A critique of belief in the inherent radical nature of forms such as direct democracy in the context of the anti-austerity movements, and an appeal to politics based on a process of struggle across time deepening breaks with capitalist normalcy.
Today society is in transition. Workers in the capitalist core are seeing the stability and benefits that many enjoyed slip away. The relationships that defined the capitalist periphery nations are fundamentally being transformed by deeper integration into the world economic system.
Check out this interview with Noam Chomsky about the growing housing justice movement, the future of Occupy, and how direct action can play into all of this.
As a commentator, educator, public intellectual, and one of the best-known anarchist voices in the U.S., Noam Chomsky has become a defining perspective as social movements develop. His analysis of the shift in global capitalism, and our own role in its flux, has seen a recharge of importance as we entered the “new normal” of the post-2008 economy.
Victimisation, by bosses and the state, of those who try to organise in the workplace is nothing new. But recently a spate of high profile cases have focused wider attention on the issue.
Last year, William Hill bookmakers announced plans to extend their Sunday opening hours. As they already have over long shifts, forced overtime and the generally shitty end of the stick when it comes to working conditions1
- 1. Not the least of which seems to be a callous attitude to the mental health of those whose shops get robbed.
Anselm Jappe rejects the traditional concept of politics and proposes a post-political politics appropriate for the crisis conditions of our time, a politics whose task is to “at least preserve the possibility for future emancipation against the dehumanization imposed by the commodity” and is based on a combination of non-representational direct action, the rehabilitation of the idea of sabotage, and anti-capitalist theory that transcends the fixed boundary between praxis and theory, without succumbing to the temptation to seek immediate results by yielding to traditional political attitudes and methods.
Politics without Politics – Anselm Jappe
More than 1,000 migrant workers in Shanghai have gone on strike and held 18 managers hostage following a dispute over the introduction of a draconian new disciplinary policy. Four hundred riot police officers attended to the factory in a bid to free the bosses. There are reports of many workers being injured in the subsequent clashes, including several with broken limbs. Following the incident the bosses have withdrawn the new policy, issued an apology for its introduction, and have promised the workers a pay rise…… Direct action gets the goods!
The workers, employed at the Shinmei Electric plant were furious at the new rules and regulations that will mean heavy fines or dismissal, should people be late back from the toilet, and instant dismissal for making one work related mistake. Angry workers besieged the plant in Shanghai for over two days, rounding up the bosses and forcibly locking 18 of them in a room.
The ongoing struggle against austerity have brought into focus the differences between the "left" and "right" of the trade union movement. But they have also shown the inadequacy of the trade union left and the illusions it promotes. So what hope do militant workers in the UK have of going beyond the limitations imposed on us from above?
On Monday Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, declared that the British trade union movement faced a "crisis of leadership." It is safe to say that he summed up the feelings of an awful lot of trade union members and activists when he did so.
Ann Hansen is a former member of Direct Action, an underground anarchist group active in the 1980s, who presently lives as a writer, farmer and public speaker in the Kingston area. On August 3, 2012, Ann was arrested and had her parole suspended for ‘unauthorized associations and political activity’ in the context of growing anti-prison organizing in Kingston, Canada’s prison capital. Ann, with the advice of her lawyer, chose to not publicize her arrest until after her parole hearing. On October 30, the Parole Board canceled her parole suspension and released her on stricter conditions. This is her first public statement regarding her arrest and imprisonment.
On August 3, I was at my home near Kingston, Ontario, sitting in a lawn chair after supper when out of the corner of my eye I saw a line of black SUVs speeding towards our driveway. With a sinking feeling, I realized one of my reoccurring fears as a parolee was becoming a reality.
Saturday October 20 saw the TUC's "Future That Works" march and rally. It was the second biggest demonstration so far against austerity, the belated follow-up to the "March for the Alternative" last year. But what was the point? And where do we go from here?
Estimates place the number of marchers in the region of 100,000-250,000. Clearly an awful lot of people but also down on the number who attended last year, as even the TUC itself attests.
A brief note on why forms of action taken at the behest of trade union structures cannot be equated with rank-and-file led organisation and direct action.
As everyone knows, I am an advocate of "rank-and-file" forms of industrial organisation. Namely, I believe that through militants organising on the ground through horiontal structures such as workplace committees, we can use direct action to take on winnable fights.
“Mothers’ Strike” is a documentary that portrays the living conditions of the striking women in Walbrzych, Poland in 2010, their struggle against local authorities, conflicts with welfare institutions and their attempts at self-organizing.
The following text was written in summer 2011 by some of those behind the documentary: