Wednesday, November 30, 2011



As the various Occupy camps fall one after another (a proof of the need for organization ?) to the various authorities it is perhaps about time to reflect on why these protests have gathered the sort of support that "the left" has failed to gather for decades. There are a lot of reasons, and I hope to comment on them in the future. For now, however, let's examine one of the key factors behind the success of the protests.

One of the key reasons behind the success of Occupy is that they have chosen a path of non-violence. This doesn't mean that they are automatically morally superior. It does, however, mean that they are rational enough to chose the most effective tactics. This really comes under the heading of good advice such as, "don't fart loudly in Church". In other words there is a time and place for everything. It should be obvious, but for some it is not.

I only feel this is noteworthy because I have seen otherwise sensible people disparage the Occupy movement because (rhetoric coming now) "it can't defend itself, as evidenced by the police crackdowns". Such a statement ignores two things. One is the obvious structure of reality that some seem to have been detached from particularly in North America. The simple FACT is that the so-called "self defense" tactics as advocated by that defend the actions of something like the Black Block have failed every single time over and over and over. Not once, not twice, not even 50 times but 100% of the time every time they are tried. At its worst the police let the BB vandalize things for a short period of time for the necessary propaganda value. Then the BB disappears and lets their allies take the heat. At its "best" the BB always loses for at the end of the spectacle the police still control the streets. Proving that you're crazy and you want to lose endless fights is not "self-defense". Some have defined this sort of behavior as a characteristic of insanity.

This disparagement of the Occupy movement is written from an emotional viewpoint, and the best that I can do is advise holders of such opinions to go outside their social circles and see with their own eyes how the vast majority looks on those who appear to be innocent victims of police violence as opposed to gangs fighting the cops and always losing. To their credit the majority of people involved in Occupy recognize that they are doing politics and not psychotherapy. Some may be under delusions about how nasty the police can be. Others may have "moral arguments" for their non-violence, but I really think that at least a large minority and possibly a majority recognize that the picture of police attacking non-violent people is "the shortest way to the goal of gathering public sympathy".



The following item on the international finamcial crisis is from the Anarkismo website.

Europe & the Bankers
The limits of democracy in Project Europe

When the Arab peoples began to agitate at the start of the year, European countries quickly began to distance themselves from the dictators they had been nursing for some time, in order to seize the flags of change that the people were demanding in the streets. By doing theis, they sought to calm the clamour for social and economic demands and substitute them with cosmetic democratic reforms, as if the struggles of these peoples had not been about the right to bread but the right for access to the polls. There were some who accused the Europeans and their big brothers in Washington of hypocrisy: while the were "horrified" at the repression in Syria, they supported it openly in Bahrain and Yemen; while they waved the bugbear of radical Islamism in Yemen, they openly supported a regime of jihadists that was seeking to impose sharia law in Libya; while they were demanding the resignation of Assad, they closed one eye to the medieval monarchies of the Emirates, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. It is absolutely no surprise, since the imperialists (and the USA and EU are imperialists in the classical sense of the term) never act unless it is for a goal that fits in with their own material and geopolitical interests. Hypocrites they may be, but their hypocrisy is fairly predictable.

Others also denounce hypocrisy on the part of the Europeans when they talk about "democracy", seizing this concept too and deforming it at will, when what they were doing was carefully channelling the process of change in the Arab countries in a typically Leopard-esque way ("change everything in order to change nothing"), so that there would be no more open dictatorships but monitored "democracies", with the army as the final custodian of the imperial interests. After all, the only freedom they know how to defend is the freedom of the market [1].

But there were also others again who corrected us saying that the European countries were not hypocrites, but merely contradictory: i.e., that it wasn't that they were not "democratic" in themselves, it was that they had one policy at home and another abroad. Foreign policy was naturally determined by their venal interests, whereas domestic policy was supposedly based on well-rooted democratic values.

It just needed the entrance onto the scene through the Puerta del Sol of the "indignados" in all their glory and majesty for this myth of a democratic Europe to explode. Western democracy, as some call it, works as long as no-one protests. As Chomsky has so dramatically demonstrated, in advanced capitalist societies the real mechanism of control is not so much the police baton as the creation of forced consensus by means of a stifling form of propaganda. Once the people decide to move outside the tight limits on democratic liberties by this small elite that governs, European democracy shows its teeth and imprisons, beats (no-one dares say torture, but it is also this) and even kills. It happened in Genoa ten years ago and it has happened several times in Greece, but the memories of European citizens are fragile things...
The Bankers Coup in Greece
Last week we witnessed a real coup d'état in Greece. When the "social democrat" George Papandreou took the crazy initiative of calling a referendum to decide whether Greece would continue to remain as part of the Euro zone, he was immediately pressurized into quitting. The pressure, naturally, did not come from the Greek people but from the mandarins of the European Union. Why is the EU against a referendum? What can be more democratic than a referendum, where the people get to have a direct say on policies that directly concern both them and the next three generations at least?

The EU's opinion on referendums is all too well known to anyone living in Ireland, where people twice voted against European Treaties (Nice in 2002 and Lisbon in 2008) and on each occasion were forced by Brussels to vote again after being threatened (and not in too roundabout terms) with all sorts of dire consequences ranging from expulsion from the EU to expulsion from the Eurovision Song Contest.

In Greece, they knew that they would have lost the referendum and so it was aborted in the most anti-democratic of ways, showing how they can force an entire people into remaining part of a commercial zone that is bleeding them to death with illegitimate, extortionate debt. They got rid of the social democratic Papandreou and substituted him, without any election, with a certain Lucas Papademos, ex-governor of the Bank of Greece until 2002, then vice-president of the European Central Bank and finally economic adviser to Papandreou. This is the man who was responsible for the transition from the drachma to the euro, who had a leading role in the irresponsible loans to Greek banks and, lastly, who personally promoted the failed economic policies of a government that brought an entire country to ruins. In other words, we are talking about the persons who alone is more responsible than any other for the mess that the Greeks find themselves in today. But the bankers have spoken: they will not accept any hint of "populism" (the word that is used when "democracy" gets results that Capital does not want) and the hard times that are in it demand a strong hand both to control finances and to control the streets, a stong hand for the poor, but a generous hand for the poor speculators... the bankers in power!
Technocrats and liars in power
In the meantime, the Italians have a good many reasons to celebrate the downfall of the pathetic, decadent Berlusconi, who transformed his premiership into nothing short of a reality show, with a little extra spice from sexy showgirls, sex with underage girls and "bunga bunga" parties, all serving to cloak his links with the mafia and the rampant corruption throughout the country. But they have less reason to celebrate their new premier, Mario Monti. His history is similar to Papademos': he was a European Commissioner, an adviser both to Goldman Sachs, speculators extraordinaire, and to the infamous multinational Coca Cola, and he is close to the current president of the ECB, Mario Draghi. We can only guess whose interests he will be serving, albeit perhaps more efficiently than the corrupt clown who has just left office.

In Ireland too the government fell at the end of last year, and in the improvised elections that were held in February, an apparently schizophrenic coalition was elected: Labour (who in Ireland are to the right of Tony Blair) and Fine Gael, a firmly right-wing nationalist party who once even flirted with Nazism, even to the extent of sending men to fight for Franco. They reached office by promising all the usual lovely things that are promised during election campaigns. They promised that they would review the outgoing government's accords with the ECB and renegotiate the rescue plan; they also swore they would not shift the load of the debt onto the shoulders of the poorer parts of society. And in fact, they also lied, as is usual during election campaigns. Not only have they worsened the terms of the rescue package agreed by the previous corrupt government, they have announced further cuts in the next Budget which will hit the poor, social spending and the workers, while the bankers who created the mess continue to receive their millionaire bonuses because - according to Labour - those bonuses were agreed before the crisis started!

These governments will guarantee that this illegitimate debt will continue to be paid, that they will get every last cent out of us before these countries declare themselves bankrupt. There is no other logic to these Structural Adjustment Programmes and cuts in social spending that are strangling internal markets and de-stimulating spending. It's a case of getting everything you can now before the house burns down.
Governments are falling... but where's the alternative?
The tragedy in Europe is that governments are falling but there is no way out of the crisis being indicated by the mobilized people, partly because the popular movement itself is in crisis after decades of social pacts, immobilism and pacification and due to a quite thorough ideological penetration of the bankers' fallacies in every layer of society. There are the struggles in Greece, but so far they haven't proved enough. There are the "indignados" in Spain, but the working class there has only just started to wake up. In Italy and Ireland, protests are practically nonexistent. In Ireland, any mass mobilization is limited to the weekends (so as not to "damage" the economy), and as far away as possible from government buildings, where bankers are reminded of their social responsibility. As soon as the mass mobilizations that challenge the regime begin, what will happen in this (social) democratic Europe, so proud of its civil liberties? We've already had some idea with the experience of the Basques and Northern Ireland, which demonstrate that when democracy doesn't work, they resort to a state of emergency, something which is as much a part of capitalist democracy as the illusion of elections. Don't forget that in March 2009, at the time of what proved to be a flop of a general strike in Ireland, Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, asked the government to militarize the country's airports in order to prevent any union action.

There has not been even the slightest hint of a revolution in Greece and already they've carried out a coup d'état - not a military one, true enough, but a coup nonetheless with a force that is greater than that of arms: the force of the euro. This should be proof enough for all those who still believe in the mantra of liberal values rooted in European society that these things can happen here, too. In the final analysis, capitalism is based on brute force and its exercises in democracy are merely formal, cosmetic. The "indignados" in their camps around Europe are right to demand real democracy, when everyone can see that the decisions that concern all of us are taken in Brussels and by the ECB.

We should of course never forget that there can be no democracy in politics unless there is democracy in economics. As long as the economy (i.e., the organization of the means to guarantee the people's subsistence) is in the hands of a minority, it will be at the service of a minority. And this minority will have power over the others, without having to worry whether it governs by means of referendums or technocrats. This is the basic limit of democracy, sacrosanct private property and this should be the first element that any truly alternative project must challenge if it is to overcome the crisis.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

15 November 2011

Article written for Translated by FdCA-International relations office.

[1] On monitored democracies that are being set up under the patronage of the EU and the USA in countries which have deposed their dictators, see the articles I wrote some months ago: and

Sunday, November 27, 2011



The following is a document sign by a number of libertarian socialist organizations reiterating their support for the People's Struggle in Egypt. The following is from the Anarkismo website.

International Libertarian Statement of Solidarity with the Egyptian popular Struggle

On the weekend 19-20th a new wave of mass protest all over Egypt broke out because of the systematic violence of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) against the Egyptian masses. People are tired of its dictatorial behaviour, the use of extreme force against protesters, the military trials that in 10 months have ended up with 12,000 comrades rotting in jail, their censorship, the torture, kidnappings and selective murder of activists. People are tired of the military council hijacking the banners of our revolution to continue the same old dictatorship through other means. People are tired of the sectarianism they promote to divert us from our real fight for justice, equality and freedom.

Imperialism has dictated an "orderly transition" to democracy in Egypt. The military have shown themselves obedient in implementing this design. The people in Egypt demand an end to dictatorship and the uprooting of all the remnants of the hated Mubarak regime. People in Egypt want to feel, at last, that they have a country run by themselves for themselves.

The anarchists in Egypt, and the international solidarity movement with the libertarian revolutionaries, wholeheartedly support the just struggle of the Egyptian people to continue their revolution and deplore the massacre of protesters that shows that the SCAF is no different to Mubarak.

Unlike other sectors that hold illusions about bourgeois democracy, we believe that democracy and the State are irreconcilable. Real democracy was put into practice by the Egyptian people when they formed their popular committees and ran their own communities, their own towns, their own affairs from the bottom up. We call to strengthen these popular committees, we call to decentralise the country, to make every single political position recallable by the committees if they fail the popular mandate.

We also believe that the yearning for democracy is incompatible with the capitalist system, based on the elite control of the economy and the means of life, which condemn 25,000 human beings each day in the world to die of hunger. Real democracy is only possible when all of society democratically runs the economy and the industry of a nation. This requires collective ownership of land and companies and self-management by the workers and peasants themselves. If the few control the wealth of the world, the few will keep having power over the majority. The free market is a more subtle form of dictatorship.

Therefore, we call for the trade unions and the workers to take a leading role in the current struggle, to occupy their workplaces, to turn them into workers' cooperatives and to prepare for the full self-management of the Egyptian economy.

The crisis of Egypt will not be solved with half-hearted solutions. We need the commitment of the youth, of the women, of the working class in order to uproot the sources of tyranny and violence in our country - the capitalist system and the State. Let us all unite under the banner of the struggle against military rule, but let us defend a revolutionary, libertarian option for the Egyptian masses.

25 November 2011

Libertarian Socialist Movement (Egypt)
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy)
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (Switzerland)
Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (South Africa)
Workers Solidarity Alliance (USA)
Confederación Sindical Solidaridad Obrera (Spain)
Grupo Libertario Vía Libre (Colombia)
Centro de Investigación Libertaria y Educación Popular (Colombia)
Instituto de Ciencias Económicas y de la Autogestión (Spain)
Federación Comunista Libertaria (Chile)
Revista Política y Sociedad (Chile)
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (Australia
Common Struggle - Libertarian Communist Federation (USA)
Unión Socialista Libertaria (Peru)

Related Link:

Saturday, November 26, 2011



I have recently finished 'The Collected Fairy Tales Of Hans Christian Anderson, and am about 80% through 'The Collected Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm'. Lots of things could be said about these collections. The most obvious one is the bourgeois pietism of Anderson which creates a much"grimmer" picture than the bucolic peasants of the Grimm tales.

One little example, however stands out to me. I am reading direct translations from the Danish and German, and guess what ? The phrase "and they lived happily ever after never appears. I suspect it was a Victorian invention to sanitize death out of the originals. Here's a few examples of how the Grimm tales end:

1)"During the rest of their lives the farmer and his wife were tormented by a guilty conscience and spent their days in poverty and misery. (The Poor Boy In The Grave)

2)"The king drowned, but Hans married his daughter and became the king" (The Griffin)

3)"And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day; otherwise it would have eaten away part of his face. Thus the son wandered about the world without a moment of rest" (The Ungrateful Son)

The book purlates with such endings, some grimmer than others. About the closest one gets to the traditional fairy tale ending that we grew up with would be statements like, "...and so they lived happily until they died". I'm not a literary historian by any means, and so I am left to wonder when and why the classic fairy tales were bowdlerized.

Thursday, November 24, 2011




It was today in 1859 that Charles Darwin published 'The Origin Of Species'. It can be argued that this has been the most influential book of the modern age. Today pretty well anybody involved in the sciences is a "Darwinist". This doesn't just apply to the obvious disciples such as biology, anthropology or archeology. Evolutionary thought is now a paradigm in fields as far apart as cosmology, geology and even chemistry.

Those who refuse evolutionary thought are a tiny minority, at least outside of the USA. On the left there are a tiny number of academics who deny that evolution has anything to do with humans. On the right the USA is the only country in the world where large numbers of people oppose the idea of evolution for religious reasons. In a strange twist of "survival of the fittest" America still has to come to terms with its high class university system bleeding India, Russia, China, Japan and Korea for talent while at the same time religious obscurantism helps to keep the public school system in the USA as substandard.

Thursday, November 17, 2011



Here's an interesting item from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) about a lawsuit initiated 28 years ago demanding equal pay for equal work at Canada Post. I heard about this decision while driving about the city for work today. The internet and print reports add little to the initial report. Basically a 28 year lawsuit was recently settled over different wages paid to women as opposed to men decades ago. Well thanks guys ! There is a lot to be said both pro and con about this decision, but let us assume a sympathy for workers' position. All that Molly can ask is whether this matter would have taken 28 years to resolve if the workers in question had applied direct action ways of pressuring the government ie direct action? It's a thought to think. Here's the bare bones from the Cape Breton Post.


The Supreme Court has handed the Public Service Alliance of Canada a victory in a marathon dispute over pay equity with Canada Post.
Topics :
Canada Post , Supreme Court , Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
In a rare ruling from the bench Thursday, the justices unanimously found for the union in a case that began a generation ago.

PSAC claimed in August 1983 that women were being discriminated against under the Canadian Human Rights Act because they made less than men in comparable Canada Post jobs.
After more than a decade of hearings, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2005 that the crown corporation had violated the act and awarded back pay and interest of about $150 million.

But the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the tribunal’s decision, saying the finding of discrimination was not supported.

The justices said reasons for their decision will be available later.

Thursday, November 03, 2011



As I've mentioned before, both here and on my Facebook page, the very fact that the movement has refused to set up a list of demands to the power elite is a source of strength not weakness. What the Occupy movement is is a widely based challenge to the very power of that elite to direct society. It is not a delegation ,cap in hand, for whatever meagre reforms the elite my offer. The very lack of clarity that the movement is accused of is actually a formidable strength.

A consequence of this refusal to limit the movement's meaning to a shopping list is the amazing fact that the Occupy movement has touched the "Populist Chord" that the traditional left has been unable to play upon for decades. Looking at the participants one sees a broad cross section of society, and the "99%" slogan has caught on with a population not yet ready to camp out themselves. I have noticed a truly remarkable absence of the usual lefty private language and even the fractious "anti-isms" that doom most leftist movement. Those who have taken up this struggle obviously understand the value of unity, and they act accordingly. This has hardly been the case amongst the left of the last few decades, and it is a welcome breath of fresh air.

This lack of particular demands is actually quite unifying. The Occupy movement doesn't just demand a larger slice of the pie for groups a, b, and c. It says there is a whole different and better way to cook pies.