, the arch democrat, stated that "Their =

actions have nothing to do with anything other =

than a desire to cause violence that threatens =

the lives and livelihoods of innocent people." =

Unsurprisingly, he did not inform the waiting =

world how he knew this. He added that he "would =

like to send the clearest possible signal that =

such protests must not and will not disrupt the =

proper workings of democratic organisations."

 Pretty good coming from a man elected by 1 in 4 =

of the electorate! If "democratic organisation" =

means "an organisation in which the decisions of =

the majority rule" then, clearly, Mr. Blair has =

no leg to stand on. =

 Firstly, the majority does not make the =

decisions in any state. At best the =

representatives elected by a majority make the =

decisions (under the circumstances dictated by =

the state bureaucracy and business interests of =

course). But, as Malatesta pointed out, "it is =

never the case that the representatives of the =

majority of the people are in the same mind on =

all questions; it is therefore necessary to have =

recourse again to the majority system and thus =

we will get closer still to the truth with =

'government of the majority of the elected by =

the majority of the electors.'" This, he notes, =

"is already beginning to bear a strong =

resemblance to minority government." Thus the =

EU, never mind the British State, cannot be =

considered as a democratic organisation. =

 Secondly, of course, the EU is hardly a =

democratic organisation even in the narrow sense =

that Blair probably means. Take, for example, =

the Nice treaty. This was agreed at the last =

summit of EU leaders in December and aims to =

reform the EU's institutions to allow them to =

cope with an enlarged Union of up to 27 members. =

All 15 current members must ratify the treaty =

before it takes effect.

 At Gothenburg the EU leaders agreed that the =

process of enlarging the EU into Eastern Europe =

must go ahead despite Ireland's shock rejection =

of the Nice Treaty on EU reform last week. "The =

Irish people's decision must be respected but it =

must not be allowed to hold up the process," =

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said. Irish =

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told the summit: "I =

want to make it absolutely clear that, in my =

view, the No vote should not be interpreted as a =

vote against enlargement." Without spelling out =

how he planned to overcome the 54-46 percent =

defeat, Ahern said Ireland needed an "extended =

period of reflection" before finding a mutually =

acceptable way forward.

 Truly democracy in action! Little wonder more =

and more people are turning to what Blair calls =

"undemocratic anarchy."

 "undemocratic anarchy"?

 Tony Blair said governments had to fight the =

anarchists and their message with every means at =

their disposal. And what is our message? Simply =

that the words "democratic organisation" being =

used to describe a state is a contradiction. =

While anarchists reject government, we do not =

reject organisation. The difference is =

important. The only effective way to struggle =

and organise is non- hierarchically, for it has =

the active participation of all members of the =

collective unit, instead of their passively =

entrusting themselves to the authority of the =

supreme leaders. Any governing body is an =

impediment to the real organisation of the =

majority. Where a government exists, then the =

only really organised people are the minority =

which make up the government. It is they who =

rule, not (as claimed in democratic theory) the =

people. Thus a real "democratic organisation" =

would be an anarchist one as it would be run by =

and for its members. Such self-managed =

organisations are run from below- upwards in a =

federal structure. Only a free association from =

below can allow everyone to participate in the =

struggle and in managing society. In centralised =

structures, power is at the top, in the hands of =

a few. In a federal structure, it lies at the =

bottom, in the hands of all.

 It would be interesting to see Blair attack =

this goal of a self-managed society that lies at =

the heart of anarchism. To do so would mean to =

expose himself and his "democratic organisation" =

as hypocrites. So what do we "undemocratic" =

anarchists seek? Simply put, a free society of =

free individuals, one without classes, =

governments and other parasitic elites.

 Such a society would be based on communes, =

which autonomous and federated at local, =

regional, national and global levels for the =

purpose of achieving goals of a general nature. =

These communes will be free associated and will =

be run directly by their members, in other words =

they will, in general, undertake to adhere to =

whatever general norms may decided by majority =

vote after free debate. The inhabitants of a =

Commune are to debate their internal problems =

among themselves. Whenever problems affecting an =

entire district or province are involved, it =

must be the federations of communes which =

deliberate and at every federal assembly these =

may hold all of the Communes are to be =

represented and their delegates will relay the =

viewpoints previously approved in their =

respective Communes. These delegates, as well as =

being mandated, will also be subject to recall =

(if they represent no one but themselves they =

will be replaced by those who do accurately rely =

their commune's position). On matters of a =

regional nature, it will be up to the Regional =

Federation to put agreements into practice and =

these agreements will represent the sovereign =

will of all the region's inhabitants. So the =

starting point is the individual, moving on =

through the Commune, to the Federation and right =

on up finally to the Confederation. Only in this =

way will government be abolished.

 Within the commune, there will be various other =

self- managed groups for specific purposes. =

These will include producer groups. Workplaces =

will be run by their workers, directly, without =

bosses. Community centres, hospitals, schools =

and other community resources will be organised =

along similar lines. =

 Such a society would mean not only a massive =

increase in individual liberty, it would also =

mean that resources are used to meet people's =

needs rather than lining the pockets of the few. =

Thus a meaningful, decent and dignified life =

would be possible for all. That is why =

anarchists struggle against the current system. =

We want to replace it with something better.

 Yes, indeed, unlike the EU, we "undemocratic" =

anarchists recognise that freedom means more =

than being allowed to pick your masters -- it =

means being able to control your own life, both =

as individuals and as part of groups, =

associations, communities and workplaces.

 The present

 Blair claimed that protesters' arguments were =

defective as globalism and free trade helped the =

world's poor. Thankfully the dispossessed and =

poor have such strong spokespeople in the form =

of transnational corporations, billionaires and =

other sections of the global elite. Thank god =

for coincidence.

 Blair is presenting what has become a truism =

for the proponents of globalisation. They know =

the truth and so facts are irrelevant. So why =

have the ignorant masses, who just do not know =

what is good for them, rejected globalisation? =

(though, luckily for them, the likes of Blair =

will be in the position to force them to be =

free, no matter if they vote against it) Perhaps =

it has something to do with these kinds of =


 On a global scale inequalities continue to =

mount as the neo-liberal project has unfolded. =

According to the UN Development Program, in 1997 =

the 20 percent of the world?s people living in =

the wealthiest countries received 74 times as =

much income as the 20 percent in the poorest =

countries; up from a ratio of 60 to 1 in 1990, =

and 30 to 1 in 1960. This would be expected, as =

trade between two parties will benefit the =

stronger. Hardly a benefit for the poor to =

weaken their relative bargaining power in the =

"free" market. =

 In the United States, home of Blair's agenda, =

the median real wage is about the same today as =

it was 27 years ago. This means that the =

majority of the labour force has failed to share =

in the gains from economic growth over the last =

27 years. That is drastically different from the =

previous 27 years, during which the typical wage =

increased by about 80% in real terms. =

 As for benefiting the poor, this usually means =

"increasing the rate of growth." Has increasing =

globalisation increased growth? The official =

data for the last two decades (1980-2000) tells =

the story. Economic growth has slowed =

dramatically, especially in the less developed =

countries, as compared with the previous two =

decades (1960-1980). From 1960-1980, output per =

person grew by an average, among countries, of =

83%. For 1980- 2000, the average growth of =

output per person was 33%. Mexico would have =

nearly twice as much income per person today if =

not for the growth slowdown of the last two =

decades; Brazil would have much more than twice =

its current per capita income. =

 Eighty-nine countries - 77%, or more than =

three-fourths - saw their per capita rate of =

growth fall by at least five percentage points =

from the period (1960-1980) to the period (1980-
2000). Only 14 countries - 13% - saw their per =

capita rate of growth rise by that much from =

(1960- 1980) to (1980-2000). In Latin America, =

GDP per capita grew by 75% from 1960-1980, =

whereas from 1980-1998 it has risen only 6%. For =

sub-Saharan Africa, GDP per capita grew by 36% =

in the first period, while it has since fallen =

by 15%. =

 Even where high growth rates were achieved, as =

in Southeast Asia, they were still better in the =

earlier period. The only regional exception to =

this trend was East Asia, which grew faster from =

1980 to 1998 than in the previous period. But =

this is due to the quadrupling of GDP, over the =

last two decades, in China (which has 83% of the =

population of East Asia). =

 In short, there is no region of the world that =

the Bank or Fund can point to as having =

succeeded through adopting the policies that =

they promote - or in many cases, impose - in =

borrowing countries. (They are understandably =

reluctant to claim credit for China, which =

maintains a non-convertible currency, state =

control over its banking system, and other major =

violations of IMF/Bank prescriptions). =

 So, perhaps, the protestors may have a point.

 The future

 A North American anarchist wrote on IndyMedia =

(www.indymedia.org) contrasted Quebec and =

Gothenburg. He noted that in Quebec the area =

"where the protest was being held was a working-
class town. The anarchists (www.tao.ca/~clac) =

groups went to door to door before the protests =

and did outreach. From what I heard people were =

very responsive. I saw the 'Black Block' =

marching down the street and people were =

cheering!" He wondered if the same had happened =

in Sweden. Good question. =

 It is clear that any protest and demonstration =

must have the support and understanding of the =

local community. If anarchists are isolated from =

that then their message will be distorted and =

fail to reach the people whose active =

participation will make real resistance and =

change possible. Anarchism was born in the =

people and it can only be healthy as long as it =

remains a thing of the people. As such, =

international protests, no matter how useful, =

are no substitute for spreading the anarchist =

message in our communities and workplaces. After =

the 1990 poll tax riots, for example, there =

exists anti-poll tax groups in most area which =

explained what had happened and why. Only this =

kind of organisation and discussion can ensure =

that the media does not distort what happens at =


 Anarchists have been involved in organising the =

protests world wide. Sweden was no exception, =

with the syndicalist SAC taking part as well as =

organising a series of seminars and an =

international meeting with other syndicalist =

unions. The Swedish revolutionary union was =

listed by many in the media (such as the =

Independent and the Sunday Times) as part of the =

anarchist threat. The inevitable "who is =

involved" columns always make for amusing =

reading -- although most did manage to give the =

SAC as well as other libertarian groups a =

mention admit the inaccuracies.

 The SAC has a real presence in Sweden. It is, =

for all its flaws, a working class organisation =

with locals in many towns. That is something =

that the UK anarchist movement could do well to =

repeat. The future of the anarchist movement has =

to involve returning to its working class roots =

and building on the obvious disillusionment that =

exists with New Labour and its neo-liberal =

agenda. Easier said than done, of course, but we =

would do well to learn a lesson from our Swedish =

comrades and consider how do we help to =

transform this cynicism with politics into a =

positive embrace of anti-parliamentarian, direct =

action based self-managed organisation in our =

communities and workplaces.

 www.anarchistfaq.org www.infoshop.org



Struggles in Ireland

International Anarchism

Zapatista Index

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