An American vampire in London: reheating some very cold beef

In the beginning was the word, and the word was some people arguing on the internet.

In 2013, someone wrote an article which made the true and valid point that, when people say unkind things (on the internet or elsewhere, really), it can be a hurtful and upsetting experience, as well as making a number of other claims about class, representation, anarchism, parliament, strategy and so on, which I found a good deal less convincing. As the author of the article was feeling hurt and upset, he phrased his article in a way that a number of people – myself included – found to be unkind and hurtful, and so some of us – myself included – were provoked into responding in unkind ways ourselves.

In the years following the publication of that article, we lost the author to suicide.

In the years since then, the article’s reputation has only grown. People are still reading it, and sometimes people still read my original reply as well – not that many, but certainly more than are reading most things I wrote in 2013.

When we lost the article’s author to suicide, some people who hadn’t liked the article responded in very unsympathetic and cruel ways; some other people who had liked the article responded by rushing to associate themselves with the article’s legacy, and seizing the opportunity to remind everyone that the author disliked some of the same people they disliked, a move that seems not much less distasteful to me.

I don’t want to dwell too much on the contemporary uses to which the article is put, because I’m trying to write this piece without saying anything unkind, and many of the contemporary promoters of “the vampire myth” are people I can’t find much nice to say about; I’ll just note as one example that Nick Cohen, a media commentator utterly opposed to the kind of communist political project that the author promoted when he was alive, recently cited the article as if it somehow made an important insight that supported his own centrism, and that, more recently, the American academic Jodi Dean gave a memorial lecture that took the article as a central starting point, which (in combination with some related discussions) is what prompted me to go back and revisit the whole thing, and also inspired the title of this piece.*

It’s been a few weeks now since that lecture, but I’ve been quite stressed with work and not had anywhere near as much time as I’d like to read, think and write. I don’t think that’s wholly irrelevant to the points being discussed here.

So, five years later, I find myself returning to the vampire’s castle: hopefully, not in the spirit of a mindless cash-in sequel, and still less as a pointless exercise in beating up the dead, but as an engagement with ideas that people are still promoting as relevant and important today.

Working-class academics and vegetarian vampires

One of my central points of disagreement with the Vampire’s Castle essay is that it’s a piece about class and class consciousness which never defines what it means by class. As I see it, there are two main ways of defining class, and both have their merits, but I don’t think the argument made in Vampire’s Castle can fit with either.

To pose the big question: are academics, media commentators like journalists, and entertainers like Hollywood actors working-class?

In a sense, they can be: if we define the question in economic terms, and use the classic Marxist division of those who control capital and buy the labour of others, versus those who sell their own labour, then yes, these people are mostly workers rather than bosses. This isn’t just a theoretical point, it can be seen in terms of the actual class struggle: academics, journalists and entertainers have formed unions like UCU, NUJ and BECTU to defend their collective interests as workers, taken strike action and so on.

If we choose to define class in this way, then the argument made in Vampire’s Castle is wrong: the “vampires” who say unkind things on the internet are repeatedly portrayed as not part of the working class, as “the cloth-eared petit-bourgeois narcissistic ‘left’”, “the PoshLeft moralisers”, “the petit bourgeoisie which dominates the academy and the culture industry”, “petit-bourgeois to the core” and so on. If we’re defining class in economic terms, as a relationship to the means of production, then the petit bourgeoisie are those small capitalists who own independent business, and the vast majority of those who work in the academy and the culture industry are in fact proletarians – annoying proletarians, perhaps, ones with bad habits like saying unkind things, but proletarians all the same.

Of course, this is not the only possible way to understand class. We can also look at class in what I’d call more sociological terms, understanding it as a system with a range of different strata; when looked at in these terms, people like academics, media commentators and Hollywood stars obviously enjoy higher rates of pay and other privileges associated with a “professional” role, and so can be understood to be outside of the main body of the working class.

If we choose to define class in this way, then the argument made in Vampire’s Castle is wrong; if the “vampires” can be accurately described as petit-bourgeois on the grounds of having some relative privileges associated with their professional roles, then the whole argument about success and marginality doesn’t stand up. Memorably, Fisher objected to those who “told us that Brand couldn’t really be working class, because he was a millionaire… they seem to think that working class people should remain in poverty, obscurity and impotence lest they lose their ‘authenticity’.

But surely this is, in essence, the case that’s being made against the vampires themselves – after all, if they’re poshleft petit-bourgeois moralists, then surely they are indeed lacking in working-class authenticity, an authenticity that must still be possessed by those who are more impoverished and oppressed than them? If professionals and celebrities are to be cast out of the working class, which is necessary for the denouncement of vampires to work, then there’s no (class) grounds to defend the likes of Jones and Brand. If we use a definition of class where academics are counted as bourgeois, then there can be no working-class academics any more than there can be vegetarian vampires.

Of course, there is a way around this, which is to assert that some professionals are not really professionals, that by virtue of their backgrounds they can enter into Castle Academia and remain untainted; I find this unconvincing. Sajid Javid is really, truly a government minister, and being the son of a bus driver does not make him any less of a government minister; similarly, the daily life of an academic who once worked in a call center resembles the daily life of an academic who’s never worked in a call center far more than it resembles the daily life of someone who works in a call center and has never become an academic, and the daily life of a millionaire who has a regional accent resembles the daily life of a millionaire who doesn’t have a regional accent far more than it resembles the daily life of someone who has the same accent but isn’t a millionaire.

I’m not saying this as an attack on academics, either academics in general or any academic in particular. As I’ve said, there are good grounds for considering academics as part of the working class, and if the UCU go out on strike again tomorrow then I’ll get up early in the morning so I can get the bus down to the uni to stand with them for as long as I can before I need to go to work; but if that happens, I’ll extend my support to all the strikers equally, not just those of them who can pass some prole credentials check. All I’m saying is that I don’t think that “millionaires I like are in, PhD students I dislike are out” is a coherent enough definition of class to serve as a starting point for any useful analysis, and I find it surprising that an article resting on such shaky foundations is still regularly offered up as having something insightful to say about class.

To return to another key question of the VC essay: are we faced with a choice between having to “remain in poverty, obscurity and impotence” or entering into the mainstream – that is to say, marginality and obscurity, or professional success as an isolated individual, on capital’s terms? One of Fisher’s key insights, one of the big reasons why his thought is still worth returning to and engaging with, was the concept of “capitalist realism”, coined to describe the way capital closes down our sense of possibilities and alternatives; it’s a shame that, on this point, he seems to have accepted the choices offered by capital as a given, without giving much consideration to the possibility of other kinds of success and influence, outside of the highly competitive, individualised professional success offered by capital.

Following Fisher, we can call this “representational realism”, or perhaps “spectacular realism”: it’s probably true that, as individuals, if we want to escape from poverty and impotence, the best we can hope for is the gilded misery of achieving success in the role of academic, media commentator, celebrity or politician, but that doesn’t mean we need to resign ourselves to such sorry dreams. This is precisely why we need collective organisation, because it’s only through acting together that we can escape the false choice of failure or else individual success measured in capitalist professional terms. Perhaps the For K-Punk project is one example of what that kind of collective project can look like, in which case good luck to it.

Kindness, rigidity and joy

But these aspects – the wonky definition of class and the spectacular realism – are only two parts of the Vampire’s Castle argument; another, as I mentioned at the start, is the point that when people say unkind things it can be a hurtful and upsetting experience. I think this aspect is crucial to this piece’s ongoing appeal; in my original reply, I simply acknowledged the truth of this and then moved on, but here I want to examine it in a bit more detail.

Here, I’d like to acknowledge the influence of – and advise everyone else to engage with – carla bergman and Nick Montgomery, whose work on rigid radicalism and joyful militancy was crucial for my thinking on this topic, as well of Cindy Milstein, who I think is generally just a good model of how to engage in kind, generous and thoughtful ways.

Bergman and Montgomery’s work critiques some of the same problems the Vampire’s Castle essay was aimed at, but in my view it does so in a far more helpful and consistent way, and by doing so it helps to show up both the limitations of the VC piece and of my original response. Someone smarter than me (I can’t find the source, but I’m guessing probably Debord, but maybe just someone who’d read Debord?) once defined Trotskyism as the bureaucratic critique of bureaucracy; following on from this, approaching the Vampire’s Castle piece through the lens of Joyful Militancy, we can define it variously as a rigid critique of rigidity, an unkind critique of unkindness, a joyless critique of joylessness, a very heavy article with no jokes in complaining about other people showing no lightness and humour, and so on.

That is to say, I’m not generally keen on that quote about the master’s tools and so on, but prefiguration is often important, and when it comes to questions about how we behave towards each other, I think that it’s vital to model different ways of doing things. That line people quote about how “[w]e need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other” is true, vitally true, but the only way we can do it is by actually building comradeship and solidarity; the moment we point fingers at an Other and say “them, that lot over there, they’re the ones who go about condemning people”, we’ve already lost.

The vital thing about the bergman/Montgomery argument is the way they stress that these problems are processes, not bad things that bad people do but structures that we all help reproduce one way or another, and so they never fall into the trap of blaming it all on the Other; in contrast, the pseudo-class framework used in the Vampire’s Castle piece, and its imitators, means that it can never live up to the task it sets itself. If the problem is cast in terms of PoshLeft bourgeois vampires, then why should we wish to build comradeship and solidarity with them? You don’t show compassion to a vampire, you stake it through the heart; similarly, you don’t build comradeship with the bourgeoisie, you struggle against them, and ideally end up by overthrowing them.

In saying all this, while the Vampire’s Castle piece certainly didn’t do much to show what a different, kinder and more generous way of relating would be like, my 2013 response didn’t do it either, which is part of the reason why I feel motivated to return to all this again, rather than just letting my five-year-old response stand by itself. For the most part, there’s not much I’d actually apologise for in the older piece, with the exception of one bit you can tell I was a bit uncertain about at the time, the swipe about how those of us in more closely monitored work environments tend to have less ability to spend all day on social media than academics do. In some ways, I still stand by that sense of hostility I still feel whenever academics lecture the rest of us on why anarchists (or whoever) are all academics, and therefore privileged and wrong; but still, if you offered me the chance to swap my pay and conditions, let alone the pay and conditions I was on in 2013, for an academic’s, I’d happily do it, and so it was fundamentally bad faith of me to suggest that Fisher should do the opposite.

Perhaps writing this second response is a self-indulgent waste of time, but if the only way to break out of the destructive habits that Fisher talked about is to model better, kinder ways of relating to each other, and my original response failed to live up to that standard, it feels worth revisiting the question to try and respond in a more charitable way.

So, if people want to hang on to that line about how “[w]e need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other”, then by all means they should do so, it’s a good and important one; but there are far better examples of what that can actually look like, so I think it’s best if we leave the rest of that particular essay in the past.

For Mark Fisher, with thanks to carla bergman and Nick Montgomery

 

 

*on reflection, that title would probably work better if this piece actually engaged with Jodi Dean more, but whatever, if it wasn’t this it’d be some other daft vampire pun.

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Posted in Bit more thinky, Debate, Stuff that I don't think is very useful, The left | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Wherever we stand, we stand against fascism: March 16 call to action from the Outlive Them Jewish antifascist network

Outlive Them, the Jewish antifascist network, have put out a new international call to action for March 16th.

As with their previous call, I want to add a quick note on the UK context:

Here in the UK, Jewish antifascists are still trapped in the middle of a bruising fight between the cynicism of Jewish establishment/centrist figures trying to use the spectre of antisemitism as a way to delegitimise anyone to the left of Frank Field, and leftists responding to this by denying or defending obvious instances of antisemitism on the other. Much has happened over the last year that won’t be forgotten or forgiven easily, from the smearing of Jewish socialists and anti-racists as “a source of virulent antisemitism”, the clowns who tried to claim that attending a “seber” was proof of antisemitism, trying to set themselves up as experts on the subject while not even bothering to learn the words they’re using, to the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, where the “Campaign Against Antisemitism” used a mass murder committed by a nazi who specifically targeted a synagogue for its work with refugees as a chance to have a go at Muslims and the left, while a Labour Party branch in Stockton voted down a motion condemning the attack, to self-proclaimed radicals and feminists adopting conspiracy theories blaming rich Jews for the existence of trans peopleconspiracy theories that quickly cropped up in the comments section of anarcho-syndicalist facebook pages. All of this while UKIP, as part of its transformation into an openly far-right street movement, welcomed Mark “gas the Jews” Meechan into the party, a development that the professional crusaders against anti-semitism don’t seem to have that much of a problem with.

In such a grim context, just insisting on the possibility of a Jewish antifascism – one that takes its place as part of the international class struggle, not as a PR operation for Netanyahu’s ethnostate – feels like a radical act. You might want to get in touch with Jewdas to see if they’re planning anything, or plan something on your own – I still think that anything targeting UKIP would be a legitimate action at the moment, and given his track record Chris Williamson, who’s never apologised for his endorsement of Vanessa Beeley, is well overdue a reckoning.

Also as a further note, March 16/antiracism day, the date Outlive Them have chosen, is mostly associated over here with Stand Up To Racism, the widely discredited SWP front, but it should be possible to organise something independently. Maybe even holding a clearly distinguished bloc on the official anti-racism day events might be worthwhile, if people want.

Anyway, here’s the main call:

An International Call to Action from the #OutliveThem Network

#JewishSpring has come early this year.

Jewish and allied anti-fascists have been busy: shutting down racist rallies in places like Auschwitz and Stone Mountain, confronting fascistic regimes from Washington to Tel Aviv, Brasilia to Budapest, and building broad-based coalitions with people of all backgrounds at the frontlines of the fight against fascism.

It’s time to come out, wherever we are, and get organized.

Call to Join Global Day Against Racism and Fascism

Our aim: To organize in all the places our peoples live, work, play, pray, and fight.

To this end, we are calling on Jewish antifascists and allies to join in the International Day of Action against Racism and Fascism on and around March 16, 2019.

For instance, you might organize a Jewish antifascist formation within a larger demonstration. Or you might hold your own rally, speak-out, public assembly, Shabbat dinner, or other solidarity gathering

International Call for Writers, Artists, and Translators

Our aim: To reach our peoples in all the places they live, in all the languages they speak.

To this end, we invite comrades around the world, Jewish or non-Jewish, to share their skills, whether as writers, artists, or translators, with the international network.

For instance, you might be able to translate this call to action into your language(s). Or you might want to write your own. You might be an artist, photographer, or designer with a graphic to contribute. Or you might want to collaborate with comrades on an antifascist Haggadah.

Call for Contributions to This Site and This Struggle

Our aim: To connect our peoples across borders, and to build our collective capacity for self-defense, self-organization, and self-determination.

To this end, we are putting out a call for contributions, big or small, to our site and our struggle.

For instance, you might send out your own call to action to be circulated by #OutliveThem internationally. You might ask for mutual aid, ranging from digital media to material resources. Or you might teach your comrades, and learn from each other, how to fight fascism and win

For a future without fascism: For your freedom and ours!

#OutliveThem #JewishSpring #16M #OLT
#NoBorders #NoHumanIsIllegal #NoRacismNoFascism
#BlackLivesMatter #YehudaBiadga #RefugeesWelcome

wewilloutlivethem@protonmail.com | @outlivethem | outlivethem.wordpress.com


DONDEQUIERA QUE ESTEMOS, DE PIE EN CONTRA DEL FACISMO:

Un llamado internacional a la acción de parte de la red #OutliveThem

La #PrimaveraJudía (#JewishSpring) ha llegado temprano este año.

Judíxs y aliadxs anti-fascistas han estado ocupadxs: deteniendo manifestaciones racistas en lugares como Auschwitz y Stone Mountain, confrontando régimenes fascistoides desde Washington hasta Tel Aviv, desde Brasilia hasta Budapest, y construyendo coaliciones de base amplia con gente de todos los trasfondos en la delantera de la lucha contra el fascismo. Es tiempo de salir, dondequiera que estemos, y que nos organicemos.

Llamado a unirse al Día Global Contra el Racismo y el Fascismo.

Nuestro fin: Organizarnos en todos los lugares en que nuestra gente vive, trabaja, juega, reza, y lucha.

Con este fin, llamamos a judíxs antifascistas y aliadxs a unirse en el Día Internacional de Acción Contra el Racismo y el Fascismo en y alrrededor del 16, de marzo de 2019.

Por ejemplo, tú podrías organizar una formación judía antifascista dentro de una manifestación más grande. O podrías llevar a cabo tu propia manifestación, conversatorio, asamblea pública, cena Shabat, u otro tipo de reunión en solidaridad.

Llamado Internacional a Escritorxs, Artistas, y Traductorxs.

Nuestro fin: Llegar a nuestra gente, en todos los lenguajes en que hablen.

Con este fin, invitamos a camaradas alrededor del mundo, judíxs o no-judíxs, a compartir sus destrezas, como escritorxs, artistas, or traductorxs, con ayuda de nuestra red internacional.

Por ejemplo, podrías traducir este llamado a la acción, a los lenguajes en que hables. O podrías escribir uno tú mismx. Podrías ser unx artista, fotógrafx, o diseñadorx con alguna gráfica que contribuir. O podrías colaborar con camaradas en un Hagadá antifascista.

Convocatoria para aportaciones a esta página y a esta lucha.

Nuestro fin: Conectar a nuestras gentes atravezando fronteras, y construir nuestra capacidad colectiva para la defensa propia, auto-organización, y auto-determinación.

Con este fin, convocamos a que aporten, de manera grande o pequeña, a esta página y a esta lucha. Por ejemplo, podrías enviar tu propio llamado a la acción para que sea circulado por la red #OutliveThem internacionalmente. Podrías pedir por apoyo mutuo, desde medios digitales, hasta recursos materiales. O podrías enseñarles a tus camaradas, y que aprendan unxs de otrxs, a cómo combatir y ganarle al fascimo.

Por un futuro sin fascismo: ¡Por tu libertad y la nuestra!

#OutliveThem #JewishSpring #16M #OLT
#NoBorders #NoHumanIsIllegal #NoRacismNoFascism
#BlackLivesMatter #YehudaBiadga #RefugeesWelcome

wewilloutlivethem@protonmail.com | @outlivethem | outlivethem.wordpress.com

Posted in Labour, Racism, The left, The right | Tagged , | 2 Comments

No Love Deep Pan: Deliveroo riders to strike on Valentine’s day, train guards’ dispute shifts to the South-West

The IWW Couriers Network are calling for national strike action on Valentine’s Day in response to Deliveroo imposing a pay cut. So far, the only local event I’ve seen confirmed is in Manchester, but more are likely to be announced in the next few days – there are local pages in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Leeds, Cheltenham and Cymru/Wales worth keeping an eye on, as well as the national couriers’ network pages.

The same day will also see a demo organised by outsourced workers at Goldsmiths organising through the IWGB to demand equal treatment, as well as an Angry Workers of the World meeting with a Brazilian comrade discussing the situation there, a noise demo at HMP/YOI Bronzefield in Surrey, and a Leeds antifascist film night.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the train guards’ victory on Northern Rail, their fellow workers at South-Western have just delivered a new mandate for action in defence of the guards’ role there, with strikes planned for Feb 22nd, March 9th and March 16th. Given the strength and determination shown by railworkers in the North, the main question for South-Western rail bosses is whether they’ll give in now or drag things out for another two years before agreeing to keep the guard on the train.

Also, back up North, details have now been confirmed for the annual Davey Jones and Joe Green memorial, honouring the two striking miners who died on the picket line in 1984.

Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Stansted 15 avoid jail, government carries out a mass deportation, and train guards beat Northern Rail: an eventful day

Today saw extremely mixed news on the immigration/deportation/borders front, as the Stansted 15 managed to avoid jail time, but the government successfully managed to carry out a charter flight deporting at least 15 people to Jamaica.

In a statement, the Stansted 15 said:

“These terror convictions and the ten-week trial that led to them are an injustice that has profound implications for our lives. The convictions will drastically limit our ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life. Yet, people seeking asylum in this country face worse than this: they are placed in destitution and their lives in limbo, by the Home Office’s vicious system every single day.

“When a country uses draconian terror legislation against people for peaceful protest, snatches others from their homes in dawn raids, incarcerates them without time limit and forces them onto planes in the middle of the night, due to take them to places where their lives might be at risk, something is very seriously wrong. Every single one of us should be very worried about our democracy and our future.”

“We demand that these convictions are quashed, and that the Government dismantles the vicious, barely legal, immigration system that destroys so many people’s lives.”

A more detailed article by one defendant is available here. Upcoming End Deportations events include Here To Stay: Histories of Anti-Deportation Resistance on the 9th, People’s Trial of the Home Office & the Hostile Environment on the 11th, Open The Borders: Close The Home Office on the 13th, All Eyes On Becket House on the 15th, and the Planes and Perverts: Beats Against Borders fundraiser on the 16th.

Meanwhile, further North, it sounds like the RMT campaign to keep the guard on the train has made serious progress after 47 days of strike action over the last few years, as strikes have now been suspended after Northern have offered a guarantee of a conductor on every train. While it’s too early to say for sure, this certainly seems like it might be a massive victory in one of the biggest and hardest-fought industrial disputes of the last few years.

Posted in Repression, Strikes, Stuff that I think is pretty awesome, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wednesday 6th Feb: Justice for the Stansted 15, stop the Jamaica charter flight

It’s now been announced that Wednesday 6th, the same day as the Stansted 15 sentencing, will now see a mass deportation to Jamaica. End Deportations have put together a template letter for people to send to their MPs, and for anyone in London who can’t make it to Chelmsford Crown Court for the sentencing, there’ll now be a march on the Home Office:

“JUSTICE FOR THE STANSTED 15!
END DEPORTATION CHARTER FLIGHTS!
SHUT DOWN ALL DETENTION CENTRES!

March from Lambeth Bridge to the Home Office

Join us for a London demonstration against the scheduled deportation charter flight to Jamaica, and in solidarity with the Stansted 15 who will be sentenced for an unjust conviction at Chelmsford Crown Court this Wednesday.

***THIS IS FOR FOLKS WHO CANNOT GET DOWN TO CHELMSFORD FOR COURT SOLIDARITY. GET DOWN IF YOU CAN. Book coach seats here: https://www.facebook.com/events/735004523524622/ ***

– Last year, 15 people peacefully stopped a secretive Home Office mass deportation charter flight, to prevent unjust (and in some cases illegal) deportations. On 10th December, the people responsible for this non-violent peaceful direct action, were found guilty of a terrrorism-related offence that carries a maximum life prison sentence.

– On Wed 6th February as they face sentencing, we want to gather outside the Home Office to demonstrate our solidarity with them and demand justice.

– The Home Office has confirmed that a flight is scheduled to deport people to Jamaica, the first charter flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal that went public earlier in 2018.

– We say NO! We demand an end to brutal deportation flights, inhumane indefinite detention, and the hostile environment.

Join us with placards, banners, and chants to stand against the violations of human rights the Home Office perpetrates daily.

>> Please wear a visible pink item of clothing if you can, to visibly express your solidarity <<

08:00 – Meet at Lambeth Bridge
08:30 – March to the Home office
08:45 – Demonstration at the Home Office

** Accessibility **
Nearest wheelchair accessible Tube Stations:
Lambeth Bridge > Westminster / Waterloo / Lambeth North
Home Office > Pimlico”

There’s also another solidarity action happening at the Sheffield Home Office building on the day. Other upcoming End Deportations events include a teach-in about the history of the 1980s Asian Youth Movement on the 9th, and a “planes and perverts: beats against borders” fundraiser on the 16th.

Other news in brief: Crimethinc have a new piece up on the latest wave of repression against Russian anarchists, the long-running Birmingham bin dispute is escalating again, with strike action starting on Feb 19th in response to the council’s ongoing favouritism towards scab workers and attempts to punish strikers, and London Anarchist Communist Group and London Mining Network are cohosting an event on “Free movement of solidarity, not exploitation!” on the 17th.

Posted in Repression | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deliveroo couriers to strike in Bristol and London on February 1st, and events diary for February

On Friday 1st February, Deliveroo couriers in Bristol will be striking for a range of demands. They’ve said that couriers in at least 5 cities will be taking part in the action, so far the only other one I’ve seen confirmed has been London. People in London are meeting up at Myddleton Square Gardens, EC1R 1YB at 11:30am, the Bristol couriers are meeting at College Green at 6pm. Please donate to their strike fund here.

Other, slightly scrappy notes of upcoming/ongoing events:

There’s a range of ballots and potential disputes going off in the education sector, with over 80% of National Education Union members saying they’re prepared to take strike action over school funding, the UCU carrying out a ballot of members at 143 universities, and Scottish education union EIS also balloting members over pay.

As part of their plans for 2019, the Angry Workers of the World have a few events coming up, with a Mike Davis reading group on the 7th and a meeting with a Brazilian comrade on the 14th.

Upcoming discussion events of interest in the Midlands include the Anarchist Communist Group’s event on “Visions of society without government” in Leicester on the 2nd, “The Meaning of Anarchism pt 2” in Nottingham on the 4th, although that’s apparently now fully booked, and a meeting in Leicester about Samsung’s union-busting and the campaign against it on the 20th.

If anyone can make it to Chelmsford Crown Court on the 6th, the Stansted 15 will be facing their sentencing then.

As well as their involvement in the upcoming couriers’ strike, the IWGB have a fair few other things going on: their newly-formed electrical workers’ branch is meeting at the end of January, so there’s likely to be more news from them soon, and minicab drivers organising through the IWGB are holding a series of disruptive protests against the proposed extension of the congestion charge to minicabs, with the next planned for Feb 4th. Meanwhile, Games Workers Unite are holding their first meeting in the East Midlands on the 2nd, and at the end of the month, the IWGB and UVW, together with a few local branches of other unions, are calling for a national demo against outsourcing on the 26th to coincide with a big day in court where the IWGB will be taking on the University of London and the government.

Grassroots cleaners’ union CAIWU are striking against job cuts at Virgo Fidelis convent school on the 6th.

Upcoming antifascist events include a “ravers against racism: reclaiming the yellow vest” callout against the yellow-vested, red-hatted fash who’ll be visiting Newcastle on the 2nd, Leeds Anti-Fascist Network mobilising against a return visit by their local fash the same day, an antifascist assembly in London on the 10th, weekly “cantifa” fundraiser nights every Wednesday in Brighton, and a Leeds Anti-Fascist Network film night and social on the 14th. You can read Leeds AFN’s report on a recent outing by the “yellow vests UK”, complete with nazi salutes and British Movement flags, here. The Outlive Them network of Jewish antifascists have called for people to mark a number of dates with actions – Holocaust Memorial Day has just passed, so the next will be March 8th and March 16th.

The RMT “keep the guard on the train” dispute continues with weekly strikes every Saturday on Northern Rail, and a mass lobby of the Transport for the North board, along with a public meeting, in Chester on the 7th. Meanwhile, a ballot for further action is running on South-Western.

London ABC have called a demo at HMP/YOI Bronzefield for the 14th, with other upcoming prison abolition/prisoner solidarity events including a day of solidarity with Kevan Thackrar and against solitary confinement on the 13th of March, a call for a whole month of action against prisons and the state in memory of Anna Campbell throughout March, and a call to take action against prison construction throughout the year.

The Chav Solidarity book tour has more upcoming dates, visiting Leeds on the 7th, Manchester on the 27th, Liverpool on the 28th, and Edinburgh on March 5th.

To put that all into a slightly more manageable chronological list:

Friday 1st: Deliveroo strikes in London, Bristol, other cities TBC

Saturday 2nd: Rave against racism vs the neon nazis and fluorescent fash in Newcastle, Leeds AFN taking on similar wrong’uns there, anarchist discussion in Leicester, games workers organising in Nottingham, RMT strikes on Northern Rail every Saturday for the forseeable future/until Northern agree to keeping the guard on the train.

Monday 4th: “The Meaning of Anarchism pt 2” in Nottingham (fully booked tho), mass minicab drivers’ action in London.

Wednesday 6th: court solidarity with the Stansted 15, cleaners striking against job cuts at Virgo Fidelis school, antifascists drinking tinnies every Wednesday for the forseeable future in Brighton.

Thursday 7th: Angry Workers of the World host a class-struggle reading group in London, Chav Solidarity book tour in Leeds, RMT lobby of Transport for the North/public meeting about the dispute in Chester.

Sunday 10th: London antifascist assembly

Thursday 14th: Angry Workers of the World meeting with a Brazilian comrade about the situation there, noise demo at HMP/YOI Bronzefield, Leeds Anti-Fascist Network film night and social.

Wednesday 20th: Leicester Anarchist Communist Group meeting about Samsung

Tuesday 26th: National demo against outsourcing

Wednesday 27th: Chav Solidarity – Manchester

Thursday 28th: Chav Solidarity – Liverpool

March: month of action against the state in memory of Anna Campbell

Tuesday March 5th: Chav Solidarity – Edinburgh

Friday March 8th: International Women’s Day/call for Jewish antifascist actions

Wednesday March 13th: International day of solidarity with Kevan Thackrar and against solitary confinement

Saturday March 16th: call for Jewish antifascist actions

Posted in Anarchists, Protests, Racism, Strikes, The right, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Emergency callout as government sneaks in megaprison consultation

Via Freedom News and Yorkshire Campaign Against Prisons:

Yorkshire Campaign Against Prisons (YCAP) has caught the state slipping through a late-notice “consultation” over its massive new East Yorkshire project. Their submissions callout, deadlined at end of this month, is below.

The residents of Port Talbot, South Wales, successfully stopped plans to build a mega prison. Now its East Yorkshire’s turn. The government’s intentions of expanding the reprehensible prison industrial complex – by creating 10,000 new prison places – are moving forward, with planning permission documents submitted on January 18th to move forward with development at Full Sutton in East Yorkshire. Yorkshire Campaign Against Prisons (YCAP) — a grassroots coalition — are calling on everyone who opposes the harms enacted by prisons to submit objections to the proposed development urgently. You don’t need to live locally to Yorkshire to do this!

Building more prisons means more people will be locked up. And by locking up more people, the government and private companies benefit more and more from increased profits and surveillance of the population. Even before the development of mega prisons there is an extensive web of courts, police, prisons, detention centres and surveillance equipment — as well as the companies that profit from feeding and exploiting prisoners. Plans to extend prisons will only increase the profit margins for corporations as the plans for the prison in Yorkshire demonstrate — the new prison would be category C, a ‘training prison’ with more space to exploit prisoners in workshops within the prison. The projected build cost is £91m, an “investment” to make a profit out of prison labour.

Simultaneously, those incarcerated are blamed for all of society’s problems – scapegoated for centuries of capitalism and white supremacy. However much the government depicts prisoners as “dangerous” it doesn’t change the reality that it is the most marginal people who are locked in cages. And making more spaces in prisons — in the case of Full Sutton — 1,017 spaces over a massive 38,217 square metres — will only extend this penalisation and criminalisation. The only people prisons serve are those with the social and economic power to dominate others.

Stopping further prison expansion is a logical step in dismantling the prison industrial complex completely. YCAP are using a variety of means to stop the development of a mega prison in East Yorkshire, actively organising to resist the prison in the coming months ahead. Currently they are mobilising people to submit objections to the most recent planning permission documents on the grounds of the social, economic and environmental problems development will cause to the local area, as well as due to concerns that the site may be radiologically contaminated having previously been used to store nuclear weapons.

Registering your objections can take as little as five minutes, as YCAP, alongside Community Action Against Prison Expansion (CAPE) have compiled a comprehensive list of possible objections, as well as instructions on how to leave comments, on their website. Do it now, as the deadline to submit comments is the end of the month. It may not stop the prison being built forever, but any delay is important in buying time to strengthen resistance to the planned development.


Get involved with CAPE and read more about the details of the prison expansion plans covered by Corporate watch in the Prison Island Report.

 

Posted in Anarchists, Repression | Tagged , | 2 Comments