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.
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 To some extent it has been superseded by our introductory guides, but we could go back and update and expand this at some point.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.
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.
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 .
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
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.
|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.
Chile 1973 - Soldiers
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
▫ 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 
can never be forgotten.
A summary and examination of the environmental crisis and its causes, and how we think that the problems can be solved.
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.
|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 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, 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.
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.
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
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.
A solution? Workers in environmentally destructive industries have to be organised, to force the introduction of green practices.
See our Organise section for tips on all these activities.
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.
- 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
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.
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
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
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 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.
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,
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.
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. They
oppose workers organising to win better wages and conditions, claiming
trade unions to be Soviet-paedophile plots,
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 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. 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.
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 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% . 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 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
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.
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.
Workers in the public sector, with outside support can help combat
the privatisation of our services which slashes jobs and service
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. Council tenants can oppose the
sell-off of their homes into the private sector,
and others can build tenants’ unions to take action such as
rent strikes against bad landlords. Homeless
people can occupy building left derelict or empty by absentee landlords
and turn them into homes. Read
more about community organising or housing...
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!), and their
claims to no longer be fascist must be countered by exposing the
leaderships’ hidden politics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Websites can also be hacked, and fascist meetings
can be trashed. 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.
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,
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.
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.
1. Fascism is an ideology based on the
destruction of organisations of the working class, which is often
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
...b. The Left abandoning the domestic
...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
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.
3. BNP “news” on website, 2004 (NB we
do not link directly to any far-right websites)
5. See 2
7. See An
Anarchist FAQ for more information about capital flight
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,
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
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.
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.
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
What’s wrong with it?
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.
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,
more than are killed on Britain's roads. 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
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 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,
and only 22 per cent of big pharmaceutical companies’ staff
are employed in R&D, while 39 per cent are in marketing.
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. We need to ignore these patent
laws, protected by governments, as well.
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
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
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
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.
What can we do practically?
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
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.
1. The NHS is being destroyed by cuts and
privatisation started by the Tories and continued enthusiastically
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
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
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.
with some information from an article by Colchester Solidarity Group
News Online Monday, 7 March, 2005, 15:31 GMT
12 January 2005
3. The Observer, Monday, 10 January, 2005, Page
”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
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).
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.
before the World Health Organisation of the Indian Drug Manufacturers’
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,
Articles to be written
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
-- Fire service
-- Welfare state, pensions etc.
▫ Crime, policing and anti-social behaviour
▫ Immigration, race and multiculturalism
▫ Women, men and sexism
▫ Advertising and the media