From London to Greece to Russia: Antifa Solidarity

On 19th Jan 2019 We are hosting a night of international antifascist solidarity. The night will start with a talk by comrades from the Libertatia squat in Greece who’s building was burned down by fascists. They’ll give an overview of the rise of the far-right in Europe and efforts anarchists are doing to combat this.

Then the party begins.

We’ve got a hectic and frankly quite random lineup of bands for your musical enjoyment.

Special guests TBC

Killdren
‘Sitting uneasily between straight-up nihilism and fresh-faced naivety, Killdren pen politically charged slapstick anthems.
They form the ideal soundtrack to the worst generation in history.’

More acts TBC shortly.

Tickets will be £5 on the door (donations if unwaged/carer) and all money raised will be split between Libertatia and imprisoned Russian anti-fascists.

DIY space sells cheap booze and vegan snacks. It is a member’s club. Open to members and their guests only. Membership costs £2 and takes 48 hours to take effect. Join and pay at diyspaceforlondon.org

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1923750537661365/

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Tech Forensics Workshop 7th Dec

Very last minute annoouncement of a Tech Forensics workshop on 7th Dec 17:30 till 19:30 at the Royal College of Art Darwin building.

Part one of a two part workshop, part two TBA.

An introductory (very basic) workshop on the physical manifestation of modern networked technologies (the internet, communication infrastructure) and a hands-on example of how to bypass them. Ubiquitous technologies reflect a serious lack of corporate and governmental transparency. They’ve become dangerously dematerialised, centrally controlled, and heavily integrated into our daily lives. On an ever-decreasing scale, there is an opacity that lowers our techno-political understanding as to how these pervasive technologies work. This workshop aims to explore some basic concepts in electronics hardware, question the implicit trust we place in technology, and delve into one method of “hacking” a ubiquitous technology to be more independent. The goal is to open up the possibility for us to have a diagrammatic conversation about technology that we can use to self-educate and catalyse further explorations in decentralisation, without necessarily becoming qualified experts.The example of a ubiquitous technology that we will use as a substrate for exploring these techno-political themes is satellite infrastructure. The latter part of the workshop will involve understanding how we can build non-government owned navigation technology that uses the polarisation of sunlight and celestial mapping to locate oneself. We will learn about using publicly available resources and concepts to build devices and we will create custom casings for them.

This is for those of you who are curious about technology and who are interested in engaging with it politically and critically. All levels of skill are welcome!

Anyone who is interested is welcome to bring a device that they want to take apart, as well as an object (or series of objects) that they think represents their dependencies.

The police are not your friends- a tale from an anti-fascist counter demo

Originally published in Rebel City, this is a first hand account of policing at an antifascist counter demo in Dover.

On my way to the protest I’m stopped by police on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon. They ask me to give my name and address before they can search me. I refuse, so they ask two more times before admitting this is not a requirement and so begin the search.  I have nothing that could be used as a weapon on me but they confiscate my scarf as they feel it could be used to disguise my face. They say I can get it back in a week’s time if I give my name and address. I refuse. They give me a ticket to say which officers searched me and leave with my scarf. Fifteen minutes later I am stopped again. The officer informs me the flag I am carrying could be used as an offensive weapon (maximum sentence: four years). As I am being restrained I inform them that the officers who searched me previously did not agree with them. They do not believe me. I produce the ticket from the previous search and I’m let go.

At the protest we’re quickly surrounded by police. They want to clear the road so the neo-Nazis can march along it. A few minutes later the first horse charge comes. The horses push a few people back but there’s nowhere for us to go as we’re surrounded on two sides by a police line and the other by a metal fence. The police horses to my left crush me against the police line to my right. People are screaming, some are on the floor. The horses retreat whilst snatch squads start forming behind the police lines. They give a warning that anyone wearing a face covering may be arrested. The man to my right has a bandana across his face so becomes a target for the police. Four officers grab him and try to pull him away. People around him hold on to him and a tug of war begins. After a tense minute I hear the commanding officer shout ‘Leave him, just grab anyone’. They shift their attention to me and try to drag me away. Another tug of war. The two women behind me hold me around the waist and my rucksack. The police give up after about a minute.

This happens three more times as the police attempt to grab individuals from the crowd. The final time is the worst. More police come and push a lot of people back. As there is still nowhere to go people trip over and collapse and soon have police standing on them as they try to grab their targets. I am grabbed by the arms by two officers whist a third punches me in the face three times. I think he is trying to knock me unconscious so I’ll be easier to drag out of the crowd. There is a lot of screaming. A woman to my left shouts ‘someone is going to die’ as people fall on top of each other on the floor, with comrades standing on top of them and nowhere to go. Eventually the police give up and retreat. About six people were taken, likely to be charged with ‘violent disorder’.

The lines of protesters and police are in a stalemate. An officer shouts ‘You’re just as bad as them! They have a right to protest!’, I reply ‘When you go home tonight you can tell your kids you spent the day helping Nazis march’. The officer replies ‘We’re just doing out jobs!’ so a man over my shoulder shouts back ‘that didn’t hold up at Nuremberg!’ I think we won the battle of words.

The commanding officer appears on the front line and shouts that we must move to the ‘designated protest area’. Still reeling from the punches to my head I move back in the direction he’s pointing. When I get there another line of police start screaming at me to go back the way I came. It soon becomes clear there is no ‘designated protest area’ and the police don’t know what they’re doing.

Instead we’re kettled for an hour as the Nazis march past. There are between 30 and 40 of them and 400 of us with the same number of police.

When I get home I see on the news that, apparently, the protest turned violent and six people were arrested for violent disorder. I realise these were the people who were stood near me, arbitrarily arrested because they were the only ones the police could grab. They will face court and potential jail sentences.

In one afternoon I was nearly arrested for three or four different crimes, none of which I had committed. I was assaulted by a police officer and subject to (attempted) arbitrary arrest. But when I considered complaining, I was advised not to bother as I would most likely get charged with violent disorder as the police would make up statements that I started the altercation where they beat me. I still, however, consider myself lucky as, thanks to my comrades, I was not snatched by police. I have since learned a woman who was arrested on the day has been sentenced to one year for violent disorder.

Reading group #8 Ecology

Our next reading group will be on Ecology on the 18th December at Freedom Bookshop, 7pm.

We will be reading the following texts on capitalism and ecology, including the Anarchist Federation’s new pamphlet Capitalism is Killing the Earth: an Anarchist Guide to Ecology.
The texts are:
Capitalism is Killing the Earth: an Anarchist Guide to Ecology http://afed.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Anarchist_Federation_Ecology_pamphlet_2018_Capitalism_is_Killing_the_Earth.pdf
20 Thesis against Green Capitalism: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/tadzio-muller-and-alexis-passadakis-20-theses-against-green-capitalism
Green Syndicalism: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jeff-shantz-green-syndicalism
The Ecological Challenge: Three Revolutions are Necessary: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alternative-libertaire-the-ecological-challenge-three-revolutions-are-necessary

Questions to consider in the reading:

  1. What does anarchism offer beyond general ecological thought?
  2. Will green capitalism work? If, not how do we articulate this?
  3. How might anarchist approached be better and what examples do we have?
  4. Can we continue with our present standard of living in MEDCs?

Write up of anarcha-feminism reading group

This month we discussed a number of different anarcha-feminist texts ranging from the early 20th century to modern day perspectives from the Kurdish feminist movement. As the group was so large, we split off into two smaller groups which each held their own discussions. Here are some reflections from each group.

 

Group 1

We started the discussion with questions about what different types of ‘feminisms’ there are and how anarchism ideally already includes a class conscious feminism; in contrast to liberal feminism limited to questions of the economic equality of privileged men and women, and radical feminism, focussing on patriarchy and gender norms. It seemed important to stress the intersectional approach of anarcha feminism (e.g. including questions of class and race) since this allows the inclusion of e.g. working class women into the traditionally middle class efforts of emancipation. We spoke about attempts to align all feminisms, to take out the best aspects of all struggles and the possibility of a shared movement – however, capitalism got in the way of that! The main issue here was that women struggling to simply become like male oppressors (as mentioned in one of the texts, where the liberated housewife is allowed to go to work now and subsequently hires a low paid migrant cleaner) are not feminists by our definition. The (neo)liberal and capitalist celebration of women, which focusses on the consumption of products that then define your identity is as questionable to anarchists as is the ‘all women are feminists’ approach that leads to the likes of Hilary Clinton calling on female solidarity, while implementing policies against women’s interests.

The suggestion that feminism can be like a lens through which we as anarchists look at issues of gender equality and the observation that men also suffer from patriarchal structures lead us to discuss anarchist practice with a feminist focus. In general it seems to be the case that looking at both anarchism and feminism through each other’s viewpoint is most beneficial when it comes to any philosophy and subsequent action. Feminism with anarchism and an intersectional approach, as discussed in the texts by Audre Lorde and bell hooks, is necessary, otherwise it becomes too focussed on replicating male structures of domination with women – in an ideal world, women don’t become like men, but everyone changes. We found that Dilar Dirik’s discussion of socialist patriarchy especially captured problems of relations between the sexes in a politically sound environment – e.g. the antifascist who beats up his wife.

Looking at feminist developments in tbe UK we spoke about propaganda and stereotypes of women ‘in charge’ of relationships/a family, that are merely caricatures laughing about the limited power of women by assigning being in charge of the household to them.

This lead to a more general question of stereotyping women and feminists, e.g. in the 60s and 70s where the ‘bra burning’ feminist trope/propaganda spread a message of feminist antifemininity – at a time where women demanding equality at the workplace/access to university was the real problem, demands too antifeminine for some.

The idea of antifemininity seems still present today, also within feminism, which led us back to a critique of capitalism and the question on how feminine qualities are defined, also in relation to men and their experience of not conforming to masculine clichés.

With many more questions discussed, e.g. in relation to religion, faith, rightwing feminism, institutions in general and Emma Goldman’s ‘external and internal tyrants’ anarcha feminism seems to be a topic situated right in the middle if anarchist thought, impossible to disconnect from questions of capitalism, class, race and hierarchical structures and a highly important discussion to hold.

 

Group 2

What are the differences between liberal, radical and anarcha-feminism? Liberal feminism wants the benefits of capitalist exploitation to be open to women. As capitalism is based on colonialism and hyper-exploitation of labour in LEDCs, this is always inherently colonial- a woman in the UK can’t become a capitalist without exploiting other women both in the UK and in LEDCs. You can’t be a feminist and a capitalist. Radical feminism seems inward looking- viewing men as the enemy. The Dirik piece explicitly warns against a retreat into women’s only spaces- ultimately we want to change all of society not just focus on ourselves. We need to learn more about different feminisms- Kuridish movement, Zapatista etc.

Critiquing the feminist movement can be difficult as a man- although I can clearly see the problems with liberal feminism it’s not my place to tell feminists they’re doing it wrong! Although it is possible for men to understand the structural/economic aspects of feminism, they are never going to understand the fear of walking down a street at night or the internalisation of patriarchy. Men are conditioned to expect their voices to be heard whereas women are trained to be passive rather than active in social movements. Capitalism characterises things which are valuable as masculine and things which aren’t as feminine and this is still reproduced in left spaces. This links to primitive accumulation and the exclusion of women from paid labour to perform unpaid reproductive/domestic labour.

How do we make the anarchist movement more feminist? Valuing ‘feminine’ skills within the movement, not fetishizing violence, deprogramming of internalised ideas, events like this where we discuss what anarchist feminism is to us.

How do we make the broader feminist movement more anarchist? Make feminism a threat again! Critique problematic feminism e.g. state feminism in Saudi where ‘good’ women can join the army to oppress people next to their male comrades. ID politics has its uses as a transitionary tool to educate people who are not aware of others’ oppression but it is not sustainable. The question is how do we increase knowledge/awareness in the movement whilst recognising difference?

 

Our monthly reading group continues on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. The next topic witll be ecology.

Open strategy meeting 10th Nov

We’re having a meeting for people interested in getting involved in anarchist organising in London on 10th November 2018, 2 till 5pm.
 
Want to help put on our reading group?
Want to organise talks and workshop?
Think you can improve our quite shonky podcast?
Got some new ideas about what we should be doing?
 
Come along, meet some people and share some ideas!
 
Venue is Decentre, the upstairs space at Freedom Bookshop.

Reading group #7 Anarcha-feminism

This month we will be reading texts on anarcha-feminism ranging from some oldies with Goldman and de Cleyre to more modern texts analysing with hooks, Lorde and Dirik. As part of the reading we’ve suggested a few questions which we’ll cover in the discussion:

 

What is the difference between anarcha-feminism, radical feminism and liberal feminism?

To what extend are the issues discussed by Goldman still relevant today?

How can anarchist practice be more feminist (should it be)?

 

Although we’ve picked quite a few texts this month they’re short we promise!

Look forward to seeing you all 7pm 20th November at Freedom Bookshop.

 

Introduction- what is anarcha-feminism? https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Anarchist_FAQ/What_is_Anarchism%3F/3.5

 

Emma Goldman: Tragedy of Women’s emancipation

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/ME/mev1n1.html#tra

Emma Goldman: Marriage and Love:

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/aando/marriageandlove.html

Audre Lorde: The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/audre-lorde-the-master-s-tools-will-never-dismantle-the-master-s-house.pdf

Voltairine de Cleyre: The economic relations of sex

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/voltairine-de-cleyre-the-economic-relations-of-sex.pdf

bell hooks: Feminist class struggle:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bell-hooks-feminist-class-struggle.pdf

Dilar Dirik: Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy

https://roarmag.org/magazine/womens-internationalism-global-patriarchy/

Reading Group 7 .pdf of all the reading in one place!