the day the EDL didn’t show up

26 07 2010

Richard Price reports on last month’s English Defence League and Islamist provocations in Tower Hamlets and the left’s response. See here for an interview with a Bengali secular activist on the same theme.

In mid-May an event was announced for June 20th at the Troxy Ballroom in Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, organised by the UK-IC (UK –Islamic Conference) (1) . The list of speakers was impressive and global including the likes of the Malaysian Sheikh Hussein Lee. And bigots to a man: and, of course, they are all men.  All of them having been quoted as spouting filth supporting violence and rape against women in marriage, killing gays and violent anti-Jewish racism (2).

Sadly, instead of an immediate reaction of east London progressives to oppose this meeting, the EDL (English Defence League) (3) jumped up and said they would march against the meeting. The EDL are an odd crew, a few right wing libertarians ideologically against Islamic conservatism, a few neo-Nazis trying to ferment race riots, but what appears to be a majority who are ‘British loyalists’ i.e. working class conservatives, who support the notion of a ‘Great Britain’ and will fight for that, who, while ignoring the massive loss of power neo-liberalism has wrought on us, are panicked by the almost irrelevant threat of Islamism in the UK.  On the one hand it says it is simply against Islamism and the threat to British liberalism brought by that but its attacks on Islamism end up looking pretty much like scapegoating all Muslims, deeply dangerous in a period when we need to be united against the state as it attacks. Read the rest of this entry »





the cuts agenda and ‘social capital’

21 07 2010

by Dave Spencer

When we are talking about building communism from below, we need to know our starting point – the state and the consciousness of the working class.

One of the greatest influences on the theory of this matter and on the consequent policies and actions of local government and of workers in the voluntary or “Third” sector is Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone (2000). In it Putnam introduces the term “social capital”. By this he means any type of social or community engagement whatsoever – formal, informal, to do with friends, work, the family, hobbies, faith, politics, sport, the community. In other words social capital refers to how society works at grass roots, street and community level.

Read the rest of this entry »





a ripple in the storm

17 07 2010

Joe Thorne reports on anti-cuts initiatives in Hackney

On the last day of June, nearly fifty trade unionists, socialists, and community activists met in an old church hall in Hackney, east London.  We came together to discuss the wave of public sector cuts which has already begun, and how we can organise to push them back.

Around the city, and across the country, equivalent meetings have been held or will be held shortly.  Many of them, such as ours, will decide to establish campaigns of one sort or another.  The real content of these campaigns, just like the content of the meetings, will differ widely. Read the rest of this entry »





building from below in our communities

3 07 2010

Steve Ryan reports on the ‘Community organising and tenants’ struggles’ session at our recent summer school.

This workshop was introduced with descriptions from Isabel Parrott (London Coalition against Poverty) and Camille Barbagallo (Friends of Hackney Nurseries ) and a member of the unemployed workers union.

Each illustrated their experiences of community and tenant organising, outlining both the positive and negative sides. It was interesting to hear their views on how they saw the campaigns as political and the experience of interacting with interested parties , especially where sometimes their demands were counterpoised to those parties (Unemployed Workers’ Unions and PCS members working in the Department for Work and Pensions, for example). Read the rest of this entry »





despite ‘empowerment’… people still have power

10 05 2010

by Leo Singer

” The College principal says cuts will hit adult education”
“Services have been streamlined and centralised to curb duplication”
” increasing its council tax precept by 4.8 per cent”
“… plans to end funding for elite swimming, switch off street lights at night, cut two recycling centres and close crèches at leisure centres”
“… cutting around 70 jobs, with more to come in future years”

This is just a limited selection of headlines from the local papers all over Merseyside and Wallasey, collected this spring. Local governments are preparing us for a new era, a tightening of belts, expected after the national elections. Similar headlines are easy to find in papers all over the country. No wonder… as shit runs down. Read the rest of this entry »





anti-fascism and the BNP in barking and dagenham

8 05 2010

by Glyn Harries

At the May 2010 Barking and Dagenham council elections, the BNP lost all their 12 Councillors, all previously elected in 2006. And their national party leader Nick Griffin, who it was suggested would take the Parliamentary seat, only came 3rd, and petulantly walked away declaring Barking and London ‘finished’.

But away from the headlines the actual results in Barking and Dagenham show the BNP nearly doubled their vote from 2006 to 2010, though where they had stood previously their vote did decline slightly. I have used their highest votes in each ward. While it is good news to see the Councillor parasites of the BNP wiped out, the Hope not Hate victory claims are as ever deeply flawed. Read the rest of this entry »





twenty years after we beat the poll tax

31 03 2010

by Allan Armstrong
former Chair of Lothians Anti-Poll Tax Federation and co-Chair of first Scottish Anti-Poll Tax Federation Conference

It is twenty years since Thatcher’s Tory government tried to impose the Poll Tax upon the people of England and Wales. The Poll Tax had been introduced a year earlier in Scotland as a test run for the abolition of Domestic Rates throughout Britain. (Even the Tories had more sense than to try to introduce the Poll Tax in Northern Ireland in the context of the ongoing Republican resistance there!) Read the rest of this entry »





a new decade… the task: to build from below

14 01 2010

by Dave Spencer

The most striking feature of British politics over the last decade has to be the disenfranchisement of the working class. The working class has little or no voice at national, regional or local level. Our task is to be part of the reversal of this situation. But this reversal has to come from below, from the linking and networking of the campaigns and struggles of the working class itself.

no more heroes: fawning over 'celebrities' damaged the left

Unfortunately the organised left does not see it this way. As convinced vanguardists and elitists they see themselves as providing the leadership with all the answers that the workers must follow. They have had a decade in which to show leadership, but have failed dismally to build a broad united movement to fill the vacuum to the left of New Labour.

Read the rest of this entry »





community unionism: from the workplace to the streets

28 10 2009

by Brian Garvey

“We have been the victims of so many acts of corruption… But the workers have supported us in forming a new trade union, because they want change – a radical change – so that we are the new administration of the collective contract, because the union we have is useless” Luis Flugo, Aseven soft drinks company, Venezuela

“I looked at the Mater hospital – this new, ‘state of the art facility’, and there wasn’t even changing rooms for the domestics. Not even a changing room. And I wondered, how did the unions allow that?” Domestic health worker, Belfast

It is recognised that unions need to change. Union membership in the 26 counties has fallen by 14% (currently 32% of workforce) between 1994-2008. Writing on the situation in UK where membership levels have fallen continuously since 1979 (currently only 28% of workforce) and employers have been ‘emboldened by neoliberal policies’ Jane Willis of University of London writes that ‘trade unions cannot simply wait until economic and political conditions become more favourable’ for their recovery. Read the rest of this entry »





the british direct action movement of the 1990s: part I

14 10 2009

The 30th November of this year will mark 10 years since the protests at the WTO summit in Seattle. The so-called direct action movement in Britain had a significant role in the cycle of protests which found its high point in Seattle. Here we tell its story. By Leo Vinicius.

seattlewto

In the late 1990s large street demonstrations and attempted blockades of summits of the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G8, and other organisations managing global capital, won significant TV news coverage and ensured that these meetings would have to be protected by enormous police contingents and removed to remote locations. In a general sense we saw the contours of a new movement opposed to the management organisations of so-called ‘globalisation’. The blockade of the first day of the WTO ministers’ meeting on 30th November 1999 in Seattle was the moment when this movement attained worldwide visibility, in the mainstream media and principally on TV, coming to be known in these same media as ‘anti-globalisation’. In truth it was a ‘movement of movements’ or further still a confluence of movements. The point of identification bringing together was a common recognition of the systemic organisations to which they were opposed  (although for some of them this system appeared as ‘capitalism’ for others ‘neo-liberalism’ and so on). Read the rest of this entry »





we’re not ‘all in it together’: no to austerity britain!

11 10 2009

editorial of The Commune

The message hammered home at the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat conferences was clear: ‘we’ have been living beyond our means and now have to accept slashed public spending to steady the ship of state.

cameronpoints

While a few months ago even the mainstream press railed against the excesses of the City of London and corrupt MPs, today their fire is directed almost solely against working-class living standards. The only questions on the papers’ and pollsters’ agenda are ‘what should be cut?’ and ‘who do you trust most to make the right cuts?’. Read the rest of this entry »





issue 8 of the commune

9 10 2009

The October issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact uncaptiveminds@gmail.com.

issue8cover
we’re not ‘all in it together’ – editorial of The Commune

update on the activities of our network

tuc congress: an opportunity wasted? – by Gregor Gall

fragile livelihoods at cowley mini factory – by  Brian Rylance

what is the london postal strike really about? – interview of CWU reps by Sheila Cohen

gordon brown’s workhouses for single mothers – by Zoe Smith

‘new’ tactics versus rubbish bosses – by Adam Ford

lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike – interview with two members of teaching staff

how we fought education cuts in tamworth – by Rob Marsden

on the necessity of pluralist communism – by Nathan Coombs

a letter from tegucigalpa: resisting the honduran coup – by a member of Socialismo o Barbarie

political report from the land of the haggis-eating surrender monkeys – by Allan Armstrong

electoral parties: let’s not put old wine in new bottles – by David Broder

a beginners’ guide to cuts – by Robert Kirby

platform of our communist network





the commune issue 7 – out now!

1 09 2009

The September issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact uncaptiveminds@gmail.com.

thecommune7cover

troops out of afghanistan! – editorial of The Commune

wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses – by Paul Haste

government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left – by Steve Ryan

wind turbine occupation ends, but struggle continues – by Gerry Emmett

purnell’s new ‘old labour’ is just new ‘new labour’ – by David Broder

resisting redundancy and recession: reappraising the tactic of occupation – by Gregor Gall

amey struggle: burn your bridges, save your dignity – by Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marin

latin american migrants: organising against racism and exploitation – by an Ecuadorian migrant worker

exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses – by Chris Kane

update on the activities of the commune around britain

afghan women bear brunt of hypocritical ‘war on terror’ – by members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

yes, chris ann, obama is punking us – by Ernie Haberkern

beyond props for capital – by Allan Armstrong

liberalism, citizenship and democracy – by Mark Ellingsen

the workers’ self-management alternative – by Chris Kane

review of the july/august left press – by Nathan Coombs

building from below: the case for working in residents’ groups – by Dave Spencer

latin america’s future is being played out in honduras – by Roberto Sáenz





building from below: the case for working in residents’ groups

23 08 2009

by Dave Spencer

The public sector will be in for a kicking no matter who wins the 2010 General Election – New Labour or the Tories. The new government will plan for jobs to be lost and services to be cut – to a greater extent than we have ever known in Britain. It will not be “decimation” of the sector, because the talk is of 15% to 20% cuts – that is one in five, not one in ten! This is to pay for the £1.3 trillion bail-out of the banks (according to Robert Peston and he seems to know!).

In the 1980s the Thatcher government attacked the working class by destroying much of Britain’s manufacturing base and of course by breaking the power of the miners. Now is the turn of the public sector. The key lessons from the bad experience of the Thatcher years are the lack of preparation by the working class for the battle and a complete lack of political nous by the trade unions and the left. Militancy is not enough – you have to have some basic political strategy other than saving your own skin or building your own sect. Read the rest of this entry »








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,925 other followers