27 years ago today…

The South Essex Stirrer - Archive

The Poll Tax riot that took place on the 31st March 1990 is a day that will live long in my memory for a whole host of reasons. Here are some interesting accounts of what took place on the day and how a lively march was turned into a riot by deliberate provocation from the police: Accounts of the poll tax riot, 1990https://libcom.org/history/1990-accounts-poll-tax-riot

Many words have been written about a day which has assumed an almost mythical status among a fair number of older activists. I don’t want to dwell on the events that turned the march into a riot and what happened after that. What I want to do is reflect on how much has changed in the intervening twenty seven years when it comes to building actions and marches and also what happens when we’re on them.

Obviously another twenty seven years of neo-liberalism has inflicted…

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Video: Antifa Attack Against HQ of Fascist Golden Dawn in Athens, Greece

Enough 14 -

During the early morning hours antifa activists attacked Golden Dawn headquarters in Athens, Greece.

athens31m2

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Ezidi Women’s Conference March 2017 Germany

Kurdistan Solidarity Network

Report by Peace in Kurdistan Women Alliance, 13 March, 2017:

The first International Conference for Ezidi women took place in Germany last weekend providing an opportunity for a diverse group of women to come together to discuss, in their mother tongue, the Ezidi genocide and its aftermath. The high-level conference gave a platform to an authoritative group of women, representing both those who had survived the genocide, and those whose expertise ranged from the ethnic, political, historical, and psychological aspects of what had occurred.

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Picturehouse strikes and solidarity with Belarusian comrades

Cautiously pessimistic

As well as all the other stuff happening in the next few days – including action against benefit sanctions and housing benefit cuts, bike rides against Deliveroo in Leeds and Brighton, and attempting to stop Britain First taking to the streets – it’s now been announced that staff employed by Picturehouse cinemas will be striking on Friday, so there should be lively pickets at Hackney, Central London Picturehouse and the Brixton Ritzy.

Meanwhile, the IWGB have a new tool that lets you send postcards directly to the head of Deliveroo in support of their campaign (the first twenty’ll be free, after that it’s £1 a pop).

Over in Belarus, recent anti-government protests have led to a huge crackdown, with hundreds of people being taken into custody. Belarus Anarchist Black Cross are appealing for donations to help them support anarchist comrades arrested in the repression…

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The Battle of Scotsman Steps: White Pride Marchers Humiliated in Edinburgh

A Thousand Flowers

The Scottish far-right suffered their biggest defeat on the streets in seven years in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon, as anti-fascists continually impeded their movements and refused to obey police instructions. This culminated in dramatic scenes as the 30 or so ‘White Pride’ marchers were forced into a humiliating climb down – quite literally – as police held them within the Scotsman steps while waiting for reinforements to arrive at the ground floor and clear their exit. As horses charged anti-fascists on North Bridge, other groups on Market Street began pelting the Nazis with eggs, as they cowered behind police within the Edwardian walkway.

Having attended and reported on dozens of far-right demonstrations since the first emergence of the Scottish Defence League in 2009, they can often be depressing affairs, following a predictable script where the authorities facilitate a penned in shouting match between the two sides, before allowing the fascists to disperse…

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Red And Black Telly: ARTICLE 50 TRIGGERED. THE END OF U.K.I.P.?

Let’s hope so.

Jihad: the political is personal. By Mal Content.

Khalid Masood was, like me, born into Britain’s post war social democratic settlement and came of age under thatcher. He would have had every reason to despise the establishment and long for its downfall, as we all did. The political left offered no serviceable antidote to neoliberalism, so many of us drifted into individualist pursuits: hooliganism, petty crime, using and selling drugs, some went to prison as did Masood. I swerved it myself, more by luck than judgement. Still pissed off, I became an anarchist.

That Masood was pissed off is beyond doubt, he may also have been mentally ill. His history betrays violent mood swings; too much coke will do that as well, mind. What then, is the appeal of an ultra-conservative, authoritarian death cult to a feckless hedonist? Perhaps it’s just a badge, like the hammer-sickle or swastika conferring an outlaw identity. Mediaevalist Islam is hardly liberation theology, yet with the collapse of Marxism-Leninism it has managed to position itself as the default anti-imperialist movement. Jihad is one of those concepts, like dictatorship of the Proletariat, or war on terror, that sounds good when you say it but on reflection is incredibly stupid.

Being of African heritage and growing up in Dartford probably didn’t help. In living memory thousands of Africans were murdered, abused or displaced from their land by the British state, and the Franco-Algerian conflict still rumbles on in the French suburbs. Only by internalising white supremacy are their descendants allowed to play the liberal game. I can barely imagine the weight of such resentment piled on top of my own class anger.

We’ll most likely never know whether Masood actually supported the aims of the self-styled Islamic State – to precipitate the apocalypse – which coincidentally is what our elders and betters were planning throughout our formative years. His desperate act took the lives of strangers who for all he knew, might have shared his alienation, and be jarred by the same dissonance; there was nothing ideological about it. The symbolism that marked this indiscriminate violence as ‘political’ was its location adjacent to the palace of Westminster, the seat of our oppression. Even the killing of a cop, which could be construed as an attack on the state, might equally be an angry child stabbing at authority. Nevertheless, whereas the sadistic proclivity and petty spite of individual colonists terrorised their subjects into compliance for hundreds of years, now the despair and low self-esteem liberal-bourgeois states foster in their citizens is being used against them by their latest enemy. Given the epidemic of suicide and self-harm among our Class, there must be thousands of such people in existential crisis, with nothing to gain and nothing to lose.

While the state’s security agencies tripped over their bootlaces, arresting and releasing people apparently at random, the perpetually bewildered Theresa May reassured her followers, at some length, that events would have no effect on the British way of life, or its democracy. To sum up: you will still be ordered about by people considerably richer than you and judged solely on your ability to increase their wealth. The executive will still be selected by Rupert Murdoch – and big up the filth, who are keeping you safe, except when they shoot you. The next morning we were told that ‘London had gone back to work’, and that it was ‘open for business’. The extraction of surplus-value is uninterrupted.

As its colonial chickens come home to roost the desperate ruling class struggles to cover the catastrophe of neoliberal globalisation by cobbling up a pretence of national identity from the ragged mess of state-supported oligarchy mashed up with state-manufactured destitution. As Kevin Carson put it:

“The ideological framework of “national unity” is taken to the point that “this country,” “society,” or “our system of government” is set up as an object of gratitude for “the freedoms we enjoy.” Only the most unpatriotic notice that our liberties, far from being granted to us by a generous and benevolent government, were won by past resistance against the state. Charters and bills of rights were not grants from the state, but were forced on the state from below. […]

[…] This ideological construct of a unified “national interest” includes the fiction of a “neutral” set of laws, which conceals the exploitative nature of the system of power we live under. Under corporate capitalism the relationships of exploitation are mediated by the political system to an extent unknown under previous class systems.”

‘The Iron Fist behind the Invisible Hand – Corporate Capitalism as a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege’.

The liberal media self-consciously pats the head of any union jack-waving Muslim who accepts the legacy of primitive accumulation as given. Kids who grew up as targets for abuse by the police are being exhorted to confide in them their suspicions of friends and neighbours who appear to take their culture a little too seriously – fat chance, I’d say. To adopt ‘British values’ is to concur that the Empire civilised the rest of the world at gunpoint, rather than simply robbing it blind. Such ideas are as bogus to me as they may have been to Masood, but I also struggle with the idea that anyone actually believes in god in the 21st century – you’ve got an I-phone and a youtube account for crying out loud! A boss in heaven is just an excuse for a boss on earth as Bakunin had it, and indeed Western civilisation has little more than divine authority for its excesses. The murderous Blair and Bush went in for a lot of god-bothering in between condemning multitudes to death. Mythology only serves to fill a gap in reality, and that gap is maintained by capitalism.

In the society of the spectacle capitalism perpetuates itself by denying its existence. The very mention of the word usually places its author on the political margins. The bourgeoisie are never acknowledged as such by their apologists; the Great Expropriation is long forgotten. Class is trivialised, the alienation of labour denied, its fetishes and reifications presented as (capitalist) reality, the only game in town. The simple mechanism that guarantees the power and status of the ruling class under liberal democracy is hidden behind homely concepts such as market, work ethic, enterprise, membership of society, serving the community; conjuring a mirage of pre-capitalist village life – which is of course what humans are most comfortable with.

Whilst the warmongers were smashing the infrastructure of the Middle East, the Jihadis were all living quietly in Birmingham. If the R.A.F. were Hitler’s children, the present crop of home-grown Jihadis are thatcher’s. They grew up in Western societies that had nothing they wanted, and made no pretence of accommodating them. Small wonder the misfits turn to mythology, when society itself is founded on myths.

Upcoming events: benefits, the NHS, Deliveroo, Britain First and more…

Cautiously pessimistic

Just a quick reminder of a few upcoming events over the next few days:

On Thursday 30th, there’s the national day of action against benefit sanctions – see here for a full (if slightly untidy) list of planned events.

On Saturday 1st, there’s a Yorkshire march for the NHS in Leeds, following which both Leeds and Brighton will see co-ordinated mass bike rides as part of the ongoing struggle at Deliveroo. Meanwhile, over in the capital, there’s a protest against the planned scrapping of housing benefits for 18-21 year olds, and Britain First plan to be out making April Fools of themselves – London Antifascists will be opposing them, although the meeting point’s not been publicly announced yet.

As a side note, there’s been quite a lot written about the recent wave of grassroots union struggles, largely among casualised workers and the “gig economy”:

There’s a…

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9 days, over 14 phone calls, and a lot of Vivaldi later…

scottish unemployed workers' network

skeleton on phone

When I finally got a phone call to tell me that the DWP was lifting John’s sanction we had almost given up on the idea that this was ever going to happen. John is in the ESA Work Related Activity Group – he should really be in the Support Group, but that is another story. He suffers from a whole range of problems including nerve damage in his leg, and some days can’t get out of the house at all.

John has to attend the Work Programme run by Triage in Dundee, but several times he has not been well enough to take part. When that happens he is careful to get a sick-line from his doctor, and he has then been given another appointment for when the sick-line has expired. Sometimes this has resulted in a letter from the DWP asking for ‘good cause’ for the missed appointment, but…

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Irish Water struggle: stand with the Jobstown defendants!

Cautiously pessimistic

Over the course of 2014, the Republic of Ireland saw a mass struggle against the imposition of water charges, with one of the most dramatic moments coming on 15 November 2014, when a car carrying the Tánaiste (Deputy PM) was held up for two and a half hours by a community protest. The state’s now trying to take its revenge – one 17-year-old has already been found guilty of “false imprisonment”, and starting in April, 18 adults will face trials for the same incident, looking at charges which carry a potential life sentence.

For anyone in Dublin, or the surrounding area, the Jobstown Not Guilty campaign will be holding a rally on 1 April; for the rest of us, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Jobstown Not Guily facebook page or main site to see what help might be needed. At the moment, they’re suggesting that people…

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