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(en) Britain, North-East Anarchists newslatter #5

Date Thu, 19 Jun 2014 18:49:46 +0300


The Fifth Edition Special That Tony Benn Died While Waiting For! ---- Nevermind The Ballots ---- Like us, you’ve probably been bored rigid with the recent fuss in the media over the local and European election results. This was apparently “an earthquake”: a bunch of bigots and clowns winning a quarter of the vote with only a third of the electorate bothering to turn out, while standing on a raft of the same shit right-wing policies that got us in this mess in the first place. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? All the election really told us was that large numbers of adults in Britain either have a taste for sado-masochism, or know nothing about politics. Maybe both. ---- Anarchists have a longstanding opposition to electoral politics. Partly it’s a matter of principle, and partly it’s the result of long, bitter experience.

We’ve seen too many liars
and sell-outs to trust any
of the bastards, and have
paid enough attention to
recognise that the problem isn’t
so much with the individuals in-
volved as with the nature of the
system itself.

First of all, because we take de-
mocracy and equality seriously,
anarchists oppose representative
government. Real power must be
held and exercised by the people
themselves, not by some tiny elite
supposedly acting on our behalf.
Anarchism is aimed at destroying
hierarchy, the class system and
the concentrations of wealth,
power and privilege that go with
it. Representative government
is a class system all on it’s own,
dividing people between rulers
and ruled, those with power and
those without. It’s all very well
saying politicians are account-
able to voters, but that “ultimate
power” we supposedly hold is in
fact toothless. We can’t recall
MPs, we can’t demand new elec-
tions and we certainly can’t de-
cide policy. All that voting does is
give a veneer of legitimacy to our
oppressors.

There are other issues too. One
major one is the “First-Past-The-
Post” system that hands power
to one party to the exclusion of
everyone else, turning politics
into a competition. It means
that vast swathes of po-
litical activity are diverted
away from developing ideas
to solve real social and eco-
nomic problems to instead
developing plans to win elec-
tions. Political strategy is re-
duced to figuring out how to
“say the right things” to gain
support while smearing and
undermining any opponents.
Success in politics has noth-
ing to do with principles or
good policy ideas. It is sim-
ply about convincing enough
people to vote for you. Be-
cause there is always anoth-
er election on the horizon,
this encourages a political
culture in which policy is re-
duced to mere expediency.
Principles and integrity be-
come liabilities and unscrupulous
liars become an asset. Politics is
one of those fields where there
is an advantage in being an ac-
tual psychopath. That in itself
is reason enough to uphold the
anarchist principle of “no govern-
ment”. Why give an axe to a ma-
niac? Why give power to a politi-
cian?

A further problem is with the me-
dia and the role it plays in mass
politics. Quite simply, it is owned
and controlled by rich capital-
ists who have a vested interest in
promoting certain ideas and sup-
pressing others. In practice, this
means only a very narrow range
of political opinions are allowed
any coverage in “public debates”.
Anti-capitalist ideas are never giv-
en a fair hearing and are routinely
distorted or ignored. You can see
how narrow “acceptable” politi-
cal opinion is when liberals are
thought of as left-wing and the
Tory press keep referring to “Red
Ed” Miliband, despite his gutless
acceptance of the Tories’ agenda
and repeated efforts to knee-cap
the trade unions. The mainstream
of British politics has become like
America, stretching from right-
wing to far-right-wing.

Even state-owned media like the
BBC, which is supposedly a public
service, has a part to play in up-
holding capitalist ideology, large-
ly by omission. A politically par-
tisan state-owned media outlet is
obviously a terrible idea, but an
ostensibly neutral one is really no
better as any time it contradicts
the narratives of the privately
owned press, it gets attacked and
accused of being biased, and it
can’t really respond to these at-
tacks without seeming to take
sides. As a result, it tends to stick
within the bounds of a narrow
range of opinions and assump-
tions, unable to tell the truth ob-
jectively and merely reduced to
trying to reflect the status quo.

So how is a mass democracy sup-
posed to function without access
to accurate and reliable informa-
tion? Of course, there’s a network
of blogs and small press that try
to redress the balance, but with-
out the resources of the big capi-
talist press, what chance do we
have of being heard? Hence, the
tendency is for socialist ideas and
perspectives to be sidelined. So
why participate in the electoral
process when we know fine-well
it’s rigged against us?

The third major problem is the
fact of the class system and the
conflicting interests it throws up.
The nation-state and the entire
political system is built on the as-
sumption that society is a unified
body, that we’re all fundamen-
tally on the same side. Of course,
it’s not and we aren’t. Consider
virtually any political issue facing
the working class and it becomes
apparent that the root problem
is the existence of a rich ruling
class. Unemployment? That’s the
bosses maximising profit margins
by cutting jobs, reducing hours,
out-sourcing and minimising in-
vestment. Housing costs? That’s
the virtual monopoly on land-
ownership by a tiny elite creating
artificially high prices for hous-
es, along with parasitic interest
charges by banks. Public service
cuts? That’s global corporations
using tax-havens to dodge paying
tens of billions of pounds of tax
every year. On it goes. Somehow,
government is supposed to repre-
sent the interests of all sections
of society. In a capitalist society,
that is plainly impossible as those
interests are opposed to each
other.

Of course, if there were a govern-
ment that genuinely wanted to
protect the interests of the work-
ing class majority, they’d have to
tackle the privileges of the rich.
In fact, they’d have to eradi-
cate them, one way or another.
The fact is, wealth is a form of
power and it is one which is com-
pletely outside of the control of
the democratic structures as they
presently exist. So long as private
property exists, democracy is
more or less a sham.

Vote For Anarchy?

Despite misgivings about elector-
alism, anarchists have occasion-
ally stood in elections. Pierre-
Joseph Proudhon was elected to
the Constituent Assembly in Paris
following the Revolution of 1848,
though he quickly concluded that
it was useless and stood down.

In Spain in the 1930s a breakaway
faction of the anarcho-syndicalist
union, CNT-FAI, formed the Syn-
dicalist Party and stood unsuc-
cessfully in elections. A few years
later, during the civil war, several
leading anarchist militants joined
the Republican government in
ministerial positions. The ration-
ale for this was the need for “an-
ti-fascist unity”, but in reality, it
simply resulted in the CNT-FAI be-
ing co-opted by the state, allow-
ing the Communist Party to take
control, suppress the worker’s mi-
litias, destroy the revolution and
ultimately lose the war.

Now Class War, the legendary
agitators of the 1980s and early
90s, have registered as a political
party and will be standing in next
year’s general election. The aim
is basically a propaganda stunt to
try and force radical class politics
onto the agenda, rather than a
serious attempt to get elected.
To date, there is one candidate
in the North-East – a comrade
involved with Teesside Solidarity
Movement – along with numerous
others around the country, stand-
ing against high-profile political
figures. Whether or not they’re
able to kick up enough of a fuss to
be noticed by the press remains
to be seen, but plainly something
must be done to halt this Thatch-
erite nightmare.

Anti-Fascist Update

Bit of a mixed bag o’ news to re-
port on the anti-fascist front. One
the one hand, it is becoming clear
that the EDL is dying on it’s arse.
Their recent mobilisations have
barely pulled a couple of hundred
of die-hard drunken idiots out of
the pubs and into police kettles,
while step by step, the Anti-
Fascist Network (AFN) is gradu-
ally improving in co-ordination
and organisation. Although
last year two mass arrests of
AFN blocs (59 at Westmin-
ster and 286 at Tower Hamlets)
threatened the militant antifa, the small
handful of those who were actually
charged have all been acquitted.
The vast majority weren’t even
charged and many are now suing
the police for wrongful arrest.

Indeed, despite the restrictive
bail conditions imposed with
those arrests, the AFN has scored
some notable successes around
the country since then in Bristol,
Slough, London (against Hungar-
ian nazis Jobbik), Brighton, Swan-
sea, Rotherham (where more than
20 EDL attacked a small group of
antifa and somehow came off
worse), Portsmouth and Colches-
ter.

In the North-East though, there
is not much sign of improvement.
Although North-East Anti-Fascists
(NEAF) managed to disrupt an NE
Infidels march in Hartlepool by
occupying their rally spot, other
demos at Shotton, South Shields,
Sunderland and Newcastle can
hardly be described as success-
es, largely due to heavy policing
and erratic support from the rest
of the Left. Even so, the fascists
aren’t exactly thriving them-
selves, with splits taking their
toll on their numbers. It’s tell-
ing that the most recent demo in
Newcastle on May 17th, the EDL
barely managed 200 – a tenth of
what they’d had a year earlier in
the immediate aftermath of Lee
Rigby’s murder.

Still, NEAF are continuing to grad-
ually build a network of activists
in the region and have begun es-
tablishing a regular presence at
gigs and have held successful ben-
efit gigs, notably in Boro in con-
junction with Teesside Solidarity
Movement.

Speaking of gigs, NEAF were also
in attendance at the 0161 Festi-
val in Manchester – a three-day
anti-fascist benefit extravaganza
in May, which featured sets by NE
punk legends Angelic Upstarts and
Red Alert.

Back on the national scene, one
worrying development has been
the growth of Britain First, a nazi
group founded by ex-BNP mem-
bers. They’ve grown quite spec-
tacularly on Facebook with a
strategy of pushing absurd Daily
Mail style stories in meme-for-
mat, and it is evident that quite
few of the people sharing their
stuff don’t realise the group’s
real politics. These politics have
been demonstrated recently by
their members donning matching
logo’d jackets and flat-caps and
marching into mosques, accusing
people of being paedophiles and
generally trying to provoke a vio-
lent response from Muslims. (In-
deed, late in May, they got exact-
ly that response when a group of
them in Brick Lane in the East End
of London got a kicking off the
locals.) As an organising strategy
goes, it’s not exactly original. In
fact it is precisely what Oswald
Mosley and the British Union of
Fascists tried to do in the 1930s,
and what the NF did in the 1970s.

There are two upcoming anti-
fascist mobilisations in the re-
gion: first of all in Middlesbrough
on June 28th and then in Berwick
on July 19th. Get along to them
and help smash the fash!

www.facebook.com/NorthEast.
AntiFascists

------------------------------

To Hell With Bread And Circuses!

Well, the desperate nationalist
wank-fest / capitalist feeding
frenzy known as the World Cup is
almost on us again. A month-long
orgy of flag-waving and official
merchandising-gone-mad; the
classic “bread and circuses” dis-
traction. The Tory scum are wag-
ing a blatant class war against us,
but nevermind that: we can drape
a St George’s cross over it and pre-
tend we’re all on the same side
really... at least until England are
knocked out in the quarter-finals.


Malignant as the World Cup is here,
the havoc it is wreaking in Brazil
is incredible. Brazil is a deeply un-
equal country, with huge numbers
of people living in grinding pov-
erty in slums, often with no run-
ning water or electricity. In 2011
a program to build a million af-
fordable homes was scrapped due
to it running over budget, yet the
Brazilian government has already
spent $7 billion on the World Cup,
and there are predictions the cost
could run as high as $11 billion.
People are understandably pissed
off and have been taking to the
streets to protest: 20,000 people
marched in São Paulo on May 22nd
in a demo called by the Home-
less Workers Movement.

The state’s response to pro-
tests has been to apply anti-
terrorism laws and send in
riot-cops to attack. May 28th
saw teachers and municipal
workers on strike over pay
and conditions being beaten
and tear-gassed by riot cops.
Protests by Brazil’s indigenous

people over illegal seizure
of their lands by state-
backed developers ahead of
the 2016 Summer Olympics
were also attacked.

More chilling still are the
events in the favelas – the
huge shantytowns, like Maré
in Rio de Janeiro where militarised
police have been sent in to evict
families at gun-point to make way
for car-parks and other event in-
frastructure. Curfews have been
declared, warrants for mass ar-
rests granted and the UPP (Police
Pacifying Unit) have operated a
shoot-first-ask-questions-later
policy which has resulted in the
deaths of at least 55 civilians.

These massive “prestige” events
like the World Cup and the Olym-
pics have little to do with sport.

They are political vanity projects
which highlight the difference be-
tween the interests of the state
and the interests of the people.

They are opportunities for rich
vultures to seize land and fat con-
tracts for developments which
will benefit no-one but the rich.
Certainly not the poor who are
forced out of their homes and
left sleeping in the streets. It is
shameful that so many people’s
lives are being destroyed for the
sake of the comfort and conven-
ience of tourists and the glossy
fantasies of the corporate spon-
sors.

These outrages can occur be-
cause people buy into the World
Cup hype. That’s what makes
this whole sick circus so profit-
able. The obvious way to show
solidarity with the victims of
FIFA is to boycott the World
Cup. Don’t watch the games.
Don’t buy the merchandise.
Stop pumping money into this
monstrous machine. Whatev-
er Bill Shankly said, no game
is important enough to justify
our brothers and sisters being
shot dead in the street by fas-
cist pigs.
_________________________________________
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