Some useful points from the IWCA

We know full well that the govt. will deliberately squeeze resources to stoke racism and its propaganda wing the BBC will do everything possible to reassure wavering xenophobes that it’s perfectly natural to be scared of foreigners.  Alongside welcoming the victims of the neoliberal wars we must all be fighting austerity on the ground. We must make allies of these people not rivals. The refugee crisis and the pathetic squabbling over responsibility for their well-being has made a nonsense of the concept of nation-state.

Originally posted on  The Heckler

Given that refugees from Syria are due to start arriving in the UK in the next few days as part of the government’s pledge to accept 20,000 over the next five years – Syrian refugees in new scheme ‘to arrive in UK soon’ – May
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34268604 – we thought it would be useful to re-visit the manifesto of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) to see what they had to say about the issue of accommodating refugees. Here it is:

Asylum seekers & immigration

As with official anti-racism, immigration and asylum policy can prove similarly divisive. As a rule political refugees are housed in the most under-funded areas which are duly expected to share out already meager resources with the new arrivals. Across the country, the government is shown to have repeatedly short-changed councils to whom refugees are allocated. The interests, concerns and sensitivities of local communities are also routinely dismissed. Unsurprisingly this can be a source of suspicion, tension and resentment.

The IWCA will fight for:

The allocation of political refugees to areas that can most easily accommodate them.

Consultation with local communities regarding new arrivals.

Appropriate financial compensation from government to local authorities.

Additional government grants to facilitate integration.

Extra housing provision to take account of any extra demands on housing stock.

The safeguarding of tenants’ positions on existing housing lists.

The right to work or study for political refugees while their claims for citizenship are being processed.

The rest of the IWCA manifesto can be seen here – http://www.iwca.info/?page_id=1410 Trust us, it’s well worth reading…

All pretty reasonable as far as we’re concerned. However, we have to bear in mind this was written over ten years ago and we are now in the midst of some heavy duty austerity. Which means that any areas due to accept refugees will have to fight tooth and nail to ensure funding is in place and that they’re not expected to cut into their existing budgets to fulfil their obligations.

We know it’s inevitable that refugees will be parked on the worst estates in ‘hard to let’ properties with minimal support to help them settle and integrate. That is going to cause problems, there’s no point in denying it. What will exacerbate the situation is when residents contact the council with worries about the impact of refugees being parked on their estate with minimal support and find their concerns are dismissed by the council as ‘racism’. There are no prizes for guessing which political tendency is going to benefit from the resentment at having concerns about the impact of refugees dismissed out of hand.

Having a sensible discussion in some left wing and anarchist circles about the impact of settling refugees in areas already under considerable social and economic stress as a result of austerity and a stagnating economy is proving to be difficult. Lisa McKenzie is finding this out to her cost after having written this piece for the Guardian – The refugee crisis will hit the UK’s working class areas hardest http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/16/refugee-crisis-hit-uk-working-class-powerless

All Lisa has done is to point out the bleeding obvious that settling refugees in areas suffering social and economic stress is going to cause problems if financial and other forms of support are not provided and there’s no consultation with the host community. Dismissing legitimate concerns such as this as ‘racist’ and sweeping them under the carpet as some people in left wing and anarchist circles are trying to do is making a potentially difficult situation for stressed working class neighbourhoods even worse.

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Red And Black telly: Corbs neglects to to sing “God Save the Queen”

There will be no unpaid workers at the Co-op!

Posted on Industrial Workers of the World Dorset

end-unpaid-work_0Dorset IWW General Members’ Branch is pleased to announce that our dispute with a Bournemouth outlet of the Co-operative has been settled amicably. We have a verbal assurance from local management who are USDAW members, that they have no wish to exploit unpaid workers on their premises, and that their connection with ‘Prospects’ has been severed. We congratulate them on their principled decision and affirm our commitment to defeat the government’s work programme and end unpaid labour.

Nationally however, the situation is less clear; we have had sight of a Co-op internal document that sets out the parameters of their unpaid work experience programme. Whilst it insists that placements must be voluntary and offer meaningful experience, we note that vulnerable adults are being conscripted who may not be fully aware of their rights. It’s highly likely some of them will not be able to make an informed decision and/or will get browbeaten by jobcentre staff with targets to meet. Once they are on the scheme if they leave they may be deemed to have made themselves intentionally unemployed, and be sanctioned. Lastly of course, however you dress it up, it’s unpaid labour. How long does it take to assess a person’s suitability for working in a grocer’s shop? A week, two? Why then should a national chain not speculate a fortnight’s minimum wage to find out?

coop

Red And Black telly: INSTANT REACTION TO THE CORONATION OF KING CORBS!

Good migrant/Bad migrant? By Mal Content.

That loyal mouthpiece of the establishment the BBC has taken to calling the migrant populations languishing in camps and at border posts “refugees and economic migrants”. In any halfway sympathetic pronouncement from the beleaguered political class, all complicit in smashing the infrastructure of five countries, the word refugee is usually prefaced with genuine. Somewhere in the fevered popular imagination lurks the spectre of the economic migrant, a worker from a less affluent country prepared to risk life and limb to reach the UK so they can drive a minicab or deliver pizza, or worse still, eke out a meagre living under the D.W.P.’s brutal benefits regime, or perhaps wait years for an operation on the NHS. Just how desperate would you have to be? Poverty is the worst form of violence, Ghandi once claimed, though I doubt he was the first to articulate that simple truth. Why then is it so despicable to flee this particular form? Swerve bullets and bombs all you like but hunger and disease must simply be endured. The reason is obvious, how else could you accept an economic regime that has a mere eighty individuals, sitting like a boil on the arse of humanity, wielding the same purchasing power as the poorest three and a half billion?

Never mind that if all British citizens living overseas returned, and all non-Britons left, there would be 1.3 million more people on the island, and we would have traded productive workers for retired bankers and bent car dealers. We learn nothing by evaluating these matters in terms of capitalist economics. There is no shortage of anything here, with a million empty homes and fifteen million tons of food thrown away annually. If the borders were torn down and resources allocated according to need, it would just show the politicians have been talking bollocks all along. Pidgin economics are a smokescreen for racism, on which the ruling class relies as much as it ever did to keep us in our separate little boxes. Working class radicals have no use for borders; we recognise they serve only the bosses, maintaining differentials in prices and wages that allow them to increase their mark-up.

So how’s this for economic migration? In 2002, capitalist James Dyson laid off five hundred and sixty workers in Wiltshire and moved his vacuum cleaner factory to Malaysia where he can hire people for £3 per hour. Well if we all work for that rate who’s going to buy his fucking vacuum cleaners at 300 quid a pop? Dyson had free school milk, free healthcare and a grant to further education, all provided by the working class. Developing the product, he was supported by his wife’s salary as an art teacher – try doing that in Malaysia! No liberal economist would oppose the free movement of capital, but if you decline to work for three quid an hour and move from Malaysia to Wiltshire expect to be pilloried for it. The economist knows that globalisation of capital requires globalisation of labour, but the bourgeoisie does not want free movement of labour; they must be able to control it through their tame politicians. Super-exploited groups are used to drive down wages and conditions at the bottom. As a bonus, this creates resentment and division in our class, diverting the blame for economic hardship away from the bosses. So-called ‘quality immigration’ of skilled personnel is nothing but a shameless pillage of the education systems of the poorest countries. The I.T. engineer from Mumbai and the doctor from Manila owe their expertise to the working class of those communities, without whom they would never have reached adulthood, let alone qualified.

“They’re taking our jobs” well they’re fucking welcome to mine; I’d gladly share it with them and have more time for something universally beneficial. Cash-rich corporations are reluctant to employ anyone in the dwindling range of increasingly futile tasks unless they will work for JSA or come heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. It’s hardly surprising; technology makes production ever less labour-intensive so profits – which only come from unpaid labour – fall. As the cost of living, especially accommodation, rises, so does the cost of maintaining the labouring capacity of the worker, and only once this cost has been met, by the capitalist or the state, does the remaining portion of their working day generate profit for the capitalist. So the bourgeoisie are happier investing their ill-gotten in something like Trident, that doesn’t have to compete in the marketplace. The decision to purchase will be made by wealthy politicians and the cost will be borne by taxpayers, the overwhelming bulk of whom will be working class. Any new technology developed on its budget will belong to the corporations, protected by patents. The politicians will subsequently take on directorships. Is it merely coincidence that the first public admission of the use of a British drone for extra-judicial execution coincides with the opening of the biennial DSEI arms fair in London?

Western capitalism was founded on primitive accumulation, the economist’s euphemism for armed robbery: the pillage of Latin America and the Indian sub-continent, the enclosure of indigenous lands, the transatlantic slave trade and a bit of opium-running. For four hundred years, the British Empire did precisely what Islamic state/daesh is doing now, only without the internet. Its state terrorism only ceased when its colonies achieved independence. During the 1950’s Britain maintained its rule in Kenya with concentration camps, summary execution, rape, torture and mutilation.

The Middle Eastern insurgent movements of my youth were aggressively secular and vaguely Marxist-Leninist in character. ‘Political Islam’ in its mediaevalist Wahabi form, was a tiny insignificant sect. This changed with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; the fundamentalists were cultivated, both by Western capitalism, and its proxy, the Saudi ruling dynasty, who feared the loss of their privileged position as feudal proprietors. On the other hand, Baathist Iraq, in all its secular post-Stalinist despotism, was equally courted to oppose the regime in Iran that emerged from the popular revolution against the one the West installed to replace Mohammad Mosaddeq after he nationalised Anglo-Iranian oil (now BP). Iraq had a million men under arms at the end of that war, the fifth largest standing army in the world. Following the Western invasion they were given a month’s pay and sent home. That, plus Iraqi Sunnis interned during the occupation is now daesh in Syria. In 1930’s Spain a similar totalitarian theocracy was born when British duplicity and incompetence allowed General Franco to opportunistically unite his reactionary officer corps with the fascist Falange party, religious fanatics, greedy landowners and a venal clergy.

Why all the history? Because it’s still being made! These fools brought chaos to the Middle East and terrorism to New York and London; they will deliver us World War Three if we let them.

Nevertheless the politicians have been left in the dust by the popular reaction to events. Without waiting to be asked, working class people have organised to gather and deliver aid to the camps or drive refugees illegally into Europe. Some of the most intrepid have volunteered for the militia of autonomous Rojava at the front line against daesh and their Turkish ally. Back home in our towns and villages, we attack thieving bosses and slum landlords, resist gentrification and austerity, foil workfare, eviction and deportation, and one by one, hound the fascists from our community. Our deeply divided society is steaming purposefully in two opposite directions; the one towards a life based on mutual aid and solidarity; the other perpetuating selfishness, greed, commodity fetishism and alienated wage labour. When the two meet again it will be for a fight to the finish. It’s time to choose your future and pick your side.

There’s a woman on the telly in a million pound hat talking about a welfare cap.

The Future

Posted on: Amila Bosnae.

***Note for my email subscribers: It seems that WordPress doesn’t handle embedded links and media correctly when it generates emails from my posts, so make sure you visit the blog itself to see all of them. Thanks.***

I’ve collected some more encouraging links since last weekend’s ‘Some faith in humanity restored‘ post. The latest one just this morning, when I saw a Facebook friend had shared this link, which itself is a compilation of stories about the solidarity between people, with the simple caption: ‘The future’.

‘Ordinary citizens across Europe are stepping in to help refugees where their governments have failed’, the article headline reads, and boy, have they failed. Except maybe the German one, who is currently accepting Syrian refugees without forcing them out via the Dublin Regulation. All the others seem eons behind. Some still hope they will eventually catch up though:

Here’s a photo posted by a friend from the BH Protest Files, taken in Toronto:

Next Saturday (12th September), solidarity demos are announced in London, Dover (which is where refugees from Calais touch ground) and Sarajevo, the last one by another friend from the Protest Files.

Speaking of Calais, that Facebook group I mentioned last time now has more than 21,000 members and is a complete flurry of activity. London24 and the Guardian have published guides and tips on how you can help, and then there’s this sweet video about people from Portsmouth taking direct action. 🙂

CalAid volunteers collected tents and sleeping bags after Redding Festival to take to Calais:

And here’s another lovely video from Germany: citizens welcoming refugees in Munich.

From Denmark, there are a few stories to share. About five minutes after I had published my last post, a friend wrote on Facebook how she had been moved to tears at a collection point for aid to the Greek island of Lesbos. There had been collection points all over the country, and the turn-out had been overwhelming. Apart from diapers, clothes and sleeping bags, around 200,000 DKK (nearly £18,000 / $30,000 / €27,000) were collected, in just two days, from what I can tell. They’re still sorting and packing some of the donations.

After a refugee centre in Denmark was vandalised last week—a mini van set on fire and a swastika and the words ‘first warning’ and ‘DNSB’ (acronym for a nazi movement) painted on the walls—a couple of thousand citizens showed up at a solidarity demo. Among them a number of vicars in clerical clothing, as they didn’t just want to attend as individuals, but also give the church a voice in the matter.

There’s a short video clip of the event here (Danish website). Around the 1:00 minute mark, my friend Bodil Hindsholm Hansen (herself a vicar) says: ‘It’s overwhelming. So many people. (…) To express solidarity with the refugees that a minority is against. And those people are cowards, they come in the middle of the night, while we come in broad daylight to show that we want to welcome refugees.’ Earlier in the video (0:29), 7-year old Eddy Buck explains that ‘we are here to celebrate that they’ve come’. More photos here.

Another way of handling xenophobic hate was this action by Signe Vedel Pedersen and my co-admin of the (now defunct) Facebook group for Pearls, Marianne Paçarada (oh, the fun we had). A mother and son in Marianne’s town had received nasty hate mail including two rotten bananas (???) saying ‘I f*cking hate muslims. F*ck the both of you. Go home.’ As a response, people came together to send the small family a card with the opposite message. Marianne then handwrote over 1,000 names in the card that read ‘…we are happy that you are here and we want to protect you’.

Marianne wrote that the mother had been extremely moved by the gesture and was going to save the card to always be able to take it out and take comfort in it should anything similar happen to her and her son again.

The same group (including some new people) also sent a similar card to the asylum centre that had been vandalised.

So, yeah. The future is to self-organise. Whether the dinosaurs in our parliaments catch up or not.

I hope that cheers up your weekend a bit. I will now be off to my local shops to ask for cardboard to make a sign for next week’s demo. And this is what I’ll be putting on it.

i was a refugee