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(en) Britain, Northern Resistance - Labour Party conference and Anti-war special edition September 2006

Date Fri, 22 Sep 2006 22:03:10 +0300


In this special issue of Resistance [also available in full layout PDF version]:
* THE MIDDLE EAST – an anarchist response to war
* DRAX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE – report from the climate camp
* PARENTS, STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FIGHTING PRIVATISATION - schools in England
* ASYLUM-SEEKER VOICES MUST BE HEARD – organising against increased harassment
* STEALING OUR FREEDOM AND IDENTITY – Conservative & Labour both support ID schemes
* NORTHERN RESISTANCE: ROUND-UP – Democracy? (what Democracy)
THE MIDDLE EAST: WE HAVE MORE IN COMMON THAN IN CONFLICT
While the situation between Israel, Lebanon and Palestine escalates, the
superpowers do nothing but half-heartedly condemn all nations involved. As
anarchists, we refuse to see this as a war between nations. The real
oppressors here are the ruling classes, the ones in command of the armies,
the ones with the weapons, the ones with the mass propaganda machines that
generate enormous popular support from angry and displaced peoples,
regardless of the cause.

States and their stooges
The Israeli government and Israeli Defence Force, nothing more but a long
arm of the capitalist ruling classes of the West, coupled with the Iranian
ruling class and the Hezbollah as their proxy army, do nothing but bring
death and oppression to the working class people of the region. While the
illusion maintained is that of Olmert and the IDF bravely standing up for
the freedom of Israeli citizens, or the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah
defending the helpless Lebanese civilians from the ever-mightier invader,
the reality is that neither of these “noble” organisations help working
class people beyond what is necessary, beyond what they need for maintained
support.

Mutual aid in the war zone
While the IDF destroys whole Palestinian villages with Caterpillar
bulldozers bought from Western companies, and the Hezbollah fires
Iranian-made rockets into Israeli residential areas, the organisations who
really strive to make a difference are the grassroots ones, ones without
leaders, run by the people who need them and for the people who need them.
There is the Sanayeh Relief Centre in Beirut, which operates out of schools
and is run by volunteers, giving refugees from Southern Lebanon shelter,
food, and medical and psychological support. There is al Badil al Chououii
al Taharruri, or Libertarian Anarchist Alternative, whose analysis of the
situation is an important and valid one. In Palestine and Israel there are
the Anarchists Against the Wall, a group of Israeli, Palestinian and
international anarchists who work directly with Palestinian communities
threatened by the apartheid wall, using methods of direct action and protest
to dismantle fences that separate villages from their crops. These
organisations and more like them deserve and need our support.
Sanayeh Relief Centre: http://www.sanayehreliefcenter.blogspot.com

Al-Badil: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/inter/albadil.html

Anarchists Against the Wall: http://www.squat.net/antiwall
[Or better http://awalls.org - I.S]

DRAX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

Late August saw the establishment of a Climate Camp in the Yorkshire
countryside. The Camp consisted of workshops for people involved in
environmental issues and culminated in the blockading of the coal-fired
power station, Drax, and a nuclear power station in Hartlepool. The message
was clear: we have to find alternative, renewable and clean fuel sources
now, but the nuclear option is not acceptable. A wide-variety of different
types of people attended, from those who wanted to share ideas to angry
activists eager to make a stand against big business and government wrecking
both the planet and people’s lives.

Bolting for cover!
The Camp received a fair amount of media attention, including a smear
campaign on the part of the news agency Reuters. The agency circulated a
photograph of a violent looking ‘protester’ being arrested. In fact, it was
a farmer who had driven his tractor at a group of activists! In another
Reuters story, dozens of people were arrested for carrying concealed and
offensive weapons, when in fact these were tools to be used on the actions:
bolt croppers are for taking down fences, Reuters, not for attacking people,
and the arrests were mostly only for trespass anyway.

Doing it our way
One reason why the camp was considered so threatening, aside from its
targeting of the power stations, is perhaps that it demonstrated that 600
people can establish a sustainable living space and organise themselves in
effective action on non-hierarchical lines. The camp consisted of
‘neighbourhoods’ as centres for decision making. Each day issues affecting
the whole camp would be discussed (for example, should cops be let on site
and under what circumstances, which occupied rather more of the business of
the meetings than some would have liked). Two delegates were then chosen by
each neighbourhood to take its opinion to a larger meeting of delegates, who
would discuss the matter further and decide what to do.
The open nature of the decision making made it easy to feel involved in the
camp. Although much advance planning had obviously taken place (the site
squatted and made habitable, and the possible focus of demonstrations
explored, for example) new-comers were not excluded from contributing. The
decision making suited the nature of the camp. Large numbers of people
needed to make rapid decisions but over a relatively short period of time.
As such it avoided unnecessary bureaucratic inertia. It demonstrates one of
the ways forward in organising non-hierarchically in campaigning and in
action on other issues relevant to working class people.
For more information visit: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/actions/2006/climatecamp

PARENTS, STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FIGHTING PRIVATISATION

The Labour Party aims to produce a sausage factory out of education. Their
aims are totally confused. They want to privatise, cheapen and both decrease
and increase racial divisions! Anarchists want a completely different way of
learning. We should be able to choose when and how we learn and with who. In
the meantime, however, we have to fight their lunatic schemes.

Privatisation and academies
Hundreds of schools are falling down. Built cheaply in the 60s and 70s they
are not fit places to teach or learn. The state claims it cannot afford to
rebuild them all (though it can afford more nuclear submarines and
warplanes!). They want business to build the schools and then for Local
Authorities to rent them back. This amounts to us all taking out mortgages
on the new schools. The builders make a fortune from our council tax bills.
Their other scheme is to introduce “Academies”. The name sounds great. The
reality is loads of state money poured in (from our taxes) and schools then
run by private businesses. A load of the current ones are run by religious
fundamentalists (of the Christian sort) who deny evolution and teach kids
that everything was created by god exactly as it is today. These schools
sound marvellous, but the reality for teachers and other staff are longer
hours, smaller rooms, no staff rooms and worsened wages and holidays.

Faith Schools
It’s bad enough that Christian schools exist. They separate out kids by
religion. In towns like Oldham white parents send their children to the two
Church of England Schools. There they meet no Muslims at all. This fosters
racism. Labour’s solution is to encourage Muslim parents to set up their own
faith schools. This will deepen the divide and worsen the existing racism.
All faith schools should be closed.

Cheaper Education
Labour has tried two tacks here. Firstly bringing in unqualified staff –
Teaching Assistants (TAs) to teach kids. This has made many “expensive”
teachers find it impossible to get work. Next they’ve tried to cut wages –
changing the extra allowances teachers get. This has led to widespread
resistance and strikes across the country. So far the state is losing this
battle.
All these plans divide education workers against each other. Teachers
against TAs, academy against state. It aims to break down the national pay
scales. As education workers we need to fight back together to ensure
everyone is on a decent wage and that the young people we look after are
treated fairly. We are trying to build a national network of all who are
involved in education, whether working or studying – teachers, students,
office staff, TAs, cooks, cleaners.

If you want to know more, contact: education@afed.org.uk


ASYLUM-SEEKER VOICES MUST BE HEARD

The situation faced by Asylum-Seekers (AS) in the UK alone is enough to make
you realise we live in an insane, inhuman society. Many face further
harassment under new Home Office strategies, some of which apparently make
no sense. For example, AS in Oxford now have to travel to report in
London!!! In the East Midlands, a centralised HO reporting centre has been
set up in the small town of Loughbrough, almost twenty miles from the towns
of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, where most AS are placed. The new centre
is like Fort Knox. Its barred windows and security checkpoints make it clear
that if they don’t want you to get out, you won’t. AS from Nottingham have
been told to attend but little information has been given about how to get
to Loughborough, when the switch would be made, whether travel expenses
would be paid, or how to get further information. One of the first people to
be transferred to the new office was told to sign on the fifth of every
month! What if it’s a weekend? Who would invent such a system except an
idiot; or a sadist trying to prevent someone having any identity except one
of degrading dependency on the system.

Fighting back
But AS and their supporters are not taking this lying down. In Glasgow a
meeting of 200 hundred established UNITY: Scottish Asylum Seekers Union. It
already has an advice shop opposite the Glasgow Home Office! Campaigning is
being done there on issues such as a right to employment. They are being
supported in this by anarchists and other activists on the non-authoritarian
left. On Merseyside another self-initiative ‘Voice of Asylum Seekers’
(Liverpool), has been formed. They recently organised a series of
demonstrations, leaflets and a workshop in conjunction with the Student
Action for Refugees. The initial response in Nottingham to the Loughborough
problem was the understandable suggestion to refuse to report to the new
centre. But such defiance is difficult if you are entirely dependent on the
state for what little you have, which they will take away from you if you
don’t report. An effective response is still being sought, but in the
short-term media coverage has been effective, and a street protest meeting
took place on September 9th , where asylum seekers were supported by the
host community.


Don’t let houses rot…
There are plenty of other ways activists are supporting A-Ss. In several
towns, for example, the squatting scene involves anarchists and other good
activists in the host community working alongside people to whom the state
has refused asylum and therefore housing. Together they share a common need
– a roof over their heads – and mutual aid is the result. This sort of
solidarity helps undermine the hold that Christian do-gooders and political
parties have over support organisations. Vulnerable people should not be
offered help in implicit exchange for ideological compliance and good
conduct. The Revolutionary Communist Group in particular has been guilty of
supporting AS rather then others according to who will lend them legitimacy,
from Viraj Mendis in the 1980s onwards. What power do A-Ss, individually or
collectively, really have in this sort of set up?

…and don’t let civil servants dish it out
Given the few avenues for resistance that asylum seekers have, civil
servants administering this degrading system should not be exempt from
criticism by AS and activists supporting them. Workers may not devise the
strategies above, but they needn’t implement them with the relish they
sometimes do. OK, so people have to have a job, and most jobs compromise our
integrity. But particularly cruel attacks on people’s dignity need to be
challenged.
Responses to attacks on AS should be the initiative of the people affected
working together, as the above actions have been, calling on activists for
support and advice about local situation but not falling under their
control. Together we can demonstrate that AS have support within the host
community, not just within politically or morally manipulative sections of
it, in order for the state to see our united activity as a force to be
reckoned with.


STEALING OUR FREEDOM AND IDENTITY

Just over a decade ago, the Conservative Party very nearly gave us ID cards
when Michael Howard was Home Secretary under John Major’s government. But
they ran out of time and Labour won the 1997 election. Tony Blair now says
that ID cards will be a "major plank" of Labour's next election manifesto
and this will apparently be opposed by the Tories as well as the LibDems.
It's clear that both main parties have a history of repression when in
power, whatever they say in opposition. This makes it all the more annoying
that No2ID, the so-called ‘non-partisan’ campaign against ID cards, seem to
want to convince us that the Tories have changed and will scrap it if they
win the next election. Don’t believe a word of it – anything we hear from
now on will be electioneering rubbish. Conservative MP Anne Widdecome voted
in favour of Labour's identity scheme on many occasions. On the other hand
Labour politicians like Frank Field strongly supported ID even when the
Tories were in power, when we were led to believe New Labour policy was
against. This is the same Merseyside MP who stamped on the unemployed by
supporting Tory work-for-dole schemes which carried over into the Job
Seeker’s Allowance, and is now very vocal about keeping migrant workers out
of Britain.
Also, if we go back to 1995 we see that the reasons why the Conservatives
wanted ID cards then - crime, fraud, illegal immigration - are all part of
Labour’s justifications for ID except they have now added terrorism &
security. As the human rights organisation Liberty said at the time, "They
are not backed up by research or evidence from other countries, but are
myths masquerading as arguments." This is exactly what anarchists are saying
now about the 'terror threat' whereas Liberty, now a supporter of No2ID,
have moved their arguments to saying ID cards 'won't work', which is not at
all the same as saying these justifications are a complete sham.
There are some other differences from eleven years ago. Labour is most keen
on using an ID system to help 'modernise’ the welfare state.So they are
prepared to spend billions of pounds on tracking our every move, whereas
Tories are traditionally more into direct cuts. Cash handouts to private
companies and consultants all add to the overall cost, as do the biometrics
(fingerprinting and eye-scanning) equipment they intend to use. Britain has
led the call for high-tech passport and identity schemes across Europe. The
Home Office admits it spent £46 million on its ID project between May 2003
and May 2006, most of it before the ID Cards Bill was passed in March! As
well as using databases to help control spending on public services, Labour
no doubt sees contracts for British telecoms and security industries as a
boost to the economy, one that we will all pay for of course, both in our
pockets and by our loss of freedom.
The second edition of the AF's free pamphlet, Defending Anonymity, is
available online at http://www.afed.org.uk, and from our usual address (please send
Stamped Addressed Envelope).


NORTHERN RESISTANCE: ROUND-UP

It isn’t hard to see that democracy is a sham when we look at the sorts of
issues raised in this issue of Northern Resistance. It is a political system
established to con us that we have a say in how society is run. The Labour
Party came to power because most of the ever-decreasing number of people who
see any point in voting, voted for it. But they didn’t vote for war and
indifference to human suffering, privatisation, nuclear power, ID data bases
etc. Labour just decided that these things were best for us. It has taken
our power and told us not to worry, because Tony knows what is best. Does
this authoritarian approach make our ‘democracy’ any better than those of
more obviously corrupt regimes where leaders swindle their way to power more
openly?
But the root causes of most of the struggles going on today are not just
down to this government but to the activity of past government, for example
in colonialism, support for rampant capitalism, in legislation that
restricts our right to protest, the relationship with the US government and
with Zionist Israel. We might say that these things are just past abuses of
democracy, and that democracy shouldn’t make these mistakes again. But when
you think about it, was there EVER a golden age when democracy DID bring
freedom and equality? Is there a country now where they exist? So, do we
really think regime change in the UK will bring us closer to a better world?
Can we win a better world by voting someone else into power? No, we can only
win it through struggling for something beyond the crumbs democracy throws
us.
The struggles highlighted in this Resistance are amongst those in which
Anarchists find hope that together we can make a better world. It is in the
process of struggle that Anarchism makes most sense. When we struggle
outside of the control of political parties, including the authoritarian
left, and of state approved or religious organisations, we do so as
individuals in voluntary association, with accountability to each other and
to our communities, creating a Culture of Resistance. In this Culture of
Resistance we can find the seeds of meaningful social change. This society
trains us to be in competition with each other socially and economically and
to be afraid of each other. The Culture of Resistance means linking up
struggles and movements which challenge and undermine the current social
order. The struggle against inequalities and the loss of individual freedom
lies at the heart of such struggles. Through them we can envisage a future
without the need for bosses, politicians, self-appointed community ‘leaders’
and manipulative self-serving Leftism.
We have all come on this demonstration to show the Labour Party that we are
sickened by its actions in a number of different areas. On a demo we gain
strength from knowing that thousands of other people feel the same. We come
to share our ideas and hear the ideas of others engaged in struggle. But no
one really believes this demonstration will change anything, do they? It’s
going to take more than this, but it’ll be worth it. We have a world of
freedom, equality and mutual aid to win! So let’s get started…


THE ANARCHIST FEDERATION

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.

If you’re interesting in joining, contact us at:

Anarchist Federation,
BM ANARFED,
London, WC1N 3XX.
Email: info@afed.org.uk
Also visit: http://www.afed.org.uk

and http://www.iaf-ifa.org

Subscriptions to resistance costs £4 from the address above for 12 issues. A
two issue subscription to our magazine, Organise! for revolutionary
anarchism, is also £4. You can subscribe to resistance by email for free
via the website above.
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