Wednesday, 28 March 2018

London In Struggle-Report Back

London in Struggle
The London group of the Anarchist Communist Group held a discussion meeting on March 25th, focusing on three struggles going on at the moment: organising workers in west London, fighting against land ownership and inequality, and universal credit. For each struggle we considered: what are the issues and why is it an important struggle, what strategies and tactics have been adopted and what challenges exist in order for these struggles to be effective.
Organising in west London
The speaker from Angry Workers presented the work they are doing with the IWW in west London. They consciously chose an area of London where there is a high concentration of factories, in this case food processing, with hundreds of workers who are poorly paid, have difficult working conditions and little or no union organisation.
Their strategy consists of leafletting factories and helping to organise meetings with workers who are interested in fighting back. Some of them are also working in the factories. They do not necessarily promote the big actions such as strikes. These would be difficult to organise and could lead to victimisation. They think that power in the factory can be changed in more subtle ways, eg working to rule. They are not against working with any union structure that is there but their experience is that the union itself is ineffectual. In addition, they have set up neighbourhood solidarity networks to help people with issues such as unpaid wages. They have had some successes with this.
The speaker’s analysis of the challenges was very insightful. Their experience of organising shows the concrete obstacles faced when trying to build a revolutionary working class movement. For example, the divisions within a workplace, created and exploited by management, are a major problem in workers effectively organising. For example, in one of the factories there are people on ‘permanent’ contracts and agency staff. The ones on permanent contracts tend to be Asian women from the subcontinent who have been in the country, and in the job, for some time. The agency staff are mainly east Europeans. They even have to wear different coloured hairnets! There are also conflicts over religion. Another problem is that people often put forward their own individual issue so it is difficult to gain unity around collective issues. Even though they have had some successes in getting people to meetings and saying they want to do something, it is another thing to sustain this, often when there are communication problems and immense pressure on workers not to get involved.
A discussion followed with one person raising the successes of unions like the United Voices of the World. However, the speaker pointed out that in those cases the workers had already decided to take action and came to the UVW for support. It is much harder to start from scratch. Nothing can happen until the workers themselves decide that they are willing to take risks. All anyone ‘outside’ can do is offer ideas and support.
There is no doubt that this organising project faces big obstacles. However, if we are ever going to build a working class revolutionary movement, this focus on the factories and surrounding neighbourhoods is essential. It will not give quick results, but it will be the foundation that will make it possible to transform, rather than just tinker with, the current system.
Land
A member of the ACG, who is involved in the Land Justice Network, presented the main issues around land, how the fact that we do not have control of what happens to land, including so-called publically-owned land, is at the heart of struggles around housing, food, social and community space and the environment.
The positive features of building a campaign around land are that it is an issue which in theory could unite as all in a movement to abolish private property, the basis of capitalism. However, the problem is that most people are heavily involved in more specific campaigns, eg housing, food, saving a community space, anti-fracking and have little time to devote to another campaign. This is understandable because it is the practical, concrete struggles that are fundamental to building a movement. The only hope is getting many more people to get involved in campaigns so that we have the resources to do all the things we need to do. But how to do this? A question for us all to think about.
Universal Credit
The speaker presented the serious problems caused by the introduction of universal credit and suggested that it could potentially be the next poll tax. However, currently there is a lack of a big campaign, apart from notably exceptions such as the Disabled People’s Against Cuts https://dpac.uk.net/. We discussed why this was the case. One person suggested that this issue does not affect enough people, unlike the poll tax. Also, universal credit affects the most vulnerable who may not be in a position to organise a campaign. For this we are reliant on solidarity networks who have the resources to bring a range of people together. But even these groups, such as the Haringey Solidarity Group (https://en-gb.facebook.com/haringey.solidaritygroup/) have problems getting enough people involved to be as effective as they would like.
Conclusion
All these struggles are very important, both in terms of supporting people in the here and now and for building a revolutionary working class movement.
There are many challenges to being effective. We need to be honest about these and work together to learn from our experiences and devise more effective strategies.
Many more people need to get involved in these practical struggles and in making links between them
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST UNIVERSAL CREDIT ON APRIL 18th
Organised by DPAC.
London action. Meet 11am outside visitors' entrance to House of Commons. Local actions as well including in Sheffield.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Jackdaw On The Street

London ACG carried out a successful distro of the new ACG paper The Jackdaw last week in central London. More distros to follow. Make anarchist communism a street presence!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Jackdaw, first issue of ACG paper out now!

Issue 1 of Jackdaw, the free bulletin of the Anarchist Communist Group out now!
Jackdaw is the paper of the Anarchist Communist Group and is intended as a first point of contact to be handed out on the streets, in workplaces, left in social centres, community centres and shops or to be passed on to people new to anarchist communism. It aims to be mainly, agitational in tone, but with occasional longer, more in-depth articles.
Why Jackdaw? Looking for a name that was not the usual, we settled upon Jackdaw because of the characteristics often associated with this bird, characteristics which are an important part of a revolutionary anarchist movement for a new society: resilience and a fighting spirit, as well as being social and co-operative. ‘Jack’ means ‘rogue’ and ‘daw’ means ‘call.’ We are rogues in the current society and our paper aims to call for a working class revolution and the creation of an anarchist communist society.
For a PDF version of the first issue, click on the link below.
Jackdaw Issue 1 PDF:
ANARCHISTCOMMUNISM.ORG

Saturday, 10 March 2018

If we stop the world stops



Millions of women around the world participated in events for International Women’s Day (IWD) on March the 8th. The most militant action was in the growth of the ‘Women’s Strike’, with 5.3 million people on strike in Spain. In Britain, the interest in the tactics of the strike on IWD is relatively new, yet still 7,000 women pledged to strike. In addition, links were made to grass roots unions such as the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIUW) with support for their pickets for a Living Wage. Sex workers also co-ordinated their own actions for decriminalisation and trans women held an action over the problems of access to NHS services.

The organisers in Britain made it clear that the strike should focus on demands for working class women, including those who often face the most exploitation and discrimination, like migrants, sex workers, trans women. It is not just a strike about traditional work but also about ‘invisible labour’, such as care, domestic and emotional labour, and against male violence. The historical origins of the day make it clear that the purpose is not to have more women politicians or company directors (see box). Instead it is focused on the majority of women who are at the bottom of the pile, both in the workplace and in the home. According to one organiser of the Women’s Strike in Britain: “We are instead taking action – action against our exploitation under capitalism, where the domestic and emotional work we do for little or no pay is made invisible, while austerity measures force us into a more and more vulnerable position. This is feminism for the 99%”.

It was in Spain, however, that the strike was the most successful. This was partially because of the support it got from the mainstream unions. However, it is clear that they were forced into support as a result of the massive upsurge from the grass roots organisations. According to one source (thefreeonline.wordpress.com): “An important feature of this strike is that it has been promoted and organised from the bottom up, and not the other way around. That is to say, the initiative of the strike has been born first in the streets, in the neighbourhoods and districts and has developed in open assemblies. It has not been a proposal of the unions, but of the feminist movement.” The mainstream unions only called for a 2 hour strike whereas unions such as the CGT and the anarchist CNT called for 24 hour stoppages.

Despite calls for the strike to be based on working class women, it is uncertain to what extent many women could actually participate, given that they are the ones in the most precarious position. In Spain, headlines were given to women in media and other professional jobs. In Britain, the strike was most successful in the universities, with 61 universities taking part.  However, the link to CAIWU and sex workers showed that there certainly was support outside the universities.

If women are to truly win all the demands put forward on the day then we must go beyond demands for equality in the system and call for both the end of capitalism and patriarchy. So how is this going to happen? The strike in Spain may have been very successful in terms of numbers on the streets but what will it achieve in terms of winning demands? Politicians and even bosses may pay lip service to the aims of IWD but they are unlikely to do anything about it. In the end, using the success of March the 8th, women and men must continue to organise at the grass roots level and build up a movement that lasts much longer than a day. The linking up of a number of groups on the 8th provides a good basis on which to move forward.


  
Origins of International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. This date commemorates March 8, 1909, when 129 employees of a cotton textile factory in New York were killed when their own owner set fire to the factory while all of them were inside making a protest demanding labour rights. In addition, the colour of feminism is violet because, it is said, the smoke that came from that fire was violet, like the fabrics that were there that day. At an International Congress of Socialist Women in 1910, Clara Zetkin proposed this date as the International Women’s Day in honour of the cotton workers.



Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Landlord's Game

News from the Land Justice Network:
THE LANDLORD'S GAME: Join us for a walking tour of London's land and housing crisis on Saturday 14th April 2018, 1pm-4pm. START 1pm Brown Hart Gardens on Duke St, nr Bond St Tube.
*Leaflet forthcoming*

London faces a housing crisis of epic proportions, with homelessness rife, house prices sky-high and many people unable to afford a home. 

At root, the housing crisis is a land crisis. London is home to millions of people – but the land on which it's built is effectively monopolised by a handful of wealthy estates. 

Join us for a tour of some of the most expensive locations on the Monopoly board: places that Dukes and Earls inherited as fields hundreds of years ago, but now - thanks to a lucky roll of the dice - is some of the hottest super-prime real estate on the planet.

It's time for change. The Land Justice Network has organised this tour to showcase some of the root causes of London’s land and housing crisis – and call for reform. 

Along our route, you’ll see Mayfair mansions left empty for nearly 15 years, discover properties owned in offshore tax havens, and find out the truth about who owns London – and what we can do about it.
https://www.facebook.com/events/154637835243225/

Week of Action For Land Justice

Land ownership in Britain is one of the most unequal in the world. Just 0.06% of the population own 50% of the rural land of England & Wales. It's time for change.

This is a call-out by the Land Justice Network (LJN) for a week of action on land rights, 14th-22nd April 2018. 

We invite groups and individuals to organise an event in your area during this week - it could be a public meeting, a protest, a banner drop, a mass trespass - your call. The important thing is to take action simultaneously and share photos & stories of what we all do. Join us and make the call for land justice echo around the country!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

London ACG Public Meeting on March 25th

London in Struggle
Current struggles in London with speakers on campaigns against Universal Credit, on Land Justice and on initiatives to organise workers in west London
1pm Sunday March 25th at May Day Rooms 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH. All welcome. Refreshments provided.
Nearest tube Blackfriars