The Red Menace newsletter (UK)

Online archive of The Red Menace, a newsletter (and associated leaflets) published in London from 1989-1990 by a group of individuals as a contribution to the movement for a stateless, moneyless and classless world human community – communism.

Libcom also hosts A brief history of the Red Menace

The Red Menace #1 Feb 1989

Debut issue of The Red Menace, contents below.

New readers start here - The Red Menace

Introduction to the first edition of The Red Menace.

Rioting in Miami, fiddling the dole, strikes in Poland, hating your boss- these are all expressions of the class struggle. The basis of this struggle is the fact that capitalism, which exists in every country on the planet, can only continue to exist at the expense of the needs of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population: the proletariat. By proletariat we don’t just mean workers with jobs; we also prisoners, domestic labourers (e.g. housewives), the unemployed, uprooted ex-peasants etc.

The struggles of our class against poverty, repression, deteriorating working conditions etc. are all that is blocking the efforts of our rulers to impose more of these things. And crucially it is through the spreading and linking up of these struggles that the possibility emerges of a worldwide revolution that will bury capitalism (wage labour, buying and selling, the state etc.) and replace it with communism - a world human community where things will be produced for need not profit.

In the pages of ‘The Red Menace’ (and of course within the struggles we are personally involved in) we want to contribute to this communist movement by encouraging such things as the co-ordination of different struggles and the self-organisation of our class outside of the control of unions and political parties (including the so-called 'revolutionary’ parties).

We are not the only people with such a perspective, and in producing "The Red Menace" we hope to increase communication, discussion, the spread of information and generally stimulate joint activity between all those genuinely fighting against this world.

We don’t want people to just read "The Red Menace". We want to encourage them to make their own contribution to some of the tasks outlined above. If you are involved in any struggles, we would like to hear your accounts of them. Please send us any leaflets, pamphlets, magazines etc. you produce. If you wish to receive "The Red Menace" regularly (we hope to bring it out on a monthly basis) drop us a line. Better still take a bundle to distribute to your friends, workmates, on picket lines, demos and so on. As RM is a free newsletter, we are relying on DONATIONS!

From The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Demolish Fortress Britain by The Red Menace

A 1989 description of immigrant raids and state xenophobia in the UK from the communist newsletter, The Red Menace.

At dawn on Wednesday 18th January 1989 police sledgehammered their way into the Church of the Ascension in Manchester and arrested Viraj Mendis. Viraj had spent two years in sanctuary attempting to avoid being deported; 48 hours after his arrest he had been expelled from Britain, put on a plane to Sri Lanka and an uncertain future.

From the publicity this case received you might think that all this was an unusual occurrence - in fact last year 700 people were deported from the UK. The only difference was that a campaign had made Viraj Mendis virtually into a household name and won him considerable support, as was shown by the fact that 2000 people marched to Manchester police station on the night of his arrest.

Viraj’s deportation does however signal the start of a further acceleration in the harassment of “immigrants” in Britain. Having made an example of Viraj - himself an anti-deportation activist - thousands of others now face being dragged from their beds and put on planes to the other side of the world. For some this could mean a return to arrest, torture and death in “their’ native country; for the “lucky’ ones the psychological torture of being forcibly separated from their friends, family and chosen home.

'GO OUT AND WHACK THEM'

Those waiting for the knock on the door include Kabul Khan, camping in a Birmingham mosque with his family after escaping from immigration officials who want to deport him to Pakistan. They include the 50 or so people hiding in a network of safe-houses run by the “Underground Railway” of helpers. They include 8000 would-be refugees waiting in Britain and up to 250,000 people labelled by the State as ‘illegal immigrants’. According to a source within the Immigration service: “Everything had to wait until Mendis was out of the country.Now the word is to go out and whack them. It is going fo be like Mendis - snatched and deported within 48 hours.” (The Observer, 22/1/89). Anyone harbouring ‘illegals’ could face 6 months in jail or a £2,000 fine.

The Immigration authorities share computer records with the police, and their job is obviously being made much easier by the general increase in State surveillance and information gathering. For instance, the Poll Tax registration process will give the State a comprehensive list of exactly who lives at what address. Benefit claimants have to produce ID at Social Security offices if they or any members of their family have come to live in the UK in the past 5 years Immigration offices have unlimited powers of detention without trial, and those not immediately deported may be kept in detention centres such as Harmondsworth (near Heathrow) and Latchmere House in Richmond (where detainees are locked in their cells for 18 out of 24 hours).

A CLIMATE OF FEAR

The immigration crackdown is calculated to create a climate of fear amongst those without the correct passport. Workingon the fringe of the economy in sweatshops, building sites etc. run by both black and white bosses, people know that to draw attention to themselves would only invite further trouble. Complain too loudly and deportation is only a phone-call away.

Immigration controls in general are used in an attempt to isolate black people from the rest of the working class. Controls define immigrants as a ‘problem’ which needs to be‘regulated”, and in Britain and elsewhere ‘immigrant” is used to mean ‘black”, and all black people are treated as immigrants.By encouraging racism our rulers hope to stop the struggles of one section of our class (e.g. the inner city riots where young black people played a leading role) from spreading to the rest of us.

Furthermore by accusing immigrants of “swamping Britain (as Thatcher did in 1979), or of being “a burden on the welfare state” they hope to reinforce a British national identity along with a loyalist working class who believe they share a common interest with their exploiters in defence of national culture and the national economy. This is the old myth of us all being in the same boat.

FORTRESS EUROPE

All of this is not due simply to ‘nasty TorIes’. Labour governments have acted in exactly the same way, rushing through the 1968 immigration Act, for instance, to keep Kenyan Asians out of the country. It’s the same story too in the rest of the world - witness the treatment of Turkish workers in West Germany, or North Africans in France, where a ‘Communist’ Party-controlled local council sent in bulldozers to destroy immigrants’ hostels. In Western Europe as a whole there are moves towards a common immigration policy for all countries, leading up to the erection of a Fortress Europe in 1992 that will be more difficult than ever to enter from outside.

FOR A WORLD WITHOUT FRONTIERS!

The State cynically distinguishes between genuine political refugees with a ‘well-founded fear of persecution” and illegal immigrants who have entered the country for economic or other reasons. This division between “worthy” and “unworthy” immigrants (or claimants, or AIDS victims...) has to be rejected outright. It is only in this twisted world, where humanity is imprisoned by the frontiers of nation-States, that somebody could be called upon to justify making their home on one part of the planet rather than another.

In deporting Viraj Mendis the State has demonstrated that it means business. Against the naked power of sledgehammers and dawn raids, prayers and petitions will be worse than useless. Instead we need to begin discussing ways of organising our own counter-power of collective resistance.

Tottenham 3 denied "right to appeal" - The Red Menace

Analysis of the state's response to the death of a police officer in anti-police riots.

On 12th December 1988, Judges of the Court of Appeal announced the state’s decision not to grant leave of appeal to Mark Braithwaite, Engin Raghip and Winston Silcott - the three hostages taken in response to the death of PC Blakelock. They described their convictions as "safe" - in other words the state feels the response to their show trial has been so pathetic that it does not need to stage another legal drama, as they had to do in the case of the Birmingham 6 (6 Irish hostages taken with equal disregard to evidence to intimidate the Irish working class).

The imprisonment of the Tottenham 3 was the high-point of the repression unleashed on the Broadwater Farm community following their outrage at the police murder of Cynthia Jarrett, and resistance to police invasion. This uprising in October 1985 followed quickly on the heals of similar insurrections in Brixton and Handsworth during the previous fortnight. The use of firearms and the death of PC Blakelock showed a new confidence amongst the inner city working class - and particularly amongst black youth. The state knew that unless they moved in with force, they would face major confrontations across the country. Broadwater Farm then underwent a state of siege - benefit giros were not delivered, homes were smashed open, clothes stolen, both children and adults kidnapped. Broadwater Farm was isolated through police terror.

IT WAS A POLITICAL NECESSITY THAT SOME PEOPLE WERE CONVICTED FOR THE DEATH OF PC BLAKELOCK. The state could not admit that a policeman had been killed without a ‘guilty party’ being found. Justice and legal procedure are merely the dramatisation of the exercise of state power. It is clear that the Tottenham 3 are innocent, victimised for reasons of convenience. However, even if the police had found some people directly involved in Blakelock’s death, this would mean that we would have to redouble our efforts to gain their release.

The media hysteria built up around the Tottenham 3, and Winston Silcott in particular, has direct parallels with the nation-wide manhunt for Harry Roberts in 1966. Harry, with two other men, had been planning to rob a rent collector, when they were stopped by the police. They killed three policemen. The other two were soon arrested but for three months Harry Roberts evaded arrest. Hundreds of police and even the army were mobilised, his face was plastered over the front pages of the national press and a businessman offered a fleet of aircraft to help in this national emergency. The boss class is always scared when we discover that policemen know how to die. They don’t feel safe.

The framing of Braithwaite, Silcott, and Raghip along with the use of death squads in Gibraltar and elsewhere shows how ruthless they can be. We will only secure the release of the Tottenham 3 and the other hostages of the British state when our actions make them sufficiently frightened of the consequences of not releasing them.

For more information about the Tottenham 3, write to Tottenham 3 are Innocent Campaign, 71 Golborne Road, London W1O for the information package (enclose SAE + donation). A booklet about Harry Roberts is available from: Box 4,52 Call lane, Leeds LSI 6DT.

The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

SNECMA aerospace workers strike 1988 - The Red Menace

Report on strikes at three French aeronautics plants in 1988, which quickly spread beyond union control.

‘Change the bosses’ smugness into fear!’ – SNECMA Strikers 1988

‘The SNECMA strikers are coming to talk to you… because we believe that in the factory where you work, you have the same problems of pay’

Last year’s elections in France failed to smother the working class discontent with political promises. Whilst the TV pundits played games with swingometers, the French working class has been pushing forward its own interests against those of all the political factions.

One of the most significant strikes of last year was the one at the three SNECMA nationalized aeronautics plants in the spring. The strike, which continued throughout the presidential elections, began at the Gennervilliers factory on March 16th 1988 at the initiative of workers in the steel foundry. By March 23rd, against the advice of the unions, the strike had spread to the factories at Villaroche and Corbeil - making a total of over 12,000 workers on strike.

As has been shown in the British nurses regrading dispute the bosses are very keen to divide workers by giving larger pay increases to some people than to others. The SNECMA workers were determined not to fall into this trap and put forward as their central demand: "a 1500 francs a month a rise for all" (about £150).

From the very start it was the strikers themselves who controlled the running of the strike, not the unions: "In each factory, every day there is held a general assembly of all the workers, union members or not, and militants from all currents, all united in the same will: to do everything to win, for 1500 francs. This assembly decides sovereignly the actions to be taken and the path of the movement… a Co-ordinating Committee of strikers, including members of various organisations and non-members, has been set up to co-ordinate and unify all the factories on strike." (All quotes are from the strikers’ own leaflets.)

In contrast to the traditional union-led passive stay-at-home strike, large numbers of strikers were active in the movement, mounting permanent 24-hour pickets of the factories, producing daily newssheets and leaflets, and generally making their presence felt through such actions as blocking roads, stopping trains and throwing shit around the stock market, Most important strikers attempted spread their struggle to other groups of workers.

Realizing that "the best defence is attack" and announcing that "we will not allow ourselves to be shut up in our own workplace" large delegations of a hundred, five hundred or even a thousand strikers went to talk directly to other groups of workers to explain why they were striking and to encourage them to join the struggle: "workers in other firms we come to talk to you because we see more and more clearly that our interests and your interests are linked, that we cannot defend them separately each on our own account, that we will win together or lose together". SNECMA strikers visited steel workers and others at Air France, Air Inter, Citroên Aulnay, Dassault St Cloud etc. Contact was also made with workers who participated in SNECMA demonstrations, including some from the Post Office, railways, hospitals, Paris Metro, banks, etc.

Following a court order to lift pickets and faced with a lack of money, the SNECMA strikers returned to work after 69 days at the end of May, receiving only a 3.3% wage increase. Even after going back however workers continued to meet in their assemblies and to take action- on June 9th they occupied the lobby of a radio station to spread "just and correct information" about their strike.

Although SNECMA strikers didn’t manage to build a mass strike movement around their own strike, they no doubt contributed to the "autumn of discontent" that later developed, notably amongst workers they had developed contacts with, such as transport workers, postal workers and healthworkers.

The actions of some of the later French strikers have further confirmed that workers have to organise their own fightback, not the unions. The largest union federation, CGT, has been mainly used by the French "Communist" Party to regain some of the ground it has lost in recent years. On the other hand, while only 4% of nurses belong to unions, they played a major part in the autumn strike wave - on September 29th 1988 90% of Paris nurses and at least 80% of those in the provinces staged an unprecedented national strike.

In November transport workers in Paris walked out demanding better pay and conditions; some railway maintenance depots were occupied by strikers. At the beginning of December prime minister Rocard responded by calling in the army to try and break the strike, with hundreds of military lorries being used to replace strikebound buses and trains.

Any illusions about the election of a "socialist" administration having anything to offer the working class have been swiftly shattered.

The recent unofficial strike movements in Italy, in which workers organised themselves in non-union ‘cobas" (Comitati di Base) are the subject of an interesting pamphlet by David Brown: The Cobas - Italy 1986-8: a new rank and file movement. It is available from Echanges et Mouvement, BM Box 91, London WCIN 3XX.

The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Acid comment: the moral panic about acid house parties - The Red Menace

Article looking at the media hysteria surrounding the Acid House music subculture of the late 1980s.

In the last couple of months the ‘acid house’ scene has eclipsed even "lager louts" and football hooligans as the media’s favourite Threat to Civilisation As We Know It. From all the talk about "Crazed Acid House Mobs" and "Drugged Disco Parties", it would seem that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are about to descend on humanity dressed in bandanas and Smiley tee-shirts.

The reality is, of course, quite banal. "Acid House" is simply a popular fashionable type of dance music based on the "House" sounds that emerged from the Chicago black and gay scenes a couple of years ago. And yes, just like some people in all sorts of nightclubs, homes and workplaces, some people at Acid parties take drugs.

Hang the DJ
At first glance, the commandeering of emtpy warehouses and factories in order to have a good time might seem subversive. But the motive is very different from the 1986 New Years Eve party in plush Bishop’s Avenue, London, when hundreds of party-goers invaded a millionaire’s empty house to see the New Year in (smashing it up in the process). Most "Warehouse parties" are run by DJs looking for cheap premises to run profitable nightclubs in. The exclusivity of the word-of-mouth invitations, and the minor risks of being in illegal premises, all add to the excitement. But behind this veneer of radicalism is the same indifference to the punters’ safety as that which sank the "Herald of Free Enterprise" at Zeebrugge and destroyed the Piper Alpha oil-rig and part of King’s Cross tube-station. In the search for profit, the provision of sufficient exits, fire precautions etc., play no part. Like for the other illicit Thatcherites in the drug-dealing world, profit is the name of the game for these free-market entrepreneurs.

Coppers in the house
The fuss about "Acid House" subculture has got little to do with any real or imaginary threat it poses to anybody. What this "moral panic" (and others about under-age drinking, rural violence, etc,) is all about is creating an atmosphere in which more law-and-order measures can be presented as necessary to deal with the "threat" and therefore as legitimate. In this way it is hoped to win support for such measures as increased video surveillance of town centres, compulsory identity cards (whose computer-readable strips would allow a cop who stopped you to know more than just your identity), and perhaps a widespread use of electronic tagging (i.e. a selective curfew).

The police, for whom all unofficial gatherings of large numbers of people pose a "problem" of "control", have not been slow to use their powers to crack down on "Acid House" parties. On the weekend of November 4th/5th 1988, for instance, police raided three such parties in London, Kent and Essex. When police with dogs broke up a party in a derelict house in Sevenoaks, party-goers were attacked with truncheons, torches and an iron bar. Fortunately this vicious assault - described by somebody there as being "just like an SAS raid"-- was met with resistance and several policemen were injured, one needing ten stitches to a head wound.

Meanwhile in the trendier parts of clubland, interest in Acid House is already on the wane. We can be sure though that new shock-horror threats to civilisation will be invented and identified as suitable cases for treatment -- as quickly as fashions change.

The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Review: Anti-Parliamentary Communism in Britain, 1917-1945 - The Red Menace

The existence and activity of revolutionaries in Britain before the end of World War II has been either ignored or distorted In the various histories of the period written by apologists for the "Communist" Party and the Labour Party. Several books have recently become available which give us a clearer picture of our predecessors in this country.

Mark Shipway’s Anti-Parliamentary Communism - the movement for workers’ councils in Britain 1917-45 (Macmillan, 1988) focuses on Sylvia Pankhurst and the Workers’ Dreadnought group, the Glasgow-based Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation, and the groups centred around the anarcho-communist Guy Aldred.

While the "Communist" Party of Great Britain attempted to affiliate to the Labour Party, the Dreadnought group (later named the Communist Workers Party) opposed all parliamentary action and supported the struggles of the unemployed against the Labour-controlled Poplar Board of Guardians. While the CPGB became a mouthpiece for the interests of the Russian state, they printed articles which accused the "Communist" International of being "bound up with the capitalism which is being newly Introduced into Russia" (although In fact capitalism had never really been destroyed in Russia).

After Workers’ Dreadnought stopped appearing in June 1924 the APCF and Aldred remained active, eventually going on to oppose the Second World War. As an article in the Word (paper of Aldred’s United Socialist Movement) put it: "It makes no difference to the effect of a bomb whether it is dropped with the hatred of a Fascist Dictator or the love and kisses of a Democratic Prime Minister... In every case it is the workers who are killed". Class War on the Home Front (Wildcat, 1986), a pamphlet consisting of APCF articles from this period is available from BM Cat, London WC1N 3XX for £1.50.

Come Dungeons Dark- the life and times of Guy Aldred, Glasgow anarchist (Luath Press, Barr, Ayrshire, KA26 9Th, 1988, £6.95) is a biography of Aldred written by John Caldwell, a fellow member of the USM, including an account of his various spells In prison.

Meanwhile For Communism, a book written by Aldred in 1935 has just been reprinted. It is an account of the state of the communist movement at that time which exposes the role of leninism and the Third International in attacking the revolutionary proletarian movement. Available for £2.00 + 40p postage from Unpopular Books, Box 15, 136 Kingsland High Road, London E8 2NS.

Published in The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

The Red Menace #2 March 1989

Archive of issue 2. Contents below.

Down with the first word war! - The Red Menace

The Red Menace look at how the governments of Iran, Pakistan and the West have used the 1989 Salman Rushdie affair to shore up support for their own regimes.

Behind the sabre-rattling in the Rushdie affair various factions are pursuing their interests. It is difficult for us to know exactly what is going on. The Irangate scandal partly exposed the secret machinations of world diplomacy and we cannot be sure what deals are being made behind the scenes this time. Some things are clear however.

In the West attention has mainly focused on Iran but it is in Pakistan and India that deaths have actually taken place, rather than just being talked about.

In Pakistan Bhuttto, the Oxbridge-educated prime minister, is busy trying to shore up her tentative grip on the state. She is purging the army of old pro-Zia brigadiers. In particular she is out to clip the wings of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate. This organisation of 100,000 people was responsible for channelling $1 billion of U.S. aid to the Afghani rebels. They helped organise Zia’s coup in 1977 and were involved in setting up the Islamic Democratic Alliance, the umbrella organisation which fought Bhutto in the elections and now runs the Punjab. It is the I.D.A. which has been behind the demonstrations against Rushdie (as well as against having a woman prime minister) as part of its anti-Bhutto campaign.

At the same time the I.S.I. has attempted to swing the Afghani Mojahedin behind the hardline Islamic fundamentalists. Khomeini’s fatwa (religious condemnation) against Rushdie relates to Afghanistan as well as to his own internal power struggle in Iran. So does the USSR’s intervention in the crisis. Mindful of the millions of Muslims in southern republics they are anxious to see a weak but stable regime in Kabul.

The commotion has also spread to India where the death toll has increased again in the context of mass unemployment and communal tension. The Indian state has been struggling against both Islamic and Hindu fundamentalism, as well as against the better known Sikh nationalism.

Peace is war
In Iran Khomeini is using the Rushdie affair to strengthen national unity, both by uniting the divided factions of the ruling class and keeping the lid on wider social discontent.

The ceasefire in the Gulf has not brought peace for the proletariat in Iran. State repression has been stepped up to new heights with more than 5000 prisoners being executed in the past few months. This repression has not succeeded in crushing the class struggle that helped bring the war to an end- for instance in December workers at Pirshex building company in Jardasht staged a successful strike for higher wages.

With the war over Rushdie has replaced Iraq as the enemy against whom all must unite. The Iranian poor are being told to forget their own interests and rush to the defence not only of the nation but of Islam itself.

"Absolute evil"
In the demonology of the West it is Khomeini not Rushdie who is the Great Satan-Mitterand has even referred to the death threat as "absolute evil". The western rulers are using the affair to push for a pro-western government in Iran and to mobilise support for the anti-terrorist campaign within Europe (police repression is conveniently justified as a means of defending us from "Islamic terror"). The campaign is also being used to fuel racism - witness Robert Maxwell’s call for the repatriation of Iranians (Sunday People, 19/2/89), and the rubbish about the Muslim threat to the Great British Way of Life in all the media.

The west is the best?
President Bush has said that Khomeini’s statements are "deeply offensive to the norms of civilised behaviour", neatly stating the lie that the West stands for the defence of humanity against barbarism. The governments of the USA, Europe and Iran are all expressions of a single world economic system which daily sentences thousands of people to death through starvation, repression, "accidents" at work etc. And the West’s civilised behaviour has been every bit as brutal as Iran’s- remember the sinking of the~ Belgrano, the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes last year, or the French state’s bombing of "the Rainbow Warrior" (there was no question here of New Zealand breaking off diplomatic relations with France for "exporting terrorism to its soil").

"It is a fundamental matter of free speech" (Thatcher)
"Free speech" is a myth in Britain and everywhere else. All states have attempted to suppress discussion, ideas, publications etc. when it suits them. In 1981 Simon Los, a 16 year old anarchist from Nottingham, was jailed for 3 years just for giving out leaflets supporting riots. The new Official Secrets Act will make it easier than ever to jail government employees for exposing state secrets.

Thoroughly modern militants
Islamic fundamentalism, so we are told, is a throwback to middle ages fanaticism; Christianity on the other hand has emerged from its feudal "excesses" as a modern, tolerant religion. This century however Christians have been directly involved in numerous atrocities. Between 1941 and 1945 for instance, over 200,000 people were exterminated at the Jasenovac death camp as part of the Croatian fascists’ attempt to forcibly convert local Serbs to Roman Catholicism. In the same war the Vatican backed Hitler while the Russian Orthodox Church backed Stalin and Churchill.

Last year 13 people were injured in Paris when tolerant Christians set light to a cinema showing the ‘blasphemous’ film "Last Temptation of Christ".

All our rulers use religious and other ideologies (with all their fine phrases about morality and justice) to make their rule seem more acceptable. This applies even in the USSR where humanist, but no less religious, slogans perform this function (e.g. those bombing Afghan villages were doing their "duty to the brotherhood of man"). In the words of a famous revolutionary of the last century: "Everywhere, in short, religious or philosophical idealism.., serves today as the flag of material, bloody and brutal force, of shameless material exploitation "(Bakunin, God and the State).

As much as we oppose Islam we also oppose any new Western crusade against Islam. The old cry remains as true as ever: "humanity will never be free until the last priest (and mullah) is hanged with the guts of the last capitalist".

The Red Menace, Number Two, March 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Education: the future of an illusion

Article looking at 1989 attacks by the government on the higher education system in the UK.

Despite the rhetoric about reducing "state interference" the government has a unified social policy that seeks to restructure all areas of social life in line with the changing needs of capital. Examples of the breadth of this policy include the dismantling of the NHS, the increase in the size of the British prison population and a number of changes in the education system. Anything which stands in the way of economic efficiency, i.e. profitable exploitation, faces sacrificial destruction on the altar of British capital’s best interests, a "greater good" which political parties and unions have always recognised as paramount.

We can identify at least three strands in the government’s policy on "education": a cutback in the social wage, a reduced role for those academics whose contribution to social control isn’t adequately up-to-date, and a restructuring of syllabuses and "educational" ideology in line with traditionalist morality.

Cutting the social wage
The social wage is that part of the price paid to the dispossessed class in return for the expropriation of our creative power, in addition to individual pay packets. At present the whole social wage is being attacked, with cuts in social security, the provision of health care, etc.

In the context of education, an assault on the social wage means clamping down on those students who go into higher "education" solely to get hold of the best it has to offer, namely grants. The introduction of "top-up loans" to gradually replace grants will put pressure on everyone at college to collaborate with the aim that lay behind the expansion of the higher "education" system in the ‘5Os and ‘60s: the efficient inflow of people into managerial positions, both in private industry and the State sector. Those who don’t take such jobs will find it difficult to afford to pay back their loans.

As capitalist competition increases, the British response is to raise industrial productivity whilst expanding financial services in readiness for the single EEC market in 1992. The rulers have a growing need for highly-trained managers, bankers, union hacks and other professionals, and in this sense the government really does want to target State money to the areas of greatest need: their need.

Of course many students do go to college so as to become managers after they graduate, in firms, unions, or government departments. (We should make it clear here that this includes some people from working class backgrounds and that a few people from "middle class" backgrounds resolutely refuse to do so. Contrary to advertising propaganda, class does not depend on cultural background.) Others however will end up doing the same boring, badly-paid work as everybody else. After all there are plenty of jobs available in the South: young people can always clean hotel rooms or go on training schemes (i.e. work for their dole-money).

Streamlining social control
Universities and colleges are currently being made more "economic" with cuts in social sciences and humanities funding and an increase in business studies and direct co-operation between science departments and industry. Academics in the threatened departments may bleat about education being taken over by business, but the fact is that education has always been geared to the needs of capitalism. All that has changed is its political usefulness to the state. In the past the buffer-zone of "community leaders", lefty councillors and other experts at defusing radical efforts has largely been recruited from the universities and polytechnics, and has been strongly influenced by the ideas of left academics.

Sociologists who think getting rid of alienation means integrating people more effectively into the existing society might not be taken seriously by urban rioters, but in less harsh times their knowledge has proved useful in various soft-cop "community" ventures. Nowadays, Ridley’s centralism (the curtailment of local government) and the politicians’ "moral offensive" against "wickedness" and in favour of citizenship makes a lot of this look quite old-fashioned.

The functions of the buffer-zone are today being taken over by central government, the police and charities. For instance an increasing number of "community" groups are being set up with a more direct involvement of the police than used to be the case in the 1970s. The London Labour Party talks of "community watch" while the Tories speak of "neighbourhood watch". Either way, we doubt whether any of the cops involved carry sociology degrees in their pockets! Other examples of this process can be found in fields further away from the sharp end of social control.

Sometimes big business gets involved too. For example, we know of at least one tenants’ group set up in Sutton by a Democrat council with the Prudential assurance company lurking in the background on the lookout for a bit of real estate speculation. What need do they have of ‘60s-style research into delinquency or divorce? How many of their managers have degrees in "peace studies"?

At Bristol University, researchers at the School of Veterinary Science are threatening to resign rather than accept a grant from the Ministry of Defence, who want them to investigate the conditions under which a pneumonia-type bacterium is most active, with obvious applications in biological warfare. Our bet is that the University authorities will try to kick them out, as a prelude to handing the research over to direct (although probably covert) control by the military.

One nation, one faith, one people
At the Tory party conference in October, the "Education" Secretary Kenneth Baker spoke of how "steps to ensure that religious education and daily acts of worship in all schools meant that the Government had reaffirmed the commitment to reflect the country’s history and traditions, which were based on Christian beliefs." (The Guardian, 14/10/88). What these Christian beliefs involve was recently shown by Thatcher, whose death-threat to work-resisters among the poor took the form of a quotation from the bible: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat". Seventy years ago the same message was posted on the walls after the Bolshevik counterrevolution in Russia.

The new national curriculum for schools will ensure that the correct moral message gets across. History for instance will have to show "how a free and democratic society has developed over the centuries" (Baker). It has also been suggested that a GCSE in Active Citizenship should be introduced.

It has long been known that the ruling ideas are the rulers’ ideas, and the education system has always reflected this. Thus wage-labour, private property, the State and the commodity economy (buying and selling) appear to be natural and eternal. So does the existence of nations, hierarchy and the war of each against all ("human nature"). Alienation is presented as being merely one of "society’s problems". The totality of "alternatives" is painted as being a set of ways of organising what already exists, and this is why capitalism on a world scale has been totalitarian ever since the defeat of the revolutionary movements after the World War One.

It is nothing new for submission to the dominant order, and various compensations (including "alternative" ones), to be portrayed as the only imaginable forms of sanity. Rebels are always portrayed by the State as being anti-social. In Britain official propaganda is conflating class-conscious rioters with nationalist football fans, squatters with drug-pushers, strikers with child-molesters ("liberty" infringers).

What is relatively new in "peacetime" is that the government is trying to rally a majority of the working class around the State in opposition to the "problem" presented by those who refuse to play the game, who choose to be the Enemy Within rather than Active Citizens. Cut half your brain out and Big Brother will protect you...

The rulers want to gain all the benefits of a war without having to fight one. Increasing State despotism and national unity, plus a greater encouragement of competition within the (world) working class, plus an attack on our health standards and life expectancy, and the violent elimination of the "losers" (either in prisons or US-style "mercy hospitals") - these are the offshoots of the national rulers’ need to regain international competitiveness.

The uniformisation of official "education" along traditional Christian, moronic, pro-family, pro-careerist lines is part of a reactionary social mobilisation that, taken in its totality, could lead the dispossessed of Europe into the bleakest period since the massacres of World War Two. Unless, of course, revolution smashes the whole show. Whilst most people’s idea of revolution is a coup d’etat by manipulators and leaders specialising in strong language, worldwide social revolution would mean the armed destruction of this civilisation’s foundations and its replacement with a better one. Such a revolution, proletarian and self-organised, would permanently change life by abolishing the foundations of capitalism and inaugurating a world where time is lived and not merely survived through being sold.

* Since this article was written, there have been strikes by Muslim school-kids organised by the mosques. The British state overcame its historic antagonism with catholicism in the nineteenth century, and introduced state-funded catholic schools. Muslim leaders are seeking a similar arrangement as regards state funding for Islamic schools. The mosques have even gained confidence from the Rushdie affair. One thing that we can be sure of - whether it is Christian or Islamic lies, it is the kids who directly suffer through this re-inforcement of religious indoctrination.

The Red Menace, Number Two, March 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Jamaica: another two-party state - The Red Menace

Article looking at the capitalist nature of Jamaican society, following the election of a 'socialist' party in the 1989 elections.

Last month Michael Manley of the People’s National Party replaced Edward Seaga (Jamaica Labour Party) as Jamaican Prime Minister. Since Jamaican independence, the PNP and the JLP have taken it in turns to administer capitalism on the island. In fact, Manley’s father Norman was a major figure in the independence movement and later prime minister, although his opposition to colonisation didn’t stop him from calling in British troops to help put down an armed revolt by unemployed youth in 1959.

In the ‘60s the two parties became increasingly discredited in the face of a number of social struggles that took place. These included a strike at the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation in 1964 (which was supported by strikes by sugar, bauxite, hotel and other workers), violent clashes between slumdwellers and police in Kingston in 1966 and further riots in 1968.

When Michael Manley took over as leader of the PNP in 1969, he gave the party a new "radical" image in an attempt to head off this social movement. Party candidates began to address rallies in patois rather than the Oxford English of the traditional ruling class, and when the PNP came to power in 1972 crumbs were thrown to the poor in the form of food subsidies etc.

"Socialism" in one backyard
In 1974 Manley proclaimed ‘The days of capitalism are over, socialism is running the country now". This "socialism" was later seen to include signing a deal with the IMF under which food subsidies were abolished as part of a series of austerity measures. Between 1978 and October 1979 real incomes fell by 35%, and as resistance grew Manley sent in police and troops against strikers. In January 1979 there were rebellions in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay with over 500 barricades being set up in clashes with the police. Since Manley’s attempt to manage the economic crisis was clearly failing the 1980 elections were engineered to bring Seaga to power.

"New realism" Manley style
Today Manley has adopted the "new realism" which now predominates on the left. According to the Financial Times, in recent years he has instead "wooed the White House and even won over members of the right wing Heritage Foundation which was so influential under Reagan."

One significant policy is the proposal for the ‘public participation’ in decision-making, including a national advisory council with representatives from trade unions, ‘community councils’, business, the church etc. Such a corporatist" approach (attempting to integrate all parts of society into the state) is not new in Jamaican politics, and both parties have attempted to spread their tentacles into the heart of the working class through their control of rival gangs in the slums and trade unions. The JLP was actually set up by the leaders of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union in 1944 while the PNP set up the rival National Workers’ Union in 1952. Manley himself started out as bureaucrat in the latter, his activities included working with the bosses of the bauxite plants to blacklist workers.

The mobilisation of sections of the poor in support of rival parties in Jamaica has been an effective means of dividing any potential real opposition on the island. During the 1980 election over 700 people were killed in violence between supporters of the two parties; this year "only" 12 died. Whatever the difference in rhetoric between the PM’ and the JLP all they have to offer is more of this feuding, exploitation and poverty.

The Red Menace, Number Two, March 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Review: Non-market socialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - The Red Menace

The Red Menace reviews Maximilien Rubel and John Crump's book, Non-Market Socialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

Communism has got nothing to do with state control of the economy (as leninists suggest) nor for that matter with workers owning their own factories and exchanging products with other workers (as advocated by some anarchists). Communism, as the authors of this book make clear, is the abolition of all forms of the state, exchange (buying and selling) and property- including "collective property". In short it is a ‘moneyless. classless, stateless world community".

In a communist society all the world’s resources will be for the free and common use of everybody to satisfy their needs- like air today. This is incompatlble with the existence of any form of money, because for things to be bought, sold or bartered, they have to belong to one part of society alone (individual, company, workers collective, state, etc.). Naturally this existence of property presuppose non-owners being denied free access, "for how is property to be defined if not by the exclusion of the other from the use and enjoyment of the object of property?" (Bordiga). So even If the bosses were kicked out and workplaces run along collective lines, the continued existence of exchange would act as a barrier to satisfying human needs.

Non-market socialism describes the contribution of various currents to the real communist movement, including anarcho-communism, council communism, the sltuationists and bordigism. Perhaps most interestingly it presents the ideas of a number of people whose writings are mostly unavailable in English, such as Joseph Dejacque (1822-1864) and the Italian-born Amadeo Bordiga (1899-1970). Dejacque, a French house painter, looked forward to a "state of affairs where each would be free to produce and consume at will" and "the abolition of any sign of agricultural, individual, artistic or scientific property". Despite his many faults (adequately criticised in the book), Bordiga too understood the importance of doing away with all types of property and money.

One problem with some of the contributions to this book is that they treat communism as an idea about the future rather than something which relates to our activity in the present. Thus a chapter is Included on the Socialist Party of Great Britain who, whatever their ideas about socialism, believe that parliament can be used In the transformation of society, and are not therefore part of the revolutionary movement.

Non-market socialism is a useful book in outlining a vision of communism; It Is less useful in outlining how we might get there from here.

The Red Menace, Number Two, March 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

The Red Menace #3 June 1989

This issue features articles on the Poll Tax, Venezuela, Algeria, Employment Training Schemes.

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Up against the prole tax - The Red Menace

Article examining successful methods of resistance, following the introduction of the Poll Tax in Scotland in April 1989.

Poll tax
On April 1st 1989, the Poll Tax came into operation in Scotland. Meanwhile in England and Wales, the bureaucracy to manage Poll Tax south of the border was put into operation - hordes of snoopers will emerge from the recesses of council buildings to scour the locality for over 18s to register. As they do so, lefty and nationalist politicians (and other poseurs) look hard at their consciences and wonder whether to opt for new realism or be a (wo)man of the people".

The thing about the Left’s Anti-Poll Tax campaign is that it is a wonderful way of focusing working class discontent on parliamentary solutions. Whether it is hard campaigning (We won’t pay), or soft campaigning (we will pay, but won’t enjoy it), such campaigns lead to reforms which aren’t even reforms - they merely return things to the miserable state they were at before. Labour Party hacks (in England) can be leisurely in their approach, knowing full well that the logic of such campaigns leads to kicking out the tories at the next election. Hence their pathetic "Poll Tax Protest Petition" which offers such gems as "Labour says that tax should be fair and based on ability to pay". We are not interested in alternative ways to finance the state.

Don't delay - throw it away
The left’s non-payment campaign focuses on a public stance, in particular on getting MPs and councillors to give the lead by committing themselves to non-payment. The example of the campaign in Scotland so far shows that the best tactic is not to draw attention to yourself as an individual. In the Lothian area up to 60,000 have succeeded in not registering by ignoring the forms sent to them. All the people fined for non-compliance (about 100) had entered into correspondence with the authorities.

Another point to remember is the opposition to the 1981 Census. Prominent Liberal politicians stood up to be not counted, and were promptly taken to court as exemplary cases. But thousands of proletarians simply told census collectors to fuck off, and despite various threats, were by and large left alone. Of course, Poll Tax is a lot heavier than the census, so such an outcome is less likely. But nevertheless, there is not much point in conducting a campaign which will centre on a few public figures trying to gain popularity by being dragged through the courts and possibly jail, with the idea that this purgatory will lead to the heaven of election. Poll tax must be resisted in a way that draws people together to resist the state, landlords and bosses in a stronger way and undermines the politicians.

Registering our resistance
Firstly the Poll tax is given the pretty name "Community Charge" - an attempt to incorporate a seventies buzz word. This is designer legislation aimed at fragmenting the opposition. For a start, certain crucial sectors will have little choice. All those in receipt of state benefit will be sent a form to "apply" for an 80% reduction. These forms have not yet emerged from the bastions of the DHSS, so at this stage it is unclear how this will be worded. But underlining it is the threat that if you don’t make such an application you will be liable to pay the full whack. This is going to be a pretty effective argument for applying - which amounts to registering. That’s one slice of the population captured. Secondly, students will be netted when they turn up to register at college. There will be a "Community Charge cop" making sure that all their particulars are taken down.

It is of course possible that workers both in DHSS offices and College offices will refuse to do this dirty work, as could other workers who have to co-operate with the tax in some way, such as council workers and postal workers. A strategy based on this alone is liable to fail as these sectors of workers are unlikely to stick their necks out on masse, while the rest of the proletariat applauds from the sidelines. They might get involved however if the struggle hots up elsewhere. We can make a start by resisting registering - every effort should be made to make sure that the scumbags have to dig up library lists, the voters register etc. etc. (Also as well as avoiding getting names on lists, it is possible to flood the lists with false names - preferably living in posh streets!) Such tactics can effectively delay implementation, but they will not prevent it or stop it

Can't pay, won't pay
This is the hardline position, and the state has plenty up its sleeve. Docking money from benefit payments will not be hard - already they have put the boot into claimants to such an extent that they presume they’ll be little resistance. In fact, in this respect there is no reason to see Poll Tax as any different from other cuts in benefit.

It will be harder to dock workers wages. Where it’s a matter of picking off isolated workers, it will be quite easy. (By this stage the mass media will be talking about "meanies" who don’t wait to help the "community" in the same way they spoke of ‘scroungers" in the seventies.) The bosses are ready to victimise workers who don’t pay. But this can be resisted - John Lewis stores in Scotland backed down over such sackings after threats to picket stores over Christmas. The best possibility of resistance is where a substantial section of the workforce in a workplace have decided together not to pay, and to strike if pay cuts are imposed.

Aside from docking money, there is the possibility of the state seizing people’s belongings and evicting them if they won’t pay. This of course must be resisted - regardless of whether it stems from Poll Tax or from rent increases or any other trick the boss class has up its sleeve.

By way of conclusion
Poll tax is merely an element in the state’s arsenal of new weapons to attack us with. In the class war, it is pointless to complain about the weapons the other side is using. The point is to resist - to resist in the work place, on housing estates, in the benefit offices. Poll Tax, Employment Training, Benefits cuts, changes in the housing laws - all these things spell out more misery, more poverty, and more homelessness. The left offers an isolated anti-Poll Tax Campaign which does not deal with these underlying issues.

So once again we have to stress, to underline that it is only the proletariat organising itself to fight its own struggles, that will keep these attacks at bay This is not to say that anti-Poll Tax groups are useless, but to say that they are only of any use if they break with labourite and nationalist reformism and merge with specifically class resistance. Groups set up to resist Poll Tax evictions can be used to resist other evictions for instance. But we must fight attempts to turn them into channels to divert resistance into the open arms and empty hands of politicians.

The Red Menace, number three, June 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Bread, blood and circuses - The Red Menace

Article drawing parallels between the March 1989 riots against austerity measures in Venezuela, and food riots in Burma.

For four days at the beginning of March, the Venezuelan poor staged what amounted to a nationwide uprising against the government’s austerity programme, recently agreed with the International Monetary Fund.

After months of food shortages, the final straw was a 90% rise in petrol prices and a 30% increase in bus fares. Riots started after school children were refused their usual half-price bus fare concessions. They took to the streets, tearing down lamp-posts to build barricades in Caracas, the capital. Rioting spread to 17 towns and cities, including Los Teques, Guarenas and Ciudad Guayana. Men women and children looted supermarkets and slumdwellers exchanged gunfire with police and troops.

The uprising did not come out of nowhere. In January 1,000 housewives looted supermarkets in Maracay, 75 miles west of Caracas. Last October 14 fishermen were killed by security forces on the Colombian border near to the town of El Amparo. After the massacre, believed to be organised by "DISIP" paramilitary police (Department of Intelligence and Prevention Services), weapons were planted on the bodies to make it appear that they were Colombian guerrillas. In response to the killings there was a general strike in El Amparo and rioting (apparently initiated by students) in Merida, Valencia, Maracay and Caracas.

Round up the usual suspects
In Venezuela, as in Britain, riots have been blamed on ‘agitators and ‘foreigners’. The government has talked of "minority groups maddened by revolutionay ideas" and ‘illegal immigrants who are used to acting like vandals in their own country". The roots of the uprising are of course not to be found in manipulation by any ‘outsiders’, but in the global economic crisis and the austerity measures that all our rulers are introducing in an attempt to solve this crisis. In Venezuela the crisis has hit particularly hard because revenues from oil - the back bone of the economy - have fallen by nearly 50% in the last five years.

All around the world
In every country in the world capital is imposing a general deterioration in our living standards. In Britain so far, the bourgeoisie has managed to isolate resistance by attacking our class section by section (first the steel workers, then the miners and so on). Elsewhere however, the depths of the crisis has limited our bosses room for manoeuvre, and they have been forced to simultaneously attack the working class as a whole, provoking mass resistance.

Bread
In Burma last August the increasing price of rice sparked off an armed revolt, with strikes, looting and attacks on police stations. There were similar scenes in Algeria in response to austerity measures, and in December a 500% rise in the price of sugar led to a general strike in Sudan. In some cases of course mass struggles have exploded because of a general feeling that "life" cannot go on like this anymore, rather than simply in response to economic attacks. This seems to be the case with the Palestinian Intifada.

Blood
"Democratic" or "military", "Islamic" or "socialist", the response of the state to such movements has been brutal and bloody repression. In Venezuela, President Carlos Andros Perez introduced a state of emergency announcing "we must first safeguard the right to life, the right to peace and the property of our nation". 10,000 troops were flown into Caracas to suppress the rioting. The state claimed that 270 died, but over 500 bodies were counted in the morgues and hospitals of Caracas alone. 7,000 people were arrested. In Burma up to 10,000 people have been massacred by the military junta. In Algeria hundreds were killed as tanks were sent in against rioters.

Circuses
At the same time as they shoot down proletarians in the streets, our rulers mount a political circus of reforms to convince us that they are cleaning up their act. In Burma the junta talks of holding an election in the future; in Algeria a referendum on a new constitution has been held, while in Sudan a new government has been formed. The Venezuelan ruling class has had plenty of practice at this sort of thing. It was after riots and strikes against the Perez Jumenez dictatorship in 1958 that elections were held which brought the ruling Acciön Democrática party to power for the first time.

Although such reforms give the bosses some breathing space, in the end they run the risk of exposing the fact that whatever the form of government, exploitation and repression are all this system has to offer.

The increasing similarity in the living conditions of our class across the world, and the eruption of struggles at the same time in different places, is opening up the possibility of an extension of the class struggle beyond national frontiers.

The Red Menace, number three, June 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Letters from Algeria: the situation after the uprising - The Red Menace

Accounts of a participant in the 1988 uprising against austerity measures in Algeria.

These letters were received by our comrades at Le Brise Glace (The Ice Breaker). We are publishing them because they give an interesting eye-witness account of the situation before and immediately after last year’s uprising in Algeria. The reference to ‘Chadli’ is to the president, ChadIi Benjedid.

Hello,

I spent a dozen days at the seaside… the sea is the only thing here which is still beautiful. Our country is In the process of living through a very difficult moment, a major economic crisis. Inflation is at full tilt, which means that the number of people on the take has increased a lot. Corruption Is everywhere. It even touches the popular classes. The people suffer and console themselves with a silence which will be heard sooner or later. Because things here are really over the top. But then, unfortunately the leaders are lacking. and there are no mass organisations of the people.

The party of the FLN (National Liberation Front) is just a collection of corrupt and treacherous shysters, a kind of mafia, who can only milk the people. There is no bureaucrat who is not a thief. Money is syphoned off by the billions by the DGs (Directeur Géneral) who only risk a few months In jail. At the moment all the bigwigs are feathering their nests. Even the president and his entire family are implicated. Recently there was a bloke here who, with the complicity of the DG of the banks, embezzled several billion; he was arrested and held for several weeks at the same time that the bank manager, who was in Switzerland, was sent back here. Result; they were only held for a few weeks, and the police aren’t bothering them now. I always used to see this bloke driving around in his Porsche. No-one trusted him. And the reason that the police aren’t interested: well Chadti’s son (a right little tucker) and the son of a general (as much a fucker as the former and as his dad) are involved In the business. So long as the people are being screwed they are no longer In power. Socialism, what’s that? Those who don’t really know about socialism have ended up hating it, because they judge It by the style of the Algerian regime. And the worst is that ChadIi and his clique are in the process of selling the country to the west, the USA in particular.

The Algerian authorities have even secretly extradited Algerian nationals that France has asked for. What this means Ii that if France or the USA want to liquidate or condemn such and such an Algerian, they only need to act through the Intermediary of the authorities here. This is truly revoltingl (...) Well that’s what’s happened to our country. It is very difficult to do anything here. Everyone is very fragmented here, because they are scared and they know this can’t last much longer.

So, firstly there is a lack of propaganda material to inform people and to prepare them. Then there is the lack of money and guns. But to have this is a dream in a country like this. Because people only worry about filling their pockets and becoming more and more selfish. Personally, I want to leave this country this month - I’ll contact you from wherever I am.

Ali

***

27/12/88

Hello,

I sent you a letter just before the recent events, but I think it must have been Iitercepted like many other letters, because the post of the ‘Algerian people’ is censored in case the truth gets out, but the truth is already out.

I have already told you that the people were at the end of their tether, and I had a good idea of what was going to happen. I have liyed very close to the recent events, or rather the revolt by the ‘kids’. I often found myself in the front line. Unfortunately I have been very II and week; I had to go home and recover my strength whenever It abandoned me.

What has happened here has not been seen in any other part of the world, even Chile or Palestine, where the soldiers have been gunning people down for four months (The Israeli Prime minister sad: ‘What we have killed In 8 months, the Algerians have killed in 2 daysl! So the Medal for Repression must go to the Algerians.’) In two days more than 200 people were killed, a more accurate estimate would be more than 500 dead. In my neighbourhood we have buried 2 youths aged 10 and 11 years old (the youngest). The youngest wounded in our neighbourhood was one year old, although a mother was killed with a baby in her belly. A nineteen year old friend of many was brought down as he tried to help a wounded person lying on the ground. In our sector, there have been at least 30 people killed and 100 wounded.

Personally, I have endured many bursts of MAT49 fire. The only reason l’m still alive is because the soldiers are such lousy shots and the MAT49 doesn’t aim too good in the hands of a crap shot. But with the KaIachnikovs we have to keep out the way and even lie flat. I felt no fear, but I was careful not to get killed, whereas the youth threw themselves at the tanks and machIne guns like kamikazis with the carelessness of their age. Unfortunately we did not have any guns or any way to stop the tanks. No-one was ready for it (now not far from Algiers, there must be nearly 400 tanks. I can’t think what they’re waiting fort) These fachos have shot at us when we were going to bury 3 people, including the two kids. They have no respect for the dead (you’re going to say they have respect for the Iiving!). I saw 6 people drop during the funeral cortege.

I tell you such experiences so as to tell you that French imperialism has been inherited here: amongst other obscenities, torture. The mopping up after the revolt was merciless. The French were soft next to this race of monsters. Some youths have been finished off, because after having tortured them so much, they could not let them go in the state they were in, which would have been very bad evidence against them. Whilst the youngest kids were subjected to the most horrible sexual abuse, those who were only raped or sodomised were lucky. Some were castrated! In what country have you heard of things like this? It is unbelievable.

Ali

The Red Menace, number three, June 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

The Red Menace #4 Sept 1989

This issue features articles on transport strikes and Israe/Palestine ("two states too many") also a review supplement (Guy Debord book, Demolition Derby journal, anti-Zionist jewish journal, etc)

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More misery now! - The Red Menace

Article looking at the impact of the 1989 public transport workers' strikes in London and elsewhere.

Forced to lie in the sun instead of sit in front of a VDU ...to stay in bed instead of going to work ...these have been some of the horrific privations inflicted on commuters by the last few months’ transport strikes. If this is misery, give us more of it!

Our rulers’ response to these strikes has been to talk of banning strikes in "essential services" and bringing in new laws against wildcat action. Their attempts to mobilise ‘public opinion’ against the strikes on the basis of the supposed misery they caused to commuters were largely unsuccessful however. Hundreds of spaces in the emergency car parks set up in Hyde Park and elsewhere in London remained empty, as people simply used the strikes as an excuse to stay off work, or at least arrive as late as possible. Indeed from April, when the first strikes began on the London Underground, until early August, many people were on what amounted to an unofficial 4 day week. With all the strikes now apparently settled, people everywhere can be heard moaning about the return to ‘normality’.

Real misery consists of having to spend time (for which we are not even paid) travelling to and from work every day in inhuman conditions. Overcrowded trains, broken down escalators (one in three is out of order on the London Underground), automatic ticket barriers - these are just some of the daily hazards we face. And as conditions deteriorate the threat of an ‘accident’ like the King’s Cross Underground fire (which killed 31 people in November 1987) constantly hangs over us. A secret report leaked at the end of August identifies 126 fire risks at Tottenham Court Road tube station alone. All this just to get to a place where most of us don’t want to go - the office or factory.

Apart from planning to increase fares by 20% to reduce numbers in the rush hour, London Transport’s main attempt to ‘improve’ matters appears to be a campaign of colourful posters extolling the wonders of the tube system and featuring a series of specially commissioned paintings. (Once again artists, those specialists of creativity, are exposed as the vanguard of marketing, selling us a way of life that denies the real creative powers of the rest of us).

"Sod the union"
The strikes involved at various times train drivers and station staff on British Rail and the London Underground, bus drivers and bus maintenance workers. For the most part, they have been limited to relatively ineffective one day action and have remained firmly under the control of the unions. There have been some interesting developments though, particularly on the London Underground, where the strike movement for a £64 a week pay rise was instigated after an unofficial mass meeting of 700 drivers in March.

Subsequent mass meetings involved members of the NUR and ASLEF, both of which unions opposed the strikes. ASLEEP stated "All members are instructed by this Executive Committee not to participate in unofficial action and to work normally". But as one train operator put it, "A lot of them are saying ‘Sod the Union’." Eventually the unions reestablished control after declaring the strikes official and seizing the initiative in other transport strikes. However many drivers were furious when the unions called off the strikes on the 9th August after accepting a pay rise of up to £16 a week. The next day many of them staged an unofficial strike, and one driver was quoted as saying: "If those union leaders who accepted the deal had turned up in person there would have been a riot". If the unions failed to immediately halt strikes, they gave London Regional Transport the confidence to threaten to sack drivers taking any future unofficial action. Faced with this prospect, mass meetings of drivers decided to suspend strikes.

Bus drivers at the Central Scottish Bus Group also defied "their" union during their 7 week strike (which finished at the end of May 1989). Against Tranpsort and General Workers Union orders, unofficial pickets successfully halted work on a number of occasions at depots belonging to CSBG’s parent company.

A major weakness of the strikes was their sectionalism. Despite the obvious similarities between their respective situations there was little attempt to unify the struggles of different groups of transport workers (let alone unify these with other recent strikes by dockers, steel erectors, and workers in the oil industry, local government, passport offices, the BBC, etc.), beyond sometimes striking on the same day. Some of the unofficial co-ordinators of the tube drivers’ strikes were even reluctant to take joint action with station staff on the underground.

The strikes at least demonstrated the potential that exists when different groups of workers strike simultaneously. On one fine day, June 21st 1989, tube, bus, and British Rail workers were all on strike in London, virtually bringing the city to a halt (an appeal by the organisers of a Billy Graham rally that night to cancel the strikes was ignored- perhaps this is why LRT chairman Wilfrid Newton accused ASLEF members who joined the action unofficially of being brought out by "ungodly" elements).

Unfortunately strikers didn’t attempt to stop the city completely by blocking roads, unlike in Spain where in June striking bus drivers barricaded the main road to Madrid airport during the rush hour! There was some disruption to roads in North East England on the 12th July though when striking council workers closed the Tyne Tunnel on the same day as a rail strike.

Stop the city
In some quarters (including the Independent’s letter column) it has been suggested that transport workers should stage a ‘social strike’, i.e. instead of striking they should turn up to work but refuse to collect any fares. Such an approach was adopted earlier this year in South Korea for instance, when workers on the Seoul underground opened the turnstiles and offered free travel to the system’s 2.5 million passengers.

We are opposed to this tactic in the current context, firstly because it would massively decrease the effectiveness of transport workers’ strikes. It is true that the profits of the transport companies would be hit, but the real power of workers in this sector comes from their ability to deprive capital as a whole of its most valuable resource - labour. London Regional Transport (LRT) claims to have lost £18m as a result of the 14 one day tube stoppages. But business in general has lost a lot more as a result of people not turning up to work (85% of London workers depend on public transport) and from having to pay for special transport, hotel bills, etc. for staff.

Furthermore, keeping the transport system running would put a stop to one of the most subversive aspects of such strikes- the way in which they allow people to reclaim some time from the wheels of the workaday machine. We need to remember that most people spend hours travelling every week because they have to not because they want to.

Of course, there are occasions when social strikes of one kind or another are a good idea. In Peking, railway workers allowed people to travel without tickets so that they could participate in the recent ill-fated demonstrations, But there is a world of difference between using transport for our own ends, and self-managing the circulation of commodities, including human beings.

Common interests
Successful transport strikes benefit users not just by giving them more free time, but also because they increase the strength of transport workers, putting them in a better position to impose improvements in safety. The common interest between those of us travelling to work and those of us working in the business of travel is clear. Last year train drivers on British Rail’s Eastern Region went on strike in a dispute over unsafe braking systems, a threat to passengers as well as drivers. At about the same time there were several ‘commuter revolts’ on the London Underground, with passengers refusing to leave diverted trains. One result of this was the recruitment of 51 new drivers on the Northern Line.

Another site of struggle has been over plans to extend the transport system by building new road and rail links. In the process many homes and areas of wilderness face destruction. It is planned for instance to build a four lane motorway through Oxleas Wood, a large area of ancient woodland in South East London. One weakness of opposition to such development is that it generally accepts that there is a transport crisis, and proposes alternative ways of solving it. What nobody seems to be saying is that it is not a question of cars versus trains, or this route against that route, but of why so many people have to travel in the first place. It seems clear that the daily mass movement from A to B and back again is neither freely undertaken, nor does it satisfy any needs except those of capital.

In future strikes a positive development would be for transport workers, users and other interested proletarians to get together (outside of the control of the unions and parties) to wage a struggle on the basis of our need.

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Help the economy: sleep on the streets - The Red Menace

The Red Menace reviews No Reservations: Housing, Space and Class Struggle.

"More and more the city is a monolithic temple to the power of money over us, as the pyramids were to the power of the pharoahs over the slaves- and like the servants of the pharoahs, we are buried alive inside it."

The articles in No Reservations (from which the above quotation is taken) look at some of the ways in which the logic of capital shapes the housing situation and other aspects of social space. Recent changes in housing in Britain are discussed, as is the historical development of the city, the role of art in relation to gentrification and the state’s hostility to unofficial social gatherings (as shown by the suppression of the Stonehenge festival in 1985).

One article, published originally in the U.S. journal Midnight Notes, looks at the U.S. government’s "spatial deconcentration" programme. This was developed in the aftermath of the 1960s riots in American cities, with the aim of breaking up the large concentrations of the inner city poor (especially black people). In Washington DC for instance, 50,000 people a year were being displaced from the inner city to isolated suburbs during the 1970s, encouraged by the carrot of rent subsidies for suburban housing and the stick of deliberately running down inner city dwelling space.

As our struggles in the past (such as inner city riots) have shaped capital’s present strategy for dealing with social space, so this strategy too will generate new struggles. No Reservations examines some recent struggles over housing and social space, such as the Zurich riots of the early 1980s (focused around the demand for an autonomous youth center), the August 1988 anti-gentrification riot in Tompkins Square, New York, and last year’s squatters’ resistance to evictions on the Stamford Hill Estate in North London.

Although the pamphlet focuses particularly on the Western ‘developed world’ it is clear that the struggle is a global one. In the Kurdish region of northern Iraq for instance, troops have begun the forcible evacuation of 250,000 people. The entire population of the town of Quala Diza (100,000) have been deported and their homes reduced to rubble. In Romania meanwhile 7000 villages are to be obliterated and the dispossessed peasants resettled in new towns in the course of the state’s ‘sistematizarea’ programme. The aim here is not simply to modernize agriculture, but also to increase social control through the destruction of remote villages at present relatively free from state surveillance.

In the few remaining corners of the globe not yet completely colonised by capital, the struggle over space also takes the form of a fight to preserve a way of life that is not completely dominated by money. In this context we could mention the Kayapo Indians’ fight against the destruction of their home: the Amazon rainforest.

While trendy rich popstars like Sting give their worthless ‘support’ to the Kayapo Indians in their opposition to hydroelectric dams however, they keep silent about the flooding of the urban jungle with wine bars, office blocks and housing developments for the wealthy. Those of us natives facing deportation from the inner cities to reservations in Essex and elsewhere need to mobilise our own tribes in opposition. Reading No Reservations will give us a better understanding of the terrain on which we are fighting.

No Reservations is available from News from Everywhere, Box 14, 136 Klngsland High Street, London E8 (£1 + SAE).

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Demolition Derby: reflections on 'primitivism' - The Red Menace

The Red Menace review the Canadian primitivist magazine, Demolition Derby.

Demolition Derby is a new revolutionary newspaper from Canada. Politically it situates itself in what could loosely be described as the "anti-authoritarian primitivist" tendency, with an emphasis on opposition to technology and environmental themes. The approach taken by Demolition Derby (and others such as a Fifth Estate) is refreshingly different from the familiar parliamentary cretinism of the Green Party on the one hand and the just plain cretinism of the likes of Green Anarchist on the other (with their support for national liberation rackets and the "informal economy" of hippy shopkeepers). Here opposition to the ravages of industrialism is clearly posed in terms of the abolition of the money/work/wages will also warns system and all that upholds it. As a one article in Demolition Derby puts it: "we desire neither a green army, nor a green state, nor green money".

While we are not sure how far down the "primitivist" road - or footpath- we want to travel (some argue for a return to a hunter gatherer lifestyle), the critique of industrial civilisation advanced by Demolition Derby, Fifth Estate, John Zerzan and others needs to be taken seriously. We ourselves are certainly anti-progress, in the sense of opposing the idea that the continual expansion of a production offers a never-ending improvement in quality of life. We would agree with the group Interrogations, whose ‘Questioning Ecology’ text is included in Demolition Derby, that "from factory production to industrial mechanicalness, from automation to word processing and robots, a cycle which renders humans inessential has come into being" and that today, "the development of the productive forces is simply an expression of the domination of commodities".

A long article in Demolition Derby criticises anarcho-syndicalism, in particular the version of it espoused by the U.S. leftist outfit the Workers Solidarity Alliance. The ideology of self-management, whose ‘radical’ horizons stretch no further than democratically running the existing factory system, is subjected to a well-deserved demolition job. There is also a good anti-nationalism piece, translated from Brouillon pour une critique sociale (another Montreal-based journal).

A criticism we would make of some people in the ‘primitivist’ scene is that they have abandoned any class perspective and talk solely in terms of a struggle between humanity and capital (see for instance the text ‘Countering the mystique of the proletariat’ by Interrogations, translated in the August issue of Fifth Estate). We would remind them that the despoliation of our planet, the massacres of Beijing, Halabjah and elsewhere, etc., etc., were masterminded not by the evil spirits of a metaphysical capital, but by our rulers who are human, all too human. A classless society is something to strive for, but realising it first involves a class struggle against the human defenders of capital.

Encouragingly one of the contributors to Demolition Derby does state that he actively supported the printworkers strike at Wapping a couple of years ago. Where exactly Demolition Derby stand on the question of class will hopefully be made clearer in future issues.

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Debord's New Book (review) - by The Red Menace

The Red Menace was produced by an informal group of communists and appeared for several issues in late 1980s London. It contained news and reviews of class struggle topics.

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989

DEBORD'S NEW BOOK

A review of Guy Debord, Commentaires sur la société du spectacle, pubd. Editions Gerard Lebovici (27, rue Saint-Sulpice, 75006 Paris, France), 1988

Not surprisingly, the Situationist International (SI), which lasted from 1957 to 1972 and was the most extreme revolutionary organisation of its time, has won contempt and false praise from all sorts of people who deign to acknowledge or capitalise upon its influence. Recently BBC2's Late Show spent half an hour illustrating the role of "situationism" in politics and art [sic], as a plug for an exhibition of "Art of the SI'' staged at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in June.

But the liars and imbeciles who make such programmes and stage such exhibitions, much as we despise them, are of little real historical importance. In most "advanced" countries today, the tiny minority of subversives can read the texts of the SI and use them as they see fit, just as a future revolutionary movement would be able to do.

Guy Debord was one of the SI's prominent theorists throughout its existence. In his Commentaries (as yet only available in French) he wastes no time defending the image of the SI. He begins by explaining that he is not at complete liberty to speak, since his Commentaries will be read by defenders of the system of spectacular domination as well as by those who seek to undermine it. The overall design of the book is left deliberately obscure, and even contains a few "decoys" ("the very signature of the epoch"). Amongst the subversives who read it there will probably be much disagreement over interpretation, and not least as to whether such a mode of expression is a rational one.

INVASION OF THE MIND-SNATCHERS

Debord's theses concern the directions commodity society has developed in since the troubles of 1968:

"...Since the spectacle today is assuredly more powerful than it was before, what is it doing with this extra power? What previously-unoccupied territory has it moved into? In short, what are its current lines of operation? The vague feeling that there has been a rapid invasion, obliging people to live a very different life, has since then become widespread; but it is felt rather as an unexplained change of climate or as another sort of natural equilibrium, a modification about ignorance knows only that it has nothing to say" (para.2)

His aim is to evoke certain practical consequences, still little known, resulting from "this rapid deployment of the spectacle over the last 20 years".

In his earlier book Society of the Spectacle (1967), Debord distinguished between concentrated and diffuse forms of the spectacle. The concentrated form, typified by Nazism and Stalinism, particularly the latter, corresponded to a regime with a dictator at the helm of the state and a bureaucratic, police-run system of commodity exchange. The diffuse form corresponded to freer competition between commodities and a higher form of commodity fetishism, with enthusiastic mass consumption of an ever-changing stream of star products. In Debord's view a third form, the integrated spectade is now in existence, combining the other two on the general basis of the diffuse form. Whereas Germany, Russia and the USA played the predominant part in the origin of the concentrated and diffuse forms, a similar role in the development of the integrated spectacle has been played by France and Italy. One factor which made these two countries stand out was the necessity to get rid of a surprise wave of revolutionary contestation. Other factors are the weak democratic tradition, the long-term monopolization of power by a single government party, and the role of Stalinist parties and unions in political and institutional life.

The integrated from uses various techniques of its predecessors: no more clear ideologies or Uncle Joes, but there is still a 'directive centre' albeit now under the cover of darkness. And the peripheries that were once immune to the diffuse spectacle are now no more: no more media free discussions in pubs or workplaces or cafes, no longer even the semblance of independent standards of competence among scientists, doctors or historians.

Debord identifies five major characteristics whose combined effects help make up modern society in the era of the integrated spectacle. Two tendencies that have been in evidence for a long while are non-stop technological renewal and an alliance between economy and state. Their effects in today's world include generalised secrecy, the presentation of falsehoods without fear of reply (with important consequences in the scientific, political and judicial fields, not to mention the field of artistic knowledge), and an atmosphere of a perpetual present.

Moreover, for the first time, spectacular domination has brought up a generation of people in obeisance to its laws. Memory, both in the field of historical life and in the sphere of personal consumption of fashions, has flown out of the window. In Debord's terminology, history, defined as what is memorable, as the totality of the events whose consequences are long lasting, as the measure of what is new, has been outlawed. Already recent history has been pushed into clandestinity. Those active in the 1986 events in French colleges and railway stations showed little knowledge of the movement of 68 and we doubt whether British youth in general have much recollection of the week of riots in 1981. The world is now more frantic.

There is much in the commentaries about secrecy, the law of omerta, the Mafia code of silence. Having broached upon the financing of political parties and the role of state speculations in various parts of the economy (new towns, motorways, nuclear energy, oil prospecting, underground distribution, banking, secret arms exports, pharmaceuticals), Debord cites Marx's reference in 'the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte' to a man "who, rather than deciding by night and striking by day, decides by day and strikes by night."

Whether or not conspiracy is growing in importance in international finance and matters of state (and we think it is, given the developments in the media, for whom arse licking is now considered unacceptably rebellious, and given the decreasing levels of knowledge among the population, not to mention the process of economic concentration), it is undeniably a reality.

SECRET OPERATIONS

Debord also analyses the secret services, for whom "knowledge must become power" (paragraph 20). Adopting the "police conception of history" (i.e. conspiracy theory), whilst accepting that in the 19th century it was reactionary and ridiculous, he states in paragraph 21 that "secrecy dominates the world, first of all as the secret of domination." Those who have access to a few supposed secrets feel superior to those who know nothing, but they remain merely first-class spectators, bribed with manipulated information. You won't find the answers to the questions "who rules?" and "how?" in the New Statesman or Private Eye, even if Duncan Campbell (lunch partner of a former Attorney-General) tells everything he knows about the coup plots of the mid-1970s.

Whereas catastrophes are in sight in areas such as ecology and banking, Debord thinks that capitalist domination has already got into position to deal with them with means other than the use of disinformation. After speaking of the recent history of the Mafia, the end of the "State of Right" (Rule of Law) along with democracy, and the growing importance of illegality in the economy (arms, hi-tech), he goes on to say that various means of "preventive civil war" have already been put in place.

Debord has written elsewhere about the manipulation and use of terrorism by secret services and P2 (the international secret Lodge that provided and probably still provides Italy with its secret government and has been involved in various financial scandals and political murders). Now he goes further:

"the secret services were called upon by the entire history of spectacular society to become its central pivot; for they more than anything else concentrate in themselves the characteristics and means of execution of the corresponding society. Henceforth they are also charged with adjudicating the general interest of the society, despite continuing to be modestly known as 'services'" (paragraph 27)

"Finally [surveillance's] principal contradiction at the moment is that it watches, infiltrates and influences an absent party: that which supposedlyt wants to subvert the social order. But where is it in evidence? Certainly, never have conditions everywhere been so deeply revolutionary, but this is only recognised by governments. Negation has been so perfectly deprived of its thought, that it dispersed a long time ago. Because of this, it is no more than a vague threat, albeit very worrying, and surveillance has consequently been deprived of the best field for its activity. The present necessities governing the conditions of engagement of this force of surveillance and intervention have led it to move onto the terrain of this threat in order to combat it in advance. This is why surveillance will have an interest in organising poles of negation to which it will feed information outside of the discredited channels of the spectacle, in order this time to influence not terrorists but theories." (Paragraph 30).

This last assertion is left without examples or scenarios, making us suspect that it is a "decoy". But one example of preventive civil war Debord gives is the possible future employment of the technique used in the Square of Three Cultures in Mexico City in 1968, where hundreds were massacred in one decisive move calculated to ensure the successful opening of the obscene Olympic Games. Such a technique can be used before the day of revolt. This is not what happened in Algeria recently, but it is exactly how the Chinese State has tried to impose its own order. Moves like this are not at all ruled out, indeed they are even implied by the theories of British counter-insurgency specialist Frank Kitson, who has written of the need to "drown the revolution in babies' milk." Outside of such extremes, Debord speaks of the use of assassination on a smaller scale. (His Commentaries are dedicated to his friend and publisher Gerard Lebovici, an entrepreneur ambushed and shot dead in Paris in 1984, with four bullets in the back of the neck).

On reading such thoughts we were left with the impression that what we need is a more detailed knowledge of State counter-subversive and counterrevolutionary operations and planning, although we recognise that this is not something to be discussed lightly.

In the penultimate paragraph of the Commentaries, Debord says that the changed conditions he has described will lead inevitably to a "relief operation" (presumably some kind of coup) from within the "co-opted caste that manages domination and, notably directs the protection of this domination." Whilst we agree that the wave of struggles that began in 1968 was defeated a long time ago, and that the period is still one where capitalist domination is plucking the fruits of past victories, we are still unsure as to exactly how well-organised and well-prepared it is possible for our enemies to get. In our view the style of the Commentaries does not contribute to a fact-based discussion of this point, although we recommend them for raising this and many other issues, only some of which we have dealt with above.

Review of Return: the case against Zionism - The Red Menace

Review of the March 1989 issue of the anti-zionist magazine Return.

Return are a group who "hope to become a focus and a voice for those Jews and others who are opposed to the Israeli state and its policies". This magazine is based on a conference they held in London last year.

As well as examining the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, it is argued that the interests of the Israeli state conflict with those of most Jews. Within Israel for instance Yiddish, Sephardi and Mizrahi cultures have all suffered at the hands of a state imposed, and in many ways artificial, Hebrew culture. As far as Jews outside of Israel are concerned, one article suggests (somewhat questionably), there is "a colonial relationship between Israel and the diaspora, where Jewish communities are drained politically, culturally and economically to the benefit of Israel".

Zionism and anti-semitism
A number of articles demonstrate quite clearly how zionism has often co-operated with, rather than confronted anti-semitism. Some zionists collaborated with the nazis before and during the second world war (both agreed that Jews didn’t belong in Europe), and more recently some zionist leaders have feted the French fascist Le Pen, who combines anti-semitism with an anti-arab and pro-Israel stance.

Israel maintained friendly relations with the Argentinian Junta (1976-1983) despite widespread official anti-semitism there: of the 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ (i.e. murdered by the state) in this period, some 10% were Jews, despite Jewish people comprising no more than 1% of the total population. The group Jewish Mothers of the Disappeared responded by trying to stop the Israeli ambassador to Argentina and Itzhak Navon (ex-president of Israel) from entering the 1984 congress of Amia (Ashkenazi Jewish Council in Buenos Aires).

Identity crisis
Contributors to the magazine also examine the question of ‘Jewish identity’ in a world where the dominant definitions of this identity are based on allegiance to Israel and/or religion. In her article, Jenny Bourne is critical of the whole notion of a politics focused around the question of identity: "the question of ‘Who am I?’ has taken over from ‘What shall we do?’ as the political programme. Or rather it is substituted for politics itself".

Zionism/anti-zionism
Our main criticism of Return is that most of the contributions are couched in the leftist language of ‘democratic rights’, ‘self-determination’,etc. This is particularly apparent in Return’s petition ‘Against the Israeli Law of Return, for the Palestinian Right to Return’, which among other things calls for an independent Palestinian state (presumably under the control of the P.L.O. which is described as "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people").

We do not see the Israeli state as simply the offspring of zionist ideology- it has functioned throughout according to the logic of international capitalism. For example, the expulsion of Palestinians from the land and their transformation from peasants into proletarians is best understood as a form of primitive accumulation. This process of looting and land grabbing has been a feature of capitalist development everywhere (see for instance the Highland Clearances in Scotland during the last century).

Operating according to the same logic, a Palestinian state would suppress proletarian insurgency as ruthlessly as any other state, including Israel. For confirmation of this we need look no further than Algeria, where the F.LN., yesteryear’s national liberation movement and exemplary anti-zionists, happily massacred those staging their own local Intifada last December.

We do not assert that all states are identical, or even that at certain times it wouldn’t be preferable to live under one state rather than another. It is quite understandable for instance that Jews should have wished to live anywhere else than in nazi-occupied Europe. It is not enough however to attack particular frameworks for exploitation, such as zionism or fascism. We need to attack the whole basis of these phenomena: capital and the state.

As Jean Barrot has put it: "The proletariat will destroy totalitarianism only by destroying democracy and all political forms at the same time. Until then there will be a succession of 'fascist’ and ‘democratic’ regimes in time and space; dictatorial regimes transforming willy nilly into democratic regimes and vice versa; dictatorship coexisting with democracy, the one type serving as a contrast and self-justification for the other type" (FascismlAnti-Fascism).

Despite these criticisms, this magazine contains much interesting material and is a further sign of the rift between the Israeli state and those on whose behalf it claims to act

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

Israel/Palestine: two states too many - The Red Menace

The Red Menace analyse the first Palestinian intifada.

Despite its position as a local superpower with one of the best-trained and best-equipped armies In the world, the State of Israel has been rocked by a major movement of resistance for nearly two years. Shamir’s cabinet might be able to kidnap Koran-pusher Sheikh Obeid, but it has been incapable of crushing the intifada. Although the rulers of Israel could in the future use far more force than they have done already, and would not balk, for example, at using chemical weapons on Nablus as Iraq did on Halabjah last year, they and their counterparts in all the countries seeking representation at a future "peace conference" can only dream of discovering a final solution to the ‘proletarian problem’.

Ever since the second world war the Great Powers have called for the institutionalisation of apartheid in Palestine. Once the idea of a "land without people for a people without land" had been generally accepted as bullshit, separate development for Jews and Arabs became official UN policy in 1947. Borders changed, a minority of Arabs became Israeli citizens, expropriations continued and diplomatic policies altered, but the basic principle was restated by UN Resolution 242 in 1967 and by the 3 parties to the Camp David accords in 1978. Last year even the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) dropped its demands for a non-racial capitalist State of "all Palestinians" (i.e. including Jews) and theatrically declared the independence of a Palestinian "Arab State… in the name of God".

Although Israel has never recognised eventual Palestinian sovereignty over anything, there is a clear feeling among some factions of the Israeli ruling class that maybe, just maybe, the PLO might be able to ensure social peace in the occupied territories, and it might be worth making a few concessions to help them do it. There has been talk of releasing hundreds of "PLO activists" from jail if Arafat promises to "call off the intifada". But in reality any kind of short-term "solution" will run into problems for numerous reasons:

A) The Intifada has its own logic, through the cycle of resistance and repression, not controllable by the PLO or anyone else. For example, in Belt Sakour on the West Bank last year, the repression of a campaign of "victory gardens" designed to free the town from dependence on the occupation authorities led to a stepping up of the struggle, first through the withholding of all tax, then the handing in of ID cards. The Palestinian insurgents could certainly teach us a thing or two about how to oppose the poll tax- on 14th August a tax collector’s car was petrol bombed on the West Bank.

B) The Intifada has strengthened the movement of Palestinians within pre-1967 Israel. For instance, on "Land Day" in March (the annual protest against the expropriation of Arab land), they staged a one-day general strike. The interests of the 700,000 Israeli Palestinians (17% of the Israeli population) are ignored by the "two-State solution". In fact the creation of a Palestinian State or semi-State would probably be used as an excuse to expel these Israeli Arabs, either directiy or through harassment.

C) We cannot forget the Palestinians in exile throughout the Middle East, western Europe and the US. In West Germany 70,000 are faced with the threat of deportation. In Jordan and the Lebanon (particularly in the rebellious Arkoub region), Palestinian proletarlans are showing that they have interests wherever they are, not just in the area called Palestine. A "State of all the Arab Palestinians" is as much of a bourgeois pipe-dream as the Zionist nonsense of a homeland for all Jews.

D) The Intifada is accentuating the divisions within Israel. First, there has been increasing direct resistance to repression of the Intifada. Hundreds of army reservists have refused to serve in the occupied territories, and some in the mass detention camps as well, supported by their organisation Yesh Gvul -"There is a limit" or "There is a border" (P0 Box 6953, Jerusalem 91068). This group was originally formed In 1982 by those refusing to do military service In the Lebanon. Today Yesh Gvul refuseniks pledge: "We shall refuse to take part in suppressing the uprising and insurrection in the occupied territories." Pressure on Yesh Gvul activists has been recently intensified with some facing charges of ‘incitement to mutiny’. Meanwhile a smaller, but growing organisation has been set up by those completely refusing military service.

Those serving have also increasingly protested, both against the extended length of reserve service, and against the situation they have been put in by the politicians. In January there was a meeting between Shamir and some reservists serving in Nablus, broadcast on Israeli TV, in which one soldier, expressing the thoughts of many, complained that "to create order In the Casbah we have to brutalise innocents, to make them fear us (...). In the street I catch a man who has a worker’s hands like me, and I have to beat him (...). An oppressive rule cannot be enforced without oppression."

Class divisions among Jews have been showing through even in the supposedly communal kibbutzim. At Kadarim, workers managed to stop management’s plans to produce rubber bullets for the suppression of the lntifada, while at K’ramim members of a kibbutz protested at the bureaucrats’ public condemnation of three of their number caught painting slogans in support of the intifada.

Some Jewish protesters have themselves come up against State repression. Earlier in the year police fired tear gas when members of Dai la Kibush (Enough Occupation) mingled with Palestinians visiting relatives at Megiddo prison in northern Israel. A petrol bomb was thrown at a police vehicle.

Meanwhile, groups of Israeli Jews are increasingly visiting the occupied territories, to help rebuild houses demolished by the army, to join protests, or just to show support. In Tel Aviv University, students have organised a sit-in against the forcible segregation of Jewish and Arab students, while at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, students have invited Arab students to join them from universities closed by the authorities on the West Bank.

Most Jewish support for the intifada is still couched In terms of nationalism and the "two-State solution", but it is nonetheless true that more and more Jews throughout the world are dissociating themselves from the policies of the Israeli State, and even from Zionism itself.

E) The intifada is causing major problems for the Israeli economy:

  1. The conflict is costly, both in direct terms and in terms of production lost through call-up. The cost of detention centres in the occupied territories alone amounted to 100m shekels (£33m) by April.
  2. After a mere seven months of trouble, tax revenues from the occupied territories had fallen by 40% due to resistance.
  3. Tourism, officially Israel’s main export industry (although who can tell the real profit made from foreign trade in weapons, security and military advice?), has been hit hard. Fewer holiday-makers want to go to a country whose violence is broadcast across the world. Nowadays even hotel-owners are calling for a "peaceful political solution".
  4. Strikes by Palestinian workers and the current blockade of Gaza have cut off an important supply of cheap labour to small industry and the building trade.

Order and the profit-rate are thus being undermined by a movement that is wider than simply a "Palestinian Intifada", a movement impelled by both Arabs and a significant minority of Jews. As the economy deteriorates, all participants in this movement are likely to come under heavier attack one way or another in the last month for instance the maximum period of detention without trial has been doubled to one year). It is practical unity in resistance to this attack, and in offensives against both the Jewish State and the Palestinian Statist wanna-bes, that can erode the apartheid system that is part of the material basis of local Zionism and anti-Semitism. A democratic negotiated solution would in itself be a defeat for the resistance because it would reinforce apartheid by imprisoning Jews and Arabs within separate States. Given the economic crisis this would lead to an exacerbation of the bad side of recent developments in the region, such as the growth of Islamic fundamentalism (and its corollary, the "socialism of imbeciles", namely anti-Semitism) and the rise of Jewish fascism, which on the West Bank is already spreading from religious fruitcakes to infect the yuppies. Rabbi Kahane’s Kach (‘Thus") party already advocates the expulsion of Arabs from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.[/]

The sum total of what we are saying is that the proletariat must destroy the "peaceful democratic solution" before the fascists do.

The Red Menace, Number Four, September/October 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

The Red Menace #5 Jan 1990

This issue includes articles on the ambulance strike, Paul Hill on the Hull 1976 prison protests and Peoples' Park protests in Berkeley 1969 and 1989,

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The ambulance dispute, 1989 - The Red Menace

Article attempting to link up the 1989-1990 London ambulance workers' dispute with that of council, construction and hospital workers.

Now the police won't just put you in hospital, they'll drive you there too
As we go to press the ambulance dispute is in its 4th month. Having escalated their action from an overtime ban to answering only 999 and emergency calls, some crews (notably those in London) are now refusing to answer any calls from central control. They are dealing only with emergency calls made directly to stations by the public or hospitals. In various parts of the country crews have been suspended and the army and the police are running a limited ambulance service.

Clearly it is necessary for ambulance workers to escalate their own action. Support is growing for an all out strike: at Isleworth, Twickenham, and Feltham stations in West London crews are already on virtual strike, refusing to answer any calls official or unofficial. With management cutting off phones to stations (as they have done in Dorset and Birmingham), other stations may have little choice but to follow suit. The real key to winning this dispute though is all out action by other groups of workers too.

The potential for this has been shown already. On December 6th, council workers (in Hackney and Hammersmith), construction workers (including 300 steel erectors on the Canary Wharf site) and hospital workers (at the Elizabeth Garret Anderson in Soho) were among those in London who took unofficial strike action for the day in support of the ambulance crews. Previously bus workers at Hanwell garage (West London) and workers at Homerton and St Bartholomew’s hospitals took token action. In addition many other workers have been involved in demonstrating, collecting money and organising ambulance support groups. Ambulance people have also made links with strikers elsewhere- in Luton they joined car workers’ picket lines at Vauxhall.

The main obstacle to any escalation of the dispute is the unions. Having originally recommended acceptance of the initial 6.5% pay offer, their main tactic has been to focus activity around useless petitions and calls for arbitration (i.e. a negotiated deal falling well short of the 11.4% rise demanded). Already they have publicly abandoned demands for a cut in the working week and longer holidays.

Roger Poole, chief union negotiator, has bluntly stated: "we don"t want solidarity strikes from other workers". In November the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) even refused to allow any non-ambulance workers on a demonstration in Manchester, and they are hoping to do the same on the TUC-sponsored march on January 13th. At all sorts of union meetings workers have been told that solidarity can’t be discussed as it constitutes illegal secondary action. For instance at the London Hospital (Whitechapel), NUPE branch officials refused to allow an ambulance worker to speak at a meeting of other health workers.

Those who still believe that they can rely on the unions for support should remember what happened when ambulance workers tried to speak to NUPE leader Rodney Bickerstaffe at the TUC (Trades Union Congress) headquarters: he called security guards to throw them out. Not daring to be seen to do nothing however NUPE have called a ‘day of action’ to coincide with the January 13th demo - on a Saturday! And union leaders are also considering asking other workers to stage periods of silence (lasting between 5 and 15 minutes) to show their support!

Ambulance crews and their supporters need to talk directly to other workers and argue that they should strike, not just out of sympathy but in their own interests. At Canary Wharf, ambulance workers not only spoke to steel erectors before December 6th but also turned up on the day to make sure they stood by their decision to strike; for construction workers the lack of a decent ambulance service on the streets is a clear threat to their health and safety. On the same day Hammersmith council workers linked up support for the ambulance crews with support for the’ council’s own striking nursery workers. It is this sort of activity that could lay the groundwork for a united strike movement around all our needs.

The Red Menace, Number 5, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.

After the Guildford Four - The Red Menace

Article examining the case of the Guildford 4 following their release in October 1989, and placing it in a broader context of state repression.

"Wrongfully convicted prisoners should stay in jail rather than be freed and risk a loss of public confidence in the law." (Lord Denning, 21/2/88)

"Prison is a killer- everything about it is designed to kill and destroy the human being." (Johnny Walker, one of the Birmingham 6)

The welcome release from prison in October 1989 of the Guildford Four does not signify any change of heart by the British state. Despite having quashed their convictions for the 1974 pub bombings in Guildford and Woolwich, the state still hasn’t even admitted that Paul Hill, Gerrard Conlon, Patrick Armstrong and Carole Richardson are innocent.

Freeing the Guildford 4 has an immediate political impact, in that the release of the Four strengthens the Anglo-Irish agreement, making it easier for Britain to have people like Patrick Ryan extradited from the 26 Counties i.e. hostage trading. It was also partly an exercise in damage limitation. It is already clear that the conspiracy that led to four Irish people being framed and spending nearly 15 years in prison involved various leading figures in the legal profession and the police (including Sir Peter Imbert, now commissioner of the Metropolitan Police). No doubt it is hoped that a ‘small scandal’ now will prevent a bigger scandal later on, as further information comes to light. Liberal lawyers have been expressing concern about the extension of police powers, particularly in the police station. This is more out of a desire to maintain their own power base and the illusion of "justice".

Attention is now shifting to the case of the Birmingham 6, jailed in similar circumstances to the Four in the same period. But we are not talking about tidying up a few legal loose ends from the 1970s. Only last year Martina Shanahan, Finbar Cullen and John McCann (the Winchester 3) were jailed for 25 years for conspiracy to murder with little more evidence against them than they had Irish accents in the vicinity of a government minister’s (Tom King’s) home. It remains the case, as Gerrard Conlon said on the day of his release, that "If you’re Irish and you’re arrested on a terrorist, political type of offence you don’t stand a chance". Significantly, it is in Northern Ireland that "the right to silence" has been abolished first.

It would be a mistake to think however that it is just a matter of how the British state treats Irish people. Repressive measures are often tested in Ireland, before being applied in Britain: snatch squads, plastic bullets, road blocks etc. And witness the case of Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite, jailed for life (for the murder of P.C. Blakelock during the 1985Tottenham riot) on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted under duress. Meanwhile in the Irish ‘Free’ State, Noel and Marie Murray (two anarchists convicted of shooting a cop in a 1975 bank raid) are still in prison.

For us therefore, it is not a question of changing the colour of the flags flying over the prisons (as envisaged by nationalists of all persuasions) but of destroying them absolutely, and freeing not only those innocent of their supposed ‘crimes’ but also all those criminalized in the course of fighting to meet their needs.

The Red Menace, number five, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.

Hull prisoners revolt, 1976 - The Red Menace

Paul Hill of the Guildford 4's account of the 1976 riot at Hull prison.

The years the Guildford Four spent in jail were not simply wasted time in which they sat and waited in the hope of eventual release. Every day in prison they faced a struggle to maintain their humanity against a system that denies it. Here we reproduce an account by Paul Hill [of the Guildford 4] of one moment in this struggle - the Hull prison riot of 1976.

For four days in September 1976 prisoners took over 3 of the 4 wings of Hull prison. As well as Paul Hill, participants in the riot included Irish Republicans (such as Martin Brady), Jake Prescott (in prison for his activities with the Angry Brigade) and various ‘ordinary criminals’: in struggles such as these it becomes clear that all prisoners are political.

The immediate cause of the riot was the beating up by screws of a prisoner in the segregation unit. Other grievances included the widespread and indiscriminate use of ‘Rule 43’ (allowing for solitary confinement), and slave labour conditions in the prison workshops, where furniture was made for prisons in Iran. The latter explains why during the riot prisoners on the roof shouted "Fuck the Shah of Iran! Fuck the Shah of Iran!"

After taking control of the buildings and freeing those held in the segregation unit, the prisoners found files held on them by the authorities. Furious at the contents of these files (Paul Hill’s for instance included the remark "Never to be released"), "everyone decided to begin demolishing the prison with their bare hands" (Jake Prescott). As well as causing extensive damage, the prisoners held a roof top protest during which they talked to a crowd of 400 school children who gathered on the other side of the wall, throwing them sweets, toys and money ‘liberated’ from the prison canteen.

The protest was called off in return for a promise of no brutality and no damage to prisoners’ property. Once they surrendered however their possessions were smashed and they were severely beaten up by prison officers. Irish prisoners were forced onto their hands and knees and told to sing ‘God save the Queen’, black prisoners were racially abused.

A prisoner described one of the beatings he witnessed: "I then heard another being dragged down the stairs, this was a boy of 23 named Paul Hill. He had shoulder length hair and it was by this that he was being pulled down the stairs helped by full blooded kicks to his stomach, chest and back, he was literally thrown down the last few stairs with the words "Remember Hull ‘76’ ".

(This account is taken from "Don’t Mark His Face - Hull Prison Riot ‘76" published by the National Prisoners Movement).

Paul Hill’s account
I was involved in the protest at Hull. The events that led to this protest are already known by you, so I will start from after the thing was over, and when we were put in strip cells in B wing. After being in my cell for about two hours, six screws came in led by a screw called Nobby Clark, they asked me for my medal around my neck. As it was of sentimental value I refused. I was then pushed into a corner and held down while Clark ripped it from my neck. They gave me a few petty slaps and then left. That night we were each (l think) given a mattress, no blankets, anyway the screws made it impossible for sleep as they roamed like little armies around the landings (in the total darkness ) banging doors, screaming in their usual lunatic ways, only some cons got more than verbal, on my landing I know of at least one con who they set about in his cell, and throughout most of the night, I heard others getting the by now ‘normal treatment’. I was very lucky on the Friday night because apart from the verbal I was left alone. By Saturday morning most cons I’m sure felt as I did, cold, tired and hungry and most of all afraid of what was to come.

‘The beatings’- not a feeling of fear as such, but a feeling of despair knowing each of us were totally helpless, I heard the screws work their way along my landing one at a time, cons were battered to breakfast and battered back again, when they got to me I was opened up, grabbed by the hair and dragged along the landing. I was kicked and punched about the body the whole way up the landing by screws who screamed and yelled as if they hated me more than anything in this world. I was in a ball to protect my face, head and privates so they lifted me by the hair and dipped my face in a tray of jam, I was then beaten back down to my cell and dumped on the floor, a few minutes later they came back again and said bye byes.

I was again beaten along the landing and down two flights of stairs, I was lucky enough to have a prisoner who was battered down in front of me witness my beating at the bottom of the stairs. He has said he will back me up in any court proceedings that I may take. This con is B.Coster who I am with at present. We then saw another con P.Rajah (also here) receiving the same treatment that we had. We were then handcuffed and taken to the police wagon and taken here. We each petitioned for access to a brief. This has been refused us, as they want us to tell them our full story first, which we won’t do, as whoever beat us up will be told in advance to say they was elsewhere.

While at Hull I got my small record (file) and some of the lines about me are as follows:

  1. That in Albany Prison I spoke of my willingness to take hostages, they said I might kill them.
  2. That at all times I am moody and show my hate for the screws by being unco-operative.
  3. That anyone who has ever spoken to me has said I express a desire to escape.

And no. 4 is the one that frightens me. They said I am totally suicidal. I am of sound mind and anyone who knows me says I’m happy go lucky. The reason I worry over this is why should they say this knowing it to be untrue? They also state other matters, some of which I don’t want to reveal to anyone other than my brief as they were to do with my case and he is at present trying to have it re-opened and I don’t wish to hinder his efforts. I think what disturbed me most of all was the fact that they had an intimate bit on each of the main witnesses at my trial and the part that angers me most of all is that they have a section in it on my girl (who has a child by me). They underlined in red This relationship must be ended. Not content with their efforts to wreck us they also wish to wreck our families. My record finished by stating again underlined in red - must be treated with strict discipline at all times.

We are bit by bit becoming more frustrated here as we are here and suffering over a prisoner who was beaten up at Hull, yet since coming here we have heard of guys being beaten and put in the ‘strong box’ naked. I fear that if these things are not brought to light then someone will be killed as it’s all too easy.

These people (screws) are their own law, and that is the law of the boot and the fist, all this is sanctioned by their lords (the govs.). I’ve been in 9 prisons in two years and I thought I’d seen the lot. But I ain’t seen as much brutality towards cons as I’ve seen at Hull and Here (Leicester). All we can do is protest verbally over these beatings here, but I might as well talk to the bog roll than do that, cause all we get in return is shit. If any of us were to raise our hands we would be battered, so what do we do? Listen to shit, get battered or hide in our cells like cowards and go insane listening to cons screaming?

We are human beings and we want to tell the world we’re human because if we don’t, after more of this we won’t be human very long, we’ll be shells or dead. Some people may say I read too many violent books but I know in my soul that if they came into this cell and clubbed me to death, that not one of them would face the law; remember THEY ARE THE LAW IN OUR WORLD...

In Hull I was one of the four cons who busted those in the seg unit out and I witnessed A.Clifford and I say now that the side of his face was marked, no one could ever tell me otherwise, as I seen with my own eyes. I also felt and adored the feeling of how the cons on the block hugged us as if we had just broke them from hell, some were so happy they had tears in their eyes, and I didn’t even know these ‘crazy happy guys’. But to me it felt like they were my brothers (and they are) as I’m one of them, a con. I suppose people see us on the box looking like some kind of Cambridge rapist all masked up only what they saw was human beings, that’s what we are. (We all got balls and brains but some got balls and chains). We only want to live like human beings.

I’m doing recommended natural life, and I fear for my sanity and safety with what I see around me every day. From what I’ve seen of those who look after our health - at Hull the MOs (Medical Officers) ran alongside the screws yelling "Don’t mark their faces". These people are medical officers yet they are breaching the laws of the Red Cross on the treatment of prisoners passed by the Council of Human Rights. I would die of an illness before I would have them anywhere near me with their mind eating drugs.

As far as protesting to the ‘guv’ about beatings and our treatment I will tell you how much they care - at Hull while B.Coster, myself and P.Rajah were being beaten downstairs the AG (Assistant Governor) there, a dog called Manning, watched in the middle of 20 screws and grinned to himself. I’m not saying he was grinning at the pain we were in. No, he was no doubt grinning at the good (wonderful) job that his staff (army?) were doing! So who do we protest to? We each feel as helpless as new born babies we only wish our minds felt as light as theirs, as we each know what we have (and still are) experienced will never be erased from our minds.

The Red Menace, number five, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.

There's a riot goin' on - The Red Menace

Article drawing parallels between the struggles of the late 1960s and late 1980s in Berkeley, California.

The recent wave of media nostalgia for the late 1960s in the USA and elsewhere (exemplified by the re-release of the film of the Woodstock festival) gives the impression that the most important preoccupations of the period were smoking dope and listening to Jimi Hendrix - which of course were not unimportant. The subversive movements of the time however are either ignored or treated as outbursts of youthful exuberance, with superstar radicals like Jerry Rubin wheeled out to prove that "they’ve all grown up now". Recent events in Berkeley, California have shown that not only have the struggles of the 60s not been completely forgotten, but that twenty years later some of them still continue.

In 1969 people in Berkeley turned a vacant allotment into a park; trees were planted and a playground built. The University of California, who owned the land, responded by putting an eight foot barbed wire fence around "People’s Park". In the resulting repression and resistance demonstrators faced 2500 National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets, tanks and helicopters. 700 people were arrested and over a thousand injured; one person (James Rector) was shot dead.

20 years after a group of People’s Park supporters declared "they cannot stand our Life resisting their Expansion of Commerce", a similar battle is being fought in Berkeley. This time the focus of the struggle has been gentrification and "the attempt by the University, real estate developers, the merchants, and the city to clear the area of black youth, homeless and poor, and others who disturb the smooth production of an elite student body, its consumption from local merchants, and the accumulation of real estate and other profit".

On 19th May 1989 (the 20th anniversary of the death of James Rector) 200 people gathered to watch a film about the original People’s Park movement, after which they marched up Telegraph Avenue behind a banner saying "UC out of People’s Park". Bonfires were built in the road and as police intervened they were attacked with bottles, cans and anything else that could be thrown. By this time a crowd of 1000 people had gathered, and the police line was driven back down Telegraph Avenue. Homeless people, punks, black, latin, asian and white kids all joined in as a full scale riot developed. The local Bank of America was attacked and chain stores were looted. As one participant described it: "The whole atmosphere is very friendly, festive and wild. Strangers hug each other and pass out the loot to those who want it."

The police were unable to obtain reinforcements, as they were involved in another riot in nearby Hayward where cops had tried to shut down a heavy metal concert. One sergeant complained: "They won. They proved they can take the streets by force. Basically there is nothing we can do do". Similar lessons have been learnt by some of the rioters themselves: "On May 19th we learned that all is not set in stone, that the capitalist power structure has its vulnerable spots, that an insurrection could start spontaneous]y as a result of pent-up social tension, that the cops don’t always have to win, that clothes and food can be free, that burning cars make great barricades, and that by fighting together we can be very, very strong".

All the quotes come from a "special riot issue" of SLINGSHOT, 700 Eshelman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. also worth a read is COLLIDE-O-SCOPE~ 2140 Shattuck Ave., Box 2200, berkeley, CA 94794, USA.

For an account of some recent strikes in the US, see the November issue of WORKERS INFO RAG, PM, c/o Zamisdat Press, GPO Box 1255, Grade Station, New York, NY 10028, USA.

Final]y we have received another interesting magazine from North America:

AGAINST SLEEP AND NIGHTMARE, P.O. Box 3305, Oakland, CA 94609, USA

The Red Menace, Number 5, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.

Address to revolutionaries in the USSR - The Red Menace

Discussion of the political and economic reforms in the USSR of the late 80s, and the real meaning of communism.

Ever since the Bolshevik counterrevolution the struggle against capitalism has been flung into confusion. It came five years after the collapse of the belief in social democracy as an expression of international solidarity of the working class, five years after the various national social democratic parties supported their respective nation-states against the working class. Bolshevism and the Communist International did not live up to the expectations of revolutionaries across the world. Instead they remained true to their origins in Social-Democracy, defending capitalist restructuring against proletarian autonomy.

This has been the history of the last 70 years. In the USSR our brothers and sisters have continued to assert their interests against the interests of the capitalist ruling class, but a victory against the party is painted in terms of simple westernisation. In the west and the "third world" proletarians have been encouraged to see a Bolshevik-style regime as the sole possible outcome of a victorious anti-capitalist struggle. The continued belief in such fantasies only goes to show how capitalism, a world society based on wage-labour, is strengthened by the divisions in the proletariat, a world class defined by dispossession.

This becomes immediately obvious when we ask ourselves why in 1989, when tens of thousands of miners were on strike both in the USA and the USSR, there was no attempt to form a united movement which could cause additional problems for the bosses. The present upheavals in the USSR offer revolutionaries the opportunity to reassess the situation and renew links across the world which have been severed by many long years of counter-revolution. All national divisions, all borders and all national identities only prolong the illusion of a shared interest between proletarians and the bosses of each national economy. They can only benefit world capitalism as a whole. It is in this context that we send this address to revolutionaries in the USSR.

We hold that:

Our experience in western Europe has been in many ways different to yours in the USSR, in other ways similar. We need to benefit from each others experience and to unify against the barriers imposed by our respective states. The international carve-up of the world after the Second World War is no longer stable. As the global ruling class reorganises its power, we must recognise that our struggle will take new forms.

Many of the struggles of the last forty years have been inspirational - such as Hungary ‘56, France and elsewhere ‘68, Portugal, Ethiopia ‘74, Poland ‘70, ‘76 & ‘80, South Africa 1976, 1984/5 & 1989(?). But their failure to break out of the limitations of the nation state places them in the position of "prison revolts" - our nation is a prison! Current conditions mean that more than ever, the revolutionary struggle is international or it is nothing!

We describe ourselves as communists as we are fighting for the abolition of wage-labour, commodity production, the subjugation of women and imperialist exploitation. In the west this can sometimes cause confusion as we are depicted by the bourgeois press as being partisans of the USSR. We however assert that the communist movement is a product of the class struggle. It is not the application of some programme devised by the left-wing of the intelligentsia. It arises from the day-to-day struggle of workers and other proletarians across the world who are forced to defend themselves against the increasing power of capital over their lives.

This struggle conflicts with all forms of mediation and institutionalisation (e.g. trade-unionism, democracy, representation), because it cannot reach a happy, harmonious balancing point where the interests of capital and the proletariat can be reconciled. Such ideologies, and indeed such periods of tranquillity are used by capital to reorganise ready for its next assault on the proletariat. Thus the defence of the proletariat can only be forwarded by moving onto the offensive and destroying capital. As struggle develops this becomes clearer and clearer to the participants.

The domination of capital has reached such an extent that its effect on world ecology has reached a crisis point Though it might lead to the destruction of all human life, or even the extinction of life altogether across the planet, we do not see this as an automatic conclusion. In fact we see the current concern of leading capitalists in green issues shows a traditional split within capitalism, between those who place their particular interests above their class interest and those who see the need to reform the whole system to safeguard continued exploitation. We consider it as frightening, and probably more likely, that capitalism will move back from the brink of total destruction - by the imposition of conditions where uncontaminated air, water, food etc. is only available to those with money. It is merely an extension of the same principals as which the capitalists seized control of most of the land in the world i.e. the imposition of commodity economy on a more and more extensive scale. It is a mechanism whereby capital invades our lives more and more. Thus any ecological movement which fails to confront the question of capital from a proletarian perspective will be counterrevolutionary.

We seek contact with revolutionaries in the USSR to deepen our understanding of our class and its struggle. So for instance it comes as no surprise to us that Yeltsin calls on striking miners to return to work as we have been faced with a leftist "loyal opposition" for years - we hope to offer you our experience of this to help you in the struggle there. But for us there are many areas where we can learn from you - organising clandestinely for example. There are other topics of which we need more knowledge e.g: We are clear that "The Great Patriotic War" was used to harness the proletariat to the capitalist regime in the USSR, and we denounce the Second World War as an inter-imperialist war. But at the same time we wish to learn of the experiences of those partisans who took up arms in response to Nazi occupation but refused to be subordinated to the Russian state or the Allied war effort.

This address has been drawn up by a small group in London, all too aware of our feebleness in the face of the forces we oppose. It is available in Russian, English and French. We hope to make it available in other languages as well. We hope to set off new dialogues not just between ourselves and comrades in the USSR, but a rekindling of discussion by the many groups dotted around the world. Our own political development owes much to three sources in particular:

We invite response from comrades throughout the world. Situated in London, we have access to a multitude of resources - including historical archives, modern technology, etc.- which we hope to put at the service of the development of a world wide communist movement. Despite our limitations we feel capable of having an impact. We do NOT put ourselves forward as a nucleus of a new World Communist Party as we see that "The Revolution is not a Party Affair". We undertake this task as part of the process of the self-organisation of the proletariat as a CLASS against capital.

Published by the Red Menace, London, September 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.

The Kronstadt commune 1921 - The Red Menace

The Red Menace's analysis of the Kronstadt rebellion.

‘The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government has decreed that Kronstadt and the rebelling ships must immediately submit to the authority of the Soviet Republic. I therefore order all who have raised their hands against the socialist fatherland to lay down their arms at once. Recalcitrants are to be disarmed and turned over to the Soviet authorities. The commissars and other members of the government who have been arrested are to be liberated at once. Only those who surrender unconditionally can expect mercy from the Soviet Republic.

"I am simultaneously giving orders to prepare for the suppression of the rebellion and the subjugation of the sailors by armed force. All responsibility for the harm that may be suffered by the peaceful population will rest entirely on the heads of the White Guard mutineers. This warning is final."

L.Trotsky, L.Kamenev, Ultimatum to Kronstadt.

"We have one answer to all that: All power to the Soviets! Take your hands off them - the hands that are red with the blood of the martyrs of freedom who fought the White Guards, the landowners and the bourgeoisie!"

Kronstadt Izvestiya, No.6.

The truth about Red Kronstadt
In the epoch of glasnost the Soviet press has yet to tell the truth about Kronstadt. Eventually they will probably stop referring to the 1921 revolt as a White Guardist conspiracy, but only in order to present it as a genuine popular revolt in favour of what became known as the New Economic Project. In other words, the workers and sailors at the fortress were very naive: if only they had waited, they would have got what they wanted. This insulting bullshit is in fact not too far from the story told by most Western analysts, for whom the revolt was essentially about parliamentary democracy and civil rights.

The truth, however, is different. The revolt was the greatest act of violent working class resistance to capitalist austerity to be organised in Russia until the Vorkuta revolt of 1947. The timing of the uprising, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Commune, was coincidental, but the location was not, since the fortress had an unrivalled reputation for uncompromising extremism. The Kronstadt sailors attempted serious revolts in 1905-6 and 1910, entered Petrograd to give armed support to the revolution in February 1917, shot 200 officers later in the same month, landed in Petrograd again in July to launch an unsuccessful attempt to impose soviet power, sent agitators all around the country in subsequent months, terrified Kerensky into dropping his plan to remove artillery from the fortress in the face of a threatened German naval attack, and distinguished themselves in the destruction of Kornilov’s putsch.

All of this took place before they found time to storm the Winter Palace in October. In the same month there were ominous murmurings among the Kronstadt sailors to the effect that "if the new Sovnarkom dared betray the revolution, the cannon that took the Winter Palace would take Smolny as well." By the time of the rebellion in 1921, the social composition of Kronstadt had hardly changed at all; indeed, contrary to Stalinist and Trotskyist lies, most of the rebels of 1921 were "veterans" of 1917. What happened in 1921 was that Red Kronstadt grew even redder, as the revolutionary movement in Russia fought its last stand.

Capitalism and the revolutionary movement
A revolutionary movement exists whenever a large number of working class people impose their needs and desires in such a way as to put capitalist functioning in danger of collapse. Capitalism itself is not hard to define: it is a society based on wage-labour and the circulation of exchange-value. Exchange-value exists alternately in a concrete form (goods) and an abstract form (money). In order to gain an overall understanding of capitalism, we need to be clear that money has no autonomy - if it did, the bosses could simply print as much as they wanted. In fact, money is no more than that with which goods can be acquired in exchange. It exists both in the form of cash (with varying degrees of convertibility), and as various forms of bureaucratic permission, position or "blat". So-called "war communism", for example, was not a negation of money (or wage-labour): it was simply a capitalist response to crisis. Money had to become bureaucratised for the sake of wage-labour and the exchange-value cycle as a whole.

After February 1917, working class people in Russia obstructed capitalist imperatives by struggling against the interests of whoever was in charge of the economy, the government and the armed forces, whether that meant the autocracy, the Provisional Government, or the Bolshevik elite. It is elementary that whenever capitalism is faced with a revolutionary movement, it always fights back with all the means at its disposal. Thus, to understand the Kronstadt uprising, the last flicker of the revolutionary movement, we need to look at the three years of counterrevolution which led up to it.

Counterrevolution
After Antonov-Ovseenko, the chairman of the "Military Revolutionary Committee" of the Petrograd Soviet, had managed to prevent the "mob" from killing the members of the Provisional Government during the seizure of the Winter Palace, the new government’s main problem was the eradication of workers’ power, particularly as manifested in the autonomous tendency of the factory committee movement, which within weeks was endeavouring to set up its own independent centralised coordinating body. At the Second Congress of Soviets, one day after the proclamation of Sovnarkom, the Bolsheviks issued a straightforward statement that the "revolution" had won, that no-one should go on strike, and that the best way to support the revolution was to go back to work (under the old owners). In the following few months many of their old owners were unceremoniously thrown out by their employees (although many managers stayed), and whereas this was an example of workers’ action being successful in its own terms, the October coup (a change of governmental personnel) had little effect on the daily lives of the workers.

Management’s right to manage was reimposed on the workforce in the early months of 1918. The tightening of labour discipline and the use of piece-rates (which Marx had called "the most fruitful source of reductions of wages and of frauds committed by the capitalists") were officially proclaimed by the unions in April 1918, having already been praised in Izvestiya. This was before the outbreak of civil war (May 1918), the major nationalisation decree (June), the official introduction of "war communism", and Trotsky’s avowed plans for labour militarisation (December 1919). In April 1918 Lenin, as Prime Minister of a "bourgeois State minus the bourgeoisie" (to use his own words), openly called for the imposition of one-man management throughout the economy. This was at a time when the glavki and tsentry of Vesenkha were already in existence, formed from the bodies set up in 1915 and 1916 under the Tsarist equivalent of "war communism".

The working class revolutionary movement had largely been destroyed by the time of the peace treaty with German imperialism (March 1918). But working class struggle continued in less organised form. Strikes were less frequent, but workers increasingly resorted to theft, absenteeism and insubordination, even after piece-rates spread across the country. Hungry workers had to get hold of industrial products, consumer goods, materials and tools to barter for food or fuel, and they managed to do so even despite searches by the Cheka at the factory gates. Many workers continually arrived late, preferred drinking to working once they had arrived, or simply stayed away altogether. Half the urban workforce returned to the countryside. Factory administrators were often abused. Productivity fell, and only began to rise in 1920 under the terroristic weight of Trotskyist labour legislation.

The nascent Bolshevik ruling class justified austerity as a "wartime necessity" in the struggle against the Whites and the Western bourgeoisie. Sadly the Civil War, a war between States, was not turned into a war against all the enemies of the proletariat, namely a war between classes. The heroic Makhnovshchina was an attempt in this direction, but it failed.

Specific grievances and the fight to realise communism
As is made clear by the list of points adopted by the crew of the battleship Petropavlovsk on 28 February 1921, the grievances motivating the Kronstadt rebels were many. They demanded free soviet elections, the release of imprisoned "workers, sailors, soldiers and sailors belonging to working class and peasant organisations", freedom of operation for "trade union and peasant organisations", an inquiry into the dossiers of all prisoners and inmates of camps, free speech for "anarchists" and "left-socialist" parties, an end to the Bolshevik-run political sections and "combat detachments" in the armed forces, the abolition of political police in the enterprises, the equalisation of rations, and end to the State coercion of peasants and artisans.

Their reference to anarchists, left-socialists and the Bolshevik political police demonstrates their view as to who was on their side and who was not. Their demand for free soviet elections shows what institutional means they were counting on. Quite explicitly they were against the Bolsheviks’ political monopoly and in favour of working class power expressed through directly-elected soviets. It is true that they placed too much faith in soviet "democracy", especially given that the Bolsheviks had taken over the soviets democratically. (One could draw a parallel with Germany, where Scheidemann and Noske were elected onto the body analogous to Sovnarkom.) The Kronstadt rebels did not say that revolutionary social transformation depends on proletarians creating organisations to fulfil certain tasks, rather than on the principles of democracy: competition, obedience to the majority, and division between discussion and action. New soviets were a necessity, but they would not have guaranteed victory - that would have depended on the generalisation of new social relations. Nevertheless, we must recognise the rebels’ courageous struggle against the capitalist dictatorship of the Bolshevik party, and their insistence on the self-organisation of the revolutionary proletariat.

The rebels were undoubtedly part of the movement towards real communism. One can mention their efforts to socialise housing, supported by the anarchists, left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Maximalists. This was the beginning of the abolition of one form of private property. Also notable was their internationalism. In the face of armed repression, some stood and were shot crying "Long live the world revolution!" and "Long live the Communist International!" This second slogan shows a desire for a very different International from the one run by the Bolshevik allies and their allies abroad. The Bolsheviks’ phony internationalism only meant forestalling revolution abroad (Germany, China, Spain, Britain, etc.) and building mass-based parties active in unions and parliaments to pressurise foreign governments to reach terms with the Soviet authorities. Counterrevolution at home comcided with counterrevolution abroad.

This was unacceptable to the international communist left, which rejected trade-unionism and parliamentarism, and not surprisingly the Bolsheviks shut down the West European Bureau of the Third International in May 1920. It is significant that the only "Bolshevik" faction to side with the Kronstadt rebels, namely Miasnikov’s Workers’ Group, which split from the bureaucratic "Workers’ Opposition" on this very issue and soon entered clandestinity, made contact with the German anti-Bolshevik communists, with whom it found common cause.

We know that things did not go as far as worldwide revolutionary war in 1921. But the Kronstadt rebels’ aims were far in advance of the calls in 1917 for bread, peace and workers’ "control". They were still angry about the food situation, but what angered them too was the atmosphere of despotism in the armed forces, and the no-nonsense autocratic tyranny in the enterprises. They were also quite clear that the official representation of the working class was an enemy of the working class itself.

The fight for food
As war broke out the central authorities set up so-called "committees of the poor" and, later, "workers’ detachments" to seize food surpluses, supposedly only from the richer peasants, in order to feed the towns and armed forces. Family farms were supposed to consume only enough for their own subsistence, while surpluses were expropriated by the State. This was in some ways similar to what Marx had called "primitive accumulation", but the necessity for the authorities was not industrial accumulation, but industrial and military survival. This was not simply a matter of the towns exploiting the countryside, because the food intake of the greatly reduced urban working class was kept as low as possible. Those in charge ate more than the workers under them. In 1918-19, for many workers obedience to the law would have meant starvation: 60% of city bread had to be obtained through illegal channels.

Until the summer of 1920, the authorities turned a blind eye to the illegal markets, but then Zinoviev issued a blanket ban on privately-organised commerce. This was the erosion of market capitalism by bureaucratic capitalism in line with the perceived interests of the State bureaucrats. The history of the twentieth century knows of many examples where national governments have alternated between nationalisation and privatisation according to what suits them the best. Zinoviev’s policy was in fact a more extreme version of the Tsarist policy of 1916. Famine intensified, and often it was difficult to obtain even the official rations.

As peasants concealed grain in order to trade it with workers, the militia detachments which blocked the illegal delivery of food to the cities were seen by workers as the ruthless enforcers of starvation. Strikes and mass street demonstrations erupted in Petrograd, immediately politicising the simmering conflict between workers and the capitalist authorities.

The rebellion at Kronstadt was a response to the hope provided by the Petrograd workers’ action against the restriction of food supplies. Regarding food, the rebels made two very simple demands: "the immediate abolition of the militia detachments set up between town and countryside" (Point 8 of their programme), and freedom of action for peasants "on their own soil" (Point 11). They made one proviso: peasants were not to be allowed to employ wage-labour.

As Anton Ciliga has written, the rebels were absolutely opposed to the measures later introduced under New Economic Policy (NEP). "The Kronstadt resolution declared for the opposite [of NEP] since it declared itself against the employment of wage-labour in agriculture and small industry. This resolution, and the movement underlying it, sought for a revolutionary alliance of the proletarian and peasant workers with the poorest sections of the country labourers, in order that the revolution might develop towards socialism. The NEP, on the other hand, was a union of bureaucrats with the upper layers of the village against the proletariat it was the alliance of State capitalism and private capitalism against socialism."

Resistance in the armed forces
After Brest-Litovsk (March 1918) the government reorganised the army. Until then, military discipline was recognised only in active combat, and each unit was run by an elected committee with responsibility for choosing officers. Most Red Guard units, organisational bearers of an autonomous tendency towards proletarian combativity quite foreign to the Bolsheviks, were disbanded as "unreliable". Trotsky recruited ex-Tsarist officers with the necessary degree of training and experience to lead a modern army; they functioned alongside the "political commissars", who replaced the soldiers’ committees.

Towards the end of 1920, there arose a "Military Opposition" among the party’s top men in the army (but not, of course, among the political commissars). This cannot be identified with resistance at the base, but was almost certainly a sign of its existence. The growing anger against army officers during the civil war must have been one factor in the mutiny of whole battalions during the attack on Kronstadt

Army-style reorganisation had not been possible in the Navy, where revolutionary traditions had strong roots and most of the Tsarist officers had gone over to the Whites. The personnel had probably not changed much since the early years of the previous war, thus friendship circles amongst sailors must have been more resilient. Attempts to discipline the fleet by introducing "army customs" were met with strong resistance from 1920 on, from both Party and non-Party sailors. Large numbers of sailors walked out of an electoral meeting at the Petrograd naval base prior to the Eighth Soviet Congress in December 1920, openly protesting against the dispatch there as official delegates of people from Politotdiel and from Comflot, the very organisations monopolising political control of the Navy.

On 15 February 1921, only a few weeks before the uprising, the Second Conference of Communist Sailors of the Baltic Fleet was held. The 300 delegates voted for a resolution condemning the Political Section of the Baltic Fleet as having "become transformed into a bureaucratic organ, enjoying no authority among the sailors." Those among the sailors of the Baltic Fleet who remained in the Party supported the Workers’ Opposition’s position on the union question, against the Chief of Fleet, Raskolnikov, who agreed with Trotsky and Bukharin that the unions should be totally subordinate to the State. Even more importantly, 5000 sailors left the Party in January 1921 alone. Proletarian power grew in Kronstadt as Party power declined.

Industrial strife and the Petrograd workers
We have mentioned the assault on workers’ power in industry in the aftermath of October 1917, and of the worsening food situation met by pilfering and semi-tolerated barter. As rations were cut and militia units clamped down on barter, the Petrograd workers’ reaction was to come out on strike. Many came out on to the street to demonstrate. The Putilov works renewed its reputation. Several factories demanded the reestablishment of local markets, the withdrawal of militia detachments from the road around Petrograd, and freedom to travel within a radius of 30 miles. Just as in 1905 and 1917, some factories issued political demands alongside economic ones. These included free speech and the liberation of working class prisoners. In several big factories, Party spokesmen were denied a hearing.

The strikes spread. A state of siege was declared in Petrograd on 24 February. All meetings not explicitly sanctioned were banned. Any infringement was to be dealt with according to military law. Zinoviev used carrot and stick. He withdrew the militia roadblocks but had the strike leaders arrested. Part of the Petrograd proletariat stayed on strike; one of their major demands was the liberation of prisoners.

As the Kronstadt events developed into open insurrection, a delegation of sailors from the naval base toured the factories of Petrograd. A lorry drove through the city scattering leaflets from Kronstadt. Kronstadt Izvestiya was plastered on the walls. On 7 March, the day the bombardment began, the "Arsenal" factory sent flying pickets around the city to agitate for a general strike. Strikes started in Moscow, Nizhni-Novgorod and elsewhere.

Factories were transferred to the authority of three-man committees (troiki), who used sackings and selective rehiring as weapons against the strikes. The dead revolution had to be kept that way!

Bolshevik imperatives
Having ridden to power during an upsurge of working class combativity, the Bolshevik party elite hardly wanted to be overthrown by another one. Industry had to be rebuilt. Agriculture had to grow. Jobs in the bureaucracy had to be found for those who had risen to positions of power during wartime.

To remain the ruling party it was not sufficient to stay in rule. They also had to remain a single party. But the overriding consideration of the party elite was order, order not jeopardised by a movement obstructing the growth of the national product of wage-labour. They could not permit this order to be subverted by an organised movement of those at the bottom. When such a movement gave rise to strikes, demonstrations, even uprisings, and began openly to accuse the Bolshevik party of being usurpers, liars who spoke in the name of those who were proving in practice to be their enemies, blood had to be spilt. The delegates to the Tenth Congress were quite categorical. On this the Party was absolutely united.

An uprising in Kronstadt. Strikes in Petrograd. Rumblings in Moscow. At all costs the movement had to be kept disunited. Foodstuffs were rushed to Moscow. Roadblocks were removed from around Petrograd, despite the state of siege. Kronstadt remained in revolt, in open defiance of the State. The policy of the elite can be summarised in six words which capture the cynicism of Lenin and Trotsky: bribe Moscow, pacify Petrograd, crush Kronstadt.

Resolution of the conflict
At the decisive moment, when the Bolsheviks had to crush Kronstadt or face the danger of snowballing and increasingly lucid unrest, the two sides were clearly laid out. The showdown was to be between the insurgents on one side, and those who supported Bolshevik party dictatorship on the other. Rank-and-file members at Kronstadt deserted the party in droves. A number of them formed a Provisional Party Bureau, which issued an appeal for new soviet elections and for supporters "to create no obstacles to the measures taken by the Provisional Revolutionary Committee [PRC]". Altogether, 780 members in Kronstadt left the party. One teacher wrote to Kronstadt Izvestiya as follows: "I openly declare to the PRC that as from gunfire directed at Kronstadt, I no longer consider myself a member of the Party. I support the call issued by the workers of Kronstadt All power to the Soviets and not to the Party." Some soldiers collectively announced their resignation in the same journal.

Out of those who chose to remain in the Party, not a single one was shot. In Petrograd, however, the government’s Defence Committee took sailors’ families hostage, supposedly in order to safeguard the lives of Party members at Kronstadt.

The Petrograd Defence Committee issued a threat on 5 March. "You are surrounded on all sides… Kronstadt has neither bread nor fuel. If you insist, we will shoot you like partridges." The PRC issued a final appeal to "comrades, workers, red soldiers and sailors," asserting that "the Petrograd proletariat will not be bought over" with increased food supplies.

Bloody confrontation loomed. The rebels set up a Military Defence Committee, but the PRC, hoping for a "Third Revolution" across the country, refused to accept the proposal that an assault should be made towards Oranienbaum, on the mainland, west of Petrograd, where there were food stocks. In defence too, mistakes were made. The ice was not broken - if it had been, within a few weeks weather conditions would have ensured that it did not re-form. Nor were fortified barrages set up along the probable line of attack.

Force was not the Bolsheviks’ only weapon. They also used lies. The rebels were supposed to be under the command of White Guards. Moscow Radio broadcast that the Petropavlovsk mutiny had been organised by Entente spies. Trotsky said the insurrection was "inspired by the desire to obtain a privileged ration." Similar lies had been used against the Makhnovists. In the future such lies would be used both as a weapon of the State, and as a weapon of terror within the class which ran the State. But the Kronstadt sailors were used to being calumnied. The first Provisional Government had accused them of being about to conclude a separate peace with Germany, and in July 1917 the liberal press accused them of using "German money" to organise a rebellion.

The Bolshevik army attacked. Hundreds mutinied and joined the uprising, including an entire battalion. Two whole regiments had to be disarmed by force. The regiments to be used in the final assault had to be thoroughly reorganised. Party militants were sent in to propagandise about the "counterrevolutionary conspiracy", and to spy on unsure elements. "Revolutionary" Tribunals worked overtime, as people had to be discouraged from following the groups of soldiers who had surrendered to the rebels and were now fighting on their side. One regiment refused to march, even after the reorganisation. Some units lost half their men before even entering the insurgents’ line of fire - they were machine-gunned from the rear.

Officer cadets boosted the attacking forces, as did non-Russian detachments of Chinese and Bashkir troops, who were not in a position to communicate very easily with the rebels. Non-Russians were later used against the Novocherkassk uprising of 1962, and Russians were used against Georgian rioters in 1989. State strategists usually know that national divisions always benefit the State as a whole.

Militarily, the Bolshevik victory was inevitable, at least after the "Oranienbaum incident", during which a regiment was on the point of wheeling round in solidarity with Kronstadt and summoning the army to revolt. Official sources speak of 527 killed, although this does not include those who drowned trying to escape, or who were left, wounded, to freeze or bleed to death, or those who were shot by Cheka tribunals. Other sources speak of 18,000 killed in the fighting and the subsequent repression.

With the party unified, the last flicker of revolution extinguished by armed force, and the temporarily resurgent movements of organised resistance in industry and the armed forces defeated, the way was clear for the relatively peaceful unfolding of the next period of capitalist growth: NEP. Red Kronstadt had been the last main barrier to burn down.

This analysis of Red Kronstadt was published by The Red Menace in English, French and Russian in 1989 and was distributed in Soviet territories and elsewhere. Taken from the Practical History website.

The struggle against Iranian fascism begins with the struggle against Iranian Bolshevism - The Red Menace

Analysis of the political situation in Iran following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

Since the Iran-Iraq ceasefire the political map of the Middle East has been undergoing an extensive metamorphosis. Saddam Hussein, having been assured of generous loans by his Arab backers, wasted little time before embarking on a massive reconstruction programme at home whilst abroad he ventured to stamp his authority on the region by giving military assistance to the anti-Syrian Lebanese, General Aoun. As Gaddafi humiliatingly extends the hand of "friendship" towards Egypt and the Palestinian Intifada gets bogged down in the quagmire of nationalism and as the military retreat of Russian ImperialIsm from Afghanistan results in her diplomatic marginalisation in the Middle East, the Pax Americana becomes further consolidated.

The threat of liberalisation
Rafsanjani is painfully aware of the tasks facing the Islamic Republic. The priorities of the Iranian bourgeoisie are to complete the process of the primitive accumulation of wealth and transform the basis of the economy from extensive development (and the extraction of absolute surplus value from the proletariat) to intensive development (and the extraction of relative surplus value). To this effect a set of measures have been proposed: the privatisation of nationalised industries; the selling of foreign currency by the government inside Iran; the import of advanced technology; and the easing of customs restrictions.

In response to the Rushdie affair Iran made an initial U-turn towards the East. Its trading offices were transferred from Britain and West Germany to China whilst the eastern block has been offered the prospects of rearming the ‘warriors of Islam’. Russia is being presented with cheap gas and a guarantee that the recalcitrant Afghan and Azeri Shi’ites will be brought to heel in exchange for desperately needed mechanised farming equipment. The consternation that all these friendly gestures by Beijing and Moscow have created amongst Iranian Maoists and Stalinists is a source of great amusement.

It is hard to see, though, how this shift of policy towards the east can be maintained indefinitely. The Iranian economy is too heavily integrated into the western economies. An indication that all this is understood by Tehran came in Rafsanjani’s inauguration speech when he explicitly gave the green light to private businessmen to borrow from the west and assist the state in modernising industry. Rafsanjani has brought considerable pressure on the Hezbollah to negotiate for the freeing of Western hostages as a precondition for the West to unfreeze billions of Iranian assets currently lying in U.S. banks. Recent rumours of yet another assassination attempt on Rafsanjani’s life is an indication of the strength of opposition he is encountering.

There have even been limited moves towards synchronising the superstructure with the new liberalized economy. Loyal opposition groups have been granted permission to form political parties.There have been calls from the liberal wing of big business to separate religion from the state and to re-establish the division between ‘private’ and ‘public’ citizenship. This is democracy par excellence - the most stable form of the dictatorshjp of capital for the exploitation of the proletariat. The Islamic state - whether in its fascist or parliamentary democratic form - will be opposed by the communist movement.

Will the mullahs survive the present crisis?
If the mullahs are to survive, therefore, they will have to break with their own petty-bourgeois origins, fuse with big business and eliminate the impediments to capital accumulation and the extension of wage slavery (The Samurai class did exactly that in the Japanese revolution of 1868. The principal obstacle in the way of the mullahs repeating this feat is the proletariat). Whether they succeed or whether they are replaced by a more liberal faction from within the native bourgeoisie or whether those potential "fuhrers of the proletarians of the world" (the Left) seize power is a non-issue for us. We consider all of them the enemies of our class.

The interest of the proletariat does NOT lie in the separation of the church from the state but in the total and complete annihilation of both. We believe that "humanity will never be free until the last priest (and mullah) is hanged with the guts of the last capitalist". The Iranian working class will do well to learn from the struggles of the Spanish proletariat in the 1930’s. There the church was rightly viewed as an inseparable part of the system and attacked accordingly. Workers and poor peasants massacred priests, burned churches and desecrated "holy" graveyards. Perhaps more significantly, in 1959 our Iraqi comrades displayed their astute political consciousness by burning the Koran in the streets of Baghdad!

We know that it was the threat of class struggle breaking out that forced the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies to the negotiating table. Today their guns have turned against the internal enemy- the proletariat. The slogan that we raised during the U.S. intervention in the Gulf remains valid: "Neither capitalist war, nor imperialist imposed ‘peace’! Revolution!"

Religion: "the opium of the left"
Islam is not just a religion, it is aIso a culture - a way of life. It invades all spheres of human activity and leaves its mark on customs and traditions. Perhaps this goes someway in explaining the numerous occasions during which the Iranian Left has compromised with religious bigotry. It was various Iranian Left parties that in 1979 tried to disarm the proletariat and to channelize the militancy of the workers into the morass of trade-unionism.

Iranian Leninists are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem! If we accept submission (the literal translation of Islam) to an omnipotent authority and the lack of an independent nonconformist attitude as characteristics of religiosity, then it would be no exaggeration to claim that Iranian ‘revolutionaries’ are just as religious as the Islamic Fundamentalists they are fighting against. Remember that it was the Iranian Left that initiated the worshipping of martyrdom, the gun totting "El Che Guevara Syndrome" and the cult of personality. The Fundamentalists simply perfected these techniques.

Needless to say Leninism has always compromised with religion. For example, in 1920 the Comintern organised a "Congress of peoples of the East" in Baku, Azerbaijan. Muslim beliefs and institutions were treated with respect and muslim participants were bribed into joining the Bolsheviks in order to fight English Imperialism. Some of the speeches were written by communists such as the American John Reed who called for the intensification of the class struggle. Comintern translators, however, under direct instruction from Lenin and Zinoviev, translated "class war" as "holy jihad"! Khomeini was thus not the first person to call for a "holy jihad" in the 20th century.The Comintern beat him to it!

Islam is… shit!
Leninists who use the excuse of anti-racism to apologise for muslim reaction in Iran (and in Britain with regard to the Rushdie affair) conveniently ignore that Islamic Fundamentalism (Khomeinism) is itself a racist ideology. Witness the history of the Jews, Baha’is and Armenians in Iran and the attempted genocide of Kurds as a "troublesome" race. The ‘Protocols of the learned Elders of Zion’, an anti-semitic forgery, is distributed by the Islamic Republic. Rafsanjani even tries his hand at some crude biological determinism from time to time. It is hardly surprising then that the Islamic regime has established organizational and doctrinal ties of continuity with neo-Nazi groups in Europe. To this must be added the institutionalised racism that 2 million Afghani workers residing in Iran are routinely subjected to. They can only work in certain workplaces (usually the lowest paid) and live and sleep in totally secluded accommodations. They must carry with them at all times ‘labour passports’. The government habitually blames everything from unemployment to the rising levels of crime on Afghani workers.

Iranian ‘revolutionaries’ have always been terrified of Islam, awe-struck by the Koran and respectful towards Profit Mohammad. Yet Islam, like all religions, Iegitimises the status quo and upholds capitalist exploitation. The Koran is an archaic work of superstition which advocates slavery and promises "virgins in paradise" to the faithful! As for Profit Mohammad, he was a rapist and a child molester (A-ye-she, Mohammad’s second wife, was only six years old when she was first raped by him)! Anyone who believes in Allah and archangels deserves to be offended! Muslims and christians have been threatening non-believers with the fires of damnation forcenturies. The supercession of religion is as pressing as ever.

Religion manipulates people’s insecurity and yearning for community by organising social life around a false community composed of rituals and hierarchy. Islam is shit! It is high time we pulled the chain and flushed it down the toilet

Leninism or communism?
We exist in a capitalist world based on the exploitation of the proletariat through a global system of commodity production and exchange. We are for the destruction of the money/wages system and its replacement by a classless human community where alienation, the subjugation of women and nationalism have been abolished forever.

Communism is a social movement- a product of class struggle. It has nothing to do with various schemes fo rthe nationalisation of the means of production put forward by Leninists. Our struggle is in complete antagonism to all forms of mediation and institutionalization (eg. trade-unions, democracy, representation). Only autonomous activity by the whole proletariat can break the back of world capitalism.

Leninists with their admiration for ‘Taylorism’, the ‘militarisation of labour’, ‘vanguard’ fetishism, and their elitist hierarchical conceptions of middle class ‘professional revolutionaries’, not to mention their nauseating apologies for every instance of "betrayal" ranging from Kronstadt (1921) to the ‘Islamic revolution’, belong to the dustbin of history. The proletariat will conquer them!

Down with capitalism! Down with Bolshevism! Down with all religions! Down with fascism, democracy and all states! Down with trade-unions and parliaments!

For the proletarian revolution and the abolition of wage slavery! Long live COMMUNISM!

Published by the Red Menace, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.

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Yugoslavia Part One: 1918-1967 - The Red Menace

A leaflet on the development of capitalism and class struggle in Yugoslavia, produced by UK communists The Red Menace in the late 1980s.

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