No Friends But The Mountains

Anarchist Communist Group

The Kurds have entered into alliances with local States and imperialist powers, always to be betrayed. After World War One, they were promised their own state by the victorious imperialist forces of Britain, France and the USA. These promises, enshrined in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, proved to be worthless, and anyway it was always about how the great powers would carve up the old Ottoman Empire.

The Kurdistan depicted in the Treaty of Sevres would have been under British control. Some Kurdish nationalists supported this, but others sided with the Turkish nationalist military leader Kemal Ataturk to fight the Allied powers. These Muslim Kurds preferred Ottoman or Turkish nationalist control to domination by a Christian power. Others feared that the British would re-introduce Armenians – who had fled after the genocidal attacks on them by the Turks – would be re-introduced to the region. This was a decision to be regretted by the Kurds as they experienced the reality of life under the Ataturk regime.

The British had occupied the oil-rich province of Mosul, where many Kurds lived, in 1918. The following year Mosul was incorporated into the newly created Iraq. The Treaty of Sevres promised the Iraqi Kurds the chance to be part of this projected Kurdistan, a promise never to be fulfilled.

In 1920 Shaykh Mahmud Barzanji led an uprising of the Iraqi Kurds against British rule and declared a Kurdish kingdom in northern Iraq. At first the British had backed Barzanji, who they saw as offering a convenient buffer territory between their interests in Iraq and the Turkish state. He had become increasingly resentful about the failure of the British to keep their promises. He was wounded, captured and imprisoned in India until 1922.

However, the British now decided to bring him back to stabilise the area against the Turkish nationalists and he was installed as governor of south Kurdistan, but after his return he proclaimed himself King of Kurdistan, turned down the British deal and allied with Turkey. Barzanji was defeated and captured again in 1932. He sued for peace and was exiled to southern Iraq. During the series of uprisings against the British, the RAF used bombs and chemical weapons against Kurdish insurgents.

In 1968 the USA supported the coming to power in Iraq of the Ba’athist Party, which promptly began to attack the Kurds in that country. In the 1970s it supported the Shah of Iran as its ally in the region, and gave support to the Kurds against Iraq. When war between Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq ended suddenly in 1975, Iran dropped its Kurdish allies and the Americans stopped supplying them with military aid. The Kurds then were at the mercy of Saddam.

In the 1980s The USA saw Saddam as a useful regional ally, particularly with the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran. The Americans turned a blind eye to Saddam’s atrocities against the Kurds. This changed again in 1990 with Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. He was now the enemy of the USA and American support was given to Kurdish and Shiite revolts in Iraq. However with the declaration of a Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, the USA failed to provide assistance and the revolt was crushed.

With the Syrian civil war, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) of Turkey, who had been waging a war against the Turkish State, in alliance with its proxy, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took over parts of Syria from the Assad regime. They defended themselves against attacks from the Islamic State. The Americans, seeking an ally in the region, at first supported the Kurds against ISIS with air attacks, and then later with financial and military aid. The Kurds had once again become a proxy of the USA.

All of this changed with Trump’s abrupt decision to desert the Kurds and to allow the Turkish state to attack the Kurdish area in Syria. But, once again, Trump has reversed his position of pulling US troops out of Syria, under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, and the criticisms of many retired military leaders. What this means for the Kurds in Syria remains to be seen.

As for Russia, it initially gave support to the PYD and its military units, the YPG. Now, however, Russia’s uneasy alliance with the Erdogan regime in Turkey means that Putin has given the green light for YPG forces to be pushed back from the Turkish/Syrian border. Putin met with Erdogan at the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, and there it was agreed that Russian troops in Syria would not intervene to stop the advance of the Turkish forces. For its part, the PYD has agreed for the return of control of north east Syria to Assad and his forces. The PYD might switch allegiances and go into alliance with Russia, which will cynically play them off against the Turkish State, and then in time-honoured fashion, drop the Kurds when they are no longer deemed useful. Putin’s support of the Assad regime is still a priority and comes before any support for the Kurds.

We should also be aware of the demands by the German Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to set up a security zone in the area and send thousands of troops there. This represents a move by the Franco-German bloc in Europe to intervene for its own interests.

Meanwhile, across the border in northern Iraq, the USA still supports the Kurdish autonomous region ruled by the Barzani family. However, this support has its limits. After an independence referendum with a 93% vote of Yes, in 2017, the USA used its troops to support Iraqi forces to push the Kurds back into their enclave and the areas taken by the Kurds in 2014, including Kirkuk and its oilfields, were retaken by the Iraqi government. This is in spite of the role that Kurdish forces had played in driving out ISIS from most of Iraq.

There is an old Kurdish saying that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains. Any attempt by the Kurds to ally with world imperialist powers as well as regional imperialist powers like Iran, have proven time and again to be disastrous. The Kurds are used as proxies, as cannon fodder for the interests of these powers in a danger zone where the USA and its British and European allies, and Russia and its allies of Syria and Iran, are in confrontation.

Only a revolutionary movement that unites Kurdish, Turkish, and Arab workers and sweeps away the ruling class in the Middle East, whether it be the Barzani family, the theocratic regime in Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and Erdogan in Turkey, can offer any real solution to the situation.

Support antifascist prisoner David Campbell and anti-ISIS prisoner Aidan James

Cautiously pessimistic

David Campbell, a New York-based antifascist, is starting an 18-month sentence after being convicted of “gang assault”, a charge that sounds similar to the notoriously terrible principle of “joint enterprise”, allowing people to be convicted for someone else’s actions. To make things a little easier while he’s inside, you can donate money here, send him a message using this form which his friends will print out and pass on to him, or pick something off his very extensive reading list (or even choose a book you think he’d like that’s not on there) and order a copy to be sent to:

David Campbell #3101900657
Eric M. Taylor Center
10-10 Hazen Street
East Elmhurst, NY 11370

If you’d like to write to David, but aren’t sure what to write about, here are some suggestions:

  • the last time you saw a good play, or your favorite …

View original post 300 more words

Law enforcement and prison: their origin during the Great Expropriation and their role in the return to primitive accumulation. – By Mal Content.

C.W. racism, slavery.

To put law enforcement and the prison-industrial complex in their historical and social context, these are very recent innovations, hastily constructed by the ruling class in response to a crisis.

This is the way ruling classes have worked pretty much since records began. They create a disastrous state of affairs and introduce drastic measures, then persuade their subjects it was unavoidable.

What is striking about these institutions is their absolute continuity of purpose since their inception during the Great Expropriation. We had been ripped from the land that supported us from prehistory, robbed of our means of subsistence and forced into alienated labour in the factories, workhouses, and prisons.

Factories and prisons developed in parallel for the same purpose, to use our bodies for the augmentation of capital.

Look at a Victorian prison, workhouse or factory and spot the difference. Workers who had hitherto been disciplined only by the sun and the seasons were chained to the clock and the machine, forbidden to speak or associate freely, housed in overcrowded, unhealthy slums.

One of the consequences of the creation of ‘free proletarians’ was that the iron discipline of the machine age ended at the factory gates. A mass of very unhappy people were being trained to think and act as a unit rather than as individuals then turned loose every night; how would they react when threatened?

There were no prisons in late mediaeval society.

There were dungeons for political prisoners and captured soldiers. There were local lock-ups for unruly characters, those awaiting trial or held hostage pending payment of a debt or fine. By far the most common reason for incarceration was debt, and this was a simple extortion racket.

The first state prison was Millbank, built in 1816, in the white heat of the Great Expropriation, three years after the Luddite insurrection. The land enclosures were a fait accompli but there were revolutions on the continent. Across the Atlantic there were slave uprisings in the Caribbean and the plantation states.

Law enforcement came first.

Anglo-Saxon communities were protected by the concept of frankpledge (frith-borh) or collective accountability, based on the tithing, a voluntary association of ten households, grouped into hundreds, then into shires. Members of the tithing swore to be responsible for each other’s good conduct and to offer up or stand surety for any member accused of an offence. Each was obliged to raise hue and cry and to assist in the pursuit and apprehension of the offender. Mutual responsibility was ultimately underwritten by the hundred’s land holding. The Norman Conquest turned land into property held in feudal title by lords; so serfs could not offer surety, making the lords responsible for justice on their Manors, administered by constables and sheriffs (shire-reeves).

The system of mutual social obligation gave way to the values of one class being imposed on the other by force.

Prompted by the French Revolution and threats of invasion, yeomen cavalry were raised, low-grade gentry who were given a uniform, a horse and free grog then turned loose on the Working Class, as in the Peterloo massacre of 1819. In the cities there were hired ‘thieftakers’ and professional perjurers called ‘strawmen’, and stipendiary magistrates, petty bourgeois dispensing summary punishment.

The architect of modern law enforcement was Napoleon Bonaparte’s police minister Joseph Fouché, the ‘butcher of Lyons’, former enforcer for the revolution’s National Convention.

What the butcher gave Napoleon was his innovation of ‘high and low’ policing. On the one hand political surveillance by a network of undercover cops, paid informers and agents provocateurs. On the other what he contemptuously called “the policing of prostitutes, thieves, and lamp posts” which was best left to the lower orders. ‘Workers in uniform’ who were explicitly not to be selected for their intelligence, initiative or integrity. With the uniform comes a baton, a foolish swagger and a fantastic sense of entitlement.

The Peterloo massacre led to outcry even amongst the petty bourgeoisie. The class interest of the yeomanry was too obvious. Robert Peel introduced Fouché’s system lock, stock and barrel with the formation of the Metropolitan police in 1829.

Peel wanted the Working Class complicit in its own oppression.

Peel said things like: “workingmen (sic) must be disciplined by workingmen”. “The police are the public and the public are the police” But what exactly did Peel mean by the public? He was opposed to the people’s charter and universal suffrage, and only about nine percent of the population of England and Wales had any say in the laws that made crime a matter of survival for the rest.

The Met was used as a de-facto riot squad from the start, even being dispatched to Birmingham to take on the Chartists. In February 1832 it inserted Sergeant William Popay under a false identity into the National Political Union, as a spy and agent provocateur. It was more than a year before he was unmasked, in a routine that will be familiar to the reader, Popay was dismissed as a ‘loose cannon’ and it was business as usual for the rest.

In 1819, the year of the Peterloo massacre, the government of South Carolina established mandatory slave patrols.

These were a form of yeomanry. Since 1671 there had been slave patrols that brought back runaway African-Americans to be tortured and killed. Once a plantation worker had escaped they were considered worthless as a slave so the agenda was to inflict on them grotesque punishments from which they would inevitably perish.

Prompted by two attempted insurrections, the new law compelled all white, adult males to serve in the patrols, so that the whole of white society was deputised into the subjugation of the majority (in the Carolinas) African-American population. Patrols were given carte blanche to enter dwellings, detain slaves and dispense summary justice.

Carolina’s constitution, the first document to enshrine human chattel slavery in law, had been co-written by the philosopher John Locke, ‘father of Liberalism’ and originator of the ‘Social Contract’, whereby citizens consent to be governed in return for a measure of security and utility. Locke’s theory of property derived from ownership of the ‘self’. He managed to work justifications for conquest and slavery into his philosophy, as he had a great deal of money invested in them.

The constitution defined the slave as one who could not own property. In Locke’s terms, this applied to a slave’s own flesh, time, their productive and creative abilities. Other articles created hereditary nobility and serfdom, and a hierarchical voting system based on land ownership.

When the United States government ‘abolished’ slavery in response to the Civil War, it left itself a loophole. The Thirteenth Amendment allows for the enslavement of prisoners “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. All that was necessary then, to retain people as slaves was to get them duly convicted. The remainder would be proletarianised with incarceration as a penalty for refusal.

The US plantation to prison-industrial system evolved smoothly from the Louisiana Purchase to the present day – we all know the Parchman Farm blues. Even the Civil War was barely a shudder. Modern US prisons are full of black and brown bodies generating surplus-value at maximum efficiency.

Proletarianisation is incarceration.

Simply because it makes the survival of our bodies dependant on their availability to augment capital and reproduce capitalist power relations.

The indignity of wage labour, of submission to command, of maintaining a pretence of deference and servility in return for not much more than the reproduction cost of your labour-power, is a gross violation. It sits on a sliding scale that leads logically to prostitution and enslavement. It forces you into complicity, not only with the reproduction of capitalist power relations, but with the maintenance of racial, gender and class roles written for you by the hegemonic group.

The line between legal slavery and legal freedom is in the subtle distinction between power based on a right to take life, and the capacity to restrict access to the necessities of life. The advocates of chattel slavery understood this all along, perhaps even better than their opponents:

“Mr. President, if we recognize no law as obligatory, and no government as legitimate, which authorizes involuntary servitude, we shall be forced to consign the world to anarchy; for no government has yet existed, which did not recognize and enforce involuntary servitude for other causes than crime. To destroy that, we must destroy all inequality in property; for as long as these differences exist, there will be an involuntary servitude of man to man. … Your socialist is the true abolitionist, and only he fully understands his mission.”

– Virginia Senator Robert M.T. Hunter, March 25, 1850

My italics.

The modern state maintains social relations by putting the means of production, and thus all the products of social labour, behind the barrier of private property. All citizens have the same rights to acquire and dispose of property, but having the legal right to do something does not give you the means to do it. The state decrees that the barrier may only be accessed by exchanging its currency for the property-right, and that its subjects must compete for this social access by excluding others. The state would be buggered if people stopped competing for its currency.

The money economy is not concerned, as economists often claim, with allocation of scarce resources, but with the regulation of human activity by limiting access. We are all, for practical purposes incarcerated; there are no exceptions. In the modern prison-industrial system you are either a cog in the machine or the grease, you are a generator of surplus-value or raw material to the industry that profits from managing your inability to do so. A raw material that, if carefully managed, need never be consumed.

As technology makes wage labour ever less profitable and more futile, bourgeois society relies increasingly on fictitious capital, that which augments itself without the medium of commodity exchange, threatening to force us all into precarity, pauperage and prison. Capitalism returns inevitably to primitive accumulation, as wealth inequality reaches Pharonic proportions, slavery is back with a vengeance.

We are ceasing to be productive forces and becoming raw materials. The cohorts of petty managers, the DWP, cops, courts and probation, security firms and private mental hospitals that charge a grand a day, all have a vested interest in keeping you on their books. Yet another industry is dedicated to making us fear one another, creating suspicion and hostility among our Class, and feeding off the resulting misery. Now the media make us complicit in our own oppression.

If you’ve even been locked up, even briefly, subject to the whims of guards and warders, part of you remains incarcerated; for as long as there are locks and turnkeys, your agency is on loan to you. Once you’ve looked down the barrel of a gun you understand viscerally that the state stands always ready to kill, that the gun was at your head since the day you were born. The rich slaughter us in droves but the prisons are full of poor people.

Either side of the prison walls the engine runs on material inequality and imbalance of power, white supremacy, ableism and patriarchy. The violence bred by poverty and exclusion, and the fear of it, the jealousy and hate that are the inevitable companions of status and hierarchy give rise to every malevolent act, legal or illegal.

Without these aberrations, the only cause of ‘crime’ would be a malfunction of the brain, a grave misapprehension, a temporary loss of control. No law or penal system ever stood a chance of preventing or remedying such an event.

Justifications for prison fall into four categories, in no particular order:

Deterrence, Rehabilitation, Punishment or Removal for public safety. However, there is no consensus among prison advocates/apologists on the validity of any of these concepts or their relative importance.

Deterrence is a preposterous idea that flies in the face of everyday experience, most of us learn early in life that the people you’re afraid of aren’t afraid of you. If crucifixion and scaphism didn’t put them off, prison isn’t going to do it either.

Rehabilitation is demonstrably ineffective, wishful thinking.

Punishment is a metaphysical concept, a sort of abstract revenge; the law actually calls it ‘retribution’. However, the state can’t take revenge because it doesn’t represent any people, only a mode of production. Crimes against the person are merely breaches of the state’s monopoly on violence so the victim is not a protagonist but a witness and/or a piece of physical evidence. Retribution is reserved for the ruling class, unless you’re a member of that class it offers you nothing but a pathetic schadenfreude.

The last one applies in a vanishingly small number of cases and only defers the problem.

It’s a weird kind of argument to say “one or more of these propositions must be true but we’re not sure which ones”

The abolition of wage labour and the abolition of incarceration are inseparable.

Transaction and coercion are two sides of the same coin. Coercion is a negative transaction; it makes no sense to do away with one and keep the other. Where free people associate voluntarily to their mutual benefit, they will agree codes of conduct and remedies for transgression. They will reserve the right of self-defence against predation, but such actions will be mandated by the entire community, not by a select cadre of bureaucrats or professional thugs.

It will be an issue for the autonomous community how it arranges these matters, but I have not the slightest doubt that a free association of liberated, self-confident individuals, will come up with better solutions than the bourgeoisie. Especially to problems created by the residue of bourgeois values. The left may love their gulags, but there will be no prisons in a real communist society, for none may be free until all are free.

Senator Hunter can spin in his grave, we’ll consign the world to anarchy.

Red And Black Telly: PRINCE ANDREW – RAPIST, NONCE, OR BOTH ?

Street Medics — Keeping Our Movements Healthy and Safe

medium.com

This is the third segment in the Lawyers, Lockboxes and Money series, a project that explores the role shared social movement infrastructure has played in social movement uprisings and how this infrastructure has evolved over time, moving across issue areas and geographies to knit together a shared fabric of progressive social movements.

Over the past decade, people across the US and around the world have taken to the streets in wave after wave of popular uprising. They have camped out in city centers and remote construction sites through hot summers and cold winters. They’ve faced down militarized police forces with their chemical weapons, fire hoses, tasers, clubs, and rubber bullets. And in each of these uprisings, teams of medics have mobilized alongside protestors, warriors and protectors, to keep our movements healthy and safe and in the streets.

DC Medic Collective

[…] more

AWSM Archives: “No Blood For Water”?

Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement

AWSM Note: Here we re-post an article that first appeared on our previous site in July 2013. It was written by our long term guest contributor ‘Pink Panther’ and looks at the geopolitical situation in Syria at that time.

Since 1975 most of the major military conflicts – Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Libya – have been civil wars. Regional or super powers have intervened supposedly to save lives and resolve each conflict. They supposedly try to do this by removing the “bad guys” but have ended up leaving the country they came in to ‘save’, an even bigger mess than it was before they intervened. Often, this is because the intervention is driven by profit or a power obsessed ideology, rather than any understanding of the real situation.

In Vietnam the conflict was not just about the imperialists/capitalists on one side and the communists on the other. It was also a war between the people who lived in the highlands and those who lived in the lowlands, a war between the Catholic minority that dominated political life in South Vietnam and the Buddhist majority and a war between a Soviet-backed elite in Hanoi and a U.S-backed elite in Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City). Only the ideologues on both sides believed it was a war of freedom or liberation. For most people it was a pointless and incredibly expensive bloodbath that left millions of Vietnamese civilians dead and deadly ordinance lying around everywhere, which still kills hundreds of people every year.

The war in Afghanistan in the 1980s was also portrayed in a breathtakingly simplistic manner by both its supporters, who painted it as a war against communist tyranny and liberation, and one waged over gas and oil by its opponents. It was actually more a civil war between tribal groups, warlords and a puppet government backed by the Soviet Union. It was also an ethnic and sectarian conflict. In what would later rebound badly, the United States backed the Muhajadeen’s war against the communists. The superpower did this by using the Muhajadeen’s Islamic religion as a motivator to encourage a fight against the infidels in the country. The Muhajadeen not only slaughtered the more moderate elements of Afghan society but once the Soviets were gone, they imposed a theocratic regime that was far worse than anything done by the Soviet Union.

Cue forward twenty years and the United States has found itself bogged down fighting the children of those Muhajadeen fighters they trained to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In response, the same tiresome slogans have been trotted out by liberals and elements on the Left, while the supporters of the war claim it’s a war against the bogeyman of terrorism. This is done even though none involved in the terror attack used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan – the 9/11 attacks – were Afghan nationals. Most of those involved in the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan.

read more

Red and Black Telly: FRIDAY 13th ANTI-TRUMP DEMO

The state’s resources will be stretched to the limit protecting this buffoon. Think globally, fuck locally. Unlucky for some.