Issue of the London-based anarchist magazine Black Flag from the 1990s.
Thanks to Kate Sharpley Library for providing a copy to scan.
This issue is out a lot earlier than anyone had any right to expect. We cant afford it but we hope that content, production, circulation etc are all getting better. We stil think that there is a real need for a paper like Flag, but more importantly that there is a growing number of class struggle anarchists who want it and a growing number of people who are interested in the sort of ideas we are printing. There is no way we can claim consistency, some people may find difficulty reconciling Chomsky to militant anarchism , we'll print any article that we get if it is interesting and readable and try to write less ourselves.
We still need more people to write about actions and activities as well as politics and history. We need more people involved in the collective, in the writing, production and distribution, we are never going to be a party or an organisation. It is not just wishful thinking that more and more people are interested in class struggle anarchism, in anti-authoritarian politics and activity. We think we can be useful in this, not just putting out news but as a forum for debate, a platform for ideas and even as away for people to get involved in different groups and action. This means trying to push both news and analysis which are accessible and interesting to people who don't give a toss about the internal wranglings of the CNT or the future of Class War while still giving space to debates and discussion that may seem introverted. We've always had a repulation for bitter sectarianism and we'll strive to maintain this but that is no reason not to send us money, articles and pictures.
Oh yes, there was an election. Happy now?
NB: Some shorter articles are below. Some longer ones are linked. Full contents in PDF.
- Building worker group win in Milton Keynes
- March For Justice - London
- International anti-fascist conference to be held in London
- Announcement: Albert Meltzer
- Anarchist News-Service from Czech Republic
- Brazilian Dockers Occupy Ships
- Vitrolles: The logic of the urns
- More Minsk arrests
- Barcelona and Madrid social centres evicted
- Take Back the Night! Demo against police violence in Stockholm
- Abortion: French CNT Win Abortion Legal Case
- Revolution in Albania
- What is anarcho-syndicalism? - libertarian reformism, vanguardism or revolutionary unionism?
- Democracy in a neoliberal order - Noam Chomsky
- Anarchist History: Trotskyist Lies on Anarchism
- We, The Anarchists! A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927-1937
- Review: Human Rights or Control Units
- Review: More of the Same by the 1926 Committee
- Shorter reviews
- Letters: Reclaim The Streets/May Day
- Obituaries: Judi Bari, Dave Jarret
Building worker group win in Milton Keynes
On January 6th a bricklayer in Northampton UCATT told branch secretary Brian Higgins that he and 12 others had been sacked that morning on their return from the Xmas break. Eight others had started in their place! At the invitation of the men Brian went to Milton Keynes two days later and established that the men were entitled to notice or pay in lieu of notice. As there were only a couple of weeks left on the job the men involved demanded that all wages owing and a week's wages in lieu be paid that day or they would picket the site the next morning. The bosses thought this was a bluff and didn't settle but contacted UCATT headquarters instead. UCATT "organiser" Dominic Hehir, who is threatening Brian Higgins with a libel action (see BF210) said Higgins had no authority. At 7.15am the next day the picket was on. By 9am the site was at a standstill and by 1pm the contractor had settled in full. Once again, direct action gets the goods.
March For Social Justice
Saturday April 12th saw 20,000 people on the 'March for Social Justice', led by the sacked Liverpool dockers, Women of the Waterfront, the Hillingdon cleaners, and strikers from Magnet and other disputes. It was the start of a weekend of resistance by Reclaim the Streets!, the anarchist inspired direct action group. Many of the people there were there for this al= one, though RTS have actively supported the dockers in the past, and the dockers have defended them against attacks from the Labour and union bure= aucracy.
The march was very lively and had an exceptionally good atmosphere as it = snaked its way from Kennington Park into the centre of London. The cops kept a low profile and the Trots had stayed away. Anarchists, on the contrary, saw this as an important linking of struggles, and had come from all round the country.
The police radios started twitching, however, as the most visible anarchi= st contingent, near the back of the march, came up Whitehall. The sound system in front of it stopped outside Downing Street, as had other sections of the march, and the crowd danced and shouted their protest at the emp= ty government buildings. The riot cops opposite were restless behind the gates to the Ministry of Defence. There was a whiff of testosterone in th= e air and they were clearly itching to have a go. A smoke bomb went off and a couple of lads climbed the gates to Downing Street, nothing serious, but the gates to the MoD opened and the horses came forth.
The cops were caught between two sections of the demo and the crowd was pissed off. It had been a good day, sunny with loads of great people, and = here were the party poopers to spoil the fun. Under a hail of placards, paint and bottles, they were forced back. Their pride dented, out they came again to show who was in control. There was the usual push and shove, a couple of arrests and the cops succeeded in dividing the demo. The major= ity were already partying in Trafalgar Square, though some came back down Whitehall to see what was happening. There were about 800 stuck on the wrong side of the police lines for a tense quarter of an hour, until the police relented and went back into the MoD.
Meanwhile the police had already started to park vans outside the main en= trances of Trafalgar Square, where several thousand demonstrators were st= arting to have a street party. The original target had been the Department of the Environment, but the cops had found out and its offices were protected by armed police. A lorry with a sound system was driven through the police lines, into Trafalgar Square and the dancing began. The police sealed off the Square and allowed people to leave, but attempted to stop a= nyone from entering.
As the afternoon went on, the numbers slowly began to drop and the tensio= n began to rise. Finally, the riot cops started to move in. They were met= by a spirited resistance as some people fought for others' right to party, even if many of the dancers didn't care about the struggle going on around them. As the sound system left in the early evening taking most of the crowds with it, the driver and passenger were arrested for the attempted murder of a cop when entering the Square. These ridiculous charges were later dropped and replaced by drugs charges, but were still reported by the press. People headed home or to one of the organised squat parties, leaving the Square, bedecked by banners, to the police. Several people ha d been hospitalised and there had been a number of arrests. The centre of London had been reclaimed from the car for an afternoon, the cops had flexed their muscle, the press had got its headlines, the people had made their point.
The Legal Defense and Monitoring Group are co-ordinating the legal defense for April12th. They want to trace anyone who was arrested, injured or who could give evidence as a witness to arrests and attacks by the police. They can help provide reliable solicitors and support for people wanting to take action against the police. They can be contacted at
Announcement: Albert Meltzer
Albert Meltzer's ashes will be scattered in the CNT section of Montjuich cemetary in Barcelona on Sunday 20th July. If you are interested in attending, please contact us for more details.
Anarchist News-Service from Czech Republic
Squatters from the last remaining anarchist squat in Prague - Sochora Street broke up a police attack on 15th February this year. Police officers stated that they had an official order to evict this "house of junkies and dangerous anarchists". The local police commander was so depressed by defeat of his policemen, that he declared to use special anti-terrorist assault troops in few more days to evict the squat. Sochora was squatted in 1992 and hosts Prague meetings of the Czech Anarchist Federation and other groups. You can help the squatters by sending protests to your Czech embassy: (Subject: Eviction of Squat in pplk. Sochora 28 in Prague 7)
Four days later 70 anarchists demonstrated in support of Sochora 28 squat. We had one large slogan banner "Flats instead of banks" (the Sochora street is endangered by the project of one bank) and black/red anarchosyndicalist flag.
More Minsk Arrests
Every week or two, more and more activists are being arrested and harrassed in the Belarussian capital of Minsk. The latest wave of arrests occurred on Friday and Saturday (March 14-15) in Minsk. About 100 people were arrested for peacefully demonstrating. Among these were three anarchist students. Pavluk Konovalchuk was given 10 days and has declared a hunger strike. He is asking that protests be made to the General Procuror of Belarus and at the Belarussian embassies abroad. His arrest is just part of a continuing pattern of harrassment that will either lead to the destruction of all political movements via obedience or absolute repression.
The other two anarchists arrested were given five days each.
Any protests should address the issue of repression in general but should also mention Pavluk. It is important as a well known activist that the pigs understand that he has comrades in Moscow and other places; last October letters of protest and phone calls from Moscow and elsewhere was of great help to some of our comrades who were locked up. Telegrams can be sent to the City Prosecutor's Office, 24 Internatsionalnaya UIitsa, Minsk. Protests may also be sent via fax to Moscow at 7(095)141-3467 or via e-mail to [email protected].
Barcelona social centre evicted
La Princesa is an old cinema situated in the centre of Barcelona. The Spanish state owned the cinema as an inheritance from the Sindicato Vertical (the Francoist official union). A former sub-secretary of the Employment Office (Ministerio de Trabajo) sold the cinema, which now belongs to Carmen Companys, widow of the businessman Salvador Forcadell. With this paperwork, and convinced that this sale operation was illegal, some squatters arrived to the building and established their squat there. La Princesa was a forgotten place, ridden by rats, and dirt, and used by some business people to speculate with the building's value. The squatters worked fast to clean the place, and in few weeks they had the neighbours' sympathy, and started transforming an abandoned empty space into a local centre where a number of cultural activities were going to take place. In fact, Jordi Llovet, the president of the residents association of Ciutat Vella, where La Princesa cinema is, said that he supported the squatters because it was the first time in twenty years that this abandoned space had been put to any use. It didn't make any difference. The new Cððdigo Penal (the equivalent of the Criminal Justice Bill) considers that squatting is illegal, even if you enter an abandoned building without breaking in, that is, without violent means. Tension was building up, and, on the 20 of October 1996, in a music concert organised in support of the squatters, the coppers charged against the people, beating up squatters and members of the general public attending the festival.
Back to the bad old times.
Finally, on the early hours of Monday 28th of October, the big battle. 200 coppers, 20 police vans and 1 helicopter arrived at the old cinema. The squatters, behind the barricades built with old furniture on the terraces of the building, tried to defend themselves throwing objects to the police, but the coppers attacked them shooting rubber balls and using water„cannons, before entering the building (they were equipped with ladders for this purpose). Finally, the squatters were defeated and 48 people (squatters and sympathisers) were arrested. 20 people injured. All political parties (except the right wing ones, surprise, surprise) criticised the police's brutality. The situation now is that 15 people remain arrested, and 6 of them have already been on trial, with sentences between 1 and 2 years of prison. Normally, if you get a sentence of less than 2 years you don't have to go to prison. In the case of one prisioner, he got 2 years and 2 months plus 1 year for "Insumisión" (that is, for refusing to do the military service or any other social service as compensation), plus 1 year for anti-fascist stuff. Altogether, 4 years and 2 months, so he'll have to go to prison. Since that initial court case, 9 other squatters have been called to court, with expected sentences for 1-2 years. Two of them who are under eighteen have denied the allegations. The other seven have refused to testify. They are: Jorge Alberto Fernandez, Pau Vilaseca, Juan José Pareja, Gabriel Javier Vigaté, David Pocez, Luis Vicente Gil and Basilio Oko Ejaka. Another case is that of Todd Benson, an English teacher who has been sentenced for 2 years for rioting against the police... at a time when he was teaching miles away!. In spite of him providing proof of this, he has still been sentenced! He, like many of the arrested people, was guilty of being young and trying to cross the street. They need scapegoats to set an example, they need sacrificial lambs for their "new" regime, so called law and order. And they don't care.
Finally, it must be pointed out as well that there were some irregularities in the legal process. The judge taking the case did not send Mr. Arnau (the squatters' lawyer) the eviction order until three hours AFTER the police had evicted the squatters, so Mr Arnau didn't have the chance to appeal against that decision. On top of that, at the time of the eviction, the squatters were still negotiating with the owners. The judge didn't take the squatters' statements into account, because she said that the police provided more guarantee of reliability than a bunch of youngsters. Is this the new democratic Spain? Where, from the start, the coppers are always right just because they are coppers, full stop? Where an English teacher can be sentenced for 2 years for doing NOTHING? Where a group of young people doing a creative, constructive and socially positive task, and demanding a right as basic as sleeping under a roof can be imprisoned? At the moment, somesolidarity groups are carrying out a number of actions, like picketing some Tourist Agencies in Catalonia. Any ideas, letters of support, etc. will be welcomed.For more information and letters, you can write to: Assemblea d'Okupes Barna (Ateneo Llibertari@Gracia) C/Perill 52 baix Barcelona 08012 Spain Telephone: 00 34 3 458 46 37 Fax: 00 34 3 474 46 15
email: [email protected]
Take Back the Night! Demo Against Police Violence in Stocholm
On International Women's Day, there has for the last 7 years been a "Take Back the Night!" demonstration organised by the anarcha-feminists in Stockholm in the evening. Women protest against the fact that they do not feel safe to be able to walk their own streets at night.
This year, on March 8th, 70 mainly young women gathered at 9pm on the square Medborgarplatsen on the island of Södermalm which is the traditional workers quarters of the city. As in past years the demonstration went through the city streets stopping at porn shops along the way. Near one porn shop, Golden Rose, the police planned an ambush.
The police closed off both ends of the street using 27 police cars (including 4 anti-terrorist vans) and mounted police Without warning the two ends converged upon the demo. Horses from one end and batong weilding anti-terrorist police from the other.
Three young women; 18, 16 and one under the age of 16 were hospitalised Many others were beaten but out of fear have not sought medical care. In addition, many women were "frisked" by male policemen (unlawful according to Swedish law) and violated in the process.
A number of women have brought charges against the police for assault. There are even rumours that certain policemen have brought charges against their own because of the excesive use of force.
The issue was covered in the national press and in Parliament. The police have begun an internal inquiry.
On Saturday the 15th of March a demonstration against police violence was held. Approximatly 500 anarcha-feminists, anarchists and libertarian sympathisers paricipated in the march to the newly opened police station on the island of Södermalm. This is a very good turn-out for a Swedish anarchist demonstration - especially with the short notice. This demonstration has been a sort of unified rallying point for us.
Speeches were held at both the beginning and end of the demo and police presence was minimal. No permission had been applied for but the police granted it anyway! It is worth noting that the majority of the police escort were women. The resignation of the commander in charge of the attack on the anarcha-feminist demonstration was demanded.
The international protest day against police violence was mentioned in both the demo flyer and a speech. It also appeared in full in Swedens largest daily newspaper's sunday edition, Dagens Nyheter. Support from anarchists in Geneva, Switzerland was especially mentioned!
Brazilian Dockers Occupy Ships
As we go to press, troops are poised to intervene to break the peaceful occupation of two ships in the Brazilian port of Santos, where workers are resisting attempts to replace them with contract labour on a berth belonging to COSIPA, the São Paulo Steel Company.
According to Santos portworkers' web site and e-mail received by the Liverpool dockers, the "Marcos Dias" and the "Vancouver", moored at the COSIPA terminal, are occupied. On Monday 7th April, COSIPA requested that the Army be brought in to clear the occupation. The unions expect an imminent armed military intervention., despite assurances from the local army commander that he will not send his men unless ordered to do so by the President himself.
Some time ago, COSIPA proposed contracting out of cargo handling in their own berth, which came to a head when they obtained legal authority to impose their plans. Santos portworkers' then struck from the 2nd to the 5th of April, with a general stoppage of Brazilian ports on 4th April. On Saturday 5th April, 3 workers were injured in clashes with the Military Police. On 7th April COSIPA succeeded in gaining authority to call in the Army.
According to the Lloyds list coverage, "The crisis is being widely seen as the crunch point in the long-running drive to privatise Brazil's waterfront, with President Cardoso under heavy pressure to personally authorise the use of troops."
"Henrik Simon, a director of Hamburg Sud in São Paulo, said: "This crisis is one of the most crucial points in the privatisation push. If the government gives in on this then the whole modernisation and privatisation law comes into question.""
For more info check out the Liverpool Dockers Page on Labounet, where regular updates are posted. Http://www.gn.apc.org/labournet/
Contact the Brazilian portworkers by fax on 0055 13 232 4877 or email them at [email protected]
French CNT Win Legal Abortion Case
As we reported in BF 210, a prominent right wing anti abortion politician, Christine Boutin, was suing the French CNT. We are happy to report that Mme Boutin has lost her case, after nearly a year. The court found that the CNT's polemic against her, comparing her positions with those of the wartime Vichy regime which collabarated with the nazis, while "effected in a scathing tone" was not outside the bounds of political polemic. The CNT states that it can only feel comforted in its determination to fight for the right of women to freely control their own bodies.
Book Review: Human Rights or Control Units by Maroon Russell Shoats
Published by Lancaster ABC-SG, PO Box 891, Lancaster PA 17608 USA (hopefully available from AK, Edinburgh and Active Dist, BM Active, London WC1N 3XX)
Maroon Russell Shoats is a black New Afrikan political prisoner. He was jailed for actions in support of the Black Panther Party in 1972, serving multiple life sentences.
This pamphlet contains two essays by Maroon on control units. A control unit is a special section within a prison designed to hold prisoners that the administration has decided must be locked up for 23 hours a day. It is different from normal solitary because it is indefinite. The essays aim to show how such regimes do nothing to reform and only produce even more embittered individuals who return to the poor communities they are from and wreak more havoc. Control units try to destroy the prisoner as functional individuals, the reasoning being that they would then no longer be a threat. The origin of these ideas are traced to the behaviourism of people like B.F Skinner and the experience of prisoners of war subdued by Chinese communist and North Korean mind control methods. That these practices are dehumanising doesn't bother the authorities. As Maroon states, "Our collective welfare demands that we do everything within our power to bring about an end to this form of imprisonment."
The crucial thing to remember is that the US wants to imprison more people so that it's economy can compete with low wage Asian economies, and this is done by the growing amount of prison labour, used by companies such as Microsoft and TWA at times.
Prisons in America are big business (coming here soon) and rehabilitation programmes, whether run by liberal organisations, churches, or the Nation of Islam are a threat to the system. If prisoners come out and fit back into society, the State will find it hard to send them back to prison. Bear in mind that someone was given life under California's reactionary 3 strikes system for stealing a slice of pizza. This system has no interest in rehabilitation, only in perpetuating itself as a multi-billion dollar business. Therefore, such units are not just an issue for those inside and their families and friends, but indirectly affect the ability of workers outside to defend their pay and conditions.
Music Review: More Of The Same by The 1926 Committee
Available for £5 (payable to S.Cope) from Box 26, 56a Infoshop, 56a Crampton St London SE17
The 1926 Committee (or their earlier incarnation The Proles) have played at some of the best benefits I've been at in the last 6 years or so. Whether anti-poll tax, Liverpool dockers, Albert Meltzer's Birthday and funeral - whatever cause the movement has supported they've been there, in dusty halls or on picket lines. Here's your chance to repay that hard work and get yourself some right good anarcho-folk-pop at the same time.
Unlike so many worthy but dull anarcho bands, the 1926 Committee treat songwriting and musicianship as crafts. This tape contains ten tracks, played in a variety of styles. My favourite, just for its sass and humour, is "Attitude Problem", a chirpy little number about having pride in your class and not falling for all this classless society bullshit. I defy anyone working class not to find themselves somewhere in this song!
Some songs are explicitly political, like "Wandsworth Prison" and "Viva Zapata!". Others explore the everyday resistance inherent in even small acts, like finding your voice and having the confidence to sing, such as "Shattering Silence". Either way, the politics run right through, and the politics are good.
My biggest surprise came with the bluesy piano arrangement on "On The Blade", a song I didn't really like the first times I heard it. This works really well and Steve gets to show off his voice, which is strong and human.
I'm writing this review while listening to that great Wobbly singer Utah Philips. That the 1926 Committee can stand alongside him on a tape recorded in a living room is testament to their ability. If you like our music real and rootsy, buy this one.