Next public meeting of London Anarchist Federation:
The Anarchist Movement in Modern Spain
Report back on factfinding tour of Spanish anarchist movement by AF member
7pm Thursday August 31st at Common House, 5e Pundersons Gardens, London E2 (nearest tube Bethnal Green. Plenty of time or discussion, refreshments
CORBYN AND PRAGMATISM
Because of the Labour Party apparatus ruled by the Blairites, Corbyn had to shift his political positions, at least publicly. An opponent of immigration controls, at the last election he promised the most right-wing Labour policy on immigration in over 30 years. An opponent of NATO, he regarded it as a “danger to world peace” and socialists had to campaign against it. He has now embraced NATO, saying that “ I want to work within NATO to achieve stability”. A life-long opponent of the monarchy, Corbyn now states that the abolition of the monarchy “is not on my agenda. A critic of the police and its shoot-to-kill policy he once laid a wreath to victims of police violence at the Cenotaph. He now says that the police should use “whatever force is necessary to protect and save life.” Labour pledges to increase the number of police by 10,000 and the number of prison warders by 3,000 and border guards by 500.
How much more would Corbyn turn to the right if he were Prime Minister? Look at Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza in Greece. In January 2015 Syriza came to power on a strong anti-austerity programme. Within a year Tsipras had done a deal with the IMF that imposed the harshest austerity programme in Greece, far west than that imposed by previous governments.
Again we repeat that we must not let the new social movements currently mobilising around housing, against austerity and against racism and police brutality, become tools of Labour. Corbyn’s lieutenant McDonnell in particular has a on several occasions hinted at such a scenario, talking of transforming “the party from the traditional centralised party into something more akin to a mass social movement, responding to the rising demand for greater activist engagement.” By this he means cooption of the currently existing social movements as auxiliaries to the Labour electoral machine.” More recently he affirmed that Labour is “changing into a social movement”. But whilst Labour is able to organise mass triumphalist rallies it has failed to go beyond that, to massively engage its members in social action. Corbyn and McDonnell would like to capture the social movements for their own ends. It is up to those of us active in the social movements and in grassroots workplace struggles to develop a truly mass social movement, one that is autonomous and independent of political parties including Labour so that it can set its own objectives and aims.
“Let me be absolutely clear: the support for the families on the ground in the initial hours was not good enough. People were left without belongings, without roofs over their heads, without even basic information about what had happened, what they should do and where they should go to seek help. That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most.”
It’s not often we quote politicians but on the Grenfell blaze, Theresa May was right. It was a complete failure of both the national state and government and the local state, Kensington and Chelsea Council, they failed to provide anything like adequate provision to the Grenfell survivors, but not just in the initial hours but for days to come. But it went beyond that. Both the national and local state were deeply implicated in the fire itself, with the cutting of fire services, the ignoring of repeated warnings by residents about the likelihood of a fire.
On the other hand, we had a great upsurge of grassroots solidarity, with volunteers from across London and as far away as Birmingham, bringing support and supplies, linking up with survivors and local community groups. They provided food, drink, clothes, bedding, toys and toiletries in vast amounts. When Camden Council ineptly moved tenants out of council blocks after panicking about fire risks, they again, like Kensington and Chelsea Council, treated them appallingly, failing to provide them with adequate information, and alternative housing, and generally treated them with the same contempt as Kensington and Chelsea Council. Local councils, whether Tory or Labour, have utter contempt for social housing tenants and for the working class in general. Camden Council failed to even provide water to the now homeless tenants, and this was left up to Grenfell volunteers who arrived to provide water.
There is a stark contrast between the response of the national and local state, and the emergence of grassroots voluntary organisation. This is not the first time this has happened after catastrophes, far from it. It illustrates the power of ordinary working class people to organise support networks. Another example is the creation of grassroots health centres in Greece with the collapse of the State health services.
This is anarchism in action. We must look more and more to this kind of grassroots organisation in the future as capitalism seeks to strip away social services in line with its strategy of austerity.
AFTER THE ELECTION:
THE ANARCHIST ALTERNATIVE
After the election we analyse the state of play, the nature of Corbynism and how we relate to it, and how we need to help bring to birth a mass grassroots movement that goes beyond electoral politics and poses a real threat to capitalism and the State with a vision of a new society based on equality and freedom. We will also be discussing the Grenfell fire and how the traditional left has responded and how our response should be diferent, based on encouraging self-organisation.We will be inviting guest speakers and there will be plenty of time for everyone to discuss.
Refreshments available, disabled access
Convened by London Anarchist Federation
7pm, Thursday June 29th at Common House, 5e Pundersons Gardens London E2 (nearest tube Bethnal Green
We are participating in the Anti University events from 10th-16th June –Teaching and Learning As Direct Action, a direct action programme of self-organised radical learning activities. On June 11th as part of these events we will be putting on a public meeting at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1 (nearest tube Holborn) at 4pm, An Introduction To Anarchist Communism.
Later the same day at the same venue at 7pm, London AF will be hosting the writer-activist Pieter Gelderloos, who will be speaking about his new book Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation’.This book provides a history of state formation in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, from Mesopotamia to the 20th century. Identifying different models or paths of state formation, Worshiping Power lays the groundwork for an anarchist theory of the origin of states, and in the process disputes common misconceptions stemming from liberal, Marxist, primitivist, and environmental determinist theories of state formation. Rather than treating state formation as a singular event, a Pandora’s Box, Worshiping Power analyzes state formation as a constant process, with religious, militaristic, economic, and kinship-based motors. It is also a work in grassroots scholarship, taking the study of the State out of academic institutions and into the streets, showing how a historically grounded understanding of the nature of the State is relevant to today’s struggles against patriarchy, environmental devastation, racism, war, and capitalism. There will be a talk by the author and Q&A session. Peter Gelderloos is also the author of ‘Anarchy works’ and ‘The failure of non-violence’. At White Building, Queen’s Yard, White Post Lan,e Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
The London Anarchist Federation would like to make a statement of solidarity with sex workers. This comes following conversations at the Anarchist Bookfair with sex worker comrades who had felt let down by the level of solidarity they had received from other anarchists. We hope this statement will be a first step towards improving that situation, to encourage further acts of solidarity and relationship building from anarchists towards sex workers’ struggle.
Sex workers are workers. They are members of the working class. As class struggle anarchists, we stand in solidarity with all workers against their domination under capitalism. The call for sex workers to be seen as workers is echoed by global and local sex worker organisations such as the Global Network of Sexwork Projects and English Collective of Prostitutes.
As revolutionaries, we aim towards a world free from capitalism and the necessity to undertake work. At the same time, we must support workers in their struggle against their material conditions in the here and now. There will be no revolution without the building of networks of solidarity between the most oppressed in our society. We support sex workers in their resistance against poor working conditions, whilst also struggling for a world in which none of us will be coerced to sell our labour in order to survive.
We support the call of these organisations for sex work to be decriminalised. This involves the removal of sex work-specific laws and for it to be treated as any other work. This is distinct from both legalisation and the ‘Nordic model’ of client criminalisation. The latter both expand the state’s role in worker’s lives, and increase the marginalisation of those already most oppressed.
Decriminalisation also increases sex workers’ power to collectively self-organise, and makes it safer to be open about their work if they wish. Many people in the sex industry experience physical and psychological violence, such as rape and trafficking. Many will want to leave. Decriminalisation, by improving workers’ rights, makes it easier to find safety through working collectively, to report abuse, and to find support should they wish to leave.
Whilst we do not extend our support to bourgeois organisations such as Amnesty International – which are so often used as tools of imperialism – we nonetheless agree with their broad conclusion that decriminalisation improves sex workers’ rights and working conditions.
None of these models are perfect solutions, as attested by sex worker organisations themselves. But as anarchists we agree that there will be no emancipation for sex workers by increasing the state’s ability to harass, detain and deport them.
We would encourage other anarchists and anarchist organisations to make similar statements in support of sex workers, and to make efforts to build links with sex worker organisations to enable us to work together more effectively in future.
London Anarchist Federation
A great oppourtunity has arisen for a potential free screening of this film followed by a debate with the director.
Tuesday, 3 November 2015 – 6pm to 8pm
Birkbeck cinema, 41 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
What future for a successful (eco)revolution?
At the end of the bloody war that killed one in ten in the tiny South Pacific island of Bougainville, locals were promised a referendum on their independence to be held after 2015. Now, at the threshold of this historical event, we want to retrace the story of “the world’s first successful eco-revolution” (1988-97), which saw the peoples of Bougainville take on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the biggest mining company of the world to defend their land, culture and independence.
After the introduction by filmmaker Dom Rotheroe, we will see his multi-award winning documentary ‘The Coconut Revolution’ (2001, 50 mins) and the update/sequel he shot for Al Jazeera, ‘Bougainville: Reopening Old Wounds’ (2009, 20 mins). The former illustrates the extraordinary story of a people that rebelled against the exploitation of the world’s then largest open mine, and used its ingenuity and natural resources to win an impossible war (e.g. overcoming the blockade by using coconut oil as fuel for their vehicles). The latter, instead, investigates the insidious nature of capitalism and the nature of power, as the victorious Bougainville communities split over the new government’s proposal of reopening the mine to develop their economy.
Finally, we will have the opportunity to ask Dom Rotheroe about his experience in Bougainville, and draw on these extremely interesting documentaries to reflect on the difficulties that even successful grassroots movements have to face when it is time to concretely build the alternative.