Thursday, June 30, 2011



The other year workers in Ontario and Newfoundland were "treated" to an exhibition of just how hard hearted and tight fisted the international mining giant Vale is. But Canada and Brazil are only two countries that figure in the global assets of the company. In Colombia Vale goes even further in its disdain for workers and democracy. Here's a petition from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start asking people to protest Vale's tactics in Colombia.

Colombia: Tell Vale no more union busting
As if it wasn’t hard enough for unions to operate in Colombia, now Vale wants to make it harder. Workers at global giant Vale’s El Hatillo coal mine in Colombia recently organized with the union SINTRAMIENERGETICA and presented modest bargaining demands. Rather than negotiate, Vale has attempted to dictate the process by which the union formulates its demands. Vale supervisors have threatened every worker with dismissal unless they renounce the union. Vale’s superintendent locked one union supporter in his office and threatened him to the point that the supporter showed symptoms of a heart attack and was hospitalized in serious condition. The majority of workers at El Hatillo are subcontracted which also limits their right to organize.


The Letter:

Please go to this link to send the following message to the President of Colombia and the Vale management:

Dear Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Vale Colombia CEO Zenaldo Olivera,

We demand that you respect the fundamental rights of workers employed at Vale’s El Hatillo coal mine in Colombia. Vale must cease its obstruction tactics and threats. It must recognize the union that these workers have organized with, SINTRAMIENERGETICA, and negotiate in good faith. The Government of Colombia must ensure that the fundamental rights of workers employed at Vale and those of all other Colombian workers are respected. Specifically, the Government must ensure that companies cannot use cooperatives or other subcontracting arrangements to deprive workers of their basic rights.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



Today is the summer solstice, the beginning of summer. Here's an article that tells what it all about.

Summer solstice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the Earth's axial tilt.
Diagram of the Earth's seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the northern hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the southern hemisphere.The summer solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the sun, at its maximum tilt of 23° 26'. Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight. The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere north of the Tropic of Cancer (23°26'N) and in December in the Southern Hemisphere south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26'S). The Sun reaches its highest position in the sky on the day of the summer solstice. However, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the highest sun position does not occur at the summer solstice, since the sun reaches the zenith here and it does so at different times of the year depending on the latitude of the observer.[1] Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 21 and December 22 each year in the Southern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere.[2]

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most have held a recognition of sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.[3]

The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

Dates and times The following lists the dates and UTC times of the summer solstice for the early portion of the 21st century.[4]

Year Northern Hemisphere Southern Hemisphere
2000 June 21, 01:48 December 21, 13:37
2001 June 21, 07:38 December 21, 19:21
2002 June 21, 13:24 December 22, 01:14
2003 June 21, 19:10 December 22, 07:04
2004 June 21, 00:57 December 21, 12:42
2005 June 21, 06:46 December 21, 18:35
2006 June 21, 12:26 December 22, 00:22
2007 June 21, 18:06 December 22, 06:08
2008 June 20, 23:59 December 21, 12:04
2009 June 21, 05:46 December 21, 17:47
2010 June 21, 11:28 December 21, 23:38
2011 June 21, 17:16 December 22, 05:30
2012 June 20, 23:09 December 21, 11:12
2013 June 21, 05:04 December 21, 17:11
2014 June 21, 10:51 December 21, 21:23
2015 June 21, 16:38 December 22, 04:48
2016 June 20, 22:34 December 21, 10:44
2017 June 21, 04:24 December 21, 16:28
2018 June 21, 10:07 December 21, 22:23
2019 June 21, 15:54 December 22, 04:19
2020 June 20, 21:44 December 21, 10:02

Saturday, June 18, 2011


The usual historiography of anarchism traces its beginnings to the international socialist movement and the First International. Like most things in the social sciences this is only approximately true. The pre-International workers' movement in France, the most advanced on the European continent, generally held to a variety of anarchism called Mutualism. Still it is true that anarchism, for better or for worse, acquired most of its modern characteristics in the struggle against Marxism within the First International. This development is often portrayed as a stuggle between the Latin sections that held, more or less, to the ideas of Bakunin with the Marxoid German movement. The English trade unionists generally kept aloof from both factions.

This is, once more, approximately true. It was in the Latin countries (with the addition of Belgium- half Latin, Switzerland and the Netherlands) that the anti-authoritarian strain of the workers' movement gained purchase and laid the foundation for modern anti-statist socialism. Yet there was and is a wide difference between these countries as to the degree that anarchism 'caught on'. Why ?

I've just finished reading 'Bakunin and the Italians' by T.R. Ravindranathan, and it tells basically the same story as another book 'Italian Anarchism: 1864-1892' by Nunzio Pernicone. The Introduction and first chaper of yet another book, 'The French Anarchist Movement' by David Berry twells the story of early anarchism in France. Herein lies the question. Both France and Italy were much more likely to become the 'motherland of anarchy' than Spain was. France had the existence of a large mutualist labour movement as well as its tradition of revolution. Italy was the 'centrepiece' of the antiauthoritarian sections of the First International, and its early history of anarchism would seem to say that it should have become the centre. What if fact occured was that Spain went on to become the classic land of anarchism, ending up exporting it to much of the Spanish speaking world. The Italian movement while 'large' in a comparative sense never grew to the extent that the Spanish one did, and offered far less resistance to fascism in Italy than the Spaniards did in Spain. The French movement managed to escape its ghetto for a brief period in the glory days of the CGT, but was later to become a rump of its original self. Once more why ?

All three countries shared the same basic social structure ie a combative upper class, in the case of France and Italy one that rose to the top via previous revolutions or wars, and in the case of Spain an decaying aristocratic and clerical class. In terms of the difference between regions Italy was almost a carbon copy of Spain. The messogiorno was pretty well the same as southern Spain. Ther French situation was somewhat different insofar as most rural provinces were conservative after having their land hunger satisfied by the revolution of 1789.

So similar and yet so different. My own suggestion is that the difference came about via certain choices that the 'proto-anarchists' of that day made in different countries. In Italy as in France the choice of syndicalism was delayed by decades. The most prominant action of the early Italian anarchists were the comic-opera "insurrections" that they engaged in. To say thery were laughable understates the case. Meanwhile in Spain the anarchists were organizing strikes and actually "going to the people". Any premature insurrections in Spain in the late 1800s and the early 1900s were peasant rebellions that the leadership of the anarchists supported but not too much.

Let's put it another way. While the anarchist movement in France and Italy was mired ion tactics that were doomed to fail the Spanish anarchists did one salient thing. They organized the working class for bopth its immediate demands and for the eventual social evolution. This combination was something that eluded both the French and the Italians.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Free Ivory Coast union leader Basil Mahan Gahé!
The following appeal is from the international union confederation the IUF.
On April 26, Basil Mahan Gahé, general secretary of the national trade union center Dignité, was arrested at his Abidjan home and taken into detention. The union office was sacked, and many union officers have gone into hiding. Since then, the IUF and other international and national trade unions, including the Ivory Coast's national center UGTCI as well as the Director General of the ILO, have contacted the government authorities to demand his release and guarantees of his physical wellbeing.

To date, the government has refused to respond, or even to disclose the charges on which he is being held. Basil Mahan Gahé's only contact with the outside world has been a brief visit from the Red Cross.

Act now! - use the form below to send a message to President Ouattara (with copies to Ivory Coast embassies in France and Belgium) calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Basil Mahan Gahé.
The Letter: Please go to this link to send a message to the President of the Ivory Coast
To Mr. Alassane Ouattara, President of Ivory Coast
(copies to the Ambassadors of Ivory Coast in Belgium/France)

Dear President Ouattara,

On April 26, Basil Mahan Gahé, general secretary of the national trade union center Dignité, was arrested at his Abidjan home and taken into detention. The union office was sacked, and many union officers have gone into hiding.

According to our information, he is being held by police in the Williamsville quarter of Abidjan

We are deeply concerned for his safety and physical integrity, and by the government's failure to date to respond to numerous interventions on his behalf, including from the Director General of the ILO. Basil Mahan Gahé's detention is a violation of international law and of your own commitment to national reconciliation, and I accordingly demand his immediate and unconditional release as well as firm guarantees for his physical safety. I will closely follow your government's actions in this regard.

Yours sincerely