Celebrating mayday and a year of Socialise Struggle

Happy international workers’ day to all.

One year ago, this blog was launched with a simple story of some of the frustrations in trying to get precarious workers to identify as precarious workers. Writing for this blog has helped me get through what has turned out to be a very an unhappy year. Working through my reactions to world events, or books I read, and helping to diffuse the messages of grassroots groups in struggle has helped me to get some level of perspective in the middle of all the terrible forces that are consolidating.

For the most part, the blog is built on articles, book reviews, statements and communiques, and end-of-month collections of the best things I’ve read. Unsurprisingly, the biggest themes I have been writing about is fascism and the far right. But looking back I’m a bit uplifted by some of the more positive content about groups resisting the onslaught (e.g. particularly the Revolution in Rojava, or digging up memories of the Occupy Movement, or even Immanuel Ness’s edited book on the rise of autonomist and syndicalist unions in today’s labour movement).

The blog has been building up a community of followers. The most read and most liked post was the book review of Teaching Rebellion, which I’m really happy about because learning from experiences of struggle is what this blog is supposed to be all about. So it’s nice to see people engaging with this.

Among the newer features or projects started is a compilation of banned words. That is, propaganda terms and phrases which are bandied around the establishment media and which have the function of making you unconsciously speak as though you endorse certain viewpoints which support the system, or believe certain lies. I hope to be adding to this. Another new feature is the read diverse books challenge. It is unfortunately the case that even anti-capitalist literature tends to be written by groups with layers of privilege. This challenge is a way of highlighting this and to try to improve on it. So I’m looking forward to reviewing diverse books and sharing some viewpoints which do not get heard enough.

Another change coming is that I’m scrapping the posts-of-month feature. The main reason is that a month is not a useful timeline, not for me, not for readers. At the same time, I like the idea of sharing posts that I have read and which I think deserve to be shared. It also adds to the sense of community. So it is time to face reality and start a dreaded twitter account. This will allow me to continue to share good articles that I come across but in a more timely manner. That said, I still have a life outside of the internet, so timely is still likely to be seen as slow. Anyway, this change to come soon. BUT, I am going to keep the images of the month feature. Collecting and sharing these has been really fun and it is amazing to think how powerful images produced in and through struggle can be.

And speaking of community, just a general invitation for readers to get involved in discussion and comment on posts here. No good revolution was ever made through one person talking, so disrupt the consensus. Also, if you like something you read, tell your friends about it. I don’t do promotion. Advertising is the tool of capitalism to create false demand, and these kinds of “I like your blog, I also have a blog where I talk about similar things” comments are not that much better. Instead, in a commons-based economy which is based on need, we all have a responsibility to help things get to where they are needed.

Finally, thanks to all readers, and I’m looking forward to the second year of Socialise Struggle, regardless of how depressing the real world gets in the year to come. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be writing about how we beat the fascists back. But until then, for the day that is in it,

ALL POWER TO THE COUNCILS

AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL

NO PASARAN

VICTORY TO THE MINERS

SOLIDARITY FOREVER.

No Pasaran for today

 

A few months ago, in the happy days before Trump stole the election or the Brexit referendum or the escalation of Erdogan’s repression following his gift from god, I went to a film. No Pasaran, directed by Daniel Burkholz. A documentary comprised of interviews with veterans from the International Brigades. It was very inspirational. For the most part, it was the events and motivations that led them to join the Brigades that were discussed. Again and again, different interviewees stressed that the Spanish Civil War was a fight against European Fascism in its entirety, and the war in Spain only represented the best place to confront it at the time. As one German Jew recounted how after fighting in Spain and then seeking refuge in France “we proposed to the French army that we could join their army and fight Nazi Germany. They agreed and suggested to us that we enlist and they would station us in North Africa to relieve Foreign Legion soldiers who would be deployed to the German front. So we got together and had a meeting to discuss this and we all agreed that No. Our fight was with Nazi Germany, not to defend the french empire” (warning: quote is a misquote).

nopasaran_poster__english
Image from roadside-dokumentarfilm

A few years ago, 2012 or so, I read The Age of Empire by Eric Hobsbawm. I was very taken with it at the time, in particular the idea that there was a sense of crisis that permeated every aspect of society: the generalised crisis in modernist certainties of progress caused by global recession of the capitalist system, which was only averted through the imperialist project in Africa, something that only temporarily displaced the internal systemic contradictions, but which in a short amount of time just led to renewed inter-national capitalist competition amongst the ‘great powers’, which in turn led to world war and the working classes embracing nationalist sentiment and standing against and slaughtering one another. What amazed me reading it in 2012 was how similar this pre-war period was to the austerity regime we were going through then. Now having seen No Pasaran I’m more inclined to say our period resembles the period prior to the second world war with the changes that have come in the last 5 years. The fascist right are having electoral success in Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Hungary, and the US. In other countries they are strong on the streets, they have infiltrated the police, or even the army, in places like Greece, Britain, and the US. And they are to be seen wearing new clothes in the form of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and in the likes of Putin and Erdogan in Russia and Turkey. And another similarity with today that was highlighted in the film (although I don’t think they meant to make this analogy) is that in the same way that those fleeing Franco’s Spain to France were put in camps, only to be handed over to the Nazis when France fell, we are doing the same thing today by containing and shipping those fleeing ISIL off to the likes of Erdogan’s Turkey under the EU’s scandalous deal. If you think back to how it was through Coup d’Etats that the Fascists came to power in Spain and Austria in the 1930s, all it would take today is for the military to make a move against Syriza’s government or possibly in Italy, and the ‘refugee camps’ with their razor wires would be a gift horse they wouldn’t look in the mouth. The same with the prison industrial complex which have played up anti-terror hysteria to escalate their practices of policing and imprisoning racial minorities. Although we don’t call them “concentration camps” now, de facto concentration camps is exactly what are being built.

What is clear is that an anti-Fascist movement that is Europe-wide and further towards the Arabian Peninsula is needed. And it is necessary to see all the distinct issues – the far right, austerity, ISIL, refugees, police killings, drone attacks – and to unite them as part of the one system: 21st Century Fascism. Above all, this is a struggle for humanity, and in the spirit of the first intercontinental against neoliberalism and for humanity, the struggle for humanity is the struggle of the left. Although the socialist revolution looks further away than at anytime since maybe the 1980s (with the exception of Rojava), the road to revolution will only be made through walking. As another Brigadista interviewed in No Pasaran described life in Franco’s POW camps: “every morning they would line up three people to be executed. Any last words? Long live socialism, long live anarchism, long live communism! And they were shot” (also a misquote). They died believing that by fighting the fascists they were making the revolution.

There is a lot of work for this anti-21st Century Fascist movement to do. Included within:

  1. Direct aid to refugees, particularly ‘new arrivals’.

  2. Fight the policy whereby refugees are shipped to Turkey

  3. The fight against ISIL is the fight of the Left. Eventhough it is dominated by hostile powers (US, Russia, Turkey), ISIL are the most extreme manifestation of right-wing nationalism, and as such it is our fight. Like the International Brigades went to Spain as the most strategic place to fight European fascism, today we need to unite with the Kurds in Rojava (because with the growing budiness between Erdogan, Putin, and Trump, I reckon the days of US support for Rojava are numbered – although I don’t yet know what to make of the strike on the Syrian military airbase).

  4. Stop the further success of the far right in Europe, whether in elections or on the streets.

  5. Practice community self-defense with targeted groups.

  6. Fight borders. Whether this is physical construction of barriers, intensification of policing the borders, or bio-political-economic control from a distance – where people are dissuaded from crossing or even approaching borders by their associated costs like the dangers of traveling through hazardous routes, extortion by smuggler cartels, the precarious existence of ‘irregular’ living on the other side. The ultimate aim should not just be freedom of movement and refuge for those arriving from unsafe places, but also legal, safe, and free (as in free speech and free beer) passage for all.

  7. Fight against the conditions that strengthen the right: the state of things where the costs of economic crisis are being lumped onto the working classes, or where domestic economies are boosted by fighting foreign wars.

  8. Be prepared to work with liberals where this is likely to lead to direct material improvements in security for targeted groups. But constantly remind the world that it was the liberal centre that empowered the rightist surge by sitting-out and eventually exhausting the left-led mobilisation in the earlier years of austerity.

  9. Work with groups that specifically push beyond the confines of the liberal response. This can include for instance Black Lives Matter, who’s very existance insists that the liberal doctrine is false. I.e. that All Lives Do Not Matter to the US state, regardless of how many times it is written in some laws that they do. Also groups who campaign on the basis of migration as reparation for colonialism, to push beyond the whole ‘migrants are not a threat to our way of life’. We are a threat – we are a threat to and we aim to take down the whole capitalism-colonialism-nationstate nexus.

Era of 21st century fascism is already here: Trump is a disaster but it didn’t start with him

What happened on the 8th of November was truly disastrous. I remember in 2000 when Bush won with this program to re-launch Star Wars (the satellite nuclear missile defense system from the Cold War – didn’t happen in the end) and to go back to Iraq (did happen), that this was terrible for the world. But now this is far worse.

Since the results announced that Clinton had won the vote but the fucked-up anti-democratic system was handing the most powerful state machinery in the world to a Fascist, hate crimes have predictably rocketed as bigots feel empowered by the moral authority that he has unleashed. And this is still 2 months before he actually takes power – lets see the kind of pain he is prepared to inflict on people then, both in the US and in the rest of the world.

This is all tragic, but it is important to remember that it did not start with him. He is part of a wider pattern where the extreme-right have taken whole or partial electoral power. Even when they only have partial power this has seen a buoyancy of hate crimes – e.g. Greece when Golden Dawn won 21 seats in the (first) 2012 election, or Netherlands when the liberal People’s Party and the Christian Democrats accepted the support of the PVV for their minority government in 2010. But when the power of the state has been handed to them they have used all its machinery of violence on whatever scapegoats within its territory (e.g. Hungary and the UK targeting of ‘immigrants’; Poland’s trend of increasingly controlling legislation of womens’ bodies and movements) or outside its territory (e.g. Turkey extension into Syria of its ongoing genocide against the Kurds; Iran’s and Russia’s support for Assad’s mass murder of a people risen to ensure their own people know what is coming to them if they assert any basic democratic rights).While all certainly unique to their own circumstances, they do share a pattern that was already there before Trump’s arrival. But it has now announced itself with a bang with this pig (because the power of the US state machinery makes it so much more dangerous and because of US-centric world media that means it unfortunately is the centre of the world and as they say, if its not happening in america then it isn’t happening) although with tight elections around the corner in Austria and France and who knows where else as the trend plays out, it is clearly not limited to one man’s victory.

Nor is it likely to be limited to a handful of sets of states. As mentioned, many have regional police-man ambitions, while the weird and erratic economic shifts they instigate are going to have repercussions in trading partner states. Which is important because while for better r worse neoliberalism has been seen since the 1970s as the only political-economic order possible, its hegemony has been in crisis since 2008 and despite all our efforts it now looks like it is the right who are set to claim this ground. As Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen wrote a few years ago

“whether neoliberalism is ending is perhaps not the main question we should now be asking. Such hegemonic projects have relatively short shelf-lives, induced by their declining ability to meet the interests of the key members of the alliances which underpin them. The real question is more one of how much damage neoliberalism will do in its prolonged death agonies; and, even more importantly, what (or more sociologically, who) will replace it and how”

There are a number of essential actions that need to be taken immediately: neighbourhood organising to protect victims (this does not have to mean vigilante-ism; sometimes it is as simple as racially privileged people accompanying racially targeted people just to lessen the sense of immunity that police or bigots might have), actions targeting specific policies or wars, pressures on elites in states that have yet to fall to the right to withdraw moral support from and condemn the actions of these bigots so that they are not permitted to pretend to be legitimate participants in democracies (aside: a few months ago I had a conversation with an elderly life-long lefty from France, who told me that worse that the socialist party’s move to the centre-right was that socialist or other left politicians now agree to sit on discussion panels with the Front Nationale, whereas 20 years ago all lefties would leave their seats and refuse to facilitate the masquerading of hate speech as democratic debate – this is the long process of how we have let the likes of Trump come to pass). But beyond this, there is a need for movement-building that seriously comes to terms with a possible post-neoliberal world order, although far from the one we have been trying to bring into being.

That is a huge task, and even starting to think in this way is huge (not to mention depressing) and clearly cannot be dealt with here. So I’m going to finish this post by casting blame. For better or for worse, neoliberalism is dying. Due to its own inherent contradictions but also because of capitalist elites who transformed their own growth and profitability set-backs into an unprecedented economic crisis, neoliberalism has had an image-problem as a legitimate order since 2008. But because of their allies managing policy making institutions who refused to let bad investment and greed get what they deserve – nothing – and instead sucking wealth from the rest of society, because they relentlessly imposed such policies against all resistance, and did everything to stop a left-wing democratic and humane discourse from building itself as an alternative to neoliberalism, because of this, the have let the monsters take over. Obama created Trump, Hollande fostered La Pen, and Gordon Brown made Theresa May. The blood of fascism’s coming victims will be on their hands.

200 Kurdish NGOs closed down by decree

Statement by by REPAK, the Kurdish Women’s Relation Office, followed by open letter from The Free Womens Congress, both written after Erdogan decree sees closure of 200 NGOs as part of the broader path of undoing democracy and establishing dictatorship. Both statement translated by Janet Biehl, translations originally appeared on Ecology or Catastrophe.

To the press and public,

Yesterday evening the Turkish ministry of interior decreed that 370 NGOs and associations  in Turkey will be closed down. 199 of them are accused of being affiliated to the PKK, 153 to the Gulen movement, 18 to the DHKP-C front, and only 8 to Islamic State.

A short time after the announcement, the first associations were raided. The doors of the affected associations are even now still being sealed. All this is happening under the mantle of the emergency state and so-called “struggle against putschists,” so the associations have no legal way to respond to these unlawful, arbitrary, and antidemocratic attacks. They are being committed by the Turkish AKP government, which aims to totally gag the democratic public and especially the Kurds as the main force for democracy and freedom.

One of the 199 Kurdish associations closed by decree today is the Free Woman’s Congress (KJA), the largest umbrella organization of the Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. Two weeks ago Ayla Akat Ata, its kja-imagespokeswoman, had been detained while she was protesting the detention of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city.

Other associations that have been closed to date are the Selis Women’s Association, the Kurdish Writers Union, the Mesopotamian Culture Centre, the Mesopotamian Lawyers Association, the Libertarian Lawyers Association, the Peace Association, the Association to Fight Poverty Sarmasik (which provides monthly help for 5,000 families), the Free Journalist Union, the Seyr-i Mesel Theater Company, the Solidarity Association for Families of Prisoners, the Rojava Association, which was coordinating help for Rojava, and the Politics Academy of the Kurdish Party of Democratic Regions (DBP).

The closing of more or less all Kurdish registered legal associations follows the detention and arrest of 10 HDP MPs (5 of them women), including their co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas. Sebahat Tuncel, co-chair of the DBP,  was also arrested. Within a single year 5,389 members of the DBP have been detained, and 2,574 of them remain in prison.

Within the last year the Turkish state has killed hundreds of Kurds, destroyed tens of thousands of houses, displaced millions of people, detained dozens of elected Kurdish mayors, replaced them with trustees, closed down all Kurdish and alternative media in Turkey—from TV stations to newspapers and journals—and arrested their political representatives. Now it is closing down the last remaining places where Kurds organize themselves.

Meanwhile the Turkish army is constantly bombing Kurdish cities in Rojava, killing dozens of civilians and self-defense forces.  Afrin Canton is currently under military siege by Turkish soldiers and elements of the so-called Free Syrian Army, who are preparing to create a second Kobane there. Furthermore last night news reached us that Turkish tanks are crossing the border into Iraqi Kurdistan to launch an unlawful offensive against PKK forces there.

The current Turkish government, with support of nationalist and ultranationalist parties and forces, is establishing a fascist dictatorship. What is happening today is not comparable to the military coup of 1980 or the ‘dirty war’ against the Kurds in the 1990s. The fascist regime under the leadership of Erdogan is repeating genocidal history, taking Nazi Germany as its example and reiterating exactly the same policy of Hitler after his seizure of power. This is reality that cannot be whitewashed.

We call on you to support the Kurdish people in their resistance against this fascist regime and show active solidarity. This regime is not only threatening the Kurds and democratic forces in Turkey, but following a very dangerous policy whose effects will not stop at the borders of the Turkish state.

Unite against fascism, for freedom and democracy!
Stop Turkish fascism! Join the resistance!

Kurdish Women’s Relation Office – REPAK
12 November 2016

Sulaymaniyah – South Kurdistan / KRG

The Free Women’s Congress mentioned above, KJA Diplomacy, issued this letter to friends:

Dear Women and Friends,

On November 12, 2016, at 8:30 am, Turkish state security forces surrounded the KJA (Kongreya Jinen Azad, Free Women’s Congress) center in Diyarbakir and at 11:00 am, based on a statutory decree article issued under the State of Emergency rule, Turkey’s Ministry of Interior suspended the KJA activities and sealed and shut down its building.

KJA has been raided four times by the Turkish police forces in the past six months. During the last raid, its member registration book and minute/decision book were seized.

These state assaults on us women will never discourage us! We have been waging the women’s freedom struggle for forty years now. With our democratic, ecological, and women-liberationist paradigm, we the women are strongly present in every sphere of life, in each house, in each village, in each town and city.

We know by heart that when the male-domination mentality brutally attacks the women’s struggle, it is because they are threatened by it. And you, male-dominated AKP mentality—you should indeed be afraid of us! We belong to the women’s struggle tradition of Sakine Cansız (massacred in Paris in 2013), which resisted the fascist military coup of September 12, 1980. You will never manage to confine us to our homes. You cannot suppress our struggle by shutting KJA down!

The seal on the KJA building is a dark seal of shame and disgrace imprinted by AKP and Erdoğan on the political history of Turkey.

As KJA, we will not step back. We are angrier and more organized than yesterday now. It is our promise to our people who have paid enormous prices and to all women that we will continue our resistance with escalating determination and steadfastness!

With solidarity!

Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!

Both documents lightly edited by Janet Biehl.