The post Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada and the Far-Right appeared first on It's Going Down.A report from antifascists in Montreal about the rise of the People’s Party of Canada, which is headed by Maxime Bernier.
Voting is not really our thing, but we do recognize that this is a time when more people are speaking about politics and policies, including many that will have a real impact on many people’s lives. This time around (not for the first time) the Conservatives are contending with a national party to their right, as Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada fields candidates across the country on a populist platform with climate denial and anti-immigrant sentiment as its key planks.
Maxime Bernier was a federal cabinet minister from 2006-7 and 2011-15 in Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party government. He ran for the Conservative Party leadership in the 2017 leadership election, and came in a close second with over 49% of the vote in the 13th round, after leading the eventual winner, Andrew Scheer, in the first 12 rounds. In August 2018, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party to create the People’s Party of Canada. The PPC quickly latched onto fears about immigration and immigrants as key issues, alongside support for pipelines and various climate denial conspiracy theories. Indeed, while climate denial is perhaps the most prominent right-wing theme we found on Quebec PPC candidates’ social media accounts, race and racism are what have repeatedly made headlines for Bernier’s populists.
The PPC is part of a (tried and true, worldwide) phenomenon of right-wing splinter parties emerging from the main right-wing party, opening up space on that party’s right. This was done most successfully in Canada by Preston Manning’s Reform Party in the 1990s. The Reform Party emerged to the right of Brian Mulroney’s “mainstream” Progressive Conservatives in 1987 and was so successful that it displaced the PCs before re-joining them in 2000. Like the PPC today, Reform attracted widespread support from right-wing Canadians, most of whom were disaffected Tories, but also a smattering of neo-Nazis and far rightists who jumped on the bandwagon before being eventually expelled. Reform ended up absorbing the rump PC party, and rebranded itself as the “new” more right-wing Conservative Party under Stephen Harper. This in turn provided Bernier with a home for his own political career, from which the PPC has now emerged. In other words, the PPC is part of a dynamic of a section of Canadian voters pushing to the right that has been going on for decades. In a certain sense: nothing new; however, we must keep in mind that both the global and national contexts today are far more favourable to the far right, and it is not for nothing than many Bernier supporters compare his “outsider” campaign to that of Donald Trump.
While the PPC is not even close to being a Nazi or fascist party, even as he ran for Conservative leadership in 2017, Bernier was being singled out by some Canadian neo-Nazis as a potential “maverick” who could help to shake things up in their favour, much as Trump had done in the United States. They weren’t wrong – since founding the PPC, Bernier had adopted a strategy of using racist dogwhistles to try to consolidate support from the most reactionary white Canadian voters. As such, the party has become a pole of attraction for numerous far rightists hoping to either build political power or (for the more far-sighted) to move the frame of debate further to the right. Collecting selfies alongside Bernier had become a pastime for a slice of Canadian reactionaries even before media reports about neo-nazis like Alex Brisson from Huntingdon, Paul Fromm of Ontario, and members of the Northern Guard in Alberta, as well as with members of the Proud Boys, all posing with “Mad Max”.
There have been suggestions (for instance made by B’nai B’rith Canada) that Martin Masse, PPC spokesperson and architect of its public relations strategy, has been key to its embrace of the far right. Masse was owner and publisher of Québécois Libre, an online libertarian news outlet that shut down in 2016. That the PPC’s cozy relationship with racists is primarily due to the influence of one person is highly doubtful, however – rather, the PPC is positioning itself as the option-of-choice for those who find the Conservatives insufficiently right-wing.
Racism is clearly one of the most effective tools for such a strategy, witness PPC billboards and tweets against “mass immigration” and also “against antifa,” or Bernier’s diatribe about “radical Islam” being “the biggest threat to freedom, peace and security in the world today.” “The other parties are complacent and pander to Islamists,” Bernier accused, promising that “The PPC will make no compromise with this totalitarian ideology.” Bernier’s platform calls for a massive reduction in immigration to Canada, down to between 100,000 and 150,000 new immigrants per year, and almost doubling the number of “economic migrants”. He also wants the government to cut off all funding for official multiculturalism, to leave the United Nations Global Compact for Migration and to prioritize refugees who, among other things, “reject political Islam.”(About all this, one might want to check out this article in Politico magazine, that has observed that attitudes towards immigrants have become a key factor in determining which political party Canadians support.)
Such a strategy involves a balancing act. To succeed, Bernier and the PPC have to play to the crowd with lines that the far right will recognize and embrace, all the while not making themselves appear beyond the pale. Perhaps that is why Bernier was a no-show at last year’s December protest in Ottawa against the United Nations Compact on Migration. Organized by the anti-Muslim group ACT for Canada, Bernier was scheduled to speak alongside members of La Meute, Rasmus Paludan of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs political party, and Travis Patron of the (actually white nationalist) Canadian Nationalist Party, before he backed out at the last minute.
A number of media articles have revealed the far-right connections of people active in the PPC as organizers and members whose signatures were used for the PPC to attain official party status. For instance:
- Darik Horn, a PPC volunteer and also security agent who has accompanied Bernier at a variety of events and media interviews, has been revealed to be a founding member of the neo-fascist Canadian Nationalist Party.
- Shaun Walker, an American immigrant and organizer with the PPC in St Catharines, as well as one of those who signed for the PPC to become an official party, was revealed to have been the president of the National Alliance (a U.S.-based neo-Nazi organization) in 2007, and also to have been convicted of hate crimes at the time for violence against people of colour. Following these revelations Walker was expelled from the PPC, and Bernier claimed he had slipped through the party’s vetting process. However, it was also revealed that Bernier himself followed Walker on twitter.
- Others who signed for the PPC to become an official party include Janice Bultje, a founding member of PEGIDA Canada (under the name “Jenny Hill”), and Justin L. Smith, leader of the Sudbury chapter of the Soldiers of Odin.
Unsurprisingly, a number of PPC candidates have made headlines as their social media posts past and present have come to light:
- Brian Everaert, the PPC candidate for Sarnia-Lambton posted tweets that called Islam a “wart on the ass of the world,” as well as posts about Hilary Clinton and arming teachers. Bernier refused to condemn Everaert.
- A variety of racist and transphobic posts on social media are revealed to have been made by Bill Capes, the PPC candidate for Essex.
- Kamloops PPC candidate Ken Finlayson posted on social media comparing climate activist Greta Thunberg to a girl featured in Nazi propaganda from the 1940s.
- Sybil Hogg, the PPC candidate for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, made a series of posts on Twitter and Facebook with anti-Islam statements within the last year, including one where she characterized Islam as being “pure evil”.
These stories are misleading, though, in that they suggest that the PPC has a few bad apples in it, whereas really the whole party is rife with such sentiments. One gauge of this, and a sign that it is intentional, is those candidates who have left (or been kicked out) when it became clear that there would be no condemnation of the far right from the upper ranks:
- On September 12, Brian Misera was removed as PPC candidate for Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam after he publicly called upon the party leadership to publicly repudiate racism.
- On September 30, Chad Hudson, who had been the People’s Party candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of West Nova, quit the party due to its racism, explaining that “I firmly believe now that I’m doing more of a service to this community by calling out this hate and this garbage than actually remaining in the race.”
- On October 8, Victor Ong, PPC candidate for Winnipeg North, resigned, bemoaning the fact that the PPC “has attracted all manner of fringe, scores of conspiracy theorists and a host of ugliness from coast to coast. That’s not to mention Bernier’s embittered base, replete with ‘white is right’ ideology and (Make America Great Again) hat-wearing members.”
Indeed, a cursory examination of the Facebook pages of PPC candidates reveals that what is really noteworthy is how selective news stories about racist tweets or FB posts have been. Almost every single PPC candidate in Quebec has recently (and repeatedly) shared articles from climate denialist sources, including many with a clearly conspiratorial bent. Mark Sibthorpe, candidate for Papineau, even produced his own YouTube “exposé” revealing how George Soros is behind an international globalist conspiracy to crash economies and make money by spreading panic about climate change. Secondary to climate denial, fears about threats to “free speech” and about “mass immigration” are both recurring themes for Quebec’s PPC candidates, and roughly one in five have recently shared articles from what we would term “national populist” or far-right sources, including LesManchettes.com, the website of André Boies (the French-language translator of the Christchurch killer’s “Great Replacement” manifesto, associated with Montreal’s Yellow Vests), André Pitre’s far-right “Stu Dio” YouTube channel, and a more eclectic and sporadic mix, including Faith Goldy, Alexis Cossette Trudel, Black Pigeon Speaks, the Yellow Vests, and the highly racist “Voice of Europe”.
Still, PPC candidates are not all cut from the same cloth – for some, this is their first foray into politics, whereas others have been around for a while. For instance, Ken Pereira, the whistleblower from the 2013 Charbonneau Commission, was slated to run for the PPC as one of its Quebec candidates, until he had to withdraw his candidacy in early September following his son’s arrest for murder. Pereira produces videos on André Pitre’s YouTube channel, alleging all manner of far-fetched conspiracies, including those relating to QAnon, described by Vice as “a wild theory that an individual who goes by ‘Q’ is leaking information detailing a massive secret war Trump is waging against the ‘deep state’ and an international cabal of pedophiles—and calling the 9/11 terror attacks a ‘false flag.’”
Similarly, Raymond Ayas, who writes for the Postmillenial and is active in the Catholic far right in Quebec, is running as PPC candidate for Ahuntsic-Cartierville. As spokesperson for the Association des parents catholiques du Québec, in 2017 Ayas was reported in the media defending a talk by Jean-Claude Dupuis of the Société-St Pie X and a former leader of the Cercle Jeune Nation and Marion Sigaut (close to Alain Soral in France). It might be noted that members of Atalante were reported to have been on hand at the talk to provide security.
The PPC will be lucky to win more than a couple of ridings in Canada, and may simply fizzle and die. Or it may consolidate a bloc of voters to the right of the Conservatives, making the framework of political debate in Canada even more hostile to racialised people, Indigenous people, Muslims, and immigrants. Either way, the racists and reactionaries who have gravitated around the PPC are unlikely to just go away, and some may be around for years to come; if for nothing else, that makes them worth taking a look at, and keeping an eye on.
The post Hunger Strike at Northwest Detention Center, Washington appeared first on It's Going Down.Perilous Chronicle reports on the most recent hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.
More than two hundred detainees began a hunger strike on Friday at the Northwest Detention Center, a privately-run immigrant detention center, according to the immigrant advocate group La Resistencia.
Another statement from a person detained exposing why they are forced to go on #HungerStrike at #NWDC #Tacoma
While people are imprisoned The GEO Group, Inc. execs earn millions per year#ShutdownNWDC #CommunitiesNotCages #AbolishICE @DetentionWatch @ConMijente @PugetAdv pic.twitter.com/fi0JgbOU2v
— LaResistencia_NW (@ResistenciaNW) October 19, 2019
In a press release, the group stated that the strikers were demanding, “edible food, humane treatment by guards and the shutdown of the facility.”
La Resistencia also published statements from detainees participating in the hunger strike. One participant stated:
“We are tired of eating garbage, finding maggots, and other things in the food. GEO and ICE don’t do anything, they take the report and then they say ‘everything has been fixed,’ yet we continue finding maggots in the food. GEO guards mistreat us, they yelled at us, in some instances they have assaulted people here. Some people are afraid of them, but mostly we are tired of being treated that way. We also want to do something for you all, we want to support the efforts outside to shut down this place.”
The hunger strike is expected to last 8 days, according to La Resistencia.
An ICE spokesperson refuted the hunger strike claims, saying it does not meet their definition of a hunger strike.
“Failure to eat the facility provided meal is not a stand-alone factor in the determination of a detainee’s suspected or announced hunger strike action. Commissary food items remain available for purchase by detainees,” Tanya Roman, public affairs officer for ICE, wrote in an email.
#HungerStrike people detained at #Tacoma #ICE Processing Center (f.k.a. Northwest Detention Center) began a hunger strike this morning, protesting poor food conditions and inhumane treatment, is the 19th such action in the last 5 years #CloseTheCamps #AbolishICE #ShutdownNWDC pic.twitter.com/eoc7W7ghIU
— LaResistencia_NW (@ResistenciaNW) October 18, 2019
According to La Resistencia, there have been 19 recorded hunger strikes at the facility in the past five years, with numbers of participating detainees sometimes reaching over a thousand.
The demands of many of the hunger strikes have focused on food issues and guard abuse but have often gone so far as to call for a complete halt on deportations. Detainees have also participated in work stoppages and commissary boycotts at the facility.
The private facility operated by GEO imprisons up to 1,575 people on any given day and has been the target of numerous lawsuits in recent years. Among those lawsuits was a 2017 class-action lawsuit which accused GEO Group of violating the U.S. Constitution and federal antislavery laws by paying detainees less than a dollar a day for their labor, and sometimes paying them nothing at all.
The hunger strike is also part of a recent wave of strikes coming out of Washington prisons in which food quality is a primary complaint. Just a week prior, at least 40 prisoners at Clallam Bay engaged in a hunger strike and work stoppage, citing poor food quality as a main motivation. In February, 2019, prisoners at Coyote Ridge Correctional Center held a hunger strike that lasted nearly a month and in April, 2018 prisoners at Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla held a hunger strike that lasted about 11 days.
People detained at #Tacoma #ICE Processing Center aka NWDC began a #hungerstrike protesting poor food conditions, inhumane treatment, is the 19th such action in the last 5 years. They also joined the call to #CloseTheCamps #AbolishICE #ShutdownNWDC @ConMijente @DetentionWatch pic.twitter.com/zAhvk0vNRL
— LaResistencia_NW (@ResistenciaNW) October 18, 2019
La Resistencia asked that supporters join them on Saturday, October 19, and Sunday, October 20, at 12:30 p.m. at the Northwest Detention Center, to demand “that ICE and GEO Group do not retaliate, meet the strikers demands, and ultimately release them all!”Citations:
“Hundreds of ICE detainees refusing to eat food provided at Tacoma detention center“, The News Tribune, October 18, 2019.
“Hunger Strike at Tacoma NWDC Calls for Humane Treatment and Shutdown of Facility“, La Resistencia, ND.Background:
“To the Daring the Future Belongs“, Commune Mag, August 5, 2019.
Article published: 10/19/19
Header Photo Source: Seattle Globalist
Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally | 19 Oct 2019 | Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) threw her support behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday as the Democratic presidential hopeful made his return to the campaign trail following a heart attack earlier this month. Ocasio-Cortez, a rising progressive star with a huge social media following, cited Sanders as an inspiration for her own decision to get into politics and tied her progressive goals to the 78-year-old Vermont senator. She also credited him with giving her hope for her 2018 congressional campaign in which she unseated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).
From CrimethInc.Could the Riots Open a Horizon Beyond National Sovereignty?
Starting Monday, in response to draconian sentences imposed on politicians who promote Catalan independence, tens of thousands of people across Catalunya have engaged in sustained rioting and disruption. Although the majority of the movement remains pacifistic, a few thousand participants have rejected the leadership of political parties and organizations, opting for open confrontation with police. The various mobilizations are still taking place in confluence, however, making it very difficult for the police to control. Protesters have reportedly used caltrops, Molotov cocktails, and paint balloons to disable police riot vans, while keeping individual officers at a distance with lasers and slingshots and driving away helicopters with fireworks. In the following report, we review the events of the past week and explore what is at stake in this struggle.
As anarchists, we have a more robust conception of self-determination than mere national sovereignty. All governments are based on the asymmetry of power between ruler and ruled; nationalism is just one of several means by which rulers seek to turn us against each other so we don’t unite against them. We consider it instructive that the Catalan police have worked closely with Spanish national police throughout the last several years of repression; even if Catalunya gains independence, we are certain that independent Catalan police and courts will continue to repress those who fight against capitalism and seek true self-determination. At the same time, there is a longstanding tradition of anarchist and anti-state activity in Catalunya, and we are inspired to see some of this coming to the fore in resistance to the violence of the Spanish state. It is possible that the latest escalation of conflict in the streets of Catalunya will be a step towards the radicalization of the entire movement and the delegitimizing of state solutions.
Let’s look closer to see.
Members of Committees for the Defense of the Republic gather outside the Civil Guard barracks in Barcelona after nine activists associated with the Catalan independence movement were detained on September 23, 2019.
In retribution for the 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras to 13 years in prison; former ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Joaquim Forn, and Josep Rull were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years apiece. Former parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, received 11 and a half years for sedition. Activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart were sentenced to 9 years each, also for sedition.
Several independence groups called for demonstrations and blockaded major roads in Barcelona. Early Monday afternoon, the Tsunami Democràtic group called for demonstrators to blockade the Barcelona airport. There were also blockades on train lines and many highways.
Showing the integrated functioning of all the different subsections of the state, the Catalan and Spanish police—the Mossos d’Esquadra and Policia Nacional—worked together to repress the demonstrators. They brutally attacked a large number of people. While the majority of demonstrators remained “nonviolent” in response, as they had in 2017, some built burning barricades and pelted police with bricks, fire extinguishers, and luggage carts from the rooftops. It took the police hours of violent attacks to evict the airport. One clash in a parking deck started around 9 pm and continued until nearly midnight. Afterwards, thousands of people continued to resist; some erected burning barricades on the interstate.
On Tuesday, the blockades organized by “Tsunami Democràtic” continued on a largely “nonviolent” basis, slowing and in some cases paralyzing rail, car, and air transit. More protests broke out that night. Goaded by police violence, more and more people began to fight back, throwing heavier objects and setting fires in the streets.
The Assemblea Nacional Catalana (“Catalan National Assembly,” ANC) and various political parties had convened columns to march from across Catalunya starting Wednesday, taking the highways and thus blocking them, in order to arrive in Barcelona on Friday for a general strike and protest. The plan was for this action to be totally pacifist. This was basically a repetition of their 2017 strategy, in which they organized demonstrations on October 3, two days after the massive police beatings that occurred during the referendum on October 1, waiting an extra day before holding the protest in response to government repression so that people wouldn’t be reacting immediately to the violence without a chance to calm down.
Yet they also gave their approval to Tsunami Democràtic, which had planned all along to organize flash-mob-style protests immediately following the verdict. These protests, too, were intended to be completely nonviolent, but to take a more effective approach—targeting infrastructure rather than merely symbolic points. Either the organizers underestimated how many people would show up and stay into the night, or they overestimated their ability to impose pacifism after the 2017 experience.
Starting Tuesday night, events were clearly out of their hands. In Catalunya, the extent to which people employ combative and destructive tactics is generally a useful indicator of the autonomy of a particular demonstration, even though in and of itself utilizing more confrontational tactics doesn’t necessary imply a radical agenda. The parties have always insisted that everything must be peaceful, just as they have watered down the meaning of “independence,” using nationalistic discourse to and suppressing the anti-capitalist objectives that used to characterize the movement.
Thousands of people protest the sentencing in front of Generalitat local office in Girona, Catalunya on October 14, 2019.
It’s not easy to summarize the political ideas of people fighting in the streets on the basis of their conduct, but it seems that the pacifists remain under the ideological dominance of the parties and “civil society” organizations like ANC and Omnium, whereas those putting up barricades appear to be open to a much wider vision of what the enemy is and the objectives of the actions could be. The former tend to be middle-class (or aspiring middle-class) and exclusively Catalan speakers; the latter group is much more diverse, including Spanish speakers (though still mostly Catalan speakers), immigrants, and others. When the more confrontational demonstrators express themselves, they tend to express opposition to the police, “the fascist Spanish state,” and to mention more economic issues.
We should always challenge the assumption that a movement is about one thing. A movement is only about one thing where there is an effective leadership controlling it. Left to themselves, people don’t tend to reduce their concerns to single issues. Reality is intersectional.
Hats off to the anarchists and other anti-authoritarian activists who have spent the last two years spreading non-statist, non-nationalist perspectives and analysis relating to this issue and creating the autonomous, horizontal spaces that have cropped up in this movement since 2017, outside the dominance of the political parties and the Marxist-Lenininsts who dominated the indepe movement before 2013. The emergence of this autonomous space is the key difference that distinguishes what is happening today from what happened in 2017—and we’re seeing its fruits in what is taking place in the streets.
Another major factor in the way that people in Catalunya have behaved ungovernably this week is that the Spanish state was stupid enough to imprison the pacifist politicians and “civil society” activists who had effectively pacified the movement in 2017. The ones who had already effectively killed this movement, it seemed, until now.
Never underestimate states. Also, never underestimate statist stupidity.
The Mossos face off with protesters in the center of Barcelona on the night following Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
On Wednesday, high school and university students declared a strike, which continued through Friday. ANC marches and highway blockades set out from many major cities. In the evening, people engaged in very serious rioting in Barcelona; substantial rioting took place in all three other provincial capitals, not to mention smaller cities like Manresa. Many of the clashes occurred outside the Delegations of the (Spanish) government or Guardia Civil barracks. There had already been significant rioting in Lleida and Tarragona on Tuesday night.
Catalan president Quim Torra and ex-president Carles Puigdemont declared that the rioters were “infiltrators,” but only the immediate followers of those politicians were stupid enough to believe this. The usual absurd conspiracy theories spread across social networks about masked protesters getting paid in envelopes of cash.
In Madrid, a fairly large anti-fascist, pro-Catalan demonstration took place at the same time as a fascist march against independence. The two demonstrations clashed and police separated them.
Police charged through the crowd several times with batons and fired foam projectiles at people.
ANC marches continued. Rioting took place again that night in Barcelona and other three provincial capitals. Fascists marched in favor of Spanish unity in Barcelona, attacking some protesters in favor of independence.Friday, October 18
Today, the general strike is taking place in Catalunya. A Spanish judge has ordered that webpages linked to Tsunami Democratíc must be shut down—something similar to China forcing Apple to shut down an app used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
The conservative People’s Party (PP) is calling for the application of the National Security Law—essentially, martial law. Meanwhile, it appears that a new political consensus may be forming. For a couple years Spain hasn’t been able to form an effective majority government; elections took place earlier in the year, but will have to take place again in November, because disagreements prevented the Socialists from forming a coalition government with Podemos. The fighting in Catalunya is driving a wedge between Podemos (which takes a soft approach based in dialogue, potentially open to a “legitimate” referendum) and Socialists (who take a hard approach rejecting any possibility of dialogue or self-determination). This creates the possibility of a coalition government involving the Socialists and the PP—assuming the PP, Citizens, and Vox parties don’t get enough votes to comprise the majority on their own, which they very well might not, as Spain remains majority left.
The riot cops are exhausted, probably only running on cocaine at this point. There are videos circulating of riot vans carousing down the streets with the cops using their sound cannons to shout “Som gent de pau.” This means “we are people of peace”—it is the slogan of the independence parties, but the cops mean it in a mocking, provocative tone. There are cases of the Mossos discipline breaking, of individual officers being isolated and beaten up, which never happened during the strikes of 2010 to 2012 or even the week of the eviction of the anarchist social center Can Vies. Several times, police were forced to retreat by combatants hurling rocks and even some Molotov cocktails. Even at the high point of the resistance defending Can Vies, it was rare to see police retreat; they just had to work really hard to advance, at which point rioters simply went elsewhere.
A mainstream newspaper reported today that fully half of the police riot vans have been decommissioned by damages, primarily to tires. It’s unclear how quickly they can repair them. If they lose their vans, they will be powerless; there are too many people in the street, using too much force. The state would have to send in the Guardia Civil or the military proper to maintain what they call “order.”
The real question is what will happen on Saturday. Today could serve as a catharsis, ending the unrest; it could be effectively repressed, if police bring in new resources and tactics; or it could be the day that the state recognizes that it has lost control and has to esclate repression. During the riots defending Can Vies, it was after the fourth day that the state recognized it had lost; on the fifth day, everyone was exhausted so the march was just a victory lap. But now, with perhaps double the number of police but several times as many participants, spread throughout Catalunya, the movement won’t tire as quickly. Though the pacifists condemn the rioting, they’re still marching and blocking highways, thereby adding to the difficulty for the state.
The Mossos cross a burning barricade in Barcelona to charge protesters.
The Iberian peninsula has seen conflict between monarchists, capitalists, fascists, and proponents of state democracy, on one side, and anarchists and other proponents of liberation since long before the Spanish Civil War. It’s important to remember that the independence movement only took center stage in Catalunya after countrywide anti-capitalist struggle reached an impasse, undermined by many participants’ erroneous belief that democracy—direct or otherwise—could bring about the changes they desired.
In 2011, the 15M movement, a forerunner of Occupy, broke out in Spain, occupying plazas and clashing with police. That was just one chapter in a phase of struggle arguably peaked on March 29, 2012 with massive riots during a nationwide general strike. All around the world, this was a high point of grassroots struggle against the inequalities of capitalism and the violence of the state.
Yet rather than continuing to invest energy in grassroots direct action as a means of enacting change, many who had promoted direct democracy in the plaza occupations shifted to trying to rehabilitate state democracy via new parties like Podemos. Ultimately, as we chronicled here, the results were disappointing, serving to pacify the social movements without achieving their original goals.
In the ensuing vacuum, the independentista movement gained momentum, proposing a referendum as a way to make Catalunya independent—promising a state solution to the problems that had originally inspired people to mobilize against capitalism and government oppression. When Spain cracked down violently on the referendum, this left anarchists in an awkward position, wanting to oppose police violence but not to endorse national independence as the solution to the problems engendered by capitalism and the state. Of course, it wasn’t just Spanish police participating in the crackdown—it was also Catalan police. All the institutions that would supposedly serve the people after independence were already being used against them, as they surely will continue to be if Catalunya does at some point become an independent state.
All this shows the problems with nationalism and democracy. We support people in Catalunya defending themselves from police, courts, and other institutions of power; this is why the events of this week have been inspiring. But ultimately self-determination means abolishing these institutions, not reforming or reinventing them. The question remains whether the current struggle in Catalunya will radicalize more of the participants towards anarchist solutions or simply towards more violent means of pursuing national sovereignty. But those at the forefront of events will surely have disproportionate influence on the answer to that question.Tags: SpainCatalunya
From AMW English
Tamara Sol, a Chilean anarchist revolutionary, was sentenced in 2014 to 7 years and 61 days imprisonment shooting a Banco Estado (State Bank) security guard in revege for the death of anarchist comrade Sebastian Overluij.
She spent almost 6 years behind bars in various prisons across the country. She had sought several times to obtain a conditional release, which had been systematically refused by the state.
Tamara’s detention was part of a series of reactionary attacks from the state in the conflict between anarchists and the Chilean authorities.
The insurrectionary movement in Chile had gained significant prominence after the rise of the Greek insurrectionary movement.
This period is noted for the famous Bombs Case after a series of extraordinary attacks on reactionary state and capitalist forces.
On May 2nd 2009, anarchist Mauricio Morales died during this conflict in an unsuccessful bombing attempt.Tags: Tamara SolchileMauricio Morales
From Anarchist Writers by anarcho
In previous instalments of this series, we have discussed syndicalist ideas in the First International (Precursors of Syndicalism I), before turning to International Working People’s Association (Precursors of Syndicalism II) and communist-anarchism (Precursors of Syndicalism III). Here, we highlight anarchist-communist criticisms of revolutionary syndicalism.
There were three main critiques made. First, that unions are not inherently revolutionary and so anarchists had to organise as anarchists to influence them. Second, that the general strike was not sufficient to achieve a revolutionary transformation. Third, that syndicalism focused exclusively on just one aspect of live, albeit an essential one, namely production.
Before discussing this critique, it is useful to clear a misunderstanding that Errico Malatesta – the anarchist most associated with critiquing syndicalism – was opposed to applying anarchist ideas in the labour movement. This was expressed by historian James Joll when he asserted that “as far as effective action by the Anarchist movement was concerned, it was [the French syndicalist] Monatte rather than Malatesta who was right” in 1907 during their famous exchange on syndicalism at the International Anarchist Congress as “ideas of anarcho-syndicalism and of direct industrial action were to give the anarchist movement a new lease of life […] anarchism in association with trade unionism was to show itself, for the only time in the history of the anarchist movement, an effective and formidable force in practical politics.” (The Anarchists [London: Methuen, 1979], 188).
Yet, looking at Malatesta’s life and ideas, Joll clearly misunderstands his critique of syndicalism, presenting him as being opposed to syndicalism and anarchist participation in the workers’ movement. As with Proudhon, whose critical comments on certain aspects of certain forms of workers’ associations have been turned by some commentators into an opposition to association as such, so Malatesta’s critique of certain aspects of syndicalism has been turned into an opposition to syndicalism. Nothing could be further from the truth, as will be shown. Indeed, Malatesta had a long history of union organising and urging anarchists to enter the unions.
A member of the First International, he reminded those assembled at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress in Holland that he had “never stopped [...] pushing comrades to the path that syndicalists, forgetting a glorious past, call new, but the first anarchists had already established and followed within the international.” (Maurizio Antonioli (ed.), The International Anarchist Congress Amsterdam (1907), p. 122) He attended the Saint-Imier Congress in September 1872 which passed a resolution on “Organisation of Labour Resistance”:
“attempts have already been made to organise labour to improve the conditions of the proletariat […] the advantage of this organisation is such that […] it cannot be abandoned. It makes the proletariat fraternise ever wider in common interests, trains it in collective living, prepares it for the supreme struggle. […] we intend to organise and unify resistance on a vast scale. The strike is for us a precious means of struggle […] a product of the antagonism between labour and capital, necessarily having the consequence of making workers more and more aware of the abyss which exists between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, strengthening the workers’ organisation, and preparing, as a result of ordinary economic struggles, the proletariat for the great and final revolutionary struggle which, destroying all privilege and all class distinction, will give the worker the right to enjoy the full product of his labour, and thereby the means of developing in the collectivity all his intellectual, material and moral powers.”
This revolution would see “the establishment of an absolutely free economic organisation and federation, based upon the labour and equality of all” which “can only be the outcome of the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, of trades unions and autonomous communes”. The similarities with the syndicalism of the 1890s is clear.
After a series of abortive insurrections in Italy in the mid-1870s and other adventures, in 1885 Malatesta emigrated to Argentina and took an active part in its emerging labour movement. He helped found the first militant workers’ union in Argentina – the bakers union, Cosmopolitan Society of Resistance and Placement of Bakery Workers (Sociedad Cosmopolita de Resistencia y Colocación de Obreros Panaderos) – in 1886 and was asked to draft its principles. Two years after its founding, the bakers’ union went on strike in Buenos Aires demanding better conditions and higher wages. During its 10 days strikers clashed with the police and not only stood up for their rights and gained a 30% wage increase but also left a permanent political mark in their craft itself: the bakers decided to give blasphemous and anti-state names to their goods.
To this day bakers in Argentina sell such items such as bolas de fraile, suspiros de monja, vigilantes, cañones, and bombas – monk balls, nun’s sighs, vigilantes, cannons, and bombs. Monk’s balls, a sweet bun often filled with dulce de leche, obviously mocks the church by presenting a friar’s testicle in pastry form while the nun’s sigh is a reference to an orgasm. The others target the State and the police: vigilantes are made in the shape of a police officer’s baton, the cañones are long, hollow, and filled with a sweet filling while bombas are a choux puff pastry.
In short, not only was an impressive victory won which left an anarchist influence in the workers’ movement for decades to come, the food and culture of the nation were affected. Joll admits in passing that Malatesta “left an anarchist stamp on the organised working-class movement [in Argentina] which was to last well into the twentieth century” (160) but sadly fills more space on his extremely marginal links to the Siege of Sidney Street than explore how this awkward fact impacts on his analysis.
Unsurprisingly, on his return to Europe in 1889 Malatesta continued to advocate anarchist participation in the labour movement along with systematic organisation of anarchist groups and federations to facilitate this. Joll, however, spends far more time on Georges Sorel who played no role in the rise of syndicalism and who simply commented upon a movement already well-established before he put pen to paper. Unlike Malatesta, for Fernand Pelloutier, the anarchist most associated with the birth of revolutionary syndicalism in France, indicated his debt to him:
“Finally, alongside the Germanist party and the trade unions, freed now from the Marxist yoke, there is the libertarian communist element, whose ambition today (and, by the way, should have always been) to pursue the work of Bakunin and to devote itself to the education of the unions.
“‘The Revolution,” wrote Merlino two years ago, ‘demands the cooperation of the entire working masses. Let the masses organise themselves swiftly, and let the different groupings get to work right away.’ This year, the idea expressed by Merlino has taken shape. Malatesta has just published in Solidarity, New York, a proposal for an international federation of revolutionaries, whose aim is ‘to encourage the workers’ movement and to urge the workers to join forces to conquer the highest earnings and the greatest possible freedom; ... to participate in a general strike ....’
“So there are now only two very distinct parties: the parliamentary party, which is made up of chiefs and soldiers […] the revolutionary party, convinced that, as the social question is entirely economic, emancipation will come by resistance to economic oppression, in the form of a necessarily violent gigantic strike. (“La Situation Actuelle du Socialisme”, Les Temps nouveaux, 6 July 1895)
Four years later, Pelloutier wrote that Malatesta was “a perfect illustration” of a propagandist who knows “so well how to unite an indomitable revolutionary passion with the methodical organisation of the proletariat.” (Lettre aux anarchists) The same year saw Malatesta arguing that unions “help to educate, to morally uplift the working classes and to prepare and train them for the struggle” and “to achieve this, it is necessary that the most advanced, most conscious elements contribute their ideas, their initiative, their combativeness.” The “first task” of anarchists was to get the membership active in the union for the “big disadvantage of workers’ societies is that the vast majority of members do not take any part in their social life, beyond the appointment of leaders.” Anarchists who join unions and “then take no active part in their lives, do a lot of harm” for “[o]rganising, and then not caring about the organisation, is the same as doing nothing. Others will act on behalf of the inactive, and will use their union dues to impose their own ideas, often their own interests, just as if people were not organised.” (“The Anarchists and Workers’ Societies,” Complete Works of Malatesta [Edinburgh: AK Press, 2019], IV: 106-7)
In short, the communist-anarchist critique of syndicalism cannot be mistaken as being anti-syndicalist – anarchist participation in the labour movement was something both Kropotkin and Malatesta had argued for since their days together in the First International (Kropotkin had joined it in 1872 and re-joined once he had escaped from Tsarist imprisonment). Anyone familiar with Malatesta’s or Kropotkin’s ideas and activism know that they were not against anarchists working in unions: their position is best summarise as not being anti-syndicalism but rather syndicalism-plus.
With that clarified, we can return to the anarchist-communist critique.
As regards the first criticism, Kropotkin summarised it well in a letter to an Italian comrade in 1914:
“My opinion is absolutely that which was expressed by Malatesta […] The syndicate is absolutely necessary. It is the only form of worker’s association which allows the direct struggle against capital to be carried on without a plunge into parliamentarianism. But, evidently, it does not achieve this goal automatically, since in Germany, in France and in England, we have the example of syndicates linked to the parliamentary struggle, while in Germany the Catholic syndicates are very powerful, and so on. There is need of the other element which Malatesta speaks of and which Bakunin always professed.” (quoted in Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism [London: Freedom Press, 1995], 280-1)
In other words, Kropotkin is referring to the need for anarchists to organise as anarchists to influence the class struggle and workers’ unions towards libertarian tactics and structures. The first example of this was the Alliance of Social-Democracy, an anarchist organisation Bakunin helped create in 1868 and which played a key role in the development of the First International in Switzerland, Italy and above all Spain.
Malatesta explained why anarchists had to organise as anarchists to a British audience in 1907. Noting that while syndicalism, as it aimed to “organise the workers independently of all bourgeois and political influence, to win their emancipation by the direct action of the wage-slaves against the masters,” was “a great step in advance,” anarchists should not commit the “error of confounding the Anarchist movement with Trade Unionism.” Rather than committing the “error of having abandoned the Labour movement,” anarchists “ought to abstain from identifying themselves with the Syndicalist movement, and to consider as an aim that which is but one of the means of propaganda and of action that they can utilise. They should remain in the Syndicates as elements giving an onward impulse, and strive to make of them as much as possible instruments of combat in view of the Social Revolution.” (“Anarchism and Syndicalism”, Freedom: A Journal of Anarchist Communism, November 1907)
This meant that syndicalism could not and should not replace the anarchist movement – one had to be open to all workers and seek improvements within capitalism, the other was required to work systematically within it to ensure it did not adapt to that reality. History shows the validity of this critique – there is nothing inherent within unions that ensure that they become or remain revolutionary or even radical. The forces of bureaucracy and adjustment (the need to keep agreements with bosses) have turned almost all unions reformist and moderate – the exceptions are those with militants who work at the base to keep it radical.
So even if a revived Industrial Workers of the World, say, was successful in organising hundreds of thousands of workers again, there would still be the need for anarchist groups and federations to work within and outwith it. Without this militant minority, even the best union will adjust to the wider capitalist environment. Thus Malatesta was simply arguing against those libertarians who “take this means [unions] as an end” and allowed themselves “to be absorbed” by the labour movement just as he had done so against “comrades [who] isolated themselves from the workers’ movement.” Syndicalists, then, were “going to the opposite extreme”. (The International Anarchist Congress (1907), 122, 126)
The second criticism focuses on the nature of the revolution, specifically the role of the General Strike. This had a long history in libertarian circles, dating back at least to the First International. As such, historian Paul Avrich was wrong to suggest in his discussion of the “Chicago Idea” of the International Working People’s Association and its links with syndicalism that “the general strike” was not “theoretically developed until the turn of the century.” (The Haymarket Tragedy [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984], 73) Yet Bakunin was discussing the revolutionary possibilities of a general strike in the pages of L’Égalité in April 1869 while the previous September had seen Belgium Internationalists successfully moving a resolution in favour of a general strike at the outbreak of war at the IWMA Congress in Brussels – with Marx dismissing the latter as “Belgian nonsense that it was necessary TO STRIKE AGAINST WAR.” (Marx-Engels Collected Works 43: 101). The Federalist International discussed and approved the idea as a means to start a revolution at its September 1873 Geneva congress – with Engels distorting and then mocking the idea in his Bakuninists at Work (a work which gave the right and the bureaucrats of Social Democracy many weapons against the left seeking to get the movement to embrace the tactic once syndicalism had popularised the idea). Thus we find Adhemar Schwitzguebel arguing in 1874 as follows:
“The idea of a general strike by the workers which would put an end to the miseries they suffer is beginning to be seriously discussed... It would certainly be a revolutionary act capable of bringing about the liquidation of the existing social order and a reorganisation in accordance with the socialist aspirations of the workers.” (quoted by Joll, 180)
After his release from prison and exile in Britain in 1886, Kropotkin again raised the General Strike as a powerful means to create a revolution after the example of the 1889 London Dockers Strike (see “The London Dock Strike of 1889,” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review No. 63 [Winter 2015]). The following year saw an anonymous article entitled “General Strike” in Le Révolté end with the words: “We want free agreement of labour, without masters, without laws, but simply grouped by affinities. Since the general strike is the cornerstone of our liberation, cry out long live the general strike.” (“Gréve Genéralé,” Le Révolté, 8 March 1890) The same year, Louise Michel during an exile in London – and as reported by newspaper published half-way around the world in one long paragraph – lectured on the subject:
MDLLE. LOUISE MICHEL ON THE GENERAL STRIKE.
A Meeting was held in the Athenaeum, Tottenham Court Road, on September 4, when Mdlle. Louise Michel spoke upon the “General Strikes and the Social Revolution.” Mdlle. Michel said the general strike which was imminent would in all probability be brought about. by the employers themselves. The tendency in all the methods of production was towards an increased use of machinery; in fact, so perfect was machinery becoming that more and more workmen were thrown out of employment every year and left to starve. In Paris they found a refuge in the bosom of the Seine, which told no tales; in England, the workman who was unable to obtain subsistence for himself and his family was driven into the workhouse. This state of affairs could not last. Workmen were held down by soldiers and police, but when the time came when the soldiers and police saw that the balance of power inclined to the working classes, they would at once come over to their side; and when that happened the time would soon arrive when they would see the downfall of the capitalists. The unemployed in Paris, if they demonstrated, were shot down; in London they had the privilege of walking about the streets in their misery. This state of things could only end in a general strike against all laws and Governments. They could not continue to be driven like animals to the slaughterhouse. They saw great magazines of food and raiment all round them, whilst they were naked and starving. What was to prevent them from going in and helping themselves? The whole of the capital of the world was getting into the hands of great financiers, who used it to exploit the workers, and this was only a gigantic system of robbery. Religion had been suggested as a means to bring a better state of affairs, but the only valuable principle and teaching in Christianity was the precept to do unto others as they would that men should do unto them, but the system of rewards and punishments, by which the teachings of Christianity were enforced, was a fatal drawback to its value as an elevating agent. Faith in the future progress of the human race was necessary for them all. Machinery was an obstacle in that progress, and should be replaced by intelligence. It was only by raising men to the higher state of intelligence that they could satisfy the growing needs of humanity. When labour was free the cultivation of the soil would be much more perfect. The fields were ready to supply all their needs if properly treated, but the present system of cultivation brutalised the workers, who reaped no benefit from their labours. The present system of government was a system of robbery by assassins, who shot down those who differed from them. It was the same in Republican France as in Monarchical England. She looked forward to the time when they could put an end to the struggle for existence now going on and bring about a true Republic – the Republic of Humanity, in which all would work together for the common good. (New Zealand Herald, 8 November 1890)
So years before the rise of syndicalism, revolutionary anarchists had raised the potential of the general strike as a means of social transformation. Interestingly, the August 1894 issue of the London-based The Torch had articles by both Malatesta and future leading French Syndicalist Émile Pouget “but it was Malatesta’s article that advocated the general strike as a revolutionary weapon.” (Davude Turcato, Making Sense of Anarchism: Errico Malatesta’s Experiments with Revolution, 1889-1900 [AK Press, 2015], 135)
So anarchists had seen the power and potential of the General Strike since the late-1860s and, unsurprisingly, Kropotkin had raised what was to become the communist-anarchist critique of what become, for a time, the syndicalist version in the last article by him published before his arrest in December 1882. He pointed to the 1877 great railway strike in America for lessons and noted that public support was lost when the strike disrupted the supply of essential goods (“L’Expropriation”, Le Révolté, 23 December 1882). The need, then, was to turn a general strike into a general expropriation and restart production and distribution under workers’ control:
“So, when these days come – and it is for you to hasten their coming – in which a whole region and great cities with their suburbs will have got rid of their governments, our work is marked out; all industrial and other plants must be returned to the community, social property held by individuals must be returned to its true master – which is all of us, so that each can have his full share of the goods available for consumption, so that production of all that is necessary and useful can continue, and that social life, far from being interrupted, can be carried on with the greatest energy. Without the gardens and fields that give us produce indispensable for life, without the granaries, the warehouses, the shops that gather together the products of work, without the factories and workshops that provide textiles and metalwork, without the means of defence, without the railways and other ways of communication that allow us to exchange our products with the neighbouring free communes and combine our efforts for resistance and attack, we are condemned in advance to perish” (Words of a Rebel [Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992], 219-220)
Note well the reference to “means of defence” and “combine our efforts for resistance and attack,” so belying Marxist claims – repeating Marx and Lenin as if they were disinterested seekers after truth rather than polemicists seeking to win by any means – that anarchists do not recognise the threat of counter-revolution. Kropotkin also noted this in his analysis of the lessons of the 1905 Russian Revolution:
“We want to add that although a general strike is a good method of struggle, it does not free the people that use it from the necessity of an armed struggle against the dominating order.” (“The Russian Revolution and Anarchism,” Direct Struggle Against Capital [Edinburgh: AK Press, 2014], 477)
Malatesta agreed, making precisely this point at the 1907 Congress by noting that, as regards the General Strike, he had “accept[ed] the principle and promot[ed] it […] and have done so for several years […] as an excellent means to set off a social revolution.” However, workers would be starved back to work long before the bosses were and so, like Kropotkin in 1882, he stressed that they had “to go on working, but for their own benefit.” In short, the general strike must become a general expropriation and “turn into insurrection.” (The International Anarchist Congress (1907), 124-6)
Thus the idea of a General Strike as simply a mass folding of arms was misleading and doomed to failure. Many syndicalists were aware – or became aware – of this. Most obviously, Émile Pataud and Émile Pouget in How We Shall Bring About the Revolution (Comment nous ferons la Révolution, 1909) turn their general strike into an insurrection – Parliament is not ignored, it is stormed. Likewise, they recognise the need to defend the revolution and its expropriations and show the armed people organising themselves to resist attempts at counter-revolution. In this, they repeat the ideas of Malatesta, Kropotkin and Bakunin and perhaps unsurprisingly, Kropotkin recommended the work on numerous occasions including his 1919 postface to the Russian edition of Words of a Rebel, although he thought it “considerably attenuated the resistance that the Social Revolution will probably meet with on its way.” (Direct Struggle Against Capital, 583, 561). Pierre Besnard, a leading French syndicalist in the 1930s, likewise argued for “an insurrectional and expropriating general strike” (Les Syndicats Ouvriers at la Révolution Sociale [Paris, 1930]). As such, Kropotkin’s vision of social revolution from 1879 was embraced by both anarchist-communists and syndicalists:
“expropriation pure and simple of the present holders of the large landed estates, of the instruments of labour, and of capital of every kind, and by the seizure of all such capital by the cultivators, the workers’ organisations, and the agricultural and municipal communes. The task of expropriation must be carried out by the workers themselves in the towns and the countryside. […] Once the deed of expropriation is accomplished, and the strength of capitalist resistance broken, there will inevitably arise after a certain period of fumbling a new form of organisation of production and exchange [...] the bases of this new organisation will be [...] the free federation of producer groups and the free federation of communes and of groups of independent communes.” (“The Anarchist Idea from the Point of View of its Practical Realisation,” Direct Struggle Against Capital, 500-1)
Which brings us to the third part of the critique, namely the syndicalist focus on the economic realm.
As Kropotkin summarised, communist-anarchism was based on the “idea of independent Communes for the territorial groupings, and vast federations of trade unions for groupings by social functions – the two interwoven and providing support to each to meet the needs of society – allowed the anarchists to conceptualise in a real, concrete, way the possible organisation of a liberated society” to which were added “groupings by personal affinities – groupings without number, infinitely varied, long-lasting or fleeting, emerging according to the needs of the moment for all possible purposes.” So while agreeing that “the social revolution within the Commune” meant “trade unions for production,” there was also the need for “the Federation of Communes” as well. (Modern Science and Anarchy [AK Press, 2018], 164-5, 161)
Syndicalism, then, appeared to concentration on just one aspect of the social institutions of a free society, namely the economic. However, we are not just workers and so revolutionary ideas must be wider than that. As Malatesta stressed in 1907: “what is proposed is the complete liberation of humanity, which is currently in a state of servitude, from an economic, political and mental point of view.” (The International Anarchist Congress Amsterdam (1907), 126) The struggle cannot be limited to just exploitation within the workplace – oppression also needs to be tackled, regardless of where it is. This wider perspective does not mean ignoring or dismissing the class struggle – as Marxist critics of, say, Emma Goldman falsely assert – just that oppression and exploitation needs to be fought on all fronts (sex, race, sexual orientation, and so on) and in all locations (workplace, community, home, and so on). Perhaps needless to say, few if any syndicalists these days would disagree.
This vision of an interwoven associational life points to a related concern, namely that the syndicalist vision accidentally reproduces certain aspects of the regime just overthrown. Thus the notion of replacing assemblies of politicians elected on the basis of locality with ones elected by workplace runs the danger of focusing all decision-making into a new all-embracing body. As Kropotkin suggested, “Pataud and Pouget still pay too heavy a tribute to the past. That is inevitable in works of this kind. Their Trade Union Congress which discusses if the children, the sick, and the aged are to be made a charge on the community, concerns itself, in our opinion, with questions that will be settled on the spot, and when they decide that no Union, no social service, shall be able ‘to separate itself from the community’ they decide a question that the local life, alone, is in a position to solve.” (Direct Struggle Against Capital, 560)
While under the State we are used to all issues being discussed in Parliament or by the Government, regardless of their (lack of) competency on the matter, Kropotkin had long argued that a new society would see multitude of federations and connections between community, workplace and other groups. Decision-making would have to be decentralised and decentred, placed into the hands of those affected by the decisions who would then federate with other groupings as needed. Suggesting that all the manifold affairs and interests of society would be funnelled into one body, albeit one created by a federation of self-managed unions, raises the danger of a recreation of a bureaucracy around it to handle the information required to make and implement such decisions.
While there would be a need for all-embracing congresses (whether one-offs or regularly called) on specific issues, at specific times or in response to specific events, the needs of a complex society means that these would be just one of many federations and gatherings. Individuals, communities, workplaces will make their own decisions and seek to contact others to help realise them, whether these links are fleeting or permanent, whether they are by means of one-off agreements or by forming federations – and all the possibilities in between. As such, suggestions that syndicalism would see a “Labour Parliament” replace the current State misunderstood the both the history of the State structure and the needs of society. While such a perspective was articulated most by Marxist-syndicalists, it did sometimes appear in mainstream syndicalist writings and, as such, Kropotkin was right to stress the danger.
However, all these criticisms should not obscure the fact that syndicalist ideas – the need for economic struggle and organisation, the general strike, unions becoming the means to run industry – were advocated within the First International by the first of the revolutionary anarchists (as Monatte himself noted in 1907 [The International Anarchist Congress Amsterdam (1907), 110]). This was the theory and practice of anarchism when Malatesta joined the International in 1871 and the legacy he helped shape in the congresses of the Federalist International – and which he eloquently defended in 1907. This can be seen the resolution he co-authored for the International Anarchist Congress which summarises the issues well (even if the translation appears to use the term “Syndicalism” rather than the “Trade unionism” which the context calls for):
SYNDICALISM AND THE GENERAL STRIKE
The International Anarchist Congress considers the Syndicates as organisations fighting in the class war for the amelioration of the conditions of labour, and as unions of productive workers which can help in the transformation of capitalist society into Anarchist Communist society.
The Congress also, while admitting the eventual necessity of the formation of special revolutionary Syndicalist groups, recommends the comrades to support the general Syndicalist movement.
But the Congress considers it the duty of Anarchists to constitute the revolutionary element in these organisations, and to advocate and support only those forms of direct action which have in themselves a revolutionary character, and tend in that manner to alter the conditions of society.
The Anarchists consider the Syndicalist movement as a powerful means of revolution, but not as a substitute for revolution.
They recommend the comrades to take part in a General Strike even if proclaimed with the aim of capturing the political power, and to do all they possibly can to make their Syndicates put forward questions of economic rights.
The Anarchists further think that the destruction of capitalist and authoritarian society can only be realised through armed insurrection and expropriation by force, and that the use of the General Strike and Syndicalist tactics ought not to make us forget other means of direct action against the military power of governments. (Freedom: A Journal of Anarchist Communism, December 1907)
Communist-anarchism shares much with syndicalism and its critique does not question its core aspect – the necessity of libertarians to work within and refashion the labour movement to practice direct action and be self-managed by its members. This explains why Freedom published Malatesta’s critique of syndicalism in one issue and began serialising Pouget’s The Basis of Trade Unionism in the next (and later issued it as a pamphlet).
To conclude: Joll, like many other commentators, seems to have overlooked where Malatesta stressed he was “only [going to] deal with here with those areas in which [he was] in disagreement with the previous speakers” and confidently – but clearly too optimistically! – discounted the possibility that his criticism could be construed as he being “an enemy of the organisation and workers’ action”! (The International Anarchist Congress Amsterdam (1907), 121) The points of agreement between communist-anarchism and syndicalism far outweigh the disagreements.
We end by reprinting Freedom’s summary of Monatte’s and Malatesta’s famous speeches at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress (Freedom’s report was subsequently issued as a pamphlet). As a summary, there are differences with the longer accounts printed in Congrès anarchiste international d’Amsterdam: Compte-rendu analytique des séances et résumé des rapports sur l’état du mouvement dans le monde entier (Paris, La Publication Sociale, 1908), translated as The International Anarchist Congress Amsterdam (1907) (Alberta: Black Cat Press, 2009). These have never, as far as we are aware, been reprinted.The Amsterdam Congress: Anarchism and Syndicalism
MONATTE – Before dealing with the general question of the relations between Anarchism and Syndicalism, let us see what is meant by the latter in France. The revolutionary Syndicates are composed of men who, while they are by no means all Anarchists, are all anti-Parliamentarians. The basis of Syndicalist organisation is one Union for each trade in each locality. These Unions, or Syndicates, are grouped together locally by the Bourses du Travail, which are unfortunately subsidised by the municipality. The Syndicates are also federated nationally by trades, these federations at present numbering sixty-four, with headquarters usually in Paris. Out of these and the Bourses du Travail is formed the Confederation—that is, one delegate from each Bourse and each national Syndicate. This dual organisation has been found most effective, and it now remains only to strengthen it by supplementing the Bourses du Travail by about seventy regional organisations, thus linking up the whole country. The whole history of the movement shows the mistrust of the workers for Parliamentary action. Over and over again the politicians have tried to win them, and for this reason they were for a long time shunned by Anarchists. But with the political success of Millerand the atmosphere cleared. Then came the union of all revolutionists, and the Anarchists showed that they were organisers. There are still a few Syndicates outside the Confederation—the Miners, for example—but they will soon join. The Syndicalist movement is the workers’ movement, and for that reason alone all Anarchists should join their Syndicates.
Direct Action is the one principle of Syndicalism, and the strike is the most important form of action in the Syndicates. Some Anarchists might say to him: We do not want strikes; we want revolution. But he would ask them: How is the revolution to come before the workers know their power? Every strike is a lesson in revolutionary action. A strike is also the best means of propaganda. Until a great strike aroused that province, Brittany was the most backward part of France. Since the strike the number of Syndicates there has grown to over a hundred. To have taken part in a serious strike brings to each man a total change of mentality. He must clear up one popular misunderstanding about the movement in France. It was often imagined that the business of the Confederation was to order strikes, and that Syndicates could not strike without referring the question first to the Confederation. This is entirely a mistake. The Syndicates and their sections are absolutely autonomous and strike when they think fit, simply advising the Confederation of the fact.
In putting the case for Syndicalism he would point out that the General Strike, to have any permanent effect, is obviously more complicated an affair than any merely political revolution. It would have to be carried out with a clear understanding of what was wanted, and with an absolute confidence in the organisations. Anarchists had begun to lose confidence in the coming revolution in France, Syndicalists had restored it. He would not deny that there were serious dangers in the movement, besides that most serious one of the subsidising of the Bourses du Travail. There was the danger of centralisation, which naturally chokes individual initiative to a certain extent. Here was work for Anarchists—and in fighting against this they would find many Socialists with them. Then there was the danger of officialism. It was inevitable that the man who had been sitting in a secretary’s armchair year after year should begin to take a different view of the movement to what he did when he was working in the mine or the shop. Every Anarchist in the Syndicates would naturally oppose this dangerous principle of re-electing officials. Finally, he would warn Anarchists against joining Syndicates simply to use them as fields of propaganda. Let them join as exploited workers pure and simple first, as men of noble opinions after.
MALATESTA expected some comrades would be surprised to hear him speak against Syndicalism and the General Strike, against a certain conception of the General Strike, a pacifist conception that seems to be growing popular among Syndicalists. But first he desired to make it quite clear that he as much as any one regretted the isolation that is the fate of Anarchists who do not participate in the Labour movement. In the propaganda of Anarchist ideas we must, of course, support the mass movement; He was so far entirely in agreement with previous speakers. But he felt that the other side of the question had not been fairly put, so he would limit himself to bringing out what he considered the essential differences of opinion between Anarchists and Anarchist-Syndicalists. He had himself been such a strong advocate of entering the Syndicates that he had even been accused of being a Syndicatemaker. That was all very well at one time, but now we are confronted with “Syndicalism,” the doctrine. He would have nothing to say against it if he could believe that Syndicalism alone could, as was claimed for it, destroy Capitalism. But who could expect to overthrow Capitalism while remaining a servant of capitalist protection? Together with a solution of the unemployed problem, they might do it; but the fact of the matter was that as the Syndicalist organisation grew nearer and nearer to perfection, the number of unemployed grew greater and greater. Certainly, Syndicalism in this way can emancipate a part of the Workers, but not all. It is only too obvious that the Syndicates make a serious division of the workers, and often enough without doing any harm to the capitalists.
Do not let us make any mistake about what we mean by “solidarity of the workers.” It is often used as if there existed some natural economic solidarity among the exploited workers. But this class solidarity even is only an abstraction. The material fact of life under existing conditions is the personal antagonism between all workers. Solidarity is an aspiration, and in that alone lies its importance to the workers. It is an aspiration that is capable of transforming the economic conditions of a nation, for the differences of economic conditions are not due to financial causes, but to the varying spirit of the people in the different countries. Indeed we may as well confess at once that the purely economic struggle is not sufficient; it must be based on an intense moral struggle, for changes in economic conditions soon readjusted themselves where the moral conditions of the people remained unaffected.
Of one point about Anarchists in Syndicates he was quite certain -- that no Anarchist could take an official position in a Syndicate without placing himself in a false position. Indeed, he was not sure whether even the plain Anarchist member of a Syndicate would not before many years find himself in a false position, for he was only accepted until the Syndicates became really strong, and then he would be asked to go. He did not see why France should consider herself in a novel condition; English Trade Unionism began in just the same revolutionary tone, and look at it now!
He should like, in passing, to clear up a misunderstanding of terms. He often heard political action referred to as if it involved Parliamentarianism. This was a great mistake. What, for example, was Bresci’s act? Was it economic? No; it was political. Marx was responsible for this confusion. He approached the whole question from the economic viewpoint, and sometimes almost takes it for granted that the peasant enjoys paying rent to his landlord. This is manifestly absurd. No peasant – and no other worker for that matter – likes paying rent; he does so simply because of the force – the political force – that is behind the landlord.
He now came to the General Strike. What he objected to was the idea, so freely propagated by some Syndicalists, that the General Strike can replace insurrection. Some people fondly cherish the idea that we are going to starve the bourgeoisie. We should starve ourselves first. Or else they go so far as to admit that the General Strike involves expropriation. But then the soldiers come. Are we to let ourselves be shot down? Of course not. We should stand up to them, and that would mean Revolution. So why not say Revolution at once instead of General Strike? This might seem only a question of words, but it goes deeper than that. The advocates of the General Strike make people think they can do things without fighting, and thus actually spoil the revolutionary spirit of the people. It was propaganda of this kind that brought about such illogical positions as that taken up by the strikers recently at Barcelona, where they did fight the soldiers, but at the same time treated with the State. This was because they were under the delusion that it was only an economic question.
He considered that some of the pamphlets published on the General Strike did nothing but harm. In the first place, it was a fallacy to base their arguments, as some of them do, on a supposed superabundance of production. Not being much of a hand at statistics himself, he once asked Kropotkin what was the real position of England in this respect, and he was told that England produces enough for three months in the year only, and that if importations were stopped for four weeks everybody in the country would die of starvation. The modern possibilities of transport make it undesirable for capitalists to accumulate food. It was estimated that London was never provisioned for much over three days, in spite of all her warehouses.
In dealing with this question of the General Strike we must begin by considering the necessity of food. This is a more or less new basis for the conception. A peasant strike, for instance, appeared to him as the greatest absurdity. Their only tactics were immediate expropriation; and wherever we find them setting to work on those lines it is our business to go and help them against the soldiers. And then he had read somewhere that we ought to go and smash the railway bridges! He wondered whether the advocates of such foolishness ever realised that corn has to come the same way the cannons come. To adopt the policy of neither cannons nor corn is to make all revolutionists the enemies of the people. We must face the cannons if we want the corn.
Let us realise that the General Strike is only one means of fighting the capitalists, and let us find out how it works in practice, how really to use it. If the Governments have perfected the arms of repression, we must set to work to perfect those of revolution. We need more knowledge; we want new methods of fighting; we need a technique militaire. In his own early days when they talked about the General Strike for the first time, every man had his own rifle and revolver, his plan of the town, of the forts, arsenals, prisons, Government buildings, and so forth. Nowadays nobody thinks of these things, and yet they talk on glibly about revolution. Look at what happened in South Italy. The Government shot down peasants by the hundred, and the only soldier that was hurt fell off his horse by accident. (It was this massacre that made Bresci take extreme action. He believed a telegram which was sent him from Rome saying that the King himself had ordered the soldiers to shoot without mercy.)
If we talk about revolution, then, let us at least be prepared for it. Unfortunately, the fight must be brutal. He would, like to think otherwise – but how could it be? We cannot let ourselves be killed. These are a few of the things he would recommend the comrades to ponder and discuss.Tags: anarchoanarchist writerssyndicalismwork
In Chile, in response to student protests against an increase in the cost of public transportation, the President has returned the country to dictatorship-era martial law, putting soldiers on the streets and threatening protesters with decades in prison. The following report comes directly from the streets of Santiago at the epicenter of the fighting.
“We pay the cops’ salary and the ticket fare, and here they stand against us.” “The people united will never be divided.”
Friday’s conflagration took place following a week of action against fare increases under the slogan “evade” or evade y lucha (“dodge the fare and struggle”), which now appears on nearly every wall downtown in spray paint. It all started as a playful response to the government increasing the cost of living by hiking transport costs. Almost entirely student led, the mobilization has included mass evasions in metro stations in which students run through the turnstiles together and hold open the gates to encourage everyone else to join them in riding for free. Police have reacted with tear gas and batons.
“Evade the fair, don’t pay—another form of struggle.”
“Evade and Struggle.”
On Friday, protesters responded by targeting the stations themselves, breaking apart the gates and turnstiles and even using them as weapons to defend themselves from police attacks. Many metro lines shut down; mid-afternoon, we received word that the metro will be shut down for the whole weekend.
With some busses still running, the lines at bus stops swelled to overflowing, with long wait times. Protest marches began taking the streets as metros were shut down, causing more delays for the busses still transporting people. Many people started walking on the roads instead; it began to feel like a snow day, when everyone is just out and in the streets, a strange and ecstatic energy.
Meanwhile, harrowing footage circulated showing a student shot by police with live rounds during a fare protest. Her condition remains unknown. Unrest was reported to be especially intense in her neighborhood, las Parcelas. As of this writing, there have been multiple reports of people shot by police.
As the sun went down, the city caught fire. Busses burned. Blockades appeared in the street in many neighborhoods where neighbors came out to bang pots and pans (a traditional form of protest known as cacerolazo), burning couches, tires, and whatever else they could find in the area. Rebellion spread throughout the city, much farther than the original metro centers. Clashes with police escalated throughout the night until the president declared the state of emergency, recalling the military dictatorship of 1973-1990 during which thousands of people were “disappeared” and murdered.
The headquarters of the Italian energy company Enel, over a dozen stories high, caught fire, though the cause is not confirmed yet. While some assume it was torched by arsonists, others speculate that the blaze may have been ignited by a tear gas canister.
The entity that controls the Santiago Metro network has already confirmed that there will be no service over the weekend, and the Chilean student federation has called a nationwide strike for Monday. As of now, it remains to be seen whether the unrest will spread and deepen, but if the military kills someone, the country is bound to explode. The memories of the dictatorship are too fresh, too raw, for people to stand by passively.
Chileans remember the betrayals of democracy too well to be appeased by a simple reform like a reduction in public transit fare. After the massive clashes in Ecuador, it appears that things are returning to normal now that the Ecuadorian president has walked back the austerity measures in his budget proposal; but this outbreak of defiance shows that anger has been simmering for a long time in Chile, and it will not be easy to silence it.
Chile has a long history of social struggle dating back to its colonial origins. Today’s combative social movements are descended from the resistance to the mass-murdering military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet; their lineage has continued uninterrupted because the transition to democracy in 1990 was not accompanied by any meaningful shift in the economic policies and violent policing that impose extreme disparities in wealth and power. This particular revolt is reminiscent of the uprising in Brazil in 2013, when a million people took the streets to protest an increase in the cost of public transportation.
We will see what happens next.
For background on Chile’s longstanding combative social movements:
The Chicago Conspiracy—A documentary addressing the legacy of the military dictatorship in Chile, revisiting the stories of the young people who were killed by the Pinochet regime as a backdrop to the history of the military dictatorship. The film follows this narrative thread into current forms of social conflict including the student movement, the neighborhoods that resisted the dictatorship and continue to resist capitalism and state oppression, and the continuing defiance of the indigenous Mapuche people.Tags: chile
From It's Going Down
An anarchist critique and analysis of recent climate mobilization in so-called Vancouver, British Columbia. Includes several PDFs of outreach flyers.
Over the past month residents of so-called Vancouver, BC have taken to the streets demanding climate action. Roughly one hundred thousand people attend the climate strike and five hundred for Extinction Rebellions (XR) occupation of the Burrard bridge – a commuter bridge into downtown Vancouver. As anarchists it was difficult to decide how to engage with liberal, reformist movements. This piece begins by exploring how a group of us engaged with the climate strike and Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) “bridge out” event, then it shares reflections on XR and concludes by offering some leafleting material and a call for action.
The leaflets advanced a radical anti-capitalist and anti-colonial perspectives on the climate crisis, teach folks hands on skills and invite folks to stand in solidarity with Indigenous struggles for environmental justice. One of the leaflet materials is an adapted version of the Strike Back for the Climate other anarchists shared via IGD. We decided to adapt the original document to give it a more radical edge, and critique the hegemony of ‘Non-Violent Direct Action’ (NVDA) over social movements in so-called Canada – a position organizations such as XR play a critical role in maintaining.
— Adlen AFANE (@afanad) September 27, 2019
The second leaflet encouraged participants to mask up and provided instructions on how to tie t-shirt masks. The third leaflet was an update on the Wet’suwet’en struggle, an Indigenous nation who since time immemorial has resisted colonial expansion on their unceeded territories, but has more recently resisted the development of 7 pipeline projects. We felt that centering radical Indigenous struggles in our leafleting material was a critical way for us to attempt to combat the very white liberal character of the crowds and movements we engaged with.The Climate Strike
Engaging with September 27th climate strike was complicated. After some discussion we recognized the need for us to seize the opportunity to normalize the presence of visible anti-capitalists at what was a predominantly white, liberal event. Through our presence we hoped to create space for more defensive tactics and distribute critical anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and anti-state materials. A visible black bloc presence; defensive and or offensive street tactics, have not been seen in Vancouver since the large scale ‘Heart Attack’ demonstration against the 2010 Olympics. The lack of basic defensive tactics such as masking up, limits our tactics and makes us all more vulnerable. Not embracing basic defensive tactics such as masking creates an environment were folks who participate in front line struggles, have criminal records, or find themselves more vulnerable easier targets for state surveillance and repression.
A small group of us attended the march and began distributing leaflets among the strikers. With low numbers we were at best a black dot; not quite a black bloc. What we saw was a pacified movement which was happy to both be policed and police itself. The crowd allowed itself to be constrained by the pigs, and when a group of us attempted to to block additional roads, other strikers were not supportive.
Attending the march we had hoped to see something which posed a threat to both capital and the state, yet we encountered a parade, and with our low numbers it felt difficult to push the marches agenda on a more radical bend. It is important to note that many of the marches participants where in high-school or younger, seeing them in the street was very exciting and it may have been their first time taking to the streets. Because we were engaging with many young people, whom were eager to be in the streets it seemed particularly valuable to distribute leaflets, and have a (somewhat) visible anarchist presence. It is possible that if we had not spread ourselves thin while leafleting we may have been able to better use our small number to shift the crowds energy. This may be a lesson for the next time.Reflections on Extinction Rebellion
With busy schedules and a critical stance towards the politics of XR, we were unable to mobilize a large anarchist presence at XR’s ‘Bridge Out’ action. Nonetheless, some comrades attended the event. The action blocked the Burrard Bridge, a commuter bridge leading into downtown Vancouver, and roughly 500 people showed up.
Tactically blocking the Burrard Bridge seemed like a poor decision as it posed little threat to the state; it is a minor commuter bridge and doesn’t host much commercial traffic. A few of us attended the event and distributed leaflets containing anarchist perspectives on environmental crisis and calls for solidarity with Indigenous land defense struggles.“Simultaneously the events they have planned so far do not seek to be in conflict with the state or capital – instead they attempt to make a moral appeal to the state and request it take action on climate change.”
XR is beginning to occupy a worrisome position in our movements. Emerging in Vancouver over the last year the organization has been able to pick up tremendous momentum and organize events where folks are willing to put their bodies on the line. Simultaneously the events they have planned so far do not seek to be in conflict with the state or capital – instead they attempt to make a moral appeal to the state and request it take action on climate change. Tactically, this position fails to recognize the fact that the state, supports and facilitates continued capitalist and colonial violence, the building blocks of environmental collapse. Without advancing an anti-capitalist, anti-imperial and anti-colonial theory and action we will fail to address the root causes of the climate crisis. It is commendable to see how large of a group XR was able to get on the streets, the power of that many people in the streets is tangible and we are hoping that as the organization builds it will escalate its tactics to challenge capital and the state.
— Danika Dinsmore (@Danika_Dinsmore) October 7, 2019
Moreover, XR’s tactical fetishization of NVDA is threatening to our movements. As XR continues to grow it seeks to define and limit the scope of struggle, de-legitimatizing activists, militants, and communities whom seek to challenge the state’s monopoly on violence. By further marginalizing those whom chose to employ violence in their fight against the capitalist and colonial forces ravaging our planet militants will be made more vulnerable and be deemed nor worthy of support – a serious knee capping for any movement. For folks who exclusively support NVDA we recommend the book How Non-Violence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos for an accessible straightforward analysis of movement history and why a commitment to NVDA is tactically horrible. In the end, while XR has done an excellent job mobilizing folks, it is failing to advance a radical analysis of the climate crisis and actively limits tactics for struggle.Closing Thoughts
We hope our critique is not taken as a fetishization of militancy in the streets; we support a diversity of tactics, and are not attempting to create a hierarchy of tactics in struggle. We recognize that the state is not threatened by both a hundred thousand people in the streets dedicated to strictly NVDA and 50 insurgents ready to fight by any means necessary. A threatening militant movement will not be sustainable without strong community bonds, resiliant infrastructure, and international solidarity. We support comrades engaging in struggle in the ways accessible to them. We must cultivate a movement were comrades are capable of fighting on whatever terms they deem appropriate and to do this we must reject XR’s attempt to draw rules of confrontation.
This does not mean we should throw Extinction Rebellion to the wayside, as some of their members have proven sympathetic to anarchist tactics and analysis. We should meet XR members (just like another members of our communities) where they are at and attempt to radicalize and mobilize them.Future Action
At the time of writing this article XR has called for a snaking march through downtown Vancouver at 4:30pm Friday the 18th. An unstructured “snake march” is an escalation of XR’s tactics and will be more difficult to police. Ideally we would like to prioritize the blocking of arteries of capital – rail, ports and commercial roads. We believe these are better targets for mobilizing mass support but also believe that the streets of downtown are worthwhile. We will be attending in bloc and invite other comrades to join us!Outreach Flyers Canadait's going down
From A2DAY.net, Kiev, Ukraine
It’s a classic, it’s a must-know thing!
On the night of 16 to 17 October 2019, the Toyota Prius car of the patrol police was burned to the ground. It happened at the guarded parking lot in Svyatoshinsky district of Kyiv. We, anarchists, take responsibility for the arson and will publish an exclusive video where you can see how the police car burns.
Why are we at war with the police bastards?
Today, our lives are under the iron control of the state and corporations. No one asks us whether we want it or not. The authorities do what they think is right. For them, we are a commodity, cattle and lowlifes. Everyone who wants to oppose this way of life is expected to face repression, death. But control and repression would not be possible without the police, the rotten body of the Interior Ministry. The police are the main instrument in the hands of the authorities. Therefore, we are forced to wage war with police crap – for the sake of freedom, for the sake of justice.
They have laws, prisons, power on their side… We are only supposed to have poverty and eternal exhausting work for the oligarchy. The gap between a worker and an oligarch is so huge that it is terrifying. The elderly on the outskirts of the capital city collect waste paper and glass every day to buy social bread. If you ask a cop why such things happen, he will cheerfully answer: this is the order and law. The policeman knows the whole situation and consciously performs the role of a dog in the service of power. The policeman fetishizes his position, likes to wear a Fort 17 and drive a Prius, but he likes violence and money more. These are just some of the reasons why we have a lot of hatred for the police and the Interior Ministry structure as a whole.
There can only be confrontation between anarchists and cops until the MIA and its patrons, the state and the oligarchy, are completely destroyed. Each of us has to choose between working obediently for the system, shaking with fear for their lives, or resisting by all means.
We anarchists call for organized resistance: collective, individual resistance. Learn the theory of anarchism. Stock up on incendiary mixtures, weapons and ammunition. Attack the police. Fight against states. Do not be afraid of prisons. Freedom or death!
Strange as it may seem, the official website of the National Police of Ukraine is silent about arson. Only the rescuers reported it in a veiled manner. We think the cops are ashamed to write and publish photos of the burnt-out Prius. And so it always happens…
In 2015, Japan handed over about 1.5 thousand Toyota Prius to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine for patrol police. By now, about 1.3 thousand patrol “Priuses” have been broken or are out of order. There is little left. Let’s help the cops finish the job.
Our statement will not be complete if we do not say anything about our like-minded people in prisons and on the run. May this fiery news please and inspire you to continue the fight in any situation. As did Dmitry Polienko, an anarchist and defendant, who cut his hand with a razor blade in the courtroom on October 17, protesting against his detention in a closed courtroom.
At-large, in captivity or in an illegal situation, we will continue our attack on the government and the state.
Note to the news
The video is temporarily posted here:ukraineattack
Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada's Extremist Network 'The Rebel' Tries for the Prize
The Koch-funded right wing echo chamber seems obsessed with competing to insult and vilify Greta Thunberg in the most vile and disgusting ways imaginable. The sixteen-year-old climate activist has faced a coordinated barrage of bullying and harassment that started long before she set sail for America. “Freak yachting accidents do happen…” was a particularly disturbing attack, coming from British businessman and Trump ally Arron Banks.
But right now, Greta's in Alberta, home to some of the world's dirtiest oil, and also apparently some of the dirtiest mudslinging against the courageous and clear-spoken Swede.
State Department report on Clinton emails finds hundreds of violations, dozens of individuals at fault
State Department report on Clinton emails finds hundreds of violations, dozens of individuals at fault | 18 Oct 2019 | A State Department report into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server for government business, obtained by Fox News on Friday, found dozens of individuals at fault and hundreds of security violations. The report summarized an administrative review of the handling of classified information relating to Clinton’s private email server used during her tenure as the nation's highest-ranking diplomat between 2009 and 2013. The report, dated Sept. 13., was delivered to the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee until last year.
Gabbard hits back at 'queen of warmongers' Clinton | 18 Oct 2019 | Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) did not hold back Friday when responding to 2016 nominee Hilary Clinton's suggestion that she is the "favorite of the Russians" for 2020, excoriating the former secretary of State as "the queen of warmongers" and "personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party." ...Through a series of tweets, Gabbard went right at Clinton, calling her the "embodiment of corruption" among the Democratic Party establishment. "From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation," Gabbard said. "We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know -- it was always you," she added.
The post Action Against ICE Profiteers Keeps Pressure on Prudential & Beyond appeared first on It's Going Down.
While pushed out of the media cycle, the Abolish ICE movement has continued full steam ahead, with mass actions and protests being organized throughout the country, while a variety of ongoing divestment campaigns have kept on pressure against various targets.
This action is happening against a backdrop of death, sexual abuse, continued family separations, horrific conditions, and attempts by ICE to operate as a agency beholden to no one. On October 17th, a Cuban asylum seeker, Roylan Hernández Díaz, 43, was found dead inside the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana, “the second one in ICE custody this month,” following the death of a 37 year old Cameroonian man. This Saturday, hundreds of doctors and medical personnel are expected to march on the White House against medical conditions and for the closure of ICE concentration camps.
An editorial by one of the doctors wrote:
News reports and other testimonies have documented substandard and even terrible conditions: no running water, no soap, no beds, inedible food. Medications have been taken away from those who need them; outbreaks have occurred and the government has decided not to provide vaccines. This is unacceptable.
Individuals who await decisions while in detention risk worsening of chronic medical conditions, development of new illnesses and pregnancy complications, and even death. Those dying in immigration custody include at least seven children, among them Felipe Gomez Alonzo, Carlos Gregorio Hernandez and Jakelin Call Maquin.
But such horror has also helped fuel continued resistance. In Tacoma, WA, hundreds of detainees at the Northwest Detention Center, again launched a hunger strike against abysmal conditions. Acts of anti-ICE sabotage and vandalism continue to take place. Mass actions have also been organized outside of facilities and against companies that have contracts with ICE.
People detained at #Tacoma #ICE Processing Center aka NWDC began a #hungerstrike protesting poor food conditions, inhumane treatment, is the 19th such action in the last 5 years. They also joined the call to #CloseTheCamps #AbolishICE #ShutdownNWDC @ConMijente @DetentionWatch pic.twitter.com/zAhvk0vNRL
— LaResistencia_NW (@ResistenciaNW) October 18, 2019
This movement continues to make huge strides and deliver heavy blows to corporate businesses keeping for-profit prisons afloat. As Non-Profit Quarterly wrote:
[Activists] went after the lifeblood of for-profit corporations: money and credit. They pressured the banks who finance private prison companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group to divest and end those relationships. And this week, they reached a milestone: every existing bank partner to GEO Group has officially committed to breaking ties.
As Forbes wrote:
All of the publicly known existing banking partners providing lines of credit and term loans to private prison leader GEO Group have now officially committed to ending ties with the private prison and immigrant detention industry.
…international credit rating agency Fitch downgraded CoreCivic from stable to negative, and stock prices for both companies now near historic lows. The one year returns to investors for both GEO Group and CoreCivic are down nearly 30%, which classifies them as significantly underperforming when compared to other entities in their investment class….
Anarchists and abolitionists have also been part of the push back by organizing a week of action against selected targets still doing business with ICE. Responding to a call for protests and direct actions against Prudential from September 23rd – 30th, groups across the US took part, here’s a roundup.
September 23rd: Mobilizing in Durham, NC, people disrupted and shutdown an office belonging to State Street Corp, which owns bonds in CoreCivic and GeoGroup.
September 24th: People mobilized in Okemos, Michigan to demand that Prudential divest from ICE. From a statement:
We, the No Detention Centers in Michigan coalition, demand that Prudential Financial, Inc. immediately divest from The GEO Group, Inc. and all other private prison companies.
By investing in GEO, Prudential and its customers directly profit off the imprisonment of tens of thousands of people. The GEO Group has been subject to many lawsuits regarding inhuman conditions, improper medical care, torture, forced labor, sexual abuse, and deaths at their facilities. Furthermore, private detention centers run by GEO and other companies play a central role in the persecution of immigrants in the United States; today over 60% of people in ICE detention are held in private facilities, with GEO being the largest ICE contractor. We do not want our life insurance, mutual funds, retirement funds, etc. to support these atrocities!
This year, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, FifthThird Bank, and PNC Bank have all made firm commitments to stop financing the private prison industry. While the nature of your company’s ties to the industry is different (holding stock vs providing credit), the moral imperative to sever ties is the same.
We recognize that you, personally, are in no position to make investment decisions for the entire company. However, as a Prudential employee, you are in a better position to push for change than we are. We demand that you take a public stand against your company’s investment in the private prison industry and encourage others within the company to do the same.
Prudential is one of the largest investors in GEO stock, though private prison stock makes up an incredibly small percentage of Prudential’s overall portfolio. This puts your employer in a position to make a real impact without sacrificing anything significant. We will continue to protest at Prudential offices across the state until the company divests.
No Detention Centers In Michigan at Prudential Financial in Okemos, Michigan.
Posted by Theresa Rosado on Tuesday, September 24, 2019
September 25th: Protest in Sherman Oaks, California demanded that Prudential divest from ICE. From a report:
On Wednesday, September 25th, the @lacatholicworker, members of @abolishicela and supporters descended on the Prudential Financial offices in Sherman Oaks. A national series of actions took place this week demanding Prudential Financial divest completely from GEO Group, the for-profit private prison company that runs Adelanto (among other immigrant detention facilities and jails around the country). As GEO prepares to open a new detention facility in Baldwin, Michigan, it is imperative Prudential cease being complicit in the caging of humans and torturing of children as one of GEO Groups primary financiers. Roughly 35 activists protested outside Prudential as two others disrupted business inside their offices. The corporate offices of Prudential refused to permit the office to have the activists arrested – the notion of caging people for protesting the caging of people was publicity they didn’t want.
September 26th: People in Grand Rapids, Michigan organized a phone-zap campaign. From their call out:
Prudential Financial is one of the largest shareholders in GEO Group, a private detention firm that operates immigrant detention centers and prisons around the country. Over 60% of people in ICE detention are held in private facilities and GEO Group is the single largest ICE contractor. Since its founding in 1984, GEO has been subject to countless lawsuits regarding inhumane conditions at their facilities, improper medical care, torture, forced labor, sexual abuse, and death.
GEO Group plans to open an immigrant prison in Baldwin, Michigan on October 1st. Upon opening, the North Lake Correctional Facility would be the only “Criminal Alien Requirement” facility in the entire Midwest. As part of a national week of action from September 23rd through September 30th organized by No Detention Centers in Michigan, we’ll be calling Prudential’s local office in Grand Rapids on Thursday, September 26th to urge that Prudential cut ties with this industry by divesting from GEO and all other private detention firms. Please join us and spread the word to anyone you may know who has money invested through Prudential: it’s time to get #PrudentialOutOfGEO.
September 27th: Mobilization in Farmington Hills, Michigan to demand that Prudential divest from ICE. From a report:
Moratorium NOW! Coalition and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) held a noon-time demonstration in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb right outside Detroit at the Prudential Financial office on Fri. Sept. 27, 2019. This demonstration was in response to a call by No Detentions in Michigan to protest Prudential’s investment in the GEO private prison system which detains immigrants from oppressed nations as well as African Americans in the United States. Prudential is the 6th largest investor in GEO Group and the 5th investor in CoreCivic. GEO Group and CoreCivic manage private prisons/immigrant detention centers. GEO Group is planning to open a detention center in Baldwin, Michigan.The actions were statewide demanding the disinvestment by Prudential and the closing of these concentration camps.
Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire
September 27th: Banner drops against Prudential in Petoskey, Michigan.
GEO Group, one of the largest prison corporations in the country, is opening a private immigrant prison in Baldwin, Michigan—located in the poorest county in the state.
While GEO Group reports that they are offering good jobs to a community facing high unemployment rates, their actual practices paint a different picture. Despite promises to hire mostly people from Lake County, in the days before the opening GEO Group confessed that only 69 out of approximately 300 new hires came from Lake County, about 23% of the total jobs. And in addition to being a fiercely anti-union company, GEO requires a pre-employment credit check as part of its hiring process, excluding the most economically disadvantaged from employment opportunities.
Despite this track record, Baldwin village president Jim Truxton remains supportive of the project. In a recent interview, Truxton seemed intent on ignoring GEO Group’s exploitative practices, asking “How is it any different than GM building a new plant in the Detroit area?” In a county that consistently prioritizes an economy based upon its natural resources, tourism, and outdoor recreation, Truxton’s personal stake in the project as an owner of GEO Group stock seems to have outweighed any real concern for his constituency.
“I was angry when I heard the comparison between an immigrant prison and a GM plant. Manufacturing anything is not the same as guarding people held in cages. I am retired from a GM plant. We fought hard to be treated with respect. Our strike now is to maintain that compensation and fair treatment fought for by the UAW. GM didn’t treat us well at all, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be working somewhere without our Union,” says Miriam Pickens, retired UAW and GM worker. “And as union members our principle is solidarity, which means we don’t want our jobs to get used as an excuse to lock up immigrant workers, members of our class, and pay poverty wages for guards to keep people in cages.”
“To compare GEO Group’s history of caging and torturing people with car manufacturing is a textbook example of dehumanization,” says Rachel Davis, a member of the group No Detention Centers in Michigan. “These cells will be filled with human beings who’ve been forcibly separated from their families and communities. We’ve spoken with people in Baldwin–yes, they want jobs! But if they actually had the power to choose, they would not choose to work at GEO Group’s prison. Because of the greed of people like Jim Truxton and the cruelty of our country’s immigration policies, prison work is forced onto their community by billionaires and racists.”
Three arrests taken, please support at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/occupy-ice-detroit-support-fund
Posted by Occupy ICE Detroit on Tuesday, October 1, 2019
October 16th: Protests organized in Sacramento, CA against GEO Group.
These actions are just part of a group tapestry of resistance to ICE and surveillance and prison society. Already, another call for a week of action has gone up.
In the latest stupidity out of the People's Republic of California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 61 into law, a bill that will limit Californians to only being able to buy one gun a month. [...]
This Article New Law Restricts California Residents to Buy only 1 Gun a Month is an original article from OFFGRID Survival If it is appearing on any other site but OFFGRID Survival, that site does not have our permission to use our copyrighted content!
Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.
“It’s starting to become out of control, and we want to rein this in,” Bruce Hicks, Assistant Director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said in August about companies abandoning oil and gas wells. If North Dakota’s regulators, some of the most industry-friendly in the country, are sounding the alarm, then that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the nation.Tags: abandoned oil wellsorphan wellsWestern Organization of Resource CouncilsNorth Dakotapennsylvania
Construction companies seem ripe for the co-op model. The very nature of contracting means a team effort. Along the I-5 corridor between Bellingham and Olympia, there are three construction co-ops and more interested.
Northwest Construction Co-op in Olympia focuses on home remodeling with specialty in tile and linoleum. This co-op was part of the legacy of the Eggplant with some of its founding members also part of New Moon Café. Former members of the co-op also went on to form two other co-ops: Business Services Co-op and the NW Painting Co-op. They are not just building homes, these folks are also building co-operatives. As I understand, part of the spin-offs arose (in part) from the activities not being a core service of the co-op and it seemed smarter for the co-op to focus on its strengths and create new co-ops...
Insert an image into the text Publication date Fri, 10/18/2019 - 12:00
Hillary Clinton says Tulsi Gabbard is a 'Russian asset' groomed to ensure Trump re-election | 18 Oct 2019 | Hillary Clinton said that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is being groomed by Moscow to run as a third-party spoiler candidate in 2020 to help President Trump win re-election. The former Secretary of State pushed the theory on the Campaign HQ podcast hosted by David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's campaign manager in 2008...Plouffe asked Clinton about the part third-party candidates like Jill Stein of the Green Party played in 2016, allowing Trump to secure key states. "They are also going to do third party again," Clinton said. "I'm not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate," Clinton said, referring to Gabbard without mentioning the Hawaii representative by name. "She is a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and ways of supporting her so far. That's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset."
Flashback: Kurdish Forces Inexplicably Freed Hundreds of ISIS Terrorists in Syria Throughout 2017 | 13 Oct 2019 | Ever since President Donald Trump made the announcement that he was removing troops from Northern Syria earlier this week, proponents of permanent military occupation of the Middle East in the GOP have been outraged. They have claimed we must stay in the region to help our allies, the Kurds. "President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences," said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Deep State-WY), whose father [and Grade 'A' sociopath] was the architect of the disastrous Iraq War...Reuters reported on the startling development at the time: A civil council expected to rule Raqqa once Islamic State is dislodged from the Syrian city pardoned 83 of the jihadist group's low-ranking militants on Saturday, a goodwill gesture designed to promote stability...Far from an isolated incident, the Kurdish-led SDF also allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters to escape from Raqqa along with their families later that year.
From Anarchy Bang
What is antisocial anarchism? Perhaps the better question is whether there should be a hard line drawn between social and antisocial anarchism. Is the difference just one of different goals? Is it just about Stirner? We assume most anarchists are social but what does that mean in the era of social media being comprised of everyone equally alone in darkened bedrooms and sad lives. This week we’ll discuss the goals of the antisocial, a bit about scale, and how technology has put its foot right into our daily lives and that absolutely means right in our desire to fuck shit up. What to do?
Join in the conversation!
Sunday at noon (PST or -7 UTC) at https://anarchybang.com/
Email questions ahead if you like
The real time IRC is a chaotic mess (and pleasure). There are better ways to connect to IRC but it involves some reading
The call in number is (646) 787-8464
The post IWW Burgerville Workers Set to Launch Strike This Saturday appeared first on It's Going Down.
Fast food workers at Burgerville and members of the revolutionary anti-capitalist union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) say that if Burgerville corporate does not agree to their demands, they will launch a strike starting Saturday, October 19th, bringing to a close nearly a year and a half of ongoing contract negotiations and the birth of the first recognized fast-food labor union.
In late September the union wrote:
Over the last 15 months of contract negotiations, Burgerville has cancelled and cut short bargaining sessions. At times, they’ve shown up without a single counterproposal. They’ve brought to the table first very little, and then nothing at all on wages. Meanwhile, we and our coworkers can’t afford to keep waiting, and we’ve been bargaining and working on the contract with this sense of urgency.
Union members and their supporters have continued to put pressure on the company to meet their demands. In late September, “workers delivered a full draft of a union contract to the Burgerville Corporate office in Vancouver, backed by community support.”
In early October, “faith leaders gathered to send the message that the community is watching closely, and prepared to join the picket lines as soon as time runs out.” Then, on Friday October 11th, a picket was held one week before the final contract deadline.
Thanks to our allies and friends who showed up on the picket lines to support Burgerville Workers in their fight for a fair contract!Burgerville Corporate has until Friday, October 18th to sign a fair contract, or else we are prepared to escalate our actions. Join us on Saturday, October 19th at 11:00am at South Waterfront by the Hawthorne Bridge in a Rally for a Fair Contract!Solidarity with our friends who joined us on the picket lines including: Portland Association of Teachers, Oregon Education Association, @SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, United Auto Workers, CWA Local 7901, IBEW Local 48, OFNHP, AFSCME Local 88, Portland Jobs with Justice, Unite Here! Local 8, Portland Democratic Socialists of America, Bus Riders Unite! – Portland's Transit Riders Union.
Posted by Burgerville Workers Union on Saturday, October 12, 2019
In the lead up to the strike however, Burgerville has attempted to stifle support for the union, by offering workers a one dollar wage increase.
As the union reported:
Today, during contract negotiations, just days before the union-imposed deadline to strike this weekend, Burgerville corporate announced a unilateral change to its wage policy, offering all workers a $1.00 raise beginning on December 30th, 2019. While this might appear on the surface as a concession to the Burgerville Workers Union, which has been fighting for a living wage for over three years- in reality, this move by corporate is a desperate attempt to undermine worker organizing efforts.
This is not a real raise, then, but a marketing ploy. Within minutes of taking a break from today’s negotiating session, Burgerville sent out a company-wide email announcing the new policy as an act of corporate benevolence- the way Burgerville tells it, the union had nothing to do with these changes, neither as the instigator or a collaborator.
— Burgerville Workers Union (@BVWkrUnion) September 30, 2019
Aside from this being a shady attempt to co-opt the union, today’s proposal merely amounts to offering the state-mandated minimum wage increase six months early. After July 1st, 2020, starting wages at Burgerville will revert to only $0.25 above the minimum wage, effectively wiping out any significant pay increase. After July, wages will go back to the status quo — the same status quo the union has been fighting to change for years.
Let us be clear. This is a desperate, last-ditch effort to avoid a strike. Burgerville is trying to pacify workers with an insubstantial raise that will be rendered meaningless in six months. Our message to Burgerville corporate is that we won’t be pacified. We remain prepared to escalate, and we are ready to strike.
As a full on strike looms, the Burgerville Workers Union is calling on supporters to mobilize for a demonstration on Saturday, October 19th. The union wrote in a statement:
After nearly one and a half years of bargaining–Burgerville workers delivered an ultimatum to corporate: sign a fair contract by midnight on Friday, October 18th, or we will severely escalate our actions against the company.
At this critical moment, we need our allies to stand with us more than ever to either celebrate a historic victory for the labor movement or escalate our actions in the fight for a fair contract! See you at Salmon Street Spring at 11:00am!
The union is holding a rally on Saturday starting at 11 AM near the waterfront in Portland to announce either the start of the strike or the finalization of the contract. Facebook event here.
The workers at Burgerville have launched a historic struggle and so far have managed to win 5 union elections in different stores, fought for and won tips, holiday pay, and an end to at will employment, while also fighting back against an attempt by management to fire and harass pro-union workers.
Since 2016, the union has built a culture of mutual support and direct action, while continuing to launch pickets, boycotts, and demonstrations, and standing firm against racist attacks on undocumented workers. If you are in the local area, please support their strike by coming out on Saturday and following the Burgerville Workers Union on social media.