ALARM on the riots

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 14 2011 11:19
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I, for one, was hugely encouraged by the anti-police riot in Hackney and then utterly deflated by events in Croydon, Ealing, Birmingham, not to mention the gangsterism I saw in Deptford.

Important point and one not addressed in either the ALARM (who have a bad-ass banner, btw) or SF statement: the riots had different targets in different areas and this was very important for us, as anarchists, in determining what we can and can't support in the riots.

How about Liverpool, where was the violence directed?

no1
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Aug 14 2011 11:49
bootsy wrote:
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What I meant was, yes, it's totally fine to strike against a small business owner. The "wtf' bit refers to, basically, since when have anarchists given a shit about making a boss "go bust"? (And how and why is the equated--apparently negatively--with looting?)

Chilli I was making a comparison between workers in small businesses striking and looting because I don't see a big difference between them in this instance. Both can have potentially disastrous effects for a small business owner. The reason I made the comparison was because some people here such as Mark. and indeed ALARM have said they're against looting small 'locally owned' businesses and I'm interested to see whether they would be opposed to workers in those workplaces striking.

I think there's a difference in that strikes are essential to build working class power, but with looting that's not the case that much. I think if shops are looted in revenge to a shop owner's racist, sexist or other discriminatory behaviour, then this could potentially have a positive effect, though it may be quite difficult to get the message across to them without exposing the looter. However if looting is done in an individualistic spirit of shopping for free, then I don't see it empowering workers.

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Of course, it's very hard to actually really discuss these riots, cos it's exposed all of our national/social faultlines and has been extremely emotive across class lines. Very few commentators have really managed to reflect the complexity of the last week's events and ALARM and SF should be commended for at least attempting it.

I suspect that the longer term impact of the riots is going to be as complex and contradictory as the riots themselves. On the negative side, the far-right will probably be rejuvenated and be able to mobilise more 'middle class' support than before; the government will find it much easier to use deeply authoritarian measures to deal with dissent and resistance, though hopefully it won't be as bad as it looks now ; the spectrum of mainstream political views will have moved even further to the right . On the plus side, underneath the reactionary shitstorm a lot of more thoughtful people will have realised that politics can't simply be left to the politicians, and that they need to involve themselves directly because they care about the turn things are taking, though they will find it quite hard to see what to do ; I also suspect that the political dimension of the riots which has mainly been shut out of mainstream discourse will in the medium term become prevalent and shape the way many things are seen.

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Arbeiten
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Aug 14 2011 12:02

I got handed this yesterday and thought it was pretty good.

The petty bourgeois argument is always a difficult one isn't it. I still haven't quite decided my views on it. On the one hand there have been some local campaigns I haven't supported because I feel the petty bougies are just pissed that Sainsbury's or Tesco or whatever is taking a slice of their pie, on the other hand, I'm not sure they are the best targets in a riot situation (also worth pointing out they never have anything that good to loot, no TVs or trainers, just cans of chickpeas, bottles of Yazoo and all that sort of stuff).

Mark.
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Aug 14 2011 12:23
Arbeiten wrote:
The petty bourgeois argument is always a difficult one isn't it. I still haven't quite decided my views on it. On the one hand there have been some local campaigns I haven't supported because I feel the petty bougies are just pissed that Sainsbury's or Tesco or whatever is taking a slice of their pie.

Generally I wouldn't say people should use their local shops rather than go to Tescos. This is a different argument though.

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888
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Aug 14 2011 12:56
bootsy wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
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However following the argument from some people on here, would it be okay for me and my coworkers to, say, go on strike? Militant action in my workplace could make my boss go bust. I don't really see the difference between that and looting tbh.

Yes.

And, wtf?

I don't understand what you mean?

Of course it's right to go on strike, but you won't need to if he'll go bust, so dictate the terms and conditions of your employment to him

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Aug 14 2011 13:51

Croydon alarm has not issued a statement, we have not got a blog or anything yet, but I suspect we will be talking about the riots a lot in the next meeting which is very soon.

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Aug 14 2011 14:31
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
Croydon alarm has not issued a statement, we have not got a blog or anything yet, but I suspect we will be talking about the riots a lot in the next meeting which is very soon.

i thought ians initial ''fucking hell' post on freedom press was alright in that regard and served as a statement of sorts

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Aug 14 2011 15:58
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
I, for one, was hugely encouraged by the anti-police riot in Hackney and then utterly deflated by events in Croydon, Ealing, Birmingham, not to mention the gangsterism I saw in Deptford.

Important point and one not addressed in either the ALARM (who have a bad-ass banner, btw) or SF statement: the riots had different targets in different areas and this was very important for us, as anarchists, in determining what we can and can't support in the riots.

How about Liverpool, where was the violence directed?

its not about what we do and don;t ''support'', since thats pretty meaningless really, i think we should practically support those affected by the crackdown and like the alarm says we should say we are inspired by some parts of it. I think the thing for me that best summed it up was those two kids on the beeb who said that this is ''about showing the rich we can do what we want'' and largely people did. Some people wanted to fight the police, some wanted to loot shops, unfortunately some people (and some of these were the same people) also wanted to set fire to shit and mug people. This is the reality of life atm, theres no point judging people for this that or the other or dividing them up into categroies we ''support'' and ''don't support''

But yeah i'd be interested from hearing from people in liverpool and also nottingham and salford as to how things are up there, where things actually looked a lot more focused. The latter two in particular.

Mike Harman
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Aug 16 2011 05:26
Joseph Kay wrote:
These days lots of former employees are notionally self-employed, and even own their own tools etc, as part of casualisation.

Right, I own my own computer, pay for my own internet connection (er, just like lots of people who work in offices but you get the idea) and I'm self-employed for tax or whatever, but I work on the same stuff as people who are in full-time jobs (or other 'self employed' people) all the time - the content of the work can be exactly the same etc. but the formal relationship is very different. I don't think there's a meaningful distinction that can be made any more.

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On the other hand, shop keepers are pretty much stereotypical petit-bourgeoisie.

This is also true though. It applies as much to a company run as a workers co-op though (bricks and mortar shop front or not). I don't think there can be a blanket line on this, I would personally feel very differently if my local 'family run' take-away got bricked in compared to the local 'family-run' estate agent.

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Aug 16 2011 07:25
no1 wrote:
I think there's a difference in that strikes are essential to build working class power, but with looting that's not the case that much. I think if shops are looted in revenge to a shop owner's racist, sexist or other discriminatory behaviour, then this could potentially have a positive effect, though it may be quite difficult to get the message across to them without exposing the looter. However if looting is done in an individualistic spirit of shopping for free, then I don't see it empowering workers.

Think of it again. If there's a strike, say, bus drivers are on strike, other workers start to spit on them because they are delayed to get to work, etc. Strikes were described by media sometimes as irresponsible, causing chaos.

On the other hand, many times strikes weaken the workers if they failed: the supplies eventually will be gone, and scarcity will demoralise the workers within. And if they hold, there'll be a chance that the police will evict them and got seriously hurt. Look at the Ssayong events and their sad aftermath. One can organize strikes against their own, like immigrant workers too, which is obviously would weaken their class consciousness. I'm not saying that strike is a bad tool in the box, only that it could be as much harmful as a riot to the workers' power.The better and more consciously organized is more likely to build the workers' power, and such is true for riots, prison riots, occupations, taking the boss hostage and other proletarian actions.

Instead of musing on whether we comdemn of condone the riots in general, we should look at what we can learn from it. I don't see the point to stuck on this riot-is-bad and riot-is-good debate. Riot is a riot, inherently controversial, and we should look in to the problem to use this militant momentum in a better way or push it further.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 08:12
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no1 wrote :

I also suspect that the political dimension of the riots which has mainly been shut out of mainstream discourse will in the medium term become prevalent and shape the way many things are seen.

agree.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 08:21
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soc wrote :
Instead of musing on whether we comdemn of condone the riots in general, we should look at what we can learn from it. I don't see the point to stuck on this riot-is-bad and riot-is-good debate. Riot is a riot, inherently controversial, and we should look in to the problem to use this militant momentum in a better way or push it further.

yes. but what we decide to push it further in a good direction will be based on how we see the riots, on how we evaluate what was good in it and for what reason and what was bad and for what reason. so it's impossible to decide "what are we doing now after the riots" without discussing the riots...

piter
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Aug 16 2011 08:21

double post...

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Rob Ray
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Aug 16 2011 09:31
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I don't think there can be a blanket line on this, I would personally feel very differently if my local 'family run' take-away got bricked in compared to the local 'family-run' estate agent.

Yeah tbh it's really got to be case-by-case when it comes to small shopkeepers or the (increasingly rare) owner-operator pub landlord or whatever, because they can come down on either side. I tend to remember an article I published in Freedom back in 2007 by Dave Douglass on the history of the Liverpool dockers strike of 1876:

Quote:
As soon as the strike had started Mr Harver the proprietor of a public house right opposite the gates of the Bramley - Moor Dock posted the following notice in his window: “Notice - Men that are on strike and that have used this establishment during the last six months as customers can have their pint of ale and bread and cheese free every day from twelve to one. - G Harver”

On the Monday and Tuesday hundreds of his customers were served as promised free of cost.

This at a time when the differences were as marked as they were ever going to be, a non-unionised workforce casualised to the point of destitution supported by one of the big men of the docks. Point I took from that is that it's simply not possible when dealing with human nature to predict with absolute certainty what side people are on, even if they are petit bourgeoisie.

no1
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Aug 16 2011 09:55
soc wrote:
no1 wrote:
I think there's a difference in that strikes are essential to build working class power, but with looting that's not the case that much. I think if shops are looted in revenge to a shop owner's racist, sexist or other discriminatory behaviour, then this could potentially have a positive effect, though it may be quite difficult to get the message across to them without exposing the looter. However if looting is done in an individualistic spirit of shopping for free, then I don't see it empowering workers.

Think of it again. If there's a strike, say, bus drivers are on strike, other workers start to spit on them because they are delayed to get to work, etc. Strikes were described by media sometimes as irresponsible, causing chaos.

On the other hand, many times strikes weaken the workers if they failed: the supplies eventually will be gone, and scarcity will demoralise the workers within. And if they hold, there'll be a chance that the police will evict them and got seriously hurt. Look at the Ssayong events and their sad aftermath. One can organize strikes against their own, like immigrant workers too, which is obviously would weaken their class consciousness. I'm not saying that strike is a bad tool in the box, only that it could be as much harmful as a riot to the workers' power.The better and more consciously organized is more likely to build the workers' power, and such is true for riots, prison riots, occupations, taking the boss hostage and other proletarian actions.

Instead of musing on whether we comdemn of condone the riots in general, we should look at what we can learn from it. I don't see the point to stuck on this riot-is-bad and riot-is-good debate. Riot is a riot, inherently controversial, and we should look in to the problem to use this militant momentum in a better way or push it further.

(1) I was talking about the looting not the riots in general.
(2) The fact that strikes can fail tells us nothing. The point is that when they are successful they build working class power. The same can't be said about looting, in fact it would be pretty difficult to judge when looting is successful from a class perspective
(3) I am absolutely not condemning the looting or the rioting, I am trying to look at the effect of the looting so that we can learn from it. What I am condemning is an attitude of cheering on looters from the comfort of one's keyboard as though looting was some radical communist tactic, when in reality it achieves nothing except attracting draconian prison sentences which usually the cheerleaders aren't prepared to risk. So I'm saying, if you're in a riot and taking the risk of going to prison, then don't get new trainers and a telly, go and do something worthwhile.

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Aug 16 2011 09:58

Instead of musing on whether we comdemn of condone the riots in general, we should look at what we can learn from it. I don't see the point to stuck on this riot-is-bad and riot-is-good debate. Riot is a riot, inherently controversial, and we should look in to the problem to use this militant momentum in a better way or push it further.

this is it to me, most people who are actually doing things have made the effort in the first week to establish we aren;t mentalists who ''support everything''*. That done right now for me the priority is supporting those who got nicked any way we can and taking action against the aspects governments crackdown that we can try to fight against..

*as far as i'm concerned if you criticise nothing you stand for nothing

ps if people want to carry on talking about the ins and outs of small traders (a bit silly right now imho) then can the thread be split, since it has little to do with the statement really

no1
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Aug 16 2011 10:05
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
I don't think there can be a blanket line on this, I would personally feel very differently if my local 'family run' take-away got bricked in compared to the local 'family-run' estate agent.

Yeah tbh it's really got to be case-by-case when it comes to small shopkeepers or the (increasingly rare) owner-operator pub landlord or whatever, because they can come down on either side.

The purpose of a class analysis of society is not to classify individuals and then pass moral judgement on them. The purpose is to help us understand how society functions, what we want to change and how we can achieve that change. The point remains that however we classify small traders, their ability to play a positive role in class struggle is extremely limited, regardless of whether they are just one person, a family-run shop or a co-operative.

Caiman del Barrio
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Aug 16 2011 10:21

Shock horror, Cantodo's been consistently on point for a week and counting... wink

I find this academic exercise of moralism and classification thoroughly soul-destroying. It seems like a deliberate exercise in abstraction, in the removal of oneself from events, the elevation of self to a higher plateau of meta-analysis. Those of us living in affected areas weren't afforded that luxury so we responded as our needs dictated.

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Aug 16 2011 10:33

Sure, but there's a difference between that structural analysis, which is useful as a framework for revolutionary macro-politics, and ground floor micro-politics. The limited role that a small trader can directly play in the grand scheme can be very significant on a single estate and tbh I don't think grand schema can cover this eventuality, nor should it try.

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Aug 16 2011 10:37
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It seems like a deliberate exercise in abstraction, in the removal of oneself from events, the elevation of self to a higher plateau of meta-analysis.

Probably, but this is a largely theoretical board. Actually getting stuff done is more likely to happen within our own groups (speaking of which, some of the more interested people from north and south London really need to meet this week to work out what we want to do - going via the list is a very slow business).

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Aug 16 2011 10:40

@no1: Actually, in the case of strike I wanted to show how a strike could be a failure on the class level, even if it is success on the immediate demands. For once, the demand is payrise, and they succeed, but in turn there gonna be some layoffs. This scenario is a repeated pattern. A strike can be organised with racist intentions and can be succesful but it doesn't give the working class as whole any more power but quite the opposite. I don't support the looting as inevitably pure communist action, I only argue that no other tools in the box are less prone to be double-edged weapon compared to looting.

In 1956 during the Hungarian insurrection there were lootings but mostly was organised for a collective distribution, thus this action was unquestionably pointed for gaining more power of our class (if there are more food, the insurrection can hold longer). With rioters looting plasma TV's, or even food for themselves (as was pretty much the case in the 2004 lootings in Slovakia), does not strengthen the class unity, sure. It is not the concrete action (looting, striking, occupations, prison uprising, or taking out politicians and big capitalists) are right or wrong in regards of class unity, but the content, why and how these actions were organised.

Learning particular lessons from how the looting was organised is positive in any case and I'm all for it. But it seemed to me (and maybe I'm wrong, and in that case, there's no difference between us), that you are judging the tool rather than the whole context.

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Aug 16 2011 10:42

If anyone could come up with a good rally point and proper place, I'm all for a live forum on this one.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 10:49
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no1 wrote :

The fact that strikes can fail tells us nothing. The point is that when they are successful they build working class power. The same can't be said about looting, in fact it would be pretty difficult to judge when looting is successful from a class perspective

at times a "failed" strikes do more in building class power (because of what the strikers experienced and learned) than a "succesful" strike. I guess you know that.

I would say that the "success" of looting/rioting from a class perspective also comes from what people experienced. what is important for exemple is that people felt free to break the rules and contest the power. and not only felt free to do it but actually did it.
that's not abstract "communist tactic", that's a fact.
(of course the less end up in prison the better, that goes without saying).

Mark.
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Aug 16 2011 12:00

I don't know if this Turkish and Kurdish community statement has been mentioned anywhere yet, but it seems reasonable on the issue of protecting small shops.

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The members of our community, all of whom have been forced to flee from their homeland for economic and political reasons, are being swayed to not to be alongside but against these waves of riots. We are witnessing the development of an instinctive tendency to protect their small shops and at times attacking the youth. Surely the traders have the right to protect their shops. But such events should not be use to pit the Turkish and Kurdish community against the Black community. Such event should not be used to strengthen the prejudices that the oppressed and migrant communities have against each other. We, the people of Turkey and Kurdistan, should be act in a prudent way and not fall for the trap of pitting migrant communities against each other. Moreover, we should demand that those who have killed Mark Duggan are found and held to account via the completion of the Inquiry into his death.
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Aug 17 2011 00:39

Yeah, that was given away at the march from Hackney to Tottenham. My (limited) understanding was that it was written and distributed to counter the narrative being sold in Turkey that focused solely on macho Turkish shop owners defending their shops.

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Aug 17 2011 00:47
Caiman del Barrio wrote:

I find this academic exercise of moralism and classification thoroughly soul-destroying. It seems like a deliberate exercise in abstraction, in the removal of oneself from events, the elevation of self to a higher plateau of meta-analysis. Those of us living in affected areas weren't afforded that luxury so we responded as our needs dictated.

I don't know if I'm convinced by the argument (advanced not only by Caiman) that we should ignore classifying individuals from a communist perspective as individual classification has concrete implications for revolutionary organisations. (I mean how many of our organisations have the no hire/fire rule?).

In any case, if there were two similar ostensibly anarchist organisations, one of which supported "local business" and one that didn't, I know which one I'd join.