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(en) UK, Class War Issue 85 - IV. (4/5) Diary Dates, Leters and reviews

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 17 Feb 2004 08:12:55 +0100 (CET)


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Class war meetings
London Class War meets regularly, usually on the first Sunday of the month.
For details of other groups meetings, please contact the Class War group nearest to you.
TACT Socials
TACT socials are held in London on the third Tuesday of the month. TACT,
standing for Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams (see review in this issue) is
billed as a way for like-minded activists to work together around common aims.
At the moment TACT socials are held at The Foundry near Old Street from 7.30pm
To Be Announced
Look out for a Class War demonstration at the CBIs 2003 annual conference.

Notes and Corrections
In our rush to get the Autumn 2002 Class War out, we managed to put the correct
issue number, 84, on the front cover, but for some reason managed to call it issue
82 on the inside pages. It was definitely issue 84.
On page 2 of the paper the gremlins had struck again, when we identified the US
Vice President Dick Cheney as the President. As even George W Bush knows
who the President of the United States is, this was a particularly embarrassing
howler. The word Vice-President was on the original caption, honest.
The author of the classic "The Scab" was wrongly identified. It was of course
Jack London.


Class War News
London Class War now has its own website www.londonclasswar.org
There are 3 discussion boards on the site, the Class War diary, a big section of
photographs, as well as articles on prison fight back, opposing gentrification, and
archive material from Class War's recent past. If you have any pictures for the
graffiti or tattoo sections send them in!
Check it out for all the latest news and views from the capital, and look out for a
particularly off-colour Ken Livingstone!

Stickers - London, Tyne & Wear and Yorkshire Class War all have new stickers
available at a rate of &1 for 50 stickers. There are 13 different designs in total, so
send your money in and get spreading the message.

Class War Worldwide - Class War Europe now have a German language sticker
(see contact address on page ) and translations of "This Is Class War" can be
found on our website in Dutch, with more languages being added all the time.

Letters Page
The 1 in 12 Club
Dear Class War
The last edition of Class War stated that the 1 in 12 Club, Bradford, charged a fee
to the Mark Barnsley Campaign for the use of their premises.
We, at the London Mark Barnsley Campaign Group, acknowledge that no fees
were charged by the 1 in 12 Club for use of this room. We recognise the 1 in
12's commitment to the supportive work that they have offered to past and
present campaigns.
In our defence, we can only say that information received was inaccurate.
For any misunderstanding concerning the fee involved, relating to the use of any
space offered by the 1 in 12, we can only offer our sincerest apologies for any
embarrassment caused to the 1 in 1 2 collective for our failing on this occasion.
We as activists have learnt a valuable lesson. Check your facts thoroughly
before you report your news.
Signed
Sean
On behalf of the London Mark Barnsley Campaign Group
CW Reply: We echo this, please see the apology in the editorial.

Reviews
PALESTINE BY J CHURCH. (HONEY BEAR RECORDS)
Class War received two 15 track CDs to review from Honey Bear. The first one
Palestine by J Church (no its not religious) was a bit of Iggy Pop meets David
Byrne, a bit rocky. It is a benefit CD as their office burnt down.
Lyrics are original and new, which is unusual especially in the English music
scene, this being American!
3 skulls

D.F.I. (HONEY BEAR RECORDS)
Politic yes, and a bit more heavy & punky, for all you punk rockers a must!
Go on get in touch: honeybearrecords@hotmail.com
HONEY BEAR RECORDS -1730E.Oltorf#135-Austin, TX 78741,USA.
4 skulls

TOXICITY - SYSTEM OF A DOWN
Another American band, not just for spotty teenagers and students. Good lyrics
and an alternative style, great song about American prisons and Amerikkkan
oppression. Go to HMV, tape it, take it back and get another CD free.
3 skulls

True Spies (BBC2) originally screened November 2002

This was a surprising series, here from the horse's mouth, admissions of state
surveillance of industrial militants, spying, infiltration and dirty tricks. The close
scrutiny, bugging, trailing, of environmentalists, animal rights activists and anti
nuclear campaigners and many more.
Out they came with their hands up, the agents, the informers, the guys who put
the finger on the working class heroes and set them up for the blacklist and
worse. Revelations of what they did, to whom. All of this presented with on-site
actual footage of the militants, as they were then, and scenes from working class
struggle, to the accompaniment of rock, and punk music and scenes of
confrontation and riot.
The programme became even more poignant when disclosing to the people
actually being targeted the extent of state surveillance upon them, some had not
the slightest idea they were in the spot light, or what was being planned for them.
A CND 'subversive', after all sounds like a joke, when we heard the state spy say,
his victim was a Quaker who could develop toward being a Communist, it is
perhaps too stupid to laugh at.
Like the assassination of JFK, we all knew 'they' had shot their own bloke, but
when it came out on the big screen it give you goose bumps, it confirmed, the
bastards really do what we have said about them. Its a relief in way, it shows we
aren't as paranoid as we thought.
Here we saw leaders of the states secret army owning up to the most
preposterous of actions. Although most on the far left knew what the state was
capable of, will still have found the admissions breathtaking. For your average
punter in the street, this must have seemed like a revelation.
How would your average middle class academic schooled in the knowledge that
the police are independent of class issues and are 'non political' cope with the
admission that the Ford Motor Co. had both Special Branch and MI5 working for
them, especially on their Merseyside plants. Pilkington Glass works and British
Leyland to name two others. Smith, Luckozade and Beechams had millions in
taxpayer money directed into their defence, and the exposure of ordinary folk
who oppose their cruel, corporate practices.
Tony Robinson of Special Branch (any relation to Baldrick?) star of the show,
who you would cheerfully thump in the face until your hand fell off, justified the
blacklist, the enforced poverty and loss of opportunity of the blacked workers, by
reason that the left "promote violence". To Stella Rimington, Head of the MI5
with profiles on the Provos and the miners, her brief is to defend the country
from 'subversion'. Some of the bugged and blacked victims expressed complete
surprise that they were under scrutiny and that they were on file.
Ricky Thomlinson, a familiar name today as an actor, was a well known building
workers militant with links to the WRP. He was "gob smacked" that he was
regarded as "a thug" and a violent subversive. His file was said to be one of
"hundreds of thousands" perhaps millions.
We note the admission that up to 23 top union leaders regularly co-ordinated
with Special Branch and MI5 to warn governments, employers and the state
about working class militancy and specifically to inform on militants within their
own Unions. Joe Gormley late of the NUM and later Joe Gormley OBE, gets the
Oscar for this show.
Many of the left and trade unionists expressed naive surprise at the revelations,
the very cheek that the state could do such things to me! Whilst Arthur Scargill
asked if he was surprised at the 23 scab Union leaders, said yes he was, he
thought there would have been many more!
In many respects the State spies act like a British version of the Macarthy, Un-
American Activities Committee, except this one is in permanent session. Control
over the BBC for example extends to vetting, and that means blacking and
isolating writers, actors and journalists to keep them from influencing public
opinion. Monitoring and vetting workplaces, key industrial complexes public and
private, and keeping the class activists out or down. As Ricky Thomlinson might
have said "Democracy ? My Arse" Who ever elected that lot? This is a private
army under no public control or accountability as far as we can see.
Of course these same forces also infiltrated the far right, (although little emerged
about one of their main vehicles for doing this, Searchlight magazine) The
section on that infiltration exposes the stark differences in the respective camps.
With the far right we have paramilitary training, guns and tactical preparation.
The far left, however, all stand in total denial that they are subversive or trying to
bring down the state. Certainly few of them were shown to operate far beyond
normal party political activities. Instead it was the society they were advocating
which was the obvious threat to the state rather than the building of some secret
well oiled machine to bring it about.
Only the animal rights activists were shown to be prepared to engage in any
means necessary, including military activity, they too were not at all surprised to
be infiltrated and spied on. They could after all, hardly say "its not fair, I only
want to democratically blow up your animal experiment laboratory, and knobble
your scientists".
Those who engage in armed struggle expect state covert counter-terrorism. It was
the folk exercising what they perceived to be their normal democratic rights to
organise resistance, opposition and fight for change, who were most shocked,
that such activity, if likely to upset the states values and objectives is also classed
as subversive, 'terrorist' even, and subject to counter terrorist activity, almost
without distinction.
The programme did tend to expose the secret state, and men and women who
implement rules and laws nobody has passed. Democracy was demonstrated as
largely a hoax, it only works if you don't test it, if you test what you think are
your rights, you come up against the secret forces that will slap you down.
What we have in these programmes also offer a small exposure of the states
offensive against the industrial working class, the mass of working class activists
on the street. Or perhaps more accurately who were on the street. Militant trade
union struggle, political struggle around community and social issues, all are
branded subversive. Changing the system, challenging the ruling class, that is not
compatible with 'British values'.
Chief in this combat with the class was the clash with the miners. We are told a
conflict of a 'Civil War Scenario' had been prepared for, and those of us who
went through that epoch shaping fight, know that not to be an exaggeration. The
admission that our mass picketing operation was sweeping all before it and had
us on the road to victory is interesting. It was the reason for long term sleepers 'at
the shoulder' of Arthur Scargill, who revealed our entire covert plans and
picketing actions to the police. In retrospect it proves we were right when we
started the strike not to centralise our picketing actions under a national direction
and to keep them mass, but locally and covertly controlled. This should be taken
into account for future struggles, be they political, industrial or environmental.
One wonders how far the efforts of some sections of the Yorkshire leadership to
wrest control of the pickets from local centres, was itself a Special Branch
objective. I think the Special Branch belief that their infiltration and constant
leaking of our tactics and plans defeated the strike, is not totally accurate, but it
certainly was a major weakener of our efforts, not least because it led to an army
of the most militant miners and many of their families being locked up and take
off the street and out of action.

But there is something definitely odd by this sudden volunteering of state
honesty, this turning out of their pockets and up front confessions. If this is what
they are willing to admit to, what is it they are not telling us? How bad is the
stuff they will never admit to?
On previous occasions state secrets have been got out under the most intense
resistance, we do not know how many have paid the ultimate price of keeping
things quiet. Spy Catcher was a true revelation, look at the stubborn resistance
mounted by British Intelligence to silence that daft old bugger, they turned
heaven and earth to stop publication of the book, to prosecute him, to silence
him, he was lucky to survive. That information, startling though it was, was
dated. Some of this stuff is reasonably contemporary, and frankly unknown in its
detail.
What was the device that opened this flood gate, and how come so many all at
the same time, sitting there nice as nine pence telling us in a cosy fireside chat
who they'd bugged, who'd they informed on, whose lives they had ruined?
We aren't told why, and that is most disturbing. It is a tradition among labour
historians, and one which has passed on to archaeologists and researchers of all
kinds, to leave the working out's in the margins. What was your research plan,
what did you hope to find, what did you not find, what were your sources, how
did you discover them, what were the obstacles and triumphs, what was not
discovered? Kids doing maths exams are often required to leave the working out
in margins or on scrap paper with their work, because getting the right answer
isn't always the test, its how you came to the right answer that is more important.
With this programme we are given non-of the mechanics of the job, we know
not, how any of this stuff was revealed, by whom, to who and why. That throws a
dampening bucket of water over the whole thing. Not that we doubt much it, on
the contrary, this is the stuff they have allowed to be revealed, and we wonder if
some trade off has been agreed behind the scenes? The programme was made by
Peter Taylor, who has been allowed access to some pretty shadowy characters
during his previous programmes on Northern Ireland. He confesses that he
received " extraordinary" co-operation from Special Branch. He tells us nobody
vetted his script or the contents of his programmes, which of course suggests
they vetted the material before it was given to him!
It is inconceivable that the top-secret witnesses chatting away on camera would
be doing so without being sure every line was cleared with their masters behind
the camera.

Was this a sort of inoculation to prepare us for far more state intervention against
our assumed rights and liberties? Was the mixing up of fluffy green welly middle
class politicos, with the good the bad and ugly on the far left and right, a kind of
justification that the innocent will inevitably get mixed up with the guilty but its
all for the common good?
There is a clear design here to take no sides between left and right, good and bad.
The actions themselves of the 'subversives' and not their cause is seen as the
problem. No such classless and amoral stance can of course be taken.
The state is not impartial to particular sides and activities. Why for example
home in on The Communist Party of Great Britain, with its "British Road To
Socialism" and belief in a coalition with Labour; it had abandoned revolution
decades ago. Why should its activities and members be any more subversive than
the Social Democrats, if you were following a truly impartial democratic
mandate? Of course they don't, and even the pinko Communists of the old CPGB
posed an agenda of change the state will not permit.
The portrayal of the nail bomber and the carnage wrought by the National
Socialist Movement activist in London on a gay bar, was inserted as an
illustration of the kind of thing the State spies and infiltrators were trying to
prevent. If a few tree huggers and pickets get followed and bugged as well, that's
the price we must pay for being defended by the state who has our interests at
heart.
Bollocks. We are not alone however in suspecting that there is still far more to
come out about the Nail bombings than we have seen so far.
Maybe, this programme was a trade off, Mr Taylor had found out something far
more damning and damaging about the state spies, and was persuaded to trade
that knowledge for an up front documentary on this less controversial work. We
do not yet know.
That this good documentary came and went almost without a ripple of outrage,
maybe that tells us why it could safety made and shown.
3 skulls

Dirty Pretty Things (BBC Films, Cert 15)
A film set amongst the (partially) hidden side of London - that of legal and
illegal refugees and asylum seekers, this marks a return to the big screen for
Stephen Frears, director of the classic My Beautiful Launderette.
Former doctor Okwe, combines his time as a cabbie and hotel porter with some
on the side medical work, such as helping his fellow cabbies when they get the
clap. He appears not even to notice the feelings of fellow worker Senay towards
him ......
The film takes a sinister side when Okwe finds a human heart wedged down a
hotel bog, and the Hotel Manager turns out to be even more unpleasant than his
smarmy smile and big Mercedes suggest ......
If Dirty Pretty Things has a weakness it is that it is a film about people - refugees
- who are often stereotyped, yet it manages to rely on a few stereotypes itself.
The “tart with a heart” cliché is old as the film industry itself, whilst the thuggish
immigration officials manage to snarl in every single scene they are in, bar none.
At times deeply depressing, Dirty Pretty Things manages to leave the viewer upbeeat
that the oppressed can strike a blow back against the oppressor, although you might be
advised to keep steak and kidney pie off the menu for a few days after seeing this film!
4 skulls

TACT - Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams (Pamphlet, 20 pence or a donation from BM Box
3328, London WC1N 3XX)
TACT is about offering a method of working, a way for those in struggle to work
together (something that is often a lot more difficult than it sounds!) The TACT
pamphlet sets out what could be roughly called an umbrella structure for doing this,
as well as giving an insight into why we need to struggle together.
TACT could certainly offer a structure to groups looking to work together on an
issue - for example anti-fascism - in a particular city or region. How many town
based class struggle groups have come and gone in the past decade, only to
collapse through bad blood, sectarianism or stupid decision making?
You can find out more about TACT by visiting www.temporary.org.uk

" Fences and Windows" by Naomi Klein, Flamingo, 2002.
This latest book from Klein shows that Class War's critique of her earlier book,
No Logo, was spot on. As a careerist she's been jetting around the world,
probably as the worlds most travelled summit hopper, and as a result produced
a series of articles published mainly by newspapers in Canada.
If Class Warriors were given the same privileged access we're sure we would
have produced a far better book. As it is the book does have some insight and
the information in it can be new to those not seasoned in politics. For example,
the stuff about Mexico, Argentina and NAFTA is well written.
However there are serious problems with her grasp of history and theory, and at
times it reads like she is a naive ve student. The tremendous overplay of the
powers of the police, their cross border surveillance and targeting of
activists, and the brutality they use against their own people is bound to
shock the liberal and inexperienced. Without a hint of irony and forgetting her
own cheerleading of summit hopping, she then criticises the movement for
creating these spectaculars (pp.156-159). Physician heal thyself! It would be
funny if it wasn’t so tragic!

There are clear flaws in the analysis which inevitably leads to superficiality
in her work. For example, she’s got no understanding of enclosures as her
liberal comments liberally sprinkled throughout the book and in its’ title
expose. Here is one of these fences serious political activity must go beyond
“The first was the fence. The image came up again and again: barriers
separating people from previously public resources, locking them away from much
needed land and water, restricting their ability to move across borders, to
express political dissent, to demonstrate on public streets.” Preface, Xviii,
see also P. 90, and more.
Her lack of knowledge about enclosures is shocking considering the amount of
literature on them. Also considering the 19th century clearing of Indians into
reservations that straddle the American and Canadian border - to let white
settlers enclose land there - shows she clearly knows nothing of her own back
yard!
This book unfortunately serves as a distraction for anti capitalists who should
be looking at the new enclosures in their own country. In Britain Ken ‘I spent
£2600 of public money on taxis in 6 months’ Livingston’s stupid congestion
charging scheme has provoked a large public meeting declaring that they “Can’t
Pay Won’t Pay” the charge. The largest section of workers involved was the
Smithfield porters.
Now the knock on effect of Ken’s dribble is that councils like Hackney are
getting rid of generations of people’s rights to park on the roadside for free.
Considering we already pay for this in the car tax it’s cheeky to ask for it
twice and Hackney want to charge people £80 a year. Needless to say the rich
can afford this, just as they can afford £5 a day to drive into central London.
This new enclosure of public ground commodifies it and goes against people’s
interests.
Is this something Klein or her followers are interested in? It should be as
she further says, “Every protected public space has been cracked open, only
to be re-enclosed by the market.” Preface, xix.
At its best this book serves as a gateway to more serious history and theory
that can go beyond the superficial and surface manifestations. Without any
shame she can quote an Argentinean leader who says, “the new factory is the
neighbourhood” and not talk about much autonomist theory from Italy and Britain,
and available in America, that talked about these themes up to 30 years ago…
Let’s create our own actions and ideas, cos Klein doesn’t help much!
1 ½ skulls


“Crime and Modernity, John Lea, (Sage, 2002. £16)

This book is far better than Klein’s though unfortunately it won’t get the
same coverage; coming from an author with a strong innovative pedigree that
is a real shame. Even in the anarchist movement which is meant to be receptive
to new ideas and badly needs such comprehension, it is shameful but there
won’t be many who will read it. This must read book, though perhaps not for
the beginner, is well worth it, and we don’t want to hear any excuses from
the experienced activists because there are none!
This book provides a detailed grasp of the dynamics of society that Klein
merely alludes to once in her book. Describing the current motor of capitalist
society in this period and the associated regime of control and punishment,
Lea uses such terms as ‘destructive reproduction’ and ‘punitive sovereignty’.
The first term is how capitalism reproduces itself today by destroying the
societal fabric, and the second refers to how policing is basically a fire
brigade response into working class areas in force to attack the subjugated
citizen. Lea shows that fragmentation is a key characteristic of society today,
as opposed to the incorporation of the post World War Two years.
With interesting comparisons of the aggressive masculinity of the ghetto, and
the share dealing rooms in the City of London, Lea points to the normalisation
of crime as a key feature of contemporary capitalism, both by capitalists and
as destructive individualism in the ghettos.
There is also good analysis of the blurring of boundaries between war and
crime with recent examples from across the world, including crises of
governance within the USA. However Lea says there is hope and choice, the poor
are resisting with progressive social crime of their own, in various
traditional and new ways. Away from the barbarism of capitalism and towards
socialism!
Finally there is one anomaly in that, even though Lea correctly castigates the
destructive role of the state, he then says we must reclaim it as help in the
process of social inclusion. Whilst at the same time substantive social
equality is necessary for realistic change.
This left ‘realist’ agenda does seem at times to be at odds with analysis that
says the state is the executive of the bourgeoisie, and does not think
progressive change will be possible from structures made for domination.

4 ½ skulls.

/5


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