10 things, people on the UK far-Left, and the anarchists too, could do, right now, that does not involve agreeing with each other, setting up a new party or agreeing a platform.

10 things, people on the UK far-Left, and the anarchists too, could do, right now, that does not involve agreeing with each other, setting up a new party or agreeing a platform.   [ok some do do some of these things, but not many and not enough]

 1- Learn how people learn and how change happens. Be humble. Admit that the politics, strategy and tactics of the lasts decades has not worked. It is not just down to the destruction of the old industries, the victory of Thatcherism / neo-liberalism. If the politics, strategy and tactics were good, people would support them. They don’t work for people, so people do not support them. Study other successful organisations of the last decades rather than rely on one model from one country in one era. Learn from psychology and educational theory how people learn and why we haven’t convinced them.

 2- Create a politics for the majority not the minority. So give up crisis politics . Only a minority of people are seriously impacted in economic crises and with the world economy and especially China continuing to boom, capitalism is not coming to an end anytime soon. We need to have a liberationary politics that makes sense to people whether we are in boom or bust. And real revolution will need the support of the majority not just an angry minority and angry minority politics leads to fascism as readily as communism.

 3- Ask people what they think and believe, hope and desire for. The Left spend most of their time telling people what to think. People are tired of and alienated by this. Instead we need to ask people what they want, actually talk to them and listen to them. Go door to door where we live, use surveys, interviews, what is called ‘workers enquiry’.
Then base our politics on that. Mesh what we know, of politics and history,  with what people want and we will succeed.

 4- Work together where we live. Set up local solidarity groups/networks to bring people together of different politics. It may not happen nationally but there is no reason why we can not do this locally. Peoples Assemblies could maybe perform this function though they are probably too tied to one political party, at least nationally.

 5- Break the cultural dominance [hegemony] of capital where we live; create a mass, united, non-party, all-party, campaign of postering/graffiti/murals/stickering/chalking/flashmobbing  calling for resistance and revolution and  get all the musicians/bands/artists  we know involved with that call for resistance and revolution. We must dominate the walls and airwaves and cyberspace.

6- Break the media dominance  of capital where we live; bring out non-party broadsheets, from the local Solidarity Network or PA, with articles from different campaigns and groups, that are put through peoples doors, dominate the letters pages in local papers, local  web forums, get on every possible radio show, talk radio, TV news etc. Use Twitter and other social media vigorously. These are essential tools to communicate and organise both with each other and outside of our various groups.

 7- Create victories. Concentrate on a few things that can be won e.g. unionising a local workplace that is ripe for it, or forcing a retailer to pay the living wage, or to stop using workfare etc. Pick one company e.g. ATOS, for a national campaign, in ever locality, not just on one day, but every day, until victory.

8- Get places to organise. Whether groups come together and rent, or, squat, use arts funding, or outside of London, buy, a place, we need our own centres, for meetings, as social centres, education centres, permanent creche space etc, not for one group but all groups.

 9- Be organisers not activists. Activists do great things trying to get their opponents to change their minds. Sometimes it works. But it doesn’t challenge overall power. Organisers instead create mass movements which can destroy the power of the system. And in creating that mass movement means the middle class, middle aged, white men who currently dominate must give power and responsibility to the youth, the working class and women, the BME, who are all currently so underrepresented.

 10- Organise parties not Parties! People want and need to enjoy themselves, be happy and to dance and sing. No one wants a revolution which means less fun than under capital, less humour, less partying and more work! Organise revolutionary sports clubs and tournaments, social clubs, comedy nights, theatre, music, walking groups, dances and everything else that people choose to do as they enjoy them so much.
As Emma Goldman said “”If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution”

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The SWP; rape, opportunism, power and ideology..how the SWP ended up working in Tower Hamlets with fascists, war criminals and those who carried out mass rape in Bangladesh

In August 2012  I blogged about how there was a difference between the Leninist Left and the anarchists as regards rape, and arguing it was due to their different attitude to power

” Most of the far-Left have never got what power is. Following Lenin they are happy to be submissive to party and hierarchy and allow lack for consent in their parties and even bullying and coercion in their political lives. This has been exposed time and again. And this is the tradition Galloway comes from. Of male dominated hierarchical organisations. To them the finer points of power relationships have no interest. the means justifies the ends.”

Apart from some justified criticism of certain parts of the post, that e.g. Galloway was more of a maverick Stalinist than representative of the Trotskyite far Left, and that Lenin can be interpreted in different ways, which is a debate, I stand by the most of it.

And the accusation stands even more clearly today as the Socialist Workers Party explodes with its own sex scandal.
And I am an interested party. I sold and supported SW from 1977 through to 1985. I never signed a membership card as I was always too much of an anarchist, but I saw them then, and now, as the most important revolutionary party in the UK. They were fresh back in the early 7ts. Capable of supporting and responding to new movements with a healthy internal democracy. But following the failure of the French ’68 movement, which they decided was due to the lack of a Leninist Party, went from a open, socialist movement backwards, imho, to a crass orthodox Leninism that has reached it’s nadir in the Comrade Delta debacle. The SWP was set up in 1977, at the same time as they expelled Womens Voice their womens section, and shut down their rank and file industrial groups, as they could not control them.

And I continue to work with members of the SWP. I trust that fundamentally they want a better society, though not one that I want. And I want to continue to work with these individuals. But something has to change. It was clear for many years, even decades, that any possibility of this party leading the working class, as it hoped to do, to the creation of a better society was, and is, less than zero. And it is equally clear to me that this is due to its bizarrely adhesion to a 19thC politics of putchism, most clearly identified with Lenin and his Bolshevik parties taking of power in Russia in October 1917 [ though see e.g. http://www.unkant.com/2012/12/ian-land-swp-vs-lenin.html ] and its descent into abject opportunism.

The SWP desperately attempt to justify this insane position even when their tiny party has attracted no more than, currently, 2,500 fee paying members, in a country of 60 million people!  And today that party is in melt down over the accusations of a young woman between the age of 17 and 19, Comrade W, against the then, 46 year old, day to day party leader, Martin Smith, or Comrade Delta.

I won’t go into detail as that is all over the internet at;  internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/

http://sovietgoonboy.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/the-age-gap-and-why-it-matters/

Socialist Unity, not a blog I generally much favour http://socialistunity.com/gotcha/#.US0gzFf282g

and by the CPGB  http://cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/944/swp-why-i-am-resigning

and e.g. by ex members like Anna Chen  http://madammiaow.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/swp-meltdown-blogging-filth-spoiling.html

and Cath Elliot http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2013/02/22/unison-women-the-swp-and-the-vote-to-support-rape-victims/

But the bad, botched, unthinking and opportunist way the SWP have treated the allegations,  and defended the accused rapist and the parties structures against the accuser and her supporters, has made the issue one about  the whole modus operandi of the SWP, not just the specifics of the allegation. The party has split into two 500 person factions, one apparently obliviously obedient to the hierarchy, one reforming and a smaller more radical faction.

But what none, none, of these factions or blogs have identified though is that this whole saga is symptomatic of the whole MO of the SWP for many decades now, that comes from the crass opportunism that is integral to crass Leninism, the idea they are the one and only revolutionary party and they have only to recruit more numbers and then they will be able to lead the rest of us simple souls to the promised land, that is at the heart of the SWP, and the consequent out of touch leadership and a obidient rank and file.
[ eta 9/3/13 I have touched upon the idea before that much Leftism still goes back to the forms of an Abrahamic evangelism and millenarianism .. John14:6 ” Jesus [SWP,SP, etc etc ] answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [socialism] except through me.” ]

Instead of slowly, steadily, concretely, building a movement from the base, workplace and trade union work [actually the one thing they do well], building social centres, sports clubs, local newspapers, tenants and community groups, a mass movement like that of the old German KPD, that in my time around the SWP I was always told was the ambition, they have spent the last 30 years flitting, yo-yoing, flip flopping from struggle to struggle, dropping one campaign for another, opportunistically chasing recruitment opportunities. And worse they strangled, tragically, the life blood out of so many in an arrogant belief that only they had the correct answers, or to dominate so as to show they were the group people should join. It hasn’t worked has it??

But this opportunism reached its depths not just with the Comrade Delta debacle, but in the SWPs actions in Tower Hamlets over the last decade. The back-story; Following the invasion of Iraq, the mass outpouring of anger through Stop The War, led by the SWP, many saw an opportunity to, finally, create a party to the Left of (New) Labour. Many young Muslims and Islamist organisations had condemned the US-UK invasion as an attack on Muslim lands, when it was a simple imperialist resource grab. Opportunistically the SWP identified these groups as the base for a new radical Left party. Not only did they allow the lie that the war was an attack on Islam, as opposed to a simple war for oil, go unchallenged, they made allies of the far-Right of the communities in the UK of Muslim origin.
Nowhere in the UK was this so advanced as in Tower Hamlets with its large community of Bangladeshi origin. Yet in this project, that became RESPECT, the SWP made a conscious decision to ignore the history and politics of Bangladesh and it’s mirror in Tower Hamlets.
Bangladeshis came on mass as refugees to Tower Hamlets in the early 1970s ( some had been here for much longer as ‘Lascars’ or sailors) after Bangladeshis fought a secularist, nationalist war for Independence in 1971 again Pakistan, their then rulers. Millions died at the hands of the Pakistan Army and local Islamist death squads.
The Bangladeshi refugees who arrived in Tower Hamlets suffered dire racism and discriminations till they organised and fought both the racists, and drove them out of Brick Lane, and also the local racist council, and got, first, housing and then political representation. By 2001 the Bangladeshi community was established with significant political representation via the Labour Party, where the bulk of the Bangladeshi Left had ended up, though many socialists stayed outside.
In 2003 in the build up to the creation of RESPECT the SWP took a clear and disgraceful decision to bypass this, often secularist, Bangladeshi Leftist community and have RESPECT make an alliance with the very evangelical and extreme Islamist East London Mosque. Anger and disillusionment with the Labour govt and this dirty alliance delivered the Bethnal Green seat to George Galloway in 2005.

Innocuous that may sound but the East London Mosque is no ordinary Mosque. It is run by those who sided with the Pakistan govt and opposed Bangladeshi independance in 1971. Worse than that, it is affiliated to a political party in Bangladeshi called Jamaat e Islami which in 1971 operated death squads under the name of Al Badr which killed tens of thousands of socialists, academics, Bangladesh nationalists, women and used rape militarily. And worse the main man at the ELM, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, is wanted as a war criminal in Bangladesh.
http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/?p=296  and  http://bit.ly/J1xEyC

Many of these people have recently been on trial which had brought a new young progressive mass movement onto the streets of Bangaldesh, called the Shahbag movement, bizareely clearly reported by the SWP here http://socialistworker.org/2013/02/14/new-struggles-in-south-asia  and opposed sectarian rioting by the fascist Jamaat Party

The ELM is incredibly divisive in the local community. Indeed many local Bangladeshis regard the Jamaat as a fascist party and consequently the ELM as fascist. see http://whitechapelanarchistgroup.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/unity-platform-against-racism-and-fascism/
That the SWP did not know this is of course not possible. So the SWP clearly made a conscious, opportunist, decision to ignore this history, to work with a group regarded as fascist by those Left wing Bangladeshis, and ignore those Left wing Bangladeshis, who fought the NF and BNP fascists in the 1970s and 1980s, who led militant squatting campaigns to secure rights to council housing, who secured political representation for the community.

Of course ten years later RESPECT is virtually dead, at least in Tower Hamlets. Opportunism never creates lasting organisation. Several RESPECT Cllrs, members of the SWP, actually joined the Tories!!  And there is no grassroots mass Left as there could have been if the SWP had chosen to build from the bottom.

So all in all, the case of Comrade Delta, of a Central Committee making decisions based on opportunism instead of politics and principle, is not that shocking, is in fact just one in a long line of opportunism above principle, opportunism above morals, opportunism above real politics, an opportunism that infects so much of the UK Left an opportunism that has to be erredicated if we are to create a better world.

 

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Why Kurdistan and the Kurdish struggle for freedom matters

Why Kurdistan and the Kurdish struggle for freedom matters;

The Kurdish prisoners hungerstrike is now on its 45th day. (It is Friday October 26th 2012) Nearly 800 prisoners including journalists, MPs, local Cllrs, Mayor are taking part. Yet the media and Left are silent.

I am not one for supporting global over local issues, and fighting the enemy at home is always the priority, but I live in north London where 100,000 Kurdish refugees live, driven from their homes by the massive attack on the Kurds over the last 30 years which included a scorched earth policy that destroyed c.4000 villages and created 3 million refugees.

The Kurds are the forgotten (or ignored) freedom movement. They say their only true friends are the mountains. Over 20 million in Turkey suffer massive political and cultural oppression (Kurdish is banned in schools, Law and politics) and millions of those are internal refugees driven out of their villages and forced to migrate to the cities where they live as second class citizens. Yet there story and fight is largely unknown or ignored by the Western Left.

Living in Hackney and Tottenham I always knew of the Kurds but only recently through working against the cuts and after the riots through helping to organise the “Give Our Kids a Future” did I realise that most for the ‘Turks’ I’d worked with and the organisations they are in fact predominantly Kurdish. And while most of them now have british born and educated kids, they homeland still calls.

Kurdistan to most in London seems far away though, like Iraq and Iran, but in fact it’s capital, Amed/Diyabakir is closer to London than Cairo, Damascus or Gaza City! And critically Turkey is, well a little bit, in Europe, and as a state wishes to be in Europe economically and politically.

And Kurdistan is not just some Middle Eastern mountain dispute. Because the Kurds culturally and politically have long been on the Left, and because they are at the cross roads of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and have the potential of the Iraq Kurds petro-dollars, the full force of American dollar has come down on them. Little less than bankrolling Israel, Turkey was bankrolled massively by the US up until recently  (unlike Israel it can now pay it’s on way) both as a bulwark against pre Col War expansionism but also to stop an independent Kurdistan.

Turkish nationalism, while secular, is fiercely nationalistic and is responsible for the Armenian and Assyrian genocides, the expulsion of tens of thousands of Greeks and cultural and political oppression of the Kurdish which broke into open warfare in the 8ts and 9ts when c.50,000 people died in fighting between the PKK ( Kurdistan Workers Party) and the Turkish army.

While the PKK continues to have thousands of soldiers in the mountain, the Kurdish struggle is now, through the actions of the Turkish state as much in the cities and towns, where most of the Kurds have been driven, where it has hundreds of Cllrs and Mayors in the BDP party. The population of Amed for example rose from 150,000 in 1970 to 1.5million in 2000 due to refugees.

The response of the Turkish state, currently run by the Islamist AKP party of Erdogan, has imprisoned increasing numbers of Kurds in mass round ups, and there are currently 15,000 Kurdish political prisoners.

The Kurdish struggle has been transformed over recent years with its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan moving from a traditional nationalist/Marxist ideology, of creating an independent Kurdish state, to a one of “democratic confederalism”, influenced by the ideas of the ecological Marxist Murray Bookchin, of a democratic revolution throughout Turkey.

And this is why the Kurds struggle is so important and not just to the Turkish state and the Western powers, who will do anything to stop it winning, as what they stand for is revolutionary, not just locally but universally, but to those who are revolutionaries in the West.

While I have always believed you should “think global but act local”, and while I accept that it is right people should protest about the actions of Israel, anyone who lives in north London must show some solidarity with our Kurdish neighbours. While elements of the Left e.g. STW/Respect have organised consistently in support of Palestine amongst UK Muslim communities they have ignored the issue of Kurdistan.

Yet imho the Kurdish struggle and the KCK/PKK are the most progressive revolutionary force in the Middle East today. And the most feminist; women are equal at all levels of the organisation and include over 30% of the fighters in the mountains.

Ocalan wrote in 2004
““Our first task,” he wrote, “is to push for democratization, for non-state structures, and communal organization.” Instead of focusing solely on changing the Turkish constitution, he advocated that Kurds create organizations at the local level: local town councils, municipal administrations, down to urban districts, townships, and villages. They should form new local political parties and economic cooperatives, civil society organizations, and those that address human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, animal rights, and all other issues to be addressed.

“Regional associations of municipal administrations” are needed, so these local organizations and institutions would form a network. At the topmost level, they are to be represented in a “General Congress of the People,” which will address issues of “politics, self-defence, law, morality, economy, science, arts, and welfare by means of institutionalization, rules and control mechanisms.”

Gradually, as the democratic institutions spread, all of Turkey would undergo a democratization. They would network across existing national borders, to accelerate the advent of democratic civilization in the whole region and produce not only freedom for the Kurds but a geopolitical and cultural renewal. Ultimately a democratic confederal union would embrace the whole of the Middle East. He named this Kurdish version of libertarian municipalism “democratic confederalism.”

In March 2005, Öcalan issued a Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan. It called for “a grass-roots democracy … based on the democratic communal structure of natural society.” It “will establish village, towns and city assemblies and their delegates will be entrusted with the real decision-making, which in effect means that the people and the community will decide.” Öcalan’s democratic confederalism preserves his brilliant move of linking the liberation of Kurds to the liberation of humanity. It affirms individual rights and freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of religious, ethnic, and class differences. It “promotes an ecological model of society” and supports women’s liberation. He urged this program upon his people: “I am calling upon all sectors of society, in particular all women and the youth, to set up their own democratic organisations and to govern themselves.” When I visited Diyarbakir in the fall of 2011, I discovered that Kurds in southeastern Anatolia were indeed putting this program into practice.[30] http://new-compass.net/articles/bookchin-%C3%B6calan-and-dialectics-democracy

But what can people in the UK do? Well many on the Left quite rightly have time to protest at the plight of the Palestinians, who have equally suffered colonialism and repression, and the Kurdish plight is no less. With the current situation of hundreds on hungerstrike it seems equally right that there should be a united solidarity campaign.
But protest does not always seem and is not always that useful. But in Turkeys case it can be; the West are desperate to bring in Turkey as a new base for cheap labour production. e.g. the work that the Visteon Ford factory in Enfield that close recently simply transferred to Turkey. The West are trying to portray the Islamist AKP govt as progressive when in fact they are the opposite. Entry to the EU could force Turkey to give significant concessions to the Kurds.

And the UK supplies weapons and tools of repression to Turkey, like with EDO in Brighton supplying bomb parts to Israel that were used in the barbaric Operation Cast lead.  The UK is the third biggest exporter of arms to Turkey though it only amounts to 1% of their imports due to the massive US military aid/sales. E.g. Gun mounted British Land Rovers are used extensively in the attacks and forced depopulation of Kurdish villages e.g. 400 Land Rover 110 4×4 vehicles for use by the Gendarmerie, Turkey manufactures under licence Land Rover Scorpion attack and reconnaissance vehicles,  British Aerospace exports 36 Rapier surface-to-air missiles, Short Brothers have exported 40 Shorland S550 armoured personnel carriers for the Gendarmerie and British Aerospace has a three year contract to upgrade Rapier missile systems http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/publications/government/turkey-submission-0102.php

If you live in north London there will always be things you can do to support the local Kurdish organisations.

For more info and updates check out;
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign  http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com/

http://hevallo.blogspot.co.uk/ or on Facebook Hevallo and twitter hevallo

http://campacc.org.uk/uploads/kurds.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JM8XyhBpQ0  Amed Mayor interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiyct4sfD18 “Fire in the Mountains”
2012 Australian programme about PKK


2012 interviews with PKK

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Why the EDL must be stopped

The EDL are muppets, useful idiots to the state. Working class people, loyalists, who see their country ( i.e the country whose roads, cars and houses they built and who in hundreds of thousands died for, this country that gave them at least a roof over their head if not a home for a hero and a privilged lifestyle better than most in the world) and what benefits it had, be systematically dismantled by its, as always, White Anglo Saxon Protestant rulers. But being impotent, confused, angry and not believing there is any possibility of change they blame not that WASP elite who put them and their parents out of work and deny their children income and housing, and destroyed the old working class community, but one small minority group of whom an even tinyier minority take a similar fascist perspective to their own and for that they try to blame ALL Britains ills on. The Muslims ( as if one group of people could be so defined!)
Their dominant image is of racism, and there is no doubt they are racist, against those of Pakistani and Bengali origin, but it is that all they do is divisive in the working class that actually politically defines them, and defines them both a loyalist, but ultimately and increasingly as fascist, and defines fundamentally why they must be stopped.
The EDL itself will argue till it is blue in the face that it is neither racist (“my best mate is black”) and not Nazi ( it is not National Socialist) but working class street fascism is defined by how it splits and divides the working class and works to the agenda of the rich, the elite and the ruling class in an era where that ruling class are attacking unmercifully the working and middle classes.
We must stop the EDL by working with those who support it in the communities they come from, something the Left has fallen down, by showing that they are not wanted in our communities and by physically opposing them when the try to march on our streets. See you in Walthamstow today

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Why most anarchists and not so many Leftists get what rape means.

[please note new edits in square brackets]

George Galloway’s ignorant and offensive comments on rape have sparked, rightly, a storm of anger and protest but also defensiveness of incredible ignorance by a significant % on the Left, struggling to defend his stupidity.
Galloway alleged that some non- consensual sex was not rape, stating
“It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
What is firstly depressing, as a long term Leftwing politician, is that he does not know what rape means literally .. as Laurie Penny who has blogged bravely and correctly (imho) on this (http://www.penny-red.com/post/29989130545)/its-trigger-warning-week) notes, it simply comes from the Latin rapio

“to seize , snatch, tear away; to plunder a place”

It is astonishing that Galloway then thinks that rape must be violent. Does he and his supporters also think that child abuse and mental abuse and racial abuse must be violent so as not to be “bankrupting the term”?
Maybe Galloway believes non-violent child abuse should be re-termed “bad paedophile etiquette”?
While he admits that what Assange is alleged to have done is “sordid” clearly he was trying to attack those who feel that Assange while to be repected for his work with Wikileaks is not above morality and who value all freedoms, not just those limited by e.g. anti-imperialism.
And while I hope the debate allows people to understand that to rape, i.e. to take, simply means to do something sexual without consent, it has exposed the very real differences between those of different political backgrounds.
Sadly it has got confused by some red herrings.
e.g. lots of people have asked what is wrong with couples waking each other up sexually. This is something I have had done to me and done to my lover, and with smiles all round! But this was with long term partners where all the consent and boundaries have previously been worked out. So it is consensual.
The confusion that these people and Galloway’s defenders have, the issue they don’t get is that what is paramount is not the act, but consent.
Consent. Consent. Consent.
People should be able to do what the fuck (literally) they like in their own bedrooms if it is consensual, and that does not mean coerced consent either. The depressing consensual female submissiveness of the apparently awful Fifty Shades of Grey is a grey area here but actually highlights what is the fundamental issue, and one that no other commentator has mentioned, and that is power.
All our lives and relationships are affected by power relations. And no more so than in bed.
What Assange did [allegedly ] in bed with these two women [[would be ]  an abuse of power and it’s parallel disregard for consent.
And it is this relation to understanding power that has been exposed in this case in the outpourings in the new media and have exposed elements of the Left.
Most of the far-Left have never got what power is. Following Lenin they are happy to be submissive to party and hierarchy and allow lack for consent in their parties and even bullying and coercion in their political lives. This has been exposed time and again. And this is the tradition Galloway comes from. Of male dominated hierarchical organisations. To them the finer points of power relationships have no interest. the means justifies the ends.
The anarchists though do have an analysis of power and to a person (online in this debate) have recognised that rape does not need to be violent, and that more fundamentally any person who takes anything, from someone else, sexual or otherwise, is a rapist, or a thief, or a scab or a parasite. and that means anyone who uses power over anyone else is also a rapist, thief, scab or parasite. So in the bedroom, the workplace, on the street wherever. Yes means yes, no means no!
While the Leninists demand societies create by and dominated by their hierarchical and authoritarian parties, modelled on Lenin’s underground pre-revolution party, with the use of coercion against not just the capitalist class but all who do not agree 100% with their programme, the anarchists have long said only a society based on consent over all matters can give a free, stable and equal society
I do not always feel myself to be an anarchist, but on this debate I surely am.
p.s. now people have seen what a toe-rag Galloway is on this issue maybe they will look into his dalliance with the right wing Islamist war criminals of Jammat e Islami in Tower Hamlets during and after his election campaign there.

[ – it has quite righly been noted on FB that many anarchists also ‘do not get’ rape and some have been rapists and that sexism is a problem in anarchist groups as well as on the Left and I accept that. However i do not see it so institutionalised as it has been in many Trot groups
– the article is fairly negative and can be seen as coming from the same problematical antagonistic male mind set as justifies sexism for a greater cause and it is not positive and does not mention love! I also accept that.
-Sacha below makes several correct points but I think still fails to acknowledge how the fundamentals of the authoritarian nature imho of Leninism ( and I acknowledge there is an argument over this) lead to the awful levels of bullying, sexism and abuse we have seen over the years in most of the far-Left parties. ]

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Organising locally is no longer a bonus but a neccessity

“Hi friends and comrades.
This is addressed to all the various anarchists, libertarian socialists, independently minded activists, malcontents and trouble makers around the country!!

There have been a number of failed attempts at local activist co-ordination in various places of the last 20 years

They last for a year or 2 then fade away as people do their own thing. Only in Haringey has one group lasted.

But we have reached a period of history where this issue of working together locally must be resolved once and for all.
We now have no choice but to co-ordinate, work together, formally.

Why?

We are at a crux in history.

We are at a period which could become revolutionary and could end up fascist, or of course, maybe it will bobble along grimly.
Capitalism in the West is in crisis, countries may default, 2 countries have unelected leaders, general strikes across Europe ..

BUT, whatever way, either way, local organisation is no longer an option but a necessity

If these are revolutionary times; we need to think about starting to create forms of counter power, to start

to undercut the state and capitalism and to move things on to where WE, not THEY, want them to be.

We need to be thinking about what we do when law and order, services etc start to break down.

We need to be thinking beyond the immediate to the future

If we are headed into fascism; we need to think about how we can resist what could be a violent reaction that will see many of us attacked and locked up. We will need defence campaigns and lots and lots of mutual aid

And if it is still bobbling on we will need to do all of the above!

In the 1980s, a small Trot group called the RCP produced 2 pamphlet entitled, ‘Taking Control’ and ‘Preparing for Power’.
About the same time Class War had a seminal article entitled “What do we do when the cops fuck off”.

What both, radically different, groups had in common was, and what few groups around appear to take seriously have is that they were thinking there and then about how to take power.      [or destroy state power, same thing. We mean power at the base, with the people]

And this is the crux.

If we genuinely believe in our politics we have come to a period in history when we must make it count or we may as well give up.
There are a number of different things that need to be done, not tomorrow but now, imho, from forming physical defence committees, to having one national libertarian federation and one national libertarian newspaper and internet hub. Those things need to happen, now.

But my priority is the necessity of local organisation.

And to repeat, imho, it is not now just an option, not now just a idea, not now just a desire;

It is now a necessity that we organise collectively locally

Of course we all will want to keep doing where our political (and personal) backgrounds, education, work, beliefs and desires lead us

.. some activists want, know how to, and believe it is most important to organise as anarcho-syndicalists, some activists see organising around housing as the most important issue, and that is all fine.

And what people have been doing with LCAP, UnCut, SolFeD, etc etc is all great and has all helped pushed things on immeasurably.
BUT it needs to come together on the local level. All of these tactics are essential. But if they are not co-ordinated, locally, they impotent.

Fundamentally we need to look at, think deeply about, analyse, how, IF society was to change, for the better, what we would be doing, how we would be organising, and that must involve thinking about running society where we live

We need to look at where groups have been amazingly resilient or have become hegemonic in their society against the odds and almost always it is when the have deep links in the community and amongst themselves; so the Miners in 1984-5, the republican community in the North of Ireland or Hamas in Palestine. There are plenty of smaller groups that have achieved limited changes but have never threatened to change society as a whole as we must.

The Trotskyists believe small groups can change society but imho they can only exchange one set of rulers for another.
But remember, the Trots trump us every time now, as whatever dispute, whatever campaign we are involved with, however many times people agree with us than them, those people end up gravitating toward the Trot groups as they have the organisation that we do not have.

We have the politics but no local organisation.

And we need to think deeply about the reaction that is coming our way. In Italy by 1979, after the uprisings of the 1970s, there were 10,000 activists in Italian jails, overwhelmingly detained without charge. In Germany in the 1930s, in Spain in 1936 in Iran in 1978, the mass popular/ communist movements were wiped out. [and there is an element of truth that they did not prioritize local working! ]

We need to study and learn what they did right and what they did wrong.

So we need to keep on doing what we are doing, and work as affinity groups, but create additional deep and strong local networks to support each other, as well as immersing ourselves in the local community, something we are currently deeply lacking.

Of course borough boundaries do not define our politics but everyone works on different levels and the local level is simply fundamental.

So, now, immediately, urgently, we need to re-launch some sort of local coordination.

It does not matter what it is called, but that it does what we need. Co-ordinate, network, provide a way in for people, .. co-ordination lists, forums, meetings, have reading groups, take action, social events, a centre, a cycling club, a newspaper, a website, whatever ..

Some people got hung up on whether we do this thing or do that thing. That is not important. Do anything and everything.

The critical aspect, the fundamental issue is unity, is co-ordination, is working together. If not now when?

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There has been no revolution in Tunisia or Egypt .. And none is likely there or the UK any time soon.

There has been no revolution in Tunisia or Egypt .. And none is likely there or the UK any time soon.

It seems ridiculous to suggest that protest doesn’t work that there has been no revolution, in the middle of the uprisings across the Arab world. But that is what must be argued. Sadly the Left and the @ movement have been infected for generations by a putchist fever, a Blanquist or Leninist mania, that believes society is changed by uprisings, revolts and rebellions, by putches. Well they are, regularly, but what we see are just simple changes in the rulers, and usually movement rightward not to the Left.

There has been no revolution in Tunisia or Egypt as I understand revolution. A revolution as I see it is when the people / the workers take over not just TV stations, but the mass of the factories that produce goods and the offices that control society, as in Spain in 1936, or Nantes in 1968, Turin and Milan in 1919 and parts of Russia in 1917.  The World Turned Upside Down.

What we have seen now are revolts. Revolts against dictatorship, just like in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, but there, like now, there were no social movements big enough to rejoice in, no movements that could create new societies and today Eastern Europe is freer but less equal than 20 years ago. East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, Czechoslovakia, Albania, ‘soviet Asia’, the list of rebellions that ended up with no more power with the people is long. And remember ’68? Later that year the people voted in De Gaulle in massively increased numbers.

Sure, of course, revolution is a process, so that factory occupations are not always at the start, but it is clear there is no ‘communist movement’ in any of these countries, and that includes the UK, capable of influencing events in a progressive direction.

So what goes wrong in these events? It is simple. That there is an absence of a mass movement in the working class capable of capitalising on the crises that regularly infect ( though not terminally ) capitalism. The Left always claimed what was missing was a revolutionary party! Partially maybe. But a party is nothing without a movement, something the Left have forgotten. You can not build a castle on sand as they have tried to do. After 40 years of SWP party building, after Tony Cliffs  turn from a Luxembourgist party (IS) to a Leninist Party (SWP) on the basis of his analysis of the failure of 68, the IS/SWP is smaller than ever. Sure, have your party, but every Left/@ group I seen puts party before class.

The deadening legacy the Left has given us hangs over everything. Now more than ever we need a new Left without Leftism, a new politics that appeals to ordinary people, that talks the language of ordinary people, that people will give up what they have for. Here today in the UK the idea of revolutionary change is a joke. The Left have zero influence. Less than for 100 years. A useful idiot (though he is not as daft as he appears I suspect) like Tommy Robinson is more popular than Lindsay German or Linda Taafe!

Instead of 40 years of movement building, embedding revolutionary ideas in working class communities, the UK Left and @ movement gave us sectarianism, as they fought over who would be the true vanguard, and gave us a endless headless chicken tailending and strangulation of any campaigns that did arise in the class. The Left and @ movement has concentrated almost entirely on a political level with stuntism, placard waving and chanting, and so called international solidarity (it does nothing of the sort in reality) and has only really engaging with the working class as individuals through the unions and then only every related to organised workers. The NSSN the most important development for years was never taken seriously by the Left parties who dominated and fought over it would seem has destroyed it ( watch this space). While the Left usually looks down on the @ fascination with the spontaneous the @s are in reality little better, dividing endlessly like amoeba.

Worse is the belief that in crisis comes communism and change for the better. The Trotskyist Left has fetished their guru’s writings on decadence and crisis and believe that is from crisis that change will come. Some idiots in the 1970s took this theory to it’s logical conclusion and adopted the ‘strategy of terror’ wherein by acts of terrorism they believed they would force the state to react so brutally the masses would rise up. It, surprise surprise, failed.

What comes from chaos is not communism but fascism and authoritarianism. Always has done and always will; unless there is a massive movement for communism ready.

The Left is now entirely absent from the vast majority of working class communities, and incredibly sometimes by political design; the SWP has always argued against community work e.g. re the Poll Tax campaign, believing in a crass reading of Lenin that change can only come from trade unionists and in the workplace. Even though our biggest victory for generations was the Poll Tax campaign, even though the miners strike only carried on as it did due to community support (though clearly it needed industrial action to win that dispute)  they have resolutely refused to deal with people where they live. Incredibly they have utterly disregarded the work of the Italian and other Marxist in the 1960s and 1970s around e.g. the Italian Autonomia movement re the crucial role of community in the reproduction of labour and political consciousness. The German communist movement made the same mistake in the 1920s and 1930s with disastrous consequences.

What we have forgotten to do is what the old communists and anarchists did. Slowly building form the base to create mass popular movements from below. The best examples of people and movements who do this today are not Left wing; the community organising movements based on Saul Alinsky’s ideas in North America that were cynically used to put Obama into the White House, the Le Pen fascists in France in the 1990’s and the Islamists in the Middle East, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Palestine, clerical-fascist indeed as Tony Cliff called them, but dedicated to using welfare, schooling etc to create the mass movement that will take them to power.

Each of these groups understands power a thousand times better that today’s Left. Power is gained when people want to give their small piece of power (the ability to withdraw labour or to march on the street) to create change, to create a mass movement based on those bits of power. But they will only do that if they believe it is worthwhile. Today’s stagnant, humourless, shouty Leftism alienates, and worse it shouts out loud, “We are not a movement who can win but a movement who shouts in defeat”.

It is time for a change, a complete re-orientation back into ordinary communities. If progressive politics are outside the mass of people they will lose. It is simple maths. And study politics! I hear the masses of the academic Left shout-back “we do that!” But they don’t. They study minuateae and abstractions.

To study politics is to identify power relations, where we live and work and to understand how to change them.

Anyone who had genuinely studied politics in this way would have been building mass movements. Study when we did win, whether it be the Poll Tax, however superficial that win or the strikes of the 1970s or Spain in 1936.

http://www.markrudd.com/?organizing-and-activism-now/how-to-build-a-movement.html

http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2010/02/17/poll-tax-rebellion/

http://www.iwca.info/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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