So, it’s been a while since I got round to posting anything here, and I hope to get around to writing something more substantial soon, but right now I’d just like to draw people’s attention to this stunningly unfounded smear story from the US publication Homeland Security Today. Now, lots of people who don’t like anarchists have written articles at one time or another, and a lot of them are barely worth rebutting, but Ian Oxnevad adds something unique to the mix: the claim that “The most significant anarchist attack occurred in 1914 when the anarchist group, the Black Hand, murdered Archduke Ferdinand of the Austrian Empire. This attack sparked WWI, causing millions of deaths.”
It’s hard to know what to say about a claim as stunningly wrong as this. Has he ever even bothered looking at the wikipedia pages on the subject? For the benefit of Ian Oxnevad, and anyone else unfamiliar with the subject, I’ll give you a list of reasons why we know Archduke Ferdinand was not killed by anarchists:
2) Gavrilo Princip actually managed to kill Archduke Ferdinand. If he’d decided to kill him, but then got sidetracked by an endless argument in his affinity group about what makes of bullet were vegan, and failed to reach consensus so they had to call the whole thing off, or if he’d started World War I by tipping some bins over and maybe throwing a rock through a McDonald’s window, then it’d be safe to assume he was an anarchist, but as it goes, it seems pretty clear that he wasn’t one of us. If you want to blame someone for World War I, it seems like the British, French, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, German and Italian states might have to take a bit more of the blame than a radical anti-militarist, internationalist movement.
One on level, this sort of thing isn’t funny at all; Homeland Security Today boasts that its “audience of highly targeted officials with homeland security responsibilities at all levels of government are decisionmakers who make the tough choices and major purchases”, and it’s clear that these sorts of articles are intended to prepare the ground so that horrific acts of repression can be carried out against “the anarchist threat”. On another level, though, it is funny, because when someone sets themselves up as being a specialist in their subject, and then obviously doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about, what else can you do but laugh? Much like when the editor of HST adds a note asking us to read their special report on cyberattacks, and then you look for them on google and find this:
At a time when the Tories have ditched their civil liberties rhetoric and are planning a massive campaign of snooping on everyone on the internet, it’s reassuring to be reminded of just how useless our enemies can be at times. If actual state security agencies are anywhere near as incompetent as the Homeland Security Today crew, maybe we really don’t have that much to worry about?
In other news, here’s a few stories from recent weeks I’ve found inspiring or interesting: Infantile Disorder has a good article on the widespread occupations of Game shops in Ireland and the campaign of non-payment of household tax. Since the Game occupations are the fourth Irish workplace occupation in recent months, and Game staff aren’t occupying a single shop but a dozen of them, it sounds like the tactic of occupying as a response to redundancies has become “common sense” in Ireland to some extent. If the tactic became equally widespread here, we’d all be a lot better off.
Over in the US, a rank-and-file initiative attached to Occupy Wall Street pulled off an audacious fare strike in New York last week. As with the workplace occupations, these sorts of actions are really important in expanding the boundaries of what’s possible: now, when arguing for a fare strike elsewhere, activists won’t just be talking about some abstract idea, or an event that happened a few decades ago on the other side of the world, but they can point to a recent concrete example of what can be achieved. The Million Hoodie March against police and racist violence on March 21st also sounds like it was really inspiring.
In Spain, last Thursday saw a well-attended and militant general strike, while over here action was taken against workfare in over 20 cities at the weekend. The weekend before that also saw a pro-choice protest outside Westminster Cathedral in response to the involvement of bishops in anti-abortion campaigning. And no round-up of recent stories from the UK would be complete without mentioning pastygate – cheap food is a class issue, it’s something that people are angry about, and anarchists need to be finding ways to agitate around it, so points go to the North-East Anarchists for producing the first anarcho pasty leaflet I’ve seen so far.
It’s nice to see that the far-right have been humiliated twice in a row recently, first with the North-West Infidels’ embarrassingly rubbish showing in Bolton and then with the English Defence League’s embarrassingly rubbish day out in Denmark. And finally, I want to mention an issue I’ve seen almost no discussion of in lefty or anarchist circles: Liam Stacey’s jail sentence for posting racist tweets. In contrast to Azhar Ahmed’s prosecution for an offensive facebook status, this case may seem a lot less clear-cut and attractive, but I think that for libertarians the same principle holds: we oppose the state locking people up for saying silly things, even when those things are genuinely offensive and indefensible. To utterly misquote the great Lenny Bruce, take away the right to say ‘LOL, Fuck Muamba. He’s dead’, and you take away the right to say ‘LOL, Fuck Thatcher. She’s dead’, and then where would we be?