Blogs

Thomas Szasz and the antipsychiatry of neoliberalism

A short critical introduction to the work of grandfather of psychiatry Thomas Szasz.

American psychiatrist and academic Szasz is probably best known for his controversial claim that mental illness doesn't exist, summed up in the title of his best-selling book The myth of mental illness (1974).

The East, directed by Zal Batmanglij

A rare cinema fiction tackling radical environmentalism ties itself in knots trying to offer a 'balanced' argument

Green Shoots. Film review - Tom Jennings

Has PCS been outflanked to the left by a bosses’ union?

A look at two of many attacks faced by workers in HM Revenue & Customs. The contrasting responses from clerical grade union PCS and senior grade union ARC are worth noting, but not for the reason you might guess.

Listing all of the ongoing issues and disputes within HMRC at present would be an essay in itself. Suffice to say, there are a lot. In this post I want to talk about two in particular; the imposition of detrimental new terms and conditions for staff and the quotas in the new performance management system which are aimed at making it easier to sack the “bottom 10%” of staff from the job.

Martin Smith given PhD place at Liverpool Hope University

It has come to our attention that Martin Smith – who resigned from the Socialist Workers Party following rape and sexual harassment allegations – is now based in the Social Work department at Liverpool Hope University. Trigger warning: rape, sexual harassment.

The accusations against Smith were covered up by an internal investigation from the party’s disputes committee.

Standing still at the starter's pistol: lacklustre resistance in the TEFL industry

A good while back, I wrote a blog post about contract issues at the English language school I work at and the attempts of us teachers to organise ourselves. Now that everything has died down and I've had time to think about it, I thought I’d try and write up what happened.

Basically it was a big fucking disaster. On our part as teachers, we completely failed to organise ourselves effectively. However, I'm a big fan of the idea that 'no experiment is a failure' and even when things go badly, there is something to be learnt for the next time round.

Prisoner sent to solitary confinement for possessing anarchist literature

A prisoner at Pontiac Correctional Centre, Mark Neiweem, has been sent into solitary confinement for possessing literature from the Anarchist Black Cross, and for writing essays on the prison industrial complex. Following a disciplinary hearing – at which he was denied a lawyer – he was given six months in solitary for possessing ‘gang related material’ (anarchist symbols), and for possessing ‘written materials material that presents a serious threat to the safety and security of persons or the facility.’

Alan Mills, Neiweem’s lawyer, stated that:

Focused Organizing: A Question of Legal Support

When organizing around foreclosure defense, it is usually best to stick to what you know.

For anyone in a long enough foreclosure battle, a legal strategy will likely come into play. The basic issue here is that a foreclosure is a form of a lawsuit, where one party (the bank) is suing the other party for a back debt. Unlike a criminal case, a civil case does not guarantee the defendant a lawyer because they are unable to afford one on their own.

Massive protests in France over deportation of Kosovar schoolgirl

Last week Leonarda Dibrani, a 15 year old school girl, was dragged off a bus during a school trip and deported back to Kosovo by French authorities. The incident has brought fresh attention on the issue of immigration in France and has led around 12,000 students on to the streets to protest in support of Leonarda Dibrani, disrupting or closing over 170 schools across Paris, Marseille, Angers, and Grenoble. Many scuffles have broken out with the police as they have tried to dismantle makeshift barricades.

The family had been deported due to their claim for asylum being rejected on the grounds of “Insufficient prospect of social and economic integration.” Further protests are being planned for over the weekend, including a march through Paris on Saturday afternoon.

One of Leanarda’s teachers said that:

Police vehicles torched and shots fired at anti-fracking protest

A protest against fracking in Eastern New Brunswick has turned violent after Canadian mounted police with assault rifles and camouflage uniforms turned up to enforce a court order to remove a barricade set up by the Elsipogtog and Mi'kmaq First Nations tribes (indigenous Canadians).They pepper sprayed dozens of people, used rubber bullets, sets dogs on people, and fired high powered hoses The protesters responded by throwing petrol bombs and setting fire to five police vehicles.

Over 40 arrests were made and. It is alleged that at least one shot was fired at the police and security goons, and that a small incendiary device was found nearby. The police told the protesters that - “Crown lands belong to the government, not to fucking natives.”

Longshore workers strike Port of Baltimore

picketing Port of Baltimore

More than 2,000 longshore members of the International Longshoremen's Association walked off the job at the Port of Baltimore, the 12th largest in the U.S. by container volume. This crippled the import of high value commodities like BMW, Fiat and Mazda automobiles. The dispute is based on workers at the port refusing a coastwide contract -- covering ports from Maine to Texas.

Local 333 of ILA went on strike Wednesday, October 16, 2013 to protest the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore Inc.'s lack of negotiating in "good faith" over a contract that covers work conditions.

Violent clashes at Nazi war criminal's funeral

The funeral of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who died last week aged 100, has been called-off due to violent clashes outside the church between anti-fascists and Nazi sympathisers. Priebke was serving a life sentence under house arrest at the time of his death for his role in the murder of 300 Italian boys in 1944. Despite local opposition to holding the funeral the government insisted that it be held. A strange Holocaust denying sect of the Catholic Church agreed to facilitate the funeral on the 70th anniversary of the round-up of Jews in Rome. The bastard is now likely to be cremated behind closed doors.

As the hearse attempted to gain entry to the church grounds antifascists blocked its path, started to kick it, and chased away the accompanying priest. Hooded fascists – in full paramilitary uniform - then broke off from their fascist salutes and attacked protesters and attempted to force through the hearse.

Police arrest 1600 victims of anti-immigration riot in Moscow

Following the murder last week of a young Russian by someone who may have been an immigrant, Moscow has been rocked by riots that escalated following a massive ‘anti-immigration’ protest. Nationalists attacked a food warehouse, destroying and stealing stock, and chanting ‘white power’ & ‘Russia for Russians’. After standing by and watching the attacks, the police moved in and arrested 1200 immigrants who had been attacked in and around the warehouse. Eye witnesses claim that the police did nothing and just watched the violence, appearing to be colluding with the attackers. By the end of the night 1600 people had been arrested so the police could ‘check their papers’.

Following last week’s stabbing, nationalists and football hooligans toured the city to try and drum up support for action, stating that the murder is the ‘last straw’, and that the immigrant population are deeply entrenched in ‘criminal activity’, live in ‘slums’, and take jobs away from ordinary Muscovites.

Boston school bus drivers in wildcat strike

On Tuesday morning over 600 school bus drivers in Boston took wildcat action. They are angry at the complete ineffectiveness of their trade union (USW) and at the union-busting city administration, and the management style of Veolia, the private company now running the buses. Following an unsuccessful attempt at gaining an injunction, the mayor arranged a city wide scabbing operation by the police. The predictable purge and victimisation by bosses and union bureaucrats has now begun.

The dispute has been brought to a head due to the knock on effect of the Government shutdown. A dispute had been lodged with the National Labour Relations Board, but as they have not been working the dispute has not been looked at yet. The drivers decide to take matters into their own hands.

Man as machine

Automaton.

As mainstream discourse again shifts towards a discussion of automation, @Aut_Omnia examines its mechanics, human cost and utopian potential.

Man as Machine.

Quote:
“The man of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys:
Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches, and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanised automaton.”1

What now for the EDL, Tommy Robinson, and the far-right?

Tommy Robinson has decided to ‘step down’ from his leadership of the EDL due to ‘extreme far-right elements’ (the membership to you and me). The several thousand boneheads who regularly turn out for EDL events are not about to change their views, so what lies ahead for the ‘street’ elements of the far-right, Robinson himself, and far-right in general?

In 2009 Robinson created the EDL, he declared himself the leader, worked to establish the brand, held all monies, owned the web domains etc, and if rumours are to be believed – made a decent living through EDL merchandise.

Meaningful work: an appeal to the young

An article about meaning in choosing employment.

From the time I was a child, I was told to follow my dreams and do something I truly loved. Granted I rarely met an adult who was passionate about their work, but they seemed sincere in their desire for others to take that path. The advice of course usually had a piece of bitterness attached to it. As I came of age, the terrain didn’t look pretty.

Invitation to 20th anniversary of the Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation, 2013-10-12

The Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation is celebrating its 20 years of its existance, and you are invited!

Left for dead

A defiant communist faces the firing squad in Munich, 1919

In this piece @Aut_Omnia discusses the death of "the left" and the potential for the rebirth of the real movement.

The left is fucked. It has no present, no future and no hope.

Ghosts of Leninist past: a review of The Roots of American Communism

A review and some comments from Juan Conatz on Theodore Draper’s history of the various factions that would become the Communist Party USA.

The Roots of American Communism; Theodore Draper; Elephant Paperbacks, 1989 (First published in 1957)

The Sun and the "Mental Patient"

Analysis behind today's headline in The Sun newspaper: "1,200 killed by mental patients".

Fuck The Sun. I want to be composed and rational. I want to maintain a distance. But how? 1200 killed by mental patients. So proclaims the headline of The Sun. And so a rage comes to possess me. Anger, the most political affect, seizes my body and makes writing difficult. But I'm going to try to be composed. Let's examine this headline.