Saturday, October 17, 2009

Superflex / The Financial Crisis: Session 4 - Old Friends

Superflex / The Financial Crisis: Session 3 - You

Superflex / The Financial Crisis: Session 2 - George Soros

Superflex / The Financial Crisis: Session 1 - The Invisible Hand

The Financial Crisis (Session I-V) is a new film work in which SUPERFLEX address the financial crisis and meltdown from a therapeutic perspective. A hypnotist guides us through our worst nightmares to reveal the crisis without as the psychosis within. During 4 sessions you will experience the fascination of speculation and power, fear, anxiety and frustration of loosing control, economic loss and personal disaster.

Session 1 - The Invisible Hand
Session 2 - George Soros
Session 3 - You
Session 4 - Old Friends

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gramsci: The Idea of L'Ordine Nuovo

"The workers loved L'Ordine Nuovo (this we can state with inner satisfaction) and why did they love it? Because they felt its articles were pervaded by that same spirit of inner searching that they experienced: "How can we become free? How can we become ourselves?" Because its articles were not cold, intellectual structures, but sprang from our discussions with the best workers: they elaborated the actual sentiments, goals and passions of the Turin working class, that we ourselves had provoked and tested. Because its articles were virtually a "taking note" of actual events, seen as moments of a process of inner liberation and self-expression on the part of the working class. This is why the workers loved L'Ordine Nuovo and how its idea came to be 'formed'."
Antonio Gramsci, August 1920, Selections from Political Writings (1910 - 1920), Lawrence and Wishart, London 1977

Scientific knowledge and communism

Whilst reading Lawrence Lessig's great book The Future of Ideas - The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, I came across this little gem in the footnotes:

"Communism" in the nontechnical and extended sense of common ownership of goods, is a second integral element of the scientific ethos. The substantive findings of science are a product of social collaboration and are assigned to the community. They constitute a common heritage in which the equity of the individual producer is severely limited. An eponymous law or theory does not enter into the exclusive possession of the discoverer and his heirs, nor do the mores bestow upon them special rights of use and disposition. Property rights in science are whittled down to a bare minimum by the rationale of the scientific ethic. Scientists' claims to "their" intellectual "property" are limited to those of recognition and esteem which, if the institution functions with a modicum of efficiency, are roughly commensurate with the significance of the increments brought to the common fund of knowledge. Eponymy - for example, the Copernican system, Boyle's law - is thus at once a mnemonic and a commemorative device.
Robert K. Merton
On Social Structure and Science


The issue of copyright is something that comes up again and again - today for instance in The Observer's article on Google's plan for a digital library.
I think socialists should oppose the commodification of knowledge and culture as an obstacle to progress and creativity.
"At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters."
Karl Marx, Preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Isn't the growing extension of copyright law a case of "the forms of development of the productive forces turning into fetters"?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A short history of Organising resistance using New Tools

As development of the recent post by Luna17 I list below an incomplete and overly short summary of some of the political upheavals where mobile phones and online means have been used to organise protest:

1999 - US - protests surrounding the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle.



"The first real breakthrough in using cell phones for advocacy came in organizing demonstrations, although the phones still served as glorified walkie-talkies. If even a handful of people involved in a demonstration had cell phones, information could be passed very efficiently from the leaders to the demonstrators, and vice versa.

One of the most widely reported examples of this use was the series of protests surrounding the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. The mostly young protesters were part of the country's most plugged-in demographic, and many of them had brought their cell phones to the protest with them. The phones were used to coordinate demonstrations, and because a critical threshold of participants had cell phones, demonstrators could react to changes in the protest plan with astonishing quickness. These protests also showed a more subversive side of using cell phones for organizing - their relative privacy. Police were not able to listen in on conversations between protest leaders and protesters on the streets, which meant protesters, were able to avoid police. Protesters were also able to speak to the press while in the thick of the protests, and if needed, call their lawyers.

This is not to say that cell phones were the answer to all logistical problems in demonstrations. The main problem with using cell phones solely as mobile telephones is a severe limit on the number of people that can communicate at once. Most of the time, one person has to call another person, who then calls a third person, not unlike the phone trees that organizers have been using seemingly since the beginning of time. Even the briefest exchange still takes a relatively long time, especially when compared to a brief email or instant message. This began to change with the increasing use of non-voice cellular phone tools, such as text messaging" Showcase Groups: Using Cell Phones in Advocacy
http://www.npaction.org/article/articleprint/607/-1/%7Bcategory_id%7D/


2001 - Philipines anti-Estrada protests



Over a million people gathered to protest against the corrupt government of Joseph Estrada in favor of the presidency of Gloria Arroyo, the current president. The instant communication and organization enabled by the use of SMS played an important role in the success of the demonstration. Some even joked that the peaceful revolution was a "coup de text," referring to the instrumental role that SMS played in the ouster of Estrada.
Mobile Phones in Mass Organizing: A Mobile - Active White Paper
by Corinne Ramey, edited by Katrin Verclas
http://mobileactive.org/mobiles-in-mass-organizing


2004 - Spain protests against Aznar on the eve of election, leading to defeat for government previously leading in the polls



"The Spanish general election of 2004 occurred in the wake of an unprecedented terrorist attack, but its outcome reflects the potential that mobile phones have to provide the user with independent information and bring about voter mobilisation.

The impression – whether true or not – that the government was withholding information about the attack outraged a small number of voters who, empowered with mobile phones, sent text messages (known as SMS), resulting in unprecedented flash demonstrations on election day eve. Traditional media outlets contributed further to a growing chorus of citizens who felt misled.

Those who tend not to vote, young voters and new voters, were galvanised to go to the polls, and they disproportionately favoured the opposition party.

While it is too early to determine the political effects of mobile phone diffusion, the events in Spain suggest that mobile technology may come to play an important role in political participation and democracy.
"MOBILE DEMOCRACY: TEXT MESSAGES,
VOTER TURNOUT AND THE 2004
SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION,
Sandra L. Suárez
http://www.temple.edu/polsci/suarez/documents/MobileDemocracy2006.pdf


2004 - Orange revolution in Ukraine



The court-ordered election rematch in Ukraine featuring opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, probably would not have happened were it not for mobile phone technologies.

The technologies - text messaging services in particular - enabled hundreds of thousands of youthful demonstrators to coordinate their activities and take to the streets of Kiev to contest the November election results, experts told UPI's Wireless World.Wireless World: The 'Orange Revolution'
Dec 27, 2004
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/internet-04zzzzw.html


2006 - California protests against the proposed anti-immigration law, HR 4437, organised via MySpace



"In California's largest public school district, more than 100,000 students - one-quarter of the middle school and high school population - boycotted class on the May 1 "day without immigrants."...Many students got involved through MySpace.com, a social networking website that lets people link to friends and create profiles with photos and music. With 70 million members, most of whom are teenagers, it is one of the top ten most popular destinations on the Internet.

Students were already communicating about their lives through MySpace, so when immigration became a hot issue, why not that too? Sprinkled through the website's millions of pages, comments cropped up about the protests, the national boycott and how students felt about Congress trying to criminalize their parents' existence.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the pro-immigration rallies may be "the largest political gathering organized on [MySpace].
"MySpace, MyPolitics
Ari Melber
May 30, 2006
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060612/melber


2007 Xiamen, China


On May 31, 2007, authorities in Xiamen halted construction of a large petro-chemical plant, following a furious Internet, street, and text campaign. The story began on a few local blogs, spread wide on the Internet with sites like antipx.com, and street graffiti.

"A stand-off over a potentially dangerous chemical plant ended Friday in the center of Xiamen after thousands of protesters energized by widespread SMS text messages repeatedly charged police lines and the police backed down, letting the marchers through.

Even in China, where authorities spend huge amounts of time and effort to monitor and block Internet traffic, the Xiamen protest illustrates the explosive power of the online and texting community and the inability of authorities to choke it off.

By Friday afternoon, the Internet had exploded with photos, videos and live updates on such social websites as Twitter, Flickr, Tudou and countless blogs and forums. The revolution may not be televised, but it will most certainly be blogged." SMS Texts Energize a Chinese Protest
Asia Sentinel
Friday, 01 June 2007
http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=520&Itemid=31



2007 Pakistan


In Pakistan, an anti-Musharraf ringtone and thousands of mobile text messages were used to organize protests after the Pakistani prime minister dismissed the country's Chief Justice on May 9. Subsequent mass protests resulted in additinal stringent media restrictions. According to dnaindia.com,

"Musharraf has of late ratified stringent measures to curtail media freedom. He did not realise, however, that dissent would find an outlet in Pakistan’s growing cellphone subscriber base. A massive campaign against Musharraf has been launched recently by the general public on cellphones.

The ‘Go Musharraf Go’ ring tone is resounding in Pakistan these days, mostly on the phones of those using the services of Mobilink. A senior Mobilink official in Islamabad, who did not want to reveal his identity, said that the number of anti-Musharraf text messages being sent and received every day runs into millions. The ‘Go Musharraf’ tone — recorded from chants of real-life protests — has been embraced by lawyers and opposition activists. But the public is just as thrilled with the insurgent trill.

As for the dictator-dissing messages, a typical SMS asks: “Who will be saved if a boat carrying Musharraf and his Corps Commanders sinks?” The answer turns out to be ‘Pakistan’.
quoted in 'Speed of Wordwide SMS Campaigns Quickening, As Is Backlash'
http://mobileactive.org/speed-wordwide-sms-campaigns-quickening-backlash


2008 Kashmir protetsts



As the mainly Muslim Kashmir valley erupted into protests last month after a row over transfer of land in the region snowballed into a movement for freedom from India, armies of mobile-phone toting youngsters began trawling the city to record the events.

The images and recordings of those momentous events have been swapped between friends, or put up on popular video sharing sites.

One of those, YouTube, spits out nearly 250 results when a search is done for "Srinagar protest" and many of these clips have been put up by youngsters from the valley.

There are now mobile phone recordings being swapped around which have reached almost cult status.

A pro-freedom procession, security forces thrashing children playing in a city park, a friend or a neighbour shot down during a protest, a funeral procession.

In a way, the images and clips comprise an uneven chronicle of the troubled life and times in the valley by these "citizen journalists" of Kashmir.

"This is a new trend in Kashmir. There are a lot of young people moving around the city with such mobile phone recordings," says Amjad Mir of Sen TV, a local news and current affairs channel.
Kashmir's mobile phone chroniclers
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7618092.stm


2008 South Korea



Popular anger gradually built and then on 19 April, when Lee travelled to the US and made an agreement with Bush to allow imports of American beef, this anger exploded. This agreement drastically eased the regulations dealing with the risk of beef infected with BSE. At first the protests against this agreement centred around internet communities. An online petition set up by a high school student attracted more than a million signatures in no time.

In the early stages of the candlelight protests the active participation of young people was particularly noticeable and this reflected their anger against Lee Myung-bak’s education privatisation plans. Middle and high school education in Korea is extremely oppressive and there is intense competition to do well in university entrance exams. However, the Lee government’s plans to destroy public eduction would clearly drive young people into even more oppressive conditions. One of the slogans that the young people brought to the demonstrations was “Let’s eat a little, let’s sleep a little”. It’s a slogan that shows clearly the sort of position they are in where they have to go to school before dawn and then study at cram schools until late in the evening.

This anger and sense of crisis exploded into the open in the candlelight demonstrations. On the first day the sight of 20,000 people filling the streets was a real shock. On that day everyone was surprised at the scale and the confidence of the demonstration: the internet-based group that had called the demo, the participants themselves and the police.
ISJ 120
http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=480&issue=120


2008 Egypt



"Today the most effective political Web site would be YouTube. With the pervasiveness of mobile phone cameras, it is rare to hear of a human rights violation, a political event or a major incident that isn't accompanied with a mobile phone video published on YouTube.

Videos documenting police brutality in the streets and leaked videos of torture inside police stations published on YouTube were at the core of a strong anti-torture campaign and were effectively used as evidence in court. For the first time in Egyptian history, a powerful, well-connected police officer was sentenced for torturing a poor citizen. There are currently various similar cases, all centered around leaked video evidence. We now know that these videos had already reached several journalists, but they didn't dare broadcast them.

Most recently, when the industrial town of Mahalla was under press embargo as Egyptian security forces stormed town in an attempt to break an industrial strike and a political protest by force, killing at least three citizens and injuring dozens (not to mention the arrests), I counted over 60 videos of street violence in Mahalla published on YouTube. While some of the footage made it onto al-Jazeera and the BBC, the video of angry protesters tearing down a huge poster of president Mubarak can only be seen on YouTube."In Egypt, YouTube Trumps Facebook
Posted by Alaa Abd El Fattah on May 29, 2008 12:52 PM
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/needtoknow/2008/05/in_egypt_youtube_trumps_facebo.html

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gramsci on Web 2.0

The term "spontaneity" can be variously defined, for the phenomenon to which it refers is many sided. Meanwhile it must be stressed that "pure" spontaneity does not exist in history: it would come to the same thing as "pure" mechanicity. In the "most spontaneous" movement it is simply the case that the elements of "conscious leadership" cannot be checked, have left no reliable document. It may be said that spontaneity is therefore characteristic of the "history of the subaltern classes", and indeed of their most marginal and peripheral elements; these have not achieved any consciousness of the class "for itself", and consequently it never occurs to them that their history might have some possible importance, that there might be some value in leaving documentary evidence of it.


Gramsci, "The Modern Prince" Spontaneity and Conscious Leadership (page 196 of selections from Prison Notebooks, Lawrence & Wishart)

For Gramsci the act of writing about struggle by the participants is central to the formation of class consciousness.

This has implications for the role of the revolutionary publication. It means that a publication is not just vital as a propagandist, agitator and organiser (as Lenin describes in What is to be done?) but actually plays a central role in the formation of the class "for itself".

By writing about their day to day struggles workers connect those struggles with a sense of history. What lies behind documenting your struggles is the understanding that in the future others will learn from them, that your struggle is part of an unbroken thread of resistance stretching back in history and reaching forward into the future.

Once workers think about their struggles in this manner they transcend the immediate demands around which the struggle is fought and connect it with the historical mission of the working class to reshape society in its own interests.

A strike over wages ceases simply to be about the immediate economic interests of the workers involved but instead becomes part of a bigger picture - and in doing so ceases to be an act of "spontaneity" but an act of conscious leadership.

The unavoidable consequence of this is the next step - the joining together of those that see the struggle in this conscious manner in an organisation that seeks to shape this struggle via collective leadership - a party. This is the way that the publication acts as a scaffolding around which an revolutionary party is created.

The implications for the revolutionary publication and the network of agents that create it is that their role is to encourage and develop this process of documentation of struggle and by doing so they directly assist in the formation of class consciousness.

The centrality of creating an organ that is not just read by workers but written by them lies in this fact. Any organ that does not develop a network of workers who write about, film or photograph their own struggles as a central part of the project will not succeed as a revolutionary publication.

Therefore the possibilities offered by the new technologies of the web, the ease with which non specialists can publish online affords new possiblities for revolutionaries to develop class consciousness and consequently presents us with the challenge of developing new models that radically break with those of the present. In doing so the online publication will radically reshape the paper publication and the organisation that creates it.

"As it is, the paper is divided among various writers, each of whom is very good, but collectively they do not permit workers to penetrate to the pages of the Appeal. Each of them speaks for the workers (and speaks very well) but nobody will hear the workers. In spite of its literary brilliance, to a certain degree the paper becomes a victim of journalistic routine. You do not hear at all how the workers live, fight, clash with the police or drink whiskey. It is very dangerous for the paper as a revolutionary instrument of the party. The task is not to make a paper through the joint forces of a skilled editorial board but to encourage the workers to speak for themselves. A radical and courageous change is necessary as a condition of success ...

Trotsky, quoted in Tony Cliff - The use of Socialist Worker as an organiser (April 1974)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Afghanistan - the Iraq Syndrome

A shortage of helicopters has been blamed for the deaths of UK troops in Afghanistan. But the real problem is not lack of equipment but lack of support for the war amongst both Afghans and the British public.

Despite their huge number of Chinook helicopters the United States too is suffering an increased casualty rate - about three a day in July. This is approaching some of the highest levels of the Iraq war.

The Taliban have the capacity to shoot down helicopters - six Ukrainian civilians and a 6-year-old Afghan were killed when an Mi-6 transport helicopter was shot down on Tuesday.

The call for more helicopters also ignores the fact the the two greatest single losses of UK forces lives in Iraq and Afghanistan were in aircraft - the Hercules crash in Iraq in 2005 and the Nimrod crash in Afghanistan in 2006.

Fundamentally occupation requires "boots on the ground". As Gen. Richard Dannatt said recently:

"I have said before, we can have effect where we have boots on the ground. I don't mind whether the feet in those boots are British, American or Afghan. But we need more, to have the persistent effect to give the people confidence in us...That is the top line and the bottom line."

Unavoidably more "boots on the ground" means more casualties amongst occupying troops.

The alternative - greater use of air power - means more civilian casualties, more civilian casualties translates into more support for the Afghan resistance which in turn leads to more casualties for occupying troops.

There is however a great deal of genuine discontent in the armed forces over equipment.

A National Audit Office report into Recruitment and Retention in the Armed forces published in November 2006 showed that almost 50% of key personnel leaving the services cited the "Quality of equipment" as a reason for leaving.

Over the last five years there have been a number of high profile cases where poor equipment and training have led to the deaths of British armed forces personnel. An article in the Independent on Sunday in November 2007 revealed that of 254 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan 88 were due to equipment failure or neglect. But spending an extra £4 billion on helicopters and other equipment will not solve the underlying problem for the British Military.

The major problem faced by the British armed forces in Afghanistan is political in origin.

Political opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to a critical and growing shortage of highly skilled specialist personnel.

The war machine needs highly skilled workers to keep it going. They provide the underlying technical basis to the military advantage over the Taliban. A shortage of skilled staff undermines this advantage and levels the field. This erosion of military superiority leads to increased casualty levels.

According to the House of Commons Defence Committee Fourteenth Report:

"Each Service has a number of trades which are substantially undermanned. These trades are classed as pinchpoints and represent serious manning shortfalls in the Armed Forces. The MoD defines pinchpoints as trades or areas of expertise where there is not enough trained strength to perform operational tasks without encroaching on the time provided between deployments for recuperation, training and leave...

We are disappointed to note that between 2004 and 2008, the number of pinchpoint trades have increased across all Services. In the Army pinchpoint trades have increased by 15.4%, in the RAF by 63%, and in the Naval Service by 150% so that there are now 30 pinchpoint trades in the Army, 31 in the RAF and 25 in the Naval Service."

These pinchpoints are caused by a greater outflow of existing members compared to recruits. And because of the nature of the grades involved it is not simply enough to boost the numbers of young recruits. Skilled personnel need to be trained for much longer than combat forces and cannot be deployed until trained.

The result of insufficient personnel in key grades leads to these personnel being deployed more often and for longer - referred to in military jargon as "Exceeding their individual Harmony Guidelines"

"Harmony Guidelines are designed to ensure harmony between competing aspects of Service personnel's lives: operations, time recuperating after operations, personal and professional development, unit formation and time with families."

The National Audit Office report into Recruitment and Retention in the Armed forces indicates that over 40% of Vehicle Mechanics, over 35% Armourers and over 30% of Recovery Mechanics and Accident & Emergeny Nurses exceeded their individual harmony guidelines.

The same report studied the reasons personnel in key pinchpoint grades gave for leaving the service:

  • 70% said it was due to "Inability to plan life outside work"
  • 60% mentioned "Impact of Service life on family life"
  • Over 40% stated "Pressure from family"
  • 37% said "Too many deployments".

This is a vicious circle. As the numbers leaving due to exceeding their "Harmony Guidelines" grow this increases the pressure on those that remain to exceed their "Harmony Guidelines" and thus increases the likelihood that they too will leave.

Exceeding the Harmony Guidelines has another impact, highlighted by the House of Commons Defence Committee Fourteenth Report:

"the Harmony Guidelines have been well constructed because the evidence suggests that if you stay within them they [Service personnel] do not suffer; if you go beyond them there is a 20-50 per cent likelihood that they will suffer in terms of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]."

It is the determination of the British Government and its military to fight unpopular and unwinnable wars that is responsible for the growing losses in Afghanistan.

It means that the burden of stress suffered by soldiers and their families will increase. It will mean more deaths, more serious injuries, more serious mental health problems, suicides, violence against women and family breakdowns.

The campaign for more equipment currently being waged in the media by the British military is an attempt to divert political opposition to the human cost of war into greater expenditure on war.

It is an attempt to use the widespread sympathy for the plight of the troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan to build support for a policy that requires they continue to fight and die in Afghanistan for many years to come.

The same purpose lies behind the growing number of military parades. There is widespread public anger at the poor treatment of troops and their families and the lack of recognition of the sacrifices that they are making. But the Government and the Military see the parades as a way of building support for the war. They are using recognition of sacrifice as a means to ensure those sacrifices continue to be made.

This will mean greater polarisation within society as those who make war from the safety of Whitehall try to shift the blame for the mounting losses onto those that oppose the war.

It means more direct political intervention by the military into the political and social life of Britain because there can be no continuation of the Afghan war without a massive effort by its supporters to change the current political context to one that favours increased retention and recruitment.

The task of the anti-war movement is to make sure that they fail.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

SOAS Students Occupy Director' Office in Protest at Racist Deportations of Cleaning staff - 15 June

Raw video from the office of SOAS director as students argue with him to use his influence to secure the release of cleaning staff kidnapped by immigration police on Friday morning.
Press Release:
PRESS RELEASE: SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of SOAS cleaners
University cleaners who won living wage detained after dawn raid

Students and allies at the University of London’s School of School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have occupied the university today to protest against managers’ attacks on migrant workers.

Nine cleaners from the university were taken into detention after a dawn raid by immigration police on Friday.

Five have already been deported, and the others could face deportation within days. One has had a suspected heart attack and was denied access to medical assistance and even water. One was over 6 months pregnant. Many have families who have no idea of their whereabouts.

The cleaners won the London Living Wage and trade union representation after a successful “Justice for Cleaners” campaign that united workers of all backgrounds and student activists.
Activists believe the raid is managers’ “revenge” for the campaign.

Immigration officers were called in by cleaning contractor ISS, even though it has employed many of the cleaners for years. Cleaning staff were told to attend an ‘emergency staff meeting’ at 6.30am on Friday (June 12).

This was used as a false pretext to lure the cleaners into a closed space from which the immigration officers were hiding to arrest them.

More than 40 officers were dressed in full riot gear and aggressively undertook interrogations and then escorted them to the detention centre. Neither legal representation nor union support were present due to the secrecy surrounding the action. Many were unable to communicate let alone fully understand what was taking place due to the denial of interpreters.

SOAS management were complicit in the immigration raid by enabling the officers to hide in the meeting room beforehand and giving no warning to them.

The cleaners were interviewed one by one. They were allowed no legal or trade union representation, or even a translator (many are native Spanish speakers).

The cleaners are members of the Unison union at SOAS. They recently went out on strike (Thursday 28 May) to protest the sacking of cleaner and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez.

The occupation has issued a list of demands to SOAS management:

1. We call on the directorate to request the secretary of state to immediately release the detainees and to prevent the deportation of the three cleaners who are still in detention in the UK.
2. For the directorate to release a public statement condemning what has happened to the SOAS cleaners and calling for their immediate release and return.
3. To campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been deported.
4. To bring all contract staff in house. SOAS should not use contractors, ISS or others.
5. To keep immigration officers from entering campus under ANY circumstances or other forms of collaboration with immigration or police. Universities are for education not for state violence and oppression.
6. A year's wage as reparations for all detained and deported staff.
7. To hold accountable SOAS managers who were complicit in facilitating the raid and detention of the cleaners, refusing to aid a sick worker and a pregnant woman.
8. To reinstate Jose Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS UNISON branch chair.
9. To respect the right to organise in Trade Unions unimpeded.
10. To provide space and resources for a public meeting to build support for the SOAS 9 and other migrants, in education and beyond, affected by immigration control and racism.
11. Amnesty for all those involved.


One of the detained cleaners today stated, “We’re honest people not animals. We are just here to earn an honest living for our families. SOAS management are being unfair.”

Joanne, one of the occupying students said,
“Universities should be sanctuaries: places free of violence and aggression. SOAS’s reputation as a university has been tainted today due to the complicity of state brutality in the arrest of the cleaners.”

Graham Dyer, lecturer in Economics of Developing Countries and SOAS branch chair of lecturers’ union UCU, said:
“Our fight has united lecturers, staff and students and has rocked SOAS management. Those managers are now lashing out.

“It is a disgrace that SOAS management saw fit to use a seat of learning to intimidate migrant workers. This is their underhand revenge and we will do all we can to stop migrant workers paying the price.”

The campaign to stop the deportation is supported by Tony Benn, MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, film director Ken Loach, and many trade unionists and student activists.

John McDonnell MP said:
“As living wage campaigns are building in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break trade union organising.

“The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send you back home. It is absolutely shameful.”

Ken Loach said:

“This raid is the action of a bully. Migrant workers are amongst the most vulnerable – poorly paid and far from home.

“Recent action by Unison to secure better wages and conditions at SOAS was good news. Now we wonder if the SOAS cleaners are being targeted because they dared to organise as trade unionists.”

The current occupation is a reflection of broad outrage against these actions by all sectors of society. This raid is widely seen as a continuation of current trends to remove immigrant labour and to maintain impossibly low wages.

Cleaning contractor ISS used the same tactics against tube cleaners that went on strike with the result that key activists were deported. The use of immigration law is bering used for union busting.

contact: Clare Solomon on 07958 034 181
Email: freesoascleaners@googlemail.com
Blog: freesoascleaners.blogspot.com

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Safa 13 6 09

Settlers supported by IDF troops attack Palestinian farmers as they arrived with Israeli and International volunteers try to work on their fields.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday 1/5/2009 - Bilin Residents and Activists Gather to Mark May Day

"Protesters marched towards the wall calling for the end of the occupation and to stop construction of the Wall. Protesters placed flowers next to the martyrs memorial for Bassem Abu Rahmah and stood there for a minute of silence out of respect for his spirit and those of other martyrs. The Israeli army had gathered in big numbers behind cement blocks and used razor wire to prevent the crowd from going through the gate. The army fired tear gas canisters to disturb the crowd, causing dozens to suffer gas inhalation and four were shot with rubber coated steel bullets "
http://www.youtube.com/user/yisraelpnm

Monday, April 13, 2009

Occupations show how to fight

Step up the solidarity with visteon workers

Workers at the Ford Visteon car parts plants in Enfield, Basildon and Belfast are at a crucial stage in their fight for jobs and justice. They need your help.

The Belfast plant has been in occupation for over two weeks and is still sitting-in. The Enfield occupation, which lasted nine days, ended last week on the recommendation of the union after action in the courts.

But a strong campaign continues there, as it does at Basildon.
The Belfast workers have burned the legal threats they were sent!

This is a crucial battle for jobs. By occupying their plants and mounting a major campaign, these workers have inspired many others.

The bosses have massacred hundreds of thousands of jobs while the government simply looked on—and the union leaders offered little resistance.
Now Visteon workers have shown how to hit back.

There could hardly be a more gross example of the way bosses are trying to make workers pay for the crisis.
Visteon workers used to work for Ford. Nine years ago they were transferred to another company, Visteon.
Documents given to staff at the time told them they would not lose out and would retain full Ford contracts.

Betrayal
All that has now been ripped up. Bosses simply informed some 600 workers at the end of March that the company was going into administration and there was no money to pay them for the days they had worked that week or offer redundancy pay, the chance of transfer, pensions, or consultation.

Around Britain trade unionists and local communities are mobilising support for the Visteon campaign. But the workers face formidable enemies.

Visteon bosses hope to get away without paying anything, and there are strong rumours that leading figures in the company hope to buy the machinery on the cheap and re-open under another name—but paying lower wages.

Ford has tried to wash its hands of its responsibilities.

And the Labour government has left in place anti-union laws which bosses used against this basic fight for justice.

Visteon workers need much more support

Collections and delegations
Every trade unionist and campaigner must send a message of support, take a collection, and ask the Visteon workers to visit their workplace.

Join pickets and protests
Visteon workers are picketing Ford dealers and showrooms to increase the pressure. Join them or organise your own in solidarity.

Black all Visteon products
Visteon products are being used today in parts of the car industry. Bosses deliberately stockpiled components to see off a strike or occupation. Workers, especially at Ford, should refuse to use Visteon materials.
Products from Visteon Enfield are used on the Transit at Southampton and at other Ford plants. They are also used on the Freelander Land Rover (L395) on Halewood. The Belfast Visteon plant makes parts for the Ford Fiesta.
Unite should make clear that it will back workers who take action to support Visteon.

Hold workplace meetings
Unite should encourage car workers and former Visteon workers at plants such as IAC on Merseyside and Linamar in Swansea to hold meetings for Visteon workers—in works time! If talks this week don't produce an acceptable deal, there should be delegations from Visteon to stop production at Ford.

Demand the government intervenes
If there are hundreds of billions for the banks, why can't the government save these jobs—and take the plants into public ownership if Visteon won't guarantee work.

Unite must give full support
It was wrong to recommend that the Enfield occupation ended. Unite must step-up the support and encourage solidarity everywhere. Rank and file workers must increase the pressure on the officials and organise solidarity themselves.

Stop the Genocide in Sril Lanka - London April 11 2009

Stop the War supported the protest calling for an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
Over 200,000 people marched against the killing of civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces and in support of the right of the Tamil people to self determination.
Report on Tamilnet:
"In a historic show of solidarity, more than 200,000 British Tamils, nearly two thirds of Tamils resident in Britain, marched through the streets of London Saturday demanding immediate ceasefire and recognition of Tamil Eelam. Sparked off by the initiative of second generation diaspora Tamil youth and students four days earlier, the Saturday's march became an unprecedented rallying point for the entire community, attracting the old students associations of the educational institutions of Eezham Tamils, functioning in London. The spirited participation of teens and mothers with babies in pushchairs significantly marked the level of community involvement in the agitation. "
http://tinyurl.com/dc6cwq

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ford Visteon Occupation Enfield ends - 24 Hour Picket begins April 9 2009

Camera: Mick Berry
Edit: Ady Cousins
---------------------------------------- --------------------
Statement from Enfield Ford Visteon workers

At a hearing at the High Court on Monday 6th April, the union Unite won the right for the Enfield occupation to continue without further legal duress until noon on Thursday 9th April so that negations with Visteon US could take place. (Two local trade union representatives had by then already been served with restraining orders threatening them with prison sentences.)

Kevin Nolan, the Enfield Unite convener, flew with Derek Simpson and Roger Maddison, to New York on Tuesday and held promising talks with the senior management, which will be resumed on Tuesday 13th somewhere in the UK.

After Kevin Nolan reported back, the workforce accepted Unites advice to cease the occupation by the legal deadline. The enthusiastic demonstration of several hundred people who had gathered to express support for their cause clapped, chanted and cheered the occupiers for the stand they had taken.


They are now picketing the factory to keep the pressure on Ford Visteon, and prevent them from removing equipment or products, and if necessary prevent Ford Visteon from re-opening the factory with a scab labour work force.

The 24-hour picket will be difficult without financial, physical and political support. Messages of support, financial contributions and physical presence are required urgently. Kevin Nolan can be contacted on 07956 375 410 or knolan21@msn.com.

Enfield and Haringey TUCs have called on a rally Saturday 11th April at the factory, Morson Road, EN3 4NQ.

A Ford Visteon workers support group is helping to coordinate support by sustaining the pickets and publicising the Ford Visteon workers struggle for justice. By agreement with the pickets, Haringey Solidarity Group will channel financial support to the pickets through their bank account. Cheques made out to 'Haringey Solidarity Group' or 'HSG' may be sent to HSG, PO Box 2474, London N8 0HW (write Ford Visteon on the back). Next support group meeting Thursday 16th, 7.30pm, Millennium Centre, 386 West Green Rd, N15 3QL. All welcome.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Visteon Occupation - A fight for justice - Interviews with Enfield workers April 4 2009

Join the Visteon Occupation Facebook Group:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=66187922020

Workers at Visteon car component plants in Enfield (North London) and Belfast are occupying their factories. The workers, some of whom have worked at the plants for 40 years, were told their jobs were finished and given 20 minutes to clear their lockers. But they are refusing to be bullied, and are standing up for their rights.
The majority of the workforce are ex-Ford workers, producing products for Ford, and on contracts that were supposed to mirror Ford contracts. That means Ford should step in to offer decent redundancy, workers say.
Every worker should get behind the Visteon workers fight for justice.

Send a message of support now from yourself and any official union body to bobenham1@msn.com (Bob is a steward in the Enfield occupation but can get email). Copy it to stevehart@unitetheunion.com Steve is the official dealing with this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop the War Coalition - Hezbollah MP Hussein El Haj Hassan London 3 March 2009

Stop the War Coalition Public Meeting
Solidarity with the struggle for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
London March 30 2009

Stop the War Coalition - Meet the Resistance - John Rees London 3 March 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ni'ilin 20 3 09 - Solidarity with Tristan and Palestine

"Several hundred people, Palestinians, internationals and Israelis activist gathered in Ni'lin, then marched, to protest the IDFs life threatening attack on Tristan Anderson of Oakland, CA, in that village in Palestine on Friday, March 13. and the continuing Israeli violence against Palestinians

Last Friday the IDF shot Tristan in the head with a high speed tear gas canister as he was standing in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank who were protesting the building of the apartheid wall through their town. This wall would cut them off from their farmland and make their home even more of a communal prison than it already is.

The violence and killing inflicted by the IDF has taken four lives recently in the town of Nilin, where Tristan took a direct hit in the head, necessitating the surgical removal of part of the frontal lobe of his brain.

A flyer handed out at todays rally by Friends of Tristan and Palestine people stated We are here to express out love and solidarity with Tristan and with the families of those killed in Nilin protesting the wall: Ahmed Nousa (10), Yousef Amira (17), Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), and Mohammed Khawaje (20).

We are here because we are angry at the Israel state for injuring our friend and because we know that families in Palestine are humiliated, injured and killed every day and it goes unreported. "

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Occupy Or Die

A first hand account of the occupation of Manchester Metropolitan University in solidarity with the people of Gaza. This short documentary follows MMU students Mark Harrison, Keir Williams-O'Gorman and many more as they storm the Geoffrey Manton Building and stay overnight in a lecture theatre in protest of the Israeli bombings of Palestine. It was filmed by MMU students Neirin Best Lianne Pierce and Andreina Castellanos.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

NA LINGUI YO from STAFF BENDA BILILI

Staff Benda Bilili are like nothing you have ever seen or heard before. A group of paraplegic street musicians who live in and around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, Congo, they make music of astonishing power and beauty. The band's mesmerising rumba-rooted grooves, overlaid with vibrant vocals, remind you at times of Cuban nonchalance, at other times of the Godfather of Soul himself. You can hear echoes of old-school rhythm and blues, then reggae, then no-holds barred funk. Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by young Roger Landu, (an ex-street kid the band took under their wing), who plays a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

The lyrics of the Staff Benda Bilili are wise, ironical advice to the people who live in the streets. In Lingala, "Benda Billi" means "look beyond appearances".

Entitled "Très Très Fort" ('Very Very Strong'... or 'Very Very Loud'), their first album was produced by Vincent Kenis (already responsible for introducing and producing Konono N°1, Kasaï Allstars and the Congotronics series). The songs were recorded out in the open, mainly in the zoological garden near centre ville. The album will be released in Feb/March 2009.

The physical version of the album contains video bonuses directed by Belle Kinoise aka Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret, who discovered the band while they were filming their "Jupiter's Dance" documentary in Kinshasa. Florent and Renaud have been documenting the story of the band since 2004, and are working on a feature-length film devoted to the life of Staff Benda Bilili, from the sidewalks of Kinshasa to their (upcoming) first concerts in Europe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Palestine: Students under Occupation feat interview with Mordechai Vanunu 2003

Made by Stewart and Patrick. Two students members of Stop the War Coalition visit occupied Palestine to interview and build links with students resisting the occupation. Featuring interviews with Mordechai Vanunu and Arun Gandhi

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Strike at Fiat Melfi 2004 - English Subtitles

"Every industrial and commercial center in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the "poor whites" to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this."

Marx to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt
In New York

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why British jobs for British workers is not the solution to the crisis


A statement from the SWP
Thousands of workers at around 20 construction sites and refineries across Britain have walked out on unofficial strike. At the centre of the strikes is the claim that foreign workers are taking the jobs of British workers.
Economic crisis is threatening the jobs and living standards of every worker.
Just last week giant multinationals announced 76,000 job losses across the US, Britain and Europe. The world is in the deepest crisis since the 1930s with spreading mass unemployment, pay cuts and poverty.
This government, which has so utterly failed working people, showers billions on the bankers to shore up the profit system. But workers are ordered to the dole queue. As a steel worker at Corus said last week, “If you’ve got a bowler hat you get billions, if you’re in a hard hat you get turned away.”
We need a fightback, with strikes and protests, and the unions have been scandalously slow to offer any sort of resistance to the jobs massacre.
But these strikes are based around the wrong slogans and target the wrong people.
It’s right to fight for jobs and against wage-cutting. It’s right to take on the poisonous system of sub-contracting that is used to make workers compete against each other.
It’s right to demand that everyone is paid the proper rate for the job and that there’s no undercutting of national agreements.
And we need militant action, including unofficial action, to win these demands.
But these strikes are not doing that – whatever some of those involved believe.

Resistance


The slogan accepted by many of the strikers is “British jobs for British workers”. That comes directly from Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party conference in 2007. And it has been encouraged by many in the higher levels of the Unite union. Derek Simpson and others at the top of Unite have done nothing to encourage resistance to job losses, or a fightback against repossessions or against the anti-union laws. Instead they go along with a campaign that can divide workers. But it lets the bosses off the hook and it threatens murderous division at a time when we need unity in action to fight back.
It’s not Italians or Poles or Portuguese workers who are to blame for the attacks on British workers’ conditions.
Construction workers have always been forced to move far from home for jobs, whether inside a country or between countries. How many British workers (or their fathers or brothers) have been forced to work abroad from Dubai to Dusseldorf?
When workers are divided it’s the bosses who gain. Total Oil, who manage the Immingham refinery, make £5 billion every three months! Jacobs, the main contractor which has then sub-contracted to an Italian firm, made £250 million in 2007.
These are the people workers should be hitting, not turning on one another.
Those who urge on these strikes are playing with fire. Once the argument is raised it can open the door to racism against individuals. Already in some supermarket warehouses the racists are calling for action against workers from abroad.
We all know what will happen if the idea spreads that it’s foreigners, or immigrants or black or Asian people who are to blame for the crisis. It will be a disaster for the whole working class, will encourage every racist and fascist and make it easier for the bosses to ram through pay and job cuts. Already the BNP are pumping out racist propaganda supporting the strikes.
Everyone should ask themselves why Tory papers like the Express and the Sun and Mail – which hate union power and urge on privatisation - are sympathetic to the strikes
Right wing ideas gain a hold among workers when they see their lives being torn apart and the unions offer no lead. No doubt some in Unite think it’s easier to get a fight around a slogan like “British jobs for British workers” which sets people apart than one that brings people together like “Workers should not pay for the bosses’ crisis”. That’s a doomed strategy.
Instead of turning against workers from abroad, everyone should be organising in a united way to pressure the union leaders to fight. And if the union leaders won’t fight then workers will have to organise the resistance themselves.
Let’s demand an end to the system where foreign workers are housed separately from the British workforce. Let’s bring workers from abroad into the unions and link arms against the bosses and their system.
Workers across Europe are under attack. Out unions should learn from the general strikes in Greece and France that we need mass, militant action directed at the bosses and the government to win.
• Fight all job cuts
• No deals that cut wages or accept lay-offs
• Smash privatisation and sub-contracting
• Unity against the bosses, no to racism and the BNP.

Socialist Workers Party
PO Box 42184, London SW8 2WD
Phone: 020 7819 1170
enquiries@swp.org.uk

a militant network of collaborating agents

The role of an online organ should not be limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies.

An online organ is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.

In this last respect it may be likened to the scaffolding round a building under construction, which marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organised labour. The scaffolding is not required at all for the dwelling; it is made of cheaper material, is put up only temporarily, and is scrapped for firewood as soon as the shell of the structure is completed.

With the aid of an online organ, and through it, a permanent organisation will naturally take shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but in regular general work, and will train its members to follow political events carefully, appraise their significance and their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop effective means for the revolutionary party to influence those events.

The mere technical task of regularly supplying the online organ with material and of promoting regular distribution will necessitate a network of local agents of the united party, who will maintain constant contact with one another, know the general state of affairs, get accustomed to performing regularly their detailed functions in global work, and test their strength in the organisation of various revolutionary actions.

This network of agents will form the skeleton of precisely the kind of organisation we need – one that is sufficiently broad and many-sided to effect a strict and detailed division of labour; sufficiently well tempered to be able to conduct steadily its own work under any circumstances, at all “sudden turns,” and in face of all contingencies.

Lenin - "Where to begin?" combined with "What is to be Done" and rephrased, slightly

I like the word "agents", because it clearly and trenchantly indicates the common cause to which all the agents bend their thoughts and actions, and if I had to replace this word by another, the only word I might select would be the word “collaborator”, if it did not suggest a certain bookishness and vagueness. The thing we need is a militant organisation composed of a network of collaborating agents.

Lenin, footnote to "What is to be Done?" rephrased, slightly.


Cut down of "Bus workers strike" by Reel News



"It is important that workers should speak, not only about strikes in their place of work but about their children and their education, about everything that is relevant to their life. To a large extent the online organ must become a workers’ diary. Many workers find it difficult to write. When they speak quite often they are incomparably better than when they write because their concreteness, their colourfulness, their individuality comes through – and after all, for Marxism it is always central that the truth is always concrete. When workers write quite often they adapt their style to what they think the style should be and therefore it becomes dull and jargonised. Therefore the use of a video camera or mobile phone to record their words and then editing the story while keeping the flavour intact is very, very important and should be used."

Tony Cliff slightly rephrased
Original video by Reel News

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tony Cliff on the publication as organiser

"As it is, the paper is divided among various writers, each of whom is very good, but collectively they do not permit workers to penetrate to the pages of the Appeal. Each of them speaks for the workers (and speaks very well) but nobody will hear the workers. In spite of its literary brilliance, to a certain degree the paper becomes a victim of journalistic routine. You do not hear at all how the workers live, fight, clash with the police or drink whiskey. It is very dangerous for the paper as a revolutionary instrument of the party. The task is not to make a paper through the joint forces of a skilled editorial board but to encourage the workers to speak for themselves. A radical and courageous change is necessary as a condition of success ...
Trotsky, quoted in Tony Cliff - The use of Socialist Worker as an organiser (April 1974)


"The question of workers’ writing for the paper raises the question of the identification of workers with the paper. In bourgeois journalism the hierarchical concept in which a small bunch of the people from the centre supply the consumption needs of the millions is the prevailing one. For a workers’ paper the question of the involvement of the “consumer” is central. The abolition of the abyss between producer and consumer is central.



"It is important that workers should write, not only about strikes in their place of work but about their children and their education, about everything that is relevant to their life. To a large extent the paper must become a workers’ diary. Now of course workers find it difficult to write. When they speak quite often they are incomparably better than when they write because their concreteness, their colourfulness, their individuality comes through – and after all, for Marxism it is always central that the truth is always concrete. When workers write quite often they adapt their style to what they think the style should be and therefore it becomes dull and jargonised. Therefore the use of a tape recorder and then editing the story while keeping the flavour intact is very, very important and should be used."

"Therefore a story written by a worker that perhaps will interest directly only a few tens of workers directly next to him at his place of work is of fantastic importance. This is the way the paper becomes rooted deeper in the class. "

"it will not be beyond our reach if we aim to, say, have 50 items a week written by workers in the paper. For them we need not only perhaps more effort put in by the editorial board of the paper and the organisers, but above all a clear decision that items written by or told by workers have to find a place in the paper in one way or another. (Of course even to this we must have exceptions.)"


Tony Cliff - The use of Socialist Worker as an organiser (April 1974)

Every new form of struggle

"Every new form of struggle, accompanied as it is by new dangers and new sacrifices, inevitably "disorganises" organisations which are unprepared for this new form of struggle. Our old propagandist circles were disorganised by recourse to methods of agitation. Our committees were subsequently disorganised by recourse to demonstrations. Every military action in any war to a certain extent disorganises the ranks of the fighters. But this does not mean that one must not fight. It means that one must learn to fight. That is all."


V. I. Lenin - Guerrilla Warfare, 1906

Naomi Klien | George Monbiot | Gary Younge | Why Global Protest? 2000

Tony Benn | Paul Foot | Tony Cliff | Lindsey German | The Future for The Left | Marxism 1997

John Pilger speaking at Marxism 1996 on the Hidden Power of the Media

Resistance 2.0 begins..

Thanks Ady for your help in setting up this blog, which we hope will provide a venue for socialists to share knowledge and tips about multimedia and Web2.0 activism...

Lindsey German | Protest For Gaza, Against BBC Charity Broadcast refusal | London 24 Jan 2009

John Rees | Protest For Gaza, Against BBC Charity Broadcast refusal | London 24 Jan 2009

Lenin rendered in ascii

Image of VI Lenin rendered using http://www.text-image.com

Protest For Gaza, Against BBC Charity Broadcast refusal | London 24 Jan 2009

Children and Women March for Gaza, Trafalgar Square to Downing Street January 17

Gaza protest | January 10 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Stop Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Gaza - Protest in London 28 December 2008

This video is one of the most successful I've ever produced - I've also discovered the value of YouTube's annotation facility, it allows me to use the video as a means of promoting protests and linking to latest videos. In this instance I linked to my video of street clashes on the 3 January protest, with an immediate increase in video views as a result.