Everyday manifesto

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We lay out what we think that we, as ordinary people, can do to make our lives, our communities, our jobs and our planet better.

Submitted by Steven. on October 9, 2006

In our ideas here we have not made any suggestions about what the government should do, or how we would run things if we were elected like political parties do. This is because we believe that political parties and governments are part of the problem, not part of any solution to the world’s problems.

It is about how we can act in our everyday lives to try to improve our conditions, our local areas and our planet.

Libcom note 2012: This was a project we started, intending to expand upon but in the end we didn't do more than a few articles. To some extent it has been superseded by our introductory guides, but we could go back and update and expand this at some point. If you would like to write additional content for it please let us know in the comments below.

Comments

the button

17 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on October 9, 2006

Feel free to use any of this for the section on ASBOs, maybe lift some quotes or something: -

Anti-Social Behaviour: a view from XXXX Estate

Tackling anti-social behaviour is a major priority for both local and central government – according to them, at least. Tony Blair plans to advance his “respect agenda,” with the appointment of a “respect czar.” Meanwhile, south of the river, Lewisham Council “has successfully secured twenty current Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) with more being sought,” according to their website. One of those ASBOs was put in place to stop a teenage boy coming on to XXXXX Estate.

Two responses to this could be, on the one hand, “Only twenty? Things can’t be as bad as I’d thought. Perhaps Lewisham is the place to live work & learn, like the council tell me it is.” On the other hand, we might say, “Only twenty? And only one on this estate? It’s like the Wild West out there. The council needs to take its finger out.” It seems to me that both of these responses fall short of the mark. If anti-social behaviour is a problem, ASBOs are not the solution. To see why, we need to look at ASBOs as part of a wider agenda.

The first item on the ASBO agenda is consultation. We used to have regular residents’ meetings on this estate. Not always exciting, but a chance to talk about what was going on, and what we wanted doing about it. Then last year these were replaced by regular meetings hosted by Circle 33, who manage our estate, to discuss anti-social behaviour. Turn-out at the first of these was zero, and they’re not happening any more. Not to worry however – there’s always the four-page glossy leaflet which proudly told us about the one ASBO that the council had managed to secure on the estate. Sending out leaflets like this is part of Lewisham’s housing policy.

Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about Lewisham Council’s plans for its stock of 34,000 properties. Apparently keeping public housing public is not an option. Mercator is going down the ALMO route. And how much were we consulted about this? How many meetings were organised to discuss it? None. It seems that Lewisham residents are only worth consulting about some things and not others.

The second item on the ASBO agenda is community. New Labour talks a great deal about “rebuilding communities,” and see their emphasis on tackling anti-social behaviour is a part of that. However, what kind of communities do they want to build? Not the kind that stand up for themselves, instead of running to the council or the police with all their problems. The best way to tackle racist graffiti is not phoning the council and having someone coming to paint over it. It’s building a community where racism is not tolerated. Some people are afraid to tackle anti-social behaviour on their own – with good reason. The task of building or rebuilding communities is the task of the community itself – the whole community. We cannot rely on the help of those who only seem to show their faces either at election time or when there’s chance of getting their face in the local paper. Neither can we rely on the kind of “community leaders” that the council listen to, confident that they’ll hear their own views being echoed back to them.

The third and final item on the ASBO agenda is a word that you won’t hear, either from New Labour, either in parliament or on Lewisham Council. That word is class. Remember when Prince Harry got an ASBO for dressing up in a Nazi uniform? Or when Euan Blair got an ASBO for being drunk and very disorderly in the West End? Thought not. It seems that anti-social behaviour is restricted to places like Lewisham, and to the people who live here. Elsewhere, it’s called “high spirits.”

Introduction: Why an Everyday manifesto?

We outline why we believe that political parties and governments cannot be used to improve our lives, and why we think that the only way meaningful change can occur is if we as ordinary people get together at the grassroots and make them happen.

Submitted by Steven. on October 9, 2006

In practical terms
this means that instead of appealing to our leaders for change,
or forming political parties to take state power, we make the changes
we want – ourselves – and from the bottom up.

We call this direct action,
and we think that this is the best way for us to win better, more
fulfilling existences. Direct action is a oft-misused term –
in our Glossary it is defined
as “action taken directly by people themselves to make changes
they want in the world, without appealing to the government, political
parties or bosses. Most mass direct action is in the form of strikes,
non-payment of unjust taxes, and blockades.”

Direct action has won countless gains for working
people the world over. We used to have to work 14-hour days, seven
days a week until workers came together and organised in trade unions
and other associations, faced up to savage repression and successfully
won the much better (but still totally inadequate) conditions and
wages we have today.

Mass direct action in this country only a little
over ten years ago defeated Maggie Thatcher’s Poll Tax, while
electoral efforts were fruitless [1].

While electoral ("political") activity
ensures that we all become accustomed to following leaders and letting
them act on our behalf, we support direct action as the best available
means for preparing ourselves to manage their own personal and collective
interests.

Libertarian communists therefore argue that
we need to reclaim the power which has been concentrated into the
hands of the state. That is why we stress direct action. Through
direct action, the people dominate their own struggles, it is we
who conduct it, organise it, manage it. We do not hand over to others
the task of self-liberation. That way, we become accustomed to managing
our own affairs, creating alternative, libertarian, forms of social
organisation which can become a force to resist the state, win reforms
and, ultimately, become the framework of a free society. Such organisations
often appear in times of struggle as community assemblies, factory
committees, workers' councils, and so on. These organs of direct-democracy
have been the most important element of revolutions over the past
250 years, although they were often usurped into representative
institutions or crushed militarily.

Community Assembly in Argentina
The embryo of a new society - community
assembly in the Argentine uprising of 2001. One third of the
population participated in the assemblies.

We are in favour of collective, mass action.
There is nothing more isolated, atomised and individualistic than
voting in elections. It is the act of one person in a box by themselves,
the total opposite of collective struggle. The individual is alone
before, during and after the act of voting. Indeed, unlike direct
action, which, by its very nature, throws up new forms of organisation
in order to manage and co-ordinate the struggle, voting creates
no alternative organs of workers’ self-management; nor can
it, as it is not based on nor does it create collective action or
organisation. It simply empowers an individual (the elected representative)
to act on behalf of a collection of other individuals (the voters).
This will hinder collective organisation and action as the voters
expect their representative to act and fight for them - as if they
did not, they would not vote for them in the first place!

In other words, the idea that socialists standing
for elections somehow prepares working class people for a new world
is simply wrong. Utilising the state, standing in elections, only
prepares people for following leaders - it does not encourage the
self-activity, self-organisation, direct action and mass struggle
required to build a better society. Moreover, use of elections has
a corrupting effect on those who use it. The history of radicals
using elections has been a long one of betrayal and the transformation
of revolutionary parties into reformist ones. Thus using the existing
state ensures that the division at the heart of existing society
(namely a few who govern and the many who obey) is reproduced in
the movements trying to abolish it. It boils down to handing effective
leadership to special people, to "leaders," just when
the situation requires working people to solve their own problems
and take matters into their own hands. Only the struggle for freedom
can be the school for freedom, and by placing power into the hands
of leaders, utilising the existing state ensures that socialism
is postponed rather than prepared for.

On a more practical level, electoral activity
is stacked towards the rich and powerful. To even register on the
public radar requires multi-million pound advertising, and coverage
in the corporate media. Trying to get an independent candidate elected
into office is massively time-consuming and expensive – time
which could be used building up a working class counter-power, in
the forum of organisations based on solidarity between people, where
we can stick together and force the state to give in to our demands.

Governments only grant demands to the people
when their very power is threatened – for example the introduction
of social housing following the mass workers’ and ex-soldiers’
squatting movement after World War 2, or nationalisation of the
coal industry following massive strikes. In Latin America today,
left-wing governments in countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina
and Brazil are granting large-scale land and social reform. This
is not due to their benevolence, however – it is due to the
massive social movements which have been using direct action for
years to make the changes themselves. Landless and homeless movements
have been occupying land and buildings, workers have taken over
bankrupt factories, and communities have blockaded roads to stop
privatisation and sell-offs of natural resources. If the governments
had not granted these reforms, they would have been overthrown!
In fact, many governments only ratify changes which workers have
already made, such as in Argentina legalising already-occupied factories
and in the Spanish and Russian revolutions giving official sanction
to land collectivisations already undertaken.

Right-wing terror - the Chilean coup 1973

Chile 1973 - Soldiers
round up dissident workers in the National Stadium following
the coup against the democratically-elected left-wing government.

In many countries the two-party system making
it almost impossible for progressive parties to get elected, since
if you vote for the most radical you will split the progressive
vote and maybe let the conservative or reactionary government in.
In the rare instances where radical parties who claim to want to
make improvements for the majority (for example by taxing or taking
into public ownership large corporations, or introducing strict
environmental or workers’ rights laws) become large, one of
the following always happens:



▫ They sell out their
principles in order to receive backing from corporations or the
mass media - also owned by huge corporations – which is necessary
in most countries to even get elected. Good examples of this would
be New Labour, and Green Parties in power in Germany and Belgium.




▫They get in power,
try to implement progressive policies and find themselves at the
mercy of larger economic forces. For example if one country introduces
a good minimum wage, or high taxes corporate profits there will
be capital flight – businesses will just shift overseas. This
was demonstrated very strongly by the capital flight during the
1974-79 Labour government which tried to carry out a pro-worker
program [2].



▫ They get in power, try to implement progressive policies
and are overthrown by force by domestic or foreign forces backed
by business interests. The CIA-backed coup against the left-wing
Chilean President Allende in 1973 (see picture above) being
a case in point; another example almost occurred in Italy after
World War 2, where the right-wing secret army, Gladio
was to launch a coup if the Communist Party entered government.



We want a world where we are all in control our own lives, our own
communities, and our own destinies, and where we are free to live
out our dreams and desires. We recognise that many people who are
members of political parties share our goals, but we sincerely believe
that electoral activity is a massively costly (in both time and
money) exercise which ultimately is counter-productive.

Politics is a game set up by the rich and powerful,
without a level playing field, and as ordinary people we are best
off using our energy to organise ourselves and build solidarity
amongst all workers to fight for our own interests. Of course we
welcome all progressive government reforms, but none our ever handed
down – we must fight for them, all the while continuing to
build the new world within the shell of the old.

For libertarian communists, while we would like
to live in a classless, stateless, free society whether we get there
or not in our lifetimes does not matter. We believe that our ideas
and tactics are the best for winning better lives for ourselves
in the here and now as well. Apart from direct action and solidarity
being the most effective methods of winning improvements to our
communities, our environment and our work, they are even beneficial
to the individual participant’s mental health, and the bonds
which are formed between people in such activity [3]
can never be forgotten.

libcom.org



Footnotes

1 - For more information on Militant's electoral
opposition to the Poll Tax see here

2 - More
information here


3 – Sussex University Study, 2002.
Press
release here

Comments

Environment

A summary and examination of the environmental crisis and its causes, and how we think that the problems can be solved.

Submitted by Steven. on October 9, 2006

The Earth is facing an environmental crisis on a scale unprecedented in human history. This environmental crisis is already responsible for high levels of human suffering. If the crisis continues to develop at its current rate, the ultimate result will be the extinction of human life on the planet.
We call for action to end the environmental crisis because of the threat it poses to humankind, and because we recognise that nature and the environment have value in their own terms.
The main environmental problems include:

Air pollution: creates global warming (or climate change): a general increase in planetary temperatures that will severely disrupt weather patterns causing mass floods, droughts, chaotic climate fluctuations and disease killing millions; destroys the ozone layer that filters out dangerous cancer-causing rays from the sun; turns rain water into acid that destroys plant and animal life. It also causes respiratory and other diseases amongst humans which kills over 30,000 people a year in the UK1 .
Solid waste: the sea and the land environments are poisoned by the dumping of dangerous industrial wastes (such as mercury and nuclear waste); the use of materials that nature cannot break down in packaging and in other products, particularly disposable products, have turned many parts of the world into large rubbish dumps. This is also a waste of finite resources and it poisons and injures people.
Soil erosion: this takes place in both the West and the so-called “developing” world, and is the result of factors such the (mis-)use of chemical fertilisers, dangerous pesticides etc., as well as inappropriate land use, land overuse, and the felling of trees. For these reasons, soil is eroded at a rate faster than that at which it is being produced which contributes to rural poverty2 /
Extinction: plants and animals are being made extinct at a faster rate than any time since the dinosaurs died out, 60 million years ago. This results in the loss of many species, and undermines the eco-sphere on which all life depends.

What’s behind the environmental crisis?
There is nothing inherently environmentally destructive about modern industrial technologies3 . However as they are (mis-)used today, industry – particularly the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas for energy, which releases carbon Dioxide (CO2) which causes global warming - is catapulting the planet towards disaster. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Global warming - the results
The effect of global warming: Argentina's
Upsala Glacier was once the biggest in South America. This image
and more on bbc.co.uk

Many dangerous technologies and substances can be replaced. For example, instead of burning fossil fuels, renewable sources of energy can be used, such as wind, solar or geothermal power. Petrochemical based plastics, which are not biodegradable, can be replaced by starch-based plastics (which safely disintegrate if left outside in a couple of weeks); palm oil can be used to replace diesel, etc.. Dangerous technologies must be replaced with sustainable ones. Wasteful practices must be ended such as the use of disposable containers as opposed to recyclable ones, and importantly the production of far more goods than can actually be used. Living in harmony with the Earth does not mean that we in the West will have to accept a lower standard of living, although the excesses of the ultra-rich are unsustainable.

Rather than on ordinary people in relatively wealthy countries, the real blame for the environmental crisis must be laid at the door of capitalism and the State, and the society that these forces have created.

Capitalism
Capitalism is an enormously wasteful system of production, which is geared towards competition in the market, and to making profits. Under capitalism, the needs of the working class are not met, a false sort of "over- production" takes place, and pollution is endemic.4

Huge amounts of goods are built to break as soon as possible in order to keep sales up (built-in obsolescence) and a large number of useless or inefficient goods are promoted and sold by means of high pressure advertising, and often with the aid of government policy (such as private cars in place of large-scale public transport). Furthermore, this advertising pressures us to dispose of useful items which are no longer “cool” and purchase new ones.

We must not make the mistake of assuming that all goods produced under capitalism are actually consumed by ordinary people. Often the bosses produce more of a given product than can be sold on the market, and this can lead to a price collapse and a recession. The bosses' solution is to destroy or stockpile the "extra" goods, rather than distribute them to those who need them (which would cut into profits). In 1991 there were 200 million tons of grain worldwide which were hoarded to preserve price levels. Three million tons could have eliminated famine in Africa that year – and now the situation is still no different.

It also costs money and cuts into potential profits to install safety equipment and monitor the use of dangerous materials. It is more profitable for the capitalists to shift these costs (sometimes called "externalities") onto the consumer in the form of pollution.

We noted above that there are many environmentally-friendly technologies that can replace environmentally destructive ones. Many of these technologies and patents have been bought up and suppressed by vested capitalist interests – particularly big oil companies and renewable energies - that do not want technological changes that will threaten their profits.5

The state
The state, props up the capitalist system, and while it is largely powerless to alleviate environmental destruction it in itself is also a major cause of ecological degradation, funding huge environmentally destructive projects such as dam buildings or weapons manufacture and testing.

The state is a structure created to allow the minority of bosses and rulers to dominate and exploit us, the workers. The state will not willingly enforce strong environmental protection laws against the bosses because it does not want to cut into the profits of the bosses and into its own tax revenue.
In addition, the rulers of the state are afraid that strong environmental laws will chase away investors (e.g. in 1992, capitalists in Holland were able to block a proposed tax on carbon pollution by threatening to relocate to other countries).6

We reject the idea that the environment can be saved by means of the state, or by electing a Green Party. Green Parties always talk radical when in opposition, such as in the UK, but act the same as other parties when in power, as can be seen in Belgium, and also Germany where the government of which the Greens were a part backed nuclear waste transports and mobilised 20,000 police against protesting residents. See our manifesto's introduction for more reasons we believe the government can not help solve these problems, and also our criticism of the UK Green Party.

Class
At a general level, it is clear that the environmental crisis affects everybody, and threatens the survival of the human race as a whole.

However, even though the environmental crisis is a global threat, it is the urban and rural working class that is most severely affected by the various environmental problems.7 It is the working class that has to take the dangerous jobs that cause environmental degradation.

Pollution pays

Profitable - reducing pollution is a pricey business, not in the interests of corporations in competition

While in the long-term a global environmental crisis would obviously affect everyone, it is not true that everybody shares an immediate interest in fighting against the environmental crisis: the bosses and the State benefit from the processes that harm the environment.8 Only workers and the poor have a direct interest right now in fighting for a clean environment.

Corporations engage in practices which destroy the environment as they need to make the maximum profit possible. Apart from the legal obligation to do so on many companies, the capitalist system enforces perpetual destruction by the imperative it creates – that corporations must grow or die. If a chemical company, say, instead of cheaply dumping waste at sea began to filter and purify all its waste – thus protecting the environment – it would lose valuable profit and thus would be either go bust or be bought up by a more ruthless competitor. Thus the institutional nature of capital makes individual corporations powerless to help, even if they wanted to (which of course they rarely do).

How can the problem be solved?
Mass action and a new society based on co-operation rather than profit are ultimately the only real ways to stop the environmental crisis.

The environmental crisis was generated by capitalism and the State, and can only be dealt with by challenging the power of these forces. We believe that only mass organising and mass grassroots action, as opposed to elections and lobbying, are effective methods of struggle. Read more on why we support grassroots action...

Because of the manner in which capitalism and the State by their very nature generate environmental destruction it is necessary in the long term to overthrow these structures and create a society based on real freedom and production and distribution on the basis of need, not profit. It is this kind of society that we would call "libertarian communist”, or “anarchist".

In addition, the working class is the source of all social wealth and is thus able, by action at the point of production, to wield a powerful weapon against the bosses and the rulers. We believe that our power as workers must be brought to bear in the struggle to halt the environmental crisis.

Because a large proportion of environmental damage takes place at the point of production and because the workers and our communities are the main victims of this pollution , "[t]rade union struggles for health and safety constitute the first line of defence for an embattled environment".9

The working class, organised in workplace resistance groups (such as syndicalist unions or rank-and-file groups), allied with communities struggling against environmental abuses can go a long way in stopping the State/capitalist onslaught against the planet. This sort of mass organising by the productive working class will do far more to stop the bosses than the small-scale guerrilla and obstruction tactics favoured by groups such as Earth First!, such as sabotaging bulldozers.10

A libertarian communist society will help the environment in three ways. First, the capitalist/state system that was the main cause of environmental problems, a system oriented to profit and power, will be replaced by a society based on need-satisfaction and grassroots democracy. Secondly, the excessive levels of consumption by the ultra-rich will be eliminated altogether, as will the idea that happiness can only be gained by buying more and more useless commodities.11 Finally, the workers will be able to install (and further develop) the ecologically sustainable technologies that the bosses currently suppress.12

Practical activity
General
Our role as libertarian communists is first and foremost to spread the ideas of workers’ self-organisation as far and wide as possible. We are in favour of helping people organise ourselves, and increase our confidence in our own decision-making capacity.

A crucial part of our work is to link a criticism of the present society with a vision of how society could be organised to benefit everyone. We support all progressive struggles, for their aims, for the confidence that campaigning gives people, and because it is in struggle that ideas are spread.

We always try to relate our ideas to the day-to-day needs and struggles of our class. We are opposed to an abstract form of environmentalism that does not link itself to the class struggle.

Logging workers

A solution? Workers in environmentally destructive industries have to be organised, to force the introduction of green practices.

Everyday

  • Call for workers in polluting factories to enforce safety rules and monitor pollution. Support actions by workers and the local community to stop/reduce pollution. Where factories cannot be made safe we can demand that they be closed but that their workers get employed at the same pay levels and skill in the local area.
  • Get involved in community struggles against environmental destruction such as the construction of new bypasses and roads, polluting factories and fossil fuel power plants, and argue for direct action.
  • Support wilderness preservation in the form of nature reserves, but, recognising that such reserves have often been set up at the expense of local communities, and the resentment this creates, call for these communities to retain access to some grazing, dry wood, and other resources. Demand that local communities receive cut from gate takings. Help organise workers at these facilities.
  • Oppose all testing of atomic, biological and chemical weapons in all circumstances and support blacking of goods and services as well as other direct action to halt these tests.
  • Call for strike action against companies' strip mining forests to force them to reforest and manage extraction. Support unionisation of workers in these industries
  • Call on unions to fund their own environmental monitoring section answerable to the workers and community affected. Call on workers to publicise and organise action against industries that expose workers and the community at large to toxic substances, pollution etc.
  • Within workplaces also demand industry use recycled products where possible and find alternatives for products or by-products that harm the environment. This should be backed by industrial action.13
  • Try to build solid organisation in workplaces and communities generally to build a grassroots counter-power to challenge the bosses in the here and now and eventually replace capitalism and the state with a free federation of directly democratic community and workplace councils.
    See our Organise section for tips on all these activities.

    Libcom summary
    1. The Earth is facing a serious environmental crisis with potentially catastrophic results.

    2. The environmental crisis has been created by the twin institutions of capitalism and the State.

    3. The working class has a direct interest in fighting to halt the environmental crisis as it the main victim of this crisis. By contrast the capitalist class profits from the crisis, and capitalist businesses are forced to continually expand and destroy the environment since if they did not, profits would fall and they would be bought up or go bust.

    4. Mass action against the capitalists and the State is the only effective way to fight the environmental crisis in the short-term.

    5. The only effective long-term solution to the crisis is the replacement of capitalism and the State by a society where production is organised not for profit, but democratically in the interests of all people and the planet – by a libertarian communist or anarchist society.

    6. General workplace and community organisation will play a central role in fighting and winning the battle to end the environmental crisis, and its causes.

    Edited and altered by libcom from an article by Zabalaza Books and the Bikisha Media Collective, 2005. Last reviewed/updated October 2006.

    Footnotes

    • 12000 UK figure: UK 32,652 - EU Commission report - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4283295.stm
    • 2 Cooper, Dave, (1991) "From Soil Erosion to Sustainability: land use in South Africa," in Cock, Jacklyn and Eddie Koch (editors), (1991), Going Green: People, Politics And The Environment In South Africa. Cape Town. Oxford University Press. p177.
    • 3 Purchase, Graham (1993), "Rethinking the Fall of State-Communism", in Rebel Worker, volume 12, no 9 (108) pp15-16. The examples of environmentally-friendly technologies come from Purchase, (1993), pp15-6 and Graham Purchase, (1991), Anarchist Organisation: Suggestions and Possibilities. Sydney. Black Swan. pp3-5, 21-3.
    • 4This section is based on McLoughlin (1992); Class War (1992), pp30-1; and Lekachman and van Loon, (1981), pp62-4.
    • 5McLoughlin (1992); Purchase (1991), p4.
    • 6Weekly Mail (22-8 May 1992) p34 for this and other examples.
    • 7Crompton, Rod and Alec Erwin, (1991), "Reds And Greens: Labour And The Environment," in Cock, Jacklyn and Eddie Koch, 1991, Going Green. Oxford University Press. Cape Town. p80; Chemical Workers Industrial Union (1991), "The Fight for Health and Safety", in Ramphele, Mamphela (editor), 1991, Restoring the Land. London. Panos Institute. p80; also Koch and Hartford cited in Cock (1991a) p14. For similar arguments for the USA, see J. Baugh, (1991), "African- Americans and the Environment: A Review Essay," in Policy Studies Journal, vol. 19, no. 2, p194; Morrison, D.E. and R.E. Dunlap (1986), "Environmentalism And Elitism: A Conceptual And Empirical Analysis," in Environmental Management, vol. 10, no. 5, pp586; van Liere, K.D. and R.E. Dunlap, (1980), "The Social Bases of Environmental Concern: A Review Of Hypotheses, Explanations And Empirical Evidence," in Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 2. pp183-4, 189-90. Cf. to Lowe, P. and J. Goyder, (1983), Environmental Groups in Politics. George Allen and Unwin. London. pp14-5; McCloughlin (1992).
    • 8see also A. Dobson, (1990), Green Political Theory: An Introduction. Unwin. London. pp152-3.
    • 9Crompton and Erwin (1991) p80; also Chemical Workers Industrial Union (1991); McDonald (1994).
    • 10Bill Meyers. "Ecology and Anarcho-syndicalism", Ideas and Action; see Anon. You Can't Blow Up A Social Relationship: The Anarchist Case Against Terrorism for a detailed examination of the case for mass organising and actions instead of small- scale guerrilla and terrorist approaches.
    • 11see Bill Meyers. "Ecology and Anarcho-syndicalism"
    • 12Mark McGuire, (1993), "Book Review Corner", Rebel Worker, vol. 12, no. 6 (108)). p12.
    • 13For an example of workers in a damaging industry attempting to convert it to be socially useful, read our history of the Lucas Aerospace struggle for useful work - http://libcom.org/history/articles/lucas-aerospace-fight/index.php

    Comments

    Fascism

    nazi-soldiers.jpg
    nazi-soldiers.jpg

    This article outlines what fascism is, how it is growing in the 21st Century United Kingdom, how it has nothing to offer working people and how we can combat it.

    Submitted by libcom on October 11, 2006

    This
    article will outline what fascism is, how it is growing in 21st
    Century Britain and how it has nothing to offer working people,
    and how we can combat it.



    What is fascism?



    As much as the term is bandied about to refer
    to anything from the behaviour of a strict teacher to the “humour”
    of Bernard Manning, fascism is quite a specific set of ideas and
    actions.

    Where does it come from?

    Fascism is a very right wing, fiercely nationalist,
    totalitarian ideology which originated in Italy in the early 20th
    Century to crush the powerful workers’
    movement
    which was pushing up wages and threatening revolution.
    Led by Benito Mussolini, they were funded by various big businesses,
    such as Fiat and Pirelli, to smash picket lines and attack left-wing
    organisers.

    Italian fascism’s counterpart in
    Germany – Nazism – like most fascists today used racism
    to further its aims. Again to combat a powerful working class movement
    the Nazis attempted to direct public anger at the problems caused
    by capitalism (mass unemployment, poverty, etc.) onto a racial group
    – the Jews. To undercut the widespread support for the communists,
    socialists and anarchists the Nazis used anti-capitalist rhetoric
    against Jews, portraying them as money-grubbing capitalists, when
    in fact the vast majority of Jews were working class. Like many
    fascist groups today, they claimed they would initiate a left-wing
    economic programme with good welfare and high wages – the
    “socialism” in national socialism. The Nazi leadership
    had no intention of putting this propoganda into practice though.
    As soon as the Nazi Party came into power it violently destroyed
    all progressive working class organisations. The left-wing of the
    Party - always unacceptable to German business leaders - was then
    disposed of in the Night of the Long Knives, having served its purpose
    of aiding in the destruction of the unions and other working class
    groups. The first to be sent to the concentration camps were not
    the Jews who they had blamed for all Germany’s problems, but
    communists and trade unionists. Read
    about the Nazis' crushing of the anarchist trade union...



    The Holocaust

    Never
    again. Fascism doesn't begin with the gas chambers, but that's
    where it ends.

    Fascism in
    Britain today


    The main far-right political party in the UK
    is the British National Party (BNP). Though only a tiny grouplet
    in the 80s, under the leadership of Nick Griffin they have grown
    hugely, last year winning over 800,000 votes in the European elections,
    and managing to win a few councils seats in Northern England. Though
    still a very small organisation, and mostly just a protest vote
    party, their success should not be ignored.



    It is important to stress here that their political programme is
    not fascist
    . In their propaganda, they present themselves
    as an economically left-wing party which is highly authoritarian
    and pro law-and-order. They claim to not be a racist party, though
    their white-only membership rule obviously contradicts that.

    That they are racist, therefore, is beyond question,
    and that they are bigoted in other ways – for example against
    gays and lesbians whom they denounce as “perverts” or
    “creatures” – in indisputable. However the BNP
    are adamant that they are not fascist, and in fact often denounce
    the “fascist left” for opposing them.

    Of course, politicians are always economical
    with the truth, and none more so than fascist politicians. Like
    the left-wing pretences of the German Nazis – who called themselves
    the National Socialist German Workers' Party - the BNP is attempting
    to build a respectable image of itself as a normal political party
    and cover up its genocidal and fascist aims in order to win widespread
    support. It is, quite simply, lying to everyone about its true nature.

    BNP
    leader Nick Griffin - Cambridge graduate, rich immigrant to
    Wales, and fascist. Says the Holocaust "tale is a mixture
    of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and
    latter-day witch-hysteria." (Carlisle Two Defence Fund
    Bulletin)

    How do we know that this really is the case,
    that they really haven’t changed? Quite simply because the
    Party leadership has not changed significantly since the BNP was
    the radical ultra-fascist offshoot of the more “moderate”
    National Front. The BNP leadership is replete with hardcore Nazi
    sympathisers, and convicted white supremacist terrorists –
    its leader Nick Griffin, for example, has been a member of most
    pro-Nazi groups in the UK, and BNP number two, Tony Lecomber was
    imprisoned for three years in 1986 for a nail bomb attack on a South
    London office. He was also convicted of making grenades, detonators
    and bombs and later for assaulting a Jewish teacher.



    The BNP were forced to abandon the traditional fascist strategy
    of “controlling the streets” - a tactic based on marching,
    looking intimidating and carrying out violent attacks within strongholds
    on working class, left wing or other progressive organisations,
    ethnic minorities and gays. They were prevented from doing this
    largely by Anti-Fascist Action, a militant anti-fascist organisation
    which confronted the far right whenever they took to the streets.
    Since then, they have attempted to present themselves as a respectable,
    non-violent political party which will stand up for the “decent,
    silent majority”.

    Over most of the UK this strategy has had very
    little success – people still know of them as a bunch of Nazi
    thugs – but in certain areas where they have devoted their
    efforts to long-term community organising they have developed solid
    bases of support. Bradford, Keighley and Burnley all have BNP councillors
    and in these towns the BNP is the third largest party. They have
    achieved this by appearing to attempt to deal with real problems
    felt by poor working class people in these communities who are ignored
    by the traditional parties. The BNP has also been given a massive
    boost by the anti-immigrant hysteria generated by the mainstream
    media, particularly The Daily Mail , The Sun and The Express. These
    media enterprises are owned by huge corporations and opportunistic
    politicians who happily use the small number of asylum seekers as
    a scapegoat for all the problems caused by capitalism – particularly
    housing, unemployment, poverty and poor healthcare.

    Newscorp, Rupert Murdoch’s company which
    runs The Sun, The Times, Sky and much of the rest of the British
    media dodged £89million in UK corporation tax in 1998, after
    making £1.4bn worldwide profits – so it’s no wonder
    its media outlets try to blame scrounging asylum seekers on £39
    a week benefits for draining public money.[1]

    Homelessness
    - landlords and profit-driven government policy, not asylum
    seekers, are to blame for the housing crisis.

    While significant numbers of working class people
    are turning to the BNP in some areas, the BNP offers working people
    nothing. Indeed, the BNP leadership even believe the working class
    to be genetically inferior to the rich[2]. They
    oppose workers organising to win better wages and conditions, claiming
    trade unions to be Soviet-paedophile plots[3],
    and refuse to blame capitalism and the rich for any problems, instead
    blaming the poorest and most marginalised in society. For the problem
    of 100,000 homeless households[4] in Britain, they
    do not blame the wealthy landlords who leave 790,000 properties
    empty – instead they blame the 60,000 or so asylum seekers
    a year who mostly live in squalor in cramped conditions. Instead
    of blaming the corporations who throw thousands out of work they
    denounce those left jobless and poor as naturally inferior to their
    bosses[5]. Instead of blaming the disintegrating
    health service on years of privatisation and under-finding, they
    blame immigrants – without whom the NHS would collapse. In
    London, for example, people born overseas make up 47% of nurses
    and 23% of all doctors.[6]

    Previously in Britain many workers turned to
    the trade union movement and the Left to try to improve their lot
    as a class, irrespective of race and nationality. By sticking together,
    and practicing solidarity and direct action – particularly
    in the form of strikes and sympathy strikes, workers up to the late
    1970s won big increases in pay and quality of life together. However,
    bosses and the Thatcher government in the 1980s led an all-out assault
    on working class power, and crushed the trade union movement in
    Britain in the Miners’ strike and Wapping printers’
    strike in 1984-5. Meanwhile workers were betrayed by the official
    Left - in the centre by Labour and the TUC and in on the extremes
    by Arthur Scargill and the Leninists. Labour refused to back the
    workers in these crucial times, and when in power bowed to the bosses’
    pressure[7] and then later abandoned any pretence
    of standing up for workers. The Trades Union Congress – the
    central trade union body in the UK – refused to call a general
    strike or back serious action during either strike, dooming them
    to failure. Scargill was the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers
    during the great Strike, during which he falsely led miners to believe
    they could win by going it alone at a time when the government were
    determined to smash the miners, whose only real hope was that other
    workers would support them.

    This destruction of the possibility of collective
    class advancement has led many workers to turn instead against each
    other in an effort to get ahead. From an explosion in crime and
    unemployment, drug abuse and racism, an atmosphere conducive to
    the growth of the far-right was created. With the trade union movement
    in ruins, and the Left abandoning the working class for moralising
    student-based campaigning on third world issues, many workers saw
    the BNP fill the vacuum as the only viable political force with
    was attempting to address their concerns – on housing, crime
    and public services.

    If the BNP ever did reach power its fascist
    leadership could drop their mask of respectability and use state
    power the way ever fascist regime does – enslaving the population,
    destroying independent workers’ organisation and driving down
    wages and conditions to make huge profits for “The Nation”
    (read – the ultra-rich of the nation). With a little ethnic
    cleansing on the side of course.

    Even short of seizing state power the dangers
    of the success of the BNP, or any other fascist party, are as follows.
    Firstly, success breeds success – the more votes and councillors
    the BNP gets the more it looks like an effective alternative to
    the mainstream political parties and the more socially acceptable
    far-right and racist views become. Secondly, success of fascist
    parties presses the mainstream parties to adopt the tone, rhetoric
    and policies of the far right as the political agenda shifts to
    the right. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party decimated
    the large National Front in the late 70s and early 80s by stealing
    its thunder and shifting further right. Thirdly, in areas with elected
    BNP officials or strong far-right votes, hardcore fascists feel
    powerful and escalate physical attacks on groups like ethnic minorities,
    gays, trade unionists and human rights campaigners. In Tower Hamlets,
    East London when a BNP councillor was elected in 1993, racist attacks
    surged 300% [8]. Fourthly of course if enough fascists
    are elected into positions of power they can begin passing damaging
    regressive legislation aimed against workers, civil liberties, minority
    groups and in favour of big business and greater state power.

    How can we oppose it?

    All mainstream “anti-racists” from
    the government to groups like Unite Against Fascism[9] say is to vote against the BNP. This means telling people to vote
    for the very parties which cause and perpetuate the problems which
    drive people into the arms of the far right in the first place. Read more
    about why social change via political parties is ineffective...

    Instead, we propose a three-pronged strategy
    to combat the growth of fascism in Britain: organisational, political
    and physical



    Organisational opposition


    This is the first and by far the most important way of stopping
    the growth of the BNP. As explained above the growth of the far-right
    is due to problems related to poverty, caused by capitalism. These
    are predominantly unemployment, poor housing and public services,
    and low wages. They have been filling the space left by the destruction
    of the unions 1980s stopping collective advancement of workers,
    and the Left abandoning the domestic working class in favour of
    moral crusades about faraway places.

    Racism
    doesn't help us. Organising as a class does - as striking
    Gate Gourmet workers show us in 2005.

    Instead of being dragged into the dead-end road
    of nationalist and racialist politics, we need to re-develop ways
    of improving our lives together, as a united working class. We need
    to recognise that our problems are not caused by our fellow workers
    of another skin tone but by the bosses who exploit us and exploit
    poor illegal immigrants, the landlords who leave properties empty,
    then rake huge profits from housing asylum seekers and other homeless
    people in appalling temporary accommodation, and the governments
    who sell off our public services, and waste our money and lives
    on wars to benefit huge corporations.

    We need to come together to form re-build workplace
    organisation based on solidarity, and direct action to win better
    wages and conditions, and stop the super-exploitation of foreign
    workers which keeps all of our wages down[10].
    Workers in the public sector, with outside support can help combat
    the privatisation of our services which slashes jobs and service
    quality. Read
    more about workplace organising...

    In our communities we need to try to begin to
    stick together against anti-social criminals which is ignored by
    the police, while fighting for provision of better services for
    our youth[11]. Council tenants can oppose the
    sell-off of their homes into the private sector[12],
    and others can build tenants’ unions to take action such as
    rent strikes against bad landlords[13]. Homeless
    people can occupy building left derelict or empty by absentee landlords
    and turn them into homes[14]. Read
    more about community organising
    or housing...

    Political opposition

    A growing number of white working class people have been tricked
    by the BNP into believing that they have something to offer them.
    In fact for working people and our families the only thing fascists
    have to offer is tyranny and “freedom through work”
    – which is good for our bosses, but not for us.

    It is important to explain how they have nothing
    to offer us, and to combat the lies they spread in order to win
    support. These lies include their left-wing pretences in their policy
    documents, and statements in their propaganda and party political
    broadcasts on subjects such as trade unions, ethnic minorities,
    crime, Aids and even the BBC!

    Their strict law-and-order stance needs to be
    compared and contrasted with their leadership’s violent terrorist
    and criminal pasts (and present![15]), and their
    claims to no longer be fascist must be countered by exposing the
    leaderships’ hidden politics.

    Physical opposition

    Finally, fascism as an ideology is based on violence. The violent
    destruction of all those individuals and organisations who do not
    give their all to the “fatherland”. These include people
    who don’t wish to work incredibly long hours for very little
    pay, those who believe in democracy, or human rights, or equality,
    and can include any other perceived “inferior” people,
    such as the disabled, mentally ill, homosexuals or ethnic minorities.

    With fascists, there is no question as to whether
    they will be violent or not. They will begin acts of violence as
    soon as they feel powerful enough to do so. In Britain in the 1970s
    they were powerful, and carried out violence across the country,
    even including attacking old people in small human rights meetings[16].
    To know they still have the same aims now, all you have to do is
    look at Redwatch, a UK fascist hitlist site with pictures, names
    and addresses of “traitors”: trade unionists, anti-racists
    and left-wingers, including children. As shown in Italy, Spain and
    Germany once they have conquered state power, it is too late to
    physically oppose them, since with the might of the armed forces,
    the police and the prison system they are practically invincible.

    So how can they be fought? Adolph Hitler, while
    in power, explained:

    “Only one thing could have stopped our movement. If our
    adversaries had understood its principle, and from the first day
    had smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.
    "

    At the moment the far right in Britain is in
    this nucleus stage. The fascists in the 1970s and 80s were physically
    smashed off the streets by militant organisation Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), with the once-might National Front
    reduced from 20,000 members to the pathetic 30-60 it is today.

    Thousands
    of pounds of damage inflicted on BNP leaders' cars, smashed
    outside an organising meeting in 2005

    Fascism can only grow while fascists are free
    to organise – to have a website, to have meetings and demonstrations,
    and to produce and distribute propaganda. Without this they cannot
    be heard, and so cannot grow. Preventing them speaking is not nice,
    but it must be done if they are to be prevented from gaining support
    by their deception.[17]

    Fascists use public demonstrations to look and
    feel powerful. Some young people join fascist groups because of
    their gang-like “hard man” image, but this quickly evaporates
    if they are attacked. Many fascists are simply petty bullies, who
    will not keep attending fascist events if anyone stands up to them.
    This is born out by the rapidly dwindling numbers of active fascists
    in areas where they were targeted by AFA in the 80s and 90s[18].
    Websites can also be hacked[19], and fascist meetings
    can be trashed[20]. The activities of AFA largely
    drove the far right underground, and it is thanks to them that fascists
    still can rarely have public meetings anywhere in the UK. We need
    to make sure this remain so. Workers can – and have - refuse
    to produce, or distribute their propaganda[21].

    Some people argue that now the BNP have temporarily
    abandoned the “controlling the streets” strategy that
    physically targeting them is now useless. While it is true that
    attacking an elected BNP official in an area where they have some
    public support might be counter-productive, we believe that elsewhere
    they are even more vulnerable to physical pressure due to their
    need for respectability. The BNP leadership knows it must lose its
    association with violence and thuggery if it is to ever become widely
    popular. It must, therefore, avoid any involvement in street fights.
    Some people have worried that attacking BNP organisers might win
    them more public sympathy, but the BNP is so embarrassed by involvement
    in violence that it has covered up any news of being attacked[22],
    and the fact remains that your average fascist organiser will only
    take so much before they give up the fight – or ponder as
    to why the very people they are supposed to represent (the white
    working class) hate them so much as to fight them wherever they
    go that they change their minds[23].

    It must be stressed again at this stage that by far the most important way of fighting the far
    right is by dealing with the problems they thrive off on a class
    basis rather than a racial one. Physically confronting fascists
    is an activity only a minority of people can do due to its dangerous
    nature, and of course all violence is horrible, and even though
    necessary sometimes it should kept to the minimum possible.



    Libcom Summary

    1. Fascism is an ideology based on the
    destruction of organisations of the working class, which is often
    highly racist



    2. The BNP is Britain’s main far-right party, which has
    a secret fascist leadership with a façade of respectability



    3. The BNP is growing due to four main factors:

    ...a. The destruction of the trade
    unions

    ...b. The Left abandoning the domestic
    working class

    ...c. Problems caused by capitalism
    in Britain continue to worsen and mainstream parties are unable
    and unwilling to help, and the BNP claim that they will

    ...d. The corporate media have made
    a scapegoat of asylum seekers and immigrants for these problems



    4. The growth of the BNP is dangerous because then they reach
    a critical strength they will begin physical (and eventual legislative
    if in government) attacks on ethnic minorities, homosexuals, trade
    unionists and any left-wing or anti-racist campaigners. If they
    gain state power they will enslave the population and enact ethnic
    cleansing



    5. To stop the growth of fascism we need to

    ...a. Fill the vacuum left by the
    destruction of the unions, and organise to begin to solve our
    problems collectively as a class, sticking together regardless
    of race or nationality.

    ...b. Combat the BNP’s lies
    that they have anything to offer British working people, and expose
    their fascist core

    ...c. Physically confront them and
    prevent them organising on the ground or spreading their message.

    libcom, 2005

    Footnotes


    1. BBC
    E-cyclopedia
    , The
    Economist


    2. www.red-star-research.org.uk/rpm/AF/AF.html

    3. BNP “news” on website, 2004 (NB we
    do not link directly to any far-right websites)

    4. Shelter

    5. See 2

    6. Refugee
    Action


    7. See An
    Anarchist FAQ
    for more information about capital flight

    8. BLINK

    9 uaf.org.uk

    10. For example, the Dahl
    Jenson strike of 2004
    , or the Italian
    workers' movement in the 1970s
    . The Industrial Workers of the
    World also had much success in immigrant organising in the early
    20th Century US.

    11. See Blackbird
    Leys Independent Working Class Association


    12. See Defend
    Council Housing
    ; also the victorious anti-sell-off
    campaign in Camden


    13. See the Italian
    tenants’ movement in the 1970s
    .

    14. See squatters.org.uk or our Housing section for more information

    15. Some recent BNP crime headlines on libcom.org: BNP
    member caught smuggling illegal immigrants
    , BNP
    candidate guilty of dealing crack and heroin
    , BNP
    Member Jailed For Racist Attacks


    16. See No Retreat, by Dave Hann and Steve Tilzey,
    Milo Books

    17. To get involved in militant anti-fascism, contact Antifa

    18. See No Retreat, above

    19. The BNP site was taken down for weeks by hackers
    in 2005.

    20. Recent examples include: Nationalist
    Alliance meeting trashed, September 2005
    , BNP
    organising meeting bricked, March 2005


    21. In the 2004 Elections, postal workers refused
    to deliver BNP materials, BBC.
    In 2002 German television workers refused to broadcast fascist party
    the NPD’s election broadcasts.

    22. The BNP has covered up all recent examples
    of this occurring, such as the incident in footnote 20.

    23. See No Retreat, ibid. for examples.

    Comments

    Health

    Our analysis of what is wrong with the UK health system and National Health Service, the reasons behind it, and what we as ordinary people can do about it.

    Submitted by Steven. on October 11, 2006

    The British National
    Health Service is massively under-funded, overstretched and under-staffed.
    Over twenty years of Tory-initiated privatisation have wrecked the
    already-imperfect health system, leaving it bureaucratic and top
    heavy, and driven by government targets rather than the health of
    the population.



    What’s wrong with it?

    Institutional

    Much ill-health in Britain can be attributed
    to overcrowded or poorly maintained housing, insufficient or poor
    quality food, environmental pollution, bad sanitation, or stress
    and lack of exercise due to working and travelling patterns. The
    health service is only set up to deal with people when they've already
    fallen ill, not to prevent illness in the first place. Until these
    economic causes of ill-health are dealt with we will continue to
    have an over-stretched health service regardless of how much money
    is thrown at it.



    Privatisation

    Dirth NHS hospital sink

    Dirty
    hospitals - the result of putting profit before people.

    Overcrowding and lack of cleanliness in hospitals
    is part of the same problem. The “superbug” MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant
    Staphylococcus Aureus) is currently responsible for 2 out of every
    1000 deaths in NHS hospitals and 3 out of every 1000 deaths in NHS
    nursing homes. 100,000 people are infected and 5,000 people killed
    annually from Hospital Acquired Infections[1],
    more than are killed on Britain's roads[2]. It
    is generally accepted that this has been contributed to by the privatisation
    of cleaning services - putting the responsibility into the hands
    of private companies, ultimately responsible to their shareholders
    rather than the public. Labour-intensive services such as hospital
    cleaning can only be made more profitable by cutting wages, making
    staff work longer hours or simply reducing the numbers of cleaners.
    This has lead to a marked deterioration in the service, with numbers
    of cleaners slashed by 45% - from 100,000 in 1984 to just 55,000
    today[3].



    Despite this, the majority of healthcare in
    the UK is still state-owned. This means that instead of private
    shareholders, the NHS is responsible to state bureaucracy, which
    is hardly akin to true public accountability. The use of targets
    (from waiting times to numbers treated) reduces the level of care
    given to each patient in favour of appearances of efficiency[4].
    A patient is ejected from Casualty or a doctor’s surgery too
    soon, resulting in a larger knock-on cost as ailments go untreated
    or misdiagnosed. This leads to an almost autistic obsession with
    numbers as a way of selling the management system to voters, regardless
    of the actual effect on patient care.



    NHS beds

    Spare
    NHS beds - a rare site in an over-stretched, top-heavy service
    with two managers for every bed.

    Bureaucracy

    The centralised structure of the NHS, combined with its size (it
    is the third biggest employer in the world, after the Chinese People’s
    Army and the Indian Railway) result in massive inefficiency. For
    effective decisions to be made, information about changes on the
    ground must percolate through the entire structure to the top. The
    problem with this is that the sheer complexity of the system means
    that any models built by layers of management several levels removed
    from face-to-face patient care are necessarily incomplete.



    Working conditions

    Health workers are underpaid and over-worked.
    This has led to a very high turnover of staff, poorer quality work
    and high incidence of workplace injuries and other psychological
    disorders such as stress and depression. In the last year alone,
    50,000 UK trained nurses left or retired with just over 20,000 recruits
    joining and another 12,000 coming in from abroad, leaving a shortfall
    of 18,000[5]. Pay for many, especially nurses is
    appalling, especially considering the long hours and years of necessary
    training. Much of nurses’ time is consumed with form-filling
    and red tape, which again takes time away from patient care.



    Social care

    There is a false distinctions between health
    care and “social care” for the elderly. Many families
    and pensioners have to be unnecessarily means-tested to the extent
    that thousands are forced to live in poverty because the government
    claims they can technically pay for treatment, disregarding the
    fact that so many of these families have to be able to have enough
    to live on after they have paid for the “care”. Social
    care workers are also poorly paid – much more so than NHS
    staff – but they should not feel morally obliged to work for
    minimal wages, as it is a job like any other.



    Pharmaceuticals

    The cost of medicine and equipment is spiralling
    due to profiteering pharmaceutical companies and the patent laws
    that support them. Drug corporations claim their prices are massively
    higher than the cost of manufacture[6] in order
    to recoup their Research and Development investment. In fact top
    U.S. drug companies spend 2.5 times more on advertising than R&D[7],
    and only 22 per cent of big pharmaceutical companies’ staff
    are employed in R&D, while 39 per cent are in marketing[8].



    Patent laws protect profits for the corporations,
    but kill millions of people who die from preventable diseases. When
    Brazil started ignoring patents and manufacturing generic (non-brand)
    drugs themselves, the price of anti-HIV cocktail therapy plummeted
    from $10,000 to only $300 a year, slashing the number of deaths
    from the illness[9]. We need to ignore these patent
    laws, protected by governments, as well.



    Class

    Ultimately we believe that class and capitalism
    are at the root of most of the problems. Capitalism is a society
    that is divided by class. The working class consists of all the
    people in this society who do not own property or a business we
    can make money from, and therefore have to sell our time and energy
    to a boss - we are forced to work. Our work is the basis of this
    society.



    Our interests are opposed to those of our bosses
    and the profit-making corporations we work for. Companies must always
    be more ruthless in making cuts and making a profit, for if they
    didn’t they would go bust or another company would take them
    over.



    Cuts in the numbers and wages of hospital cleaners
    and other staff, therefore, aids capital by increasing profit margins,
    yet it hurts the working class, who are treated in NHS hospitals
    and some of whom work in the NHS. Poor quality food in hospitals
    is good for business, since the cheaper the ingredients the greater
    the profits, but again harms the people who eat it. Likewise patents
    are great for protecting the revenues of pharmaceutical corporations,
    but bad for the millions of workers denied treatment as a result.



    The working class therefore has a direct interest
    in improving all aspects of the health service, where capital does
    not. It is within us, the working class, therefore that the possible
    solutions lie.



    How can the problems be solved?

    We believe that the biggest problems with the
    health service are things which we can all, as ordinary people,
    help improve. Privatisation, hospital closures, stressed and unrewarded
    staff and massive bureaucracy are all imposed by the current economic
    system – they are not inevitable.



    Ultimately we believe that, like all industries
    and services, the best people to run the NHS are the workers and
    users of that service. In the case of the NHS, this means the doctors,
    nurses and other health workers themselves should control the hospitals
    and care homes, in conjunction with patients rather than unaccountable
    bureaucrats and profit-driven corporations. Rather than central
    control decisions are much better made as close to the affected
    regions as possible - with full input from those affected by them.
    A decentralised, federalised service, controlled from the grassroots
    by councils of health workers and patients, and in genuinely public
    ownership would be far superior to the current system, both in terms
    of flexibility and accountability to the needs of patients. Far
    from being a pipedream, co-operative health services were commonplace
    in Britain before the advent of the NHS, and do exist and have existed
    in other parts of the world[10].



    What can we do practically?

    Health workers strike against privatisation

    Taking
    action - NHS workers in Dudley on strike against their transfer
    to a Private Finance Initiative involving the loss of 70 beds
    and 160 jobs.



    While this will not happen in the short term
    there is a lot that can be done to take more into the hands of the
    workers and patients. Decent pay, short working hours and good conditions
    ensure more effective, happier staff, will improve patient care
    and fill the workers’ shortfall. Unfortunately these are not
    reforms which will be handed down from above. Health workers can
    organise to demand better conditions, being prepared to take action,
    and other people and patients’ forums should support them.
    Health workers can take direct action which does not harm patients
    like a traditional strike might, such as good
    work strikes
    .



    Communities can organise to fight hospital closures
    in their areas, alongside patients’ groups and health workers.



    We believe that the key, therefore, is strengthening
    rank and file organisation of health workers, within the trade unions
    and without, and including contract, temporary and agency staff
    as well as permanent employees. We should also try to improve patients’
    forums, and build links with health workers with regular meetings
    to discuss supporting one another and improving service. Read
    more about workplace organising...




    Those of us who are do not work or are not patients,
    we can organise in our communities to create organisations which
    can struggle alongside these groups, and improve other aspects of
    our local areas to build solidarity and confidence amongst ourselves.
    We can argue for organising and taking direct action in our own
    places of work to build a powerful movement of workers who can stick
    together to win demands for all of us. Read
    more about community organising...



    These organisations, based on true face-to-face
    democracy and self-organised direct action, in addition to improving
    our lives in the here and now, can be an embryonic new society.
    A society based on the equal co-operation and activity of all people
    – a libertarian communist society. A society where the social
    and economic causes of ill-health are greatly reduced, and services
    are provided according to need rather than ability to pay, and the
    current postcode lottery of resource provision.

    Libcom summary




    1. The NHS is being destroyed by cuts and
    privatisation started by the Tories and continued enthusiastically
    by Labour



    2. Bureaucracy and politically-motivated targets are hamstringing
    the service and damaging patient care



    3. The NHS is based on cure rather than prevention of illnesses
    in the first place – and much sickness is caused by poverty,
    poor diet and over-work



    4. The problems of the NHS are caused largely by capitalism –
    improving it is in the interests of the working class, but not
    business-owners



    5. It is important, therefore, to attempt to (re-)build a powerful
    workers’ movement which can win improvements in our conditions
    at work and in our communities



    6. In the health service itself we need to stand beside health
    workers to resist privatisation, and to help organise all workers
    in the healthcare industry and fight for better wages and conditions.
    We can try to build links between patients’ forums and workers,
    to argue for more self-management, better patient care and less
    bureaucracy



    7. Ultimately we believe the most effective way to run the NHS
    is as a publicly-owned service, run directly by its workers and
    patients. We can strive for that, as part of an entire co-operative
    libertarian communist society, where many of the root causes of
    much ill health are eradicated.





    By libcom

    with some information from an article by Colchester Solidarity Group




    Footnotes

    1. BBC
    News Online Monday, 7 March, 2005, 15:31 GMT


    2. Unison
    12 January 2005


    3. The Observer, Monday, 10 January, 2005, Page
    6

    ”The figures, compiled by UNISON, the UK's largest union after
    asking a parliamentary question, showed that there were 55,000 hospital
    cleaners, either NHS employees or people working in the hospitals
    for private cleaning contractors last year. In 1984, just before
    the private contracting began there were more than 100,000.

    A spokesman for British Health Secretary in 2003, John Reid, claimed
    that although the numbers of cuts were undisputed, the size of the
    NHS estate had reduced by 20 percent in the past two decades and
    so there was less physical space to clean. Even this is true, it
    still means massive staffing cuts of nearly 33% per unit of area.”

    4. For just one example, see Channel
    4 News


    5. BBC
    news online Monday, 25 April, 2005


    6. For example, the cost of daily dose of patented
    vs generic fluconazole anti-fungal drug in June 2002 in Guatemala
    was $27.60 (Pfizer patent), and in Thailand was only 1% of that
    - $0.29 (Biolab generic).

    New
    Internationalist, June 2002


    7. Deborah Socolar and Alan Sager, ‘Pharmaceutical
    marketing and research spending: the evidence does not support PhRMA’s
    claims’, Boston University School of Public Health.

    8. Presentation
    before the World Health Organisation of the Indian Drug Manufacturers’
    Association


    9. In Brazil, after the Government began producing
    generic ARVs, prices fell 82% and the price of the AIDS 'cocktail'
    therapy fell from $10,000 to $300 a year. As result AIDS deaths
    have fallen by half and the country saved $677 million treatment
    costs from 1997 to 2000.

    10. In Peckham, London, before Labour introduced
    the NHS after World War II there was a co-operative healthcare system.
    Also see The
    People’s Clinic: Italy, June 1971
    , where people suffering
    sub-standard care occupied an empty building an set up a volunteer,
    co-operative clinic.

    Comments

    Articles to be written

    Submitted by Steven. on October 13, 2003

    Articles on the following areas are planned for the manifesto. If you can help write any of these articles please contact us
    ▫ Work and the economy
    ▫ Wars and defence
    ▫ Public services
    -- Education
    -- Housing
    -- Fire service
    -- Welfare state, pensions etc.
    ▫ Crime, policing and anti-social behaviour
    ▫ Immigration, race and multiculturalism
    ▫ Women, men and sexism
    ▫ Advertising and the media

    Comments