Over the past week, the media have worked themselves up into hysterics over the TUC’s announcement of a day of action on November 30th. But, as always, what they don’t mention is as important as what they do: in this case, that the proposed action is merely an attempt to distract attention from the vast amounts of time they’ve spent sitting around doing precisely fuck-all. Admittedly, the title of this post is a little bit of a distortion: there was the strike called by several unions on June 30th, which the scabby fucks who run Unite and Unison refused to even allow their members to ballot for, something that no-one should forget, and if we’re being really generous we could include March 26th and the upcoming Tory conference demo, to take it down to a mere 361 days of the year the unions have wasted (obviously, the situation’s different when talking about courageous local branches such as the Barnet council workers currently facing a lock-out). They’re promising better things to come, including some truly bizarre rhetoric from a GMB bureaucrat who’s apparently going to deliver “something long and hard and dirty” (Carry On Up the Proletariat, perhaps?), but I’ll believe that when I see it. For the moment, the pattern seems fixed: ineffective march, do nothing for a few months, ineffective one-day strike, do nothing for a few months, ineffective march, do nothing for a few months, ineffective one-day strike, do nothing for a few months… Trying to revitalise a class demoralised by thirty years of defeat is hard enough as it is, and if we’re going to convince the cynical to get involved, we need something a bit more convincing than just a strategy base around four events a year. Without any connection to a long-term strategy for building effective grassroots resistance against the cuts, I’m having difficulty convincing myself that the next demo will be worth going to, let alone anyone else. Adam Ford provides a good guide to what’s going to happen over the next few months, and Truth-Reason-Liberty gives a decent attempt at sketching out a strategy that can avoid us just being led to another defeat. The only real point I’d add to that would be a greater stress on the need to connect this action with the majority of the working class who aren’t public sector workers, from the inspiring rank-and-file networks forming among private sector electricians, to the ongoing fightback against benefit cuts. Since these strikes will be a full year after the students’ protests were at their height, it’s possible that this horse is well and truly dead, and certainly many people who walked out of Year 11 and Year 13 classes will no longer be in education, but it still seems that a concerted attempt to mobilise school students, and any other relevant groups we can think of, to refuse scab lessons would be worthwhile.
As ever, despite the crappiness of the tactics suggested by those who claim to lead us, there are signs of hope: the rank-and-file construction network I mentioned above has spread to London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle, resistance continues at Dale Farm ahead of a planned eviction attempt today, the next national student demo on November 9th could signal a re-emergence of the student movement (London radicals should see here for details of a planning meeting), Occupy Manchester could liven up the dull trek round Manchester city centre planned by the TUC, Edinburgh Uni’s gone back into occupation, the threat of action by workers at Fujitsu’s led to concessions by bosses, which Unite have yet to accept, the Ryanair Don’t Care Campaign is refusing to bow to the courts, and squatters have targetted Ken Clarke’s home in protests against his attempts to criminalise squatting. To round up this section of UK news, Justin Baidoo-Hackman and Edric Kennedy-Macfoy both offer personal insights into the routine racism and brutality of the police.
Elsewhere, there’s a really impressively militant struggle taking place among longshore workers in the US, involving sabotage, train blockades, and militant confrontations with the cops – see here for a personal account from two anarchists, and here for more context on the background to the dispute. Meanwhile, the situation in Greece is still very volatile, and a call went out for mass protests in Algeria this Saturday, but the response seems to have been a bit underwhelming, as the only news story I’ve been able to find online was this rather dodgy piece of state propaganda. If nothing else, that news story is worth reading as a reminder of how important “the Zionist menace” still is for repressive government across the region looking for an excuse to clamp down on internal dissent, which is worth bearing in mind when looking at current developments in Egypt, where huge anti-government protests, including football ultras and at least some anarchists, have been diverted into attacks on the Israeli embassy, a target which is much less threatening to the Egyptian government. Interestingly, some Israelis responded to this display of hostility towards the Israeli state by demonstrating outside the Egyptian embassy, not in order to show their hatred of Egypt, but in solidarity with its people. It’s depressing how much the world’s rulers can still rely on nationalism to defuse domestic tensions, but it’s good to see that, even in a country as fiercely nationalistic as Israel, people are refusing to go along with it.
Postscript: I started writing this at the weekend, but didn’t get round to finishing until just now, so sorry if some bits of this read a bit weirdly or are slightly out of date.