Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Anarcho-blogging roundup

I'm currently away from home (and thus my own PC) in London.

I will be home tomorrow, and normal blogging service will resume therafter. Whilst I'm on this - extremely brief - blogging hiatus, though, here's a quick roundup of other worthwhile anarchist and left-libertarian reads.

The Liverpool Solidarity Federation congratulates German anarcho-syndicalists FAU-B on their court victory. Brighton SolFed have an emergency budget special edition of their newsletter out. 

Their local No Borders comrades offers some comment on recent forcible deportations both here and here. They also ask "Just Who Is Responsible For UK's Worsening Treatment Of Migrants?"

Adam Form has excellent reviews of both The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Simon Pirani's The Russian Revolution in Retreat, 1920-24. The latter offering historical context on the Russian revolution which ties in nicely with my Property is Theft post on Communism and the State.

Seán from The Soul of Man Under Capitalism lifts The Veils of Illusion from Tory cuts and dissects the budget. Julia at 10 Minutes Hate has a similar assesment of the budget as well as a warning to children not to bully the weird kids

Slackbastard @ndy has coverage of Kiwis arrested in Toronto, as well as the continuing misadventures of Australia's fascists here, here and here.

To round everything off, whilst contemplating the ConDem government's policy of "dis a disabled," Bendy Girl is suffering Oxycontin withdrawal.

There are more than a few good reads in there, which should tide things over until I return to Liverpool. If you still end up lacking anything to fill that time, I'd suggest that you're not really using the internet properly.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

No War but Class War - June 2010

Whilst everyone has been focused on pay freezes, job losses, and service cuts, the elephant in the room for workers of late has been Health and Safety.

David Cameron has appointed Lord Young to undertake a "Whitehall-wide review" of Health and Safety laws. The obvious intent behind rhetoric about "red tape" being to water down the enforcement of said legislation.

To see the effects of this, we need only look to America, where the lack of a last-ditch safety valve, despite warnings from workers, led to 15 deaths and the worst environmental disaster in US history.

But, as Labor Notes reports, this is overlies a far quieter but equally disturbing story;
In the same week as the human-created disaster in the Massey mine in West Virginia, local media outlets around the country carried dozens of stories with headlines like “Man Killed in Trench Collapse” or “Fall from Roof Fatal.”
The toll of these routine incidents—14 deaths a day from injuries alone—is obscured because most occur one death at a time.

Month after month, year after year, workers die in trench collapses and falls from roofs. OSHA cites the employer, slaps it with a modest fine (a median penalty of only $3,675 per death in 2007), and points out that simple methods exist to prevent such tragic loss of life. Yet some employers continue to ignore the hazards and workers continue to lose their lives due to this criminal neglect.

Like the high-profile workplace disasters, the vast majority of deaths on the job are entirely preventable. The problem is not a technical one of chemical concentrations, safe machinery, and ventilation, but a political one—simply put, our national system for enforcing health and safety regulations in the workplace is broken.
This is what we can expect in the UK if Cameron and Lord Young get their way. But, as of yet, there has been no significant response from the TUC unions. And a few quotes in the media will not effect any change at all.

Still in Britain, the British Airways dispute rolls on. BA have put forward another offer to cabin crew staff, and Unite are delaying a strike vote to allow members to vote on it. Despite Tony Woodley saying that he will not recommend the deal, because it doesn't reinstate member travel perks, this seems to be the best way of resolving the dispute without mutually assurred destruction.

Between Willie Walsh's aggressive union-busting tactics and Unite's earlier dithering over strike action, the workers have been led to a point where no outright victory is possible. Of course, if they opt to strike again they should have the solidarity of their fellow workers, but it seems the best BA cabin crews can hope for is to not lose outright.

The "Belgrade Six," Serbian anarcho-syndicalists arrested on trumped up charges of "international terrorism," have been formally acquitted. After the earlier victory for the German FAU-B, who have reclaimed the right from the courts to call themselves and act as a trade union, this is a positive development for the radical workers' movement.

Anarcho-syndicalists in the ZSP, the FAU-B's sister-organisation in Poland, are engaged in a struggle for Chinese immigrant workers stranded in Warsaw without money or a travel permit. Lawyers for their employers involved are trying to dissuade action and avoid responsibility.

In Spain, the CNT have called to make a coming general strike indefinite, arguing that single-day actions will not disrupt the bosses enough to deter them.

Evidence of this can be seen in Greece, where even rioting and violence has failed to make the actions more effective. Instead of short and dramatic show pieces, there needs to be a more concerted attack on the capitalist system and in favour of workers' control. An indefinite strike would be an integral part of that, and it would seem that some in France feel as the CNT does in Spain.

However, the ZSP have vowed that they "will not be confused by legalistic bullshit" and "will continue to demand help for these victims of exploitation from the entities involved."

In South Africa, the World Cup has become the story, eclipsing everything else. In response not only to this but also evictions, detentions, and a crackdown on dissidents, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign have launched the Poor Peoples' World Cup.

At the main World Cup, stewards went on strike over a pay dispute. This was met with police violence, with at least one woman hurt and two strikers arrested.

"The sale of rice on the Cuban black market has reached more than three times the price of this product in agricultural markets," according to reports, and the scarcity has led to desperation amongst the country's poor workers. Dockers have refused to allow a ship taking rice to Haiti to leave, defying the army in order to claim a victory for popular militancy.

Another blockade occurred at about the same time in San Francisco.

800 activists blocked the Oakland docks from the early hours of the morning in opposition to an Israeli ship after the attack on the Gaza flotilla. In soldarity, dock workers cited health and safety concerns and refused to cross the picket.

Speaking of pickets, Labor Notes asks the question "How Do We Win Strikes Again?" Noting that "unions avoid strikes because they fear they can’t win them," they get Peter Olney of the Longshore and Warehouse Union, who have just won a 15-week lockout, to explain how to "break this mold;"
You have to set the strike up very carefully. You can’t get suckered out in a pure economic strike. You have to find a way to be out on an unfair labor practice strike so you have more flexibility in returning to work, and returning without permanent replacements. That’s basic rule No. 1. But so many unions walk off the cliff and do what the company wants—I’ve done it myself.

A lot of it is preparation and training. There’s a lot of discussion of heroic actions around not handling struck work or blockading trucks. The tactical part of the struggle is important, but the bottom line is you have to take care of the members. When that breaks down it causes tremendous demoralization.

You must be prepared with a strike fund or food-and-money-raising operation to take care of the workers, who are immediately destitute. People drift away and pay for the strike by crossing the picket line. Feeding the members is part and parcel of winning. It’s a lost art.
As general strikes and unrest at austerit measures continues to spread, this would be a lesson worth learning for worker organisation the world over. The class war is intensifying and disputes continue to heat up.

It would be good if we could win them.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Why the mainstream "left" is increasingly irrelevant

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Rupert Read offers this gem;
If our criticisms of the LibDems result in their weakness to such an extent that the political reforms that Clegg is tasked with become hobbled or defeated, then this will be a disastrous own-goal.

For all that the coalition’s economic policies are regressive and disastrous, their promised reforms of the electoral system could yet transform the possibilities of British politics for the better.

We on the Left will be hoist on our own petard, if we undermine changes in the electoral system without which the mission of Liberal Conspiracy will remain mostly a pipedream.
There are two problems with this analysis.

One is that electoral reform is a dead-end road. Instead of hoping that a different element of the ruling class will treat working people better, we need to be arguing for mass participation in grassroots politics and direct action.

The other is the phrase "for all that the coalition’s economic policies are regressive and disastrous."

The coalition government is waging class war against the poor and the working class. We need to be orchestrating a serious fightback at ground level in defence of the people who generate society's wealth. Not excusing this on the grounds that it might give the Left's "politicians of the future" a greater chance at positions of power and privilege.

This kind of pragmatism does nothing for anybody except career politicians. It explains why the electoral left is no only increasingly irrelevant but also philosophically bankrupt.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Canada's indigenous insurgency emerges at G20 protests

Over the past three days, Canada has hosted the G8 and G20 summits. As is to be expected, the focal point of this event has been the protesters.

The mainstream media were keen to report riots, confrontations, and arrests as demonstrations "turn violent" and police cars are set ablaze. Toronto's media cooperative, meanwhile, were more concerned with the police's illegal searches, the often suprious detention of activists, and the house raids conducted without warrants.
RNC '08 reported on repressive border controls against journalists. Obstruction of the press culminated today in the assault and arrest of a Guardian journalist.

The biggest overlooked story in this, however, has been the mobilisation of Canada's indigenous peoples. Toronto Community Mobilisation dedicated Thursday's events to indigenous sovereignty, which drew attention to the government "extinguishing Aboriginal and Treaty rights," and how the Tar Sands was "a violation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and the most destructive industrial project on earth."

But most of these issues are not reported or discussed in the mainstream media, except sparingly. In particular, the potential of actions by idigenous people to effect real change lacks incisive attention.

An exception to the rule, Jon Elmer of Al Jazeera offers an in-depth analysis;
But with Canadian soldiers, snipers, commandos and police tactical units representing the sharp end of a security budget that is poised to top $1bn, the most significant threat to business as usual for the summit may turn out to be far-flung rural blockades enacted by Canada's long suffering native communities.

"It's a very dangerous situation," said Douglas Bland, a retired Canadian forces lieutenant-colonel who is now the chair of defence management studies at Queen's University.

In recent years in particular, Canada's indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country's economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada's urban landscape.

"The Canadian economy is very vulnerable," said Bland.

"More than 25 per cent of our GDP comes from exports of raw materials, but especially oil, natural gas and electricity to the United States."

"It's undefended and undefendable infrastructure, the pipelines and power lines and so on, and it runs through great spaces of open countryside and they run through aboriginal territories.

"It would take a very small number of people very little time to bring [it] down," said Bland, who is the author of a "barely fictionalised" account of native insurgency in Canada, entitled Uprising.
The G8 and G20 are now over, but the issues facing thigenous do not end with a single summit. They are ongoing.

As I have noted previously, Tar Sands is the most pressing, one of several areas worldwide where companies are "reaping huge profits by ravaging the environment, stealing and destroying the land of indigenous peoples, and even driving up the prices for the working class people who serve as essentially captive markets for their products in the west."

If the aim is to stop it, then militancy must take precendence where reformism inevitably fails. And it seems Canada's "insurgency" know this;
In 2007, the Mohawk community at Tyendinaga, 200 kilometres east of Toronto, blocked the trans-continental rail line and Canada's largest highway in protest at the government's failure to address land rights and basic issues of survival within First Nations - including safe drinking water, which the community lacked.

That episode was a hint of the leverage indigenous peoples in Canada possess, as hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo was stalled by simple barricades placed across a rural stretch of the Canadian National railway's mainline between Toronto and Montreal.

"The message resounded," said Shawn Brant, a high profile Mohawk activist involved in the 2007 blockades.

"We are not going to live in abject poverty, to have our children die, to have our women abducted, raped and murdered without any investigations. We are not going to live with the basic indignities that occur to us daily. We would bring them to an end."

In 2007, Brant characterised the blocking of the 401 highway and CN main rail line as a "good test run".

"We showed that we would meet the severity of what was happening to us with a reaction and a plan, a strategy that would be equally as severe," Brant said.
There has been talk in the Canadian military that experiences fighting the Taliban (!) would be "completely relevant to what might happen here," suggestion that militancy would be met with violent suppression.

Brant doesn't seem concerned at this. He insists that "we've created a unity that they don't have the military or policing capabilities to confront."

Nonetheless, they are comrades in struggle and deserve support and solidarity. As the spectacle of the G8 and G20 disappears, we mustn't let the struggle of Canada's indigenous fade into obscurity.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The One Law For All campaign blotted out by the propaganda model

Last Saturday, several hundred people marched on Downing Street as part of the "One Law For All" campaign, "to demand universal rights and secularism."

Members of Islamist sect al-Muhajiroun appeared as part of a counter demonstration, and there were also several people from the EDL hanging around. Yet I missed this. Despite the event being related to a media hot-button issue, and featuring an appearence from known media hate figures, it wasn't covered by the mainstream media.

The reason why soon became clear.

In the words of One Law for All Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie;
The fight against Sharia law is a fight against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies.

With a few members of the far Right English Defence League also there to showcase their bigotry, it became abundantly clear to everyone why our Campaign is fast becoming the banner carrier for universal rights, equality, and one secular law for all in this country and beyond.
In other words, the campaign is not born out of jingoism, reaction, or "patriotism," as the EDL is. There wasn't a national flag in sight, the issue being entirely religious.

That is why this event got little to no coverage. The media sells copy by building up a black-and-white version of this issue, all stereotypes and no substance. A protest by those who are neither with the bearded, freedom-hating extremists nor the flag-waving, quasi-racist nationalists simply doesn't fit the script.

But then, it's not meant to. In contrast to the EDL's crusader image and desire to "represent our culturally rich, “patriotic” and nation-loving populace," One Law For All ask only that "in a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law."

The EDL want to "highlight the danger of appeasing those who wish us harm, those who happily take from our welfare system, yet hate our country, our people and way of life." Removing the right-wing vitriol, One Law For All assert more calmly that "rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs."

There are problems with the One Law For All campaign, of course.

As an anarchist, I would wish that it were not so intently focused on action by the Government and changes to the law. It should recognise that appeals to authority and legislation don't resolve the underlying issues. I would also welcome a class perspective on religious law and authoritarianism.

However, the campaign addresses the core issues well. It articulates perfectly that the issue at hand is liberty, equality, and human rights. It is about "defending the rights of everyone irrespective of religion, race, nationality." Not patriotism and waving the flag.

This is a point worth remembering as the mainstream media ignores such campaigns and instead draws the battle lines between "extremists" and "patriots."

Friday, 25 June 2010

The case for banning mosquitoes, and how demonising children is part of the class war

Today, the Council of Europe is debating Mosquitoes. That is, the electronic devices which emit painful, high pitched sounds audible only to children and young adults. With any luck, the things will finally be recognised as a violation of human rights and banned.

According to the Guardian, "25% of local councils use or have used the £500 machines." But "their use is not formally regulated and in most cases no warning or information is given about their installation."

The machines are part of a culture that has developed that automatically assumes children - particularly teenagers - to be a threat or a pest. It fits in well with "only two children at a time" signs in shops, and the emergence of the term "hoodie" in outraged, Daily Mail parlance, determining criminality by what clothes you wear.

There are, undoubtedly, teenagers who are a menace. Drinking on street corners, snarling at passers by, commiting acts of random vandalism or hooliganism. But this is no justification to write-off an entire generation, fear their clothing, and wage sonic warfare against them.

If you want to address the problem of teenagers joining criminal gangs, or so-called "feral youth," that's fine. But, like everything, it is best done using reason over hysteria.

"Broken Britain" is a product of class and capitalism, not of sex, divorce, violent video games, or any of the other moralistic bullshit the conservative right tries to boil it down to.

Kids are having sex because that's what they've always done. Couples are splitting up because they're no longer in love, because the relationship is abusive, or because it simply doesn't work anymore. In more privileged families and areas, this doesn't have as much of an effect.

It is on the sink estates and in the areas of grinding poverty where everything from low household income to lacking infrastructure and a failing local economy take their toll.

Of course, there are a great many people who rise to the challenge stoically, and manage to survive and care for their families without turning to crime. But not everyone is equipped to deal with deprivation and desperation. But for the economic model we live under, we shouldn't have to be.

Philip Johnston argued, in the Telegraph two years ago, that "increasing prosperity has brought rising crime across the board." In evidence, he cites the fact that "In the 1930s, in the depth of the worst depression of the century, crime was low." But he proves my point when he admits that "this was because everyone was in the same boat; there was an equality of misery."

Who do you steal from when everyone is lacking? But, when we have "greater disparities of wealth," crime rises.

Johnston tried to write this off by adding "a marked decline in the likelihood of imprisonment for a crime since the 1950s; and changing moral standards" to the list of causes, but this is a red herring.

The fact is that "jail is now so commonplace that 7% of all children during their school years will experience their dad’s imprisonment." And the United States shoots down the apparent correlation by having both the highest per capita prison population in the free world and one of the highest per capita crime rates in the world.

This is not to mention the Victorian era. The state was tough on crime, the police force was in its brutal prime, morality was at standards that make today's conservatives look like bed-wetting liberals. And unbridled capitalism created such an enormous disparity between poverty and wealth that crime - not least juvenile crime and street-gangs - was rife.

None of this can be resolved by causing auditory pain for everyone under 25. One could even go so far as to say that such devices are meant to attack the symptoms and ignore the underlying problems.

As Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty puts it;
What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children? Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids.

The Mosquito has no place in a country that values its children and seeks to instill them with dignity and respect.
Demonising and attacking children in this way is just another facet of the class war. I sincerely hope that the Mosquito is banned, so that those waging it have one less weapon to attack us with.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Addressing the problem of the English Defence League

This should have been resolved by now. The debate continues about how to address the problem of the English Defence League (EDL). The only problem is that both sides of the debate are wrong.

In yesteray's Independent, Rob Williams said that "as reprehensible as the ideas the EDL/WDL are, they are not a serious threat to the social cohesion of the UK." As such, "the argument could be made that letting the police treat the WDL protests as a public order issue, whilst the rest of us to stay out of it is the best approach."

This is a common argument from liberal statists and centrists. For them, "this isn’t the 1930s, and this isn’t the rise of Nazism or Fascism." Groups such as the EDL can be safely ignored on the grounds that, like a two-year old, they thrive on the attention.

To a degree, this is true. The EDL, as the BNP, gain support by presenting themselves as the voice of opposition to the establishment. They want to build up a black and white image in peoples' heads that it's the ruling class, the anti-fascists, and any other bogeyman of their choosing, against them. Press coverage helps them build that picture, ignoring the more complex reality in order to build up the idea of everyone versus fascism in some kind of a cataclysmic showdown.

But this is a question not of attention but of propaganda. All the attention levelled at fascists may help their cause, but it also helps the establishment - as I argued with Nick Griffin's appearence on Question Time.

The answer is not to ignore them, quite simply because those the EDL appeal to are the ignored and marginalised of society. Some may side with this rag-tag organisation because they're racists looking for a barney, but most harbour quite genuine grievances and - in the absence of anything else - turn to the EDL because they're saying the right things.

This is why Unite Against Fascism's (UAF) approach is also ineffective and even counter-productive.

All of these issues are lost in cries of "Nazi scum off our streets" by a group which is happy to align itself with anybody from the leader of the government which is currently attacking the working class to openly bigotted Muslim "leader" Iqbal Sacranie. They really do want an alliance of everyone against the fascists, no matter how unsavoury some elements of that "everyone" may be.

A prime example is the recent protest in Tower Hamlets. The EDL were due to protest an event held by Islamists called "The Book That Shook The World." Local groups issued a statement "against fascism in all its colours," which denounced the EDL and the Islamic Forum of Europe with "their very reactionary version of political Islam." By contrast, UAF called the event "a peace conference, organised by a Muslim charitable foundation and aimed at building understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims" and those who thought differently (such as the Whitechapel Anarchist group) were soon accused of racism.

This is why the EDL hold credibility when they claim that UAF "support Muslim extremists." The group, essentially just a recruiting front for the Socialist Workers' Party, is so desperate for its "broad and common front" against fascism to work that it won't criticise anybody but the EDL and BNP.

The English Defence League is a reactionary organisation which serves to divide the working class against itself. But so, too, are the groups on the Islamic far-right. The only sensible response, as the locals did in Tower Hamlets, is to unite the working class to "be on guard against Fascism in whatever form it occurs."

In the words of the WAG;
The wellspring of unity lies in the common ground that we share and the action we are prepared to take in the fight for a better future for all; regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religion. Solidarity is our weapon and our message is clear: CLASS WAR NOT RACE WAR!
I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The need for anarcho-syndicalism, or why class war cannot be fought with reformism or gesture politics

The Spanish are set for a general strike on September 29th. This will be the fifth general strike against the Socialist government and planned austerity measures. The fact that the four before have had little impact has led the CNT to call for a shift from mainstream trade unionist tactics.

The anarcho-syndicalist union, best known from the revolution and civil war of the 1930s, has released the following statement;
The government’s plans to stabilise the economy through reducing the public deficit by 11% have placed the cost of the economic crisis on the shoulders of the disadvantaged.

It is evident that the proposals are designed to satisfy banks and employers by compromising with the neoliberal designs that prevail in the EU.

If there had been earlier mobilisations the government would not have dared to present the measures announced and would have had to cut elsewhere. It would have had to seek income where the money really is – on the bench, through corporate taxes, inheritance, hedge funds etc.

We believe it is a mistake to continue ‘negotiating’ labour reform, which is simply a concession to employers. The only possiblility for correcting this situation is to fight this economic aggression through social confrontation, to continue and expand protests to all sectors.

These great evils can only be treated with great remedies, and such remedies do not include, of course, a 24-hour general strike which, assuming that UGT and CCOO (the two major reformist unions in Spain) dared to actually convene one, would act only as a giant safety valve for employee discontent.

An indefinite general strike paralysing the country until the government withdraws anti-worker and anti-social actions would by contrast act as a binder for workers to recover their class consciousness and act together, with an eye to the destruction of the capitalist system through social revolution which is the only truly effective medicine against congenital diseases of the system. 
This is a point that workers would do well to heed, beyond the borders of Spain.

Even in Greece, where action has become riotous, it has not come close to being revolutionary. In other countries, where the radical tradition is presently much weaker, the one-day strike will undoubtedly remain the tactic of choice.

Union leaders can turn action on and off like a tap, continuing to appear up for a fight whilst readying for backroom concessions to the bosses.

As an example, take PCS's response to the budget. Rightly, they criticise measures that "will punish the poorest in society for an economic crisis caused by financial speculators." But, in their stead, they suggest "closing the tax gap." The reformist stance doesn't question the framework of capitalism but only hopes to make it "fairer."

But, as the CNT note in an editorial for their periodical, capitalism is inherently unfair;
At the end of the day, the problem lies in the balance of power between two social classes with conflicting interests - the bourgeois class, which holds exclusive ownership of the means of production and distribution, and the proletarian class, which has no more than their manual and intellectual labour to sell as dearly as possible. The salary of the employee, and therefore the worker himself, is just another cost of production like machinery, electrical power or fuel.

And when the worker is considered this way, not as a human being but as a cost to be cut without a second thought, you can do with them what you will, without remorse. That is neither more nor less than what capitalists do with us now. 
A great majority of workers and trade unionists realise these facts, but are hampered by leadership.

Creating leaders creates positions of privilege and power. Those who occupy them find themselves, by default, with interests antagonistic to the rest of the working class. It is these interests which inspire compromise and sell-outs.

Thus, whether they are openly so like the mainstream trade unions or the would-be "revolutionary leadership" of the hard left, all leaders and hierarchical power structures are inherently reformist.

If we want a hope in hell of forcing any kind of real and lasting change, we need revolution - not reform. And if we're going to see that, then the working class must be self-organised through mass participation.

As the CNT know, through experience, this really is "the only truly effective medicine against congenital diseases of the system."

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

No surprises as "tough but fair" budget hammers the poor

Today, Chancellor George Osborne unveilled the "emergency budget" (PDF) that we've all been anticipating for some time. Touted as "tough but fair," most people knew it would be anything but, and we were little surprised.

Before we go on, it should be pointed out that there are positives. Council tax will be frozen for the next two years. The tax free personal allowance has risen by £1,000 to £7,475, saving everyone £200 a year in income tax. The amount of child benefit for low income families will rise by £150, per child, above the rate of inflation next year. That, however, is about the sum of it.

On the negative side, the thing that will get most attention is the rise in VAT from 17.5% to 20%. This may, on its own, be enough to cancel out the benefit of the personal allowance increase.

But, of course, it isn't on its own.

For public sector workers, earning less than £21,000 a year grants you a flat £250 pay rise for the next two years. Hardly enough to balance increases in VAT and (inevitably) rising prices and inflation. For those earning over £21,000 it is an out-and-out pay freeze.

The budget offers £1.8bn of cuts in housing benefit, including a 10% cut for those unfortunate enough to be out of work for over a year. After all, the payments are currently "excessively generous," since ideology dictates that anything less than the threat of starvation is an "incentive" to doss about and cost the rich money.

Child benefit is to be frozen for the next three years. The Sure Start maternity grant will be restricted to the first child.

Lone parents will be forced to seek work the second their child enters the school system. Somehow, this will "help reduce child poverty." This non sequitur leap is, of course, asserted a priori, the need for evidence being an unhelpful barrier to free market dogmatism.

To top it all, increases in benefits will be based upon the Consumer Price Index rather than the Retail Price Index. Apparently the fact that the former is lower makes it "more appropriate." Though how "exclud[ing] the majority of housing costs faced by homeowners" will do anything other than leave people with less money to live on isn't explained.

But "this is a progressive Budget," and "the people at the bottom of the income scale will pay proportionately less than those at the top." So, surely the rich will face something similar?

Well, no.
The "entrepreneurs relief" rate of 10% on the first £2m of capital gains will be extended to the first £5m. The threshold at which employers start paying National Insurance will rise by the rate of inflation plus £21 per week. Corporation Tax will be cut next year to 27%, and by 1% annually for the next three years, until it reaches 24%. The small companies' tax rate will be cut to 20%.

There is a "bank levy," to tackle "unacceptable bonuses," but that's about it. And smaller banks will be exempt.

There is probably more that can be said, but much of it would be retreading familiar territory.

I have dissected the government's policies more fully when discussing the Queen's speech and the coalition agreement. I have explained why the need for "painful cuts" is an entirely ideological one. And I recently made the point that it is those at the top, not the bottom, of our society who are parasites.

What remains is to build upon these arguments and form a credible resistance to the ruling class and their war upon the rest of us.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Honest reflections on an illegal war

A hospitalised Royal Marine has become the 300th British soldier to die in Afghanistan. Thus, according to David Cameron, "it's a moment for the whole country to reflect on the incredible service and sacrifice and dedication that the armed forces give on our behalf."

Taking his advice, however, I don't think my reflections will be quite what he had in mind.

He rightly points out that "the 300th death is no more or less tragic than the 299 that came before." But it does show that, although pushed out of the headlines and public consciousness by  (amongst other things) the spectacle of the World Cup, nothing much has changed.

The war is still an illegal act of aggression, in violation of the Nuremburg Principles (Principle VI), the UN Charter (Article 2, Paragraph 4) and General Assembly Resolution 3314. The soldiers fighting it are still inadequately equipped for their own safety. The regime we're propping up is still as corrupt and repressive than the one before it. And the goal of the endeavor is still control over strategic markets and resources, not democracy.

Not to mention the Afghans. As Channel 4's Alex Thompson points out, they "are getting wiped out and injured far, far more than any foreign soldier or insurgent mujahedeen." But they also "remain resolutely ignored in what is being forced upon them and their land from the foreign occupation."

To mention this, though, is to show disrespect to "our" troops as they apparently fight in "our name" or for "our freedom."

Leaving a side the point that the only effect of the war on terror upon our freedoms has been to diminish them (or that freedoms are won by civilians fighting against the state, not soldiers fighting for it), this is quite clearly an ideological and political position. Anybody who claims otherwise is either ignorant of this or complicit in it.

Dead soldiers are being used as totems to detract from criticisms of the war. Like dead children, they are easy to exploit for the cause of subduing reason.

But, if we are to be honest when we "reflect," we must be highly critical of the military and of this illegal war. And if we genuinely want to honour the soldiers, then we need to agitate for them to be pulled out of that same reprehensible endeavour and brought home.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

How the Yicheng "control group" defied the one-child policy

From Al Jazeera, it emerges that when China instituted its one-child policy, it also set up a control group. In the city of Yicheng, parents could have as many children as they want.

The results were very interesting;

Without the draconian legislation affecting the rest of China, the population growth rate is actually less. Most importantly, there is also no aversion to having girls, whilst the rest of the country is experiencing an overwhelming gender imbalance.

One can only wonder how much more dramatic the results would be if there was any kind of sex education worthy of the name in China. Or if the quality of life improved for the working class and peasantry of the country from the presently horrendous labour conditions. Indeed, without the education and quality of life proven to reduce birth rates, freedom alone has done a bang-up job.

The sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can put an end to practices like this;

Saturday, 19 June 2010

If you want to see scroungers look up, not down

David Cameron has, in an interview with the Times, revealed exactly what a compassionate conservatism that doesn't simply attack the poor to hold up the profits of the rich looks like;
There is no way of dealing with an 11 per cent budget deficit just by hitting either the rich of the welfare scrounger … there are three large items of spending that you can't ignore and those are public sector pay, public sector pensions and benefits.
Yes, that's right. Mention the rich once and hope people are stupid enough to think that means they'll have to pay too. But it's the public sector, working people, and the poor who really deserve to suffer - the fucking scrounging mud-bloods.

If the bitter, sweary sarcasm didn't give it away, this is something that is really beginning to piss me off.

I have already previously explained why the supposed "need" for "painful cuts" is nothing more than a thin justification for class war to preserve profit and privilege. Putting the welfare of ordinary people before the vast sums of (in-reality non-existent) money is not "unsustainable." But still, dogma must prevail, and those at the top must continue to get richer at everyone else's expense.

Behind all the sums, economic dogmatism, and waffle about markets, what it boils down to is this angry rant by "libertarian" blogger Devil's Kitchen;
Listen up, parents: I already subsidise you and your ghastly offspring through Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Child Trust Funds; I pay for their bloody education and I subsidise their playgrounds; I pay because you seem to think that having a child gives you special rights to waltz out of work or take extra holiday too.

So, here's a message for you: it's got to stop. Can't afford a child on your own, without raping the wallets of those who have none? Well, don't have any damn children: I am sick and tired of being rinsed to pay for your lifestyle choices.

And if you seriously cannot even afford to feed the little bastards, then I suggest that you be forced to give them up for adoption, so that parents who want children and who have the required cash to fulfill this most basic of needs can get on with doing so.

I just don't see why the hell I should be forced to pay for any of it.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, "a couple with two children need to earn £27,600" so that they can "afford a basic but acceptable standard of living." Between us, my fiancé and I earn that amount now, but only because we both work full time in fairly decent jobs. And even now, without children, neither of us could afford to go part-time.

Since the median household income in Britain is £24,700, DK's ideology prices over half of the population out of reproducing. Probably more if we didn't have a minimum wage.

If you can't see how callously stupid this idea is because you're a right-libertarian and lack basic human empathy and compassion, consider the economics. This would see a vast majority of the working class stop reproducing - you're advocating that the people who do the menial and low-paid jobs effectively cease to exist. Unless, of course, you want to return to that much cheaper form of state welfare known as the poorhouse.

Is there a better solution to this than state welfare? Almost certainly, and I'd say it was the kind of social organisation that we would see within anarchist communism. Whatever the case, though, it won't be the market.

In theory, delightful thing that is, it should be. As Adam Smith noted, "in order to bring up a family, the labour of the husband and wife together must, even in the lowest species of common labour, be able to earn something more than what is precisely necessary for their own maintenance." If it wasn't, then "it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation."

But, of course, one of the demands of obscene profit is extreme short-termism. In the kind of "free" market the right advocate - i.e. freedom for capital, not for people - this simply would not happen. Hence why it has never existed.

Balanced against the ideological desire to not have to maintain the poor, is the practical need to do so just enough that their labour can be siphoned off into profit by the parasites of the ruling class.

So, when the austerity budget is announced on Tuesday 22nd June, George Osborne will not be scrapping the welfare system. He will, however, be reducing it as much as he possibly can. If they could, they would no doubt see us back in the workhouse, or under the absolutist rule of the bosses that existed before workers organised and fought back.

Public services and welfare are not the key to society's ills, but they are concessions won from a corporatist system growing fat off our labour. And, until we can dismantle that system, they are necessary.

Something to bear in mind when you're asked to believe that "public sector pay, public sector pensions and benefits" are the problem.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Peter Tierney guilty of assault as Liverpool BNP implodes

Firstly, the good news from Liverpool Antifascists;
High-profile BNP member Peter Tierney has been found guilty of assault and causing actual bodily harm to an anti-fascist protester on St George’s Day last year.

During the incident, which was captured on CCTV, Tierney swung a camera tripod at the back of the activist’s head. The victim subsequently needed his head wound gluing up at hospital.

The jury took just an hour to find Tierney guilty, rejecting the notion that he acted in self-defence and was “in danger for my life.”

A spokesperson for Liverpool Antifascists said: “This is absolutely a positive result.

“Tierney’s guilt was clear-cut, as we have seen from the CCTV footage, and it is absurd that he has been able to drag this out for so long – at unnecessary expense to the taxpayer and stress to the victim.

“Liverpool Antifascists have protested at every single one of Tierney’s court appearances.

“Despite the wish of the BNP that this incident be forgotten, we have refused to turn a blind eye to the violent criminality of so prominent a member in Liverpool BNP. This result vindicates our stance.”

The sentence will be announced on July 12th. Judge John Roberts, adjourning, said: “I have not made a final decision on sentencing. That would be wrong at this stage, but provisionally I am thinking of some kind of community service.

“To decide how I should sentence you I will need a report from probation services.”

Peter Tierney has engaged in aggression and violence during BNP activism, and in full view of his fellow members. Liverpool BNP’s support of him, and of this violent criminality, has been unwavering throughout the trial.

Political violence is a characteristic of fascism, and Liverpool Antifascists are glad that the truth has come out.
The verdict should be no surprise to those who have been following the case for a long time.

The antifascist counter-accused by Tierney ended up with just a fine for breaching section 5 of the Public Order Act - essentially, swearing in public. Charges of assault and criminal damage were thrown out as untenable long before the trial.

Liverpool BNP subsequently delivered leaflets claiming that the antifascist in question was a "LABOUR PARTY SPONSORED thug who PLEADED GUILTY to an attack on the BNP." Which was funny, since he pleaded guilty to no such thing. Surely, if they had evidence for this, the magistrates' court would have been given something more incriminating than a short video of him saying "turn the fucking camera off"?

They tried to learn their lesson after this verdict. The main BNP website has posted up a story claiming that the court ignored "clear CCTV footage showing the leftist thug starting the physical confrontation."

The accompanying video, however, shows no such thing. In fact, in the time lapse you can see precisely what the victim of the attack described in his testimony;
As they [the BNP] went to move off a couple of us decided to go round the front of the Hall to where they were going to leaflet people at the front, so we could get our message to them before the BNP could get their message to them.

As we ran past them I felt a massive blow to the back of my head. I didn’t realise what it was at the time, I then turned around and saw I had been whacked. I say the guy standing there with a camera tripod in his hand and I put my hand to the back of my head. I realised that whatever I had been hit with had caused my head to bleed.
The jury clearly thought the same, taking just an hour to reach a guilty verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses and watching the same footage.

The BNP website claims the footage shows "that the protagonist ... was the one to first start the physical attack" and that he "stormed the group" of BNP activists. But even Peter Tierney, though adamant of his innocence, admits this isn't so [emphasis mine];
This Video is a time lapse, a format of photographic images pieced together in sequence, to try and build up a true picture of the Attack. But ! As you can see by this carefully animated sample that was given to our solicitor from the CROWN PROSECUTION months later, it does not show the attackers kicking and punching me or one of the other BNP members..... Just like the famous advert you've been Tangoed . 
So, no "travesty of justice," then. Unless you're of the opinion that whacking somebody across the back of the head with a camera tripod as they run past you is a human right.

Tierney's brother Andrew, the goon most enamoured by the act of shoving a camera in the faces of antifascists, has "asked for supporters to be at the court in a show of support." No doubt Liverpool Antifascists will be there on the day as well to counter this fascist presence.

That is, if there is any credible presence. On the first day of the trial, the BNP contingent outside the court was propped up by activists parachuted-in from the North East, who were over half the number at their picket. In part, this was due to the fact that Tierney was accompanied inside the court by the majority of the local party's suited thugs. But it certainly can't help that Liverpool BNP is very publicly imploding.

This cannot be blamed on the Tierney case as much as it can on the factionalism and in-fighting affecting the broader party.

In Liverpool, the divisions between reformists and hardliners is particularly acute. The Merseyside BNP blog has come out in support of BNP dissident Eddy Butler and declared that "now is the right time for a change of BNP leader." At the same time, the newly-created Liverpool BNP blog has accused Butler of being in the pay of Searchlight.

On white nationalist forum VNN, the in-fighting is more vicious.

Already, we have seen Joe Owens accuse practically everyone he knows the name of in Liverpool BNP (along with several others nationally) of being a Searchlight Spy. The thread has at the time of writing run on for eight months and 217 pages, and the latest revelation - from a poster calling himself "heretic" - is that Liverpool organiser Peter Squire and former candidate Tony Ward have been sacked.

The post also included a YouTube video attacking BNP candidate Peter Stafford Jnr. for being gay. Following on from the attacks on Gary Aronsson for being Jewish, this shows the true colours of many BNP supporters.

It has also inspired another thread, titled "Liverpool BNP's Resident Homosexual," in which the hostility between the two Liverpool BNP factions - voiced by "Heretic" and "Mersey" - becomes plain for all to see. Each side, equally childish and idiotic, thinks of the other as "traitors" and "spies," and if nothing else it is entertaining to watch them throw jibes like the two dumbest kids on the schoolyard. Certainly, it fits with the behaviour they displayed at Tierney's trial.

I feel sorry for Peter Stafford. God only knows how difficult it must have been to discover that you are gay in a fascist household, and to reconcile that with the politics you feel you have no choice but to support.

For Peter Tierney and the Liverpool branch of the BNP, however, I have only schadenfreude. It will be a pleasure to watch them fade into obscurity and to see the streets of this city fascist free once again.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The militant antifascist tradition tells us how to deal with Islamic wingnuts

On Tuesday, a march by the Royal Anglian Regiment was disrupted by Islamist protesters. A previously unheard of group called "Muslims Against Crusades" echoed the actions of the now-defunct Islam4UK, chanting "murderers, murderers," and "British troops go to hell."

This repeat performance was met with more resistance than last time. As the Evening Standard reports "about 100 men — wearing English Defence League T-shirts and shouting “scum”, “Muslim bombers off our streets” and “Allah, Allah, who the f***k is Allah” — surged out of the nearby Barking Dog pub and surrounded the Muslims." The clash ended when the Islamists were driven behind a steel barricade and eventually led away to the train station.
Just as happened in Luton, there has been a massive media outcry.

The Daily Mail led with "into the jaws of hate," describing the Islamists as "screaming hate and brandishing vile placards." The Daily Star insists that, despite no corroboration in other press reports, the group "spat at" the soldiers. The Sun called the protest "sick." Nile Gardiner, writing for the Telegraph, demands that "it’s about time that Muslim leaders in the U.K. actually took a stand and denounced en masse extremists like this, as well as pay tribute to the sacrifice of British forces fighting for the cause of liberty and freedom in places like Iraq and Afghanistan."

Before anything else, I must repeat the point I made after the Luton protests;
If this is a democracy, then the absolute right to protest anything and to say anything - even if it is offensive, ignorant, or wrong - should be a basic, universal benchmark. If it is not, then we cannot claim to be living in a democracy or to have freedom of speech.
This is not just a point of principle, but of practicality. Islamism doesn't exist because Muslims haven't been told sternly enough they're not allowed to be extremists.

It exists, like nationalism and fascism, because people lack an outlet for very real grievances or concerns. It is a reactionary movement which preys upon those concerns and twists them to suit a divisive and authoritarian agenda.

As with far-right groups like the BNP, censorship only gives them credibility. By playing the card as martyrs to free speech, suppressed by the current system, they are able to appeal to those disenfranchised by that same system. The more we try to deny their opinions a public airing or even ban them from existence, the more their message resonates with those who (for very different reasons) are fed up with the authorities doing the banning.
But if this conservative approach is doomed to failure, so too is the more liberal approach. Trying to reason with so-called "extremists" from the point of view of the dominant power structure is an exercise in futility.

Yet again, we have parallels with antifascism. People aren't drawn to the BNP because the conservative mainstream isn't offering a "moderate" form of fascist policies nor because middle-class liberals haven't shouted at them and called them "nasty" and "racist" loud enough. They are drawn to it because it offers an answer to the problems caused by the dominant political class. That this answer is fascist and built upon racist scapegoating is entirely irrelevant when there is nothing else to replace it with.

Likewise, Muslims don't turn to Islamism because they lack "moderate" forms of the bigotry and cultural imperialism that ideology offers. Nor do they do so because they haven't been told by flag-waving non-Muslims how "evil" it is and that they should "pay tribute to the sacrifice of British forces fighting for the cause of liberty and freedom in places like Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Sun quotes Muslims Against Crusdaes leader Abu Assadullah thus;
We are quite disgusted by the fact these murderers that raped our people are coming back and they are being honoured for doing something wrong. These people have been killing and raping and pillaging in Islamic countries and they should not be welcomed home. As Muslims, we wanted to make a stand.

The families of the soldiers are not the only ones with feelings. We also have feelings, our fellow Muslims are being butchered. Islam is not a violent religion but we will use violence if necessary to defend ourselves. Democracy is failing, that was clear as this year we had a hung parliament. Islam is the alternative.

People in this country are very patriotic. They support Britain even if the country has done something wrong. We want to show that there is an alternative. Sharia law would provide an alternative, it would provide balance in the UK.

People say ‘don’t take it out on the soldiers, they are just doing their jobs’. But how it when Osama Bin Laden blows up a plane or a building he is a terrorist. It is not that he is just doing his job – this is a double standard. They are both killing.
A large part of this argument is dominated by the rhetoric of the batshit crazy.

There is no serious argument for the idea that Osama bin Laden is "just doing his job." He is, after all, an ideological leader of the al-Qaeda network. This was almost certainly not a position offered in the jobs section of the Helmland Echo, and as heir to a vast oil fortune he could more than afford to not be involved in terrorism.

Soldiers, on the other hand, are working class. They have to sell their labour in order to feed and clothe themselves and their families, and it just so happens that their labour has been bought by the armed wing of the state. Are they culpable if, as individuals, they commit attrocities? Absolutely. And, as with the Bloody Sunday inquiry, they should be held accountable. But to say that they are responsible for the war itself, illegal though it may be, is utterly absurd.

But within this rhetoric are more reasonable points which deserve to be addressed. The idea that the military "are being honoured for doing something wrong" will resonate with everyone who has objections to the war.

Organisers and supporters claim that parades and events which honour "our" troops are non-political and separate from the question of whether we should have gone to war. But the idea that soldiers are "fighting for freedom" or are - by virtue of their very uniform - "heroes" is a political statement. Can one fight for freedom in an illegal war of aggression?

That stating the above will be met with instant fury by many "patriots" only emphasises Assadullah's statement that people "support Britain even if the country has done something wrong." This, too, is an area of concern for those alienated from the system or ostracised for being critical of the actions of the state. Organisations like Muslims Against Crusades appear because the only people articulating these concerns add that "Sharia law would provide an alternative, it would provide balance in the UK."

And, of course, this suits the ruling class fine. If those who do dissent are most often pulled into reactionary movements, this means that genuinely radical organisations cannot emerge to challenge the status quo. Moreover, the hatred and fear that such extremists (understandably) evoke fuels the aggressive patriotism that cements the position of those in power.

This is why opposition to Islamism should not come from the state or from "patriots." It should come from ordinary Muslims, not out of a demand for patriotic loyalty but with the support and solidarity of antifascists. Moreover, it has to be couched in the tradition of militant, working class self-defence.

If we are made to choose between the "patriotism" and "extremism," we should strongly reject both.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Peter Tierney trial reconvenes, and puts the threat of the BNP into perspective

Since the original incident last April, the Peter Tierney saga has dragged on for far too long. Antifascists (and, no doubt, fascists) in Liverpool will be very glad when it is over.

Nonetheless, whilst it continues, we cannot simply stand aside and ignore the fact that a high-profile member of the BNP is on trial for violent assault against anti-fascists and trade unionists.

Inside the Crown Court, justice may or may not be done. On the streets, the BNP have been holding protests in support of Tierney and his actions, handing out leaflets promoting their fascist politics, and trying to intimidate anti-fascists who stand up to them by sticking cameras in their faces and throwing jeers and insults. It was always neccessary to respond to this, and that is what Liverpool Antifascists have done and will continue to do.

Last time the BNP held a protest at the Crown Court, we turned our backs on them and blocked them from view with our banner. We have done exactly the same thing this time.

The BNP protest was even more farcical than last time. Not least because of the ten people present five weren't even from Liverpool, hailing instead from the North East.

As then, they held their banners up with props rather than people. But this time, they couldn't even be arsed to stand behind them, electing to sit or mill about aimlessly until they had to pose for a group picture.

Andrew Tierney of course had his trusty camera with him, but this time the role of idiot-provocateur was taken up by Gary Lucas, whose best jibe of the day was "you look like a girl from behind" to a comrade with long hair. I'm going to presume he's never said this to Peter Tierney, whose hair is often pulled back into a long ponytail.

Matching wits with him were the BNP's troupe of old battleaxe women, led by Hazel Hesketh. We simply couldn't contain our laughter when, passing us, they held their noses and said "pee-eww!" Or when Peter Tierney offered his hand to an antifascist, only to retract it and make a "nur-nurny-nur-nur" gesture. If he'd blown raspberries as well, it would have been a perfect routine. We didn't realise that the BNP barred membership to anyone with a mental age above six.

Once again, we turned our backs on the BNP and completely blocked their shambolic "picket" from view with our banner.

Whilst the simpletons skulked around, taking pictures and hiding hand gestures from the police, we talked to people and engaged with them. Not only were we able to drum up a lot of generalised goodwill and support, some of those we talked to went over to challenge the BNP. It's a positive sign, especially at a trial for violent assault, to find the public unafraid of the fascists and of openly disagreeing with them.

I sincerely hope that this will be the end of the Tierney debacle. It has dragged on for far too long, especially for the plaintiff. But, while it has gone on, it has shown the BNP for what they are - violent morons. As long as their politics is challenged, they are no electoral threat, and people like Peter Tierney and Gary Lucas couldn't make a coherent argument if they tried. But they are a physical threat, and even as the party drifts into irrelevance we need to be aware that the goons will continue to hang around like a bad smell. Indeed, if the party and its pretence of legitimacy disintegrates they may even become more dangerous.

Either way, the Tierney trial may well be their last hurrah as the English Defence League take over as the fascist organisation of the moment. What happens next will be very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign launches the Poor People's World Cup

Prior to the start of the World Cup, the South African government evicted the urban poor and rounded up the homeless. This, in the context of growing police violence against homeless and shack dwellers' movements.

Commenting on this, I expressed concern that we could see a crackdown on dissidents similar to the one launched by China before the Olympic Games.

The Landless Peoples' Movement (LPM) shared a similar worry;
We are very worried about the World Cup. Billions are wasted on the World Cup, billions that should have gone to meet the most urgent need of the poor. The government tells us that we must ‘feel it’ but in Protea South we don’t even have electricity. Some of us are in hiding from the police. People have been shot and two people have died in recent days.
However, those affected by the crackdowns and evictions are fighting back. Moreover, they are doing so in an extremely positive way. Right-wing fears of racist violence against white tourists are unjustified, and it is only the idea of the World Cup as a corporate money spinner which is under attack.

This is why the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, one of the oldest post-apartheid social movements, have launched the Poor Peoples' World Cup;
At the shadow side of the mountain, 36 teams from 40 different communities came together yesterday to play the one thing they like the most: SOCCER!

On the 13th of June 2010, the Poor People’s World Cup successfully kicked-off their first day of matches at the Avendale soccer fields, next to Athlone stadium in Cape Town. Early in the morning, the first minibuses with soccer teams arrived from all over Cape Town to play their first games in this Poor People’s tournament. Everybody was excited and the atmosphere was amazing, considering the bad weather forecasts.

At the meeting where the programme of the day was discussed, the coordinators explained that this tournament is not only for the soccer teams, but also for the whole community and for the people who struggle everyday against water and electricity cut-offs and against evictions from their homes and working places. The message during the meeting was clear: while the poor people in Cape Town and in South Africa as a whole are suffering, the rich are enjoying themselves in the expensive stadiums at the expenses of the poor.

 After we stood still at these facts, we moved on with inspiring speeches from Martin Legassick (housing activist/ UWC Emeritus Professor), Michael Premo (Housing is a Human Right) and Ashraf Cassiem (Chairperson/coordinator of the Anti-Eviction Campaign). Besides all the 36 teams and their supporters from their communities, this event also attracted local and international journalists, researchers and international radio and television broadcasters.

All the traders and communities – that were negatively affected by FIFA related urban renewal projects and by the implemented by-laws – were invited to this tournament: a tournament that is FREE and open to everybody. Because this tournament is by and for the local communities, international branches are the only ones that are excluded from these areas as they robbed our informal traders from their livelihoods! All the money that tourist spend there, won’t benefit the local economy but will flow back overseas.

Therefore, in contrast to the FIFA World Cup, we have created our own contra-World Cup for the poor communities by the poor communities that is not exploiting people or marginalizing people, but involving people and creating new spaces of exposure and participation.

For the second day of the Poor People’s World Cup, we invite all the local and international media to our tournament, to provide our soccer teams and our (evicted) communities and traders a platform were they can give voice to their stories, their struggles and what brought them together to join the PPWC and the march (23 June). We further invite international football teams and scouts to come to our games, to talk and to play football with our local teams and to fulfil the dreams of many soccer players; as this will create a once in a life time opportunity for them to meet their favourite soccer teams.

To all the tourists: don’t  stay only in the controlled spaces bounded by FIFA rules and regulations, but move beyond these areas to experience the true spirit of what the game of soccer is all about!! Come to our Poor People’s World Cup next Sunday in Delft and support your favourite team/country!!! Through this support you can let these communities feel and know that people care about them and that they are not forgotten.
We hope to welcome you all (again) next Sunday at 10 AM at the Delft Central Sports Field (main road in Delft)!
Football fans who are in South Africa and wish to support the Poor Peoples' World Cup should contact one of the AEC coordinators. Pamela Beukes: 078 5563003, Jane Roberts, coordinator for the Delft area: 074 2384236, Mncedisi Twalo: 078 5808646, Gary Hartzenberg: 072 3925859, or Willie Heyn: 073 1443619.

I would strongly urge that people do so. This is an extremely innovative act in defiance of state suppression and capitalist greed, and it deserves to be a success.