For what seems like forever, the Julian Assange saga has been everywhere. On TV, in the papers, on Facebook and Twitter, it's been impossible to avoid it and all the horrific misogyny and rape apologism that comes with it. Underlying all of which is a cliché - at that a fallacious one - which defines pretty much all of the worst in leftist politics: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Of late, I've been doing a lot of thinking on my role in the workplace. As many who read my blogs regularly will know, I'm a lay rep in the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). I've long been aware of the conflict between this role and my politics as an anarcho-syndicalist militant, but I'm finding that conflict increasingly harder to overcome. This post is an attempt at evaluating and addressing this.
On October 20 2012, the TUC is hosting another national march and rally in London. Like the one on March 26 last year, it is likely to be a big event. Like then, too, it is likely to be a way for the trade unions to have their members let off steam without being too radical. But it looks like the lessons of last time are being learned, as the TUC is taking pre-emptive steps to avoid a repeat of last year's "trouble."
Yesterday saw the annual James Larkin Society march and rally in Liverpool, under the banner of "Working Class Unity Against Racism and Fascism." The theme was chosen in defiance of rising far-right activity in the city, most notably a mobilisation in February where 200 fascists, loyalists and ex-soldiers were able to turn an Irish Republican march away from the City Centre. This time, the march was not turned back - but by the same token neither were the fascists convincingly repelled.
For most people outside Scotland, myself included, the debate over Scottish independence has been largely peripheral. I've come across it occasionally, but bigger things have always taken my attention and I've only found myself discussing it in depth when with comrades from Scotland. This is perhaps a mistake, since the vote in 2014 will have ramifications for both Scotland and the rest of the UK, and there is a marked lack of libertarian communist analysis on the issue.
On the back of a demonstration at Sainsbury's headquarters, Pay Up has recently emerged as the latest UK Uncut-style activist campaign. Its aim is to highlight the problem of "in work poverty" and push for a living wage - starting with Sainsbury's. As someone whose first experience of workplace struggle was in Sainsbury's, this immediately caught my attention. So I decided to have a closer look at the campaign, and its pitfalls.
Most of the arguments against voting point out (rightly) that it achieves nothing. This is reflected in slogans such as "if voting changed anyting, they'd abolish it" and "whoever you vote for, government wins." I'm writing this post to focus on the other problem with parliamentary democracy - namely, that it is worse than useless.
This post was prompted by Joseph Kay's "bodies as a site of class struggle." As well as raising some interesting questions regarding the right to choose and class struggle - which I'll offer my own thoughts on here - it also prompted me to look more closely at the re-ignited abortion debate. I've been aware of it only peripherally due to my focus being elsewhere, but certainly what's happening there is very scary indeed.
Over the past year, it's become increasingly evident that the branch of the civil servants' union PCS I'm part of is beset by factionalism. In particular, the dominance of a ruling clique has been like a cancer which has seen people drop out of being reps, and even go off work with stress, because of the bullying occurring within the union. In my own rank-and-file approach to organising, I've butted heads with this problem on more than one occasion. This blog is a reflection of the issues at hand and an attempt to focus my own thoughts in terms of how to combat that.
On Tuesday, 81.6% of mechanical and electrical workers at Balfour Beatty voted in favour of strike action. This followed a highly militant direct action campaign by the Sparks rank-and-file group forcing the union to up the ante. However, now that the employer has used the anti-strike laws to overturn the ballot, the strength of the rank-and-file movement will really be tested.
Since being brought to the attention of people striking on November 30, the no-strike union Voice has come in for some stick on Facebook and Twitter. They take exception to this, and argue in a blog that their views and their right to not strike ought to be respected. For them, and others who might be of a similar view, here's a quick guide to what exactly is wrong with crossing a picket line.
Some thoughts on the possibility for a progressive politics of the excluded and Marxism's deep fear and loathing of the 'lumpen proletariat'.