CARILLION COLLAPSE – WHAT NEXT?

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LOWKEY ft. MAI KHALIL – GHOSTS OF GRENFELL

Fighting for a living wage: John Hardy and the battle of Pyt House.

On 25th November 1830, at the height of the Captain Swing uprising, labourer John Hardy was killed in action against yeomanry near his home at Tisbury in Wiltshire.

Four hundred quarrymen and agricultural labourers had confronted the landowner and local M.P. John Benett at Pyt House to demand two shillings per day, the quarrymen were at that time on three and a half pence. Instead Benett read a royal proclamation against riot, then offered five hundred pounds to any worker who would inform on ten others.

The workers were unmoved and destroyed Benett’s threshing machines. They were engaged in woodland by a troop of yeoman cavalry that had pursued them from nearby Hindon. A pitched battle ensued as the workers fought back with hatchets, pickaxes, hammers, sticks and stones, knocking Benett unconscious. All day, running battles were fought across the Vale of Wylye and barricades erected on the Warminster road.

Hardy was shot dead and twenty-nine others captured. At Benett’s insistence the cavalry denied the injured prisoners water on the journey to Fisherton Gaol.

A witness wrote: “the blood did trickle out of the wagons the whole way to Salisbury …”

Background, and here we go again under capitalism:

At the turn of the 19th century the industrial revolution was spreading into agriculture and threshing machines abolished a quarter of the work in a few decades. Land enclosures proletarianised the peasantry and stole the commons, resources that had supported them since prehistory.

The ruling class wanted to have their cake and eat it, to create a ‘free market’ for agricultural labour whilst retaining the rigid social hierarchies inherited from feudalism and preventing economic migration. The Speenhamland system of poor relief, adopted in the 1790s, subsidised poverty wages from the parish rates according to family size and the price of bread.

Relief was tied to the parish of birth and set by the local magistrates. Paupers were obliged to take such work as was offered, and vagrancy laws stopped them crossing parish lines to look for better pay or the dwindling common land where they might live for free – “every man must have a master”. Landowners were thus guaranteed a captive pool of cheap labour to use as they saw fit, and to this indignity was added the further degradation of dependence on charity in return for servile conduct.

Steady employment gave way to hire by the day, or the hour, wages fell, and the bread ration was cut. There are tales of paupers being auctioned and harnessed to carts with bells around their necks. Tithes, rents and taxes rose, the bosses amassed great fortunes and ratepayers complained about the cost of poor relief. These included small farmers who didn’t like it either, when one laid off their hands, others would do likewise: “if I must pay his men, he shall pay mine”.

Captain Swing didn’t start as an insurrection against the status quo but was the response of necessity after a series of bad harvests threatened the rural proletariat with starvation. Just as modern unrest is often not specifically anti-capitalist but motivated by a sense of unfairness and injustice, they aspired to no more than providing for their families as in former times. “We don’t want any mischief, but we want that poor children when they go to bed should have a belly full of tatoes” Labourers initially trusted their masters would do right by them if reminded of their obligations: “ye have not done as ye ought”.

Sound familiar?

Their masters needed a shove however, and the practice of collective direct action leads to an appreciation of the strength of the Working Class and its fundamental antagonism to property and privilege. The logic of Swing was simple and infallible: they had been raised to understand they must work to live, they must earn wages or starve as undeserving paupers, therefore they would break the machines that took their work and demand a wage for doing so. The going rate was about forty shillings per machine. The gentry and clergy that lived so well at their expense could provide them with food and beer as they worked – or else.

Meanwhile in the cities radicals agitated for political reform and the Duke of Wellington’s tory government dug its heels in. Dissenters and ranters went around the country preaching everything from the second coming to full communism. There were revolutions on the continent and Kent villages flew tricolours or pirate flags as symbols of rebellion. A demonstration was called for the 9th November at the Guildhall to disrupt the inauguration of the Lord Mayor, to be attended by Wellington and the King. The authorities decided to cancel the day before.

Moving Westward from Kent Swing became a mass movement. The workers were joined by poachers and smugglers, formed alliances across parish and county borders abetted by agitators on horseback. Swing entered Wiltshire and Dorset from Hampshire, then on to Gloucestershire, and touched the industrial midlands where King Ludd reigned twenty years earlier; it reached Cornwall, Norfolk, Hereford and Carlisle. Jails were opened and prisoners released. Magistrates informed the Home Office that two-thirds of the rural population were involved in machine-breaking.

By the end of the year it had brought down Wellington’s government. It also achieved a general increase in wages and lowering of tithes and rents. Many farmers sympathised and voluntarily acceded to the workers’ demands if their neighbours would follow suit, refusing to be sworn in as yeomen or constables, and were invited to join in and take back their taxes. The mechanisation of agriculture was delayed, but that was never the root cause of the misery. The problem wasn’t the machine, but its use to produce wealth for the owner rather than food for the worker.

Swing challenged the hierarchy in two important ways: it assumed a parallel moral authority independent of church* and state, but above all it was mobile; the Working Class were not supposed to move around without permission or invitation.

* It’s instructive that a common form of passive protest at the time was for villagers to walk out of a sermon and smoke their pipes in the churchyard.

Repression followed, and not just against the convicted insurgents. The new poor law of 1834 abolished outdoor relief altogether and made it conditional on forced labour in the workhouse. Paupers, the elderly and infirm were made prisoners of Class War, subject to summary punishment. Wives and husbands were separated and the children of widows apt to be sold to factory owners or shipped to the colonies as indentured labourers. A new centralised law enforcement regime – the filth – was imported from Napoleonic France via occupied Ireland. In February 1832 the Metropolitan Police, formed in 1829 as a pilot project, inserted its first of many undercover cops, Sergeant Popay, into the National Political Union for a year as an agent provocateur. Within a couple of years the Met was being used as a mobile riot squad against the Chartists.

Such events are commonly portrayed as the birth pains of modernism but two hundred years later fuck all has changed. We’re still dependent on wages, still subject to displacement by machines. Technology is still reducing the value of human activity and creating poverty when it should be enhancing our abilities and freeing us for more beneficial occupations. We’re still governed by received values that many passively endorse but few understand where they came from or who they serve.

Capitalism cannot solve these problems, but we can. We ought to celebrate our martyrs:

John Hardy we’re proud of you!

– Mal Content.

Sources and further reading:

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ENG-WILTSHIRE/2004-11/1099392025

‘Captain Swing’ – Hobsbawm and Rude

‘Tolpuddle And Swing, The Flea And The Elephant’ – Dr. Roger Ball.

Joint Statement by CGT, Solidaridad Obrera and CNT About the Situation in Catalonia

As signatory organizations, unions at state level, we share our concern about the situation in Catalonia, the repression that the state has unleashed, including the diminution of rights and freedoms and the rise of a stale nationalism which is appearing again in much of the state.

We defend the emancipation of all the working people of Catalonia and the rest of the world. Perhaps, in this context, it is necessary to remember that we do not understand the right to self-determination in a statist way, as nationalist parties and organizations proclaim, but as the right to self-organization of our class in a given territory. Thus understood, self-determination passes more by control of production and consumption by workers and by direct democracy from the bottom up, organized according to federalist principles, than by the establishment of a new frontier or the creation of a new state.

As internationalists, we understand that solidarity among working people should not be limited to state borders, so we are not really concerned where these are drawn. What we do find very disturbing is the reaction that is being experienced in many parts of the rest of the State, with the enthusiasm for a stale Spanish state, which is more reminiscent of past times, brewed by the media and in line with the authoritarian drift of the government, notable after the imprisonment of persons for summoning acts of disobedience or the application of article 155 of the Constitution. We do not forget that this nationalist outbreak lays the groundwork for further cuts in rights and freedoms which we must be prevent. The shameful unity of so-called “democratic forces” in justifying repression shows a gloomy picture for all future dissents. It seems that the post-Franco regime that governs us for 40 years, close its ranks to ensure its continuity.

This regime, which has existed and exists in Catalonia as well as in the rest of Spain, feels that its own survival is at stake. Questioned extensively and plunged into a deep crisis of legitimacy, it is alarmed because of the accumulation of open fronts. The threat to the territorial integrity of the state is compounded by corruption scandals, the monarchy’s stigmatization, the questioning of (bank) rescues and cuts that have been applied to the population, discontent with slavery in the workplace derived from the last labor reforms, the extension of retirement age and the economic reduction of pensions, etc. The constant calls to defend the constitution must be understood as foul to rebate and deal with this true existential crisis that besieges the state. The danger is that in the process, repressive behaviors such as those seen recently in many Catalan cities will be sanctioned and become standard. The worst …

Obviously, we do not know in what sense the events will decant. We will remain attentive to what happens, ready to defend the interests of working people throughout the State. We will oppose the repression and the normalization of right-of-way attitudes, which are already perceived, with all our forces. Of course, we will not allow ourselves to be used by the strategies of political parties whose objectives are extraneous to us. At the same time, we will not stop encouraging the mobilizations of the working class when they finally decide that the time has come to shake off the dictatorship of political and economic elites who have spent too long managing the territory to serve exclusively their own interests. As trade union organizations, libertarian and combative, we will be on the streets, in the mobilizations, as we have shown on many occasions, against repression, cuts in rights and freedoms and against corruption.

The Catalan crisis may be the brink of a dying state model. Whether this change is in one sense or another will depend on our ability, as a class, to take the process in the opposite direction of repression and the rise of nationalisms. Let us hope that the final result will be more freedoms and rights and not the other way around. We risk a lot.

FOR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS! AGAINST REPRESSION OF WORKING CLASSES!

CGT – Solidaridad Obrera – CNT, October 26, 2017.

Call for solidarity from KAF

Immediate call to all our comrades Anarchists and Libertarians wherever they are

A direct and special call to our comrades Anarchists and Libertarians Arabic-speaking

No to State, No to war. Yes for self-administration and the Social revolution

For years and years we, anarchists and libertarian in Iraqi “Kurdistan”, Europe and other countries all our publicities and our slogan have been about Yes for self-administration in everywhere and for all the communities , but No to State.

We raised our voice against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its very recent scenario of referendum on “independent Kurdish State”. We are very sure the other anarchists among Arab, Turkish, Assyrian and others had the same attitude. We also believe the same attitude from our anarchist comrades throughout the world to say no to State, authority, nationalism and to be against the nationalist and against pro-fascist war.

Iraqi “Kurdistan” has been going through a very difficult time since Oct 2015. The wages of public sector employees have been reduced to less than a half, the number of unemployment has increased sharply, the price of everything has gone up, business and the government services have dramatically been cut off. This all happened in addition to the war with Isis and disputes between (KRG) and the central government over the budget and the disputed lands and city like Kirkuk and the others.

So many strikes, demonstrations and boycotting work during this couple of years took place. Some of them lasted for few weeks even months. KRG instead of resolving all these problems tried to divert the attention of people from the real problems by announcing in July the referendum of independent Kurdistan, state of Kurdistan, on 25th of Sep.

Masoud Barzani the head of KRG set up the day of referendum without consulting Iraqi, neighbourhood countries, US and European countries. Once he called for referendum, all of them rejected it and told him that he will not get any support.

After the referendum of 25th of September Iraq, Iran and Turkey governments came together against it and threaten KRG with economic sanction. Iraqi government asked KRG to withdraw the decisions of the referendum and get back to the Iraqi constitution in taking any decision. Haider al-Abadi , the Prime Minster of Iraq gave Barzani warning that if he does not back down, the Iraqi government will take over control of Kirkuk province’s oil wells that are at the moment under the control of KRG.

Three days ago the Iraqi government sent a huge numbers of Police, military and Hishdi Shaibe [ the Siha paramilitary group] with various of heavy weapons to take positions on the city’s approaches.

The civil war now very imminent between Peshmarga, KRG forces, and the above forces of central government.

We are asking for support and solidarity from our comrades anarchists to protest, making a statement against this war, show their anger against the war and solidarity to Iraqi people.

We are anti State because we are against the current political system. We are anti-political party and anti-authoritarian ideology from left to the right, because we are anti class superiority, and anti-private ownership and exploitation of the labour. All the wars in history happened due to protecting class superiority, private ownership and labour exploitation.

We are against war, weapons and hatters between the different cultures and between different ethnic minorities. War in general produces death and slavery. The outcome of any war does not support starting the social revolution, in fact it damages and weakening the revolution climate. In the meantime, war opening a very big market for selling/ buying weapons and destroying the environment. War makes the poor people poorer and class superiority lasts longer.

While we are against war, we are very much in favour of people self-administration wherever they are living communally and working collectively. We are also aware wherever the state exist there is no freedom, wherever political party is, there is no self-thinking and individual independency. Wherever the businessmen and money are, there are slavery wages and exploited people.

In Iraqi “Kurdistan” there has been a strong authority for the last 26 years, there has been the bourgeois in power. For the last 26 years people deprived from the real freedom and from making the decision by themselves. For the long time the ruler has done very little for the people in “Kurdistan” in term of providing services. They encouraged people to move from the rural area to the towns and cities, making so many business contracts with the foreign oil company and corporations for their own profit, sold all the public lands and many more. In short “Kurdistan” became the home of many multinational companies, the financial institutions and the spies network of the neighbourhood countries and others. Since then they acted like a proper state in whatever they wanted to do. So why should we expect different when they set up their own “independent state” and think it will be better than what the people have it now?

We ask all our anarchist comrades to support and have solidarity with us to prevent this war. It is true that your opposition to the military and nationalist war in Iraq, if happens, may not as effective as our opposition, however, your solidarity will be crucial and greatly appreciated.

We again are calling our whole comrade anarchists especially Arab, Persian, Turkish and Assyrian speakers to raise their voices and act to stop this viscous war that is not in the interest of working class and poor people in Iraq and “Kurdistan”. Being silent and not be serious about it, is directly or indirectly serves the politicians, the big corporations and the capitalist system. We therefore have no choice but fighting back the system, its action and its war. We also expect the other anarchists wherever they are to stand with us, firm and to support the children, elderly and the disable people in Iraq.

  • No to war
  • No to State
  • No to nationalism and patriotism
  • No to capitalism system
  • Yes to solidarity and unite against the war
  • Yes to self-organise
  • Yes to the social struggle
  • Yes to social revolution
  • Yes to social uprising
  • Yes to self-administration

Kurdish-Speaking Anarchist Forum (KAF)

15t Oct 2017

Website: www.anarkistan.com

Facebook page www.facebook.com/sekoy.anarkistan

Twitter https://twitter.com/anarkistan

Email anarkistan@riseup.net

Perez, Maria, 1917-1942, aka La Jabalina

A short biography of Spanish anarchist Maria Perez, who fought with the Iron Column and was murdered by the Francoists in 1942, from Libcom

Maria Perez Cruz was born at Teruel in Spain on the 3rd of May 1917. Her parents were Manuel Perez de la Esperanza and Isabel Lacruz Civera, also originating in Teruel. Maria’s nick name of La Jabalina (which can be translated as The Javelin in English but also is the name for wild pigs) comes from the fact that her mother’s family were from the village of Jabaloyas, and this nickname was given to all the women of the family.

Economic necessity forced the family to move to the port town of Sagunto in Valencia when Maria was only six years old. A railway linked Sagunto to the Teruel mines and minerals mined there were then shipped to other parts of Europe. There were serious problems of housing and health in the town and this triggered the first workers’ protests.

The family settled near the municipal market. Maria and her five brothers helped the family by working at a vegetable stall in the market. She also helped her mother in the house and worked as a cleaner at the house of a local doctor. Angered by the condition of the working class in Sagunto, Maria joined the Libertarian Youth in 1934 at the age of seventeen. She joined the anarchist militia The Iron Column in August 1936. This had been put together from various groups, including Sagunto metalworkers. She served with it as a nurse, and helped set up a hospital on the front.

During the Battle of Teruel on August 23rd 1936 she received a gunshot wound in the leg at Puerto Escandon, which fractured a femur. She then was hospitalised until December 24th at the Valencia hospital.

After this she worked in an arms factory at Sagunto and then at Cieza in Murcia at a steel works. With the victory of Franco, she attempted to go unnoticed in Sagunto. She was now pregnant.

On April 23rd 1939 she was arrested by the Guardia Civil. After questioning, where she was asked about who she knew in the Iron Column, her head was shaved and she was paraded through the streets, and then released.

She was again summoned by the Guardia Civil on May 30th. She refused to sign a statement read out by the military judge, saying that some of the content was untrue. She was released but on the following day was imprisoned in the Sagunto jail.

She was then charged during a military trial of “aiding the rebellion” and a whole list of deeds, most of which had occurred whilst she was hospitalised, including the assault on the Castellon prison when 11 warders were killed. One of the crimes cited was the murder of the Bolivian consul in Valencia (where no such consulate had existed), whist other murders, including eight priests and an MP, were assigned to her. Local Falangist leaders said that “she had not taken part in the atrocities” but a neighbour testified that “it was said” that she had taken part in the burning of a church. The Director of the Valencia Hospital vouched that she had been there in the period when these deaths happened.

On November 4th she was transported to the Valencia Hospital because of the state of her health and her advanced pregnancy. She was released from there in January 1940 and returned to prison and later the provincial women’s prison.

She was tried before a court martial on July 28th 1942 and sentenced to death. Ten days later on August 8th she was shot with six other male prisoners against the cemetery wall at Paterna. She received a bullet to the head and another to the chest.

During her three years in prison she had been beaten and tortured but refused to own up to anything, apart from being the lover of Paco el Frances (French Paco), who may have been the Column’s war delegate in Sarrion. It is assumed she gave birth to a child on January 9th 1940, but nothing is known further of this child. Many children of prisoners of the Franco regime were given up for adoption, and this seems to have been the fate of the child.

In 2003 a women’s association of the Baladre neighbourhood of Sagunto carried out a campaign Breaking The Silences which remembered Maria and others killed by the Franco regime. A square in Sagunto has now been named after her.

Manuel Girona Rubio wrote a book about her “Un Miliciana en la Columna de Hierro”, published in 2011 and this was followed by a novel based on her life “Si me llegas a olvidar” by Rosana Corral-Marquez and a play written and acted by Lola Lopez, both in 2013.

Nick Heath

Sources:
http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/m0cgsn
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar%C3%ADa_la_Jabalina
http://mayores.uji.es/blogs/antropmorve/2011/12/06/maria-%E2%80%9Cla-jabalina%E2%80%9D-una-victima-de-su-tiempo/
http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/qnkb9q

 

Bristol Anarchist Bookfair Saturday September 16th 2017