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(en) Britain, Anarchist journal, Class War #90 III. (3/4)

Date Wed, 23 Aug 2006 09:10:41 +0300


Respect is Not Earned Through Punishment
"Young people today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt
for older people and talk nonsense when they should work. Young
people do not stand up any longer when adults enter the room. They
contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their
food, lay their legs on the table and tyrannise their elders".
This quote is not Tony Blair, Charles Clarke or even David
Cameron. It is not even from this century - but from Socrates, 2500
years ago.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are scattered among the
working class like confetti at a wedding. Since April 1999 nearly
6000 ASBOs have been issued, nearly half involving youths aged
10-18. And the numbers are increasing.

ASBOs are issued on the strength of evidence that would not be
accepted in a court of law. Hearsay evidence, often from unknown
sources, is read out by a council officer. In some cases the recipient
is only aware of the order when it is actually presented. People are
being tried and sentenced in their absence. Figures from the website
www.crimereduction.org.uk indicate that most ASBOs are issued in
the poorest areas, whilst more middle class counties such as
Lincolnshire and Wiltshire issue very few.

Greater Manchester Council slavishly follows the New Labour
doctrine, and is the ASBO capital, having issued nearly a 1000 since
1999. They have proudly abused these draconian measures by
obtaining ASBOs against homeless people and even charity soup
vans. In neighbouring Salford, the constituency of Home Office
Minister Hazel Blears, 114 ASBOs have been issued, as the police
dance to the tune of their political masters.

In one well publicised case a woman who has repeatedly tried to
commit suicide received an ASBO banning her from rivers, train
stations and bridges. She will face jail if she breaches this ASBO,
although we doubt she will be too bothered about breaching it if she
is successful?.. In another case, exposed on Panorama, a boy was
arrested for breaching an ASBO because he took part in a 5 a side
football match. His order forbade him from associating with more
than three people. Wakefield became the first council to use ASBOs
against the traveling community, citing five areas that had been
"plagued" by travelers.

What next? Speculation has centered on "baby ASBOs" for under
10s, sin bins and secure gated communities for 'problem families'
patrolled by wardens and monitored by CCTV. Curfews and isolation
with 'community penalties', including obligatory work for parents,
and naming and shaming of those penalised are all on the agenda.
Imagine how bad the list would be if David Blunkett were still Home
Secretary!

Needless to say the children of new Labour Ministers are not
expected to abide by this set of rules. Tony Blair's son can throw up
in the streets in a drunken stupor, whilst Jack Straw's son can
procure drugs in pubs. Did anyone suggest slapping an ASBO on
these delinquents, or evicting their families from their homes?

The moral panic about hooded youths is only the current
manifestation in a long wave of assaults against youth culture. This
is coupled with tagging and curfews, exclusion from schools and
special units. Any kid with too much energy or who does not fit in at
school can be diagnosed as having 'attention deficiency disorder' and
shunted off to some quack psychologist to have their behaviour
modified.

Where there is good youth work, there is less crime and less
anti-social behaviour. Yet the authorities prefer to waste millions on
ineffective punishment regimes. It costs ?26,000 to keep a young
person in a young offenders institute for six months, yet the average
local authority spends nothing like this per head on any of its youth
provision. Other changes could be made - surveys indicate that when
over 1000 young offenders were give a low-sugar diet, there was a
44% decrease in "anti-social behaviour". Given how much new
Labour is in bed with companies like Tesco and McDonalds
however, such findings are probably unwelcome.

As the quote at the start of this article shows, there is nothing new
about policymakers seeing young people, and in particular young
working class people, as demons. This even extends to Blair's call
for a "Yob Czar" to deal with young people, with a proposed ?100
million budget.

Whatever young people should be doing, they should not be
respecting new Labour, they should not be respecting the police and
they should not be respecting their local authorities. Respect can
only be earned, and they certainly have not earned it.

You're poor, you're ill and you won't live long
Health inequalities increased between rich and poor areas in Britain
during the 1980s and 1990s. The current government has done
nothing to reduce these inequalities. In fact inequalities in life
expectancy, income and wealth have widened during their
administration.

Twenty years ago, the World Health Organization set up Health for
All 2000. 38 targets were set out to reduce inequalities in health. The
main aims were:

Ensuring equity in health by reducing gaps in health status between
countries and between population groups within countries
Adding life to years by helping people achieve, and use, their full
physical, mental, and social potential
Adding health to life by reducing disease and disability
Adding years to life by increasing life expectancy

Recent studies have shown that the Health for All aim of reducing
inequalities between groups of the population failed abysmally. In
fact, the opposite occurred.

In 1997 Frank Dobson, then Secretary of State for Health, stated,
"Inequality in health is the worst inequality of all. There is no more
serious inequality than knowing that you'll die sooner because you're
badly off."

Hazel Blears, prior to her becoming the Home Office's main police
state proponent said, "Tackling health inequalities is a top priority for
this government."

In 2001 two national targets for 2010 were announced:

To reduce the gap in infant mortality across social groups, and
To raise life expectancy in the most disadvantaged areas faster than
elsewhere.

However, new data shows increases in health inequalities in the
early years of the 21st century in the UK. Life expectancy continues
to rise in the most advantaged areas of the country at a greater pace
than in the poorest areas.

Income inequality has remained at its greatest for the last 20 years.
These record level inequalities began in the 1980s and have
continued throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. The poorest
10% in society now receive a mere 3% of the nation's total income,
whilst the richest 10% receive more than a 25%. Income inequality is
not the whole story though.

Wealth is even more unequally distributed than income. Wealth
reflects lifelong circumstances, and can include savings, and other
assets such as house ownership. Increasing inequality in wealth
began in the 1970s, and has widened particularly since 1995-6. From
1990 to 2000 the wealthiest 10% of the population increased its share
of the national wealth from 47% to 54%. The top 1 percent's share
rose from 18% in 1990 to 23% in 2000. In the ten years up to 2003,
housing wealth for the richest 10% of children increased by 20 times
more than that for the poorest 10%.

For some health outcomes there will be a delay in terms of the effect
of material circumstances. The full effects of current income
inequalities on health may not be immediately visible. Wealth
inequalities, however, reflect the accumulation of lifetime
dis/advantage. The growing inequalities in wealth hold little hope for
future trends in health inequalities, they will be transmitted to and
magnified among future generations.

(Reference: Health Inequalities and New Labour: how the promises
compare with real progress. Mary Shaw, George Davey Smith,
Danny Dorling. Published BMJ 30 April 2005)

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH COUNCIL HOUSING?
The right to buy council houses in parts of the Highlands has been
suspended to protect affordable stock. East Renfrewshire is the first
council in Scotland to be given permission to ban council house
sales, a policy that was introduced in the 1980s by Thatcher.
Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said, "There is
compelling evidence of substantial pressures on affordable housing
in the areas the council identified."
Margaret Davidson, Highland Council's housing convener, said the
move was driven by a severe shortage of affordable housing in many
areas. The right-to-buy policy in Scotland continues to drain housing
stock of about 11,000 homes a year, with over 440,000 lost in the 25
years since it was introduced.
Why the hell isn't this suspension being extended throughout the
UK?
In England, the number of families waiting for a council house has
soared by more than 50 per cent during Labour's time in power, and
now stands at 1.5million.
Only one new social housing unit is built for every five sold off under
the right-to-buy scheme, this means that the supply of council
properties for families on the waiting list is dwindling every year.
In Doncaster, the Council owns and manages 25,000 properties -
houses, bungalows and flats. Nearly half (42%) of Council tenants
are over 60 years of age and over half (53%) of tenants say they have
a long-standing illness, disability or infirmity. The Council currently
re-lets 2,700 properties a year.
Last year the Council sold off or disposed of 1,737 homes - 5.5 per
cent of its stock. 1,685 individuals or families are now classed as
homeless, three years ago the number had been just 375. The
number of people in temporary accommodation waiting to be
allocated homes has also risen while waiting times increased to as
long as five months.
There were 13,080 applicants on the waiting list (at December 2004)
compared to just 5,943 in September 2003.
And now the housing stock has been transferred to an ALMO (Arms
Length Management Organisation) after consultations and a ballot.
In November 2000, the tenants were told by Gary Allen, the Head of
Housing Services, 'Remember - the tenants of Doncaster will have
the final say in what happens to council housing in the future.
Changes to the ownership of council homes cannot happen without
the support of tenants. Where there is a proposal for any change of
ownership, Government rules require that tenants are balloted and
that there is a majority decision in favour of the proposal. It is this
ballot that will decide whether or not the Council will proceed with
that option. The Council will work closely with tenants to decide on
the best option for Doncaster, but tenants will have the final say on
which option is introduced. Whatever option is chosen the council
will ensure that tenants rights will be protected, rents will be kept
affordable and council housing will meet the standards of the 21st
century.'
In 2005, the elected Mayor, Martin Winter, said, 'you told me that
the majority of you (78%) wanted the Council to continue to own
your homes - you wanted the "stay as we are" option.'
But bugger it; he's still gone for the ALMO.
How is this supposed to help the provision of affordable housing?
After a specified period, the ALMO will be able to increase rents to
the 'economic' level. Currently this would mean a 100% increase (if
privately rented accommodation is compared with council rentals.)
The measures to privatise the housing stock, introduced by
Thatcher, and now strengthened by Blair, will only serve to further
increase homelessness and financial pressures for the working class
and shore up the profitability of the housing market for the
privileged.

Workplace Tagging
Tagging is usually something associated with prisoners serving out
their sentences. Often we are told lurid tales of the crimes being
committed by tagged people who the tabloids insist should still be
behind bars. Less publicised by the media is how tagging is
increasingly being used, not in prisons, but in the workplace.
Last year the GMB union exposed the use of arm and finger
computers, worn by staff in warehouses. Orders are beamed to the
worker, and the device calculates how long it should take them to go
from one part of their workplace to another, as well as counting
"sufficient" time for breaks and visits to the toilet. The workers
position is known at all times due to GPS technology.
Workplaces were identified in 33 towns and cities that were either
using this system, or would soon be doing so. In one (unnamed)
workplace using tagging, labour turnover was over 300% in just 12
months.
Unions do not have a good record at successfully resisting the
implementation of new technology that demeans those using it, so it
is hoped that the GMBs press release is backed up with some action.
Acting General Secretary Paul Kenny commenting "They can afford
to operate a humanised supply chain. They should do so quickly
otherwise the GMB will ensure the shelves do not get filled".

Stick Your ID Cards
Class War fully supports the campaign against ID cards. Life is
difficult enough as it is without having to produce an identity card
every time some little Hitler decided he needs to know who you are.
As with the fight against the poll tax, the best way to fight ID cards
is to do nothing. The poll tax was ended by one thing - people not
paying it.
By not buying an ID card (what sort of society is where you have to
"buy" your identity?) and ignoring all correspondence on the subject,
we have every opportunity of nobbling ID cards at an early stage. It is
time to do nothing!
You can find out more about opposing ID cards by visiting
http://www.no2id.net/

Issac Sucks
The introduction of ID cards in society is being mirrored by greater
surveillance and monitoring in the workplace. On the London
Underground this involves the introduction of ISSAC - Integrated
Site Access and Competency Compliance.
ISSAC involves a workers fingerprint or Iris being scanned, encoded
and placed with a photograph on a readable chip, onto a work ID
card. This card will also record a workers certification and hours
worked.
In summer 2005, Metronet (one of the operators of the tube) agreed
with unions that the card would not be used to clock workers hours,
or to discipline staff. Come this February however, and Metronet
adopted the exact opposite position. Cards would monitor hours and
could therefore be used in disciplinary cases. Familiar bogeymen
were also dragged out to justify ISSAC - management claimed it
would tackle abuse of employment law by illegal immigrants.
By March Metronet were up to their tricks again. Now they were
claiming that the 2006 pay increase would be linked to?.. full
co-operation with the introduction of ISSAC! Metronet are not
waiting for agreement however - attempts are already being made to
install reader devices and to butter staff up into accepting the
scheme.
ISSAC is already being opposed, and importantly not just by union
officials but by rank and file Underground workers. ISSAC's
database looks worryingly similar to the sort of capacity the state will
have if ID cards are successfully introduced, and (as another
example of Big Brother) all cars journeys are recorded.
Put simply, the government will know who you are, what you are
doing, where you have been, who you are with and where you are,
from the moment you get out of bed, to the moment you return to it.
Is that something you want?

Do You Submit?
Class War takes a critical look at the world's fastest growing
religion.

Islam: A History
Islam means 'submission'. Submission of your whole existence to
what your god decrees. It was thought up by the supporters of a
seventh century Arabian gangster in order to consolidate their
criminal organisation's hold over the region. It is followed by over a
billion people on this planet.

Muhammad was the 6th century equivalent of a travelling salesman
or lorry driver. He drove his goods caravan and camel train across
the Arabian peninsula, buying and selling cheap trinkets, dates,
nuts, spices and fancy goods. He was born on April 20, 670 AD.
Like all self-important nouveau-riche types, he embellished his
family tree to claim a direct descendance to Abraham, the founder of
the Jewish religion, of which Islam is a branch just like Christianity.
However, despite the Arabs claiming to have invented arithmetic,
Mo's followers weren't too clever at sums as his family tree goes
back 23 generations to Abraham - approximately 2,700 years,
meaning each father would have to have sired a baby boy at the age
of over 100 years. What is more plausible is that Muhammad was
from a well-to-do business-class family.

Mo was brought up by a Bedouin wet-nurse in the desert, but lost
both his parents young. He was raised by his uncle Abu Taib, a big
business mogul in Mecca. He was given his own branch of the
family business to take care of when he reached manhood. At 25 he
married his 40 year old boss and had some nippers. After she snuffed
it, he started going into caves on his own and taking drugs. He was
hallucinating all sorts of mad shit, seeing heaven and hell, going on
fanciful journeys and even talking to the angel Gabriel! It was his
ageing wife, in her late fifties, who had first called Mo a 'prophet'.
Whether she was humouring him, massaging his tender ego, or just
having a laugh is of no matter as Mo decided that he liked the idea of
being 'god's sole messenger on earth'. Her cousin was a Christian
and backed him up, probably to try and recruit him, but Mo
considered himself the prophet, not Jesus.

Mo tried persuading everyone that he was in direct contact with the
Judeo-Christian god. Most people ignored him, but gradually he
gathered together a bunch of cranks who thought he was the top
boy. Mo was frustrated by the Meccans' adherence to idolatry and
multitheism, and his group of hardcore Abrahamists were forced to
flee to the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia for refuge. Mo however
stayed in Mecca, until his family died, and his funds began to dry up.
He then had another bout of bad dreams and hallucinations, this
time involving a long journey to Jerusalem, and a discussion with
Moses, Abraham and Jesus. He believed that he was the next
prophet .

These delusions of grandeur were clearly going to his head, and
surrounded like Elvis by a gaggle of yes-men and 'friends', he cut off
all links with his family and moved to Yathrib, now called Medina.
There, he and his gang started a protection racket, whereby non
gang-members, Jews, Christians and multitheists were taxed. Mo's
Gang then became highwaymen, holding up caravans from Mecca.
This racket grew until these armed thugs constituted his own private
army. Many Meccans were murdered in cold blood by the criminals.
After one slaughter, in Badr in 624, his flunkies declared their boss
to be the son of god, or 'god father'. All Jews were now expelled
from Medina, and the remaining Medinans forced to acknowledge
Mo's rule. Mo, 52, then married his business partner and friend's
6-year old daughter, Aisha, who became the third of his 12 wives. It
is a good job the News of the World was not published in those days!

A protracted war broke out between the Medinan gang of Dirty Mo,
and the Meccan gang led by Abu Sufyan. After the Battle of the
Trench in 627, every Jewish man in the area was beheaded and the
women and children raped and enslaved. Three years later
Muhammad commanded an army of 10,000 men and forced the city
of Mecca to bow to his rule, on pain of death. He now controlled all
business in the Arabian peninsular. Mo snuffed it two years later, on
8th June 632, aged 62. Only his daughter Fatima from his first
marriage survived him, and he refused to allow a woman to take over
his gang.

A feud broke out between his son-in-law, Ali, and his adviser, Abu
Bakr as to who would succeed Mo. Ali was defeated, and his
supporters became known as the Shi'at Ali (advocates of Ali). Abu
Bakr took over Mo's empire and began waging war against the
Bedouins, Persians and the Byzantines.

Over the next two centuries, Dirty Mo's unique mix of gangsterism
and hero worship was forced upon the rest of the region - from north
Africa to India, and from Turkey to Madagascar. It grew into a
ferociously superstitious cult, where any criticism of the legacy of
Mo was considered blasphemous and punishable by death. His cult
became known as 'The Submission' or 'Islaam' - and all free will and
reason is replaced by the literal living of their lives by the Islamic
FAQ, known as the Quran, which spells out the rules and
regulations of being a proper Muhammad fan.

His followers are still divided between the Shi'ites (Ali) and the 85%
of Moslems who call themselves Sunni. There is a huge tourism
industry whereby cult members across the world visit Mecca to
throw stones at it, the Haj pilgrimage. Unfortunately this is the point
when fanatics tend to get a bit over excited, resulting in stampedes
and other disasters which have "blighted" the Haj in recent years.

All sorts of shit is banned in Muslim countries - homosexuality
(punishment - death), masturbation (amputation), communism
(death), and adultery, whereby any woman who so much as even
talks to another man may be punished.

This is the insane, sick belief system defended by liberals, and even
some socialists today. Do you submit to it?

Islamic fundamentalists please note: Any fatwas as a result of this
article should be sent to Class War, PO Box 467, London E8 3QX.

New Labour Prisons?
Class War recently corresponded with a prisoner in HMP Dartmoor,
who had some interesting insights into the changes that the UK
prison system is currently undergoing. We reprint some of his
comments below:

"I was released from here in January 1987 - so I suppose I qualify as
an old lag! Also spent time here in 1992 and 1993. In those days this
place was the dustbin of jails, used for punishment. It was the
jackboot of capitalism. Now it is unsure of itself, although there is a
totally new ethos. Most of the far right wing screws have been
sacked or left.
The catalyst for change was the death of a Bristol bloke called
Dennis Stevens, murdered by screws. Big cover up.
It is now very Blairite? spin, schemes and no substance!"

Welcome Back!
To Australian Class War supporter Stuart Highway from Northern
Territory, who recently served three months in jail. We knew Stuart
worked the authorities so hard inside they were glad to see him
leave. It is good to have you back mate!

Drugs and Justice Behind the Wire
Elsewhere in this issue we review the autobiography of former World
boxing champion Terry Marsh. In several of the interviews he has
done to promote his book, Terry has talked about his experiences in
prison - this is a typical example from an interview given to the
Metro:

"It appears to me that the only beneficiaries of the current drug
policy are the Police Federation, the Prison Officers Association, the
Law Society and the drug barons. I didn't know anything about drugs
until I went to prison. The whole thing needs a 'root and branch'
look at it. It suits the Prison Officers Association to have it like it is
because there is a guarantee that when the prisoners go out of the
prison gates, they will be back in six months. It's not really in the
interests of prison officers to have them reformed in my view.

On the issue of prison disciplinary procedures, we cannot do better
than repeat these words from the same interview

"There's no justice when it comes to disciplinary procedures for
prisoners. Screws are always right and the prisoners always wrong -
they haven't got a chance. So they come out bitter and twisted and
who can blame them if they feel alienated. They feel they are not
part of society and, if a sense of community spirit was there before, it
isn't any more. On remand, I saw how Britain treats prisoners who
are unconvicted and we have the audacity to sit in judgement of
other countries".

Prison Radio

This is an American project that aims to bring the voices of prisoners
onto the airwaves, particularly by using the Internet. The site can be
visited at www.prisonradio.org
Particularly recommended is the section of the site devoted to
speeches and interviews from jailed American activist Mumia
Abu-Jamal. Some 150,000 Mumia CDs have been sold, and
listening to on-line clips it is easy to understand why!
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