For four days in September 2017, the international weapons industry plans to set up shop in London at a huge arms fair, DSEI.
The weapons sold here fuel the death, destruction and injustice perpetrated by militaries, police forces and at borders around the world.
Because those who torture protesters, brutalise indigenous people and murder civilians are on the guest list.
Because arms companies profit when their plane drop bombs on ordinary people
Because they profit again by pushing militarised solutions ot ‘protect borders’ from the refugees fleeing those bombs.
Because public services are cut but there’s always money for war.
Because war, repression and injustice start here
London AF members will be at Day Of Action tomorrow at Excel Centre in East London. See you there!
The murder of Heather Heyer by a neo-Nazi was horrifying but not surprising. The Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis and the alt.right have increased in confidence under Trump and indeed in his rambling and incoherent speeches he refused to completely condemn them. Heather’s murder was not an isolated incident. It follows the shooting of a member of the revolutionary union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Seattle, the double murder on the Portland train, and many other incidents in Berkeley, Minnesota etc.
As the General Defence Committee of the IWW stated: “Fascism is a deadly threat to all of us. There is no escape from the demand that we confront it. Politicians, the police, and the university will not save us. We cannot vote our way to safety. As always, police aided and protected the fascists, while permitting and assisting wholesale violence against counter-protesters. University officials refused to use campus security to protect students and others from a gang of hundreds of fascists”.
Far from intimidating people the attack appears to have led to a strengthening of the movement against the growth of the far right. When the far right tried to rally in Boston shortly after Charlottesville, they managed barely a hundred supporters. They were surrounded by an angry crowd of 40,000.Trump labelled these as “anti-police agitators”. A demonstrator was quoted as saying: “Our generation has been radicalized by police murdering people of colour. And cops shut down a massive section of Boston and protected about 25 rightwingers while 45,000 people joined counter-protests. I think for a lot of people it’s clear what side the police are on. It wasn’t on the side of the people protesting white nationalists even though Marty Walsh [the mayor of Boston] talked tough earlier in the week.”
This massive response threw fear into the far right. As a result 67 rallies across 36 states organised by the hate group Act for America were cancelled. Many actions in solidarity with the Charlottesville attack took place around the USA, and around the world. In Asheville, North Carolina a crowd gathered and tore down a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. San Francisco dockers called for a strike against a far right rally organised by the Patriot Prayer group.
The movement that is developing in America is radicalising. It sees how the police protect far right rallies, is increasingly aware that the police are a murderous and racist institution, and increasingly sees now that the whole problem of racism and white supremacy is a result of the system itself. For too long the alt.right and their allies in the KKK and the neo-Nazi groups have been tolerated and have become more and more confident under a President who is himself a racist, xenophobe and misogynist. Now they are starting to panic as mass resistance to them grows. They can be swept back, Trump can be overthrown. It all depends on mass action rather than waiting on possible impeachment.
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
“Europa Oil & Gas are nearing the end of the legal process giving them
permission to carry out unconventional drilling in the Surrey Hills,
despite massive community opposition. A phase of direct action is likely
to begin once the site traffic starts to arrive in October. If you’d
like to find out more, see the Leith Hill Protection Camp Facebook page
or come and visit the Leith Hill Protection Camp which is in Coldharbour
Lane near Dorking, opposite the intended drill site. If you’d like to
join the camp, please visit first to meet the core crew.”
Anarchist Federation. Surrey & Hampshire Group.
It was Labour who started off the severe cuts in wages and welfare benefits under James Callaghan in the 1970s. Callaghan pioneered the monetarist policies then taken up by Thatcher.
Many argue that a Corbyn-led Labour government would somehow galvanise social movements. However let’s look at the example of Bennism in the early 1980s. Bennism was a similar movement to Corbynism. It mobilised around the left Labour figure of Tony Benn. In fact both Corbyn and McDonnell were minor figures within Bennism, as were some of their present associates. There was great hope that Benn would become deputy leader of the Labour Party until he was defeated by Denis Healey in 1983. In the process a large number of activists from the various social movements, women’s groups, gay liberation groups etc. who up till then were existing outside the Labour Party, were now dragged into Labour and in the process demobilised these social movements. A similar phenomenon happened alongside this when Ken Livingstone ran the Greater London Council from 1981 to 1986 and developed his “rainbow coalition”, involving the same social movements mentioned above, absorbing them into the GLC. Again the result was demobilisation, with people looking towards the GLC administration rather than relying on their own action. Livingstone backed down against Thatcher on tube fares and setting local rates and there was no significant response on the streets.
Going back to Syriza, we saw a situation where it persuaded people to rely on its being in power and fighting against the austerity measures imposed by the EU, the IMF and the World Bank. Of course Syriza broke everyone of their electoral promises. The Syriza member Stathis Kouvelakis had later to admit that the negotiation process with the EU “by itself triggered passivity and anxiety among the people and the most combative sectors of society, leading them to exhaustion”. The Greek social movements have taken a long time to recover from the Syriza experience and that could be the same scenario with a Corbyn government. Again we repeat, we have to rely on our activities and our own organisation of grassroots struggles.
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.