Monday, 17 September 2012

From Crisis to Co-operatives


Over the last few years, Europe has experienced a severe financial crisis, with countries like Greece and Spain facing skyrocketing debt and unemployment. More than a decade ago, a similar situation was unfolding in Argentina. In 2001, the country suffered a debilitating economic crisis and, as a result, defaulted on its foreign debt and stopped pegging the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar.  When the peso to dollar conversion jumped suddenly to three to one, many Argentines lost two-thirds of their savings overnight.
Banks closed.  Companies went out of business.  And fully one-quarter of the population was left without work.  Tens of thousands of those people, in desperation, started to make their living from garbage.  Working as “cartoneros,” which means “cardboard people” they sorted through trash to find recyclable materials to sell.  Thus was born Buenos Aires’ informal recycling system, which still exists today.
Eilís O’Neill has more on how the cartoneros, who originally struggled to exist on what they could make on their own, eventually organized into cooperatives in order to help each other and to demand that the government support their efforts.
This documentary was produced by Eilís O’Neill  in Buenos Aires. Documentary editor is Shannon Young. Technical production by Jeannine Etter. La Plataforma provided music for this documentary.
In 2001 Argentina suffered one of the worst economic depressions since the 1930's, surprisingly this traumatic period went unnoticed by most as 9/11 and the Invasion of Afghanistan diverted attention. I'm also certain that the fact this occurred in South America a region that at the time (late 80's through the 90's) was prone to economic collapse and street protests. Venezuela had food riots in Caracas, the old Dictatorships failures to secure living standards saw all of them chucked out the Presidential palaces etc.

Which as the above documentary demonstrates is quite shameful. Not only was it a case of ignoring a whole nation in severe difficulty, it also means that the rest of the world may have missed out on a very important example of the people power and the tenacity of ordinary people to Organise in the face of extreme adversity and societal collapse. 2001-02 saw ordinary shop floor staff occupying and reopening abandoned factories (for those who haven't already seen it I recommend The Take a documentary about factory occupations) and others still became Cartoneros "Cardboard people" they would and still do sort through rubbish for recyclable material to sell.

You may be wondering, isn't that what the homeless do all over the world? And the answer is sadly yes, but what makes the Cartoneros different is that they began to organise themselves into Cooperatives and establish routines and preferred buyers for certain materials, which enabled individual Cartoneros to work fewer hours, take days off and  improve their health and housing.

In fact several have become so large and well established that a number of them like El Ceibo now own their own sorting areas and factories.

They went from this

To this
But beyond the specific example of sorting recyclables the Cartoneros show the world the power of organisation, by hard work and solidarity the unemployed living on the very fringe of formal society have managed to improve their own conditions and become important institutions in Urban Centres.

In particular the Documentary makers think the Argentine experience will be of use to the Greeks (probably should of recorded it in Greek then) as not only do the two nations share similar triggers for their woes (the Argentine Peso was pegged to the US dollar for years) but the severity of both financial meltdowns means both nations faced a breakdown in formal society.

Friday, 14 September 2012

9/11 First Responders Still not Receiving proper Medical Care

In the hours, days, and months following the September 11th terrorist attacks, thousands of first-responders and workers took part in the recovery efforts and removal of debris in lower Manhattan. Many were exposed to harmful chemicals, such as benzene, petroleum, asbestos, dioxin and other toxic substances. Federal officials in Washington and New York downplayed the dangers of working at the site and, according to government documents and whistleblowers, concealed or misrepresented information that could have spared thousands from exposure. In 2010, after mounting pressure, lawmakers passed the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, but only after funding was decreased. Cancer was also excluded from the list of illnesses. That changed Monday, when The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said some 50 types of cancer would be covered for monitoring and treatment by the program. For more we’re joined by Captain Michael McPhillips. He worked in lower Manhattan and was later diagnosed with emphysema and other illnesses. He is the director of social services and benefits with the FealGood Foundation, an advocacy organization that aids workers from 9/11. He joins us from New York.

More on the FealGood Foundation:
For a list of the cancers covered under the new plan from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

In the aftermath of 9/11 just before the invasion of Afghanistan was confirmed and the troops were still being prepared, I can remember President Bush and New York Mayor Giuliani  had photo opportunities and speeches about the first responders, calling them hero's and doing their best to become associated with these men and women's adoration from the American people. That neither of those gentlemen bothered to help all those responders whose lives have subsequently been made hell for doing their jobs and helping their nation and city during a terrible crisis is damning.

It not only shows the callous disregard career politicians have for the people they supposedly serve so long as their own agenda's are advanced and their approval ratings kept in good health. It also shows America's health care system for what it is, a cruel joke. European health systems are not perfect, but I guarantee that if America (or at the very least New York State) had adopted any one of them those responders would of received proper treatment without the spectre of bankruptcy.

I would also like to take this opportunity to criticise current President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg both of whom have been in office now for several years, and as the above report makes clear haven't done anything to help these much lauded hero's either. In fact given Obama was pretty quick to congratulate himself for the passing of his extremely anaemic Health Care Reforms (Obamacare for Fox news viewers) the raw deal the first responders continues to receive clearly show his administration to be both callous and incompetent. It's true his reforms as weak as they were faced a lot of opposition but do you know what would of been a good counter to the critics? Creating a plan to give the first responders and others in similar situations like crisis management or emergency response assistance with their medical bills. This would not only give you some good propaganda but also clearly demonstrate how Government intervention in the Health system can be beneficial. It would also help out thousands of emergency service workers whom often have the dangerous nature of their work count against them in insurance premiums.

Here's a list of the responders suffering from absorption cancers acquired in the rubble of the World Trade Centre.

 1-R. Alexander Lung Cancer Deceased
2-J. Armenia Cancer
3-K. Arsenault Thyroid Cancer
4-V. Albanese Cancer Deceased
5-D. Armagno Liver Cancer
6-L. Angellone Lung Cancer
7-Anspach Esophageal Cancer Deceased
8-Archili Small Intestines Deceased
9-Aviles Brain Cancer Deceased
10-Aviles Lung Cancer Deceased
11-C. Acosta Testicular Cancer
12-M. Bishop Lung Cancer
13-T. Brophy Colon Cancer Deceased
14-D. Bayles Carcinoma
15-P. Bruno Skin Cancer
16-R. Brady Red Cell Cancer
17-F. Bolusi Brain Cancer Deceased
18-H. Brown Lung Cancer Deceased
19-F. Brinkworth Laryngeal Cancer Deceased
20-R. Burke Lung Cancer Deceased
21-Bassi Non-Small Cell Lung Deceased
22-Blovin Small Cell Lung Deceased
23-Boyles Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
24-Butler Colon Cancer Deceased
25-L. Blieka Prostate Cancer
26-Brown Rectal Cancer Deceased
27-R. Borcherding Cancer Deceased
28-K. Crzartoryski Lung Cancer Deceased
29-S. Callan Mesothelioma
30-R. Chelsen Multiple Myeloma Deceased
31-J. Claude Bone/Lung Cancer Deceased
32-J. Cahill Prostate Cancer
33-C. Caruso Thyroid Cancer
34-C. Clark Lung Cancer Deceased
35-D. Conroy Lung Cancer Deceased
36-J. Costello Lung Cancer Deceased
37-Cozza Leukemia Deceased
38-J. Colleluori Brain Cancer Deceased
39-Christiano Multiple Myeloma Deceased
40-Chiarantan Non-Small Cell Carcinoma Deceased
41-Collazo Leukemia Deceased
42-Casertano Cancer Deceased
43-D. Catapano Lymphocytic Leukemia
44-K. Cassidy Cancer Deceased
45-L. Dipasqua Digestive Cancer
46-B. Deblancio Prostate Cancer
47-J. Devlin Tongue/Lung Cancer
48-F. Doig Cancer
49-K. Delano Larynx Cancer Deceased
50-J. Duffy Leukemia Deceased
51-Diamond Cancer Deceased
52-Damiano Larynx Cancer Deceased
53-Davidson Lung Cancer Deceased
54-Duffy Lung Cancer Deceased
55-Dunn Gastric Carcinoma Deceased
56-K. Devine Leukemia
57-M. Debiase Cancer Deceased
58-B. Emery Cancer
59-R. Ehmer Kidney Cancer Deceased
60-Edwards Colon/Lung Deceased
61-B. Ellicott Cancer Deceased
62-B. Edwards Cancer
63-J. Ferraya Cancer
64-L. Ferrara Brain Cancer
65-V. Fristia Multiple Myeloma
66-J. Ferrari Cancer
67-T. Fay Non-Hodgkin’s
68-D. Fink Skin Cancer
69-L. Ferrell Squamous Cell
70-E. Ferraro Brain Cancer Deceased
71-B. Foss Stomach Cancer Deceased
72-W. Franklin Cancer Deceased
73-R. Ford Cancer Deceased
74-Fradella Lung Cancer Deceased
75-Folk Lung Cancer Deceased
76-Falu Lung Cancer Deceased
77-B. Galfano Intestinal Cancer Deceased
78-D. Gasak Thyroid Cancer
79-R. Geidel Cancer
80-M. Gavin Non-Hodgkin’s
81-R. Grossman Brain Cancer Deceased
82-M. Gallo Cancer
83-J. Garafolo Cancer
84-A. Gonzalez Thyroid Cancer
85-M. Gajewski Lung Cancer Deceased
86-Gyuris Leukemia Deceased
87-Gorman AML Leukemia Deceased
88-J. McFarland Brain Cancer Deceased
89-R. Helmke Cancer Deceased
90-A. Herrmann Cancer Deceased
91-A. Hoare Lung Cancer
92-R. Hauber Esophageal Cancer Deceased
93-S. Higts Cancer
94-K. Hawkins Kidney Cancer Deceased
95-W. Holfester Non-Hodgkin’s Deceased
96-D. Hoganson Prostate Cancer
97-Hubert Lung/Brain Cancer Deceased
98-R. Hillaire Thyroid Cancer
99-J. Hawe Cancer Deceased
100-G. Iacono Brain Cancer Deceased
101-A. Incarbone Lung Cancer Deceased
102-Isaac Cervical Cancer Deceased
103-J. Jones Cancer Deceased
104-S. Johnson Cancer Deceased
105-V. Johnson Cancer Deceased
106-Joseph Lung Cancer Deceased
107-M. Kendrick Lung Cancer Deceased
108-D. Knecht Lung Cancer Deceased
109-P. Kirshner Cancer
110-T. Lockwood Leukemia Deceased
111-Lewis Kidney Cancer Deceased
112-G. Levy Leukemia Deceased
113-Lorenzo Liver Deceased
114-F. Lombardo Follicular Lymphoma
115-D. Mahmoud Cancer Deceased
116-B. McCauley Cancer Deceased
117-T. McCaffrey Throat Cancer Deceased
118-J. McNamara Colon Cancer Deceased
119-P. Malano Lymphoma
120-M. Mahoney Cancer Deceased
121-B. McKiernan Cancer
122-J. McCabe Cancer
123-K. Meshia Cancer
124-J. Marino Non-Hodgkin’s
125-F. Macari Lung Cancer Deceased
126-R. Manetta Cancer Deceased
127-W. Marzocchi Blood Cancer Deceased
128-R. McCormick Non-Hodgkin’s Deceased
129-C. McMurray Brain Cancer Deceased
130-P. Murphy Cancer
131-J. Murray Colon Cancer Deceased
132-M. Morales Lung Cancer Deceased
133-S. McCarthy Cancer Deceased
134-S. Mosiello Cancer Deceased
135-V. Mauro Colon Cancer Deceased
136-Mazarese Colon Cancer Deceased
137-McAuslan Lung Cancer Deceased
138-Mungen Lymphoma Deceased
139-McCoy Lung Cancer Deceased
140-Melaniff Lung Cancer Deceased
141-Mollahan Kidney Cancer Deceased
142-Mucciola Cancer Deceased
143-Muligan Lung Cancer Deceased
144-C. Milosevich Lung Cancer Deceased
145-R. Natal Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
146-V. Navarra Lung Cancer Deceased
147-A. Nuccio Melanoma Deceased
148-T. Neal Cancer
149-W. O’Conner Lung Cancer Deceased
150-R. Oswain Cancer Deceased
151-O’Loughlin Stomach Cancer Deceased
152-Orsulich Lung Cancer Deceased
153-F. Paultre Cancer Deceased
154-G. Pennington Lymphoma Deceased
155-S. Petrovich Tongue Cancer
156-D. Phillips Cancer Deceased
157-Pacheco Gastric Cancer Deceased
158-Pappalardo Lung Cancer Deceased
159-Perrotti Renal Cancer Deceased
160-Puma Cancer Deceased
161-R. Pfiefer Cancer
162-G. Quibell AML Leukemia Deceased
163-B. Quick Cancer Deceased
164-P. Rooney Leukemia Deceased
165-L. Reiss Cancer
166-R. Ragucci Cancer Deceased
167-B. Richardson Cancer
168-R. Reilly Liver/Abdominal Cancer
169-P. Rodriguez Thyroid Cancer Deceased
170-J. Rodriguez Cancer
171-D. Reeve Mesothelioma Deceased
172-R. Ruggiero Cancer
173-T. Roberts Esophagus Cancer Deceased
174-J. Ryan Cancer Deceased
175-M. Ryan Lymphoma Deceased
176-S. Ryan Leukemia
177-Regan Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
178-R. Richards Multiple Myeloma
179-H. Smith Kidney Cancer Deceased
180-M. Summers Lung Cancer Deceased
181-G. Schump Non-Hodgkin’s
182-F. Stuck Throat Cancer Deceased
183-K. Specht Thyroid Cancer
184-R. Schor Carcinoma Deceased
185-M. Snadecky Cancer Deceased
186-W. St. George Cancer Deceased
187-J. Sullivan Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
188-J. Stroehlein Brain Cancer
189-J. Stillitano Cancer
190-A. Schille Multiple Myeloma
191-V. Scudieo Colon Cancer
192-Sciciliato Esophageal Cancer Deceased
193-Suweidan Cancer Deceased
194-M. Tom Liver/Brain Cancer Deceased
195-J. Thomas Lung Cancer Deceased
196-M. Tynan Prostate Cancer
197-M. Tervellione Cancer
198-W. Voight Cancer Deceased
199-C. Vidro Multiple Myeloma Deceased
200-B. Viania Lymphoma Deceased
201-Vincent Liver Deceased
202-E. Vallebuona Non-Hodgkin’s
203-R. Wiebicke Multiple Myeloma Deceased
204-J. Walcott Leukemia
205-R. Winter Leukemia Deceased
206-R. Williamson Cancer Deceased
207-J. Young Cancer Deceased
208-S. Yurek Brain Cancer Deceased
209-R. Zane Cancer Deceased
210-B. McFadzen Leukemia
211- J. Rodriguez Cancer
212-L. Heyward Lymphoma Deceased
213-A.Jurinko Pancreatic Deceased
214-M.Bananhan Throat Cancer
215-R. Lingo Lymphoma
216-D.Otten Cancer Deceased
217-P.Pallas Cancer Deceased
218-G.Allen Colon Cancer Deceased
219-F. Ghussin Cancer Deceased
220-R. Graves Cancer Deceased
221-R.Dillion Cancer Deceased
222-J.Daley Cancer Deceased
223-P.Farrenkopf Cancer Deceased
224-R.Hess Cancer Deceased
225-R.Hodges Cancer Deceased
226-E. Reilly Cancer Deceased
227-H.Wanamaker Cancer Deceased
228-P.Berger Cancer Deceased
229-C.Brown Cancer Deceased
230-C.Capobianco Cancer Deceased
231-F.Rosario Cancer Deceased
232-W.Moreau Cancer Deceased
233-L.Badia Bladder Cancer
234-J.Boylan Sarcoma
235-C.Cole Brian Cancer Deceased
236-J.Cortazzo Blood Cancer Deceased
237-B.Cornell Thyroid Cancer
238-J. Dimarco Leukemia
239-S.Adrian Brian Cancer Deceased
240-R.Dunbar Cancer Deceased
241-D.Feser Cancer Deceased
242-E.Gilpin Cancer Deceased
243-J.Goosdbee Cancer Deceased
244-C.Hanarhan Cancer Deceased
245-G.Mausberg Cancer Deceased
246-E.Ortiz Cancer Deceased
247-C.Ocasio Cancer Deceased
248-A.Peluso Cancer Deceased
249-G.Rex Cancer Deceased
250-R.Rivera Cancer Deceased
251-E.Thompson Cancer Deceased
252-R.Weintraub Cancer Deceased
253-B.Mohammed Cancer Deceased
254-A.Baez Cancer Deceased
255-G.Wong Gastric Cancer Deceased
256-L.Johnston Lung Cancer Deceased
257-R.Jakubowsky Cancer Deceased
258-R.Nicosia Cancer Deceased
259-P.Gerasimczya Cancer
260-D.Howley Cancer
261-S.Rabiner Cancer
262-R.Bradley Leukemia
263-G.Spinelli Cancer Deceased
264-D.Collins Non-Hodgkin’s
265-C.Russo Throat Cancer
266-B.Gray Prostate Cancer
267-V.Nitti Thyroid Cancer
268-A-Falco Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
269-T.Wilson Tongue Cancer
270-G.Kavakos Cancer Deceased
271-B.Malloy Cancer Deceased
272-J.O’Neill Cancer Deceased
273-C.Sealy Cancer Deceased
274-E.Tietjen Cancer Deceased
275-W.Wilson Cancer Deceased
276-P.Triola Kidney Cancer
277-R.Dambakly Lymphoma
278-A.Noonan Leukemia
279-C.Capolino Leukemia
280-K.Wolfe Throat Cancer
281-G.Carl Throat Cancer
282-M.Behetti Lung Cancer
283-J.Colon Non-Hodgkin’s
284-L.Acevedo Leukemia
285-F.Krines Cancer
286-S.Mozes Non-Hodgkin’s
287-R.Yecchione Non-Hodgkin’s
288-R.Wallen Myelodysplasia/Prostate Cancer
289-J.Costanza Cancer
290-M.Mulqueen Colon Cancer
291-R.Lafuence Brain Cancer
292-J.Treuman Brain Cancer
293-M.Jezycki Leukemia
294-M.Young Stomach Cancer
295-S.Blihar Prostate Cancer
296-V.Dinnen Esophageal Cancer Deceased
297-J.Burke Prostate Cancer
298-D.McLarney Cancer Deceased
299-J.Rappa Cancer Deceased
300- M.Sartoretti Non-Hodgkin’s
301-T.McCauley Throat Cancer
302- F.Feeney Cancer Deceased
303-B.Fanara Small Cell Lung/Brain
304-L.Massa Lung Cancer
305-F.Zambrano Non-Hodgkin’s
306-E.Cahlstadt Prostate Cancer
307-C.Hudson Prostate Cancer
308-J.Clark Prostate Cancer
309-S.Riedel Prostate Cancer
310-C.Cooper Bladder/Kidney Cancer
311-J.Fenrich Colon Cancer
312-M.Mckay Bone Cancer Deceased
313-A.Bachmann Lung Cancer Deceased
314-S.Tallone Lymphoma
315-G.Danza Brain Cancer Deceased
316-J.Bruinsma Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
317-P.Workman Multiple Myeloma
318-D.Curaba Bladder Cancer
319-P.Sullivan Leukemia Deceased
320-F.Thomas Sarcoma
321-R.Torres Colon Cancer
322-D.Mulholland Colon Cancer
323-T.Frank Pancreatic Cancer Deceased
324-M.Donnelly Brain Cancer
325-S.Reisman Brain Cancer
326-C.Pupo Cancer Deceased
327-D.Smith Stomach Cancer
328-A.Mangaracina Thymic Carcinoma
329-M.McHugh Lung Cancer Deceased
330-L.Sullivan Cancer
331-J.Leho Cancer Deceased
332-J.Kristofferson Esophageal Cancer Deceased
333-S.Lancelot Lung Cancer Deceased
334-J.Loia Lung Cancer
335-D.Morales Cancer Deceased
336-C.Strucker Cancer Deceased
337-N.Couluris Cancer Deceased
338-J.Kelly Cancer
339-C.Jones Esophageal Cancer
340-J.Wright Skin Cancer
341-J.Riccardi Lung Cancer
342-A.Mangaracina Cancer Deceased
343-D.Roblez Cancer
344-G.Walsh Mylo-Fibrosis

 Though I hate the slogan and what it was used to justify, I do believe that here it is at least appropriate. "Never Forget"

Head to the FEAL Good foundation for more information and ways you can help.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The word "Nazi" isn't rhetoric anymore

If NSDAP were still around I could see a copyright suit

The article by Laurie Penny
"After the immigrants, you're next." That's what was written on flyers that appeared this week in the gay clubbing district of Athens. As violence against immigrants and ethnic minorities escalates across Greece, supporters of the ultra-right Golden Dawn party have also begun to promote hate attacks on homosexuals and people with disabilities. These fascists march with black shirts and flares through Athens, terrorising ethnic and sexual minorities, waving an insignia which looks like nothing but an unravelled swastika, and declaring disdain for the political process. And yet, across Europe, they continue to be treated as a mere symptom of Greece's economic crisis.

Once, right-wing thugs only came out to attack immigrants at night. Now they do so in daylight, unafraid of the consequences because there rarely are any. In recent weeks, the number and severity of the attacks have increased – on 12 August, a 19-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker was fatally stabbed by a gang on motorcycles just streets away from the Greek parliament – and if migrants report attacks to police, they risk being arrested.
Not only are crimes against immigrants in Greece considered low priority, much of Golden Dawn's support base comes from police ranks. Exit polls in the May 2012 elections suggested that in some urban districts up to 50 per cent of Greek police voted for the racist group, which now holds 7 per cent of the seats in parliament.
Behold the guardians of Grecian Democracy

The stabbings, beatings and motorbike attacks have become so routine that in many parts of the capital, immigrants are afraid to go out alone. While Greece has long had a large migrant population – 80 per cent of refugees to the European Union arrive in Greek ports – families who came to the country seeking safety are now afraid for their children. A recent Human Rights Watch report, Hate on the Streets, found that "national authorities – as well as the EU and the international community at large – have largely turned a blind eye" to xenophobic violence in Greece.
An example of the heroic defence of Greece

Turning a blind eye would be bad enough. But now the Minister for Public Order, Nikos Dendias, has pledged to crack down on immigration, which he described as an "invasion" and "a bomb at the foundations of society". Tellingly, Dendias also described the presence of foreigners in Greece as a more significant threat than the economic crisis – a message he would no doubt plaster across the walls of Athens if he could.
Whipping up racism has become a strategy for diverting an embittered nation's attention away from the government and public spending crisis. Like many flagging centre-right administrations, the New Democracy coalition is mimicking the language of far-right extremists, pandering to rather than pacifying public xenophobia. With Dendias's support, the police are rounding up immigrants, arresting and deporting thousands in raids across Athens and nearby cities – a programme named, with no apparent irony, after Zeus Xenios, the Greek God of hospitality.

Golden Dawn's surge in popularity and confidence did not come from nowhere. The party has been active for decades, but four years ago, before the first wave of austerity cuts in Greece, it was regarded as something of a joke. This summer, with its party at the table in parliament, members of Golden Dawn are setting up "Greeks only" supermarkets and distributing food parcels to the unemployed in Syntagma Square – but only for "real Greeks".
Trivia time: Free lunch was a flagship program of the Black Panther Party

The left does not need to point to the historic correlation between imposed economic austerity and the rise of fascism: Golden Dawn is making that link explicit, celebrating it. But simple willingness to capitalise on public anger will never, in any nation, make racist thugs the voice of the people.
Germany the past

Greece the future

As with many fascist groups, Golden Dawn claims to represent the marginalised working class. Like far-right groups across Europe – including the English Defence League and the new British Freedom Party – Golden Dawn declares itself the enemy of a bankrupt democratic system, exploiting for its own ends popular anger against neoliberal economic mismanagement. However, although it professes to stand against austerity, it has no economic project: its tactics are simply violent, divisive and nauseatingly racist. And the governments of Greece and Europe seem willing to tolerate this as the social cost of an ongoing austerity consensus.
Behold our continents guardians of stability and prosperity (stop laughing)

The European Union was established after the Second World War to ensure socio-economic unity on a continent ripped apart by fascism. In the Greece of today, Golden Dawn is being treated as a serious political party, despite its members' eschewal of democratic process and tendency to assault rival politicians on television.
Long after the Nazi party took power in Germany in 1933, after the Reichstag had been burned and anti-semitic violence became official state policy, European governments remained more worried about the possibility of a socialist Germany than a fascist one. Almost until the Second World War, it remained more important to many world leaders that Germany pay down its debts. Drawing historical parallels with Nazism is a weary rhetorical technique that commentators on left and right have cheapened by tossing the simile into discussions of food labelling and over-enthusiastic traffic control. In this case, however, it's not rhetoric.
And we thought Nick Griffins Question Time appearance was bad

Actual fascists in actual black shirts are actually marching around Athens waving swastikas and burning torches, and maiming and murdering ethnic minorities, and world governments appear frighteningly relaxed about it as long as the Greek people continue to pay off the debts of the European elite. When the lessons of history are taught by rote, they can be easy to miss when most needed. This time, Europe must remember that the price of fostering fascism is crueller and costlier by far than any national debt.

 A well thought out article and from the Indy no less, Golden Dawn received 6.9% of the vote, hardly a landslide but historically Fascist parties have been very good at seizing power without achieving majority support, for example the Nazi's highest vote share in a relatively free and fair election was 37.4% in July 1932, however by November that had dropped to 33.1%. In January 33 Hitler was made Chancellor and his party accelerated the repression of rival parties like the Communists and SPD making the results of elections after that date suspect.

In Italy the National Fascist Party managed a meagre 2 seats in the 1921 elections and yet was able to seize control of Italy a year later with its march on Rome. In Spain Franco and the Falange had to rely on an alliance of Conservatives, Political Catholics and the support of Italy and Germany (the infighting on the Republican side didn't hurt) to establish his vision of a united Spain.

Hell in the 60's Greece was controlled by a small group of Fascist military officers and an inept king managed to place tanks on the streets of Athens and cobble together a 7 year junta.

Fortunately there is still hope, Greeks themselves at least are taking the threat of Golden Dawn seriously, and opposition to them is fierce, determined and often violent. We must also not be dismissive of Golden Dawn as an isolated anomaly or a purely Greek phenomena. Far right fringe groups have been networking for years all over Europe. 

When Fascism first made a big splash in Europe Red terrorism, Jewish Diaspora and stagnant economies were filling seats in the beer halls and arm bands on angry thugs. Coupled with a divided Left (in Germany the KPD focussed on fighting the SPD as late as 1933) and a naive Conservative business class willing to gamble on the jackboots to stave off the Red flag revolutionaries. Today we have Al-Qaeda terrorism, immigration and the economic downturn have all combined to give these new generations of skinheads openings to exploit. We can't really do much about that but we can keep the threat these groups really represent and unite accordingly.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Popular Scapegoat

Again? This is so common now I wonder if it still phases Obama

Well it looks like our favourite scapegoats for violence is in the spotlight again. It seems the red and black menace is operational not just in Tampa Florida but also in Georgia I know their both "Red States" but I don't remember either being infamous hotbeds of Left wing militancy. But I guess my big book of Red terrorism is missing a few chapters (that'll teach me to buy second hand) as a "Anarchist" militia has just been busted foiling its plans to kill Obama and among other things bombing a fountain.

"These included "forcibly taking over the ammo control point of Fort Stewart to take the post, bombing vehicles of local and state judicial and political figureheads and federal representatives to include the local department of homeland security, (and plotting) to bomb the fountain at Forsyth Park in Savannah."
Oh and they also murdered two people, Michael Roark a member of the group they believed to be a "loose end" and his 17 year old girlfriend Tiffany York presumably for the same reason. Now before I continue I think its best to clear up any confusion, these men are if guilty of the crimes they're alleged to have conducted and planned and I have no reason to believe they aren't, then they are murderous scum and it is a good thing they were caught before they could put phase one of their plan into action and kill anymore people. And its a shame they weren't caught before they kill Roark and York. So please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say as in anyway defending these men, that is not my intention.

What is my intention is to query something about the case, this militia totalling four men not counting Roark for obvious reasons has for some reason be branded "Anarchists". Now its certainly possible that a Militia is composed of Anarchists or has some Anarchist aim and platform, arguably the third most famous Anarchist symbol is the CNT/FAI Militia operating during the Spanish Civil War against Franco's coup. If your curious the second most famous symbol is the slogan "Property is theft" and number one is the A for Anarchy.

Pictured: a confirmed Anarchist Militia

 But having said that something about the group and the way it operated just doesn't jive with what I know about Anarchism and modern Anarchists. Now again I could prove wrong when more evidence is publicised but for now it looks like another case of media companies slapping on the edgy label to attract more viewers/readers. The group known as Forever Enduring Always Ready (FEAR) was made up of ex and current US servicemen, now the name doesn't really fit the usually Anarchist naming culture and the exclusively military membership is also quite odd given that Anarchists tend to view the military as the bluntest instrument of state power. On their own these two arguments aren't very convincing I know, maybe they chose the name to differentiate themselves or their background in the military influenced them. And maybe they became Anarchists after signing up due to frustration and disenchantment with the way things are going, they wouldn't be the first Left wing radicals to come out of boot camp.

Fortunately for me I have more, a lot has been made about this groups hatred for Obama a black Democratic President with foreign parents, -clearly only Anarchists would want such a man dead- the problem here is that there is a difference between being anti-government and anti specific governments. And from what I've read the impression I'm getting is this is almost exclusively a grudge against Obama, or to be fair the style of government and policy package that Obama is providing. Again this an assumption based on the limited information released but you have to work within your means.

Also if I may be an Armchair General for a moment, their plans to fulfil the aim of governmental overthrow is suspect. Both the targets and the lack of political development leads me to believe they weren't very savvy on political theory. Lets take another look at their grand strategy

According to prosecutors, the four men plotted to seize control of the base where they were stationed, and also plotted acts of terror at nearby locations, including the bombing of a park in Savannah, Georgia. The group’s schemes reached across the United States, prosecutors said, and included the poisoning of apple crops in the state of Washington and the bombing of a dam in the Evergreen State. But their grandest ambition, the prosecutors said, was to overthrow the entire government of the United States, in part by assassinating their commander in chief.
Emphasis mine. But just look at that, the whole core of Anarchist theory is that their should be no authority over humanity because they aren't necessary. The common man and woman is capable of providing for themselves and society through mutual cooperation. Therefore the ordinary working class is the most important part of society, it just needs to realise its capacity. Now that's a simplification, but can you tell me how exactly poisoning an orchard or blowing up a park helps the lumpen proletariat? Because I'm honestly stumped on this one.

If on the other hand they just wanted to topple the government, and weren't really interested in worker organisation which to me seems the case then actually all of those actions listed could work to their purposes. It would still be unlikely to work and would only achieve a high death toll, but it would create fear and it would bring the group a lot of attention, and if they knew what they were doing (I doubt it) they could use that attention to push there ideas. Al Qaeda did the same thing after 9/11, despite the dramatic and practically speaking crippling response from the West they were still able to reach out and inspire small groups and networks of frustrated Islamists around the world.

But that would require a sophistication beyond these four men, which is fortunate because if they were a little smarter they might have been able to carry out at least a couple attacks.

So why then has the media labelled these guys Anarchists if they're just another band of Militia oriented terrorists? Well their is some evidence provided

"And then Aguigui introduced me to 'the manuscript,' that's what he called it, a book about true patriots," the soldier said.
The four men became part of a group that aimed "to give the government back to the people,"
  Pauley said members of the militia wore the same tattoo, which allegedly is similar to an anarchy symbol.
I know the case is recent and the police aren't exactly going to release everything related to the case but this, this nothing. I mean allegedly similar to an Anarchy symbol? Which Anarchy symbol you mean that fancy A in a circle? And if so how was it different? Why not just use the Anarchy symbol if they were Anarchists these things aren't trademarked.

Like this?

Or was it like this?

Ok lets assume it is the Anarchy symbol is that in its self evidence they read Bakunin? No, there is a difference between Anarchy and Anarchism. Anarchism is a political ideology with a number of core beliefs and practices, Anarchy is a state of nature, it simply means to exist without rulers. All Anarchists aim for anarchy yes but not everyone who strives for Anarchy is and Anarchist. The international system has been in a state of Anarchy for centuries with only recent developments like the UN starting to curb nation  states freedom to do what they wish. And I sincerely doubt any head of state or government has been an Anarchist, and if they were then they were failures.

But what about the rhetoric about Revolution and giving government to the people? I'll admit at face value those sentiments sound a bit more like the people power Anarcho's but again without further elaboration it isn't very convincing. As much as the Left would love to say otherwise they don't monopolise the terms Revolution or people centred rhetoric, many tendencies including extreme right wing movements use those terms too. Revolution means the same (barring details of course) no matter whom invokes it, a fundamental change in the way a society works, it all rests on what FEAR meant by People and given government to them.

For example the American Revolution was a Bourgeois Republican revolt, by kicking out a foreign Monarchy it transferred government to the control of Americans. A small number of Americans whom were wealthy and from the same social circles. To a Communist, Socialist and Anarchist the American Revolution did not give government to the people it merely transferred power from one oligarchy to another. However if you are a Nationalist or a Liberal the American Revolution did give power to the people since the new leadership is drawn from the national populous and had to achieve their positions through individual initiative and had the liberty to make the attempt. Neither condition existed whilst the Continental United States remained colonies.

If FEAR's main grievances were with Obama and his supporters, that is to say they viewed his policies as being illegitimate and was concentrating power in the hands of the Executive (a common contention made by similar American Militia's) then giving Government back to the people would just mean the overthrow of the Administration and its replacement with another whom would have different policies. If so then these men where not Anarchists, as with the exception of a face change and some laws in the books the fundamental structure of the United States would be kept intact. Anarchist retract the establishment of Nation states in their entirety and given the casual use of the word Patriot that the group applied to themselves and their "manuscript" it seems unlikely that FEAR shared that view.

I guess in summary I have to say I'll be looking out for further information, but for now I'm unconvinced that these men were Anarchists and the use of the label seems highly suspect. In fact I believe the reason the A word was used is because stories of random extremist Militia plotting to take down Uncle Sam and Barrack Obama in particular have become so commonplace that it no longer sells papers or ups viewer ratings. Meanwhile ever since Occupy Wallstreet started up left wing radicalism has become for want of a better word "trendy" again and Anarchism with its very old associations with violence and danger has become king of the Red menace style scaremongering, hence the ridiculous over use of the term.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Tampa: Anarchist Reality vs Media Fantasy

Well I'm convinced, time to declare Martial Law

 I've been watching a bits and pieces of coverage of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa Florida. In a word its been very weird, from an ageing rambling Clint admonishing an empty chair (Alzheimer's claims another victim?) to Ann Romney redundantly telling women that her husband loves all of them (must resist Mormon joke). However one thing of note that cropped up time and again was the need to sensationalise the ridiculous amount of security the RNC had. I get their important political figures and the Republican party isn't the most popular guys and gals right now, but do the police really need tanks with the turrets cut off?

Look at this thing, it be more useful in Iraq 2003 leading the invasion

But it soon became quite clear that yes the not tanks and the thousands of riot police and National Guardsmen were necessary. For you see theirs a spectre hauting Tampa and that spectre is.... V cosplayers I mean Anarchists. Red and black flag waving Anarchists. Now this shouldn't be that surprising, its been an old and well worn trick when a society is experiencing uncomfortable (for the top dogs anyway) levels of unrest be they strikes, marches, riots, alternative music festivals etc. to blame it on the "Reds" which are the Communists, Socialists, Anarchists the Feminists and occasionally ethnic minority support groups. In fact their was even a poem about this old scaremongering composed in New Zealand in the 20's

"The Popular Scapegoat

If a boiler blows up or a steamer goes down
Or somebody curses the Cross or the Crown
To find out the culprit, no, don’t let it trouble you
Put it all down to the Eye Double Double -You

The Eye Double Double-You refers to the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). So yeah this is a pretty old game and the media plays its part well. But what about Tampa 2012? well as you can see below the media loves to beat dead horses as much as it does scapegoating radicals.

 The Fantasy

Did you catch that? after over 3 minutes of fast editing up tempo background music and shot after shot of unrelated scenes of escalating violence and weirdos in Guy Fawkes (More like V for Vendetta) masks they admit they have no evidence of a specific threat. So why were they showing us all that footage and telling us about acid filled eggs (Is that even possible?) sure seemed specific to me. In fact the only "evidence" they found was in the picture at the top more V imagery this time as graffiti, a compelling case I know. Leaving aside the gigantic leaps in logic you'd have to take to go from one guy/girl graffiti's a wall = the revolution, what really gets me about this, is that the above news report is exactly the sort of thing the Day Today and Brass Eye used to do, and they were satire.

To be fair this does look like a scene from V for Vendetta too

The Reality

To be even more fairer the news anchors of America Anarchists were present at the RNC protests and did plan and carry out some activities, unfortunately for the camera crews instead of street battles with the riot police the Anarchists clean up some streets and a local park. I don't know whether to find this gulf between reality and mass media fiction is funny or sad. Its probably a mix of both.

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