Archive for anti capitalism

Revolt Spreads Across the Globe as “Crisis” Continues to Unfold

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2009 by Anarchy Library

After numerous European governments expressed fear that the unrest in Greece would spread to neighboring countries and perhaps around the world, the spreading global revolt has taken on another tone: that of confronting the elite for their manipulation of the economic “crisis” (which is really a systemic collapse) in order to consolidate yet even more wealth as the masses of the world suffer the brunt of the former’s greed. The spirit of the Greek revolt has not been forgotten, however, for it is clear whose interests the police serve and protect (as America was recently reminded in Oakland).

As Iceland became the first country to fall due to popular revolt against the economic elite, and then proceeded to elect their first female PM, who is also openly gay, things are heating up around the globe. Recently, over 1,000 protesters assembled illegally to protest the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, and while the protests were overwhelmingly peaceful, fear of unrest prompted the police to systematically target and arrest known and identified militants and revolutionaries.

As GNN’s Grady reports, in China “2,000 workers and farmers held wage protests for twelve days outside of Shanghai” in December 2008, “striking workers and security guards clash in a textile factory in Dongguan” on January 15th, and on January 16th, “100 police officers stage a rally in Shenzhen after being sacked from their jobs.” The Times Online also reports that in the southern province of Guangdong, “three jobless men detonated a bomb in a business travellers’ hotel in the commercial city of Foshan to extort money from the management.” In the 12 days of mass demonstrations last December, the Times reports:

…angry workers besieged labour offices and government buildings after dozens of factories closed their doors without paying wages and their owners went back to Hong Kong, Taiwan or South Korea. In southern China, hundreds of workers blocked a highway to protest against pay cuts imposed by managers. At several factories, there were scenes of chaos as police were called to stop creditors breaking in to seize equipment in lieu of debts.

In France, an estimated 2.5 million people hit the streets in a national general strike in response to the global economic collapse, and in disdain of the handling of the so-called “crisis” by their country’s ruling-class economic elite. The Telegraph reported that “the streets filled with flag-waving protesters and in Paris protesters clashed with police, throwing bottles, overturning cars and starting a fire in the street. After a day of peaceful protests, violence erupted on the fringes of the Paris protest. Dozens of young men wearing scarves across their face were charged down by riot police after throwing stones and bottles, tearing up manhole covers and lighting fires in the Opera district.”

The Beeb reports

Across Europe, victims of the economic slump who are losing their jobs in their tens of thousands are furious that public money is being doled out to the banks. In some countries, they are more willing to vent their anger. As huge crowds took to the streets across France this week, in a national day of protests and strikes, the far left points to a boost in the number of its supporters in times of financial gloom.

Certainly, ministers in Paris are wary of some form of insurrection. Recent intelligence reports talk about an “elevated threat” from an “international European network… with a strong presence in France” and a “new generation of activists”, possibly a “re-birth of the violent extreme left”. A spokesman for the interior ministry, Gerard Gachet, told the BBC that the threat was real. “The term ‘ultra-left’ was used by the interior minister to set this group apart from the extreme left who turn up for elections and keep within the parameters of democratic debate,” he says. But talking of more radical groups, he points to recent pamphlets and books published anonymously, but sometimes with a circulation of about 20,000, with titles such as How to Start a Civil War and The Insurrection That is Coming. “They say that the fires of revolt will spread everywhere,” he says, “and we see acts like damage to bank branches or state buildings and claims of solidarity with the Greek rioters.

The Guardian reported that “the French government fears a wave of extreme left-wing terrorism this year with the possible sabotage of key infrastructure, kidnappings of major business figures or even bomb attacks. Last week hundreds of fly-posters around Paris called on young people ‘forced to work for a world that poisons us’ to follow the example of their Greek counterparts. ‘The insurrection goes on. If it takes hold everywhere, no one can stop it,’ the posters said.” In another article entitled “Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets,” The Guardian reported: “France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment figure rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce. New figures from the biggest bank in the Baltic show that the three post-Soviet states there face the biggest recessions in Europe.”

Across Russia, thousands of protesters demonstrated against their government’s economic policies and response to the global economic crisis, echoing the grievances of others around the globe. Al Jazeera reports that “Russian police forcefully broke up many of the anti-government protests on Saturday, arresting dozens of demonstrators.”

In Mexico City, the BBC reports, thousands of people “protested against what they say is the inadequate response by the government to growing economic problems in Mexico.”

As the global economic collapse continues to unfold, the spirit of revolt and resistance is being rekindled within the hearts of the masses, and the people of the world are rising up. Resistance is spreading from Athens, Riga, Paris, Budapest, Kiev, Reykjavik, China, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Chris Hedges recently wrote that “the daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time.” He continues:

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed. How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up out of the slime in moments of crisis to offer fantastic visions? Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won’t have to wait long to find out.

Joshua Holland, in a recent piece on AlterNet entitled “The Whole World Is Rioting as the Economic Crisis Worsens — Why Aren’t We?,” reported that “explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion. It’s not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.” He continues:

Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere. For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies. At least in Western Europe, cries of “burn the shit down!” are being heard in countries with some of the highest standards of living in the world—states with adequate social safety nets; countries where all citizens have access to decent health care and heavily subsidized educations. Places where minimum wages are also living wages, and a dignified retirement is in large part guaranteed. The far ends of the ideological spectrum appear to be gaining currency as the crisis develops, and people grow increasingly hostile toward the politics of the status quo.

How will the people of America respond to the systematic consolidation of wealth within their own country, coupled with environmental degradation and the unfolding police state? At what threshold will the people of America have had enough? At what point will we stand up and resist our own destruction? The choice is ours.

You shouldn’t be so timid—you are not alone. There are millions of us waiting for you to make yourself known, ready to love you and laugh with you and fight at your side for a better world. Follow your heart to the places we will meet. Please don’t be too late.Fighting For Our Lives

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A statement from the Icelandic anarchist collective Aftaka on the recent collapse of the Icelandic government

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by Anarchy Library

The Icelandic Government has collapsed and some people talk about a revolution. In a way it is true. Simply ordinary people turned this government down by writing articles, holding speeches, noise demonstrations, bonfires, car horns, direct action, civil disobedience and sabotage. A nation that before had no sign of life, only citizen obedience and servility, finally stood up and said: “No thanks! No more shit.”

But what will follow? Have we reached the goal? Is the minority government of the Left Greens (Vinstri Grænir) and the Social Democrats (Samfylkingin) enough? Are we just going to be happy with new elections this spring?

From the beginning of the economic crisis, following the collapse and nationalization of the three major Icelandic business banks, loud voices have been heard, demanding that the government would resign and elections would take place as soon as possible. The same voices have as well demanded that the boards of the financial institutions would be changed; in the Central Bank, Financial Supervisory and the three recent state owned banks. Hörður Torfason and his fellows from the organization Raddir Fólksins (The People’s Voices) took the first step by organizing weekly demonstrations where sharp and variously good speeches have been held, followed by the public’s jubilation.

At the same time more radical actions have taken place. Anarchists and other radicals have used direct actions, tried to stop the government from having meetings, stopped formal parliament meetings, attacked the police station and stopped worked in the banks and the Financial Supervisory. These two formations than came together on Tuesday last week, January 20th, when thousands of people gathered by the parliament with the aim to disrupt and hopefully cut the first parliamentary session of the new year – and did so. During the next seven days bonfires, industrial samba-bands and noise demonstrations became daily events.

The pre-event of this collaboration of radicals and the “ordinary” citizens was by Hotel Borg on the last day of the year, where protesters cut a live broadcast of a annual party political TV show where the heads of the political parties discuss the recent political year over champagne and herring. The original plan of the protest was to disrupt the broadcast with noise and torches, but soon it became clear that that it would not happen without people taking the next step. So people climbed over gates, fought with “innocent” staff that tried to stop people from entering the hotel, pulled apart and burned TV cables and cut off the broadcast. It was a good start.

There was an obvious common demand during the demonstrations over the last week and was highlighted in the slogan that resounded over the city for a whole week: “Disqualified government!” But this slogan says nothing about what is about to come, what people want else than just getting the government away.

On Wednesday night, January 21st, after the police had shot couple of teargas bombs on the protesters, the group moved to the Government’s office. Once again people lit a bonfire and protested against the government. When the police turned up some people started throwing bricks at the cops like before that same evening. At one point young angry man walked to the police, who has well armed with shields, helmets, clubs and pepper spray, and threw a stone at them and shouted: “Just give us permit to vote” he shouted and continued: “then these protests will quit.”

These words came as a surprise to a lot of people. “Just give us the permit to vote!” Is that really the main demand? And does it make one so angry not to be allowed to vote, that throwing stones becomes the tactic to propel elections?

Of course, there are different opinions and ideas about what the planned elections this spring will lead to. Some people believe it is enough to vote for the Left Greens, that it will lead to positive changes. Others believe that it is possible to change the system from inside, want to push forward new political parties in the upcoming elections, which will than hopefully draw the lines of changes in the constitution and the system. Even others want the party-system away and encourage individuals’ candidatures.

These ideas have one thing in common, they are all based on the idea that reforms inside the current system are steps in the right directions, step towards a more just society. They do not demand radical changes – revolution. An therefore it is strange to see people standing on Austurvöllur (the square in front of the parliament) shouting slogans like “Long live the revolution!” – no revolution has taken place apart from the fact that the government has collapsed.

When we will get closer to the upcoming elections we can expect the same thing as usual. The political parties will lounge their image campaigns, compete in advertising, which has the best designers and computer technique. That’s how it always is. And then one there is one thing that matters: Money. Those who have the most money or the political party that has the best access to money is going to be the most visible force in the election campaign. And same story will continue if the elections will be between individuals instead of parties. While we stay inside the system we have lived in until now, individuals’ results will be based only on who has the most money.

The reasons for the collapse of the government and the discussion about it show very well what today’s politics are about. Sjálfstæðisflokkurin (The Independence Party, right wing conservatives) refused to fire Davíð Oddsson from the board of the Central Bank, because of his fearsome hold on the society. Even though he is hidden in the Central Bank, he still sits on the top – or at least sat there before the collapse – of Icelandic authorities and no one is allowed to alter with him or his opinions. Fearing the impact of firing Oddsson from the Central Bank, the Independence Party could do nothing. Therefore it is going to be extremely interesting to see if a new government will dare to fire Oddsson and what impact it will have on the Icelandic society, since it is clear the Oddsson has a serious blackmailing force in Iceland.

And then the two parties – The Independence Party and the Social Democrats – argued about which of them should get the prime ministry. And those arguments were enough take down the government. The collapse is a result of endless power mongering. That’s what today’s politics are about – to receive and remain powers. It is not about creating a society based on justice and equality, freedom and co-operation. It is not about trying to create a healthy society, but first and only about power.

These fights expose the politics and show even better what they are about: A stupid game of power, competition about popularity and power; untruth and treachery against those who have no power; those who are oppressed from the beginning of their lives through the education system and other systems of the society. Politics are a game of lies.

We have to resist this game and this corrupt system. That particular resistance is the premise for changes.

If we want new changes we have to turn our backs to the time that used to be and use our imagination. It does not mean we have to fundamentally forget history, but rather learn from it, both mistakes and victories. We have to widen our imagination and not only demand the impossible but first of all do the impossible.

The changes we want to get through have to be built on ideas about international resistance and solidarity. We are not alone on this island; we are only a tiny bit of global struggle of those who have no power against those who have all power, struggle for a world without authority. Everywhere in the world – in Mexico, Greece, Palestine, Iraq, Japan, Belarus, the USA – everywhere does this struggle exist. Of course is it on different stages and the same can be said about authorities’ reactions against it. There is no reason to put together our struggle and the struggle of oppressed Palestinians, except up to the level where it really is common.

What unties us is the fact that we are powerless and we stand against those who have the powers, in a struggle against them and against the system which allows few individuals to receive this power. We fight for people to take control of their own lives and the organization of the society, and destroy all power structures that oppress and kill.

And though the situation often looks bad and way too many people are blinded by authorities’ propaganda about the necessity of the power to remain in their own hands, the fact is that our united struggle against them is real and the solidarity as well.

Last Saturday, fliers were distributed during the weekly demonstration by the parliament, encouraging people to concern more for each other, during radical actions as well as during people’s daily life. It also said that people should not even dare to think that it is more necessary to break down the government than to destroy the patriarchy and fight against all injustice towards those who have another skin color than most Icelanders and those who do not identify themselves straight.

The society is full of class division and injustice, based on ideas stating that some people are higher than other. Muscularity, white color of skin and heterosexuality are the highest values of the society and all individuals that do not fall under them then become automatically lower and therefore become the targets of prejudices, irritation and violence. These ideas have been completely got into the system and will not be broken inside it. We need to destroy the whole system.

Let’s not celebrate when a woman (and even more: a homosexual woman) will now become a prime minister for the first time here in Iceland. Let’s not celebrate when women get high and respected positions of power. Let’s not celebrate when a black man becomes the president of the USA for the first time. Let’s not celebrate these reforms that help the system remaining. Let’s not celebrate when women, homo- and bisexual and non-white individuals manage to work themselves up to the role of the average white straight man. No!

Let’s instead fight against this system, which rows people up in differently high positions and oppresses those how are situated in the lower positions. Let’s fight against the system that allows few individuals to oppress others. Let’s fight against all power pyramids and abuse of power. Let’s fight against unequal distribution of finance and natural resources. Let’s fight against all ideologies that have changed life necessities into to luxury products for the rich.

Then we can for the first time talk about justice and equality. Then we can start talking about real changes. Then we can finally talk about a revolution.

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The First to Fall: Protesters Topple Icelandic Government

Posted in Anarchy with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by Anarchy Library

Unrest has spread across the globe as people are losing their jobs, watching their savings vanish before their eyes while banks and other multi-billion dollar institutions are bailed our by their governments. Iceland, a typically tranquil country, has been turned upside down with social unrest, and recently gained the notoriety of being the first government toppled by its people through street protests.

The country had the world’s fifth highest per capita income in 2007, but is now experiencing Unemployment, once at zero, is expected to soar after Iceland sought a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

A small island country of just 305,000 people is generally laid back with little conflict but after Iceland’s currency, the krona, collapsed and the banking crisis left many Icelanders with unpayable debts, the country fell into almost daily protests. Eggs and toilet paper were thrown, youth scuffled with riot police and for the first time since 1949 the government retaliated with tear gas on demonstrators.

When parliament reconvened after Christmas Break, the politicians were barricaded inside for hours as thousands of protesters smashed windows, set off smoke bombs, banged pots and honked horns demanding the resignation of the ruling conservative party. Many of the other protests took on similarly confrontational tones- including protesters pelting the car of the prime minister (who has now resigned) with eggs and paint.

On January 26, after denying the possibility of holding early elections, Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced the resignation of his cabinet and the collapse of the current coalition government. Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir is expected to fill the vacancy, becoming the first openly gay head of state. Still, despite new leadership and promises to also dispense of the now loathed Central Bank of Iceland, this will unlikely satisfy the protesters, who have widely reached the point of losing faith in all politicians, echoing the sentiments of the Argentinian protests of 2001 that were so well encapsulated in the popular chant “Que Se Vayan Todos- They All Must Go.”

The future of this small island nation is unsure, though it is certain that popular resistance has already forced large concessions to the people of Iceland, sending shockwaves to the leaders of neighboring countries, who have anxiously watched the first government fall to the monumental failures of capitalism.

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