The Durruti Column 1936

Corona virus pandemic comment number four, from the south of England. By Mal Content.

C.W. Profanity, cannibalism.

One nasty side-effect of all this is a widespread acceptance that there is some virtue in doing as you’re told, or that a government can rule by decree, in fact you cannot make statute law by announcing things on twitter. Their intent has been to condition the population into following arbitrary “rules”, raking over the details of what is permitted rather than thinking for themselves, with predictably catastrophic results.

Whatever you decide to do you should have a bloody good reason for doing it.

Why are people calling for “clarity” from the fucking government? Can they not make their own minds up? I find it hard to credit that anyone listens to the incoherent blitherings of Boris de Pfeffle fucking Johnson, let alone discusses them. Remember when he said he wanted the pubs to stay open but he didn’t want anyone to go there?

Did you know?

The UK government’s Coronavirus Act 2020 comprises a series of statutory instruments, supposedly deriving their legal authority from the emergency provisions contained within the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, as amended.

“In accordance with section 45R of that Act the Secretary of State is of the opinion that, by reason of urgency, it is necessary to make this instrument without a draft having been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

Remember now who the Secretary of State is – Matt fucking Hancock! Anyone interested in his opinion? Thought not.

Did you know?

Examinations of sewage samples from Italy and Spain (apparently they keep these things) show that the virus was present in Europe as long ago as March last year, months before it was identified in China.

You could be forgiven for failing to keep up with their ever-shifting injunctions about who can do what with some people but not others, here but not there, and for this reason but not that. In fact if you have been keeping up, you’ve clearly got too much time on your hands, in other words, you’re middle class, and probably work in the media – or rather, you’re sat on your arse looking at the internet and getting paid for it. Even the chattering classes, marooned in their expensive flats with little else to chatter about, have been getting it wrong.

Did you know?

The ban on taking exercise more than once a day, widely touted in the media, is in fact not in the English Regulations at all; it comes from The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

Did you know?

The equally widely-touted “one hour duration rule” is not in any government document but was made up on the spot by Michael fucking Gove!

Did you know?

The phrase “reasonable excuse” set out in Regulation 6(2) has never been defined, though examples were given. Early high-profile test cases were thrown out on appeal. It allows politicians to suit themselves.

Did you know?

The words “furlough” and “lock-down” were borrowed from the US prison system.

We should always be wary of people who find it necessary to coin new terminology out of the blue. When they started banging on about “linked households” I dropped out, but for the purposes of this blog post have looked into it.

Did you know?

(7) After regulation 7, insert—
“Linked households
7A.—(1) Where a household comprises one adult, or one adult and one or more persons who are under the age of 18 on 12th June 2020 (“the first household”), the adult may choose to be linked with one other household (“the second household”), provided that—
(a)the second household is not linked with any other household; and
(b)all the adult members of the second household agree.
(2) There is no limit on the number of adults or children which may be in the second household.
(3) The first and second households are “linked households” in relation to each other.
(4) The first and second households cease to be linked households if neither household satisfies the condition in the opening words of paragraph (1).
(5) Once the first and second households have ceased being linked households, neither the first household nor the second household may be linked with any other household.”.
(8) In regulation 9(2), after “Regulations” insert “, including any person who is a relevant person for the purposes of regulation 8,”.
(9) In regulation 10(12), at the end insert “or the obstruction under regulation 9(2) of a person carrying out a function under regulation 8”.

You lot got that?

Did you know?

On 4th July 2020 the regulations were repealed in their entirety and were replaced with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 684).

Could you construe morality or responsibility in terms of counting “households”, an abstract bourgeois concept? Here are some dictionary definitions of “household” (noun):

  • individuals who comprise a family unit and who live together under the same roof
  • all those who are under the control of one domestic head.
  • the people of a house collectively
  • a family including its servants.
  • one or more people who live together in a common space, share meals, and combine economic resources.

Many of us do not live in “households” at all but share crowded dwellings, occupy sites, or borrow sofas and spare rooms from more settled folk. Some vulnerable people live alone, or with dependants.

Did you know?

(8) In regulation 8—
(a)in paragraph (3)—
(i)in the opening words, for “outside” substitute “staying overnight at a place other than”;
(ii)at the end of sub-paragraph (a), omit “or”;
(iii)omit sub-paragraph (b);
(b)omit paragraph (4);
(c)in paragraph (5), in the opening words, for “outside” substitute at a place other than”;
(d)in paragraph (8), at the end insert “in regulation 6(1)”;
(e)in paragraph (9)—
(i)in the opening words, for “three or more” substitute “a number of”;
(ii)in sub-paragraph (c), for “the gathering” substitute “a gathering in a public place”;
(f)in paragraph (10), after “a gathering” insert “in a public place”.

I wonder what time you’d have to leave to avoid the charge of “staying overnight”…

Did you know?

If you’ve ever tested positive for coronavirus in England and were subsequently killed by something else, you would be counted as a covid death by the ONS, but not necessarily by the government, which only counts deaths in hospitals. If you died in Scotland or Wales however, you would need to have died within 28 days of your test. If a positive test result came in after your death certificate was issued, you would not be counted. If you died in a care home before 29th April you would not be counted, after that you would be counted if it was mentioned on your death certificate, whether you had been tested or not.

Pfeffle excelled himself this morning. After blithering that he wanted people “to go back to (office) work” – everybody else is already working you numbskull – he stated that it wasn’t up to the government to tell people what to do. When challenged on the scientific advice he retorted that it was a matter for politicians to decide. He then clarified that he wanted the bosses to make the decisions for their workforce.

The government is the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie is the government!

There has been much speculation over what a “post-furlough” society might look like. The idea of “working from home” appeals to those who can get away with it, of course. People who habitually do fuck all in offices can do fuck all much more efficiently in their kitchens. In future will we continue to pay them to stop indoors doing fuck all, as a sort of tax on the genuine Working Class, while they become ever more dissociated from reality?

Perhaps we will see the logistics Worker, the builder, the cleaner, machine operator and other indispensables emerge as a new labour aristocracy. In H. G. Wells 1895 novel, The Time Machine, the bourgeoisie have evolved into the Eloi, feckless weaklings who caper about in the sun, serviced by the troglodyte Morlocks, who prey on them at night.

Instead it is the middle class who will grow grey and pale, locked indoors jabbering over their futile tasks. Unlike the Morlocks they won’t develop good night vision; their eyes will be ruined by the computer screens and they will have compromised immune systems with no Vitamin D. They will become inbred, as they mate only with their “linked households”. Meanwhile we build our strength and confidence, take over the infrastructure, occasionally drag one out and chuck them on the barbeque. Doesn’t seem so dystopian after all!

Did you know?

The wearing of face masks is to be compulsory in a week or so, until then you are deemed safe without one. There are exemptions, make sure you know what they are …

This will coincide with the re-opening of gymnasia and sports halls, which in the meantime, remain unsafe. My personal view of the masks I have seen is that they are a placebo, which may give a little comfort to those who are especially worried about catching the virus. Now if they succeed in absorbing viral material, what is to happen to discarded masks? Will they be handled as hazardous waste? In a hospital they would be incinerated.

These are mostly pieces of cloth or paper, necessarily loose-fitting and porous. I write as someone who has spent a fair amount of time running around masked up. As you exercise and the carbon dioxide builds up, you puff and blow in your mask forcing material around the sides and through the pores. If you wanted to make a difference you would need a demand valve and a HEPA filter, which would remove all particles down to a third of a micron. Corona viruses are typically around a tenth of a micron and the filter would remove a proportion of these. This isn’t a practical proposition, being prohibitively expensive and impossible to enforce.

The best reason for wearing a face covering is to prevent identification and photography by fascists and agents of the state, and to show solidarity with those putting themselves in harm’s way every day to fight oppression. On the plus side, the cops won’t be using section 60AA anytime soon.

Workplace Notes

Anarchist Communist Group

Posties Wildcat in Bridgwater

One hundred postal workers at Bridgwater Delivery Office walked out on unofficial strike on Thursday June 4th.

It was sparked by the return of a manager regarded as particularly aggressive. His behaviour has involved use of disciplinary action, harassment of militants and removal of bikes used by postal workers. He had already been removed twice from the Bridgwater Delivery Office because of previous disputes.

Workers then voted to stay out on strike on Friday after the manager continued with his aggressive behaviour.

Despite the ousting of Royal Mail boss, Rico Back, (see our previous article, Bye Bye Rico) and his replacement by Keith Williams, managers are still

Read more

Red and Black Telly roundup












Third comment on corona virus pandemic, from the south of England: The future of our Class. By Mal Content.

Parts 1 & 2 can be found here.

“Always be honest and logical with honest and logical people, never be either with a system that is neither.”

– Carl Cattermole: The Prison Survival Guide.

This is written as the British government has once again changed the “rules”* for the territory of England. Scotland and Wales will continue to make their own, under the devolved administration, and of course Ireland will have two sets, causing people to scurry back and forth across the border.

* What a stupid idea; no-one ever takes pride in following rules, only in getting around them.

I’m not remotely interested in these changes, which only reflect what people were doing anyway, or what the state found it could not police, with a smattering of pointless detail on precisely under what circumstances people are “allowed” to meet others from outside their “household”* to give the impression some thought has gone into it.

* I’ll take a moment to deconstruct this bourgeois concept; it is a hateful thing and we should have no truck with it. It implies property ownership and once involved a retinue of servants, including women and children who had no agency and were subject to abuse.

The privatisation of domestic space that accompanied the separation of production from reproduction encouraged Working Class folk, contrary to their own traditions, to mimic the bourgeois household and abuse their own.

The nuclear family is simply the most efficient unit for wage labourers to reproduce at their own expense. The Working Class has always drawn its strength from the extended family, tribe or village; the atomisation of these support mechanisms has been high on the capitalist agenda since the industrial and agricultural revolutions.

Anyone who believes the policy-makers are wiser than us is irredeemably stupid and at high risk of dying from something or other at any time. For example some fuckwit has decided that public transport is safer than car-sharing! For a taste of just how dense these people are, here’s a screen shot from the government’s own website:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: “Retail is the sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.” – Not wholesale, transport, research, manufacturing, cleaning, construction or admin. But you knew that, and so did I.

My purpose here is to examine the class dynamics that will develop in the aftermath, and how we can turn these to our advantage. Indeed, how we must if we are to avoid the bleak future the bosses have planned for us.

As stated previously the concept of “lock down” is construed entirely in bourgeois terms. Their slogan “stay at home, stay safe” is aimed at a tiny minority who are thus able to monopolise the moral high ground. If I had a pound for every middle class prick on the radio telling us “we all work from home now” whilst waiting for a Worker to deliver their groceries, I’d be able to retire. The television combines corporate team-building bullshit with adverts for technological gimmicks and online gambling.

For the precarious and heavily exploited people who keep the infrastructure running, the only noticeable effect of “lock down” has been the closure of their leisure facilities and meeting places, reduction of already sparse and overcrowded public transport, queueing at the shops, and the pressure of a potentially unsafe working environment. The bosses have tacked a ‘race to the bottom’ in health and safety on to that of wages and security.

Workers in hospitality and entertainment, bar and sex work have been subjected to a simple lock-out. The “furlough” scheme is inadequate and doesn’t apply to everyone; 80% of fuck all is fuck all.

Added to this, is the interruption of Working Class children’s education, and loss of their main/only meal of the day, yet another handicap in the lottery of life. It hasn’t occurred to the toffs that many families rely on free school meals to feed their kids, or perhaps they have reverted to the 20th century tactic of using starvation to keep the lower orders from developing.

The changes will feed a new group of workers to the virus, after healthcare, logistics and transport, now manufacturing and construction, whilst the idle rich – including the media and politicians – continue to hide themselves away. Golf and tennis are coming back, but not basketball or boxing. It’s all intended to keep the bourgeoisie firmly in the saddle. As ever, the workers suffer and scrimp to protect their masters’ wasteful and extravagant lifestyles, the bourgeoisie’s self-inflicted crisis of 2007 fell entirely on the poor whilst the rich got steadily richer without a hiccup.

The tinfoil hat merchants would have us imagine the entire situation has been manufactured to allow the imposition of totalitarianism, I won’t entertain this idea, we know our leaders are all bent, but they really aren’t that clever. Neoliberal disaster capitalism is programmed to exploit every crisis to increase the power of the ruling class – but not at the expense of everyday commerce. Even the most unscrupulous capitalists: Virgin’s Branson, Wetherspoons’ Tim Martin and B.A.’s Willy Walsh, bemoan the ineptitude of their political lackeys.

They have visibly been caught on the hop, despite having been warned by the study they commissioned in 2016 that the NHS would not be able to cope with a pandemic, they carried on squeezing it and flogging it off. They shot themselves in the foot with ‘brexit’ and presumed we would carry the can for that as well. You’ve only got to look at that idiot Boris de Pfeffle Johnson pointing at a graph on telly to conclude that he’d never set eyes on one before. Nor are we fooled by their arbitrary “steps” and “phases”. Pfeffle will be getting the sack as soon as they can find a replacement; there should also be hue and cry from our Class over the thousands of unnecessary deaths from their failure to procure adequate PPE, ventilators or testing.

Ask yourselves: how much longer will you let this gang of chancers blight your future in pursuit of their failed neoliberal project?

The money economy is going to take the biggest hit of its life. It was not fully developed during the Black Death and since the modern banking system appeared in the late mediaeval period it has always been fed and watered by the expansion of empires. War has never hurt the bourgeoisie, two World Wars and the cold one generated huge state subsidies to industry for the development of technologies they would come to own and protect with patents. Almost everything we take for granted in the modern world was invented for the military. The debt thus created and traded is underwritten by the Working Class.

This is entirely different, it’s a straight contraction of commercial activity; it has not served any of the functions of war: to destroy surplus production, to cull the working population*, no lucrative technologies have been developed and there will be no rebuilding of infrastructure. The bosses will be desperate to recoup their losses and expect us to do it for them. Capitalism will not survive unless it is carefully nurtured, unless we sacrifice to make up their profits, and why would we want to do that?

* Appalling though it is, the death toll will not have a significant effect on the labour market.

There is going to be mass unemployment, homelessness, failure of health and welfare systems, and vast numbers of empty buildings – what are we going to do about it?

If the anarchist movement has any value in the modern world we must be on hand to offer credible alternatives, bring our experience to bear and lead by example. This is the moment we have been waiting for.

We need to squat everything – including residential dwellings – in an organised systematic fashion and we will need to exercise self-discipline, not just because the virus is likely to be with us for some time. We recall the devastation wreaked on Working Class communities by thatcher. People on the street without support can rapidly lose self-respect, empathy and focus.

The spooks are most likely going to flood the country with cheap smack as they did in the 80’s, or maybe ketamine. Don’t be prison fodder; if they can’t extract your surplus-value they will lock you up and make money out of you that way.

There will be skilled trades-people standing idle who can co-operatively prepare buildings for use once the homeless have taken and secured them.

Occupy unused land and grow food on it.

Turn disused restaurants into free canteens for the Working Class.

Set up neighbourhood supply and defence committees to protect the vulnerable and resist evictions, deportations etc.

Create no-go areas for cops, bailiffs and other undesirables.

We should look into occupying manufacturing facilities with a view to making something useful (to us). The simple act of setting up a co-operative venture, learning and sharing new skills, organising the work and supply chain by consensus, prepares us to take over industry once and for all.

Some will find teaching their children at home works for them. With the range of skills and experiences available to the extended family or ‘village’ kids can learn much more than how to fit themselves to the wage system. Who knows, they might actually find things they enjoy and are good at.

Empty offices can be social centres, libraries, medical or legal drop-in points, venues for gigs, film shows, seminars, meetings, self-defence training or whatever you want.

We should have our own radio stations, they’re more fun than the internet and easier to keep a grip on.

It has been suggested there will be no live entertainment this year, well they can fucking back out with that! We may see a revival of the free party/festival scene, playing cat and mouse with the babylon. Parties could be timed to coincide with more serious expropriations. The more we stretch their resources the less they will have to evict squatters.

Those of us who find ourselves by chance still in waged labour are another front. It beggars belief after decades of austerity and precarity that most of our Class are still not unionised. If this is you, get into one fast, you can join the IWW for a pound a month unwaged, or, if appropriate, one of the more location and industry specific such as UVW, CAIWU and IWGB. It will fall to us to prevent the boss class re-asserting itself; all the old Wobbly tactics are as relevant as ever.

  • Sick-in, the slightest sniffle will now give you good reason to take seven days self-certified, you’re doing society a favour!
  • Good work strike, be kind to your class, turn a blind eye to shoplifting for example.
  • Sabotage (need not involve physical damage), use your imagination here.
  • Expropriation (theft), you need never queue for bog rolls again!
  • Open mouth (whistle blowing); let’s hold the bosses fast to the rules while we break them.
  • Working to rule. Health and safety legislation allows any worker to walk off the job if they believe it poses a risk to themselves, their colleagues or the public. They cannot be disciplined for this and their belief does not have to be correct, only reasonable. This is a good excuse for a sit-down strike while they sort it out.
  • Shirking, skiving, go-slow; take it in turns to do fuck all for half an hour, see above.
  • Dual power: organise the work to suit yourselves and by-pass the boss, it’s good training for when there isn’t one.
  • Bombard management with grievances to tie them up and waste their time; I see no problem with using the law as it is the terrain on which we operate, so make yourself an expert. It’s skewed in favour of the bosses but this has led to a culture of impunity whereby most of them can’t be arsed to familiarise themselves with it, which leaves a lot of ‘low hanging fruit’. It’s akin to hitting your opponent with the door or the wall rather than bringing a cosh to the party. The only thing that matters in a fight is who’s left standing at the end of it.

You’ll find more tactical detail here:

How to Fire Your Boss – a workers’ guide to direct action.

Here’s a pamphlet on taking over the healthcare sector:

Defend the NHS – fight for socialised healthcare. By Felix Sabot.

Let’s hope it’s a long, hot summer and we have some good riots.

Mal C. X

Untold story of People’s War in London Blitz

Docklands and East London Advertiser

War Illustrated magazine showing families in Tube shelter at Piccadilly Circus

THE media dusted off the black and white photos and the TV showed old newsreels of Londoners clambering out of the dust and rubble of their devastated homes, smiling for the camera while Union Jack flags flutter in the wind. They recorded how the King and Queen were pleased that Buckingham Palace had been bombed because “(We) can look the East End in the face.” No bombs, in fact, landed on the Palace itself.

But the media did not show how London’s Working Class reacted—fighting not just to survive the German air raids, but the British Establishment as well.

The East End was in revolt. Parts had become a ‘no go’ area to the King, Queen and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The wartime Minister for Information, Harold Nicholson, recalled in his diary: “Everybody is worried about the feeling in the East End of London where there is much bitterness.”

Working Class communities had suffered badly during the Depression of the 1930s with high unemployment and slum housing. Now they suffered the heaviest devastation, with large parts of Stepney, Bethnal Green, Poplar, West Ham, Bermondsey, Deptford, Lambeth, St Pancras, The City and Westminster destroyed.

These communities knew more about the impact of ‘total war’ than any other, outside the Armed Forces. Many had already had sons who had been fighting fascism in the Spanish civil war a few years before. They knew from first hand the impact of aerial bombing by Hitler and Mussolini of Madrid, Barcelona and famously Guernica.

Unlike the Government, they recognised the need for deep-level underground shelters for the civilian population.

The Government failed to pay attention to the agitation, preferring to leave it to local authorities, employers or individuals to do the best they could. Those in the know began to strengthen the spaces under their stairwells, opened up disused cellars and dig up parts of their gardens if they were fortunate to have one. Corrugated iron was in great demand.

The authorities feared ‘deep shelter mentality,’ that Londoners may not return to the surface once down in the relative safety of deep underground shelters.

Those that spoke out at the beginning of the War for deep-level shelters or produced leaflets highlighting the dangers of the Anderson and trench shelters found themselves harassed, arrested and their publications often confiscated.

Sir John Anderson, after whom the back garden shelters were named, said in the Commons two years before the Blitz: “I do not think we are prepared to adapt our whole civilisation, so as to compel a large proportion of our people to live and maintain the productive capacity in a troglodyte existence deep under ground.”

Then just three months before the Blitz began, he said on June 12, 1940: “I am devoutly thankful that we did not adopt a general policy of providing deep and strongly protected shelters.”

How the Working Class paid for such stupidity! Things were soon to

Read more

Scrubs: The Story from the Bottom Up, from Haringey Solidarity Group.

Scrubs: The Story from the Bottom Up

Much like the elderly forced to walk laps and climb stairs to raise money for the NHS, the scrubs movement has been popularised by mainstream media as part of a ‘national effort’ at a time of ‘war’ fighting an ‘enemy’ we allegedly cannot see. We are being encouraged to paint rainbows and clap for the bravery of the health workers, when in reality we are sending them to their deaths. As of today (19/4/2020), at least 86 health and social care workers have died of COVID-19. The enemy is not invisible, it has been sitting in the leathered seats of parliament, imposing years of austerity which have left the health system bare to the bone; it has criminalised and worn down benefit claimants with strategies of surveillance, sanctions and deterrence; it has exploited the labour of key workers living hand to mouth, whilst endowing inessential services with bonuses, tax rebates and bailouts.

The current PPE scandal is no different

At the end of January 2020 it was already clear that a country like the UK, which had been de-industrialised through decades of neoliberal economics, was not going to be able to cope with the demands for PPE. The Tories had a simple answer: “people are going to die” and their fellow eugenicists chimed about “herd immunity” and supposed facts based on “science”. And once again, the working class was put to slaughter. After years of vilification and abuse, they were placed at the knife edge of this crisis. COVID-19 is not the touted ‘great leveller’, it is disproportionately culling the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and BAME communities. 70% of NHS workers killed by COVID-19 are BAME. Workers who have been brought to the point of desperation and are starting to fight under the slogan “no kit, no care”, facing suspensions and potentially prosecutions for negligence if they fail to continue to work, in spite of a lack of protection.

We are now entering our fourth week of running one of the many autonomous scrub production units that have sprung up as forms of mutual aid across the country. We provide scrubs to all sorts of health workers who are lacking access to them in their workplaces. Staff who have had to perform C-sections on women wearing soiled clothes, scrub-less doctors bringing infections back to their family homes, workers on respiratory wards without protection, homeless nurses, social care providers looking after the elderly and disabled, trainee nurses sent to COVID wards wearing flimsy plastic aprons and bin bags. These are just to name a few.

Some of us are mothers, some of us lost our jobs, some of us just want to help or need something to take our minds off the crisis, and a large majority of us are professional seamstresses and tailors, providing an entirely unfunded service, save for public donations, across the entire country. A number of these local groups have up to 300 people, working from the safety of their homes. Delivery companies and independent workshops have offered their help in cutting and distributing fabric pieces to sewers, some of which are decentralised into smaller neighbourhood collectives, able to help each other out through the use of WhatsApp chats.

These local initiatives are sometimes receiving up to 1000 orders and are having to suspend taking more requests, as volunteers grapple with long hours, balancing paid and unpaid work. It doesn’t take much to realise that the network of these groups combined, exceed the workforce presently employed by large manufacturing companies, who have only recently received contracts to make changes to their production lines in order to deal with the demand for PPE.

There is no official scrub production in the UK. Scrubs are primarily made overseas, in countries such as China, India and Pakistan, often by informal labourers for extremely low wages. They are then entered into convoluted distribution systems and finally reach the hospitals which allocate the scrubs according to an equally tragic priority chain. Our particular scrub collective aims to remedy this by making them locally and delivering them directly to the health workers in need.

Many of these groups have managed to enter production with professional atomised systems within a week. You would think that we would be able to supply hospitals with stock, however we have been unable to contact procurement departments, who are often externalised from the main hospital sites and thereby have little connection to the health workers themselves. In fact I was told by unions reps, that if I ever did manage to contact them, it would be a miracle. General managers in hospitals are likewise fairly unresponsive, and those who have responded, told us there was plenty of PPE, when in fact nurses on their wards couldn’t even access basic items such as masks. Some hospital trusts are accepting donations only and are failing to pressure those further up the chain to release funding for their production.

The absurdity of this dilemma runs deep within the heart of the capitalist system. While the government is engaged in international profit-wars, back in the UK, Deloitte has been approaching friends and well known textile brands such as Barbour and Burberry, in effort to manage a temporary solution to the problem. Smaller scale manufacturers on the other hand, have heard nothing from the government after filing in their survey nearly two months ago, and instead are asking our scrub groups for material donations in order to start their production. Groups, who are at the forefront of providing immediate solutions to the problems, which more often than not, fall to women and their continuous underpaid and unpaid labour.

Burberry is expected only to start production in another week, other companies facing difficulties with the required certifications for water-resistant gowns are not to start in another two, at the very least. On the horizon is also a shortage of fabric, and the incessant greed of distributors who have hiked up even the cheaper cotton poplin to nearly half of its original price. Many are now resorting to use old duvet covers and bedsheets in order to make scrubs.

We also have to mention the struggles of our fellow workers internationally, such as in India, who are likewise fighting against the privatisation of hospitals; a lack of PPE; a lack of welfare provisions for informal factory workers, and a recent government decision to revoke the Factory Act of 1948, in order to standardise 12 hour working days, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes to restart manufacturing in the middle of a raging pandemic. In Bangladesh the COVID infection rate is increasing faster than many hard hit countries.

We need to politicise the struggle with a clear internationalist response that unifies all of us, our work, our mutual aid and our care. For as long as profit rules, there can be no peace. We need to requisition all health, manufacturing and transport sectors and provide all workers, currently unpaid or paid with fair wages and safe working conditions. This is not a public relations crisis with seemingly unfortunate logistical difficulties, this is an emergency stoked by the greed of those for whom our deaths are only a motivation for the accumulation of their capital.

Musings on Lockdown from a Hobbit named Dave

What have I learned from lockdown?

  • Who does it benefit? It benefits large chains and corporations and online traders. The small high street shops are closed. The high street has been in decline for years due to large out of town shopping super-centres. One would imagine that when people start to go out, they will find that their high streets, small retailers, grocers, butchers, clothes shops may no longer be there. How many pubs and entertainment will go out of business? Is it going to become the kind of terrain where anyone out on the street is seen a thug and a problem with no reason to be there?
  • People working from home with no financial loss – it has become apparent that these are the bullshit jobs – with no value to society. The fact that your job continues with little or no variation means that no one directly benefits from it. It may be that it is merely there as a unit of production to make money for your employer. I think that when the lockdown comes down these jobs may well remain at home with many more of them being made up. It will save your employer money on electric and cleaning and rent for their nefarious dealings whatever they may be.
  • Working class people come out of the woodwork. – The classes of worker who are of benefit to society are clear. They are the people who can’t afford to work from home, the nurses, the carers, the delivery drivers, the shelf stackers, bus and train drivers, distribution of food and supplies, plumbers, electricians and engineers. I think there are some more, but their activities are on hold; they are needed but not immediately, clothes-makers, house builders. These are the people we force to put their lives on the line for the rest of us to keep safe behind them, like a human shield – and who is at the back of the queue for death? It’s the toffs, the CEO’s, the share holders, the landowners; the most privileged in society.
  • Compliance – Lockdown has shown me how easy it is to have a population obey orders without question. Nobody needs to think for themselves; zombie-like everyone can follow the rules. “Stay home”, “Stay Safe”, “Save the NHS”. Politicians have cast the care workers as heroes to make them accept that they are losing their life in work because they don’t have the privilege of staying at home and following the rules. Making it sound as if they do this out of duty or love rather than the necessity to earn a living makes it somehow acceptable. In the past governments used patriotism and nationalism to send young men to the slaughter and now they send workers to their deaths with little care or comment bar a clap on a Thursday night. Why would we accept this?
  • Keeping governments in power under the threat of a working class kick off: patriotism and Nationalism again. – When Margaret Thatcher was worried about losing power, she started a war to maintain it. The government need to appear to be servants of the people, “all in it together”. The minute we see them for the scammers they are they will lose control. Hence the incompetent clown Boris, a total buffoon of a man, who increases his popularity with a bogus illness (from which incidentally he was in no danger of dying) proving himself to be just a man like you or me, man of the people, hero who survived against the odds. Does this sound like bullshit to you as well?
  • Educational opportunities. – These are now as they should be as far as the bourgeoisie are concerned. The children of rich parents get their one to one tuition online while the children of plebs are left to be home-educated by parents who have never had any experience of having to teach, or of home learning in all probability, being of a generation that has been thoroughly brainwashed by the school system themselves. The working class are successfully put firmly in their place, women once again confined to childcare and housework, existing only to provide the next workforce for the rulers.
  • The voices of the dissenters have been effectively erased – Anyone that will not or cannot accept the government strict codes of obedience painted as evil. They will kill us all. I am appalled and ashamed at the speed in which the working classes are learning to point the finger and report on their neighbours, families and friends. I didn’t believe how easy it was to create this environment of fear that brings out the worst in people, while banning and blocking the community that brings out the best in us. Effectively separated from each other being locked away in our flats, bedsits, behind our computer and TV screens. Consumers of media, controlled, herded and shepherded. Alone we are powerless, the only way to reclaim our power is to risk coming out blinking into the sunlight and uniting with our fellow human beings.

Red And Black Mayday 2020

The 1918 flu pandemic in the CNT media

Kate Sharpley Library

Miguel G.

The notorious flu epidemic of 1918 – known as the ‘Spanish’ flu epidemic – was first reported among US troops bound for the First World War trenches. Given the enormous mobility of troops at the time, the disease was largely free to spread to fresh population centres and so it claimed the lives of 50 million people worldwide. Spreading like wildfire. A powerful example of the destructive power of a pandemic.

In the kingdom of Spain, the disease arrived sometime between April and May 1918. We know that, as there was no press censorship in the country, the Spanish press reported the epidemic within days of its arrival. Which explains why it was initially thought of as having come from Spain and spread to the rest of Europe, when the opposite was true. And to complete the contextualization of the disease, there was a further surge in September and October 1918, when the mortality rate was at its highest. After that, there was another upsurge in February 1919, lasting a further two months. Finally, in 1920, there was a second wave of the epidemic. In all, around 150,000 lives were lost in Spain and 1918 was the only year (prior to the Civil War) when there was a fall in the overall population figures.

The fact is, though, that

Read article