Black Flag 213 (1997/8)

Black Flag 213 (1997/8)

Issue of the London-based anarchist magazine Black Flag from the 1990s.


  • Diarmuid O'Neill
  • Chris Plummer
  • News……from Greece, Turkey, Chechnya, Finland
  • Anarchy in Chile
  • Anarchy on Film
  • Zero Tolerance: Giuliani time here?
  • Alvaro Hernandez Luna
  • Olivier Martin - The not unusual case of
  • Thinking the Unthinkable
  • Reflections on Australian Democracy
  • Market Forces
  • 10 Billionaires Could Wipe Out Poverty: Abolish wage-slavery; organize One Big Democratic Class-wide Union.
  • Solidarity with Hans-Georg Eberl
  • Without A Trace
  • How Do We Organise
  • Interview: Ronan Bennett
  • Review: Asian Dub Foundation - Real Areas For Investigation (RAFI)

Diarmuid O'Neill

In September 1996 Diarmuid O’Neill, an IRA member under observation by the security forces, was shot and killed by Special Branch and armed police when they raided an address in Hammersmith. After being shot, Diarmuid was denied paramedic assistance for 25 minutes, by which time he was dead. One police officer was seen standing with his foot on Diarmuid's head as he lay dying. Diarmuid was dragged bleeding out of the house into the street, where he lay, bleeding from the bullet wounds.

The killing was carried out as part of a raid on an IRA active service unit. In December Patrick Kelly, James Murphy and Brian McHugh were gaoled for conspiracy to cause explosions,

Evidence at the trial made it clear that the police and Special Branch were fully aware that Diarmuid was not likely to be armed. They had already bugged the flat and his car. They had the unit under constant surveillance, including at the Hornsey warehouse space they used to store arms and explosives. When the police opened fire on Diarmuid he had already showed both his hands clearly through the door of the flat,and Patrick Kelly had shouted "We give up-we are unarmed”. The other members of the unit recall the police shouting "Shoot the fucker" as Diarmiud opened the door.

In September 1996 the British state transferred its shoot to kill policy against Republicans from the six counties to the streets of London. If the cops that day weren’t hyped up to kill, why did they watch footage of the entirely unrelated Canary Wharf bombing and footage of bomb victims before carrying out the raid? Why did they attempt an immediate cover up by releasing reports of a "gun battle with terrorists" when there had never been any suggestion of a gun battle? The Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill Campaign has called for a public enquiry into the killing.

Chris Plummer

Chris Plummer is an anarchist who was sentenced to 15-23 years in jail (!) for his alleged part in a raid against a Nazi skinhead house in Texas. He has already served one year in prison. Just recently, he was transferred to another jail and has already suffered several broken ribs, a broken jaw and cheekbone, scarred eyes, and other injuries at the heads of neo-nazi skinhead inmates. His situation looks bleak and he has already come to believe that he won't make it out of jail alive. He needs your assistance now.

As an outspoken prisoner, Chris has come under fire from prison administration and neo-nazi prison gangs for his organizing work and direct action. He is currently having much of his mail stopped and the authorities are trying to frame him for having a knife.

Letters of protest to Warden Moya, RT2 Box 4400, Gatesville TX 76597 with copies to:

Christopher Lee Plummer
PP #677345, Hughes Unit
RT2 Box 4400
Gatesville, TX 76597



On November 7, 1997, Basil Karaplis - a member of the Athens ABC - flew to Izmir, Turkey, invited by the local group of Savas Karsitlari (War Resisters) and the Evrensel Kultur Merkezi (Universal Culture Centre), which had organized a three day meeting to celebrate the International Antifascist Day (Anniversary of Crystall Night, Germany, Nov.9 1938). Savas Karsitlari is one of the components of the AMARGI Anarchist monthly which was being produced in Izmir for some years but stopped appearing in 1994 due mainly to economic reasons.

Well, this visit to Turkey was the first that had not to do with military objectors and non violence, since the meeting's purpose was to present the antifascist movement in Greece to the turkish public opinion. The event started on Nov.8 with an exhibition of photos from greek resistance against the Metaxas dictatorship (1936), against the german occupation (1941-1944), during the greek civil war and the british occupation of the country (1944-1949), against the transfer of Greece from the british to the american influence, against the military junta (1967-1974) and up to our days. The film "Z", by Kosta Gavras, was projected in the same evening, telling the story of Grigoris Lambrakis (an MP of the "Unified Democratic Left" who was active in the Peace Movement and in the international campaign against the Vietnam War and who finally was murdered by fascists due to the above activities in May 1963).

Next day, Nov.9, there was projected the film "the greek civil war" (by Roviros Manthoulis) and there followed a detailful discussion on the greek antifascist movement covering all periods of greek history (from the formation of the greek state to the end of the civil war) and all of its aspects, the greek-turkish relations contained. On the last day, Nov.10, there was projected the film "days of the Polytechnic School" (the story of the anti-junta revolt on Nov.17 1973, directed by Dimitris Makris). The discussion that lasted till late focused not only on what had happened in Greece but also on what happened in Turkey and of course on what had happened and still is happening in Cyprus.

The conclusion of the three days projections, speeches and discussion is that greek and turkish people (and peoples and ethnic minorities) have nothing to separate. What they share is a common enemy and that is capitalism and government policies. What the anti-fascists should fight for - in both and in all countries - is the freedom of people and NOT the freedom of things, property or even land (be it a "motherland" or not). The general idea was that we can all be alive and happy, once we get rid of state and "super"-state oppression which give birth to fascism and nationalism when such birth is needed to promote capitalist interests.

Next day, a press conference had been organised at which three newspapers were present (Gundem, Emek and the english-speaking Turkish Daily News). After a night of raki drinking, singing and talking, B. Karaplis returned to Athens after it had been decided to strengthen the contacts between the antifascist movements (and between Anarchists) in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Kurdistan and all over the world.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A matter also discussed during the visit was that concerning Osman Murat Ulke, a military objector, who is now imprisoned in the Eski Sehir military jail. He's been sentenced to 2 yrs. of prison, after which he's to face another trial (in case he still refuses to serve the army) which will cost him another 2 yrs. imprisonment and that will go on untill he manages to escape or untill turkish laws change under domestic and international pressure. On that point, we must mention that the ties between the antimilitarist movements of Turkey & Greece have been very tight. Anarchist antimilitarists from Turkey had come to defend greek Anarchist military objectors (Nikos Maziotis and Pavlos Nathanail) at the greek court-martials while Anarchist comrades from Greece had defended Osman Murat Ulke, "Osi", at his trial at the national security court of Ankara early this year. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anarchy in Chile

The aim of "Freedom"... throughout our years of struggle, has been carried deep in the hearts of the thousands of people battling for their basic rights. These voices, screaming for justice, have not been silenced by the violence and lies of our exploiters and, in an attempt to rescue our history, a book about the history of anarchism in Chile has been written. The book deals with, not only Anarchism, but the role of the larger workers' movement in Chilean history (from 16th Century until 1994). However it does pay particular attention to the role of Libertarians. The book is entitled "Caliche: el rostro pampino" available from MADRE TIERRA editions and its author is Hector Pavelic. (Caliche: (saltpetre) the pampa's face.) I now propose to summarise the role of the anarchists in this history.

We begin in 1872, when the Chilean Section of the IWA was established in Valparaiso, a major coastal city. Tragically, this was also the year of the anarchists' expulsion from the International, and the section was not destined to last for long. However, it planted the seeds among the workers, for the growth of a strong and developing movement, spreading Libertarian ideas throughout syndicates and work-places. Libertarian ideas were becomming particularly strong amongst the Nitrate miners in the North of the country.

But this process was interrupted by the outbreak in 1879 of the Pacific war. Chile had occupied Antofagasta in the North (then Bolivian territory, and rich in Nitrate deposits) and declared war on both Bolivia and Peru. However English Capital also held major stakes in the conflict - having bought up huge amounts of mining land cheap during the war. The eventual victory of the Chilean State brought prosperity to the English enslavers, Chilean bosses, and the State (via Nitrate taxes) but spelt misery and death to the people. As ever - it was the exploited who paid the price; and the rich, who enjoyed the benefits of the spoils of war. Unfortunately for them, the war wasn't enough to stop the social struggle or to tame the people.

In 1887 the Union Republicana del Pueblo (People's Republican Union) was formed, with a clear anarchist platform.. There followed, shortly afterwards, a series of largescale strikes by railworkers, miners and others, culminating finally in the first national general strike in 1890. The strike was joined by workers stretching the whole of the country and was the first of its sort in Latin America. The strike was brutally put down with the violence we have come to expect from all governments.

In 1891 another conflict took its toll on the working class: President Balmaceda, who was rapidly losing control of Congress, nevertheless continued to assert his presidential authority - attempting to press through reforms against the wishes of both Congress, and - more significantly - the interests of English Capital in Chile. This lead to a civil war of quite unexpected dimensions that finally deposed Balmaceda from government. History, or rather, official history, tries to hide from us the actual genesis of the conflict, citing violations to the constitution, but we're not stupid and we won't be deceived by these lying so-called 'intellectuals' who fill the schoolbooks with crap and crummy arguments. Constitution is not a strong argument: after all constitutions are brandished and used by all governments for their own purposes.

Between 1892 - 1897 many societies were established including 'Sociedad de la Igualdad'- formed by Francisco Bilbao, Santiago Arcos, Victorimo Lastarrias and Eusebio Lillo - which fought for what they called the'Sovereignty of Reason', 'Universal Fraternity with common and natural life' and 'People's Sovereignty in Politics'. The group consisted of artists, workers and intellectuals and published the paper 'El Amigo del Pueblo' . From its inception on April 4th 1850, until its final day, 29th April 1859, the group were a constant headache to the state and all those who had been involved from the beginning were exiled on its dissolution. The society had shared some of Proudhon's ideas around federalism but didn't call themselves anarchists. This was the first experience of this kind and was a model for those to come.

Among the other societies forming during this period were "Sociedad de Proteccion al Trabajador y mutuo apoyo" (Society for worker's protection and mutual aid ) and "Centro Social de Trabajadores - El Grito del Pueblo" (Workers Social Centre - The People's Scream). Newspapers and magazines appeared, including "El Oprimido" (The Oppressed) and "El Proletario" and many important faces in Chilean Anarchism came to light: Magno Espimonza, Escobar Cavallo, Luis Olea....

In 1898 there was a general strike in Iquique, accompanied by the creation of new societies ("Rebelion"- a carpenters' society., "Caupolican" - an Indian (mapuche) name, FFCCE - railworkers resistance, etc...) new magazines ("La Tromba" - The waterspout - "El Rebelde" - The Rebel , "La Antorcha" - The Torch - "El Pueblo" - and "El Jornal") and the first May Day demonstration. This was a time of strong social movement and the "Partido Obrero Francisco Bilbao" - Francisco Bilbao Worker's Party - became an anarchist group in 1899. The following year saw the first demonstration against military service and the army - under the slogan: 'The Army is the Academy of Crime!' and was organised exclusively by anarchists.

Between 1900 and 1906 a lot of anarcho-syndicalist and resistance organisations emerged, all of them clandestine, except for a few trade unions. In 1902 harbour workers staged a 60 day strike and in 1903 there was a general strike in Valparaiso resulting in the murder of more than 100 workers by the oppressor dogs. The rebellion spread to Antofagasta, Iota and Coronel and lasted for 43 days.

The famous "Semana Roja" (Red Week) in 1905 was a crucial event in our early history. Workers had had enough of the inhuman conditions in which they were forced to live, the rising cost of living and the taxes on meat coming from Argentina. A worker's committee "Centreo de Estudias Sociedad Ateneo Obrero" called all workers to join the strike and to support the cause. On October 22nd, 30,000 people joined the uprising, inspired by the revolutionary ideas sweeping working class public opinion. Among them were butchers, shoe makers, tanners, cigar makers, truckmen, tapestry makers, typographers, telegraphers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, bakers and the brave FFCCE workers who blew up the railways. The 1800 strong police force were no match for the crowds. And the ruling class were forced to form a "White Guard" of 300 armed rich boys to pitch in to massacre the popular forces. Despite the 250 victims, the movement continued to grow steadily.

In 1906, two important federations were formed: "Federacion de Trabajadores de Chile," - FTCH and "Federacion de Estudiantes de Chile" the latter comprising one of the most important forces in Chilean Social Struggle

However 1907 saw one of the most tragic episodes in our history (and possibly the worst example of mass slaughter in a labour dispute in world history). In the North of Chile, in the isolated desert pampas, the Nitrate miners went on strike for basic living conditions. The mining camps or villages were built by the bosses solely for the purpose of production - they built the substandard housing, stocked the stores, paid the workers in tokens redeemable only in the company stores and held strict control over the day to day life on the camps.

The strikers descended on the town of Iquique with their wives and kids to make their demands and were joined by other workers in the city; solidarity flourished everywhere. A strike committee headed by Jose Pariggs was formed - Luis Olea was also an important member of the committee and both were remarkable anarchist militants. The strike headquarters was established at the Santa Maria School. Overall there were around 4,500 strikers and supporters in the school and another 1,500 or so camping in tents around the square.

The army were called in by the bosses, martial law was declared, stores were locked and on December 21st at 3.45 pm the slaughter began. The first to be shot were the members of the committee. Chilean, Argentinean, Peruvian, Bolivian and European workers were slain with an astonishing ruthlessness, with their wives and children. All dead. The number of victims was reckoned to be up to 3600. Luis Olea was murdered by Roberto Silva Renard's gun (he is now known as "Carmicero de Iquique" - The Butcher of Iqueque).

An eye witness gave the following account of the massacre " On the central balcony...stood 30 or so men in the prime of life, quite calm, beneath a great Chilean flag, and surrounded by the flags of other nations. They were the strike committee...All eyes were fixed on them just as all the guns were directed at them. Standing, they received the shots, As though struck by lightning they fell, and the great flag fluttered down over their bodies...There was a moment of silence as the machine guns were lowered to aim at the school yard and the hall, occupied by a compact mass of people who spilled over into the main square.. There was a sound like thunder as they fired. The the gunfire ceased and the foot soldiers went into the school by the side doors, fifing as men and women fled in all directions."

Despite the great sacrifice of these comrades, the movement was impossible to stop. The large numbers of people working at the mines, their diverse places of origin, and the bitter conditions forged one of the strongest forces in the Chilean workers struggle (unfortunately, condemned to disappear after the 1st world war) and their revolutionary spirit spread throughout the territory like wildfire.

This movement directly lead, in 1909 to the formation the 'Federacion Obrera de Chile'- FOCH. It aimed to pull together all the societies involved in the struggle, through delegations, to form a national federation. There were anarchists, Marxists, democrats, etc... The various working class movements rapidly began to organise themselves within the new federation and in 1910 the FECH formed the popular university Victorino Lastarrias (in honour of one of the founding members of Sociedad de la Igualdad 1850). The university forged vital links between workers and students and offered basic education to the exploited.

During this period, the strikes, building of barricades and rioting against the police continued. In 1912 Federacion Obrera Regional de Chile - FORCH was formed with the remarkable participation of Juan Onofre Chamorro. This was also the time noted for the militancy of Manuel Rojas - one of the most important Chilean writers who described the situation of the working class in books such as "Hijo de Ladron" - Son of a Thief - "Lo obscura vida radiante" - The dark bright life etc., and is internationally recognised as Chile's best novelist.

In 1917 the IWW arrived in the region and the following year the FECH organised the "Assemblea Obrera de Alimentacion" - Assembly for the Nourishment of the Workers. The FOCH, IWW and POS (Partido Obrero Socialista - Socialist Workers Party) all participated. In September 1919, the AOA (or WFA) called a general strike, which was brutally put down by the authorities. San Fuentes (the president) instigated legal proceedings against the strikers and many workers and students were sued.

As the Nitrate mines began to produce less profits and workers were laid off, miners, highly politicised and practiced in revolutionary organisation were returning to their villages. Strikes were breaking out throughout the country, the state was in substantial debt to foreign banks and to deflect attention from its domestic problems, the government invented a war with Peru. The war never happened, but troops were deployed to strategic points and nationalist and rabid anti - Peruvian propaganda was dissemenated by the state.

The FECH was opposed to any armed conflict, and openly condemned the government for its belligerency. On September 21st a column of rich scum broke into the FECH's headquarters burning books, furniture, and ultimately the whole building. "We have to teach a lesson to these so-called Chileans, who have sold out to Peru's gold" said one of the authorities. Most of the "Traitors to the country" were jailed after being sued in the courts under what the government called the "Subversion Trial" (pathetic isn't it?). One of those jailed - the Law/Spanish student Domingo Gomez Rojas went mad from torture and was sent to a sanatorium, where he died four months later, he was only 23 yrs old. Overall 1920 was a year of brutal repression for the workers movement - many locals were burnt down, many agitators were murdered, workers were sent to prison etc. and the following year witnessed the almost forgotten San Gregorio Massacre where hundreds of miners were killed mercilessly.

By 1925 there were 214 syndicates in Chile boasting the active participation of more than 200,000 people. And it was the first year where a Chilean delegation of the IWW were able to participate in an IWA Congress. Henceforth our participation became more regular. But on June 5th 1925 more blood was shed in La Coruna (Nitrate mine encampment) - on this occasion more than 500 rebels were tortured in Iqueque.

In 1930 the Chilean economy was hit by disaster: German scientists discovered a synthetic Nitrate, far cheaper than the natural one, and the mines which had provided a (meagre) living for thousands of workers and where revolutionary syndicalism had been bred, began to close down rapidly. Of course, the proletariat bore the brunt of the crisis and were powerless to stop it. They were forced, by famine, to move to the South, where the overcrowded cities were almost collapsing. As no pain comes alone (Chilean expression) the year before - 1929 - had been the year of the Wall Street Crash and the beginning of a worldwide recession. The situation was therefore even more desperate than ever.

Also in the 30s an important figure in anarchism emerged on the scene: Pedro Nolasco Arratia. Today, a French collective uses his name.

In April 27th 1934, the FOCH headquarters in Santiago was assaulted by the police and the 'white guards'; 7 workers died in the attack, a child was slain, and 200 workers were badly injured. In June the same year, 477 peasants were slain in Alto Bio-Bio, Ranquil and Lonquimay. In December 1936 the Confederacion General de Trabajadores - CGT was formed with the participation of the IWW and the FORCH. Some important objectives achieved by the IWW were: i) the 8 hour working day, ii) dominical (Sunday) rest, iii) Indemnity for accidents at work, iv) Monetary recognition of years of service, v) the right to retirement and vi) the right to an old age pension. By this time the FACH - Chilean Anarchist Federation- was active and sent some International Brigades to support the Spanish comrades in the Spanish Civil War (1936).

On January 28th 1946 at Bulmes Square (Santiago) 8 workers were murdered and many more were seriously injured by the police dogs. In 1947, Pisagua (an infamous concentration camp) was opened and a period of fullscale of persecution of anarchists began. Anarchist organisations had to go underground and one such clandestine initiative was the Luisa Michel cultural centre, which operated with the clear aim of giving a rational education to female workers. In 1953 its name changed to "Luisa Michel Libertarian School". It was run by comrade Flora Sanhueza R. and had over 70 students. With time, it began to accept children as well. It worked non stop until 1957, and we have to praise the strength of libertarian women who were able to resist the authorities for a period of ten years!

In 1950 Ernesto Miranda incorporated 12 federations and several syndicates into the Movimento Unitario Nacional de Trabajadores -MUNT. Its aim was to unite all the independent syndicates in this area of the world. This aim was achieved in 1953 when the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores - CUT was formed. Its initial statement of aims and principles was drawn up by 3 anarchists from the CGT. However in 1957 a split shook the organisation: the anarcho-syndicalists abandoned the CUT in protest at its involvement in an electoral pact with the FRAP (Frente Amplio Popular) during the lead up to the presidential election in 1958. FRAP was a political institution of left wing parties and CUT's involvement (with the FRAP) in the electoral process was seen as a betrayal of working class independence.

Miranda, after being declared "illustrious son" by Fidel Castro himself, created the "Comite de Defensa de la Revolucion Cubana". Whilst on the other hand, the Anarchist Federation, FACH, declared in 1960 that "At that pace, Cuban Revolution will end married with the Russians". On August 15th 1965, in the Liberation Hall, the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria - Revolutionary Left Wing Movement) was born. The first secretary was the Trotskyite Enrique Sepulveda but Miranda and Clotario Blest were on the Committee (two dedicated anarcho- syndicalists). Originally the MIR was an attempt to create a strong anarcho-syndicalist movement , but in 1967 Miguel Enriquez and Luciano Cruz took over, polluting the MIR with Marxist Leninist ideas / practices. Miranda, Blest and their anarchist comrades quit.

The next year, the VOP was formed (Vanguardia Organizada del Pueblo) by a group of young men who rejected the authoritarianism of the MIR. There were two tendendies within it: Panekoism (sort of anti authoritarian Marxism - weird eh?) and Anarchism . Both the MIR and the VOP had their influence and during 1969 they intervened within many work-place struggles forcing the bosses to sign agreements drawn up by the working class (and, admirably, financing their activities from the rich through bank robberies).

However, the authorities continued to take their revenge whenever they could - for example, during this period the Homeless Peoples' Commitee of Puerto Montt occupied some fields in the south to build themselves housing. This lead to an order to attack by minister Perez Zujovic and the resulting Irigoyen Pampa's massacre claimed the lives of 9 people including two pregnant women.

In 1970 the new (relatively popular) Socialist President, Salvador Allende declared an amnesty for all political prisoners. VOP benefited from this and agreed, on the president's request, to form part of the GAP (Grupo de Amigos Personales) - the president's personal guard. In March 1971, VOP members of the guard, warned the president about a rightwing plot to topple the government. The most important of the plotters was the traitor Edmundo Perez Zujovic. Allende refused to heed these warnings, but the VOP used direct action to prevent Zujovic from succeeding in his plans - on June 8th, 1971, Perez Zujovic was executed. The VOP had also found him guilty of the Pto Montt massacre 1969 (detailed above). However the VOP paid a very high price for its promise to protect Allende as he began to lose control of the government and the country. Not only were its members pursued by the state, but also by the right and left wing. The Rivera Calderon brothers were cowardly murdered by the secret police, unarmed and holding a white flag, in apparent revenge for their participation in the just execution of the bastard, Zujovic.

In 1972, partly as a reaction to severe food and other commoditiy shortages, (the US had emposed a trade and credits embargo in retaliation for the nationalisation of the US owned copper mines) the workers began to take over their work-places. Neighbourhood committees distributed goods direct from the worker controlled factories and the anarchist aim of self organization was acheived in many areas of life. The FTR -Frente de Trabajadores Revolucionarios played a major role in this process - demonstrating that workers were quite capable of running a factory by themselves, that government and bosses were no longer necessary and the government were taken completely by surprise. Allende, baulked at the prospect of workers self organisation and sent 'observers' to the affected factories, whom, in practice, did the same obnoxious job of any traditional boss: gave orders. At the same the peasants were taking over agricultural land and organising through the MCR (Movimiento de Campesinos Revolucionarios).

The pressure against the popular government was mounting, boosted by millions of dollars pumped into the rightwing opposition from the US (Henry Kissenger had stated that he did not see why the US should stand idly by "and let a country go communist due to the irresponsbility of its own people") and on June 29th 1973 there was an attempted Coup d'etat. This was a sort of test to see how the people would react a real one. The army began to attempt to search and inspect the industrial cordons (to seize activists) but people erected barricades in the popular neighbourhoods and prevented the incursion into their factories or homes by the police or the army.

But the real coup came when the tanks rolled into the streets of Santiago on September the 11th 1973. This is remembered as the most terrible day this century, as a nightmare where thousands and thousands of people were tortured , raped and murdered relentlessly. The people were defenceless against the new dictator Pinochet (or Pinoshit, call him what you wish) having only a few or no weapons - those that escaped death were sent as political prisoners to concentration camps in the north. Pinochet was to rule for nearly 17 years.

These first camps as a dreadful and cruel irony, were established upon the remains of the old Nitrate Mine villages - the original cradles of class consciousness. Many others, however, were sprouting like mushrooms after rain in the rest of the country. The most notorious were Pisagua (in Tarapaca), Chacabuco, Calama, Tocopilla's mines, Copiapo, La Serena's police stations (Coquimbo), Buque de Escuela Esmeralda, Escuela de Mecanica de la Armada, and Quillotas police stations (in Valparaiso).

Those who were executed were thrown into the sea or buried illegally in Chinolco or other clandestine places. In Santiago the incarcerated revolutionaries (called by the army "prisoners of war") were sent to National or Chile Stadiums, to the concentration camps and to secret jails (or dungeons) such as : Villa Grimaldi, La Venda Sexi, Jose Domingo Canas, Tres Alamos, Cuatro Alamos, Londres 38 etc... There were other camps in Lota, Coronel, Concepcion, and Santa Barbara. By 1974, the prisoners who had been killed at the hands of Pinoshit's dogs were called "disappeared prisoners", for the government publically denied all knowledge of these people. All political parties and trade unions were banned, some courses at Universities were closed down - denounced as focuses for revolutionaries. People were cowed by fear under the terrible shadow of the DINA (Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional) - the secret police. In 1978, Victoria (Nitrate mine) was closed due to its reputation of being a cradle of political extremity.

However by the onset of the 80s people had regrouped and were beginning to fight back. In 1980 the syndicates affiliated to Norway's IWA obtained the freedom of the VOP members who had now been in prison for 9 years and 4 months (they had been arrested 2 years before the coup and had been transferred to concentration camps by Pinochet). They exchanged prison for exile.

MIR (a marxist movement as explained before ) assassinated Roger Vergara - the chief of Army Intelligence. And in 1982 the textile workers went on strike after many years of fear; the Government couldn't intimidate them with repression any longer. They decided to risk police brutality for the sake of the whole workers'movement.

The strike kept on going until its bitter end. On May 11th (1983) a solidarity strike was called: at 2pm workers would go straight to home, children wouldn't go to school, teachers wouldn't give any lessons, people wouldn't buy anything and vehicles would march slowly through the streets. At nightfall, lights would be extinguished and people would march hitting empty pots. Everything happened as planned, although there were some incidents at the universities. At 8pm the sound of empty pots began. The police tried to silence it by throwing tear gas bombs at the buildings. Two were killed in La Victoria (a popular neighbourhood) and Lo Plaza, and 600 were arrested with several wounded. Between 1983 and 1984 mass protests became more frequent and the people defended themselves against the police with molatovs, stones and barricades.

Anarchists were, of course, involved in these uprisings but they did not especially try to spread their ideas; the struggle against the dictator and the fight for human rights took precedence over ideological differences. All the revolutionary movements were in the fight together- there would be more appropriate times for ideological arguments in the future.

Anyway, in 1984, in Talca, a libertarian magazine called "La voz del Naturismo" was distributed and in 1987 black flags reappeared in Santiago, Concepcion and Osorno. Social centres began to appear - a centre for social studies "El Duende" - The Elf in Santiago, and the "Kolective Anarkista Liberacion" - KAL in Concepcion both under the umbrella of TASYS -"Taller de Analysis Sindical y social" - Studio for Social Studies and Analysis, created with the aim of providing space to the oppressed. A newspaper called "Acrata" - Anarchist - was published by Colectivo Anarquista Concepcion and the bulletin "Liberacion" by the KAL. "Accion Directa" was published by anarchist comrades in Santiago. In 1989, Pinochet was finally forced to admit defeat and 'democracy' was restored to Chile.

In 1990 "El Duende" hosted the creation of "Coordinadora Anarquista Estudiantil", and in Concepcion "Solidaridad Obrera" supported strikes of any kind. On January 2nd 1991, in an assembly, here in Concepcion, the Anarchist Intercities Federation "Federacion Anarquista Interciudadana" was established. Then, again, in Concepcion, the JAM (Juventudes Anti Militaristas) and, in Santiago, COSMO (Colectivo Contra el Sevicio Militar Obligatorio) were formed. After this appeared other movements such as MALO (Movimiento Anarquista Luis Olea), COSMO Temuco, FAI Concepcion, "Kolectivo Kultural Libertario Malatesta" in Concepcion, "Red Anarquista" - Anarchist Web in Villa Alemana, Osormo, Tenuco, Concepcion, Valparaiso, Santiago , etc.....the FAL "Federacion Anarco - Libertaria"etc....

There was also an attempt to create a libertarian editorial called "Peste Negra". Some of the most recent publications are "Rebelion", "Ni Dios Mi Amo Contra Toda Autoridad", "El Duende Negro", "Milikk - Ya Al Servicio? - Ni Cagando!", "El irreverente", "Accion Libertaria".... and "Tiempos Nuevos" - coming soon! (This is ours).

As regards our collective, the last year was a time for re-organisation. Some people left , others joined us as we finally decided to dissolve the KAL. September,and October were very difficult months for us - full of suspiciousness and divisions. Recently we've been searching for a proper name to the collective, and we ended up with "Arbol Negro" - Black Tree - which we think is about right. In relation to anarcho-syndicalism, we sent a delegation of two people representing Concepcion and Santiago respectively to the IWA congress in Spain in December. Thus we were recognised as a section of the IWA in Chile and we took over the work left by the IWW. Nowadays we're in a period of shaping "Solidaridad Obrera" and in that sense we'll celebrate a Congress of the three cities affiliated to the International (Temuco, Santiago, Concepcion) in March next year. Everything is going alright and soon we will certainly be a strong force again, untamed by the years of terror. We have to take back what was stolen by the army. We hope to begin to release "Solidaridad Obrera" monthly - if possible - a bulletin designed to create awareness among our class.

Well, this is the history of anarchism - syndicalism in Chile. We have a lot of mistakes in our past to learn about. History is not written in vain, its aim is to teach us lessons. If we have fallen, we need to know how to stand up and fight. Furthermore we need to analyse our history it so we can improve our actions and learn not to repeat the same mistakes . In this way our revolution can be set on the right course and we can finally have the opportunity to enhance as human beings. After all, that's the purpose of Anarchism.

With love, fraternity and Solidarity

Jose Antonio Gutierrez Danton of Colectivo Arbol Negro and "Solidaridad Obrera"

PS; we're particularly interested in contacting exiled libertarians..... if you're one please contact us.

213cnthomo.txt Anarchism, heterosexism and secular religions

(NB: this text appeared in the archive of the old Black Flag site but it not credited in the contents for this issue?)

An article by Nicolas Chozas entitled "La CNT y los homosexuales" appeared in the 1st October 1996 edition of CNiT, newspaper of the Spanish CNT exiles in France. He refers to a letter from a gay man in a CNT newspaper "asking us to deal more with gay issues" which made him decide to " ...clarify some points not only to this friend, but also to other CNT members who, although they are not gay, they are a bit confused about these issues". Generous of him.

First of all, despite accepting the "challenge of fighting Capitalism, the State and everything surrounding it" (my italics) he presents a narrow viewpoint that anarcho-syndicalism has no interest in "the vindications of particular groups, like gay groups, which are alien to the workers' problems", and that these are "personal matters, which only affect people who feel this kind of sexual orientations".

Now, I'm one of these comrades who is "confused" because I am a worker, an anarcho-syndicalist militant, and some of my problems as a worker are to do with my "sexual orientation". Chozas apparently believes that because the CNT "is not a marginal union, or a union of alienated people" we should shut up about it. So much for fighting "everything surrounding" capitalism and the state.

Gay and bi men (my apologies to lesbians and bi women, but we are who Chozas means) are seen as somehow supposed to be separate from the working class. This is only true if to identify as gay is to be marginalised because of prejudice among working class people. Chozas implicitly accepts the capitalist definition of people as workers - labour-producing units - not as three-dimensional human beings. Society also defines some of us as gay in the same way.

The aim of anarchism is to restore our humanity, something I appreciated more when I was coming out, because realising how I was culturally excluded as a bisexual man gave me an insight into how I was dehumanised as a worker. "Human rights" which do not involve the liberation of the working class reduce those "rights" to class privileges, and restoring the humanity of the working class is the business of anarcho-syndicalism.

Sexual identities and class

However, I'd like to point out that there is a lot of confusion about who "gay men" are. Because the gay subculture is a reflection of the values of the Anglo-American, white, middle class men who are its most visible, economically powerful and vocal component, it is assumed that all lesbian, gay and bisexual people are like this - and that anyone who is not is heterosexual.

Gay identity politics is the project of those for whom their homosexuality is their only deviation from the "norm". For a lot of us class, race and gender are more pressing concerns, and we can't separate our sexual identity from these. Because we can't buy individual privileges, we have to live in our working class milieu - what we need is greater acceptance of sexual diversity, not better ghettos.

Personally, I am happy being "gay" because for me it describes a way I can be a working class bloke without apeing the stereotypes promoted by middle class macho journalists at The Sun, Loaded, and the like. It's about not letting my relationships with other people be defined by gender, rather than a lifestyle choice. I'm not going to abandon my working class culture, but I'm not going to let it control me.

For a lot of working class blokes straight[1] machismo is sinonymous with their class identity, and any insecurity about this leads them to work harder at it, in the same way as all those middle class lefties do. Homophobia and extreme misogyny - and their accompanying violence - are products of this insecurity about gender - proving your masculinity to yourself, because your feelings or behaviour are considered inappropriate.

Gay is a term now associated with a fixed identity, rather than just feelings or behaviour. To be gay is to be assumed to be exclusively homosexual, and to pursue a particular lifestyle. The reality of widespread bisexual behaviour, among lesbian, gay, bisexual and "straight" identified people is erased by the gay subculture as well as by heterosexist society. Confounding the tacit equation of behaviour with identity, research by Project SIGMA[2] into male bisexual behaviour in Britain found that only a minority of their respondents identified as bi.

Sex between men is everywhere, whether it's through contact ads in the straight press, or through cruising, which is not confined to your local park after the pubs shut or "cottages". You don't have to go anywhere near the gay scene to get laid, and straight identities needn't be compromised. Many straight men do not consider themselves gay because they only have sex with other straight men.

The closet is maintained by alienation from recognised gay identities as well as by fear and denial. Historically working class gay relationships have often been of the butch-femme/man-wife variety, because gender identities are a very strong part of working class culture, a way of asserting your humanity against your definition as a worker, and are easier to relate to than the affluent gay man. The butch/man in these relationships has no identity questions, only the femme/wife does.

Queens and masculinity

As well as the white, Anglo, middle class connotations of "gay", the most established working class gay identity is that of the Queen. Since this is basically a feminine male identity, it gets the low status of all things feminine in this society. If you're neither middle class nor a Queen and you identify with your mates then you're like them - straight. A Queen is most definitely not a Man[3].

Queens, drag or otherwise, have long been the most visible and bravest section of what is now called the "gay community", establishing social spaces for gay men by their presence. Their visibility and their femininity have also made them the most despised by both the middle class gay men and machos, straight or gay. The masculinisation of the gay subculture, exemplified by the Clone and its successors, has reinforced this and led to gay men neglecting gender issues.

Gender is at the root of the problem, nevertheless. An additional complication for men in Hispanic cultures is the question of sexual identity and role. In these cultures it is only the "passive" partner who plays the "woman's role" who is a Maricon, the guy whose dick gets serviced remains a Man. This kind of [bi]sexuality is widespread, but it is a bisexuality dependent on equal contempt for women and Maricones.

In reality, the vast majority of men who have sex with other men are working class, but those who are most visible and committed to a gay identity are not, except for the Queens, who have been marginalised by the assimilationist politics and masculinisation promoted by conservative middle class gay men. In Black and Hispanic countries and communities, Queens are often sex workers, so same sex love among the industrial proletariat is not a widely recognised phenomenon.

Anarchist bigotry

Unsurprisingly, "workers" and "gays" are seen as separate. But before any gay anarcho-syndicalists think they can put Chozas straight (excuse the pun) just by coming out, he has more pearls of wisdom for us. "Anarchism based on certain values ...constituted by the NATURAL LAWS." "Unnatural sexual acts, that is, all those sexual acts outside the heterosexual couple, (so, no threesomes, either) are contrary to the essence of anarchism and rationalism."

Pope Nicolas then goes on to compare us to alcoholics and smokers, wheels out the cliches that homosexuality causes AIDS (although, this being anarchist bigotry, the Wrath of God doesn't get a look in - it's caused by us abusing our bodies in unnatural acts) and paedophilia, and throws in a little gratuitous drug addiction for good measure.

Now, it's easy to dismiss this as the rantings of an ancient bigot, but he has a point about anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism. "Everything that surrounds" capitalism and the state to Chozas probably means religion, education, and the apparatus of ideological control. His interpretation of anarchism is as 19th century as the translator of the piece tells me his Spanish is, but no less accurate on his own terms.

Nowadays we would include gender, race, sexuality, etc. Ignorance about our own history, sanitised by liberals like George Woodcock, leads us to project contemporary attitudes back into the past. Because anarchism is largely ignored by academics I used to complacently think that, unlike the left, we didn't subscribe to the "aristocratic decadence/capitalist perversion" theory of this culture's obsession with explaining away same sex desire - I was wrong.

Spanish anarchism and sexuality

Richard Cleminson's essay "Male inverts and homosexuals: Sex discourse in the Anarchist Revista Blanca"[4] introduces the treatment of the subject in the most influential Spanish anarchist journal of pre-revolutionary Spain. I don't propose to go into great detail, but I think it's worth citing an example to illustrate Chozas' consistency with the ideas of the time.

In 1935 the editorial response to the question "What is there to be said about those comrades who themselves are anarchists and who associate with inverts?"[5] read as follows: "They cannot be viewed as men if that 'associate' means anything apart from speaking to or saluting sexual degenerates. If you are an anarchist, that means that you are more morally upright and physically strong than the average man. And he who likes inverts is no real man, and is therefore no real anarchist."

While by this time views were diversifying to take into account more progressive thinking about sex and sexuality in the 1930's, the quotation above is fairly typical of those cited by Cleminson. Unsurprisingly, it is only in the post-Stonewall[6] era, when lesbians and gay men have become more visible and confident about speaking out that they themselves have articulated a more libertarian view of sexuality.

What this clearly illustrates is that we need to take into account the knowledge of human sexual behaviour which has been built up since the modern Gay Liberation movement began in the late 1960's. Anarchism is about complete human liberation, not merely economics. We need to absorb the insights of the black, women's and gay liberation movements, and reject the heritage of 19th century pseudo-science.

Secular religions

Cleminson notes that in pre-revolutionary Spain, "The power of the Catholic Church as ideological factory of the ruling class and patriarchal society was still uncurbed. The power and influence of such ideas were all-pervasive, and it is not coincidental that much Catholic morality reemerged in the Spanish anarchist and anarchosyndicalist movements as moral puritanism, sexual abstinence, and other manifestations of frugality."

For anarchists the mechanics of religious ideology, as well as establishing the oppressive principle of a higher authority than oneself, are about displacing the value of humanity from the self to the ownership of the non-existent God. Our atheist humanism is seen by the religious as rejecting the value of humanity, because they can not accept that a human being can be complete without a God.

Ascribing certain ideas to a God places them beyond the realm of rational argument and outlaws dissent as heresy. Certain secular ideologies have a similar mechanism. Science and Nature are as much unanswerable ideologies as God, and are supposed to similarly render any counter argument invalid. In theory anarchists have long understood this - Bakunin argued that the worst tyranny would be that of Science, or claiming to be Scientific (as Marxism does), as it would accept the validity of no dissent.

Chozas' Natural Laws are clearly beyond argument as far as he is concerned, and therefore anarchism must accept them, in spite of their obvious theocratic origins. As an anarchist approaching the 21st century I see clearly that he has accepted the principle of theocracy, but his God is Nature instead of Jehovah. Nature is constructed in the image of Chozas' heterosexist prejudices as surely as Jehovah is in the image of His believers'.


The secular religions of the 19th century - Science, Nature, Nationalism, Liberalism, etc - share a common mindset, a belief in linear progress and in their own Universal relevance. This Universalism (a word with a meaning not dissimilar to catholic, incidentally) is based on assumptions about the nature of humanity. Crudely, we are talking about white, middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied men as "normal" and everyone else as "abnormal".

Race, class, sexuality, [dis]ability and gender are all ideologies which have been elevated to the status of "norms". Furthermore, there is a binary relationship between each of these "norms" and its opposite[s]. This relationship is hierarchical, and the "abnormal" can only, by definition, be subordinate. For an anarchist the acceptance of Universalism and its norms should be impossible because of these binary hierarchies.

Anarchism is about reclaiming our full humanity, from God, from Science, from Nature, from Capitalism and the State. Our social revolution is about creating a society in which we can live as humans, not as workers, or blacks, or women, or any other socially-defined category. The fundamental basis of such a society is Federalism, from Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin to the anarcho-syndicalist traditions of our movement.

"Revolutionary unionism is opposed to ...the centralism of the state and church. ...In the centralised organisation, the needs of society are subordinated to the interests of a few, variety is replaced by uniformity and personal responsibility is replaced by unquestioning obedience."[7] To me this applies equally to Universalism, which is too little questioned. Accepting social and cultural (and sexual) diversity is a prerequisite of the human liberation which is anarchism's objective.


Diversity has become a buzzword with the popularisation of ideas loosely labelled as "post-modernism" - the end of a Universal worldview. While the federalist basis of anarchism should embrace this, it is important that we do not just accept authoritarian ideas in the name of diversity. In arguing that anarchists must absorb the insights of the black, women's, gay and now transgender and disability liberation movements, I would warn against an uncritical approach to this.

These movements were originally inspired by libertarian socialism, being unashamed of being black or a woman or gay in order to challenge the definition of yourself as such and not fully human ("normal"), and to seek the destruction of the social and ideological apparatus of oppression - in the same way as revolutionary socialism sought to destroy the class system which defines us as workers, not as human beings.

In accepting the definition imposed on us by society - the ruling classes - we run the risk of degenerating into identity politics. Radical Black Power has since become Black Nationalism, supporting the black petite bourgeoisie and their ambitions, for example. All identity politics are based on a nationalist model, whether they are assimilationist or separatist. Loyalty to the "nation" is demanded, and policed.

Because of this mentality mixed-race and bisexual people are often regarded as untrustworthy among black and lesbian and gay communities, respectively, or required to modify their behaviour to fit a new "norm". Transgendered women occupy a similar position in some Feminist circles. In embracing diversity, as we must, anarchists must be careful to develop an integrated politics of liberation, not of identity.

Nevertheless, we now know so much more about human life than we did in the 19th century, and to ignore new insights into human liberation is to consign anarchism to irrelevance. The left have often limited their response to those of us who do not fit the "norms" they accept to afterthoughts, designed to "correct" these "anomalies" and to leave their political programmes intact, untouched by the history which challenges the self-appointed leadership of their sects. We must not make the same mistake.

Peter Principle

[1] I use "straight" in this article as an identification only, it implies nothing about actual sexual behaviour.

[2] Commissioned by the Health Education Authority - yup, AIDS risk assessment again - research into more than 20,000 men who had had sex with men and women in the previous five years found that only 43.9% identified in any way as bisexual, often reluctantly, 0.9% as gay, and 13.2% as straight. Source: Bi Community News, Issue 8, June 1996.

[3] This is not intended to be perjorative, I'd love to be a wise old Queen, but the football, hooligan music and beer tend to rule this out - and I'd look crap in drag.

[4] Published in Gert Hekma et al. Eds. - "Gay men and the sexual history of the political left" by Harrington Park Press 1995, ISBN 1 56023 067 3.

[5] An invert was an "positive" 19th century term for homosexual, which was a medical term. The idea was that a female soul had been trapped in a male body, resulting in an attraction to men, and vice versa. Perverts, by contrast, were debauched. This is more like a definition of a contemporary Transgenderist.

[6] The Stonewall Inn riots of June 1969, a reaction to a police raid on a mafia-run New York gay bar, are the mythical beginning of modern gay liberation. Although equality movements dated back much further, the Gay Liberation Front was founded by activists inspired by this event, as well as by their experience of the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights protest movements. The rioters were mostly apolitical black drag queens, hustlers and bar dykes.

[7] Quotation from The Principles of Revolutionary Unionism, common to the Solidarity Federation and the International Workers' Association - the anarcho-syndicalist international founded in 1922. The CNT is its Spanish section.

Anarchy On Film

Pretty Vacant Films of Sheffield are making a documentary about the unfinished history of British anarchism. They are looking for any film stock or broadcast quality video tape, an old 16mm camera, sound recording equipment and any copyright free footage of demos or actions.

They also want to interview anarchists of every hue, so if you have something interesting to say get in touch with them at Pretty Vacant Films, Unit 3, 4 Agden Rd Sheffield S7 1LY. They're also on the lookout for musicians or performers who would like to contribute something.

Zero Tolerance: Giuliani time here?

In August 1997 Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was detained at New York's 70th Precinct station house. During the course of his detention he was severely beaten and had the wooden handle of a toilet plunger inserted by force into his rectum (resulting in a punctured intestine and torn bladder) and then had the handle of the plunger rammed into his mouth, knocking out his front teeth. He was racially abused, and, during the assault on him, one of the cops shouted "It's Giuliani time "- a reference to the New York right wing mayor who initiated the "zero tolerance campaign".

Zero tolerance - which involves the prosecution of every petty crime, and the removal of graffiti artists, beggars, traffic light squeegee merchants and winos from the streets, has been a licence for police brutality. New York's middle classes are happy though; as the Guardian journalist Linda Grant described: "At night people stroll down the streets as if they were Parisians on the boulevards. New Yorkers have their city back, the Manhattan of its own heyday before drugs and guns drove families to suburbia and the poor to desperation." Zero tolerance is about saturation policing. Its supporters would argue that its success can be shown in the 45% drop in violent crime since 1991.The reality is that "Giuliani Time" has meant an increase in violent crime - but the victims are poor, black, homeless, and the attackers are cops. Civilian complaints against the police for excessive force rose by 61.9% in 1995. Abuse of authority complaints rose by 86.2% and allegations of illegal searches soared by 135%. More than half the complainants are African American. A further 25% are Latino.

"Giuliani Time"

When police shot 16 year old Kevin Cedeno in the back Giuliani condemned the media for not asking why Kevin was out late at night and whether he had a criminal record.The fact that police had lied in their statements, saying Kevin was shot in the stomach after a confrontation caused him no concern at all. Anthony Baez died from an illegal chokehold after his football accidentally bounced into a police car. When his mother questioned police commissioner Willian Bratton at a town hall meeting, Bratton told her to sit down and stop making a fool of herself. Giuliani, standing next to Bratton at the time, said nothing.

As Linda Grant's Guardian article (17/2/97) recognised,"The New York of Mayor Giuliani could be the London of Tony Blair and Jack Straw.The beggars could be cleared away from the streets along with the litter and the burglars - and Londoners, like New Yorkers, probably won't ask any questions".

Jack Staw time?

Jack Straw believes in zero tolerance. He believes "in giving city centres back to the people." He believes in getting more police on the beat on "targeted patrols" on behalf of the "law abiding majority who want to live in clean and pleasant surroundings." With 61,250 people in jail, he has ordered the building of 3 new private prisons. Since 1992, the number of offenders in jail under 21 has risen from 6783 to 10583. Jack Straw wants to use the Criminal Justice Bill to set up a fast track system of punishment for young offenders, with the abandoning of repeat cautioning ("cautioning plus") and the introduction of curfews on the under 10s.

The legacy of the outgoing Home Secretary Michael Howard was aptly described by the barrister Michael Mansfield as "the abolition in effect of the right to silence; the increase in police powers without a concomitant, independent supervision of these powers of criminal investigation; the restrictions imposed by public order legislation on freedom of movement, association or protest; the provision of legal aid and the steady decline in readily available advice through neighborhood or community law centres." Mansfield believes that Howard's "reforms" should be "reviewed, revised and in some cases removed" by Jack Straw. Charles Pollard, Chief Constable of Thames Valley, has said of zero tolerance,"the problem is that sutained policing of this sort ends up targeting minorities within communities." Most of the left in this country have spent the years since 1945 running round like headless chickens trying to con working class people into voting again and again for ever more right wing Labour governments.The end result is a Labour government with a massive majority and a clearly anti working class agenda. Jack Sraw knows it would be easy to use that majority to rescind Michael Howard's pro-police agenda. Instead, he's kept all Howard's weapons for his own armoury and added more besides. He knows that zero tolerance targets minorities. He's been to New York. He's seen the evidence for himself.That's the whole point.

Zero tolerance isn't about ending crime, it's about containing working class communities and keeping the poor off the streets. In New York the streets are free of litter, because welfare recipients are forced to clean the streets as part of the Workfare programme and street cleaning is the only option on offer to them. Homelessness is a crime in New York. For Tony Blair,"The basic principle here is to say yes it is right to be intolerant of homeless people on the streets." So where do the homeless go? Some of them in New York went to live in shanty towns under the boardwalks at Coney Island. In January 1997, 3 of them died when an open fire they were huddled round burned down their encampment. "They died like rats in a gutter" according to Linda Grant. In the UK the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 43. But solutions to homelessness that don't involve policing solutions cost money. Linda Grant again: "Londoners want (I want,the homeless want) a better quality of life than we have had to get used to.The price of peace of mind comes expensive if you are talking hostels that don't have to be closed down because they are more dangerous than the streets themselves. Read my lips. This means taxes." And thats a price that Tony Blair, low tax saviour of middle England, won't pay. If anyone still believes Labour has a reforming agenda, let them explain David Blunkett's comment that "The truth is that any government entering the 21st century cannot hope to create a more equal or more egalitarian society simply by taking money from one set of people and redistributing it to others."

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies the top 10% in the UK enjoy an income equal to the whole of the bottom 50% of society. By 1993, more than 2/3 of income in the bottom 10% of households came from means tested benefits. By 1993, the UK had 3.9 million children living in poverty - more than any other EU member state. According to Child Poverty Action Group definitions, 23% of the population live in poverty. For Labour, the solutions to all this are clear. Capital can no longer afford the cost of the welfare state. Labour's task is to dismantle it. In its place will be Welfare to Work or....jail.

Professor John Pitts, of the Centre for the Study of Crime, Neighbourhood and Social Change, has observed "crime has grown least in those European countries where discrepancies of wealth and opportunity are lowest, or where governments have worked to ameliorate the effects of globalisation and de-industrialisation upon the most vulnerable."(Guardian 28/5/97) Labour intends to exacerbate the "discrepancies of wealth and opportunity.", but for Straw's middle class supporters it's the best of both worlds - lockdown capitalism - not only do you pay less taxes but the streets are clean and your home doesn't get burgled. Crime becomes something the poor do to each other. Anyone who steps ouside this gets hit even harder. (When working class communities in Dublin organised through Concerned Parents Against Drugs to deal with the heroin that was flooding their communities, it was them -not the dealers - who went to jail. In Birmingham, the Newtown Independent Residents Association had to overcome constant police intimidation to build a successful, street based, anti racist, anti-mugging campaign.)

Jack Straw wants it to be "Giuliani Time " in the UK. He wants a "quiet" police state where the liberals are happy because the streets are clean and the poor are only seen when theyre thanking him for the marvellous opportunities created by New Labour,and then only through the medium of a press office promo video. The pro Labour left are buried by history - having been cheerleaders for New Labour and therefore de facto cheerleaders for the crackdown to come. The rest of us are left to deal with the consequences. The battle in the next few years will be two fold - to resist the criminalisation and lockdown of working class communities and resist the rise of crime within our communities, to no longer live or die like "rats in a gutter."

Alvaro Hernandez Luna


It's been some time since a full update on Alvaro Hernandez Luna has been sent out. In June, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for aggravated assault of a sheriff -- charges resulting from Alvaro disarming same sheriff as he pulled his weapon on Alvaro, unarmed. The premise of this attempted assassination of a longtime Raza activist was to apprehend Alvaro for a robbery he states he did not commit and for which he was exonerated. In fact, of the three charges he faced in Alpine, Alvaro was found innocent of all but one. "It would have been a disgrace to the police and sent the 'wrong message' to our Raza that it is justified to resist racist attacks and of the political conspiracy against us," Alvaro writes of his sentence. "We not only have the 'legal' right' to defend ourselves, but an international right under principles of self-determination."

A longtime Houston, Texas (USA) activist and leader of groups like the Ricardo Adalpe Guerra Defense Committee, National Movement of La Raza, National Chicano United Front and others, Alvaro had moved from Houston to Alpine, Texas and came under scrutiny immediately. "The state's own evidence (at trial) showed once I arrived in Alpine, I became the target of surveillance, harassment and false charges. They interrogated people close to me, asking them what I was doing in Alpine. They were told I was 'working on some legal case,' had a computer and many 'open files,' and that I had been talking to Raza about police brutality and racism," writes Alvaro. "They feared I wanted to reopen the police murder of my friend, Ervay Ramos, shot in the back by a racist, coward pig in my presence in 1968. Murder has no statute of limitations and the Justice Department can reopen any such case if the evidence is there."

A petition drive to open a federal investigation of Alvaro's charges and reopen Ramos' murder was recently initiated and is included in this e-package. Ramos was a 16-year-old student shot in the back, fatally wounding him, by Alpine cop F. L. "Bud" Powers, Jr., on June 10, 1968 after a traffic stop. Powers was later indicted for "murder without malice" in the killing, but was never disciplined, served no time and remained a police officer.

More updates

* Alvaro's motion for a new trial will be heard August 7 at 3 p.m. in Alpine, TX by the same judge who presided over his first case. While it's expected he won't receive his request, he is upbeat. If the motion for new trial is denied, the appeals process begins.

* All official/organizational correspondence, requests/checks for tapes and donations to support Alvaro's case should be directed to the Barrio Defense Committee-Houston at our new address: 1436 W. Gray, #308, Houston, TX 77019. Houston will be primarily handling Alvaro support work and, as such, should be the primary contact henceforth. Checks should be made out to "Alvaro Hernandez Luna Defense Fund" (acct. no.: 2668161929) and sent to Houston. Please distribute this information and address widely.

* If you have Internet web browser access, please visit the Free Alvaro Hernandez Luna Now! Defense pages at and link it to your own pages if you have them (and write back to say you linked, so you can be listed on our links pages).

* Please make sure to forward a copy of any material about Alvaro printed in publications. We are in the process of developing a press kit and any support letters and articles are needed. All materials can be sent to the Houston address above.

* This message will be followed by three parts: a petition on Alvaro's behalf, which everyone is welcome to reproduce and return to BDC-Houston; a 6/22 article by Alvaro summing up the struggle for his freedom; and a 7/4 article which serves as the introduction of a book he is writing. All these articles may be republished provided the information at the end of the articles is included.

Tierra o it to win it,

Frank San Miguel Barrio Defense Committee-Houston 1436 W. Gray, #308, Houston, TX 77019 E-Mail:

PS -- i can also be reached via email at or c/o Black Fist Collective, Box 980582, Houston, TX 77098-0582

Olivier Martin - The not unusual case of

After a demo against the Front National in Toulouse in February, Olivier Martin, a 35 year old anarchist militant saw a young Arab guy being beaten up by two thugs. Naturally enough, he intervened. It turned out that the thugs were plain clothers police, and he was convicted of assaulting the police and sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment, plus 9 months' from a previous suspended sentence.

His appeal is awaiting judgement, so letters of support should be sent to:

Comité de Soutien ŕ Olivier Martin c/o CNT-AIT Toulouse 7 Rue de Remesy 31000 TOULOUSE FRANCE

The suppport committee note that his case is not unusual. Police, whether plain clothes or off duty, regularly assault people, usually of Arab origin, and often around anti-fascist demonstrations. As well as Olivier Martin's case, there is also that of Richard Martin in Marseille. Two men who he thought looked like members of the FN. He was charged with assaulting a police officer. When the case came to court, photos proved that the two cops were not wearing any identification, which is illegal under French law, and the police's case lost credibility.

Unfortunately, Olivier Martin's actions were outside the range of the cameras.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Prior to the last election, the Tories floated the idea of scrapping Lone Parent Benefit. The newly elected Labour government was expected to restore the benefit, particularly as the new Social Security Secretary Harriet Harman had purported to be opposed to the cut while in opposition. Instead, Labour in office has moved to railroad though the cut and has floated the idea of abandoning disability related benefits like Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance. The long term aim of Harman and her junior Frank Field is to abandon the existing benefits system completely and replace it with private insurance provision for periods of unemployment and ill health. Among Westminster pundits this has been coded as "Thinking the Unthinkable".

The Guardian columnist Hugo Young highlighted exactly what underpins Labour's attacks on the welfare state; "A greater contribution from every available citizen to improving the gross national product is the vision new Labour is determined on." The Welfare State is a drain on the profits of capital. Labour is identified as the mother of the welfare state and hence is best placed to kill it off. The attack on single parents is an attempt to test the opposition on the road to dismantling the benefits system in its entirety. It's the equivalent of Thatcher taking on the steel workers in preparation for the miners. Labour has tried to argue that they've had to accept the spending plans of the previous government, and that this cut is part of the outgoing chancellor's spending plans, but that won't even wash with old right-wingers like Roy Hattersley any more. Hattersley thinks that Labour are prepared to "tough it out" to show that "the middle classes and their values are safe in our hands... New Labour will stand firm against the debilitating forces of care and compassion." Labour can afford to ignore Hattersley and the 47 MPs who voted against the cut to single parent benefit because the size of their majority makes any opposition through Parliament meaningless.

The new Labour government is committed to the defence of inequality. Cuts in benefits and the imposition of student fees are a direct result of Labour's determination to protect Middle England from the threat of increased taxation. So Gordon Brown can dismiss the idea of an increase in benefit levels as a means to tackle poverty, while Blair can defend millionaire Cabinet member Geoffrey Robertson when it is revealed that he has set up offshore trusts to avoid UK tax liability. Labour is committed to the redistribution of wealth from poor to rich as much as their Tory predecessors. "Welfare reform" means an end to "welfare dependency" not an end to poverty. The most significant aspect of Labour's attack on welfare is the element of compulsion. When the Tories introduced the Job Seekers Allowance it marked a step towards conditional benefits - a move towards workfare. Workfare is a key component of Labour's attack on the welfare state - the welfare to work scheme for young people is harsher than anything dreamed up by the Tories. It offers claimants two choices - work for benefit level wages or starve. Further, promoting a political consensus around the notion of welfare dependency allows the government to get off the hook of its failure to live up to its promises out of office. Months before his election Blair told reporters "If the next Labour government has not raised the standards of living of the poorest by the end of its term in office it will have failed". Given that Labour has committed itself to low public spending, low taxation and low inflation, job creation in any meaningful sense is not on the agenda. Restoration of the massive cuts in public spending of the last 18 years is a pipe dream. But - if the poor are idle because they are idle - not because capitalism has no use for them, if people turn to crime not because they can't live on the benefit levels available to them, but because they are criminal scum, Blair can keep his middle class acolytes happy that his hands are clean, while Jack Straw's "Zero Tolerance" of the poor, the homeless, minorities, can be extended to all aspects of society.

In August 1996 the Spectator columnist Bruce Anderson wrote, "We have expressly constructed slums full of layabouts and sluts whose progeny are two legged beasts. We cannot cure this by family religion and self help. So we will have to rely on repression."

On 20th April 1997 the Guardian reported Blair as decreeing that there should be no improvements in benefit levels so that life on benefit should be less attractive.

We should recognise that Blair and Anderson differ from each other only in degree of language, not in method. Welcome to the New World Order.

Reflections on Australian Democracy

My dictionary defines democracy as rule of the many, from the Greek demokratia meaning government by the people. It is widely accepted that certain countries are democratic (western Europe, USA etc.) and others aren't (China, Cuba, Nigeria, for example). There are many areas where democracy is applied to; industrial democracy, for example, is a watered down version of workers control whereby workers have some say in how industry is run, rather than it being totally at the whim of management. One facet of democracy is the right to abstain or not to participate. While anarchists do not put much store in "rights", this one should be particularly dear to anarchists, as it represents a chance not to choose between equally bad options. The right to abstain is also linked to how those whose views form a minority are treated by the majority. The fledgling Czech democracy, for example, has certainly failed this test when it comes to the Roma refugees.

It is important how a minority is dealt with, and how they perceive their treatment. Anarchists address these problems by making decisions at the smallest possible level, by having federalist structures for decision making where things are transparent and mandated, and by recognising the right to "secede". To secede means to opt out of the federal structure and form whatever new relationship to that structure that the minority wishes to. The right to secede or dissent is what distinguishes anarchist federalism from the phoney versions peddled by the European Union, the US and Australia, among others. But, having recently been there, I'd like to look at Australia's democracy in greater detail.

Australia is one of a handful of countries in the world where voting is compulsory. Failure to vote can result in a $200 fine (about £90). To make matters worse, there are three tiers of government - federal, state and local, each with their won bureaucracy, all for a population of 18 million. The absurdity of it all was well illustrated on a three day tour from Adelaide to Melbourne I took. The tour happened to start on the South Australian election day. Our driver, a good solid bloke with that traditional Aussie anti-authoritarian streak, was too busy in the morning to vote. He had already expressed his contempt for politicians - something I heard again and again in Australia. We spent a while searching several small towns for a polling station (fortunately you didn't have to vote where you live) until we found one, just before it closed. Our driver avoided his fine, and when asked how he voted, replied, "there was only one choice really, I voted No Pokies". No Pokies was a single issue ticket dedicated to getting gambling machines out of the State's pubs.

While it's undoubtedly useful for such campaigns to get a boost, the most famous being "No Dams" in the 80s, it's a farce of a democracy, constructed for politicians' vanity, where they can claim to have been elected on turnouts as good as those achieved by Stalin, Mao, Bokassa and other good democrats, though perhaps not by such wide margins.

The one argument I heard in favour of compulsory voting there was that otherwise single issue and pressure groups would get too powerful. If this is the strength of Australian democracy it is not worthy of the name. My experiences in Australia were of very good people under governments of such incompetence, banality and stupidity that multinationals must rub their hands in glee. T's not a case of the governments people deserve, as no one deserves government such as this.

@ Tourist

Market Forces

A bus is travelling along a mountain road.
The road is on the edge of a high cliff.
The bus carries one hundred passengers.
They are rich and can pay.
Among them is an economist.
He knows the working of market forces.

Suddenly the bus swerves And plunges over the cliff.
The passengers are terrified Except for the economist.
He is not perturbed.
He knows the working of market forces.
He knows that a bus-load of anti-gravity belts will instantly materialise In response to the demand that has just been created.
Market Forces Triumph Once Again!

Chas Duke

10 Billionaires Could Wipe Out Poverty


In a faith-based religious newsletter called "Ministry of Money," the following except appeared in a story about poverty which I thought worth sharing:

"As unbelievable as it may sound, the combined wealth of the world's seven richest people could end world poverty. A United Nations Human Development Report recently published (and reported in the June 22, 1997 issue of Manchester Guardian Weekly) notes that an $80 billion anti-poverty program would provide access to basic social services and eradicate poverty. The net wealth of 10 billionaires, according to the report, is worth 1.5 times the combined national incone of the 48 least developed countries. The growing gap between rich and poor is also quantified in the report: in 1960 the richest fifth of the world's population was 30 times as wealthy as the world's poorest fifth; in 1994, they were 78 times as wealthy."

As we witness accelerating economic polarization in the U.S., it is important to also ponder the global implications of wildly bifurcated distributions of income and wealth. The cold terms of financial accounting cannot begin to describe the incalculable human suffering that lies behind the numbers.

Gives one pause to reconsider Marx's aphorism: "expropriate the expropriators."

Abolish wage-slavery; organize One Big Democratic Classwide Union.
Michael Eisenscher

Solidarity with Hans-Georg Eberl

On the 2nd November 1997 the 22 year-old anarchist and antifascist Hans- Georg Eberl (member of FAU/IAA and I-AFD/IFA) was taken into custody by police during an antifascist action against a "europe-congress" of the extreme right. He was detained in so-called "investigation custody" - a sort of pretrial detention - for 2 weeks and is being accused of "dangerous bodily harm" and "serious breach of peace". We are calling on the international antifascist and anarchist/ anarchosyndicalist movement for solidarity with Hans-Georg and to write notes of protest to the responsible bavarian minister of the interior, Beckstein (member of the so-called Christian-Social-Union Party, CSU) and to the public prosecutor in Ingolstadt.

What has happened

Various parties and organisations of the extreme right had mobilised for a meeting in the bavarian town of Koesching (near Ingolstadt) for the 2nd November 1997 to "create a cross-boarder european right". Around 500 members of the far right and neonazis attended the event. Yvan Blot, european MP for the extreme rightwing french "Front National" held a speech in his function as "political spokesman for german affairs" of the FN. Further speeches were held by Frank Vanhecke of the "Vlaams Blok", by Harald Neubauer for the "Deutsche Liga fuer Volk und Heimat" (DLVH), by the publisher of the monthly right-wing extremist publication "Nation und Europa" Peter Dehoust, by Alfred Mechtersheimer (former member of the german Green Party, founding member of the right-extremist "Friedenskomitee 2000" and of the "Deutschland- Bewegung") as well as by the former party leader of the extreme rightwing "Republikaner" Franz Schoenhuber.

Around 140 antifascists voiced their protest against these unification- efforts at a vigil which was held directly infront of the entrance to the meeting place of the neonazis. This antifascist gathering was continuousl y provoked by neonazis and nazi-skins, until eventually two antifascists were attacked by a nazi-skin and one of them had her nose broken in the attack. The police deliberately held back and covered the escape of the nazi-thug. As a result, a fight broke out between antifascists and neonazis, during which the police intervened on the side of the nazis and also started attacking the antifascists. Three antifascists were taken into custody. One of them is Hans-Georg who is being accused of having thrown a stone which hit the big toe of a policeman. The latter was hit s o "hard" that he didn't even need medical attention.

Hans-Georg was brought to the prison in Eichstaett and was put in "investigation custody" on the ground of "danger of collusion". The explenation of the public prosecutor for this was that Hans-Georg had taken off his jacket a short while before he was taken into custody.

"Investigation Custody"

The "investigation custody" in Eichstaett went from the 2nd to the 14th o f November 1997. Hans-Georg is being accused of "dangerous bodily harm" and "serious breach of peace". He was made to do forced labour for 1 german Mark per hour and no-one - except for his parents - was given permission to visit him. Letters were only handed out to him after they were censore d by the authorities, most letters were only given to him after his release from prison. Hans-Georg was subjected to special harassment, for example his glasses were only handed out to him after a week of imprisonment. At the same time the authorities tried to carry out a "fast proceeding" the laws for which were only just passed half a year ago. In a "fast proceeding" circumstantial evidance is sufficient for a sentence. The public prosecutor responsible in this case is no-one else than the nephew of the bavarian minister for the interior, Guenter Beckstein (CSU).

An injustice to one is an injustice to all!

We know that the repression against antifascists and anarchists has alway s been one of the instruments of the state. During the last months, the state politics of fighting and preventing antifascist actions, banning antifascist demonstrations and persecuting militants in germany have increased immensely. The "democratic" state is confirming itself once more as a henchman for the right. It is time to confront the responsible attorneys and ministers with publi c pressure. We are calling to write notes of protest to the responsible courts and authorities.

(the address of the responsible public prosecutor, Beckstein) Amtsgericht Ingolstadt z.H. Staatsanwalt Beckstein Auf der Schanz 37 85049 Ingolstadt Tel.: +841-3120 Germany

(the address of the federal minister responsible for bavaria) Staatsminister fuer Bundesangelegenheiten und Bevollmaechtigter des Freistaates Bayern beim Bund Schlegelstr. 1 53113 Bonn Germany Tel.: +228/202-0 or 202-1 Fax: +228/22 9800

(the address of the responsible bavarian minister of the interior, Beckstein) Staatsminister des Innern Odeonsplatz 3 80539 Muenchen Germany Tel.: +89/2192-01 Fax: +89/2192-3350

Please transfer any donations to help finance the upcoming expenses of the trial to: Account-Owner: K. Jagau, Account-Number: 3594 11-708, Bank Code Number: 600 100 70, Bank: Postgiro Stuttgart, Germany, Note: Ebs

Stop the trial against Hans-Georg Eberl!

Free Workers Union (FAU/IAA) Initiative for an Anarchist Federation in Germany (I-AFD/IFA)

More information via: FAU or I-AFD, Gruppe Verden, Grosse Str. 62, 27283 Verden, Germany. E-Mail: or i-

The police tactics being employed against anti-globalisation activists in Vancouver make a mockery of the suggestion that Canada is a "free country." This, of course, should not be news to us after the outrages committed against First Nations peoples at Gustafsen Lake, but this shows that repression is now being generalized. Antoni Wysocki

NEWS ADVISORY For Immediate Release Monday November 24th, 1997

RCMP Nabs APEC Alert Organizer

One of the main organizers of a group opposed to APEC was nabbed today by RCMP during a panel discussion on globalization and the corporate agenda. The group, called APEC Alert, has a large mobilization planned for Tuesday on the UBC campus. They had long suspected that police would begin nabbing key organizers, 24 hours before the APEC Leaders' Summit, in an attempt to quash student protest at the Leaders' Summit. A picture of the arrested activist, Jaggi Singh was seen on the wall of the APEC organizing office. Mr. Singh was charged with assault, allegedly for using a mega phone which was turned on too loud during a protest two weeks ago. He has been transfered to a holding cell in Richmond. So far, 12 students have been arrested for peacefully protesting the APEC Leaders' Summit at UBC.

Students who witnessed the event were outraged and approximately 250 of them marched to the local RCMP detachment to express their disgust. "We are effectively living in a police state," said Jonathan Oppenheim, a physics student at UBC. "This has nothing to do with security or upholding the law. The RCMP have been abusing their power in order to prevent protests at the APEC Leaders' Summit. In Canada, we like to think that people have certain freedoms. Well, think again!"

One of the conditions of release for previous arrested students was: "I will not participate or be found in attendance at any public demonstration or rally that has gathered together for the sole purpose of demonstrating against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation or any nation participating in the so named conference."

The students do not believe that Mr. Singh will be released until after APEC.

On Tuesday Nov. 25th, the students will gather from 9am - 11am in front of the Student Union Building at UBC and then "Crash the Summit."

For more information, contact APEC Alert at 571-7540, 251-9914 or

Without A Trace

"History records the patterns of men's lives, they say: who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. All things, it is said, are duly recorded all things of importance, that is. But not quite, for actually it is only the known, the seen, the heard and only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, those lies his keepers keep their power by."

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Dominant culture rarely interests itself in evidence other than that which demonstrates willing and enthusiastic complicity from its subjects. Acts of refusal and revolt are effaced from the historical record when they expose the tenuous control of authority. Even when they do appear, presence, motives and behaviour are all mediated through the lens of elite partiality to deny that we are capable of generating the ideas and means of our own liberation. That much most of us recognize; it is the premise of the class history developed in the sixties by the likes of E P Thompson, Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm. But theirs is also a quite particular history focused on the same level of public appearance as that of the establishment. Just as real life is elsewhere than on television, so the history of resistance is at the very least written between the lines of the official record of leaders, followers and climactic events. The reason derives not just from the actions of those in authority but also from the strategies of resistance adopted by those who desire to demolish all authority. In the interests of self-preservation, the ruling class and their official recorders, journalists and other such vermin, whose social position depends upon maintenance of the established class structure invariably work to keep attention only on a protest or movement's leaders (whether real or imaginary) and particularly on those who can demonstrate the same class status. But as well as those who lack the influence to have their words and actions recognized as important, are those who have no intention whatsoever to be so identified. It is this realm of individual and collective refusal that has proved most resilient in resisting exposure.

A vast area of active political life is ignored for the simple fact that it takes place at a level we rarely recognise as political. Trained by the mass media to applaud the spectacular action rather than the functional and prudent, all is in the appearance, the image of revolt as reproduced through that same mass media. But much political activity is elaborated among an intentionally restricted public that excludes or is hidden from the gaze of authority. It is not only that the historical record is kept by elites, for elites, but that subversives themselves have an interest in concealment (and thus greater personal security and self-control) of their activities. Such acts as these were never meant to be recordable; they were successful only in so far as they were invisible. The most successful poisonings of class oppressors, for example, are those never known as such. Just like the perfect crime, the subversive act seeks to escape all detection, cover its tracks and avoid appearance in the archives: for the perpetrators to strike ... anonymously ... and so survive to strike again (only those who wish to be martyrs, self-publicists or media personalities would wish to wait around to offer their names and have their picture taken).

"A pestilent pernicious people ... such as take oaths to the government, but underhand labour its subversion."

Bishop Trelawny, 1717

Though the point, by its very nature, is impossible of proof, apparent docility is the measure of subterfuge, and is only broken by those crises of ruling class confidence that allow insurrectionary breakthrough. Our ability to capitalise on these favourable moments must be understood in the context of the development of that which is ordinarily hidden. So a view of politics focused either on the official and formal relations of power (the command performances of consent), or on open protest and rebellion, represents a far too narrow concept of political life. The body of knowledge of the past and the current which we must grapple with is for the most part a record of what obtrudes onto the public stage and from there onto the historical record. There are undoubtedly important and instructive events and occurrences among them, which can give strength, through popular memory, to protest and resistance. But the lens of hindsight and reportage is a distorted mirror. History records what is most spectacular and most easily located: the start, the peaks, the decisive break with the past. We see the climax, the (only possibly decisive) invasion of public space. As such it implodes the development of movements of refusal and social transformation, for it freezes our attention at a single frame in time, disconnected from that which made it possible (as Dickens remarks in Barnaby Rudge, "We note the harvest more than the seed time"). These moments almost never come from nowhere; they are rather the acceleration of continuing processes through timely public manifestation. The agitation and preparation that precede and underpin the demonstrative act are always beginning and never end. It is at the point of certain rupture that the perpetrators of everyday acts of refusal consider it safe to appear on the public stage. Unless provoked by the State into desperate measures, open collective defiance is rarely undertaken unless it is practical and likely to succeed. Until that time, the mechanisms, structures and struggles which necessarily precede it are a closed book.

The accumulation of petty acts of defiance and refusal makes critical upsurges possible. They are not a substitute for revolution but a necessary condition for it. That it is why the insurrectionary moment invariably escalates so rapidly (and as if from nowhere) that revolutionary elites, the vanguard, find themselves hopelessly overtaken and left in its wake.

"How is it possible that so many people immediately understood what to do and that none of them needed any advice or instructions ?"

Vaclav Havel, New Year's Day 1990

Ability to act in moments of critical juncture derive from the long preparation of engagement in minimalist and apparently apolitical actions.

No More False Prophets, No More Hired Tongues

An understanding of previous movements for change is not merely an exercise in historical interpretation. A knowledge gained is the means by which we can understand how to take effective action, ourselves, today. When we recognise what has been, we can plan for what might be. Movements that attempt to create a groundswell of opposition by initiating public (usually publicity-seeking) protests at the outset will often meet with a wall of general indifference (not because people don't care, but because they are a lot more realistic about the utility of such initiatives than the protesters). If they begin to engage in activity that actually poses a threat to State and Capital, they often find it impossible to sustain themselves against infiltration and repression.

The art of the possible is discovered rather in those anonymous, immediate (but not by any means spontaneous) short-run collective actions that utilise the deep traditions implicit in guerrilla warfare and can melt away when faced with unfavourable odds. Cryptic and above all surreptitious actions are best adapted to resist an opponent who could probably win any open confrontation. Spontaneousforms of popular action can be, and are, deliberately chosen because of the tactical advantages for all those involved. What might be called a low-intensity class warfare is always pressing, testing, probing the boundaries of the permissible so as to take swift advantage of any fissures that may open up in moments of crisis. It is not that our incapacity to sustain permanent political organisation (most sensible people vote with their feet and avoid these formations like the plague) but that the choice of fleeting, direct action represents a popular tactical wisdom developed in conscious response to the political constraints realistically faced. Anonymity and a lack of formal organisation then become enabling modes of resistance, a measure of our understanding of both the danger and the futility in spectacular mediated action. While such action precludes formal organisation, it most certainly does not eschew effective coordination, achieved through the informal networks of affinity, kinship, traditional and intentional community, workplace and, yes, even perhaps ritual and religious practice. Socially embedded networks, developed at the level of the everyday, will be as opaque to the authorities as they are indispensable to subversive activity. The accelerated erosion and mutation of established social structures has been central in our current incapacity to engage in effective collective refusal. What's left of the Left has signally failed in imagination to recognize this and to foster new communities of resistance. Rather, it engages in plans for grandiose but deeply meaningless national federations (federations of what?) and equally disempowering parades before the world's television cameras.

Effective subversion must be organised out of the gaze of domination, in a sequestered physical, cultural or social location those areas that are least patrolled by authority. For those who look only on the surface of things, those seduced by the spectacular image of defiance, such strategy is a retreat from conventional class struggle. But, all things are not as they seem: as has been argued here, this is the very form that traditional class struggle has taken. The clandestine, apparently innocuous, maybe even anti-political assembly provides the fluidity and guerrilla mobilityfor effective subversive projection.

No Name No Slogan

There are immediate uses and gains in formations such as these: no leaders to round up; no hierarchical organisation to reproduce, no membership lists to investigate; no manifestos to denounce; no mediators to meet (and join) the power-holding elite. No public claims are made, no symbolic lines drawn, no press statements to be deliberately misconstrued and trivialised by journalists. No platforms or programmes which the intellectuals can hijack as their exclusive property; no flag or banner to which to pledge a crass and sectarian allegiance. What concrete forms will our subversion take ? The concrete forms it already takes: theft, feigned ignorance (all the better to dissemble our intentions), shirking or careless labour, footdragging and unofficial go-slow, zero-work, secret trade and production for sale (for barter, or, even better, for free), squatting, default on all payment for anything, evasion of taxes, destruction of official records, sabotage and arson, impromptu riot (for the sheer hell of it) and the detournment of state-sponsored celebration into moments of joyous destruction. If we were to undertake all this with the objective of attaining a complete self-reliance in the satisfaction of all desires and needs, we may well find it sufficient for the move from surviving within this system, to superceding it. Let the daily celebration of life be but a dress rehearsal for insurrection. It is the accumulation of small, instrumental acts that will bring authority to its knees. Let us rise.

How Do We Organise

Much of the class struggle anarchist movement concentrates on campaigns: trying to mobilise people to force the government and the ruling class to grant concessions, by demonstrations etc.

Anarcho-syndicalism, on the other hand, concentrates on industrial organisation. This article argues that neither strategy is doing as well as it could, and discusses a different approach. What if we concentrated on projects which gave working class people immediate benefits - for example, housing advice, food distribution, community centres etc?

Anarcho-syndicalism aims to offer this kind of practical benefit. The idea is that working class people will put a lot more energy into unions than any other kind of political activity. Unions are, at least potentially, run by and for working class people, able to win on a regular basis, etc. As far as it goes, this is undeniable.

Look at the average demonstration in your city. Is it workers or is it students? Is it democratic or is it run by (self-elected) stewards? Does anyone even think it's going to win anything, or are they just making themselves feel better? Even if it did win, would it have an obvious benefit for the average working class person? And even then, who would take credit - politicians, Trots, self-appointed leaders? Is there any point to it at all, except to give the Trots a new crop of recruits? Can you imagine anyone with a job, a family, not enough time and too many worries giving any time at all to the average campaign? Even with the union movement in its present sorry state, anyone can see that unionism is much more attractive than traditional campaigning to any worker in their right mind.

However, anarcho-syndicalist groups are supposed to offer real benefits, not just theory. But unionism needs a lot of people to work. Anarcho-syndicalist groups, at least in the English-speaking world, are all pretty small: too small to start a meaningful union or to change the direction of an existing union. So they can't do anything until they get bigger. So they offer theory not real benefits!

Food Not Bombs distributes free vegan food to the homeless. A lot of FNB groups are totally independent, but there are problems. As the name would suggest, FNB concentrates on pacifism. The original aim seems to be to overcome "the violence within". This implies blaming ordinary people - if only working class people were pacifists, there'd be no nuclear weapons.

The second problem is one of charity. There's a definite split between the people who dole out the food and the people who take it. There's not an emphasis on self-organisation.

I think we can combine the best of both worlds: the anarcho-syndicalists' emphasis on benefiting working class people, and the aim of eventually forming unions for revolution. And FNB's emphasis on projects which are public, immediately beneficial, and can be carried out by small groups. Some arguments against this approach are:

1. We need bigger groups. It's a bit much to expect a group of three people to start a food distribution project. However, there's no need for that. For example, one idea is to gather all the information you can on housing, unemployment rights etc, and distribute it through existing anarchist publications. Where I live, there are heaps of places which give this information out for free. However, they don't always get to all the people who can use it. So there are projects which don't need many people.

2. You can't involve the whole community and be specifically anarchist -so you have to be either a charity, a non-anarchist group, or a front group. This seems to be common sense. But I think there's a way out. My idea is for anarchist groups to start openly anarchist projects. However, we also help local communities set up their own projects and have an input into ensuring they are democratic, not a charity, not a Trot front etc. A few people will probably want to join us, but most won't (for a few years anyway). If Trots or Christians try and take these groups over, we have the experience to spot this and hopefully advise on how to stop them. So, we can keep groups specifically anarchist and spread our ideas, and yet involve the maximum number of people in a genuinely democratic way.

3. Campaigns can achieve more. It's true that a successful campaign will achieve more than a single piece of mutual aid. But it isn't a fair comparison. For example, Melbourne Food Not Bombs has five events per week. How many groups can run five successful campaigns even in a year? And guarantee that they'll be successful, that no one will steal the credit, and that their gains won't be legislated away when they publicity dies down? None. Even successful campaigns, like against the Poll Tax in Britain, don't seem to have really helped the anarchist movement in the long run.

4. You'd be abandoning class struggle. If a mutual aid project was fairly successful, three things might happen. The state might ignore it, in which case we can spread our ideas as well as build up respect. Or the state might shut it down. The state can break up a demonstration and claim the demonstrators were 'violent', 'out of control' etc. If they did that to a child-minding service, do you think people would believe them? Or, they could try and shut it down and fail - the best of both worlds. Successful mutual aid projects could generate campaigns -campaigns where people would have a stake in the anarchists winning.

5. You'd be giving governments an excuse to cut services. The government isn't going to let anarchists take over providing services. The state does not want anarchists giving advice on workers' rights, how to take your landlord to the cleaners, how to avoid government work schemes etc. They don't wnat creches run without social workers, food distros dicsouraging consumerism or social spaces where no boss profits from beer sales. Mutual aid projects show that communities can survive without governments.

I'd love to lose this debate. I'd like someone to say 'mutual aid might be better than what we have now, but such-and-such is much better'. But something's got to change. Isn't 100 years long enough to test a theory? The conditions are right for anarchism - Leninism's collapsed, capitalism can't deliver, and we have groups all over the world that are small, but big enough to put these ideas into practice. We can do it now, or we can wait another century.

James Hutchings (Sydney, Australia) (email me for information about the new practical anarchism email list).

Interview: Ronan Bennett

Ronan Bennett is one of the few contemporary authors whose voice speaks of authentic working class experience and whose writing takes sides in the struggles of ordinary people to determine the direction of their own lives against the forces of capitalism and the state. He's also- crucially- an entertaining and exiting storyteller, able to inject a hard realism into genres not otherwise noted for their reflection of the anger, pain and joy of working class life, without sacrificing plot or momentum. His plot for the hit film 'Face' combines an exploration of what happens when solidarity breaks down in working class communities and all that's left is the chase for wealth (or survival), with a gripping thriller about an armed robbery gone wrong and bent cops leaching off the backs of the communities they claim to protect.

Ronan Bennett grew up in Belfast, son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. In 1974 he was arrested and charged with the shooting of a cop. He was convicted by a Diplock court and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent a year in Long Kesh before the charges were thrown out on appeal. Relocating to the UK he was targeted by Special Branch and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in the 'Persons Unknown' case. The case collapsed, but only after he'd spent a year and a half on remand. As someone who comes from a community which has been targeted as a training ground for repression by the state, and who has experienced that repression at first hand, Ronan Bennett is a partisan writer. He is also one who has not been afraid to write as a Republican socialist, whether in his fiction, in 'A Second Prison', 'Love Lies Bleeding', and his forth coming film 'A Further Gesture' or in his numerous articles challenging the prejudices and lies of the British media over the frame ups of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, the lies and distortions of the agenda and motivation of militant Republicanism, and the cynicism and cowardice of the British political establishment over the peace process. He's also worked to promote the work of the Dubblejoint theatre company and Belfast writers like Brian Campbell, co- founder and editor of An Glor Gafa, (The Captive Voice), the Republican POW magazine. In 1992 in the Guardian he stated, when asked how he'd vote in the General election, "Labour's record and program are woeful… it has made principal in politics contingent on the latest opinion polls… for a socialist to vote for the party would be an act of supreme cynicism. I will not be voting."

BLACK FLAG: As someone coming from a Belfast background, who's been through jail, but has managed to get an outlet and a voice in the media, could you tell us how you arrived at that position?

RONAN BENNETT: What happened for me was after my years in the Cages and in Brixton, I went to University and did a PhD in Crime and Law Enforcement in the 17th Century and thought I'd want to teach, but kept returning in my imagination to the past, to incidents from prison, and, I think, like a lot of people, you start to jot things down, then you reach a point where you have to decide "do I go for it or not?" I think most people don't go for it, particularly people from a background where the last thing you would expect to be is a writer. I did the draft of "A Second Prison"- sent it to an agent, it was picked up fairly quickly.

BF: Did the politics of "The Second Prison" cause you any problems?

RB: No. I have to say there's politics in every single piece of work I've done. Most publishers and producers aren't concerned with politics, they're just concerned with "Does this work as a book or a film?" If the ideas aren't just there to win politically correct brownie points they'll back you. What I'm so proud of with "Face" is that the producers and the director Antonia Bird kept sight of the political and moral point but led the audience into it. I've never written from the point of view of someone who's secure or comfortable or middle class. When you're writing you can't pretend, you have to feel committed to what you do. I can't do the chameleon thing, "I'll now take the view of a middle class university lecturer". Because of my experiences I'm only really interested in the kind of characters I write about- usually idealists who've kind of lost their way. There is a conflict- the kind of politics we have demand commitment, they're about absolutes, about certainties being followed through, but the best literature, drama is about doubt, uncertainty.

BF: That is a clear theme in a lot of your work- a central character who's lost somehow, is looking for a moral or political grounding again.

RB: Its really difficult. When you meet someone with similar politics to yourself it makes for a great conversation but not great drama. What audiences want is debate, tension. Say if you set a film amongst "believers"- there's nowhere to go, no debate to have. So you have a dramatic device- someone who has those doubts, and then someone to play the character off against. I think its important to question your own politics, all the time, but there are certain ideals I have that will never change. In struggles, particularly armed struggles, terrible things can be done, but they don't ultimately lead you to abandon the things you believe in. But if 95% of your audience thinks politics is boring you have to introduce dramatic devices to get your point across without compromising. One of the things with "Face" as well is using humour as a means of winning people over as well. One of the people I really admire is Jeremy Hardy, who gets to make some really cutting points and gets away with it because he's funny.

There is an aspect of the earlier work like "Second Prison" and "Love Lies Bleeding" that's based around parallels with the IRSP/INLA feud. Its drawn from me being in jail with Ta Power, Jimmy Brown and Gerry Steenson, they were comrades then and then they started killing each other. It hit me in a really big way, especially when TA Power was killed ( Ta Power was the inspiration behind the IRSP faction that wanted to fight to preserve the socialist republican tradition of the IRSP against the degeneration into gangsterism of the IPLO) Ta was one of the most gentle but politically determined people I've ever met. Everybody liked him and to be killed by your former comrades was so tragic. I remember Gerry Adams getting up at a meeting in West Belfast and saying "We have to remember that Republicans have done bad things". He was right in many ways and it shouldn't undermine our cause. It is important not to romanticise violence or armed struggle. We need to maintain a critical perspective on our own history.

BF: To what extent do your experiences in Long Kesh inform your work now?

RB: The friendships and the solidarity are still strong. The idea that you're weakest and most vulnerable when you're an individual, but put a thousand of us in together , with a sense of political coherence and solidarity; that was a tremendous inspiration. That ethic of solidarity is in all the work - even in "Face" where the wider essence of it has broken down, Ray still looks after Stevie, Alice is involved with the Kurdish group. When I went to Latin America to research "Overthrown by Strangers", I didn't have a theme. I found that theme in Canto Grande, a prison outside Lima, with the political prisoners there. It's like the Kesh but the stakes are higher. There'd been prison massacres, a navy bombardment of a jail, and the level at which they stood up for each other was amazing, People who were poorly educated, who might have been thieves or pimps before they were politicised. It was one of the most inspiring experience of my life.

BF: Did you get much flak here for basing the book around Sendero Luminoso, given that most of the left here and in Peru would have massive criticisms of the way Sendero operates?

RB: Well, Sendero's authoritarianism was far too much for me. But say you're an Andean Indian, your life expectancy is lower now than it was under the Incas. If you're born into one of the Andean villages you live and die in poverty and there's no way out. You can go to the city and end up in a shanty slum. No one is going to do anything. The left parties have let you down and a political group comes along and says "fight", "Take Land". What do you do ? Either your existence goes on like this for your life and your children's lives or you just have to fight. I think as well there was a lot of misinformation put out about Sendero.

BF: What's next ?

RB: I love cinema, I love it as an art form but there are some ideas that feel like a book. I've got a film called "Days Like These" in development. It's set in Derry between 1969 and 1972. It begins with the Battle of the Bogside and ends with Bloody Sunday. It's fast paced and, hopefully, funny and it's got lots of sex and drugs and rock and roll. Then there's a four part series for the BBC called "Rebellion" which goes from 1916 to the defeat of the anti-treaty IRA. It's about an IRA man who starts off as a Pearce nationalist and ends up as an anti-treaty communist. There's a new book, a love story set in the Congo, "Cursed to Eat Bread", which is partly about the sabotage of independence and partly about the role of the writer (the central character is a writer) and it tackles the argument that writing should not be political, that commitment damages art, which is the dominant ethos at work. I'm also working on a book about a zero tolerance campaign in the 1630's, which mirrors Howard's and Straw's sweep the poor of the streets campaign. It is intended to be an allegory for today. It's called "Havoc In Its Third Year". Its about the politicisation of law enforcement as a campaign against the poor.

BF: How do you keep your integrity as you become more successful ?

RB: Being a writer was never a role I'd envisaged for myself and the last thing I want to do is grow into a middle class respectable writer- that would be death for me politically and creatively as well. One thing is I avoid the "scene" - I don't go to Grouchos, I don't "hang out". I've got the same friends I had at the start. I go back to Derry and Belfast and work with up and coming writers in the nationalist community and you can't go back to those places without being reminded of who you are and why you started. I'm trying to encourage Republicans to get together as a writing group, to analyse their experience through fiction or films or short stories, whatever. I think people from a working class background can come through but it always helps if you see someone else break through. So you get people like Ken Loach or Jimmy McGovern, people who're writing authentically about their lives, it's a real boost for people, it proves what can be done.

Review: Asian Dub Foundation - Real Areas For Investigation (RAFI)

Asian Dub Foundation have just produced their second CD. Like their debut, its stunning; a mixture of hard beats, guitars, polemic and a determined stance against injustice, but produced by a group of working class Asian kids and so pretty much ignored by the music press.

ADF stand out because they're political at a time when politics in music has been reduced to Oasis sipping red wine at private receptions with Tony Blair.1997 has been the year that the music press "discovered" that Asian musicians like Nitin Sawhney and Talvin Singh were producing breathtaking, inspired music that left the average white student guitar band sounding like the redundant middle class shite it always was. Young Asian kids had developed a network of clubs that allowed real space for creative musical experiments. But the music press refused to acknowledge the political battles that had allowed this space to exist at all.

ADF are an in-your-face reminder that Asian youth identity in the UK is a product of struggle, from the battles fought by Asian trade unionists at Spiralynx and Fords in the 70s, the self defence campaigns around the Newham 7 and Newham 8 in the '80s, through to the struggle against organised racism and fascism in the '90s. RAFI includes a track dedicated to Saptal Ram, "Naxalite"- a celebration of a peasants uprising in West Bengal, and "Assassin"- about Muhammed Singh Azzad,who assassinated the ex governor general of the Punjab, O Dwyer, in revenge for the Amritsar massacre.

Criucially, RAFI shows up the fact that white working class East Londoners have got a lot more in common with Asian kids from East London than with middle class wankers like John Tyndall.The "community of sound" ADF refer to isn't some hippy dream space; it's a multi racial culture of struggle - against police oppression, against racism and for self education and organisation, "against the lies you've been given". This is of course, another reason why the music press don't want to know - they can tolerate Sean Ryder or Liam Gallagher dribbling on about cocaine and smack, but let anyone come forward with an agenda which isn't about drugs or liberal "love everybody" shite - and just watch'em run scared.

ADF are great - because of what they say and because they represent the most slamming fusion of drum and bass with slashing guitars and ranting MCing I've heard yet. Go out and get RAFI.


Posted By

Apr 5 2018 12:40



Black Flag magazine

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