IFA Communiqué – Mayday 2021

Barricades for Anarchist and Subversive Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Chile

Abolition Media Worldwide

Aware of the hunger strike that started today, Monday, March 22 by different subversive and anarchist comrades in the C.A.S, Máxima, San Miguel and Santiago 1, for the repeal of the amendment to the Decree Law 321, we set up coordinated barricades in the Maipú commune and Lo Prado, making us part of the calls to action.

DAY 1 OF HUNGER STRIKE!!

THAT THE ACTIONS MULTIPLY!!

SOLIDARITY WITH PRISONERS OF LONG SENTENCES!!

post.

Red and Black Telly roundup.











Collectives prepare for historical visit of Zapatista movement in Madrid

Voices in Movement

Written by Miguel Muñoz on February 1, 2021, translated by Shantal Montserrat Lopez Victoria.

On February 2, 2001, a march called La Marcha del Color de la Tierra set out from Chiapas, Mexico. On March 11 after thousands of kilometers it arrived to the capital Mexico City. The mobilization of the  Zapatista delegation proved symbolic and had a strong resonance with a whole generation of social movements throughout Europe. After two decades, another historic event will take place. Several Zapatista delegations will visit the European continent in July, August and September. In Madrid and other territories, different social movements are already preparing for the meeting.

“We have decided: That it is time for hearts to dance again, and that neither their song nor their steps should be those of lamentation or resignation. Diverse Zapatista delegations, men, women and other colored people of our land, shall go out to travel the world, we shall walk or sail to remote lands, seas and skies, seeking not the differences, nor superiority, nor offense, much less apologies and pity”. This is one of the paragraphs from  A Mountain on the High Seas communique announced last October by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN-Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) and endorsed by its current spokesperson, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

“After 20 years we set sail and march to tell the planet that, in the world that we perceive within our collective hearts, there is room for all of us, everyone, all of them. Simply and sincerely because this world is only attainable if all of us, all women and men, all together, fight to build it”, says another part of the text.

As a result of this declaration, the entire movement began organizing to receive the Zapatista delegation, which will not only be made up of the EZLN but also members of the National Indigenous Council and the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (Consejo Nacional Indígena o y del Frente de los Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra) . This past week the first assembly was held among the collectives that will be participating in the preparations.

“There have been collectives supporting Zapatismo all over Europe for years,” Danaé, a member of the Y Retiemble collective, created in 2017, tells Cuartopoder. In addition, coordination and networks have taken place all over Europe. “People in Madrid were already getting organized through a network called Europa Zapatista in order to join together and connect with Mexico,” he adds.

A member of Y Retiembre explains that one of the messages that has been very clear from the Zapatista movement is that they have to “mobilize and organize”. The first date for activities are August 13, with a gathering in Madrid for the anniversary of the arrival of Hernán Cortés to Tenochtitlán. This is a proposal of the Zapatista community itself. Next, the “Meeting of Struggles for Life” (Encuentro de Luchas por la Vida) is scheduled for September 6-19.

“It is a meeting in the traditional Zapatista style. We are using the term meeting in the context used by the Zapatistas. It’s not the usual forum type format but rather a meeting about all the struggles that are going on. To meet each other as people,” explains Danaé.

To achieve this, a framework of 7 main themes of struggles has been devised: social rights, feminist and gender identities; anti-racist struggles, internationalist and decolonial struggles; defense of  land and territory; historical memory and freedom of expression; work and migration; art, culture and media. In addition, more activities will be held between now and September to the extent it is possible due to the health situation.

“The Zapatistas come to listen to us and narrate their struggles,” explains Danaé. For that reason, it is also intended that through specific visits, they get to know different collectives and specific struggles in the city of Madrid. From now on, groups will be created by topic and planned activities will be announced. Some initiatives are already underway, such as the distribution of a board game on Zapatismo, which can be purchased online. The collected funds will be used to finance activities. More than 2,000 copies have already been sold. For support groups this is a “historic meeting”. “Normally the Zapatistas have received many people in Mexico, but a tour at this level has never happened before,” says Danaé.

However, there is a gap in the memory of a whole generation within the Zapatista movement. For many years the main figure of the EZLN was Subcomandante Marcos who was very present in the social and political struggles of our country. “There is a generation that is very aware of what Zapatismo is. That is exactly why we are having this meeting. The goal is to organize here, we want to say that we are fighting for life.  We are setting up this meeting hoping to restore these messages because we are aware many people don’t know about the Zapatista proposal. It is very important that these messages resonate with the struggles here because there are many things that coincide”, concludes Danaé.

Corona comment number six, from the South of England: Gulag archipelago, by Mal Content.

Since my last comment the bourgeois state has ratchet-tightened its grip on all aspects of life, with the apparent acquiescence of a large section of the British population – Leaving out the six counties, who seem most preoccupied with not being able to buy vegetables. The demagogues of the devolved administrations* crazed with a little power, vie with each other to boss their subjects about.

* Scots nationalists have blown their best chance of independence in a century with all guns pointed at their own feet, I wonder if MI5 had a hand in that.

As I have observed elsewhere, ‘Lockdown’ is a measure taken by prison governors to facilitate searching of inmates for contraband, apprehending a fugitive or putting down disorder. Doors are all locked forcing each prisoner to remain wherever they find themself. It is predicated on the idea that prisoners have no agency, they do not ‘own’ their flesh, their time or their productive and creative abilities. Incarceration in the United States is an extension of chattel slavery as permitted by the thirteenth amendment; in Britain it originates from the custom of holding a person hostage pending payment of a debt. Other cultures find their own justifications. The first use of this term in respect of the corona virus epidemic was in the People’s Republic of China, which is of course nothing but a giant gulag. It will be deeply offensive to many of our Class who have suffered such abuse.

The latest regulations blatantly reserve overseas travel for the rich, and whilst it will amuse us to watch entitled posh people treated like common prisoners there is a serious point. Jewish workers, whose recent ancestors fled Nazi Germany and other European pogroms find it disturbing to need “permission” to leave the country. We have refugees from the former Soviet bloc and other totalitarian regimes. They know what it means to have papers out of order.

The middle class, the stodgy, flabby rump of totalitarianism, continues to twitch its curtains on full pay, brags about attending ‘zoom meetings’ from the bath or not getting out of bed at all. They quibble about how many times they are “allowed” to walk the dog or whether to have their mum over for lunch. Whilst they sit around their computers knocking themselves off like safari-park chimps, the Working Class must run the gauntlet of crowded workplaces, dodgy PPE and weirdoes who thing it’s clever to gob in their faces.

Gulag:
Acronym of Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-Trudovykh Lagerey.
Russian: “Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps”

People are afraid, for sure, not just of the virus but of starvation and homelessness, of their kids condemned to the scrapheap, their parents dying alone. Rumours abound, of the cops using number plate recognition to clock how far a vehicle has travelled from its registered address. There are despicable class traitors who will grass on their neighbours. Although there is no stop and search power that requires anyone to answer questions*, we hear of people being threatened with arrest for refusing to identify themselves. Call their bluff I say, you waste my time I’ll waste yours.

* Unless you’re driving, then it’s name and address only.

Bosses are taking advantage of the ‘furlough’* to shed workers with protected characteristics, and the super-rich, as always, are making money hand over fist. The sums may seem abstract, but the only value of wealth is the expectation that someone, somewhere will labour to acquire it. This is achieved by limiting access to the product of our own labour. As Heywood put it: “if a man has a dollar he didn’t work for, someone else worked for a dollar he didn’t get”.

* Another prison term. ‘Furlough’ is temporary release. As most prisoners in the U.S. are no threat to anybody but themselves, should they become logistically inconvenient, or if there is no work for them to do, they can be put out to save the state the expense of feeding and housing them.

For years we were offered a false dichotomy between state control and free market – either way is unregulated aggregation of economic power. Somehow the state has been rehabilitated without ever lifting a finger on our behalf, and to contradict its nonsense is to be aligned with cranks with their own set of authoritarian delusions.

Now having had the ‘rona twice I don’t consider it a hoax, it was like sleeping sickness with a loss of mental focus and bodily appetites. The cough only set in after a week but it never quite went away. It tends to magnify symptoms you live with normally, in my case headache, joint pain and irregular digestion. But everybody’s different, some test positive with no symptoms at all, some clearly have it but test negative or inconclusive.

We hear a lot these days about “imagining new futures” but no-one has any answers beyond more of the same, with a bit of technological wizardry thrown in. You cannot “unite” a society built on domination and abuse that refines its exploitative mechanics with every crisis it visits on our Class. The idea that there is an alternative to the status quo that is still military-industrial capitalism is irredeemably stupid. It wasn’t too much of a surprise that fucking idiot Hancock is influenced by Hollywood films, he could have just read his government’s own report on preparing for a pandemic, published in 2016, if he were serious about becoming health secretary. Are we really going to let wankers like that get the better of us?

You cannot compromise with the ruling class because they won’t compromise with you. They will maintain their privilege at all costs – and it costs them nothing. Black people, and other disadvantaged groups will need to take matters into their own hands because the liberals and the reformists can do nothing for them. They will need to fight their oppressors with the same ferocity with which oppression was imposed on them. Compliance will eventually cost more of our lives than any pandemic. The proper response to the Colston situation was for a hundred thousand Bristolians to turn out on the streets and tell the ruling class we will not allow it to try these comrades, precipitate a real insurrection, there’s never been a better time.

There are no broad sunlit uplands on offer, only a brutal, vicious war with the prospect of the means of production finally under control of the producing Class – it’s got to be worth a fight, stuff your prison logic, let’s put our heads together and have a serious discussion about how to fuck shit up.

Obituary: Ken Weller (1935-2021)

Anarchist Communist Group

Ken Weller, a former leading light in the libertarian socialist organisation Solidarity, which dissolved in 1992, has died at the age of 85 on January 25th 2021. Born in Islington on June 30th, 1935, to a working class family, Ken joined the youth wing of the Communist Party, the Young Communist League (YCL) in 1951. He was an active member in its Islington branch, the second-largest in the YCL. He was at the large demonstration in Whitehall in 1956, protesting British involvement with Israel and the USA in Egypt, the so-called Suez Crisis. He witnessed mounted police exiting Downing Street to attack the crowd without provocation.

“I saw one knocking over a middle-aged couple who clasped each other in their arms for fear, knocking them flying; and I looked in the gutter and there was a banner pole, like a broom-handle, about five feet long, and I picked it up and the same policeman on a horse came charging at me and I hit him as hard as I could with it, broke the pole, and he turned round and went back into Downing Street. I don’t know what happened to him; and then there was a battle in Whitehall which was quite nasty; the police would grab hold of someone and there would be a battle over their body; in one scuffle I ended up at the back of the crowd with a policeman’s epaulette in my hand, minus the policeman; and then there were marches through the streets with linked arms. It was an emotional event, caused by a combination of factors. At the beginning of that demonstration, some CPers turned up with banners, just a few, you almost had to respect them, and they were booed! This was the party which had dominated left-wing politics, effectively the only people who ever had demonstrations apart from the Labour Party; they turned up for the Suez demonstration and they were booed into the square. A massive change in people’s attitudes and perceptions had taken place over those few months.”

He himself was affected by the emergent rebellious atmosphere, and was involved in a dissident group in the YCL, which produced its own paper with a circulation of 800. Around 1957-58 he moved in the direction of the Club, a Trotskyist formation led by the toad-like Gerry Healy, which became the Socialist Labour League in March 1959.

“A group of us in the YCL all left together, mainly working-class kids, well, we weren’t kids, young men and women, I suppose, and we came in contact with Healy’s people. My own path was through Peter Fryer, who I’d known in the Daily Worker; I’d met him and we’d discussed, and he sort of convinced me that this was the path of the future”. He was to comment later that “the first conference of Healy’s outfit all us dissident CPers went to, I remember how shocked we all were when we saw that many of the organisational and conference methods, you know, like the panel election of conferences, were practised in that organisation as well, to a more extreme extent, because a smaller organisation is much tighter.”

As Ken was to say later, “I began to become more and more of a dissident because I felt that most of the criticisms I’d had of the Communist Party were true, in spades, with Healy.” Healy started to turn the SLL away from industrial work, towards work within the Labour Party. This resulted in an opposition emerging around the building worker Brian Behan.

Ken himself, an engineering worker and shop steward in the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW), was part of this opposition. Behan and his circle were expelled in May 1960, followed by seventy others who walked out in disgust. Ken was among those expelled.

He then took part in an attempt to set up a new group, the Workers’ Party, along with other ex-members of the SLL who had left with Behan. During the seamen’s strike of 1960, this group helped the militant seaman George Foulser produce a strike bulletin called Seaman’s Voice, two issues of which were produced. Elements of the group, including Ken, then became interested in the ideas of the French group Socialisme ou Barbarie and its founder Cornelius Castoriadis (alias Paul Cardan). The neurologist Chris Pallis and Bob Pennington, a working class militant, who had both been involved with expelling Ken, had themselves become interested in the ideas of Socialisme ou Barbarie, and when this came out in the SLL, they were both physically assaulted, Pennington in particular receiving some severe injuries. They were then both expelled. As a result, Ken united with Pallis and Pennington in a group at first called Socialism Reaffirmed, which published a journal, Agitator. After six issues both the journal and the grouping were renamed Solidarity. Pennington was soon to drift off in the direction of Pabloist Trotskyism.

Ken and other members of Solidarity became involved in the peace movement around CND and the Committee of 100 (C100). Ken and other Solidarists were on the industrial sub-committee of C100. As such he and Solidarity were involved in preparing for a demonstration of C100 in Red Square in Moscow in July 1962 and the distribution of a text, Against All Bombs, written by Ken, which called for the abolition of all nuclear weapons and denounced the Soviet regime. The Guardian described this as “the most direct challenge to official Soviet policies and ideas to have been presented to the Soviet man in the street since freedom of speech died under Stalin.”

Ken was also one of the Spies for Peace. On 16th February 1963 five members of C100 broke into a Regional Seat of Government (RSG) outside Reading. This was one of a network of nuclear bunkers reserved for the ruling elite in the event of a nuclear war. The documents discovered there were then used in a document, Danger! Official Secret, signed by the Spies for Peace. Three thousand copies of this document were handed out on the Aldermaston March organised by CND at Easter on 10th April, which were subsequently widely copied and spread further. As the demonstration passed the RSG, a section of it broke away and surrounded the RSG. All of this caused severe embarrassment to the government. None of the Spies for Peace were ever apprehended.

Ken was also involved in organising the incident at the Methodist Church in Brighton on 2nd October 1966, where Harold Wilson and George Brown spoke from the pulpit, hypocritically referring to swords being turned into ploughshares. As leading lights of a Labour Government supporting American war efforts in Vietnam, they were immediately confronted by political activists who had gained access thanks to forged admission tickets handed out by Ken. Nine demonstrators were to be arrested, among them the anarchists Nicolas Walter and Bernard Miles, and the Solidarists Heather Russell and Andy Anderson.

Ken wrote many of the pamphlets that Solidarity produced during its existence, in particular those around the theme of a particular strike, and these had an influence far beyond the limited membership of Solidarity. Among them were The BLSP Dispute – the Story of the Strike, What Next for Engineers?, Truth about Vauxhall, The Lordstown struggle and the real crisis in production , as well as a pamphlet written with Ernie Stanton, What Happened at Fords, partly based on his own experiences at Ford Dagenham in the 60s. He also wrote the important pamphlet GMWU-Scab Union, under the pseudonym Mark Fore, and contributed a historical section to the Solidarity pamphlet produced by bus workers , including the late Bob Potter, and helped distribute this around London bus garages.

As the ACG wrote in its text In the Tradition “Whatever Solidarity’s weaknesses (not least their fairly lax attitude to maintaining an international organisation and their lack of political direction after they effectively split around 1980). Solidarity was involved in important revolutionary activity and publishing for at least 20 of its 30 years, producing a wealth of literature defending a coherent vision of libertarian socialism that was unavailable elsewhere. Compared to many of the ‘class struggle’ anarchists in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s, they developed a consistent body of politics that recognised the need for working class self-organisation outside social democratic and Leninist models.” Ken Weller contributed importantly to this work.

Later on, as Solidarity staggered on to 1992, Ken wrote Don’t be a Soldier! The radical anti-war movement in north London 1914-1918, published in 1985, an important contribution to working class history in Britain. He was always open to sharing his vast knowledge of British working class history with other radical historians. Ken used to phone me regularly for chats about working class history and provided me with much information that helped me write some of my biographies of revolutionaries active in Britain, including Leonard Motler, Gertrud Guillaume-Schack, Johanna Lahr, etc. For example, I remember him sending me photocopies of correspondence by Motler, which proved most helpful. Sometimes I visited him in Lathom Road, where he drank large mugs of tea whilst talking about history and about the iniquities of Gerry Healy and the Socialist Labour League.

As an industrial militant, as a defender of libertarian socialism and as a chronicler of working class history, Ken’s life was inspiring and exemplary.

Nick Heath.

 

“The Rank and File Strategy”: A Syndicalist View. By Tom Wetzel

Black Rose Anarchist Federation – Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra

Veteran activist and writer Tom Wetzel enters the wide ranging debate on the left around the “rank and file strategy” orientation to the labor movement. This piece is based on material is his forthcoming book from AK Press, Overcoming Capitalism.

Kim Moody’s writings on “the Rank and File Strategy” have gained a broad hearing within a variety of socialist groups, such as Democratic Socialists of America and smaller socialist groupings. His original pamphlet from 2000 talks about the strategy in terms of both rebuilding socialist influence in the labor movement and as a way to build a more worker-based socialist movement in the USA.

Recently Moody encapsulates the point to building rank-and-file worker organizations in the context of the unions this way:

“Building rank and file power to fight for the independence of unions from capitalist influence, in part transmitted by the bureaucracy, is an important task in building a class-conscious workers’ movement—something without which socialism remains only a set of ideas.”

Why is worker control of the union organization important? Here I think it is important to look at the process of class formation — the more or less protracted process through which

View post

Formby Hall sacks worker for raising concerns over health and safety

Liverpool Solidarity Federation 

Two weeks ago we were contacted by a former employee of Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, a hotel and leisure complex located in North Sefton, Merseyside. The worker had been summarily dismissed after nine months’ service. The business did not give them any grounds for dismissal nor subject them to any disciplinary process.

The former employee was dismissed after raising questions about a post-lockdown health and safety document which was found to contain outright falsehoods.

We have supported the worker in seeking compensation for wrongful dismissal. The business is aware of these demands and has formally acknowledged them. As the business has had ample time to rectify this grievance, we have today decided to make it, and our involvement, public.

Liverpool Solfed understands that sacking on flimsy pretexts, disregard for health and safety, loose adherence to employment laws, and contempt for workers’ basic rights are endemic in the UK’s service industry. We predict that these conditions will worsen post lockdown. We move forward with the understanding that they are not to be tolerated.

Liverpool Solfed will support workers even in unorganised workplaces and will support any workers who wish to organise. Fight back against low pay, dangerous work, and workplace abuse!

5G and the Myth of a Green Transition

rethinking security

Far from absurd conspiracy theories about spreading coronavirus, Jo Baker argues that the rapid and seemingly unstoppable spread of 5G is happening without consultation or due consideration of the economic, environmental and climatic impact of such technologies.

5G infrastructure is currently being rolled out in many of our towns and cities. In Bristol, where I live, there has been a spate of planning applications from telecom companies for 20-metre-high monopoles in just a few weeks. A local campaign has resulted in hundreds of objections and Bristol City Council has so far refused sixteen applications on grounds of unsuitable siting and dominant appearance. There is a sense that something is being imposed from above without consultation or consent.

Bristol is well-known for its status as a ‘green’ and ‘smart’ city. It was the European Green Capital in 2015; in 2017 it overtook London as the leading smart city in the Huawei Smart City index; and it was one of the 100 Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Cities. Bristol was the first city in the UK to declare a climate emergency, followed, earlier this year, by an ecological emergency. And herein lies the conundrum. Can a city be both green and smart? Will wireless technology deliver a green transition or will it push us further towards ecological disaster?

A Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to the World Economic Forum, 5G is a necessary expansion of wireless technologies which will underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It goes far beyond telecommunications – enabling the digitalisation of the global economy, energy systems, manufacturing, health, education, security, food production, and so on. It is expected to add £13.2 trillion to the global economy by 2025. It will pave the way for autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, 3D printing and military applications such as hypersonic weapons and drone targeting.

Although this digital high-tech future is sold to us as a means to a socially just and sustainable world (smart cities, energy efficiency), it is essentially about economic growth and is already having a devastating environmental impact. The fact is that digital technologies demand unprecedented amounts of mineral extraction, create large amounts of toxic waste, and

read article

Red and Black Telly roundup