Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Merseyside Activists Face Down Thieving Bailiffs

Despite heavy rain, a group of Merseyside activists got together at very short notice on Wednesday morning, to face down bailiffs intent on snatching and destroying a homeless woman's belongings.

The woman - who is in her fifties and a stroke survivor - had lived at the Knowsley Housing Trust property for many years. Her husband had been killed in an industrial incident, and her children had left home, leaving her home "underoccupied" in the eyes of the government, who hit her with the bedroom tax in April, and her arrears quickly grew.

Knowsley Housing Trust evicted the woman last week. At Saturday's 'Enuf Is Enuf' event in Liverpool city centre, her daughter described how she got on her knees to beg bailiffs not to throw her out of her home. These pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was informed that she had four weeks to remove her property from the house, which was initially left tinned up with pet animals trapped inside. However, on Tuesday the woman was told the bailiffs would be coming for her things today. It was at this point she made her first contact with local anti-bedroom tax activists, and they planned to form a "ring of steel" around the door of the building.

On Wednesday morning, with "ring of steel" in place, a Knowsley Housing Trust van drove past and drove on down the road, but the bailiffs did not call. Clearly, the woman at the centre of it all is still in a desperate situation, but she is receiving solidarity from people determined to help her.

Please let Knowsley Housing Trust know what you think of their behaviour: @knowsleyhousing; 0151 290 7000, https://www.facebook.com/knowsleyhousingkht.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wirral Estate Rallies to Oppose Bedroom Tax

Outside the One Stop Shop. Photo: @
Around fifty people marched from the Woodward Road estate in Rock Ferry, Wirral, to the local council One Stop Shop yesterday lunchtime, in a display of defiance against the bedroom tax. A high concentration of people on the estate are affected by one of the coalition government's most vicious domestic policies, and with the possibility of evictions looming, tenants are organising themselves to defend their homes.

The demonstration began at a quarter to twelve, and walked just over a mile to the One Stop Shop, where several residents handed in their latest appeal forms, and signed a petition. The event was entirely self-organised and stewarded by bedroom tax campaigners, with no involvement from police. It was the first Wirral demo of any kind outside of Wallasey and Birkenhead town centre in many years, and all the more remarkable for taking place during the middle of a week day.

Maybe ten people from bedroom tax campaigns across Merseyside made the journey to Rock Ferry to offer their solidarity, but the bulk of the participants were from Woodward Road - an extraordinary achievement for a grassroots community organisation. Women, men and children all played their part to make as much noise as possible, and really announced their group's existence to the rest of Rock Ferry. Some held homemade placards and banners with pride, while others blew whistles and chanted.

One particular chant - so familiar to long-time campaigners - took on a poignant new meaning in the mouths of children on their first ever demonstration. "Whose streets? Our streets!" shouted young people on the streets where they have grown up, but from which they are now threatened with removal for the crime of poverty.

When the procession reached the One Stop Shop, speeches were made appeals were handed in en masse, with staff looking quite bemused and flustered at being greeted by a demonstration at work.

In the scheme of things, fifty people at a demonstration might not seem like a lot, and indeed one passerby who uploaded photos to the 'Wirral Talk' website described it as "Very Small Bedroom Tax March". But what the photographer probably didn't realise was that this was the work of just one estate.

While most 'left' parties focus their attentions on the small proportion of the working class who are unionised, the ruling class austerity onslaught is creating whole communities who have nothing to lose from fighting back. The tragedy is that there are many other Woodward Road estates where people have yet to collectively organise, and where individuals feel desperately alone. May the growing Woodward Road resistance inspire people around Merseyside, and throughout the whole country!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fascists Fail to Disrupt Irish March in Liverpool

Photo:
On 21st July 2012, a national mobilisation of fascists caused severe disruption to the march commemorating James Larkin, a Liverpool-born trade unionist who united Catholics and Protestants against the rich in Ireland. Last Saturday, fascist numbers were much smaller, and the participants were able to walk the course without being spat at, having stones thrown at them, and being called "paedophiles" by a baying mob. But this was largely due to the actions of the police, and antifascists cannot afford any complacency.

Last summer's event saw police facilitate a mobile fascist counter-demo around the Irish march, organised by the James Larkin Society and Cairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland), and led by Irish Patriots Republican Flute Band. Fascists farcically linked these to the long-disestablished Irish Republican Army, despite the groups' support for the "peace process" and the institutions set up by the Good Friday Agreement. As hundreds surrounded the march, hurled abuse, then cut through side streets to queue up for another go, the police stood by, only intervening at points where fascists managed to get in amongst the march itself.

This year, with an English Defence League national callout in Birmingham clearly dividing their forces, the local "Scouse Nationalists" initially struck a conciliatory pose. They bizarrely claimed not to be anti-Irish as "we are the Irish", whatever that meant, and announced they would merely be pointing out individuals they considered to be connected to terrorism. However, this stance only lasted a couple of days. By the middle of last week they were posting spotter cards of local antifascists they expected to be at the event, and lapsing back into potato-based anti-Irish 'humour' (a reference to the nineteenth century Great Famine, often described as an act of genocide by the British against the Irish).

This coincided with police issuing Section 14 notices to the fascists, restricting their protest to a small corner of St George's Plateau on Lime Street. Fascists began posting anti-police messages online, including a video of one man burning his notice. Having publicly announcing their intention to defy the Section 14, they would have appeared cowardly not to have done so.

Many fascists did defy the order. Of the ten charged by police as of yesterday, nine charges were for Section 14 of the Public Order Act. The other went to Shane 'Diddyman' Calvert of Blackburn, who was charged with possession of cocaine. That is bound to go down particularly well when he resumes his trial for attacks on antifascists and members of the public in Liverpool's Bold Street last July.

While police have a long track record of enabling fascist street activity, Mayor Joe Anderson has made public statements condemning "extremist groups" for "a big impact on the city’s image and its retail economy – making parts of the centre a ‘no-go’ zone for shoppers on the busiest day of the week". Pressure from Anderson likely led to the major change in police tactics from 2012.

In the event, while last year's march looked like a fascist one to outsiders - particularly in the ethnically and culturally diverse Toxteth area of the city - this weekend's one must have seemed like a police rally. The state and the police dictated terms to everyone else, and they will be well happy with how things turned out. Antifascists from various groups did a far better job of letting people on the route know about the event than they did last year.

But it's when the cops are not there that fascists have been doing most damage lately, particularly on their rampage through town after the killing of soldier Lee Rigby, where they attacked a woman for wearing Islamic dress. Their expressions of glee at attacks on a local corner shop and the terror alert at a mosque in Toxteth show that they have the potential to get far nastier. Antifascists locally and nationally face a massive challenge in the months and years to come.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Unite Claim "Partial Victory" As University of Liverpool Sharpens Axe

What must surely have been one of the most pathetic and least effective demonstrations in Liverpool's history took place on Wednesday. This happened as activists gathered to protest the Vice Chancellor of University of Liverpool and guests meeting for a swanky dinner at St George's Hall, even as they are in the midst of an attempt to drastically worsen the terms and conditions of hourly staff.

In June, the University of Liverpool demanded that 2,803 non-academic staff accept drastically inferior working conditions (longer hours without overtime pay, and on weekends and bank holidays without compensation) or face dismissal. The Vice Chancellor, Sir Howard Newby, did so on the basis of new, anti-working class laws brought in by the coalition government, reducing the required notice in such cases from ninety days to just forty-five. The attacks from Newby are so far unprecedented in the education sector, and will therefore be used to set a 'new normal' benchmark for the rest of the country.

In the fortnight leading up to the dinner, Unite had spread information about a protest via texts and posts on social networks, such as that set up by the Liverpool Against The Cuts group. One typical posting via a Unite employee read:
"Lpool uni threatening to dismiss staff and re-engage on inferior terms, majority low paid staff while vc sir howard newby aka the university axe man rakes in 361,000 plus fringe benefits! Graduation week civic event with dignitaries at st georges hall costing thousands of pounds show support at the greed of vc and the attack of working people demo from 6pm onwards this Wed. Let's make as much noise as possible."
However, this was contradicted the day before the demo by a message from the same source, who argued that:
"Due to the pressure put on Liverpool university by the demo tomorrow, university management have agreed to extend the negotiation deadline. Tomorrow's demo has therefore been called off - a partial victory for the staff campaigning against the university's attempts to impose new contracts without proper negotiation."
A few points on this text:
  1. Is an extension to the deadline - to a time when there is almost no-one campus - a "partial victory", when University of Liverpool have made no commitment to reverse their attacks on conditions?
  2. If the "pressure put on Liverpool university by the demo" was so great, why not keep up the pressure and aim to gain greater concessions?
  3. Do "proper negotiations" - i.e. those involving the regional union bureaucracy - make such massive attacks any more palatable for the rank and file?
In the event, around thirty activists from various groupings decided to congregate by the fountain opposite the Walker Art Gallery at the appointed hour, despite Unite's tactical manoeuvre. But without a single person affected by the attack being represented and therefore potentially providing some sort of leadership, they took no action whatsoever, other than a few shouts directed at the men in suits from the other side of the road. One activist each from Unite and UCU took the opportunity to leaflet the guests, with the UCU rep claiming that her union had not even been invited to the Unite/U of L talks.

With the extension of the deadline, talks between Unite and the university will continue into the summer break, but an empty campus will deny workers and their allies even the slightest chance to respond to the attacks. With no strike ballots called in the eight months since the university first floated the possibility of 'sign or be sacked' section 188 notices, the only opportunity for action passed last night. A sell-out - including most if not all of the university's demands - is surely in preparation.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Miliband V McCluskey - An Argument Without Principles

'Red Ed' and 'Red Len' - as blue as can be
Ed Miliband's decision to break the automatic affiliation for union members to the Labour Party was a historic one - forever and completely smashing the idea of Labour being in some way a party for the working class. That idea goes back to the party's formation as a vehicle "promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour", as first leader Keir Hardie proposed. The transformation of Labour into just another ruling class party is now 100% complete. However, Miliband's supposed opponent in all this, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, is no man of principle. Like Miliband, he seeks to channel opposition to the government behind him, to gain more power and influence. Neither offers any way forward for workers in struggle.

Much remains a mystery about the trigger for all this. Last week, the Labour leadership charged that Unite were using "corrupt practice" to win their preferred person a candidature in Falkirk. Unite denied this, but the police were called in. That investigation is still ongoing, so by making this change now, Miliband is clearly prejudicing the case.

An aspect of the story ignored by all the corporate media I've seen is that Unite do have a publicly-published strategy to gain greater influence within the party. This was published last June, with a statement claiming that in previous years:
"…for all the talk of ‘reclaiming’ the party, little progress was made. This has led to great frustration within the union, the more so since the party’s requests for financial support from our union and others have continued unabated. So it is time for a change."
A key part of this strategy for change was to get Unite members active within Constituency Labour Parties, and "Unite industrial activists need to consider becoming Labour candidates at all levels", so "Unite will launch a Future Candidates Programme (FCP). We will promote a new generation of Unite activists towards public office." This was because "That only 4% of the MPs in Parliament are from manual occupations is a notable part of the crisis of working class representation." Unite hoped that altering the balance would be a step towards "winning the general election" for Labour by "winning back the 5 million lost voters". In other words, Unite hoped to save the Labour Party from its unrepresentative self.

Ed Miliband has known about this since at least last summer. Within a day of Unite's proposal being published, the Labour right was sounding alarm about how "The political terms of engagement are being re-written. Money and resources will now directly equate to control." Sure, the right wing media has seized upon Falkirk, but perhaps that has given Miliband the excuse he has long been looking for. After all, the 'Refounding Labour' proposals put forward by the National Executive Committee at the 2011 conference sought to dilute the unions' power. Tony Blair's support for severing the union link suggests that this is a direction the Labour leadership has been heading in for years. Falkirk provided the ideal opportunity. Just like Blair's elimination of the by then largely symbolic Clause Four, Miliband has proved himself a 'tough' - i.e. right wing - Labour leader, who will trample of his party's left in order to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

But 'Red Len' McCluskey is no socialist either - he just plays one in the media. He talked of "civil disobedience" to the Tory-led coalition nearly two years ago, but nothing has materialised. In the meantime he has - in collaboration with other union tops - managed the public sector pensions dispute to a standstill, and has not lifted a finger to save hundreds of thousands of job losses.

Similarly, the Unite strategy document might have talked about "Winning a Labour government which will govern in the interests of working class people and towards a socialism for the 21st century". But just one month ago, when Miliband and his Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls announced they would deepen the austerity begun by the coalition, McCluskey declared: "If Ed Miliband continues in this vein, then he will win working people back to Labour." On Labour's Workfare rebranding, which still involves forced Labour, McCluskey added that "Labour now needs to firm these up, working with unions, as well as employers, because with our connection to millions of working people we can bring these promises to life."

This sentence sums up the way union leaderships view themselves as a bridge between exploiters and exploited, raking in upwards of a hundred grand a year to sell ever-worsening living and working standards to their memberships. This is because - structurally speaking - workers and union bosses are enemies.

The way forward for the working class does not lie in the establishment's pet unions, which haven't won a struggle in decades. And neither does it lie in voting for any political party, because even a magically existing well-intentioned government would have to run a capitalist economy. It lies in seizing control of our own struggles, in our workplaces and communities, and cutting out anyone who wants paying to manage our interests.

Torture Garden Release 'The Great Depression'

“...this is not a music album and after five tracks I have switched off as there is no way I can sit through two hours of this” - Destructive Music

“I think this full-length represents a new (vicious) concept and a good surprise. If this is a love/hate thing, then I’m one of the lovers” -
La Nuit Americaine

Several years in the making, The Great Depression is still relentlessly ‘now’. It is soaked in the state of the society we are living in. The misery raining down from on high is drowning those below, and yet people around the world are starting to fight back with pent-up ferocity. We are entering an age of revolutions, and Torture Garden aim for their new album to reflect both the suffering of billions and the hope they create when they come together and resist!

The Great Depression is the third release from Merseyside, United Kingdom’s dark, experimental metal band Torture Garden. A double-disc album in its physical form, the album was initially released as a ‘pay what you want’ download on the 1st of July, 2013, with CD copies made available later. The album was recorded in a variety of locations, and marks a huge stylistic advance on 2011’s Dead Romantic.

This is very much a heavy metal album, but it really is heavy metal like you’ve never heard before, because it’s never been made like this before. Radical ruptures with the past are required in metal too. We could list our influences, but why try to sound like other people when you can sound like yourself? So sure, expect crushing heaviness and sick vocals, but also anticipate industrial vibes, weird samples all over the place, spoken word sections, and even a folk ballad. Extremism in all things is the only law that Torture Garden lives by. Boundaries are prisons.

Brothers Adam (lyrics/lead vocals) and Matt Ford (composition/all other instruments) have provided most of the sounds for The Great Depression, but they’ve also worked hard to source relevant material from history and all around the globe. Guest appearances by other contributors are peppered throughout the one hundred and nine minutes of this release.

Enjoy/endure...

Track listing:

  1. The Great Depression
  2. Pervert
  3. Of All Evil
  4. Testament Of The Tapeworm
  5. Mister Mammon
  6. Circuses Without Bread
  7. Hideous In Their Glory
  8. In Memory Of The Fallen
  9. Together, Reborn
  10. Defying The Laws Of Hell
  11. The Great Dictator
  12. The Clearing Of Misery
  13. Mists Of Time
     
Reverbnation

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Capitalism or Communism?

The following is an article I wrote for the new issue of Liverpool's Nerve magazine:

Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.

The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.

According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.

According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.

I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.

So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.

Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!

You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dpuf
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dpuf
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dp
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dpuf
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dpuf
Take a journey around Liverpool these days, and you see more and more empty homes. Some - like the boarded up properties in Toxteth's Welsh Streets - are old terrace houses in need of doing up. Others - such as the city centre luxury flats planned and built in the Capital of Culture boomtime - also remain unoccupied. In all cases, these spaces are going to waste because rich people are trying to make a lot of money off them. According to the Empty Homes charity, the northwest region has the highest proportion of empty dwellings - 4.11%. And it's not as if there's a shortage of people looking for homes. Homelessness rose locally by nearly a fifth between July 2011 and June 2012, and there are 20,000 on the never-ending waiting list for social housing. It's a scandalous waste.
The government's official figures say that six out of every hundred Liverpool residents are unemployed and claiming jobseekers allowance. This does not include those unemployed not on JSA, and the underemployed who can't get enough hours to make ends meet. This is a waste of human potential. There are many people out there with skills and abilities which could be used to improve life in the community. Maybe fixing up those rundown houses or fixing holes in the roads, but maybe also teaching, nursing or working in a library. As the economic crisis gets ever deeper, and politicians respond with more and more cuts, opportunities for doing all of these things - or learning how to do them - are getting rarer and rarer. Those in paid employment find themselves working longer hours for less money, and many of the positions which used to be paid are now workfare - the government forcing the unemployed to work for no money, whilst taking them out of those unemployment figures.
According to all the main political parties and the media, this is all inevitable because 'there's no money'. That's a lie though - it's just in the wrong hands. When the banks crashed nearly five years ago now, Gordon Brown's Labour government handed over a trillion pounds of public money. This made up almost all of the debt which the current coalition inherited, and formed the excuse for their brutal slashing of public services. But the financial gods didn't invest the money in the real economy - goods and services. Instead they've gambled it all on the stock market, and yet another bubble has built up. When this bursts - and it will - the banks will 'need' bailing out once more.
According to the blue party, the yellow party and the red party, there is no alternative to any of this. Meanwhile various far right and fascist parties are jockeying for position - offering an even more barbaric vision of the future. So much for capitalism.
I believe there is an alternative though - communism. Before you say anything, I don't believe it's been tried and failed before. It's been tried and overwhelmed from outside, so we need to do this on a global scale. But we're in the midst of a worldwide crisis, and the logic of every fightback on the planet is leading to a global struggle.
So here's a plan. We confiscate all the unearned money of the bankers - who are really like far more destructive gambling addicts. We spend all that dosh on a massive public works programme. We seize control of workplaces from the big corporations. We seize control of our streets and neighbourhoods. Politics is organised on a local level from the bottom up, and anyone who goes against the wishes of those they supposedly represent are immediately removed from their post.
Those boarded-up houses are done up, and homelessness is abolished. Unemployment too is a thing of the past, because everyone is given the opportunity to earn a good income. After a while, when all enemies of the revolution have been defeated and there's enough to go around, we abolish money and the state, and declare full communism!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but you know how that goes. And considering the way capitalism is decaying, I'd argue my ideas look more realistic with every passing day.
- See more at: http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve22/capitalism_or_communism.php#sthash.SFo8DnTB.dpuf

Friday, July 05, 2013

Merseyside Anti-Poverty Activists Contest Council Tax Summons

A group of around thirty anti-poverty activists visited Liverpool Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon, as Liverpool Council attempted to process more than two thousand council tax liability orders. The court fees initially amounted to £40, meaning people already drowning in debt being squeezed for a combined total running into the tens of thousands. The campaigners' explicit aim was to offer legal guidance for the many people who had none at all. However, amidst heavy G4S security and police repression on the one hand, and sheer weight of numbers on the other, it is difficult to assess how successful they were.

A similar action at South Sefton Magistrates Court in mid-June had been deemed a triumph, with many people seeing their cases adjourned, and one eviction being suspended, so hopes were high for a similar story this time around.

The group gathered at 1 pm, just before the cases were due to be heard. They all passed an initially startled security team, with the exception of one woman who was refused entry for calling one guard a "pain in the arse" when he provocatively made her empty her bag.

From there the activists moved into the lobby of court five, where the council tax claims were due to be heard. The scene quickly became chaotic, with activists shuffling backwards and forwards to greet debtors, security trying to prevent them, and a couple of severely overstretched police joining in. A cat and mouse atmosphere soon developed, though many people were very grateful to get both advice and solidarity. It was this which most annoyed the court staff, G4S and the police. It was this which made it difficult for them to dismiss the unwelcome guests as troublemakers and have them ejected. After all, a courthouse is a public building.

A limit of four observers per case was set by the court usher, who soon began to arbitrarily deny entry to this or that campaigner. When pressed, it became apparent they did not know under which law they were supposedly operating, but that accounted for little against the hired muscle of G4S and the police, who formed a wall blocking the courtroom door. Dissent against these could easily be perceived as criminal, meaning a high likelihood of arrest.

The situation became even more bizarre for those who got inside court. One observer was excluded for being "political", one for coughing, and another one because "anyway your phone came on a bit too quick" between cases. Finally, the entire group was labelled "disruptive", and the remaining people before the court were therefore denied their democratic right to have witnesses and McKenzie friends present.

As the man with the cough commented on an internet forum:
"After attending the C/T summons in Liverpool ive never seen such a disgusting process from plastic muppets who assume they have some sort of right (in law) to use heavy handed tactics in trying to remove me from Court, The Magistrate was a snivelling employee of Liverpool Council who couldnt wait to rubber stamp 2440 summons. GET HIM OUT (i hear after coughing too loud) lol ur a paid member of staff lady was my reply.......illegal actions portrayed as legal by a wig wearer . god help those in Liverpool is my only conclusion, Heartless liers parading as the Law."
The general tactics employed by the campaigners have a good track record, and was particularly successful during the Poll Tax. However, in order for this to work, there need to be more activists in attendance, and all of them need to be up on the legal technicalities. Those in attendance were predominantly from Dingle anti-Bedroom Tax group, and the Reclaim Bootle campaign. There are many, many more from around the region who would have made it if they had known, but the information was not circulated on the left, never mind throughout communities. Similarly, the legal technicalities were known to only a relatively small percentage, leaving others sitting around or even standing around outside.

This isn't a game. This is literally a life and death issue for many people. The potential for community-based radical action could hardly be higher. But by its cliqueism and control freakery, the left is serving to sabotage this process, instead of facilitating it.

Disqus for Infantile Disorder