"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for December, 2011

New Years Honours List…And Not An Anti-Fascist Among Them!


While Cameron and Co hand out medals to the posh and corrupt lets recognize some folks who really are deserving of them but are instead fitted up and jailed in the fight against fascism.

Andy Baker, Thomas Blak, Sean Cregan, Phil De Sousa, Ravi Gill, Austen Jackson as well as all those jailed in the struggle against the far-right everywhere, we stand with you in solidarity.

70 years ago they’d have been called heroes, today they’re labelled criminals and extremists.


Domestic Extremism And MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements)


MAPPA Guidance Section 15.4 Domestic Extremism (p152 onwards)

‎”It is important to realise that extremist views are not, in themselves, indicators
that an offender is a Domestic Extremist but are warning signs that agencies
need to be alert to. Having identified extremist views, the OM should seek
further information and continue to –

‘Ask the unaskable and think the unthinkable’.”

And if in doubt, make shit up!


When Is A Political Prisoner Not A Political Prisoner?


………….When he or she is an Anarchist.

By Paul Stott from his blog I Intend To Escape…And Come Back Again

 

I guess at my age I should be too old to get annoyed by the Socialist Workers Party, or indeed by the wider socialist/marxist milieu in the UK, of which the SWP is representative. Every now and then however they still manage to press my buttons, in a way that it surprises me how much I can still rage at their idiocy and perversion of ideals.

The Socialist Worker website currently has an article and list of prisoners  it suggests we write to over Christmas. It is a mixed list of those jailed in the student revolt, alleged and actual miscarriage of justice cases, plus a couple of examples of very long term prisoners who have been in correspondence with left wing groups for many years.

Needless to say the five anti-fascists still in UK jails for attacking members of the fascist Blood and Honour organisation in 2009 , do not get a mention. I can think of no reason for this other than the fact they are Anarchists. They simply do not exist in Socialist Worker’s ethos.

One thing that does exist in that rose-tinted view of the world is a ‘war against Islam’. Curiously two of the men who were allegedly behind the most important British Jihadist website, Azzam.com are listed on the SWP’s support list. Azzam.com, named after the spiritual founder of Al-Qaeda, Abdullah Azzam,  played a key role in supporting the struggle to establish an Islamic theocracy in Chechnya, receiving praise  from the likes of Ibn ul Khattab .

This article sums up the level the last century left has slumped to. Five working class men in jail for fighting Nazis on the streets of London are not worthy of a mention, yet a veteran of the Bosnian Mujahideen, like Babar Ahmad, is .

I have never really believed the argument that concepts of a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ in British politics are no longer relevant. However, on this type of evidence, and more generally on issues surrounding race and religion (especially Islam) I really can’t see where the divide exists any more. That a division between the gullible and the realist exists, I am sure. How to articulate that it wider political terms, I am, at this stage, less sure about. Perhaps my PhD is a step towards doing that.

 

Paul Stott can also be followed on Twitter here https://twitter.com/#!/MrPaulStott


#ALARM Conference At Conway Hall Sat 7th Jan 2012


 

ALARM Conference
Saturday 7th January 2012 10am-5pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL

You are cordially invited to a one day London anarchist conference hosted by Alarm at Conway Hall on Saturday 7th January 10am-5pm. The past twelve months have seen the political situation of the UK and London develop rapidly. This is only the beginning of a turbulent economic and social situation. We hope that this conference can give us a space as anarchists to reflect back on as well as look forward to fighting the class war that is currently being waged. We are hosting this conference in a comradely and constructive fashion and invite all those from the many headed hydra of anarchism and libertarianism to come together under the banners of mutual aid and solidarity. 

The Format:
The conference will be made up of three main meetings.
Each meeting will be introduced by two key speakers for 20 minutes (10 mins each).
The topic will then be opened up for discussion and chaired by a facilitator.
The aim of  these constructive discussions is to highlight clear strategies and goals.

Running Order:
10am Meet & Greet / Tea’s & Coffee
Opening Speech 10:45am

(1) Community and Workplace Organising 11:00am
Discussing strengthening the two key fundamental bases of organising.
How can we build community groups in every borough?
How can we support militant work place struggles?

(2) The Riots and New Movements 01:00pm
Reflecting on key developments in 2011.
Why did the UK explode into four days of unprecedented rioting?
How has the emergence of new movements changed the political terrain?

(3) Total Policing and the Future 03:00pm
Looking forward to the future we aim to discuss clear strategies to pursue over 2012.
What is the state’s strategy in attempting to silence dissent?
What are to be the tactics for a future street based movement?

Closing Speech 04:45pm

Evening Entertainment:
Red & Black Club @ 8pm Larc (London Action Resource Centre) 62 Fieldgate Street Whitechapel E1 1ES

We look forward to seeing you on the 7th!

ALARM
All London Anarchist Revolutionary Movement
www.soundthealarm.org.uk
Facebook.com/Alarmists


SOME ARGUMENTS NEVER DIE by Kenan Malik


From Kenan Maliks blog Pandaemonium. Please also visit Kenan’s website here http://www.kenanmalik.com/

 

‘That Church can have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate which is constituted upon such a bottom that all those who enter into it do thereby ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince. For by this means the magistrate would give way to the settling of a foreign jurisdiction in his own country, and suffer his own people to be listed, as it were, for soldiers against his own government.’

Who wrote that about whom? Not Labour MP Paul Flynn about the new British ambassador to Israel. Nor US Evangelists about Muslims in America. No, it is a quote from John Locke’s 1689  A Letter Concerning Toleration and he is talking about Catholics.

Locke, of course, is generally seen as providing the philosophical foundations of liberalism and the Letter Concerning Toleration is a key text in the development of modern liberal ideas about freedom of expression and worship. Yet, it also reveals how difficult liberals often find it to be liberal.

There is in fact much to admire about A Letter Concerning Toleration. Written at a time when Europe was rent by tempestuous religious strife, and when intolerance and persecution were the norm, it is a powerful argument for religious freedom. Locke’s starting point is the insistence that the duty of every individual is to seek his own salvation. The means to do so are his religious beliefs and the ability openly to worship.  The power of human political authority cannot, therefore, rightfully extend over either sphere. The proper concern of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, health and property. The magistrate can use force and violence where this is necessary to preserve civil interests against attack. One’s religious concerns with salvation, however, are not within the domain of civil interests, and so lie outside of the legitimate concern of the magistrate or the civil government.

It is a brave and controversial argument, particularly so given the background of religious bigotry. In the wake of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the Catholic James II was overthrown by a union of English Parliamentarians and the Dutch Protestant William of Orange, British Catholics were denied the right to vote and sit in Parliament, or to possess army commissions, and no Catholic could  ascend to the throne, or even marry a monarch, a prohibition that still remains on the statute books. Against this background of naked bigotry, Locke’s was a refreshing  voice.

But Locke’s concept of liberty was also exceeding narrow. ‘Locke’s toleration’, as historian Jonathan Israel observes in Radical Enlightenment, ‘revolves primarily around freedom of worship and theological discussion, placing little emphasis on freedom of thought, speech and persuasion beyond what relates to freedom of conscience.’ It is also grudging ‘in according toleration to some groups and emphatic in denying toleration to others.’

‘No opinions contrary to human society, or to those moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of civil society’, Locke insisted, ‘are to be tolerated by the magistrate’.  Catholics ‘ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince’;  their opinions therefore run contrary to ‘the preservation of civil society’ and cannot be tolerated. Locke was even harsher about atheists. Those ‘who deny the being of a God’, Locke insisted, should ‘not at all to be tolerated’. ‘The taking away of God, though but even in thought’, he wrote, ‘dissolves all’.

Today, few charge Catholics with having ‘dual loyalty’, or suggest that the toleration of Catholicism would lead to ‘the settling of a foreign jurisdiction in his own country’. Many, however, continue to make exactly that charge about Jews, and, most especially, about Muslims.

The Florida Family Association, a US evangelical group, has been leading a campaign against All-American Muslim, a reality show that follows the lives of five Lebanese families in Dearborn, Michigan. ‘The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks’, the FFA suggests, ‘while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.’ Exactly the same was once said of Catholics. According to the FFA ‘One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated “I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.”’ No Muslim, it seems, can ever be a true American. That, too, was once said about Catholics.

The FFA has pressured advertisers to pull ads from All-American Muslim. It is not surprising that an evangelical group should indulge in such bigotry. What is shameful is that some corporations are willing to give in to such blackmail.

The context of seventeenth century anti-Catholic bigotry is very different from that of contemporary prejudice against Jews and Muslims. But the argument that certain people cannot be real citizens, and that they constitute an insidious threat to the nation, because of their faith or ethnicity, has barely changed. Some arguments never die.

At the time that Locke was writing, there was a very different argument about freedom from Baruch Spinoza. A Dutch Jew who had in 1656 been excommunicated from his local synagogue for his ‘evil opinions’, ‘abominable heresies’ and ‘monstrous deeds’, Spinoza was a leading figure in the Radical Enlightenment, and a champion of individual liberty and free expression.

The starting point for Spinoza was not, as it was for Locke, the salvation of one’s soul but the enhancement of freedom. ‘The less freedom of judgment is granted to men’, he argued in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus,  ‘the further are they removed from the most natural state and consequently the more repressive the regime’. All attempts to curb free expression not only curtails legitimate freedom but is futile. ‘No man… can give up his freedom to judge and think as he pleases, and everyone is by absolute natural right master of his own thoughts’, so ‘it follows that utter failure will attend any attempt in a state to force men to speak only as prescribed by the sovereign despite their different and opposing opinion.’  ’The right of the sovereign, both in the religious and secular spheres’, Spinoza concludes, ‘should be restricted to men’s actions, with everyone being allowed to think what he wishes and say what he thinks’. It is a view that seems startling even today.


Lucio-#Anarchist, Bank Robber, Forger But Above All Bricklayer


The story of Spanish anarchist bricklayer and bank robber Lucio Uturbia.

There are plenty of anarchists in the world. Many have committed robbery or smuggling for their cause. Fewer have discussed strategies with Che Guevara or saved the skin of Eldridge Cleaver, the leader of the Black Panthers.

There is only one who has done all that, and also brought to its knees the most powerful bank on the planet by forging travellers cheques, without missing a single day of work in his construction job. He is Lucio Urtubia, from a tiny village in Navarra in North of Spain. Lucio, 75, now lives in Paris, still raising anarchist hell. Lucio has been protagonist and witness to many of the historic events of the second half of the 20th century. His family was persecuted by Franco’s regime, he was on the streets of Paris for the phenomenon of May of ’68, he actively supported Castro’s revolution, he helped thousands of exiled people by providing false documents to them. But without a doubt, his greatest triumph came in the second half of the seventies. The press called him “the good bandit”, or the Basque Zorro. He managed to swindle 25 million dollars from the First National Bank (now Citibank), to later invest the money in causes he believed in. Miraculously, he spent no more than a few months in jail throughout his career. ENJOY!


INFAMOUS ANARCHIST CLUB NEEDS YOUR HELP


Bradford’s long running anarchist 1 in 12 Club in set for closure unless it can get the building up to fire standard regulations. They have just six weeks left in refurbishing the entire place and are calling upon the UK anarchist movement to roll up their sleeves and chip in. If you have time, money, skills and a bit of solidarity then Bradford is the place for you in the next few weeks.  Please spread the word around your networks.
1 in 12 Club
21-23 Albion St
Bradford
West Yorkshire BD1 2LY
Website: http://www.1in12.com/ 

From the 1 in 12:

URGENT: 1in12 just 6 weeks from closure – building & cash needed
Hi
That’s right! The deadline for all of the urgent work that needs doing to save the club from legal action by the fire brigade and the almost certain likelihood of closure is only 6 weeks away.

The last few weeks has seen a flurry of activity from a small handful of members in which we have cleared out huge quantities of abandoned tat, sealed the lift shafts, started to get the door frames up to fire regulation standards and done much of the boring paperwork that shows we are trying to get things right. Massive thanks are due to those members who have been working day and night to get this done.

Unfortunately, there is still much to do, and this may be too much for the few who have been mucking in to get done on their own. We desperately need help from as many members as we can so we can save the club from closure.

Wondering what you can do to help? There are several ways…

For those with time to spare:

  • Join the 1in12 maintenance list by going to https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/1in12maintenance
  • Be proactive – introduce yourself and what skills you can offer
  • arrange a time on the list for the club to be open and come on down. Ideally, get together with a group of others by arranging this on the list. Remember, this is a DIY club – there aren’t managers to tell you what needs doing and when, we need to work this out amongst ourselves.

There are a variety of jobs that need doing from skilled to unskilled. We particularly need some people with joinery or electricians skills, and those willing to play havoc with a mop and bucket to get the fire escape gleaming!

For those without time to spare but still want to help:
The costs that are being incurred at the moment with all of the materials that we need to buy is leaving us in a very precarious position financially. If anyone has anything they can donate to the cause, no matter how small, this would be vastly appreciated. We have just spent 3 grand bringing the fire alarm up to standard and the costs of replacing some of the fire doors and their frames is likely to be high.

  • Cheques can be made out to the 1in12 club and donations sent to The 1in12 Club, 21-23 Albion Street, Bradford, BD1 2LY

For everyone:
It would be a massive benefit to get everyone to make the time to come down and have a drink or two here at some point in the next few weeks. We are after all a social club and having everyone using the space together, socialising and using the space en masse does more for the unity of the club than any threat to the building or the membership can ever make happen. We started life without a building, and if we have to go back to that situation through closure by the fire brigade, then we will still be a group of like minded individuals, coming together through shared politics, a love for music and just a little bit of random chaos.

Liberty, Equality, Solidarity

The 1in12 Club
http://www.1in12.com/