Interview with AFem 2014

Freedom News is delighted to bring to you an interview with one of the organisers of the Afem 2014 Conference. Held on October 19th, 2014 at Queen Mary University of London, there is still time to get involved for those interested!

 

How are you organising the conference- have you started from scratch or are you modelling its organisation on tried and tested methods such as the Anarchist Bookfair?

 

We are organising the conference in strands, with a goal of various sessions/workshops/meetings to be held within each strand. Strands include: International Anarchafeminism, Sexism within our movement, Workplace organisation, Control of our bodies, Anti-fascism, People of Colour, Sex work, and Gender. We’re still confirming meetings and speakers within these strands so if anyone has an idea for a discussion that they’d like to propose please get in touch! We are certainly building off of the bookfair, although also hoping to improve upon the model in some ways! We all feel strongly that a robust safer spaces policy is needed and are working on putting one together which we will be using during the conference. I think many of us have had unfortunately had bad experiences with misogynist manarchists at the bookfair and are looking forward to having our own conference where they are not welcome. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Green Anarchism: Towards the Abolition of Hierarchy

Freedom presents an essay by contributor Corin Bruce, intended as an  introduction to ‘green anarchism’ and the ways in which it can challenge hierarchies.

In the last few decades new forms of activism have begun to emerge that concerned not merely the fate of human society, but of the non-human world – including non-human animals and the environment – as well. In their most radical forms, these struggles culminated in what has been termed by some as ‘eco’ or ‘green’ anarchism. Green anarchism can be taken to consist in any political doctrine that takes some of the key components of anarchist thought – whatever these are deemed to be – and applies them towards critiquing the interaction of humans with the non-human world. This definition is a good start, but is perhaps like many definitions of anarchism unsatisfactorily vague. This essay will propose a more specific definition of green anarchism, which will later be explained as the political doctrine that strives for the abolition of hierarchy in general. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Who Cares? The Care UK strike, why it matters and what you can do about it.

A guest writer for Freedom takes a look at the current Care UK strike and asks the question: why is it important, and what can anarchists do to help?

Care UK workers in Doncaster, having already been on strike for 48 days, have just begun another three weeks’ worth of strike action, from 7am at Monday 25th August to Monday 15th September. A dispute of this length and intensity is almost unheard of in the context of present-day UK trade unionism, and so it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s going on, and what we can do to help

 

Services for people with learning disabilities in Doncaster, previously provided by the NHS, were flogged off to private provider Care UK earlier this year. As part of this process, care workers were told to accept a 35% pay cut, and new workers were brought in on £7 an hour. They responded by striking, demanding that the wages of the lowest-paid staff be brought up to a living wage of £7.65, and that more experienced staff should also be given a basic wage rise to keep them in line with NHS conditions. Care UK bosses have been unwilling to give ground, and so the workers have made a determined stand: they first voted to strike in February, and they’re still fighting on today after having lost nearly 50 days’ pay so far, in one of the longest-running strikes in the history of the healthcare sector. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Critical Reflections: Unity, Affinity, And Social Ruptures

There exists a discourse, and strategy, that has existed longer than the ‘left’. It has existed since the first revolutionary group decided to wage war against their masters. They wondered, “hmmm, what if we were all united against this single enemy? That would be more effective no?” Alas, false unity was born. Putting aside ideological or personal differences for the sake of similar ideological goals. Pretending like tensions between two schools of thought don’t exist, and burying those feelings deep down. Like a sad alcoholic who does the same thing over and over. False unity has been repeated so many times, and like the sad alcoholic, it pretends problems can be pushed down by those facing them. If you ignore it long enough, and numb it, it will disappear. False unity is strategic alcoholism, but unlike most strategies, there is never a scenario from which it can succeed.

It attempts to white-out tension lines between groups, ideologies, or schools of thought. It pretends like the ride doesn’t  matter, only the destination. Imagine taking a road trip with your whole family, in the same car. It would be horrible!  On the ride they would be nagging me, annoying me, and generally pushing my buttons. When, and if we ever reach the destination, I would feel like crap. I’m here, now what? That is what false unity does to us. When we take a ride with our enemies to achieve a singular goal we build up rage, and build it up and build it up, until finally we explode in a ridiculous and emotional fury. Once said destination is reached, it would be hell. Imagine working with every single Leninist to smash capitalism, just imagine that. It sounds like torture. Imagine all the rage you would build up, and all the hatred you would feel when they suddenly declare, “Nah homie, lets use the state!” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Kropotkin and the Prison System

At the time of writing (12th August 2014), Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has come to the conclusion that much of the country had come to months ago- that Tory policy on prisons is dehumanising, that being imprisoned makes you ‘uniquely vulnerable’, and that our current public discourse in regards to prisons is myth-laden and exasperatingly underdeveloped. Mr. Hardwick has a decent attitude toward the purpose of the prison system: ‘you’re sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment’, but he’s also hardly an anarchist. Nevertheless, I believe that any reform of the prison system ought to consider what Peter Kropotkin had to say on the matter, in his work ‘Prisons: Universities of Crime‘, originally read to the British Medical Association in 1913.

This article is not written with anything resembling the belief that Chris Grayling, the sadistic dullard afforded the title of Justice Secretary for now, would even consider what Kropotkin had to say about the prison system, or indeed that he would reform it in any way other than via a cloying privatization that merely pushes the problems outside of the democratic domain. This article is written is an affirmation that the anarchist position on prisons is the most humane, understanding and just. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Notes from the US: July

Louis Further rounds up the news from the US you may have missed in the month of July. 

Violence

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan, on whose imprisonment Freedom has reported recently, was freed from Rikers Island jail in New York City in July. A short time afterwards a report by the ‘New York Times’ exposed the extent of brutal attacks by prison officers there. New York city’s health department carried out a secret study and found that abuse was widespread and routine. Over an 11-month period in 2013, ‘serious injuries’ were inflicted by staff on as many as 129 prisoners. In 77% of cases, the prisoner had a mental illness. (Rikers now houses approximately the same number of mentally ill people as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York state combined.) Typical seems to be one instance when jailers intervened to stop a prisoner from hanging himself. But he was forced to lie face down on the floor and punched so hard that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery. Another prisoner was beaten so badly that he nearly died. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

From the Land of Proudhon

Thom Holterman brings us the first of a regular series of news and book reviews from the French anarchist movement. 

 

I.          Tarnac affair

On the 11th of Novermber 2008 ten young people were subjected to early morning raids in the French village of Tanac, garnering widespread media attention. They were investigated under suspicion of sabotaging French railway lines and the Minister of the Interior at the time deemed it necessary to inform the country of a, “anarcho-autonomous clandestine structure,” that was,” focussed on committing violent acts.”

 

Now, nearly six years later, the police and other anti-terror organisations have failed to turn up any hard proof. The case appears stone cold and unsurprisingly clear records of police manipulating and falsifying evidence have come to light. The unmasking of undercover British cop Mark Kennedy has thrown the case into even further doubt as he stayed with some Tarnac activists during the summer of 2008. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Anarchy and the Academy

Lund University, Sweden.

Anarchism and academia have always been curious bedfellows. On the one hand, they ought to be complimentary; anarchism is the belief that societies are best organised through the autonomy of those within them, and education is as important to self-mastery as the freedom necessarily entailed by the authenticity of such mastery. Yet academia itself is often tied to the augmentation, cultivation and justification for elite power: education was historically a tool used by the clergy and the aristocracy in order to rule over the serfdom, and then once again by elite actors in order to rationalise and legitimise their worldviews in the modern era. Scientists burned at the stake, theologians massacred for their appraisal of biblical ethics, and dissidents butchered for their politics: history is often a sketchbook written in blood. But what of contemporary societies, and what of the humanities in the context of the commodification of education? What is the role of the educator, the political theorist, the philosopher, in the emancipatory project of class struggle? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

From Tomorrow and Beyond: An Interview with The Oscillation

Credit: Elodie Cretin

Investigating the various bands at this year’s Camden Crawl I came across ”The Oscillation’ a band who have had various incarnations and at present consists of Tom Relleen, Valentina Magaletti and founder member Demian Castellanos.  After listening to a couple of tracks I visited their website which  comments, ‘The Oscillation’s third album “From Tomorrow” is an attempt to find some kind of new mental and spiritual zones, away from the psychological effects of the modern urban landscape, and the curious emptiness of the digital social world that we are forced to inhabit. The introversion of these bleak and unsettling conditions are reflected back as music with all the ambiguous emotions of hope, despair, aggression, indolence and narcoleptic bliss’ (4). Intrigued I contacted Demian who was kind enough to agree to an interview.

 

Q. Picasso wrote about art washing away the dust of everyday life from the soul (1). Is that something you would aim for with your music, that it would wake people up? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

World War One and 100 Years of Counter-Revolution

Otto Dix, Stormtroopers Advance Under Cover of Gas, 1924

One hundred years on from the start of the First World War, Mark Kosman reflects on the nature of war and the class struggle throughout the last century and asks the question: can governments keep up this destructive, murderous fraud? In 1871, Karl Marx wrote that governments use war as a fraud, a ‘humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes’. In 1914, that fraud was so effective that not only most workers but also most Marxists supported their respective nation’s rush to war. Ever since then, governments have used war to defer class struggle and prevent revolution, but this strategy cannot last forever.

The Great Unrest and the Great War In all the commemorations for the start of World War One it is unlikely that there will be many references to the huge strike wave that preceded the war. But this strike wave, known as the Great Unrest, created considerable insecurity among Britain’s elites. This was especially the case as these strikes coincided with other disturbing social movements such as the nationalist upsurge in Ireland and the increasingly violent campaign for women’s suffrage. By the summer of 1914, workers were mobilising for what the left reformist commentators, Sydney and Beatrice Webb, called ‘an almost revolutionary outburst of gigantic industrial disputes.’ The future Prime Minister, Lloyd George, warned that if these industrial disputes coincided with the looming civil war in Ireland then Britain would face ‘the gravest [situation] with which any government has had to deal for centuries.’ Another reformist author, H.G.Wells, claimed that Britain’s wage-earners had ‘definitely decided not to remain wage-earners for very much longer’ and he warned of ‘a series of increasingly destructive outbreaks … culminating in revolution.’ Wells may have overstated what he called the ‘drift towards revolution’. But even Basil Thomson, the head of Britain’s political police, the Special Branch, seems to have shared Wells’ fears when he predicted that ‘unless there was a European war to divert the current [of unrest] we were heading for something very like revolution.’ →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading