thoughts for a militant autumn…

Steve Ryan shares his ideas for another wave of struggle.

Many Communists would traditionally have ignored the TUC congress this week.

However this one may prove of more interest. Debates will be had about pensions and jobs against a background of escalating industrial unrest as PCS, FBU, Teaching unions etc move to ballot for coordinated action. McCluskey for UNITE calls for civil disobedience. The TUC is actually backing the march at the Tory and Lib Dem conferences – even Barber is talking.

we can do so much more ourselves

This is a real challenge to the libertarian-left.

This IS the biggest wave of strike action for decades, building on the March demo and June strike. Student activists are back and angry with the possibility of further action. The riots demonstrated that there is anger growing – albeit unfocused in many urban communities. Continue reading “thoughts for a militant autumn…”

Defeat in Victory for Libyan Rebels?

Barry Biddulph rejects the notion that Western intervention in Libya has shown the possibility of any new, ethical, or progressive content to imperialism.

The victory of the rebels in Tripoli was seen to be dependent on NATO bombing, western weaponry, special forces, and planning by strategists in Paris, London and Washington. From the start of imperialist intervention in Benghazi, NATO has been bending the rebellion towards imperialist aims to secure a transition to a new regime compatible with western interests. This loss of independence and undermining of the rebellion from below was the reason why communists opposed the intervention and the no-fly zone.

Gilbert Achcar, moralising from the University of London, has argued it was not decent to oppose NATO Intervention and the no fly zone. He condemned the anti-imperialist left for not caring for real people on the ground (‘Popular Rebellion and Imperialist Designs’). The Alliance for Workers Liberty has echoed this denunciation, describing those who opposed imperialist intervention in Libya as morally degenerate. But anti imperialists cannot oppose revolutionaries in the Arab Spring and revolutionaries in general for supporting revolts by unarmed people’s against professional armies in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. Revolutions are violent and even attempts at peaceful revolution, as in Chile in 1970-3 can result in mass killings and defeat. Marx opposed any insurrection in Paris in 1871, but when the commune was crushed , he did not claim the leaders of the Paris Commune were morally responsible for 25,000 deaths. Fighting counter-revolution was an inspiration for the socialist future. Continue reading “Defeat in Victory for Libyan Rebels?”

our second issue of the new commune is now out!

The second issue of our new look paper is now available. It features a selection of viewpoints from The Commune’s debate on the riots, an extensive assessment of the eurozone financial crisis, a look at the working class and the education system, and a lot else besides…

We’re feeling very proud about the success of our previous free edition of the paper, and hope this one will keep that going forward. We have given over a large section to a discussion of the riots, but the month has seen other major events in the economy and Libya and have given space to that as well. There is a full list of articles below.

You can download a pdf copy of the paper by clicking here, or the image above.  As always we ask that if you enjoy or disagree with any of our features then please write to us and we can feature your views in the next edition. If you would like copies to distribute then send us a message at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com, and we will send some copies in the post.

editorial

riot in the city – the editorial discusses the crisis in capitalism and our communities

no state bans – on self-defeating calls for a ban on EDL protests

struggles news in brief – an overview of different stuggles happening at present

news and local perspectives on the riots

liverpool: police on the offensive – James Roberts writes on the attacks on young people in Merseyside, and the community response to the riots.

peckham: the fury must not be forgotten – Sharon Borthwick reports on the riots in south-east London

ruling class justice system shows its true face – Taimour Lay explains the meaning of the post-riot show trials

riots analysis

Our website featured an extensive debate on the riots, and many more views than could be fit into the paper can be found there.

…or does it explode? – Joe Thorne introduces the debate

nothing to lose, nothing to win – David Broder explains what he sees as the political vacuum underlying the riots

when ‘normal’ behaviour is meaningless – Clifford Biddulph argues for an engagement with the chaotic and elemental nature of class struggle

economy

unhappy economies: greek debt, PIIGS and eurozone crisis – Oisin Mac Giollamoir explains the current european crisis and the relationship between debt and class struggle

giz a fightback – Terry Liddle reflects on his experience of the 1980s unemployed movement

education

200 day occupation delivers – Liam Turbett reports on Glasgow students’ victorious uni occupation

why is there class in the classroom? – Dave Spencer explores the reasons for working class under-achievement in the classroom

libya

any hope for libya? – Joe Thorne writes on NATO’s role in post-Gaddafi Libya

re-evaluating interventionism? – Joe Thorne asks whether ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya is really cause to re-think imperialism

Riots : when normal behaviour is meaningless.

Looking back at the Commune coverage of the riots.

Barry Biddulph suggests that we need to find a way to engage with the contradictory and elemental nature of  the recent riots.

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Riots. We should have seen them coming. After all, the combustible material has been stacking up for some time. The majority of rioters who appeared in court were under 24, and from poor neighbourhoods. Strikingly: 41/% of suspects live in one of the top 10% of the most deprived places. [1] We already knew that in Hackney there are 22 claimants for every job. In Haringey, where Tottenham is located, there are 29  claimants for every vacancy. [2]  Youth unemployment  currently stands  at 949,000. [3] Add to these grim figures, the volatile mix of police harassment, affordable housing shortage, cuts in benefits,  resentment at bankers and parliamentary politicians robbing the tax payers, and what do we have? Alienation, and disaffection. As Naomi Klein put it in the Guardian,” When you rob people of what little they have, in order to protect the interests of those who have more than anyone deserves, you should expect resistance.”[4]

Even so, many on the left did not expect this resistance. Furthermore, they did not  like the look of it. The Socialist Party was particularly disgusted. In their opinion, it was a tragedy for small shop keepers, and devastating for working class communities. As if capitalism in crisis wasn’t. The SP leadership was worried about the lack of police numbers. The view of Peter Manson of the CPGB was that the riot targeted working-class people. In a moment of self-doubt, he mused that at one level, it was a collective rebellion but on balance it was without political content with anti social gangs having a moment of power. [5] But the rioters’ most comprehensive critic was  the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. The riot would have no positive effect. Indeed, it would have reactionary consequences. It would strengthen law and order, stimulate racism as well as alienate organised labour. [6] Continue reading “Riots : when normal behaviour is meaningless.”

don’t moralise, don’t judge, don’t take pictures – it’s time for the riot to get some radical politics

Daniel Harvey gives a short personal reflection on the riots.

There exists in England an underclass that does not exist anywhere else in Europe. White, little educated, without any means of social evolution, they are a perfect example of the results of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and its dehumanising program. The English perversion is to make this population proud of their misery and their ignorance. The situation is hopeless. I’ve more hope for the youth of our banlieues.

Jean-Baptiste Clamence; Albert Camus’s ‘The Fall’, 1956.

Someone turned to me this morning and said he thought there was something strange about this country, in the way there has always been this underclass that most other countries in Europe have avoided. I replied about the trouble a few years ago in the banlieues of Paris, but his point was still a true one.  These countries put out this sickly image of sophistication, haute cuisine, high culture, civilised values, tea, and intellectualism, yet in both places the obscene underside erupts to reveal itself to everyone. Continue reading “don’t moralise, don’t judge, don’t take pictures – it’s time for the riot to get some radical politics”

why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?

Daniel Harvey gives a theoretical insight into the existential problem of relating to others as a revolutionary in a liberal society.

The old slogan of bourgeois entertainment, ‘But you must have seen this’, which just represented a swindle in the market place becomes a matter of deadly seriousness with the abolishment of amusements and the market alike. Formerly the supposed penalty was being unable to participate in what everyone else was talking about. Today, anyone who is unable to talk in the prescribed fashion, that is of effortlessly reproducing the formulas, conventions and judgments of mass culture as if they were his own is threatened in his very existence, suspected of being an idiot or an intellectual.

Adorno, ‘The Schema of Mass Culture’

What's missing?

One of the most misleading delusions we hold about ourselves is that there is some insoluble distinction between our public and our private selves. This illusion gives us the flattering idea that we are only forced to wear social masks, that underneath this persona that capitalist society forces us to adopt, there is some redeemable ‘real me’, who would be able to express themselves if only they were allowed to.  This distinction supposedly makes us unhappy and depressed, alienated even, and we feel it separates us from bonding with the people around us.  ‘Express yourself’ is now probably the most common advertising principle, and it’s a true testament to advertisers professional skill that they have made doing this seemingly very simple task so expensive. Some sad cases in the 60s took this and turned it into an entire new ‘self discovery’ industry.  The wealthy and bored go on long and expensive retreats to monasteries filled with Indian, so called, mystics, and then Louis Theroux made a documentary about it. Continue reading “why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?”