Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for February, 2009

Big Up to the Student Occupiers !

With over 30 separate university occupations in the UK (surely a record!), a message of support to those at (locally) Bristol UWE, Cardiff and Plymouth Universities have managed to cut through the legendary British student apathy.

Reports below:

Bristol UWE

WE students have occupied part of the Frenchay Campus in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The occupation is the latest in wave of student occupations at more than 25 universities across Britain in the past few weeks. The UWE students are demanding that the university breaks its links with the arms industry and condemn the presence of the Raytheon arms company at the Bristol Business Park it co-owns. In a gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza, Students of the University of the West of England, Bristol, have passed a motion of support for the people of Gaza and are currently engaging in a peaceful occupation of a space within the University. We will as a group not be engaging in any efforts to disrupt the education of our fellow students at UWE. This is following the recent atrocities that have and continue to take place in the Gaza Strip & occupation of the West Bank. We as students ourselves wish to offer our unity and support to our fellow students in the region during these hard times. We have proposed a set of demands of the University including scholarships for Palestinian students, a boycotting of Israeli goods, support for fundraising for DEC, and a condemnation of Israeli Actions in the region

Cardiff Uni

Cardiff Students Occupy University for Gaza

Tuesday 24th February 12pm
Photos available on request
Contact 07886543863

Today Cardiff University students demanded their university immediately divest from the arms trade, by occupying the main building on campus. Students are currently locked in the Shandon lecture theatre and are refusing to leave until the university responds to their demands.

Cardiff University invests in companies that supplied Israel with weapons used in the recent attacks on Gaza. The occupation is in opposition to the University’s investment in the arms trade and to the atrocities committed in Gaza, where 1.4 million Palestinians are blockaded in a semi-autonomous apartheid state.

The occupation, the first of its kind in Wales, followed a Books not Bombs protest at midday where students brought along a book to signify their support for education, not war. Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians has seen human rights abuses on a vast scale and many schools and universities there reduced to rubble. The students currently occupying are acting in solidarity with those whose education has been jeopardised by the crisis.

A student who is currently occupying the university said:

“I am ashamed that Cardiff University is helping fund the horrific violence in Gaza the consequence of which is the obliteration of education infrastructure in another, poorer part of the world. I don’t want the money I pay for my education contributing to the destruction of someone else’s. Our thoughts from the occupation are with the people of Gaza, who have lost so much.”

The action at Cardiff is the twenty-eighth UK student occupation to have taken place in the last few weeks. This unprecedented wave of student dissent has seen many universities capitulate to occupier’s demands and review their investments in arms companies.

Plymouth Uni

Around 20 students from the University of Plymouth have occupied room 202 of the Smeaton building, in the middle of campus.

Our demands are as follows:

1. That the University of Plymouth issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

2. That the University of Plymouth cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus.

4. That the University of Plymouth provide complete financial scholarships for six students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Plymouth are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Plymouth.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation. All those involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space, with open access to electricity and internet.
We await your response to organise a formal meeting between delegates of our occupation and with university management to negotiate these demands.

To keep up with things as they progress, check out our blog at: http://plymouthunioccupation.blogspot.com/

For more information, email plymouthunioccupation@gmail.com

Advertisements

Climate Activism and the Economic Crisis

We are in the middle of two crises, the climate crisis and the economic crisis. Although we we seem to treat them as separate, it can be argued that they are completely entangled. Tackling one without tackling the other is impossible and fruitless, but the connections are complex and shifting. To intervene effectively, we need to look carefully at how we think about time and change, and how we relate to markets and the state. But first, let’s look at how the economic crisis arose and draw some link between this history and the problematics of climate politics.

The Last 60 Years

To understand the current economic crisis (and the collapse of what we call neo-liberalism, the most current phase of capitalism), we have to understand how it arose. And for that we have to go right back to the end of the Second World War. The post-war productivity boom was based on a ‘deal’ of higher wages in return for improved productivity – those were the days when we were told “you’ve never had it so good”. But by late 1960s this period of growth was being derailed by a wave of strikes and global unrest: in the workplace there were a growing number of struggles over time & quality of life (rather than money), while there was an explosion of anger from those excluded from this deal (i.e. anyone who wasn’t a white, skilled, male factory worker).

In the face of this, the post-war settlement was killed off in the mid- to late-1970s by a capitalist counter-attack which laid the foundations for ‘neo-liberalism’. You can pick any number of key moments – the coup in Chile in 1973, the defeat of the US air traffic controllers strike in 1981, or the defeat of the miners in 1984/5 in the UK. They were all part of a much broader systematic strategy, which played out here like this.

First, the old centres of workers’ militancy (mining, manufacturing) were dismantled and outsourced to low-wage economies overseas. In the UK in 1971 over 70% of people were employed in primary industries (like mining) or manufacturing, today over 70% of workers are in the service sector.

Second, the banking sector was massively deregulated. All sorts of complicated ‘derivatives’ markets were created. When this started to unravel in summer 2007, it ultimately resulted in the credit crunch – because no-one knew what all these pieces of paper were really worth.

Under neo-liberalism, wages were driven ever downward. Many of us are have found that every pay rise we’ve had over the last 15 years has been below the rate of inflation. But while this boosts profits, the problem is that it keeps consumer spending (= economic growth) down. This problem was ‘solved’ by extending massive consumer credit, based mostly on rising house prices. This gave us the spending power to purchase all those lovely commodities coming out of the new manufacturing centres in the Far East and elsewhere. Hence the anomaly where our living standards in the UK rose at the same time as our wages as a proportion of profits kept falling.

Without primary industries or manufacturing the economy came to rely more and more on the banking and financial sector. This sector was in turn heavily reliant on rising house prices: complicated ‘mortgage derivatives’ were one of the major assets held by the big banks. So when the housing bubble burst, everything started to unravel – banks teetered on the brink of collapse, credit dried up, and the economy nose-dived.

We are in uncharted waters. Despite comparisons to 1929, this level of collapse is unprecedented. How things pan out is of course partly down to us. But we don’t need a crystal ball to predict the storm that’s coming: in the UK, we’re already facing redundancies, wage cuts, benefit cuts, wage cuts, public service cuts, repossessions & evictions. Globally, there is mass social unrest on the horizon: workers laid off from thousands of factories in China have taken to the streets; food riots exploded in over 30 countries across the globe this time last year; and in the last few months we’ve seen violent battles in Latvia, Bulgaria & Iceland, not to mention Greece, Italy and France…
What Has All This Got To Do With Climate Change?

In the ‘liberal’ media and in the thoughts of many, there’s a shift of focus away from climate change, affecting us as citizens/campaigners/workers/claimants but also for NGOs and local and national government. Plus we now have to deal with the fact that a huge slice of public funds have been diverted into propping up financial institutions.

But we need to dig deeper. We talk about it as a “climate crisis” but from the point of view of capitalism (seen as a thing, an endlessly expanding dynamic system) it’s actually an energy crisis. And it’s an energy crisis that capital has to tackle in order to re-launch a new cycle of accumulation. This isn’t something new: the idea of “limits to growth” were an endless headache for capital in the mid-1970s before neo-liberalism took hold and unleashed new levels of exploitation.

In fact energy in its widest sense has been a permanent problem for capitalist development. Capitalism is an exploitative, ecologically destructive system but it is also incredibly dynamic. 300 years ago, when it faced down a similar twin crisis of a rebellious population and ecological crisis, its salvation was coal. Unlocking these carbon resources played a crucial role by allowing capital to substitute machinery for our labour, at a price that could sometimes be fixed years in advance and without risk of strikes, sabotage or go-slows.

It’s impossible to think about patterns of energy consumption, and therefore about global warming, without thinking of those social relations – capitalist social relations – that have shaped those patterns. The collapse of neo-liberalism and the climate crisis are intimately linked – so much so that they’re almost impossible to separate.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for us. At the back of much of the talk around climate change has been the idea that if we can just get people to accept the thesis of “peak oil” or “global warming”, then we will be able to magically pass into a different sort of world; as if we could switch off a carbon-based economy without also switching off the material social relations that surround it; as if the relentless drive for economic growth is some sort of mad aberration that we can turn off, or tone down. It’s not. There is no accident. There are structural causes at work here: the way we reproduce ourselves socially is bound up with the way we reproduce ourselves economically and the way we reproduce ourselves ecologically. But – and this is the key thing – the global financial meltdown could lead to a recomposition of social forces that would enable the rapid switch-over we need.

To get that switch-over right, here are four related areas worth thinking about.
1. How Do We Think About Time?

By this we don’t simply mean the time-scales we need to think about, although they are also important. There’s a time lag in the economic crisis which mirrors the time lag in climate change

* the first cracks in the sub-prime sector began Aug 2007 = implosion last year
* credit crisis from last summer = redundancies & layoffs now
* £500bn bank bail-out last autumn = massive public sector squeeze for the foreseeable future

This disconnection makes our responses very difficult – by the time we act, it may be too late. But there’s an even more important aspect to this time lag. Neo-liberalism has been built on a massive expansion of debt. By mortgaging our futures (quite literally in the case of pensions) we’ve been able to put off dealing with the fact that a few are reaping massive profits on the back of our falling wages. The same deferral, the same displacement of antagonism into the future, has also been going on with climate change. However, we know that process to be non-linear: once we reach a tipping point, change will become irreversible, so that when the time comes to ‘pay’ we’d all be screwed.

This leads into a deeper connection. Capitalist social relations are based on a particular notion of time. Capital is value in process: it has to move to remain as capital (otherwise it’s just money in the bank). That moving involves a calculation of investment over time – an assessment of risk and a projection from the present into the future. The interest rate, for example, is the most obvious expression of this quantitative relation between the past, the present and the future. It sets a benchmark for the rate of exploitation, the rate at which our present doing – our living labour – must be dominated by and subordinated to our past doing – our dead labour.

It’s hard to over-state how corrosive this notion of time is. It lies at the heart of capitalist valorisation, the immense piling-up of things, but it also lies at the heart of the production of everyday life. To paraphrase George Orwell, if you want a picture of the future, imagine a cash till ringing up a sale, forever. This is true at all levels, whether for capital’s planners meeting in Davos or for us trying to make ends meet.

But this is the deeper meaning of the meltdown: just like global warming, it has brought the future crashing into the present. Interest rates are now effectively below zero. We have reached a singularity. Capital’s temporality depends upon a positive rate of interest, along with a positive rate of profit and a positive rate of exploitation – all that has collapsed. And just as with climate chaos, the debts are, quite literally, being called in.
2. How Do We Think About Change?

The word ‘crisis’ has its origins in a medical term meaning turning point – the point in the course of a serious disease where a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death. So capitalism may be in crisis, neo-liberalism may be over, but that doesn’t mean we’ve won. Far from it. Crisis is inherent to capitalism. Periodic crises allow capital to displace its limits, using them as the basis for new phases of accumulation. In that respect, it’s true to say that capitalism works precisely by breaking down. But that’s only true in retrospect – after the resolution of the crisis. In fact crisis is mortally dangerous to capital, because it means an openness to other possibilities.

The critical instability we’re living through offers a chance for a phase transition, a rapid flip from one form of social organisation to another – or to many others. From capital’s point of view, it’s exactly this sense of openness, of possibility, that needs to be closed down. At the three major summits this year (G20 in the UK in April, G8 in Italy in July, and COP15 in Denmark in December), world leaders will be looking to contain things, to rein in our desires, and draw a line under the events of the past few months. “Move along now, there’s nothing to see here…” Every ‘solution’ that’s touted at these summits will also be an act of closure, an attempt to reintroduce capitalist temporality, one that sees the future rolling out inexorably from the present. In other words, get back to work: normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

We have to do a fine balancing act here. On the one hand, as recession deepens, we’ll resist any measures that restrict our immediate freedoms. That might mean pushing for ‘solutions’ that are slightly less damaging, and which may therefore help capitalism off its sickbed. Individually we may accept pay cuts rather than risk redundancies (although historically one hasn’t ruled out the other). Similarly, the catastrophic build-up of greenhouse gases means that we need to act quickly and decisively.

But on the other hand our greatest chance of something different lies in keeping the crisis ongoing, in keeping the future open. So we also have to resist the pressure from capital’s planners for a quick fix, whether at the G20 or at Copenhagen. As soon as crises are ‘solved’, our room for manoeuvre is diminished.
3. How Do We Relate To The Market?

As crises are closed down, the way the question is framed moves back on to a safer terrain for capital. We drift back into its particular form of temporality.

Climate change becomes a matter of carbon trading, or investment, rather than circulation of capital. It becomes a question of technical solutions and national/international policy decisions. Funnily enough, as climate change becomes the major topic at summits, it becomes fundamentally depoliticised. It’s easier to debate carbon parts per million in the atmosphere, rather than ask ourselves what sort of worlds we want to live in.

It’s the same with the financial meltdown. Since last summer, it’s gone from a “banking crisis” to a “credit crunch” to an “economic crisis” to “negative economic growth” to “recession”. For months the use of the word “recession” was discouraged on the grounds that it would become self-fulfilling. But if there’s no name to what we’re living through, it can’t be normalised. And if it’s not normal, then we can behave exceptionally… So it’s officially a Recession.

We can see this move from “crisis” to “recession” in another way: a crisis for capital has become a crisis for us. Costs are shifted on to us. The massive bail-out of the banking system in the UK and the US is just the tip of the iceberg.

And it’s exactly the same with climate change. It’s obvious that costs of climate change are met disproportionately by the poor: globally it’s the poor who are most at risk of flooding, spread of disease, crop failure, resource shortages etc. And without a structural change, the costs of alleviating climate change will also be met by the poor. Three examples: green technologies are likely to remain expensive, so the poor will be shut out and forced to use “dirty” energy; agrofuel schemes which are still being forcibly rolled out across the global South (and in the US) in the face of widespread opposition; increasing enclosure of common land in the name of “conservation”, driving people away from resources that they have traditionally worked in order to sustain themselves. And in fact, as well as excluding the poor, all three have disastrous environmental consequences…

If we frame the question in this way, if we support attempts to resolve these crises through the market, and through the state, then we run the risk of engendering a green Keynesianism. In other words, a new regime of capitalist accumulation based on any combination of renewable energy, nuclear power, so-called clean coal or agrofuels. It’s easy to see how this could make sense. You start off with the idea that in terms of life on earth “we’re all in it together”; but we need to save the economy first to enable us to have the resources to tackle the challenge…

In fact, far from being a ‘problem’ to overcome, the hope is that climate change may actually become a primary source of revenue to solve the massive fiscal problems faced by Europe and the US (but not those of the global South). Renewable energy, for example, is a huge growth sector, where demand far outstrips supply. And according to the head of UN Climate Change Secretariat: “The credit crisis can be used to make progress in a new direction, an opportunity for global green economic growth… it is an opportunity to rebuild the financial system that would underpin sustainable growth … Governments now have an opportunity to create and enforce policy which stimulates private competition to fund clean industry.” Or as the European commission President puts it when the EU signed a new climate change deal in December “We mean business when we talk about climate”.

But if the key question isn’t whether we shift away from fossil fuels, but how, then framing the answer in terms of the market and growth is a huge and explosive contradiction.

The problem of adopting the market as a frame of reference is that capital monetizes everything, it turns everything into money. And with financialisation, that trend has become even stronger. Under neo-liberalism, one of the most important roles of the the state, locally and globally, has been to impose “good governance”. In other words, to reinforce the idea that every problem raised by struggles can be addressed – on one condition: that we address those problems through the market. There’s a solution for everything, as long as we buy it. Or rather as long as ‘we’ (meaning the world’s poor) pay for it. If neo-liberalism had a slogan, it would be “stop me and buy one”.

Ironically some of the pressure for this has come from green campaigners who have argued, correctly, that capitalism takes no account of environmental costs when calculating price. But under the dictatorship of the market, money has become the measure of all things. The market tries to make commensurable things that are incommensurable. But how can you ‘sell’ the right to emit carbon? Or to poison water supplies?

This isn’t simply an ethical question, one of value (as imposed by capital) against values (what we hold dear). The idea of price is also based on linear dynamics. What price can you put on something when you can no longer calculate the probable outcome? As sea levels rise, it’s easy to predict coastal flooding. But then there’s the amount and pattern of rainfall, a probable expansion of the subtropical desert regions, Arctic shrinkage and resulting Arctic methane release, increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, changes in agricultural yields, modifications of trade routes, glacier retreat, species extinctions and changes in the ranges of disease vectors… Put that in your calculator.
4. How Do We Relate To The State?

With neo-liberalism in crisis, and the threat of irreversible climate change, the state’s role is going to become increasingly crucial. A de-carbonised global capitalism is not impossible, but it would require even higher levels of “discipline”. Austerity would have to be enforced on a massive scale.

As we said earlier, capitalism is value in process – like a shark, it needs to keep moving or die. But this drive to self-expansion means it needs an ever-increasing energy base. Let’s look at it from the perspective of capitalism. The logic of capitalist growth is that it will always seek to externalise its costs. If we imagine there’s a three-way relation between capital, us and the environment (although none of these three things are actually discrete), then limits enforced in one sphere re-surface as intensified exploitation in another. If capital can’t rob one, it will rob the other. Leaving the coal in the hole, with no other change, means more energy sucked from our bodies. Let’s not forget that the last capitalist era of renewable energy (the age of sails and windmills) was also a time of slavery, genocide and enclosures on a massive scale.
Conclusion

There are no easy answers here. The ground on which we’re fighting is shifting far too fast for that. But one thing to bear in mind is that movements rarely take straightforward forms.

In 1905 the Russian revolution which threw up the first Soviets began with a small strike by typesetters at a Moscow print-works: they wanted a shorter working day, a higher rate of pay, and the right to be paid for apostrophes. In France the uprising of May 68 was sparked in part by a student protest which began in Nanterre with a fight over demand for boys to be let into girls’ dormitories…

Last week a wave of wildcat strikes swept through UK oil refineries. They were hugely controversial, unpredictable, and came out of nowhere. Who knows their long-term meaning? And is it a coincidence that they happened in the energy sector?

What we’re trying to say is that real powerful interventions around climate change may well come from people and areas who don’t explicitly identify with climate change politics. They may take the shape instead of food riots, struggles against property developers, fuel poverty campaigns etc.

There are two key points of intervention coming up. On 2 April the G20 are meeting in London’s Docklands. There’ll be a Climate Camp in the Square Mile in the City of London on 1 April. Then in December Copenhagen sees the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). There’s a huge mobilisation underway amid an ongoing debate about what attitude we should adopt. Inside? Outside? One foot in? It’s been given added significance because will be almost exactly 10 years since the WTO shutdown in Seattle.

Before that, We Won’t Pay for Their Crisis are having a meeting on Saturday 28 February. It’s called ‘We are an image from the future’ and we will be picking up some of these themes and trying to relate them to recent events across Europe.

edo 9 update

RESISTING WAR CRIMES IS NOT A CRIME

Yesterday in Brighton magistrate’s court defendants in the EDO Decommissioners Case had charges of Burglary dropped and replaced with Conspiracy To Cause Criminal Damage. The committal hearing of the case formally handed it over to the Crown Court. Robert Alford who is on remand in Lewes Prison was refused a bail application to reside in Brighton. Elijah Smith also on remand was moved to a prison in Bristol on Sunday for ‘security reasons’. The CPS said the estimated cost to EDO MBM ITT as a result of the January 17th decommissioning action now at £300,000, but this figure is still not finalised. There will be a further pre-trial hearing of the case on May 8th.

Related Link: http://www.decommisioners.wordpress.com

Bristol Call Out Against the G20

images

Following a recent meeting in Bristol, and an earlier one in London, those who attended it decided that we needed to make a ‘local’ call out for the meeting of the G20, which is happening on April 2nd this year, at the Excel Centre, in London’s Docklands.

Our call out is an anti-capitalist one, which will be further developed in
meetings on Wednesday 25th Feb at 8.00pm @ kebele, 14 robertson rd, easton. There will be a follow-up, more heavily promoted meeting on Saturday, 7th March at 2.00pm, again at kebele.

There has also been a Call-Out by Climate Camp, for action on April 1st.

capitalism3

Time is short, but this is as good a time as we are going to get to get an
anti-capitalist message across. Let Organise.Quick.

Please pass this message on to all autonomous groups in the region that you are involved with.

A Trade Unionist-Climate Camper on the Wildcat Strikes.

Intro: While there has been much talk within the anarchist newswires, and meetings, responses and counter-responses, none of the people I have had contact with actually had been to the picket lines, or indeed has previous interaction with the workers concerned. Hence, this is why I publish the below which  is not the anarchist dialogue you may expect on this blog

“This week has been phenomenal. I hope it is an epiphenomenon in some ways, in others of course not. I feel like I have to say from the outset: up class struggle. Down the bosses. Down the union mis leadership. I have got home tonight and caught up like every night this week with a lot of writing on this wave of strikes: I just want to sum up my little journey – I’ll try and be brief. I’m going to leave out things that incriminate my own organisation, because apparently that’s what we do, apart from when it concerns me (and that’s the least of the group’s political problems).

Friday, I can barely remember that morning. Or anything before last Friday at the moment. (I stopped to think a moment, 50p sparked a thought). I got to London Bridge, and spent my last 50p (give or take shrapnel) on an Evening Standard. I only ever buy it when it is whipping up race hate, so I can keep on top of what some tube passengers read. The headline, more or less “Mass walkouts over foreign workers” I stopped dead. I’m not easily perturbed. There’s a genocide of my people going on, but I’ve kept a level head and done what I could do. I haven’t been hysterical, wailing at the left to do something. There’s a lot of things going on.

This headline is everything you dread, if you’re me. For the last year I’ve put down nearly every bit of activity that I’d been sampling as part of my GCSEs in activism; I thought it’s time to focus: I chose three main things. Being a Workers’ Liberty organiser, a Campaign Against Immigration Controls activist and a Workers’ Climate Action activist.

For the first, this means a hundred things, a hundred different responsibilities, schedules, spheres of activity, politics. The other two have been a joy to watch grow and develop, not without their difficulties and setbacks. All three – and my life – I brought to this issue of the strikes. After I calmed down, and put out of my mind roughly might be called all the CAIC repercussions, I put on my trade union hat. I know the issues. It’s been brewing up for ages. this does not diminish a massive attack on migrant workers and black people, a massively reactionary strike in some ways, but at the core is a labour dispute, major class action that marks the start of the fightback. What a terrible start. Look, of course this is fantastic strike action, fantastic solidarity. Whether or not the union leadership are being written out of this too much, I can’t tell yet. It smacks of them. There were union banners not just lone placards that carried the British Jobs for British Workers’ slogan. Anyway, the trade union issues I talked through with one comrade, apparently in the know.

Nothing he told me was new to me as such, only I’d never heard anyone be so incoherent about it. The Posted Workers stuff, the ECJ Viking and Laval rulings I’d known of. From Climate Camp and WCA I’ve been and spoken at Grain and Hoo, I’ve hung out in the pub there trying to speak to workers about Kingsnorth. A new AWL comrade, also involved in CAIC and WCA, came away agreeing that the main next step there was to do a CAIC meeting, not a WCA one. I don’t know how much this ruling has a bearing on any of this. As far as I can see the maximum demands of the constituent European Union bureaucracies up until this point has been for better provision for cross europe trade unionism. There is a particular UK grievance, which stems from New Labour not the EU. Why has New Labour not enshrined national union-employer agreements in law ? We know why. I’ve long thought the union strategy here was reactionary. I.e because labour costs are higher here, and polish workers cheaper, it was only necessary to fight for same terms for migrant workers, to ensure they wouldn’t arrive in the first place, in one of the few industries still protected from non-white workers and women.

The union on strike this week is hardly the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation. Apart from the fact, and I could be wrong here, that these are mainly skilled and highly skilled workers, our existing socialist organisations, none of them, are up to the task of what Jack Munday and his comrades did for the New South Wales BLF. It is worth standing them up against this week, and remember that one of our biggest enemies is close to home, in the union leadership. Derek Simpson must go now, no money, no pay off. Out! He has been demanding BJ4BW for years! I should stop the analogy there, because though my economics is bad, they grew in and because of a capitalist boom. Better maybe to look at the Lucas Plan to see what this strike might have been. But again that’s silly. We’re heading in to a global recession, of a scale we’ve never seen before.

While it’s probably true that the existing British labour movement has attacked every wave of migrants that have arrived on this little corner of the world over time, and the capitalists exploited it, I can’t help but feel the eventual result has been progressive. The fact that each wave of migrants has been made an attack on existing workers and their security (hundreds of thousands of refugees are detained, abused and deported) has made solidarity difficult each time. I’ve argued against pro-migrant/internationalists/socialists etc putting “racist” in front of every mention of immigration controls. Yes they are racist (I won’t explain here) but it just doesn’t help to have people think their support for immigration controls is racist, and in this support the BNP. Lots of people don’t consider themselves to be racist, and good; do I want them to think they’re racist because they support immigration controls no. I can see all around me the manifold challenges of working-class life and migration. We want working-class unity, and we work not in conditions of out own making.

I’ve known for a while what’s been brewing in Grain. One of our comrades flagged up some weeks ago, the strikes that took place/were due to take place over this same issue, concerning Polish workers. I’m going to have to skip lots of things and return to the left. What we should have been saying/doing straight away: –These strikes are for jobs. -These slogans are an attack on migrant workers and Black people. Point the finger at the bosses. Point the finger at Brown and Simpson. Though neither of the latter can be totally to blame for British nationalism. Brown would have known this was a National Front Slogan, the slogan of fascists across the world, racist and always sooner or later anti-working class. But I remember thinking that that speech (which wasn’t a budget speech, but his LP conference on apparently) was partly designed to stem the slightly weird English nationalist sentiments and doubts the media kept on talking about. I wonder now. – We can’t see these workers sent back to Italy. This would be a disaster. The repercussions could be frightful, a rallying cry to fascists across Europe (they do exist, remember, even if the BNP are fascist lite at the moment).

All this discussion of do you or don;t you support it, whose side are you on, – has been profoundly unhelpful. At one point a comrade called me a scab, several accused me of calling on the bureaucracy to smash rank-and file action. Pure hysteria, but I’ll explain my mistakes later, or some of the ones I can talk about. – We need to find a way in the short term to keep the Italian workers here and for workers to be able to keep their jobs. – Also, and this felt impossible, under the slogans, this action needed to spread for all of us, but also for these workers. As far as I understand it a lot of the Viking-Laval issues had been sorted, I can’t say for sure, but it seems so. The SP communiques served as cover, for god knows what. They didn’t add up. What were the aims of the strike when it was organised. It wasn’t spontaneous. It was organised and must have happened under the nose of the bureaucrats. We can say that it was organised by the union now can’t we, because everyone is crowing over this brave breaking of the anti-union laws.

They forget in their joy to mention the police and the posties who also did a bit of this recently, neither of which raised reactionary slogans. Anyway, so what were the demands that people struck over? That the jobs go to the UK workforce, no? there must be at least a ‘fair share/deal’ for “UK workers”? What does this mean. why has Derek Simpson and the SP, the CPB, now the SSP, argued that this is what must happen. none of them are arguing for jobs for all as far as I can see. The demand for Italian workers’ unionisation seems a PR move as much as anything else (for the left as much as anyone else), as is the 50:50 conception of equal rights. this is a disaster. I can’t help but feel that it must have been the bosses that have save us here, for now. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the union victory was negotiated and won to the tune of not just 50/50 but a little more to the Brits! note the joke from the Unite negotiator on the Italian England manager being able to stay – quoted in the Workers’ Power statement on the deal reached. I didn’t find it funny.

Apart from the closing paragraphs of the new Workers’ Power statement, and the fact that they really seemed to eclipse the fact that this is at root a fight for jobs where you live, I think their political assessment is correct, though like the strikes themselves, all of this has to be seen in motion, this whole thing from the start had to be seen in motion, continuing and changing reality all the time. It was an important moment in our history, I think. I’ve never felt like I’ve been in a minority of four. I’ll pick up other points later, I don;t know why I always feel like I need to say it all. Actually the main thing I wanted to say was put your fucking fascist attacks away. Then I remember I was a class struggle socialist and Marxist. What guided me was my own sense of class struggle, my own sense of solidarity. I could write volumes on this word, solidarity. It must be the most difficult and most necessary word in this language. I think our left needs to learn a lot about solidarity, class solidarity, and democratic and critical solidarity. I have been more or less silenced this week and have come under attack heavily. Main conclusions: keep your friends close, and your comrades closer. This left is a racist left, in the main. We are so weak that we could have turned a terrible page, with some people denying it entirely, bully the rest of us to agree that we are utterly inspired. Look, I am inspired, sort of. It shows what might be done.

The way I chose to frame it, after a lot of thinking and soul-searching was in the form of a picket of the Unite offices. Whether to ask for the strikes to stop was an open question. I had a mandate from the CAIC meeting to call for that. I think that would have been wrong but fair enough. In the end we supported the strikers but not their seeming aims or slogans. To do this, does not requre just going to appeal to the workers on their picket lines. I will not beg for this. It has more of the character of a protest and a demand. how dare they raise those slogans. how dare the union not rescind them, apologise for them, but rather defend them. I do not paint the workers as rabid nationalists, though I would guess only a minority in that trade, in that union section aren’t at least mildly so. Any way the point is not to abstain: I want to defend migrant workers who have already been fucked by both the unions involved in equal measure to organising them. the GMB sponsors the immigration minister, who also insisted that to fight racism you must say British workers first… I want to defend job for all workers, no group of workers should be displaced against their will, there can be no job losses accepted anywhere. The GMB have been stamping on a strike in NW London of mainly Indian women, perhaps this was to free up some personnel. This small workforce has had some 50 lay-offs, another 50 threatened. The union mafia are colluding with the bosses in getting rid of union activists. On the buses in London, the union lied to workers about an injunction to save the government on October 22nd. The RMT called off the Andy Littlechild dispute without a murmur from anyone that should have coincided with the buses.

I would like to know how people account for these episodes.

For those who draw the class lines so sharply this week, why did we not call the RMT, the NUT, and the PCS scabs for coming out against Heathrow expansion, when it was not their union members whose jobs could be kept through expansion. Why was Bob Crow not called a scab on the international working-class when he came out for Kingsnorth.

Anyway, back to the real difficulty apart from our own inconsistencies: the workers’ jobs. We need to think hard about what to do now. The problems we have faced have their origins. It’s not just because we have a race to the bottom EU. That we do. How are we going to build meaningful rank-and-file workers’ solidarity across the world – not just Europe. This issue now, is not so different to what off-shoring has been, and all the other displacement migration has caused for all working-class people. What is our positive solutions to move beyond the impasse that is the nationalism of nearly all working-class people, which reflect many things, the fact of the nation state and national governments, for one. The fact of really existing unionism being on a national level, if that, and only in a few core industries testament to industrial strength and a strong protectionism, craft-unionist mentality. Migrants and bureaucratic union attempts at coordination are probably the two things already given to internationalists. Migrants being the most important. I can;t believe that so few people saw fit to take some action that made a clear act of solidarity with Italians and all migrants. Under the circumstances, whatever the reasons, our unions have raised fascist slogans. Going to their picket lines to support workers cannot to my mind be the only response. There should also be an outcry from the movement. People have a strange idea of how you defend your class, what constitutes an attack. Black people and migrants are part of this movement too. I should spare a word of criticism for the middle-class socialists who vacillated every which way, the root of their problem being that they are still anti-working class, sometimes after years in the movement. They cannot be honest about our class, because they have never really believed in democracy and grassroots socialism. What the workers don’t know, we can tell them. If they don’t know already, and they fuck up, it’s our fault. Our little groups must issue statements of revolutionary leadership from London. I think we just about all failed the test. Good I say.

So much to say, so early in the morning. In conclusion, it’s difficult forming a position, but it’s possible to take action, if we don’t shut the space down ourselves. solidarity is not fine art, though it can be. We need to find ways of resolving this dispute. It is not over. I can’t see an obvious thing to demand. The critiques about fair share along the lines of nationality, I can’t even begin to say how much I oppose this, I imagine everyone will. I hope this whole chapter on our left, won;t stop comrades from doing what’s necessary to make sure that we fight utterly this trend developping. I honestly can’t sum up what needs to be done, and locally and nationally different strategies will have to be deployed. Certainly, we should not bandy around European unity as a slogan like some in the movement talk of stopping climate change. We need to have a purchase on reality, how will be build European solidarity as strong as the solidarity demonstrated by the workers this week. how are we going to reconcile the need to fight union busting via posted workers, but also avoid the SP solution of a local register!

There has to be a sane way of addressing this. I think the slogan the AWL raised is the most satisfactory, Jobs or Full Pay / Jobs for all. And the right to direct employment. Workers’ schemes to be deployed abroad as workers’ not bosses wish. Or something like that. It feels impossible at 5am, I’m seriously going to read the transitional programme this week, finally workers of the world unite. Like the phoenix may the left emerge form our sectarian mess. Where would we have been without some socialists this week. Where might we have been had been been united some time ago. Left unity cannot be an empty slogan.

Our internationalism cannot be internationalism of slogans to be tucked away, nor that of abstention and utopianism. solidarity with migrant workers is the obvious first step.

Top secret police force to spy on political Campaign groups

Yes, this is the news, first leaked by the Mail on Sunday, that bored plod at the Association of Chief Police Officers have started up a new super secret group to investigate any groups which have anything nasty to say about capital and the state. ACPO is the private company that masterminds the nutkins at NECTU, last seen leaking reports to the Observer that pretended environmentalists were dangerous terrorists.

They’ve named Plane Stupid as one of the groups singled out for special interest. Other groups under investigation are anti-Israeli groups, those who instigated the recent wildcat strikes and animal rights groups. We shouldn’t be surprised really: history shows that the state and industry will do anything it can to protect itself. At least they got one thing right: they’re also looking into groups of fascists; suggestions that they might like to start with ACPO or NETCU should be sent to Steven Pearl, Constabulary HQ. Hinchingbrooke Park, Cambridgeshire. PE29 6NP. More news about super-duper police spy team Yesterday we covered the Daily Mail story about the Confidential Intelligence Unit – a special task force set up to tackle “domestic extremism”. For those of you who missed the memo, the new unit has been set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers: a private company which is unanswerable to the public, believes itself outside of the remit of the Freedom of Information Act and generally lords it about the place.

Thanks to the power of t’interweb we’ve found the job description for the head of the CIU (pronounced ‘cooo-eee’). Successful applicants will be tasked with “manag[ing] the covert intelligence function for domestic extremism, and the confidential intelligence unit” and “Develop[ing] the business of the confidential intelligence unit to support NCDE [National Covert Domestic Extremist] units and the wider DE policing objectives.” They will be asked to “Represent NPOIU [National Public Order Intelligence Unit] at Public Interest Immunity hearings, and legal meetings regarding sensitive source material” – basically refusing to give any info about who they are and how they work, should anyone be prepared to risk arrest and ask. It’s very important that officers “Consider and shows respect for the opinions, circumstances and feelings of colleagues and members of the public, no matter what their race, religion, position, background, circumstances, status or appearance”… unless those opinions and feelings happen to be anti-state, in which case it’s open season. richard from plane stupid – Homepage: http://www.planestupid.com

Climate Camp hits the City of London on April Fools Day

Stopping carbon markets : Because nature doesn’t do bailouts

anti_banker_small


First the city traders speculated with our homes, jobs and money – with disastrous results. Now they are speculating with our climate and the very future of life on earth – and once again our governments are cheering them on.

By creating a brain-bending system of carbon pollution licenses, fossil fuel companies and trading firms have found a way to keep on churning out global warming gases and to reap huge windfall profits at the same time. Meanwhile, the UK government is justifying a third runway at Heathrow and a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth by saying that these new “carbon trading” schemes will magically make all their emissions vanish. They are handing control of our climate over to the same people and systems that caused the financial collapse.

All the workable and fair alternatives aren’t getting a look-in. We need to stop this foolishness. We’ve camped against the Heathrow runway, we’ve camped against the Kingsnorth coal power station. Now its time to camp against the over-arching problem: absolute faith in unfettered markets and endless economic growth.

On April 1st the G20 leaders arrive in London. At a time of climate crisis their response to the market meltdown is emergency loans to car manufacturers, increased spending to encourage consumption, and bailouts for the very people who got us into this mess – just the things that will make the climate crisis worse. Don’t let them get away with it: join our camp in the Square Mile! Gather at noon, April 1st, at the European Climate Exchange, Hasilwood House, 62 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AW. Bring a pop-up tent, sleeping bag, wind turbine, mobile cinema, action plans and ideas…let’s imagine another world. Don’t let the financial and fossil fools make the rules!

For updates, information or to get involved, visit: http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/g20 or subscribe to announcements at: //lists.riseup.net/www/subrequest/climatecamp

To get more involved, come to our planning meetings: February 14th in London. Arrive at the library houuse, 52 Knatchbull road, at 1 pm for a 1:30 start and bring food to share http://thelibraryhouse.wordpress.com/