Monday, December 31, 2007

An interesting essay, of the title above, has recently been circulating about the Internet. While it has appeared in various places, Molly chooses to refer the reader to its presentation at the LibCom site for the full text. What is this beast called "left-communism" ? It is indeed possible to spend years in the anarchist movement without even getting a glimmer of its existence. This is particularly true today because, as Oisin remarks, "anarchism is emerging out of its long held position as the 'conscience of the workers' movement', as the eternal critic of Leninism and state centred politics". It was somewhat different when Molly first became an anarchist, at a time when Leninist cults such as Maoism and Trotskyism were far more popular than any libertarian alternative. At that time "left-communism", at least in its more modern versions such as that presented by Cardan/Castoriadis, Maurice Brinton and others in France and Britain, was often the introduction to anarchism for many of us. The subtle difference between such presentations and anarchism per se usually escaped us. Even today such "difference" is slight, often to the point of non-existence, and all that can be said is that anarchism, with its broader history and tradition, offers a lot more to the curious.
When, however, modern anarchists new to the movement tire of eternal appeals to militancy versus/over mind, solipsistic nonsense from American cult leaders about the "end of civilization", laundry-lists of "anti-isms", juvenile posturing about subcultural superiority, etc. and when them come to confront the question of whether anarchism has a future as a real political movement, then the exploration of "what is to be done" will almost inevitably lead them sooner or later to the history and writings of the "left-communists". The author of the essay referenced above explores what might be termed the pre-history of left communism, and its origin the the German, Dutch and Italian workers' movements post WW1. This exploration is valuable, particularly as he contrasts the more purist position of the Germans and Dutch to the semi-Leninist position of the Italians around Bordiga. This contrast endures to this day, even if the author doesn't expand the horizons of his essay to cover more recent events.
The author contrasts the so-called "purism" of the Germans and Dutch , with its inevitable corollary of organizational sterility to the efforts of the Italians. He also, however, contrasts the open-ended "ideology" of the Germans and Dutch as opposed to the "programmatic fundamentalism" (Molly's term, not his) of the Italians, and his sympathies are clearly with the northern left-communists, to the extent that he sees little difference between their approach and that of the platformism that he favours.
All told a valuable contribution to the historical knowledge that must inform any discussion of anarchist organization and tactics today. What it lacks is an "update", not just in terms of the left-communism of the 60s and 70s, but of what this term might mean today. It also lacks a discussion of groups such as the POUM, the British ILP and others in what was called the 2nd and 1/2 International that were anti-Stalinist, non-Trotskyist but still "revolutionary socialist". Today left communist sects still exist, and it is a wide and varied sector of politic opinion, ranging from orthodox DeLeonists, through council communists, to Leninists who imagine that Lenin took a wrong turn and to God knows how many other permutations. Most of these groups give something of the appearance of animals preserved in formaldehyde, defending the one and only true doctrine against all comers. Some of them, the ICC is an example, may be the last real Marxists on Earth- using Marx's fantastical dialectical constructions to predict over and over the demise of capitalism due to its internal contradictions. Using some sort of "logic" that they think is superior to ordinary induction.
"Left-Communism" today, however, may have a much broader meaning. Let's call it "left-social democracy", a very prevalent idea that some sort of socialism can be built via the "grants" of a government in power with the "right ideas". Ordinary anarchists are often quite susceptible to this idea, witness the anarchist support for Chavez in Venezuela (not that such support is often more derived from "third-worldism", an emotional reaction of there ever was one, than from ideological conviction). To their credit "left-communists" are usually quite immune to this sort of illusion.
So read the essay cited; it's well worth the time. But do consider how it might be expanded.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mahmoud Salehi is a labour activist in the Islamic Republic of Iran who has suffered persecution at the hands of the Iranian government for his peaceful trade union activities. On April 9th, 2007 he began to serve the latest of his prison sentences for his human rights activities. He suffers from chronic kidney disease as well as a heart condition. Treatment for his kidney problem, such as dialysis, is not available in prison. Last May his doctor requested that Mr. Salehi be allowed to leave prison for specialist treatment, but the authorities have refused this request. Salehi has been adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, and they have mounted a petition campaign calling for his release, or at the very least prompt medical attention. To read more and to join this campaign go to .

Way over in the country of Belarus anarchists have recently organized a "self-reduction" campaign in protest against price increases in the cost of public transport in the capital city of Belarus, Minsk. The following is the press release of the organizers.
"Anarchists in Minsk organized a protest against the cancelling of discount public transportation tickets in that city. They called on people to ride for free and wanted to promote the idea of leaving tickets behind or passing on tickets to passengers when leaving the bus. On Thursday (December 28th-Molly) there was a small protest. Two anarchists who were holding a banner in Independence Square were arrested and got 3 days in jail. They'll be released on Sunday (Today, January 30th-Molly).
Molly Comment:
Very terse and to the point. Molly certainly applauds this sort of action because it is one that connects anarchism with the concerns of ordinary people, and she hopes that anarchists take such examples to heart. All that being said, however, such actions should always be undertaken with a clear-headed idea of their likely chances of success. These chances are minuscule in most places today. This doesn't diminish the "propaganda value" of undertaking such campaigns, but such things should be undertaken with a clear head rather than in the spirit of ideological exuberance.
What are the conditions of "success" for such an enterprise ? First of all recognize that such campaigns have occurred repeatedly. They are not a new invention. Try to learn from past experiences. They involve "self-reduction" not just in public transport, but also in terms of utility bills and rent. What they are is a limited protest against certain aspects of the cost of living amongst ordinary people- or those who wish to influence same. They may prefigure a society where at least some goods such as public transit are provided free of cost to all. While it is wise to put this desire for such a situation forward as part of the campaign, in purely educational terms, it is also wise to understand that the success of such campaigns is, at best, limited by the resources available to the target of such efforts. Just like any strike such campaigns are an attempt to redistribute "surplus", and if no surplus is available then they cannot succeed. Any attempt to self-reduce such aspects of the cost of living should come pre-armed with an idea of where such surplus can be found. Whether this be the profit of landlords or the budget of a city, what pool of money should be reduced in order to spend more on the good desired should be put forward.
The grand-daddy of all such self-reduction movements would have to be the Barcelona rent strike of 1931 (see ). It is also the example of the greatest degree of success of such movements. Even though it was broken by police repression the upshot was that most of the participants obtained financial benefits from their actions. Other, more recent, examples such as the self-reduction movement in Italy in the early 70s and its imitation in Vancouver BC at about the same time were far less successful. The 2006 San Francisco attempt at a "fare strike" was just as much of a lost cause as that of Vancouver in the early 70s. The Italian example involved not just refusal to pay transit fares but also "invasions" of grocery stores to reclaim food as a free good.
The Italian example succeeded at least partially, but to nowhere the degree that the Spanish one did. San Francisco and Vancouver were utter failures. What was the difference ? The answer is simple- organization. The Italian efforts were able to count on the at least partial support of trade union federations who could bargain with the civic authorities . Not everything was granted, of course, and the union federations, controlled by communists and social democrats ,put their own organizational interests ahead of the demands of consumers. In Spain of 1931 the "difference" between local councils of residents and locals of the CNT would often be rather obscure. The tradition of spontaneous organization amongst the Spanish working class of the time was strong enough that proper coordinating bodies were rapidly formed and took on essential functions at due speed. In North America, whether it be San Francisco or Vancouver, there was no such organizational tradition. No matter what the theatrical value of the actions proposed, and often carried out, by a small minority of activists it was useless in the absence of the ability of ordinary people to self-organize.
This is the reality. Long preliminary steps towards building such traditions of self-organization cannot be skipped. This may seem outre to those raised on a diet of television and other media, where matters can always be concluded before the end of the hour. It is still, however, as true as it always was. This misunderstanding of the nature of human social organization contributes to the fascination of spectacular actions for far too many anarchists today. The cult of the "rebel" overwhelms common sense, and instead of seeing an action as contributing to ongoing self-organization of ordinary people those who are attracted to a stage-craft view of politics imagine that some media will magically transmit not just the "news" of their actions but also the emotions behind them. Lots of luck guys. all means such actions are valuable, but they should be undertaken in a spirit of realism, with a goal of building self-organization amongst ordinary people, of perhaps winning temporary victories that could inspire such. NEVER should they be undertaken in the existential position of "showing off" one's rebellious nature.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


It's that time of year again when people are expected to abandon common sense and believe in human parthenogenesis, or at least one instance that supposedly took place about two milenia ago. The doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ was formulated as an essential doctrine of the Church under the third canon of the Lateran Council held under Pope Martin 1 in 649. This doctrine was foreshadowed in the Nicene Creed, adopted under Emperor Constantine which states that Jesus was "born of the Virgin Mary". Catholic doctrine asserts not only the virginity of Mary at the time of the conception of Jesus, but also her perpetual virginity thereafter. The first assertion may have some scriptural backing- with the liberal use of apologetics of course- but the latter has no basis in the New Testament. It is, however, accepted as necessary dogma by the Roman Catholic Church.
Many have asserted that the myth of a virgin birth was a "borrowed concept" from surrounding pagan cultures, in particular from Mithraism, popular at the time of the early years of Christianity. Christian exegesis often attempts to put a prophetic gloss on the supposed event by citing Isaiah 7:14 , though most scholars agree that the "prediction" of a virgin birth of a Messiah in this passage was more than slightly distorted by Mathew (1: 22-23). The opposite theory, that the doctrine of the immaculate conception was a direct borrowing from pagan concepts, may, however, overstate the case. The fact is that the original literature from which the canonical New Testament was drawn (often by the violent suppression of conflicting texts) were written in an atmosphere in which certain ideas were taken as "givens". The mythology of a virgin birth was easily incorporated into the texts, not from any direct borrowing but rather from the authors taking the popular ideas of their time as an unquestioned framework to put their stories in. It is hardly different today. Only the tiniest intellectual elite of the Christian world knows just how common "virgin birth" stories were at the time of early Christianity. If they knew this fact they might question the whole doctrine that has built up around the immaculate conception over the centuries. But this source of questioning is not available to the average person today.
Comparing and contrasting is necessary to form intelligent opinions on many matters. What follows is a short list of some of the virgin birth mythologies from across the world. Those current in the Roan world at the time of the composition of the New Testament accounts are marked with an "@". Others are simply introduced with an asterix. What I hope the reader can see is the very common appearance of this myth across many human cultures, often with the concomitant idea of "impregnation by a god" such as that of Mary by the Holy Spirit.
@Mithras, the main object of the Mithraic cult in the early Roman Empire. Born on December 25th, according to legend.
@The philosopher Plato, supposedly a son of Apollo via the virgin Amphictione.
@Romulus and Remus, birthed of the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia, supposedly raped by the god Mars.
@Perseus, supposedly born of Danae by Zeus. Actually adduced as "evidence" by early Christian apologists to "prove" that their idea of virgin birth was not so strange.
@The Emperor Augustus, supposedly conceived via a virgin birth of his mother Atia by the god Apollo.
@Zoroastrian myths that the sperm of Zoroaster was preserved in the waters of Lake
Kansaoya to later impregnate a virgin who was to become a prophet and a savior.
@Many of the pharaohs of Egypt were believed to have been conceived of virgin births via impregnation by Amon-Re.
@Dionysus, supposedly born of the virgin Persephone via impregnation by Zeus. Persephone also reportedly gave birth to another son, the hero Jason, without resort to a godly sperm donor.
@The Egyptian god Horus was reportedly the parthenogenic offspring of the goddess Isis.
@Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, was supposedly the offspring of a cow impregnated by a god the guise of a ray of moonlight.
@The supreme god of the Egyptians, Amon-Ra, was himself supposedly of a virgin mother Net, and had no father.
*Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Lord of the Maldive Islands. Reportedly born three times, the last two of virgin births.
*Deganawidah, a hero of the Hurons who reportedly planted the Tree of Peace at Onondaga. Greatest failure- not telling the Iroquois about said tree.
*Huitzilopochtli. Aztec god of war and the sun, conceived when a ball of feathers fell on his mother Coatlicue when she was cleaning a temple. This ball was supposedly Mixcoatl, god of the hunt. The Spaniards under Cortes were later to perform a similar "fluff job" under the name of this god. This resulted in the Aztecs being much more thoroughly "fucked" the second time around.
@Attis, a Phrygian god, was born of the virgin Nana who was impregnated by holding either a ripe almond or a pomegranate to her breast.
*Hunahpu and Xbalanque, Mayan hero twins supposedly, according to the Popul Vuh, conceived via the severed head of one of the original sons of the creators, killed for playing a ball game that was too noisy. Virgin mother- Ixquic.
*Laozi. Also known as LaoTzu. Would undoubtedly be very upset if he was able to see what succeeding generations had made of him, the author of the Tao Te Ching. Supposedly conceived when his mother gazed on a falling meteor.
*Montezuma (of the Pueblo Indians, not the Aztec Emperor of the same name). Supposedly conceived by a virgin after she either ate a pinyon nut or fell out of a tree onto her belly.
The above is merely a short list of the many world myths about virgin births. What can they say to us other than to avoid pomegranates, moonlight, swans, golden showers, almonds, pinyon nuts, climbing trees, feathers and, of course, toilet seats ? Either that or to always wear tent dresses and have the address of the local orphanage handy. They can say to a Christian who hasn't examined the dogma of their beliefs that they should perhaps examine at least one of these dogmas with a bit more of a critical eye.

The Israeli group 'Anarchists Against the Wall' has held continued protests against the 'Apartheid Fence' being built by the Israeli government to seal off Palestinian areas of the West Bank from Israel proper, or at least those areas that the Israeli government feels "is" Israel proper. What follows is the latest communique from this group, subject to the usual "Molly editing" for proper English. The original is at the A-Infos site at .
"The weekend activity of the Anarchists Against the W#all (AAtW) started with the monthly critical mass against occupation. We started a new tradition of such critical masses on the last Thursday of the month. (The activists of the usual "green" critical mass of bicycle drivers protested our use of the label "critical mass" for the "celebration" of 40 years of occupation. After they were rebuffed, however, they stopped complaining). About 30 riders with the dram orchestra participating toured the main streets of the centre of Tel Aviv. The police pressured the riders to let traffic go on one of the two lanes of the main street, but when the riders took to narrower streets the police just let them ride freely until they ended the tour.
On Friday our activists only participated in three demonstrations- Bilin, 443 apartheid highway and Bethlehem- as that of Um Salmuna was cancelled. In Bilin the Friday demonstration started at5 noon as usual- Palestinians, internationals and AAtW activists. For a bit of a change the internationals who participated in it included a large Italian delegation. At the confrontation site- at the foot of a hill at the gate in the fence to the west side, the state forces briefly tolerated the crossing of people to the other side of the line marking the forbidden zone for the Friday demonstrations. After awhile they showered us with canisters of tear gas. This time they adopted a new strategy, and they succeeded in forcing us back to the built-up area of the village.
On Friday noon there was also a demonstration on the 443 apartheid highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It crosses through the lands of Beit Sira, Saffa, Beit Liqiya, Kharbatha al-Misbah, Beit Ur al-Tahata, Beit Ur al-Foqqa and al-Tirra west to Ramallah. Approximately 40,000 Israeli citizens travel on it on a daily basis, but the villagers on whose lands it was built are not allowed to use it.
The usual activists of neighbouring villages, with the internationals and the Israelis of the AAtW marched as usual from Kharbatha al-Misbah towards the nearby highway. This time, however, they chose a new route not tried before. They started to climb on the step margin of the highway. It took the Israeli state forces in surprise, but they7 quickly reorganized and blocked the way for the demonstrators to approach the fence that was already built there on two sides of the highway.
After a prolonged period the people started to return to the village while the state forces followed them, waiting for the first stone to be thrown to start their usual show of power. And indeed, they entered the village with two armoured cars, using tear gas. After the show they left the village. At their exit they encountered 10 activists of the AAtW sitting with two Palestinians waiting for transportation. The state cars stopped there for a moment, and as a "present" they threw a tear gas grenade on the sitting comrades.
In the south there was a demonstration in Bethlehem itself. Lots of local people and activists from the region, with internationals and AAtW Israelis, marched towards a small fortress blocking the road towards Jerusalem. There was sporadic stone throwing at the structure- with no response. After about 20 minutes the people returned to the city."
To follow the efforts of the Israeli anarchists check out their website at Anarchists Against the Wall.

The folks over at the Research on Anarchism site have put together a new site on the French anarchist geographer Elisee Reclus. As they say, "This site is dedicated to one of the most outstanding figures in the history of geography and one of the most profound anarchist thinkers- Elisee Reclus' extraordinary intellectual, geographical and revolutionary odyssey took him to many countries, inspired him to produce the world's most extensive body of geographical writing, and enabled him to discuss humanity's relationship to nature and society in innovative ways that are still of vital relevance today."

After a little time out during the Christmas season Molly is back to the world of blogging. Just as hissy and spitty as always. Stay tuned to this spot as Molly spins her little feline legs to catch up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Polish Campaign Against Militarism, Poles for a Referendum, the Polish Anarchist Federation and other groups are calling for a large-scale mobilization against the installation of missiles and the building of a US base in Poland as part of the proposed anti-missile defense system that the present rulers of the American Empire are plotting. The plan is to have two bases for this system in Europe, a radar base in the Czech Republic , which has already drawn its share of controversy and protest, and a missile base for missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Poland. The US government tries to claim that these bases are for "protection against rogue states in the Middle East", though the target is obvious for anyone with common sense. Russian offers to facilitate the placement of such facilities in Armenia, much closer to their "presumed" threat, have been refused by the US government. The placement of the bases in Poland and the Czech Republic puts the people of these nations at the "front line" of an American attempt to intimidate Russia, in a time when the idea of Russia sending nuclear missiles against Central and Western Europe can make no sense outside of either the most psychotic or the most primitive of US neocons.
The Centrum Informacji Anarchistycznej of Poland has an article on this whole matter, and the protests planned against it for early next year. This will begin with protests in Brussels on March 22nd, 2008, continue with further protests under the slogan of 'Stop the Shield !' in Poland on March 29- 30 and conclude with protests at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania on April 2- 4, 2008. See the above mentioned article for background and more details.



This call has been send out before, but the Venezuelan comrades have repeated it:

"The collective editors of the Venezuelan journal El Libertario an the Organization Nelson Garrido have issued a call out for filmmakers and video activists from all over the world to present their recent autonomous works concerning active social movements in struggle. This will be held in Caracas, Venezuela between the 21st and 28th of January 2008....Two years ago as part of the Alternative Social Forum that took place in Caracas in January 2006, the first screening of independent documentaries and video activism took place, in which 13 documentaries from seven countries were screened ( ) . We are issuing a call out now for the second screening which will take place in the Venezuelan capital, as well as in other cities in Venezuela.

The event is open to productions in the Spanish language, as well as those made in other languages as long as they have Spanish subtitles. Productions to be entered must be on DVD and have a sheet with the appropriate technical details. Anyone interested in participating should contact us with a brief synopsis of their project at .

The objectives of the screening are:

-To screen recent autonomous audiovisual productions that document social movements.

-The creation of a space dedicated to the development and diffusion of video activism.

-To promote independent film circuits, alternatives of intercultural exchange and audiovisual projection.

In addition to this we shall be showing, as a special activity, the film screening 'Grito suburbano: 30 anos de punk en Iberoamerica' (Shouting from the Suburbs: 30 Years of Punk in Latin America), with the objective of recording the context of poverty and military dictatorship in which this counterculture developed in our countries.

The venue for the screenings in Caracas will be the headquarters of the Nelson Garrido Organization (ONG), an independent space for alternative culture and development ( ), from the 21st to the 28th of January 2008. The organizers hope to include in the program a basic theoretical/practical workshop on documentary film making for activists of social organizations. The ONG offers to pay for the living costs of anyone who would be able to facilitate this dynamic training.

For more information about El Libertario (in Spanish and English) visit the website at .

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last night at 00:08 am(6:08 GMT/UT) the winter solstice arrived. To see when it arrived at your location check out the Time and Date website. At that time the Sun stood directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, about 23.5 degrees south of the equator. Today is the longest night of the year for those of us here in the northern hemisphere and the longest day for those below the equator. The earliest sunset up here in the frozen north actually occurred about a week ago, and the latest sunrise won't occur until the end of December. The closest approach of the Sun to Earth(the perihelion) will occur around midnight (GMT) on January 3rd, 2008. See the Astronomy Blog for more details on the solstice and the perihelion. The winter solstice occurs each year on either the 21st or 22nd of December.
Last year the solstice occurred at 6:22(0:22 GMT) on December 21st here in Winnipeg. See the post on this blog for last December 21st, 2006 for more details on the solstice, its "exact" timing and the traditions that surround it. The choice of December 25th as 'Christmas' was formalized by Emperor Constantine so as to ease the transition to a Christian polity from the usual pagan festivities such as Saturnalia, Sol-Invictus(the undefeated Sun) and the northern customs of 'Yule'. Once more see the post from last year for more on the religious traditions of Midwinter/Christmas and the confusion between Christmas and midwinter.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

As Molly has blogged on this board before the Winnipeg Info-Usurpa mailing list provides at least minimal coverage of upcoming local radical events here in 'Winterpeg'. Unlike the incredibly useless Winnipeg Indymedia which is nothing but a forum for Nazis and those who wish to argue with them- whose "events" calender, when it is nothing more than reposts from the Nazis, is borrowed from Vancouver for a reason I cannot comprehend. Once before Winnipeg Indymedia got snotty with the local Info-Usurpa, saying that they merely "duplicated" their own events calender and refusing to put their posts up (while, of course, leaving up all the distressing Nazi posts- those bugger(s ?) have a weird idea of of "freedom of speech"). In any case Winnipeg Info-Usurpa has at least minimal local weekly coverage. Their latest bulletin (produced every Tuesday gives events upcoming at the Emma Goldman Grassroots Centre, Mondragon and their own spot, the Bike Dump. Check it out. Of particular interest is the upcoming Open House at Mondragon, 91 Albert St, this Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. Drop on down to celebrate Winnipeg's anarchist info-centre. Info-Usurpa also includes a few brief news items in each of their bulletins. Check it out at

An international mailing list has been set up recently for Asian anarchists and those interested in the practice of anarchism in Asia. People have been sending in introductions, and members hail from all over: Japan, Singapore, Vietnam,etc.. Follow this link to subscribe:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Chalk River nuclear isotope production plant is back in production now, and the sound and fury of the Conservatives and Liberals denouncing each other over whose political appointees are to blame is gradually dieing down. The watch dog on all things Harper, the Harper Index, has an interesting recent article opining that the "crisis" was largely manufactured by the Harper government in response to pressure from MDS Nordion, the contracted distributor of the isotopes produced at Chalk River (see ). Seems that the uncertainty produced by the shutdown reduced MDS' profits for the 4th quarter by two thirds. The article says that the isotope shortages were isolated and manageable, something that may or may not be true, but it also states that AECL and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission were well on their way to settling their dispute and that Harper's grandstanding by presenting a start-up order for parliamentary consent was unnecessary. That part is very likely.
The Harper Index article goes on to expose one of the hidden underbellies of the whole matter. While AECL is in the dirty and unprofitable business of actually producing the materials MDS handles the clean and profitable gravy train of sales and distribution, with a cheap product heavily subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer. Once more this is an example of how government owned business is often set up for the convenience of private firms, rather than for the benefit of the general population. In the area of regulation this service-providing aspect of the supposed watchdog function of government is often even more glaring.
The Harper Index article goes on to speculate that Harper's move was a preliminary to plans to privatize AECL. Here Molly has to call a time-out and refer to sources beyond the article in question. An article from the CBC News gives a backgrounder on Glenna Carr, Harper's new appointee as Chairwoman of AECL. After a career as an Ontario bureaucrat for governments of all political stripes she left the public employ to set up a consulting firm specializing the issues of corporate governance and private-public partnerships. Nobody more suitable to oversee the sell off of AECL could be chosen, and if her function is to be one of dismantling then the actions of the Harper government towards their last political appointee, Michael Burns, as Chair of AECL. Harper appears eager to make Burns a scapegoat, and Burns, in turn, has accused Harper of "political opportunism" for delaying news of his resignation until the Chalk River "crisis" blew up in public. If Carr's position will be more of a term one then she might ignore the obvious treachery of her employer towards his underlings.
Not that privatizing AECL would be such a bad idea. Most lefties reaction with horror to the idea that the government should get out of anything, and often they are right. AECL will be offered on a silver platter to whomever wishes to take it over. Profits will be made. Friendships that will result in lucrative positions at the least (or maybe huge sums of undeclared cash handed over in restaurants ????) will be forged. Whoever buys AECL will benefit from decades of public subsidy, but that may be irrelevant. AECL is the classic money sucker. An editorial in last Saturday's Globe and Mail ('AECL served a purpose, now it's time to sell it' by Derek Decloet) makes the case for privatization very well. Yes, many people in both government and business will benefit undeservedly from the sale of AECL, but the corporation has been a boondoggle from day one. Since the 1950s the Canadian taxpayer has funnelled $21 billion into the AECL maw, adding $71 billion to the National Debt. This money-pit will never close up. It will continue to provide cheap product for the likes of MDS Nordion, as well as innumerable contractors for its other enterprises. Whether it serves an essential public service role is doubtful in the extreme. It may be time for the Canadian taxpayers to cut their losses and run.
Many privatization schemes of the government result in a lower level of public service, but it's doubtful that the privatization of AECL would do this. As an anarchist Molly often opposes such schemes because of this, while saying that a different form of "privatization", the turning over of such enterprises as say Canada Post to producers; cooperatives run by the workers in them would be the optimal solution. From government enterprise to cooperative enterprise- not to the corporations. The structure of Canada's nuclear industry, however, makes this sort of solution almost impossible. It was set up as a subsidy to business, and would remain so under whatever self-management scheme might be proposed. In other words it would forever be financially dependent upon the government and therefore never truly independent. All this is not even entering into the question of whether nuclear energy is a good idea in the first place. Sell the bugger off. At least then it would become somebody else's problem.

For the past few months the CNT-f (the non-AIT anarchosyndicalist union federation in France) has been following and reporting on the struggles of French students against the Sarkozy government's proposed "reform" of university governance in France. Many demonstrations and occupations of premises have occurred, often to be met by police violence. The following is a appeal from the French CNT dated today that calls for financial assistance for students who have recently been arrested and charged during the course of the struggle. The source (en francais) is the public information newsletter of the CNT. To subscribe either go to the CNT-f website or to .
"For some weeks demonstrations have taken place in France against the Pecrease law on university autonomy.
On the 29th of November in Caen 1500 students and high school students were evicted from the education offices by the police. They were truncheoned, gasses and fired on with flash-balls. Five were arrested and a number were injured. The day after 50 peaceful demonstrators protesting in front of the police station were charged and chased by the police for 200 meters. Two were arrested. On December 13th a young person was again arrested after a peaceful demonstration.
In all 8 people have been arrested. The trails are going to take place. We are appealing for financial solidarity with the accused to help them pay lawyers' fees, court costs and fines. Cheques in support (to the order of the SIA with a note saying "for the support of the accused from the end of 2007/ Soutien aux inculpes de fin 2007" on the back) can be sent via CNT
14 BP 02

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Montreal groups Solidarity Across Borders and No One is Illegal Montreal have sent out their December newsletter. See here for full details(the website of their blog). To subscribe to the newsletter visit . Highlights from this report include a report on the Taser death of Quilem Registre on October 18th, a report on the stopping of the deportation of Laibar Singh in Vancouver on December 10th, the cases of Ivan Apaolaza Sancho, Mohamed Cherfi and much more. Go to the link above for more details.

Issue number 27(fall and winter 2007) of the anarchist newsletter 'Any Time now:For Social Anarchism' is now available in both print format and as a downloadable pdf at the zine's website. To view the magazine online go to said website. To order a print copy send a donation to Any Time Now, c/o Affinity Place. Argenta BC V0G 1B0, Canada.

The latest issue begins with a retrospect by the founder, Larry Gambone, on the last 10 years of ATN's life (it existed in a previous form before that), how the anarchist movement has grown and also matured. It gives a basic history of the politics of ATN, and how it defined itself as non-sectarian and committed to outreach to ordinary practical people. Often the second imperative overcame the first as ATN has not been loath to criticize what it saw as destructive trends in anarchism. What ATN has always promoted are, as Gambone says, "practical, people-oriented syndicalist, anarchist communist, communitarian and mutualist groups", something that has grown exponentially in the last decades while the supporters of terrorist options, violence, primitivism, half-baked 'post-leftism' and simple plain craziness have lost ground. While being firmly "left-anarchist", ATN has also extended a hand to the growing number of 'left-libertarians' in the USA who, however much they may differ from traditional anarchists in philosophy end up supporting the same things in terms of practical politics. Gambone ends his introduction with a statement of what he sees the role of ATN as being in the new situation of a growing anarchism, and he reaffirms the role of this zine as one of bridge-builder, independent of but supportive of all the truly constructive trends in this growing movement. An independent !!! voice that can go beyond organizational loyalties, criticize where it is needed and try and build sympathy amongst different groups when that is what is needed.

The latest ATN contains a lot more than just the introduction, 'Ten Years After'. There are excerpts from 'Why I Am an Anarchist', originally published in The Cunningham Amendment, an article 'The Witch Hunts' (on the European witch craze)from the Purple Thistle Centre of Vancouver and a general update on the state of anarchism in the UK. There's also an article 'Eminent Domain' on the ability of government, and big business via the government, to expropriate property for some presumed "higher use", and also a report on the recent formation of the BC Anarchist Writers' Group. One of the editors, Dick Martin, weighs in with his opinions of decision making in 'Consensus/Democracy', being on neither one side or the other but rather pointing out how these two different processes belong in two different realms. Or rather of how consensus is the "fine structure" of larger direct democracy organizations. The issue concludes with an article, 'A Journey Through Three Anarchist News Providers' , comparing the A-Infos, LibCom and Anarkismo internet sites. The author is the same little overweight calico cat who meows at you here.

There's lots more in this issue. Short news items. Reviews of other publications. Much more. See the website for more details and the complete issue.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On November 20 Huang Qingnan of the Dagongzhe (DGZ) Migrant Worker Centre in Shenzhen, China was seriously injured after being stabbed by two unidentified men. The assault followed on the heels of two other violent attacks on the DGZ Centre in October and November. The Centre provides a free library, labour law education and free legal consultation to migrant workers in Shenzhen. It was suspected that the Centre was being targeted for its recent efforts to raise awareness about the new Labour Contract Law, which requires better employment condition for workers and is scheduled to take effect in January.
Take action now ! Ensure that the authorities condemn and investigate the violence, ensure the protection of civil groups and their staff, and assist the DGZ Centre in resuming operations. To read more and join this campaign go to

Linchpin is the publication of the newly formed Ontario anarchist communist organization 'Common Cause'. Their publication is available both in a print format and in a downloadable pdf format at their website. The organization is new and barely tied yet, but they have made remarkable efforts in their project of getting anarchism in their province away from cultism and disorganization and towards a relevance to ordinary people. The first issue of their publication covers a wide field. It leads off with 'One Law for the Rich', comparing the leniency offered a millionaire club owner and sexual offender to the severity of the prosecution of Shawn Brant, a Mohawk activist. They include a basic statement of their politics under the heading 'As We see It' and an article 'Afghanistan"Climates of Fear' that intelligently challenges the government propaganda that justifies Canada's participation in this American war.
Linchpin #1 also has an article 'True Democracy' about the differing meanings of the term "democracy", and what anarchists mean by it and reviews of the Hamilton Workers' Art and Heritage Centre and the book 'The Rebel Sell'. It concludes with 'When Property Doesn't Apply', an investigation of the government theft of native lands, especially as it relates to the Mohawks. the centrepiece of the issue is an interview with Bruce Allan, vice-president of the CAW Local 199 at General Motors in St. Catherine's. Entitled 'Sweetheart Deals and Solidarity Unionism', this one article would be important enough for publication on its own, no matter all else in the paper. The interview takes off from the recent sweetheart deal of the Canadian Auto Workers with the management of Magna International and the reasons behind it. Allan is totally realistic about the state not just of the auto industry but of the Canadian union movement in general. Neither triumphalist nor despairing, the interview actually points a way forward, albeit a way that will be long and involve a lot of hard work, to rebuild the Canadian union movement. Molly would recommend this article highly.
As I have said, Linchpin is available as a downloadable pdf at the website. Go on over, and give them a hand. One of the best efforts coming out of North America today. Mercifully free of jargon, and moving towards popularity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Webkitz, the most visited virtual world for children in the United States, has quietly begun targeting its users with outside advertising. The site is already commercial- children must buy a Webkitz toy that comes with a special code. But apparently using the site to sell millions of Webkitz stuffed animals wasn't enough for Ganz (the makers of Webkitz), and now they're selling their young users to advertisers. To make matters worse, Ganz didn't bother to inform parents, many of whom purchase Webkitz toys for their children expecting that the website will be free of outside advertising and links. By opening the site to advertisers, Ganz is choosing to maximize profits at the expense of parents' trust and children's' well being.

The 'Parents' Area' of Webkitz does not mention that the site now includes advertising. Webkitz is currently marketing the film Alvin and the Chipmunks. In addition to banner ads, the site is encouraging young users to actively engage with the movie by purchasing specially designed chipmunk costumes and food for their virtual pets. Bee Movie -a film that partnered with McDonald's , General Mills and Brachs', and has dozens of licensed products-was promoted in a similar way.

As children spend more and more time on the web., they are increasingly targeted by internet marketing. Webkitz's decision to take outside ads is reminiscent of Neopets, another popular online destination for children which went from being ad-free to including product placement on their site for McDonald's and other brands as well as launching their own line of cereal. the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is launching a media campaign (including a story in the New York Times) to inform parents about advertising on Webkitz and to convince Gatz to end it. To read more and to join this campaign go to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood website.

The T&G section of the UK union Unite has launched a national campaign to pressure major retailers to pressure their suppliers to agree to minimum standards for all meat workers. The campaign launch targeted Marks & Spencer. which has invested massively in promoting their allegedly ethical, socially responsible standards for suppliers, with actions at M&S shops across the UK.

The T&G is demanding equal treatment for the agency and temporary workers who make up a growing percentage of the workforce in this sector, along with clear labelling. The union has set up an online petition for supporters to sign on to this campaign. To read more and to help out go to the IUF site at . See the section under 'News', rather than 'Urgent Actions'.