On 2nd January 2022, mass protests broke out in Kazakhstan in reaction to the rising cost of living. Without centralized leadership, party political posturing or external geopolitical pressure, the protests erupted into a truly popular and spontaneous movement of revolutionary proportions. Putin's new Russian Empire responded predictably, carrying out an invasion of their Central Asian neighbor to suppress the Kazakh people.

The following are two statements by the Russian anarcho-communist group Autonomous Action, standing with the protestors against the imperialist coup.

First Statement:
The protests in Kazakhstan, which escalated into street clashes with the police, began due to a sharp jump in prices for liquefied gas, which is not only a means of heating, but also fuel for cars (from 70 to 120 tenge per liter), which would lead to an increase in prices for all products. The residents of Zhanaozen were the first to take to the streets, their protest began on January 2, but quickly spread to other large cities.

The protesters are outraged by the fact that in the country, which is one of the largest suppliers of gas for export, it has become a deficit: "The gas that we produce is no longer available to us!" Economic demands quickly turned into political ones.

Clashes began with the police. The police shot at people with stun grenades, in response they attacked police cars and destroyed them with the help of improvised means. The authorities clearly underestimated the strength of the street fury and the ability to self-organize. Eyewitnesses note the absence of clear leaders and the collective demonstration of the protesters. Russian pro-government resources, as usual, blame the machinations of the State Department and provocateurs. It is too early to say how this night will end now, but it is clear that people are driven to despair.

Now in some cities of Kazakhstan mobile Internet is disabled, in others the main instant messengers are blocked. A state of emergency has been declared in Alma-Ata and Mangistau Oblast.

Second Statement:
Kazakhstani elites are trying to stay in power at all costs. As the police and army began to defect to the side of the rebellious people, President Tokayev resorted to the last argument of all authoritarians: to ask the dictator-neighbor for help. Formally, this is an appeal to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), but in fact it is a cry for help to the Kremlin: apart from Russia and Kazakhstan, there are simply no other states in the CSTO with an army strong enough to be sent to suppress an uprising in a neighboring country... Neither Tajikistan, nor Kyrgyzstan, nor Armenia, nor Belarus will certainly send their soldiers to Kazakhstan. Tokayev clearly hopes that Putin's troops will save him from his own insurgent citizens.

It seems that for the Kazakhs this should mean the final loss of any legitimacy by the Tokayevs. A president who calls his own people "terrorist gangs" is a low blow, even by the standards of the post-Soviet authoritarian "republics."

But what does this mean for the people of Russia? The CSTO formally agreed to Tokayev's "request"; Russian military airfields are preparing to send a "temporary contingent" to Kazakhstan. In fact, this is a forceful invasion of another country on the side of the government that has lost the confidence of the people. This will mean an endless reproduction of the scenario "Russia is a prison of peoples" and will be on a par with the suppression of the Hungarian revolutions in 1848 and 1956, with the tanks on the streets of Prague in 1968 and with the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Now it is important to prevent this, or at least show the world that not everyone in Russia agrees with such a shameful act. A petition has been launched against the introduction of troops into Kazakhstan, but, of course, these signatures are unlikely to be very important for Putin. Nevertheless, this is at least some kind of action, and we urge you to sign this petition.

In addition, it is important to establish contacts with the Kazakh diaspora in your cities and, if possible, go to the embassies and consulates of Kazakhstan to demonstrate your position. The people of Kazakhstan can and should decide their fate independently, without the "help" of foreign soldiers.

No war!

Autonomous Action

First Statement: https://avtonom.org/news/kazahstan-vyshel-na-ulicy-policiya-bezhit
Second Statement: https://avtonom.org/news/protiv-vvoda-v-kazahstan-voysk-stran-chlenov-odkb


We'd also direct you to read the pieces by other comrades, both of which provide excellent coverage, history and political undrstanding of the ongoing situation. We will continue to expand this article as appropriate.

Pramen
"Colonialism of the twenty-first century"
https://pramen.io/en/2022/01/colonialism-of-the-twenty-first-century

CrimethInc
"The Uprising in Kazakhstan"
https://crimethinc.com/2022/01/06/the-uprising-in-kazakhstan-an-interview-and-appraisal

LeftEast
"A Color Revolution or a Working-Class Uprising?: an Interview with Aynur Kurmanov on the Protests in Kazakhstan"
https://lefteast.org/a-color-revolution-or-a-working-class-uprising-an-interview-with-aynur-kurmanov-on-the-protests-in-kazakhstan/

CRAS-IWA
"Statement on the situation in Kazakhstan"
https://aitrus.info/node/5884

Related Media
Police in Akobi - Western Kazakstan announce they will no longer act against the protestors.
https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8o8ymBb/

The LiveUAmap is keeping track of the ongoing situation: https://centralasia.liveuamap.com/ They also have a twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/Liveuamap/status/1478303987921305601

Twitter account Bad Immigrant has been keeping track of events with an array of footage and media.

And here's the account of Abdujalil Abdurasulov BBC journalist that's currently the only known english language reporter on the ground (at this time 06/01) in Kazakhstan.

Our solidarity goes out to the working class of Kazakstan as it takes a stand against injustice and the throttling of their government and the looming menace of the Russian state.

Leila Hosseinzadeh, a well-praised Iranian student activist was brutally arrested in Shiraz on December 7th, 2021, and forcefully sent to detention in Shiraz Prison before she was stealthily transferred to 209 Ward of Tehran's Evin Prison. Her whereabouts were not announced by the intelligence agents of Iran for two weeks until after she was eventually allowed to speak to her parents who had been desperately looking for her.

Born in a working-class family, Hosseinzadeh's student activism was tied to the workers' unions and student unions' demands which made her a popular pragmatic figure among both leftist intellectuals and laborers. It is not her first time to become a subject to brutal arrests and imprisonment. Hosseinzadeh was first arrested amid her partaking in the December 2017 protests. She was released on bail after having spent 16 days under interrogations in detention. On July 28, 2019, she was again arrested by the intelligence service agents and sent to Evin Prison Women's Ward to serve her 30 months' prison sentence.

After each arrest, she was sent to the Revolutionary courts of Branch 28 and Branch 26 to receive sentences for her partaking in the birthday party of the Dervish activist Mohammad Sharifi Moqaddam and singing the revolutionary song of "the blood of Judas trees" in public. She was allegedly charged with "conspiracy against national security", and "assembly and collusion against national security".

She was ultimately sentenced to a 5-year imprisonment, a 2-year ban from social media activism, and a 2-year deprivation of leaving Iran. She served 2.5 years of her sentence before she was released in accordance with the decision of Tehran Province's Appeals Court on June 24, 2019. The master graduate of anthropology from Tehran University, Hosseinzadeh has been actively involved in students' demands such as the student movement against privatization of education.

A few days before her latest arrest, she was sentenced to imprisonment and social deprivation by the Tehran Appeal Court Branch 36. However, she was arrested at the presence of 15 intelligence agents while she was on vacation in Shiraz. She was extremely beaten under an aggravated mayhem by the agents. Her family have reported that she was prevented from taking her medications which are necessary for her serious illness and is now in a physically critical situation.

Written by a collective of Iranian comrades.
You can keep up to date on twitter by following @Sanazactivist

Update: Leila Hossein has been transferred to Shiraz again and applied for 1.5﷼ billion (£25K) bail for her release.

Update 2: Leila Hosseinzad was released on bail on the second.

Kill the Bill” was how we responded when Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill first made its way into the Commons. It proposed an overhaul to criminal justice, chiefly by making existing punishments for crimes much worse and introducing new ones that had troubling implications. This bill effectively criminalised protest, making it illegal to hold a demonstration that could potentially cause “annoyance”. We rioted, just as any people should when their freedoms are being threatened, when their lives are at risk of falling under a dictatorship.

But our protests were of no use, up against a government that wanted to do away with us and a police that were more than happy to oblige them. Our elected legislature, dominated by a party of elites marching in lockstep with their despotic leaders, voted in favour of the bill, secure in the knowledge that they’ll never be “annoyed” by the people ever again.[1] Per our decrepit traditions that insist on the continued political empowerment of the nobility and clergy, the bill went through to the Lords for debate. Some placed their hopes in the supposed apolitical virtue of our aristocratic class to deliver us from tyranny, while others began to worry what those unelected sections of the ruling class had in store.

It’s difficult to penetrate the legalese deep enough to find out what these old fossils want to inflict on us. Initially these amendments didn’t seem so bad, with a number of attempts to reign in many of the more draconian aspects of the bill,[2] some even trying to bolt-on their own ideas of what progressive justice legislation could be.[3] But towards the end of the document you begin to dig up some incredibly heinous proposals.

Indeed, despite the best attempts of more humanitarian personalities within our aristocratic establishment, there are clearly within the government that are keen to make a bad bill worse. The Minister of State for Home Affairs Susan Williams was kind enough to mark her authoritarian aspirations with a star, just in case any anarcho-agitators out there might have lost it within all the drivel.

Baroness Williams makes no efforts to hide her disdain for the environmentalist protesters that have been such a pain in the Conservative Party’s arse in recent years. Lock-ons? Ban it. Blocking roads? Ban it. Standing on top a tube car preventing workers from getting home after a long day? You’d better believe they’re banning it. Indeed, if Extinction Rebellion’s performative protests and martyrdom complexes were supposed to invite repression, then they did their job. Because mere weeks after the Glasgow climate summit ended is the government focusing its energies not on helping the environment, but on clamping down on environmentalists.

Williams then brazenly calls for police to be granted “powers to stop and search without suspicion”, an amendment that would expand the already broad reach of the racist British police, by giving those bigoted cops a blank check to terrorise people as they please.[4]

But saving best for last, Williams’ “serious disruption prevention order” goes into multiple pages of detail as to her plans for British dissidents: protesting is to be made illegal. This amendment outlines that any people convicted of a protest-related offence would be prohibited from taking part in any protests for up to 2 years, under penalty of a 1-year prison sentence. It should be no controversial statement to say that the adoption of this amendment into law would mark the definitive end of freedom of assembly in the United Kingdom. Many activists reading this now will know if and how this retroactive repression applies to them, although many of them may not know what to do about it.

Some might be happy to hear that these laws will not apply in Scotland, where policing is its own devolved matter. But before all of you start packing your bags and heading north of Hadrian’s Wall, consider what we have just seen. Only last month, 10,000 English police invaded Scottish soil to terrorise those that were simply attempting to hold their leaders to account. The Westminster junta does not care about Scotland’s laws, it barely cares about its own. What it cares about is control.

How can this be all that the British state cares about, surely it is better than this? Well it is not. These heavy-handed approaches to violating the population are no stranger to the British state. The Tudor slob Henry VIII was one of the first to implement authoritarian rule, when the English reformation forced generations of Catholics underground, lest they fear the wrath of the divine monarchy. In the 1790s, the Tory saint William Pitt the Younger responded to the revolutionary wave that had swept America and Europe by establishing a police state, dedicated to sweeping out any dissident elements who dared imagine a better society than one ruled by king and cronies. During World War II, the government decided that in order to fight totalitarianism it had to adopt totalitarianism, enforcing the internment of conscientious objectors and the conscription of workers into a regime of forced labour.

Our current system draws from this history of domestic oppression, with one new ingredient thrown into the mix: the colonial boomerang. While living British people may not have known the iron fist of their benefactor state until recently, the many colonies of the Empire knew it like their own hands. Ireland experienced hundreds of years of colonial dictatorship at the hands of its English occupiers, who dissolved the peoples’ ancestral legal codes in favour of its own despotic rules. During the early-20th century in India, anyone even vaguely suspected of contributing to the anti-imperialist cause was subject to arbitrary internment, anyone that dared protest against their treatment by the colonisers were liable to be murdered by colonial cops. In 1969, the Metropolitan police invaded Anguilla in order to suppress its own breakaway from the empire, bringing it back into the imperial core where it remains as an “overseas territory” to this day. What we are experiencing now is what those on the receiving end of the British Empire have experienced for hundreds of years, our colonial policing system has simply come home to roost.

It is for this reason that we must make something clear: the United Kingdom and all its institutions must be liquidated. The urge to restrain and reform its more oppressive impulses is a noble desire, but a foolish one. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill merely represents the culmination of centuries of governmental autocracy, these amendments mark only the latest targets for its repressive apparatus. No matter how much we protest, petition or plea with our rulers to do otherwise, this bill will make its way through parliament and into law. We will lose our freedom of assembly and it will only be the first of many freedoms that will be lost in the coming years.

The opposition will not save us. The aristocrats and their moribund monarch will not deliver us. The police will not look at their new powers and simply decide to be delicate in their approach. The British state is designed to be this way. It has been designed to be this way for nearly a thousand years.

Our solution to the coming regime cannot be one of light nudges and petty gestures, it must be one of fire and carnage. If the Westminster junta cannot deal with our right to say “no” to their edicts and diktats, then it becomes necessary to say “no” to the whole damn thing. Once this bill passes, and it will pass, it must be taken as a sign to put a torch to the entire legal regime of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts. A sign that our own justice system is not fit for purpose, that we must replace it with one that we can ourselves implement and control. A new justice system, designed for the pursuit of justice, rather than persecution.

If the state cannot respect our dissent, then why should we accept its existence?

On Wednesday 8 December, the House of Lords will begin amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Join the protest at 5-7pm in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster (adjacent to Lambeth Bridge north side).


[1] With the exception of abstentions by a few quivering cowards, Johnny Mercer (Moor View), Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) and Charles Walker (Broxbourne), the entire Parliamentary Conservative Party voted for the bill. The abstentions were joined by the Brownite snake Steve McCabe (Selly Oak), but it was otherwise opposed by everyone else.

[2] These include an amendment to respect the “right to protest”, supported by the former Fabian Alf Dubs, the embodiment of upper-class environmentalism Jenny Jones, the cop-turned-Liberal-Aristocrat Brian Paddick, and our own libertarian Lord Peter Hain.

[3] One of which includes the implementation of a Women’s Justice Board, proposed by the Liberal Lords Jonathan Marks and Mike German. Another includes the repeal of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, by Richard Best, the former Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill, the Blairite stooge Charlie Falconer and the Aussie vanguard of the Green Party’s golden age Natalie Bennett.

[4] Racialised people are already six times more likely to be stopped than white people.

For 16 days, the people of Isfahan protested the drying up of the Zayanderud River. Lack of water and lack of access to historical waterways, as well as the evaporation of the Zayanderud and Gavkhouni wetlands have destroyed Isfahan’s ecosystems. The development of industry in the city has even caused soil subsidence and threatened various buildings. In short, the water crisis is the result of the deliberate destruction of the environment.

The protests against these fundamental issues and the basic right to life have been met with gunfire and tear gas. According to official statistics from the Isfahan police force, more than 67 people have been arrested in these rallies. However, unconfirmed reports put the number of detainees at more than 260. More than 30 protesters were injured in the eye and some have lost their eyes. Among these people are 15 and 16 year old teenagers. Thirteen of the detainees are children. Security forces even evacuated the injured from the hospitals to the detention center.

It's clear from the impact wounds that people have been shot at very close distance with shotguns, likely within 30 meters. These have been load with shells containing lead shot, which isn't easily removed and can have irreversible effects to peoples health.

Of course, the security forces have used shotguns to suppress protesters before. During the protests known as Golestan 7, which started at midnight on February 5, 1996, bullets were used by the large presence of security forces around the house of Dr. Noor Ali Tabandeh, the Gonabadi dervishes' hub. A number of citizens responded in solidarity with the injured protestors, by posting pictures of themselves on social media with their eyes closed, protesting against the violence of the security forces in the suppression and their use of weapons such as shotguns that caused irreparable damage to the protestors’ eyes.

What stood out most in these protests was the strong presence of women, who showed up to chant slogans and confront their oppressors, causing a great deal of concern and protest by religious extremists. As always, Iranian state-run news agencies have released their own images to discredit the images of the protesters' horrific repression and the burning of their tents, linking them to people other than the security forces. One such image was of a woman in front of the camera saying "set fire to tents" and "provoked" farmers. He also staged a picture of a man talking in front of the camera. Of course, the circumstances under which these confessions were confiscated are not clear, and human rights organizations have repeatedly accused the Iranian government of disseminating forced and false confessions.

What was the reason for these protests? Various factors such as the drought of Zayanderud, mismanagement of the water crisis in Iran and protests against the Islamic Republic have been among the reasons and motives of the Isfahan protesters. In the summer of 2021 (1400), this year’s rainy season, rainfall in Iran reached about fifty percent of what it was a year ago, and 40 percent below the long-term average, making it one of the driest years in the last half century. In Eastern and South Eastern provinces such as Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Fars, Kerman, Razavi Khorasan and South Khorasan, the drop in rainfall has been reported between 50 and 85%. On the other hand, in the western and southwestern provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, the decrease in rainfall is quite noticeable. Also, the temperature in the spring of 2021 (1400) was about two to three degrees higher than the long-term average of the country. This drought has caused crises in drinking water supply, agricultural production and electricity generation in Iran.

Written by a collective of Iranian comrades, edited by Organise.
You can keep up to date on twitter by following @Sanazactivist



Guards come and laugh at me through the bars of my cell.

“You’re the English, right?”, they ask me. “What are you doing here?”

“You tell me,” I say, for the hundredth time. But they just laugh, and wander off.

I am the only Westerner in a detention centre full of thousands of refugees. I am also the only inmate waiting to be deported to the UK - though of course, I am pretty much the only person here who would not do anything for a one-way plane ticket to London. In a similar irony, the Greek police who run the facility make it very plain they do not want any of my fellow inmates (Afghans, Iranians, Pakistanis, North Africans) in their country. And yet it is the same police force which violently arrested them and prevented them leaving.

Earlier this year, while on holiday in Greece, I was detained at the Italian border, arrested, thrown into the Greek detention and migration system for two months, and informed I was banned from the Schengen Zone for the next ten years. Though I still haven’t been provided with any documentation about the ban, it appears likely that I am being targeted as a result of my reporting and media advocacy from North and East Syria (NES), the democratic, women-led, autonomous region built around Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), which the Turkish government is hell-bent on destroying. Chillingly, it seems the autocratic Turkish government now has the power to impose a unilateral ban from Europe on a British citizen, professional journalist and media activist like myself.

My two months in detention were just a brief taste of what many refugees, political activists and journalists from the Middle East and beyond must spend a lifetime enduring. My case provided a window into the violence, squalor and farce of day-to-day life in the EU’s detention-deportation machine. But it also illustrates the complicity of European states and the Erdoğan regime in suppressing journalistic freedom, political dissent, and democratic movements.

Inside the Greek migrant detention system
While travelling from Greece to Italy with a friend earlier this year, I was met off the ferry at the Italian border by a group of armed, balaclava-clad police. I was banned from the Schengen Zone for ten years, they told me, at the request of the German government. Thus began my whirlwind tour of the Greek migrant detention system. The port where I was arrested, Ancona, lies on a popular route for people without papers trying to travel through Greece on to Western Europe, and so the Greek police simply dealt with me as they would deal with any irregular migrant pushed back from Italy by the Italian police.

I was variously detained in Patras police station, the notorious Migrant Pre-Removal Detention Center at Korinthos which was condemned by the Committee to Prevent Torture, and another Pre-Removal Center in Petrorali, Athens. Conditions were as you might expect. The police station in Patras only has small holding cells, but I spent a week here sleeping on the bare stone. Others were held in the same conditions for a month or more. For days at a time I was locked in my cell and not allowed to mix with other inmates, passing the time squashing cockroaches and playing chess with myself on a contraband paper set. Most of my fellow inmates were cut and bruised from the beatings they’d received upon arrest, trying to smuggle themselves onto ferries at the port. On one occasion, the police violently beat a petty drug dealer on the floor outside my cell.

One day then I and a group of my new friends – Afghan migrants – were handcuffed and bundled into a windowless van. To keep us quiet, the police implied we were soon to be released, but instead we found ourselves issued with new prison numbers and lined up along the wall at Korinthos, a massive, police-run prison facility officially known as a ‘Pre-Removal Detention Center’. This name, we soon learned, was a farce, since there were virtually no ‘removals’ (deportations) taking place due to the coronavirus crisis.

Officially, people here should have exhausted all possible legal routes to remain in the EU, or else voluntarily accepted deportation. In practice, they are held for six to eighteen months or even more before suddenly being released – sometimes with the assistance of the shadowy lawyers who circle the centre like vultures demanding huge cash payments for unclear forms of ‘assistance’, sometimes seemingly at random. People are interviewed about their asylum cases, but these days everyone is being rejected, regardless of the validity of their case. Some people are released, re-arrested days later, and placed back in the detention centre for another undetermined spell.

In Korinthos, as elsewhere, the system is totally opaque. All NGOs are banned from entering. Particularly Kafkaeseque is the way some guards will tell you whatever you want to hear, some will say they know nothing, and some will tell you to fuck off, with added racist abuse, where applicable: but they are all simply trying to make their own lives easier. It is is impossible to know how your case is going, where you will be sent next, when your interview will be, whether the lawyers (who never actually visit their clients in the detention facility, only occasionally shouting at them through the barbed wire) really can speed up your release. The conditions are squalid, with frequent water outages, and up to forty men sharing each cell.

The result is desperation. In the cell where I stayed, one Kurdish refugee had recently killed himself in desperation, hanging himself with two phone chargers woven together. The lights are kept burning 24 hours a day, and yet when the residents need a doctor or the water runs dry, no-one comes. I see one long-term inmate climb up the prison building and threaten to throw himself off just to get access to a dentist. Another slashed himself all over with a razor after being consistently denied access to the doctor for his agonising kidney problems. There are hunger strikes, fights, clashes with the guards with stones and burning mattresses. For the final two weeks I am transferred to a higher-security facility in Petrorali, Athens, where we once again spend most of the time in isolation. Here, more troubled inmates kept in isolation thrash against the bars, screaming, cursing, begging, fighting.

The body of a Kurdish asylum seeker who committed suicide being removed from Korinthos, sparking protests

Rumours fly through the bars as frequently as the cigarettes and tea-bags passed around via cardboard chutes. Transfers occur in windowless vans. On arrival at a new facility, we are stripped and cavity searched and have our blood taken and are given injections, but not told what the injection is for, fostering a dangerous paranoia among the migrant population. When I arrive at Petrorali the medical staff tell me, laughing, that I have somehow contracted multiple forms of hepatitis: that I will never be able to have children: and that there is nothing to be done about this. They send me back to my cell, untreated. It is only after many weeks of worry later, back in England, that my doctor tells me I have nothing to worry about, and what the Greek tests in fact picked up were my vaccinations against the disease. Whether this was done through malice or oversight, I don’t know.

I see much comradeship and joy, too. In Patras a brace of Hells’ Angels being held on drug charges make the migrants and I laugh by breaking wind, share the festal food brought in by their wives for orthodox Easter, advise the young Afghans on how to handle the guards. In Korinthos we organise language classes, legal training ahead of the migrants’ admissability interviews, work-out sessions where we leg-press the fattest guy in the cell, a clandestine livestream where we relay conditions in the prison to the outside world. We play ludo, chess, football, run out into the yard in the rain and belly-flop on the flooded concrete. I write poetry on the cell wall, Blake, Milton: The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. We laugh a lot, debate politics and religion, comfort one another as best we can.

When I am woken at dawn for the last time and put on a plane back to the UK, my overriding emotion is guilt that I cannot bring all my new friends and comrades with me. But it is all I can do to dish out my last remaining cigarettes before I am handcuffed, and swept away.

Fires burning in Korinthos during protests following the death of a Kurdish inmate

A cause worth defending
Six months later, back in the UK, I am still trying to get my hands on any official paperwork to explain exactly what has happened. Since I have never had anything to do with the German authorities, and given Germany’s strong trade ties and strategic relationship with Turkey, it appears likely Turkey asked Germany to issue the ban. This was done via an opaque institution known as the Schengen Information System, which has “been the target of sustained criticism by academics, EU bodies and civil rights organisations” since its inception.

But why should the Turkish government care so deeply about a British journalist on holiday in Greece?

You will have seen the world-famous images of ‘Kurdish women fighting ISIS’ broadcast around the world, as Kurdish-led forces spent years pushing back ISIS from strongholds like Raqqa before totally eradicating their caliphate in March 2019 – as the main partner force of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, led by the US but including the UK, Germany, and almost all Schengen Zone member states. You will probably also have seen footage from the two Turkish invasions of the region, including the October 2019 assault greenlit by Donald Trump. Turkish warplanes and tanks backed radical militias including scores of former ISIS members to take over swathes of NES, looting, raping, pillaging and murdering as they conduct forcible ethnic cleansing against the region’s Kurdish, Yezidi and Christian minorities.

But beyond the frontlines, the political project in NES has endured. Several million people now live in a system of direct, grassroots democracy, with guaranteed female participation and women’s leadership at all levels of political and civil life. The project is not flawless, but in a region beset by war, poverty and a total breakdown of infrastructure, NES continues to guarantee remarkably high standards of human rights, rule of law, and due process. The three years I spent living and working in NES were an education in both utopic thinking and practical action, as I witnessed refugees coming together around cooperative farming projects to beat the Turkish-imposed embargo on the region, and the women of Raqqa taking control of their own autonomous council in defiance of ISIS’ continued presence. The revolution is very much alive.

You may also be aware that a number of Westerners have travelled out to join the ‘Rojava revolution’. At first, many joined the military struggle against ISIS, with scores sacrificing their lives in the process. But these days, the majority of Western volunteers work in the burgeoning civil sphere, in women’s work, health, education – or, in my case, media.

I am a professional journalist, and during my time in Syria I filed reports for top international news sources like VICE, the Independent, and the New Statesman, as well as hosting a documentary series for a Kurdish TV channel. But my main role was as a co-founder of the region's top independent news source, Rojava Information Center (RIC). As RIC, we worked with all the world's top media companies and human rights organizations, including the BBC, ITV, Sky, CNN, Fox, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, the US Government, and many more, to help them cover the situation on the ground.

Our raison d’etre was connecting these news sources with people on the ground, to help them understand the reality of NES, without propaganda. I never sought to hide my presence in Syria, or what I was doing there. On the contrary, I was proud to lend my voice to both advocate for and criticise a political project I wanted the international community to recognise, understand, and engage with.

Political repression
Working in Kurdistan as a journalist is enough to incur political repression from Turkey. Turkey is the world’s number one jailer of journalists, has the highest incarceration rate in Europe, and in recent years has dismissed or detained over 160,000 judges, teachers, civil servants and politicians, particularly targeting Kurdish politicians and members of the pro-Kurdish and pro-democratic party HDP. Turkey’s actions reach far beyond Turkey and the regions it invades and occupies in Syria and Iraq, with Turkish intelligence going so far as to assassinate three female Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013, while fascist ‘Grey Wolves’ paramilitaries linked to Erdoğan’s AKP party regularly carry out violent attacks in Europe.

But the EU must turn a blind eye to these abuses, because it relies on Turkey to host millions of refugees who would otherwise travel into Europe. Turkey uses these refugees as leverage to threaten Europe, even while its invasions of NES and military interventions in Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and elsewhere force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in the face of ethnic cleansing. Absurdly, even Kurdish refugees in the EU must prove that Turkey is not safe for them, with almost all applications being rejected – if Turkey was shown to be unsafe, after all, that would mean the EU admitting it was refouling migrants into life-threatening danger, in defiance of international law.

The issue is not Turkey alone. EU and Western governments regularly target, harass and detain their own nationals for lending support to the democratic project in NES or the Kurdish rights movement. Volunteers who fought against ISIS have been charged and jailed in Denmark, Australia, Italy, Spain, France and my own home country, the UK. Danes and Australians can be jailed simply for setting foot in NES – something the UK has threatened, but never enacted.

Fighting for women’s rights, democracy and freedom should not be a crime. But as my case illustrates, this repression is not limited to combatants. In the UK, even members of ecological delegations have been detained under terror laws and prevent from travelling to the region. Facing intense, targeted police harassment, unable to find work as a result, feeling isolated and alone, several former volunteers have killed themselves. At least one other British volunteer in NES has been handed the same ten-year ban from the Schengen Zone as myself, and we suspect other peaceful activists have also been listed on the SIS.

Turkish pressure therefore contributes to Western governments’ own desire to stop the spread of the decentralised, transformative vision of society put forward by NES. (Turkey, of course, knows they incur much more negative press when their bombs kill British or European citizens than when they are simply wiping out Kurdish and Arab locals – one reason why continued Western engagement in NES is so important.)

Erdoğan is able to use the millions of Syrian now resident in Turkey to tacitly or openly threaten Europe with another influx of refugees if they do not acceed to his demands. The UK is particularly close to Turkey as a key trading partner, the more so post-Brexit, and accordingly takes a much harder line against NES than, say, France or the USA, both of whom have welcomed NES’ political leaders to the White House and the Champs Elysee. Notably, in the UK, repressive moves have come in response to high-level meetings between Turkey and the UK, in particular when arrests targeted not only former volunteers in NES but even their family members in the days following Erdoğan’s 2019 visit to London.

The same shared interests lie behind my own, relatively brief, detention. The political movement in NES resists borders and the violence inherent in the capitalist nation-state. These ideas are anathema to Erdoğan, but they also constitutes a challenge to the EU border regime. Little wonder, then, that Turkey and the EU work together to stifle legitimate journalism and political advocacy.

The author working on the ground in Rojava (North and East Syria) as a journalist and media activist

Outside the law
As the British novelty act in the Greek detention center, I was of course spared the racism, the violence, and the worst of the uncertainty. I knew it would only be so long before I was back in the UK, where, though I had to sit through a ‘Schedule 7’ interview on my return, the police assured me that I have no charges to face and have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. It is an immense frustration to be summarily banned from Europe, but then I FaceTime with friends still detained in Korinthos or playing the dangerous ‘game’ trying to jump onto lorries at Patras ferry port, and I remember how incredibly free I am.

The effect of repression against Western volunteers, activists and journalists who have worked in NES is to place us, temporarily, outside the normal protections afforded to UK or EU citizens. Millions of civilians in NES, like millions of migrants in Europe, exist in this vacuum as their constant condition. Turkey feels it has impunity to rape, murder, bomb and ethnically cleanse in NES, which remains unrecognised by any government or international organisation, despite its leading role in defeating ISIS. The Greek police can beat, humiliate and dehumanise the migrants in Patras, Korinthos or Petrorali as much as they please, knowing no lawyers or NGOs are able to enter the detention centres to monitor their behaviour.

The inmates of the Greek migrant detention system and the free people of NES are both victims of the same system, which sacrifices peoples’ lives in the name of bilateral trade agreements, arms sales, and ethno-nationalist state politics. But this is precisely why I, and other international supporters of the political movement in NES, have chosen to make our voices heard, even in the face of imprisonment and police repression. This is why I hope my ban will be overturned, and that I can continue my peaceful journalism and advocacy in support of this vital cause.

The vision being promoted in NES, of local, decentralised, grassroots democracy, is the only way to resolve not only the Syrian conflict but also a global crisis occasioned by capitalist extraction overseen by neo-imperialist states. Only in this way can we provide people with what they want most - a safe home they have no need to flee.

Matt Broomfield
Matt is a journalist, organiser and co-founder of the Rojava Information Center, the top news and research organisation in North and East Syria

(Originally published on Deportation Monitoring Aegean)

27 People have died attempting to cross the English Channel.

They died because of Fortress Europe.
They died because the state uses the Channel like a moat.
They died because nationalism, and bigotry is rife.
They died because the privileged do not care about the vunerable.

Their names join the list of near 45,000 documented deaths of refugees and migrants due to the restritive policies of “Fortress Europe” since 1993.

The British and French government each blame the other, and both blame the “smugglers” but neither acknowledge that those 27 people died because of these situation they are placed in by us.

We could have a heart, we could use our vast wealth and resources to house people in need.
We don't. Capitalism doesn't allow for compassion and the jingo laden civic fascism that underlines our border policies would never allow it anyway.

This isn't a freak event. This was expected, everyone just counting down the clock. It's narrowly been avoided dozens of times and we're just talking about the Channel here. The Mediterranean is even worse. Away from prying eyes, Coast Guard's have for years used offensive tactics such as “push back”. We'll never really know how many have drowned on the journey.

In September 2021, Channel Rescue volunteers witnessed the UK border force training its staff to use jet skis to employ ‘pushback’ tactics at sea. The aim behind this? To stop small boats carrying people seeking asylum from reaching the UK’s shores. Early on yesterday, before the horrific tradgedy came to light, they announced they they were going to take Priti Patel, Secretary of State UK Home Office, to court to ensure that ‘pushback tactics’ are NEVER used against people seeking asylum in the UK. Support them!

The Channel has become a graveyard for innocent people who have been forced to flee. Our UK government and Home Office must acknowledge they're complicit. No more blaming French authorities or people smugglers, what we desperately need is a new system that allows people to claim asylum safely.

An emergency protest has been called for later today outside the home office at 6.30pm.

A threat to one of us is a threat to all of us. No more violent policing of borders, no more detention centres, no more channel deaths, no more deaths at the hands of the state. On Saturday Stand Up to Racism have called for a demo at Downing Street. They want people to assemble for 2pm.

As I am putting this togather I can see that Alarm Phone spent the night in contact with some 430 people, the boat is breaking up, there are already dead people, they are in the Maltese SAR, the various Coast Guards known but are not helping.

This is happening now as I type.
This is happening as you read.

They are dying because the privileged do not care about the vunerable.
They are dying because nationalism, and bigotry is rife.
They are dying because the states of Europe use the Mediterranean like a moat.
They are dying because of Fortress Europe.

Murray Boookchin (14/1/1921 – 30/7/2006) was an American communalist, political philosopher, trade-union organizer and educator. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs and social ecology.

Murray Bookchin, over his lengthy period of writing managed to create within social ecology, a discourse that challenged the dominant pre-existing modes of humanity’s role within society. Social ecology offers a political strategy, anthropological and historical investigation whilst also at times criticizing utopian ideas of social order (Tokar et al, 2008). Social ecology is best seen as a complete accumulation of the human endeavour; for one to deal with external determinations within one’s own settings, validified and justified against one’s own level of scrutiny in context of one’s surroundings and relationships to others within the natural environment. At a primary level, social ecology tackles the political, social and cultural roots of modern ecological issues by critiquing traditional environmental policies and practices and encourages activists to uptake radical, community-centered approaches (Bookchin, 2009). The fundamental crux was that ecological issues need to be analyzed and acted upon as social issues rather than the dominant narratives of conventional environmental science (Bookchin, 2009). The holistic nature of such conventional ecological science was deemed to be failing, as is evident today through global warming and climate change and where social ecology implores the analyzation of systemic roots of environmental crisis it also challenges the existing institutions accountable for maintaining the status quo (Bookchin, 2009). This fundamental shift in the approach to dealing with agency within one’s own environment highlights Bookchin’s influences from Hegel (Bookchin, 1995). Bookchin outlined this approach in The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism, highlighting that the system should be validated against nature itself and not through unjust institutions that are maintaining dominant narratives and controlling discourse (Bookchin, 1995). This is not to suggest that Bookchin was a Hegelian, but his left-wing up bringing will have shaped some of his understanding of the natural order and he himself spoke on occasions of his grounding in traditional Marxism, as well as other left-wing historical writers (Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism, 2011).

Bookchin’s critical outlook into the deeper intrinsic nature of the evolution of relationships that exist between society and non-human nature was radical. Anarcho-communist and liberal societies for the most part have seen nature and its domination as a sense of achievement within their own propagation (Mazurski, 1991, Koch, 2011). Today the same environmental harm is often viewed as a regrettable but compulsory consequence to the subjective needs of capitalism and expanding civilization. This coupled with the current neoliberal late-stage capitalist approach only increases the social and environmental harm observable in day to day society, both nationally and globally. Bookchin however, in The Ecology of Freedom, (1982) highlights that the domination of nature as he saw it was a myth predominantly perpetuated by social elites within the most primitive and earliest hierarchal societies, to dominate the natural world in attempt to show strength, and that it is not a historical necessity. This reshaping of the traditional understanding of society is important as it no longer justifies rampant expansion or the more grotesque forms of civilization’s expansion such as colonialism and imperialism on the basis of necessity. Bookchin indicates that historical organic societies were based on core principles such as unity-in-diversity, interdependence, usufruct, complementarity and the irreducible principle that society is responsible for meeting its members most basic needs (Bookchin, 1982). A key indication of radical change is Bookchin’s inclusion of ‘complementarity’, meaning that the traditional sense of equals is oppressive of one inequality and that instead, a shift towards creating communities that can compensate for disparities in ability amongst its cohabitants was needed. Bookchin affirmed his rich catalogue of anthropological study by asserting that these radical ideas were not new creations of a utopian dreamer but historically accurate representations of foundationary tenets of a justifiable successful society (Bookchin, 1982). Furthermore, Bookchin indicates that a true liberatory protest movement must include a challenge to hierarchy in general, and not just its hierarchies’ manifestations of oppression such as gender and class inequalities, demonstrating a move away and separation from his childhood traditional Marxist beliefs (Bookchin, 1982, Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism, 2011).

Bookchin’s obsession into the study of hierarchies and hierarchical domination within the realms of social evolution and humanity’s relationship with nature led to his understanding of the relationship between human consciousness and natural evolution. As previously mentioned, his work on dialectical naturalism featured the study of classic philosophers such as Aristotle and contemporary dialectical philosophers such as Hegel. Bookchin’s ideas of dialectical naturalism are highly complex and are a sharp change away from traditional explanations of dialectics. Bookchin emphasizes the capabilities of humans acting outside of the evolution of social and natural phenomena and upheld human creativity and its uniqueness within the universe, whilst also attributing its inherent and emergence from first nature, meaning the world as it was before human influence and damage to the natural environment (Bookchin, 1995). This view instead, shifts nature away from being a necessity-built robot and places deep emphasis on the view that nature was always striving to achieve its own underlying potential for creativity, freedom and universal consciousness (Bookchin, 1995). This is what grounds Bookchin in such passionate writing, his deep understanding of the fabric of reality and how hierarchical domination distorts natures very own expression of itself. This view sees that the current understanding of human history and the so-called logic of evolution within the social sphere is in conflict with nature itself, such exploitative organisation of infinite chaos only chastises the very essence of life in its own expression (Bookchin, 1995). This lead Bookchin to suggest that nature itself could be studied to form objective principles as to how best organizing social ethics and ideas. Principle such as cohabitation and mutual aid can be viewed within nature (Bookchin, 1995, Kropotkin, 2017).

This in depth look into life, existence, natural dialectics and social ecology accumulated into a political approach from Bookchin, endeavouring to radically alter the hierarchical problems of life by organizing them into libertarian municipalism. Bookchin’s approach to libertarian municipalism is what this study would recommend for a radical overturn of society. The fundamental conflicts between communities and the state that society is constantly experiencing (Cetin, 2020, Jetten,2020) as well as historical examples from ancient Athens to New England are systemic fluctuations, due to the lack of control citizens have over their own political and economic decision making (Bookchin, 1974, Tokar, 2008). Libertarian municipalism would see assemblies being central to the decision-making processes, with representatives in city councils and wider county councils becoming mandated through their own local assemblies and only have the power to carry out the organized wishes of the localized collective assembly (Bookchin, 1974). Importantly, Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism would organise society via confederations with community members working together within confederations to attempt to highlight unjustified current community institutions, constantly attempting to undermine the institutions to advance on inaccuracies of justice via what are known as counterinstitutions and is something as Anarcho-Communists we could draw form (Bookchin, 1992). This mode of political organisation highlights more faith in the citizens themselves and doesn’t place governance in the hands of unjust, top-down hierarchical social institutions, but rather places emphasis on educating the citizens themselves on principles such as freedom, universalism, altruism, cooperation and public service which further empowers all within society to develop their own autonomy within the collective (Bookchin, 1992). The brash, exploitative, narrowly limited scope of the capitalist market would be found unjust and replaced by a moral economy, meaning political and economic relationships would be guided by ethics such as mutualism in a bid for genuine reciprocity (Bookchin, 1986).

Libertarian municipalism creates a political strategy within a wider framework of social ecology’s reconstructive view of nature and humanity’s place within it, as anarchists we can learn from some of the lesson Bookchin’s framework offers. The political framework setup around true direct democracy is communities with institutions structured to justify the existence of pre-existing institutions, which constantly achieve the ultimate, most just and verifiable political society and modes of organisation. Murray Bookchin is foremost one of the most influential thinkers in his depth of understanding of human behaviour, humanity’s place in the natural order and the very dialectical reality of nature itself. His works need to be studied and analysed in attempt to incapsulate their teachings into a formable revolutionary starter pack, able to bestow onto communities around the world to challenge unjust hierarchies, capitalism and the current exploitation of billions of people under the remit of neoliberal ideology. An ideology which can now be shown to be ill thought, and not as rich in depth as the aforementioned modes of social ecology and dialectical naturalism.

Anarchism is rooted in the upheaval of the domination of nature created by the self-serving capitalist elite. Anarchism is a green discipline and is focused on harms against, humans, non-human animals, harms against the environment and newer fields of study within the discipline are interested in harms in space. Both individuals and powerful corporations commit these offenses daily in a regulatory fashion however, green anarchism is primarily concerned with the actions of powerful corporations (ie, military operations, global corporations, and governments), as these have the power to change their destructive behaviour and not the employees and or citizens (Professor Rob White on Green Criminology, University of Tasmania, 2019). Furthermore, Professor Rob White (2019) puts forward his point in a recent video, highlighting how green criminology is a personal exercise, the planet is ours, it is our children’s planet, it is our family pet’s planet, it is the vast mountains and the small brooks, this isn’t just intellectual theoretical academic jargon, it is a strict discipline concerned with the prior knowledge of consequence. Scientists can now highlight what will go wrong with the planet and give a rough indication to at what time things will go wrong, this is no longer something to brush off, it is something very fucking real, threating nearly all of humanity (Harvey, 2021, Carrington 2019, IPCC Special Report, 2019). As anarchists and decent fucking human beings, it is our job to educate, inspire and encourage the fight back against this current Tory government and the capitalist elite they serve. Too long have the many been exploited at the corrupt blood covered hand of the elite, reclaim the power, it begins with you!

“To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing. Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth” (Bookchin, 1989) .

Relate, Resist, Rebel

Josh Bannister

Published 2021/11/23

REFERENCES

Bookchin, M (1974). The Limits of the City. New York: Harper and Row.

Bookchin, M (1982). The Ecology of Freedom. Cheshire : Cheshire Books.

Bookchin, M (1986). “Market Economy or Moral Economy,” in The Modern Crisis . Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

Bookchin, M (1989). The Third Revolution: Popular Movements in the Revolutionary Era. 2nd ed. London: Cassell.

Bookchin, Murray (1989). Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future. .: South End Press. ..

Bookchin, M (1995). The Philosophy of Social Ecology. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Bookchin, M. (1964). Ecology and Revolutionary Thought. Available: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/bookchin/ecologyandrev.html. Last accessed 15/07/2021.

Bookchin, M. (2009). Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement by Murray Bookchin.

Carrington, D. (2019). Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/climate-crisis-11000-scientists-warn-of-untold-suffering.

Cetin, B, Turhaner, E, Karusagi, P and Calin, D. (2020). Black Lives Matter Movement- A Comprehensive Study on Institutionalized Racism, Sexism and Its Approach Towards Intersectionality. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341909716_Black_Lives_Matter_Movement_A_Comprehensive_Study_on_Institutionalized_Racism_Sexism_and_Its_Approach_Towards_Intersectionality

Harvey, F. (2021). World’s climate scientists to issue stark warning over global heating threat. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/08/worlds-climate-scientists-to-issue-stark-warning-over-global-heating-threat.

IPPC. (2019). Global warming of 1.5°C. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Full_Report_High_Res.pdf. Last accessed 12/08/2021.

Koch, M (2011). CAPITALISM AND CLIMATE CHANGE. THEORETICAL DISCUSSION, HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND POLICY RESPONSES. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Kropotkin , P (2017). Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution. 2nd ed. United States: Martino Fine Books. l.

Mazurski, K. (1991). Communism and the Environment . Available: http://www.ansibl.com/mazurski.eu/krm/files/Communism_and_the_Environment.pdf. Last accessed 18/07/2021.

Tokar, B. (2008). On Bookchin's Social Ecology and its Contributions to Social Movements. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 19(1), pp.51-66.

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwp3CQVzzak

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Professor Rob White on green criminology | University of Tasmania. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14DZPm2t0K0

Confronting the State on its Own Terms, Dr DaN McKee attempts an ethical proof of anarchism as the only viable political project even by the metrics imposed by some of the most ardent defenders of the state.

Originating from McKee’s doctoral thesis, Authentic Democracy is, in essence, an attempt to provide an ethical grounding for anarchist politics without the jargon – to present an easy-to-read, accessible answer for one of the many questions that anarchists often find themselves having to answer: how can anarchists provide any moral justification for their ideas? After all, conventional wisdom would have it that at least we know that capitalism raises the floor and makes life better for the people, at least in general. Don’t we?

Taking this question seriously and anticipating this response, McKee’s response is a simple one. He attempts to answer the question – and in doing so, he underlines a serious ethical claim: that the role of the political is to provide a better life for the people. Beginning with discussions on exactly what is meant by ‘people’ and ‘better’, McKee attempts to pull the question apart before constructing a framework in which he concludes that not only is anarchism capable of providing this better life, but more importantly, it is the only political outlook which can do so satisfactorily.

McKee’s primary success in the writing of this text, re-worked from a piece of lofty academic writing, is the rendering of it easy. Beginning the book with a statement of intent outlining the desire to make it readable and remove the dense phraseology that existed to satisfy the philosophers at the academy who had been at least partially against the project in the first place, it is clear that McKee deserves great praise: if the intent of the book was to provide a readable text, he was successful. Reading briskly and with a conversational tone that weaves its way through the topic, McKee’s style and control of pace is one of the centrally impressive texts in this style that I have ever read.

The risk that is taken in doing this – in removing the more academic language from the text – is that the levels of nuance and specificity such language was often invented to provide comes into question. The major challenge in the text, therefore, is the preservation of a rigorous and powerful argument without the trappings of a specific academic discourse.

To an extent, McKee accomplishes this well: when asking what the book is attempting to do and whether it succeeds on its own terms, it is difficult to argue anything other than that it does. However, there are a number of axiomatic assumptions to which McKee falls prey – though he is far from the only one. The primary assumption McKee proceeds under is the assumption that legitimacy matters as a political concept. This assumption is one famously put forward by Noam Chomsky in a number of different forms across several decades, and is equally famously an assumption rejected by large sections of the anarchists with which it has come face to face. By far the largest difficulty that I have with Authentic Democracy is this initial framing of the discussion which places the text on somewhat questionable grounds to many.

The second largest concern, though not nearly so significant as the first, is the attempt to conflate anarchism with democracy – indeed, McKee argues that anarchism is the only system under which we could even begin to truly think about democracy in a legitimate sense. Making this titular assumption is a natural one for many people, particularly those who come from a background in the syndicalist tradition or any form of anarchism which relates more directly to the ultra-liberal framing put forward by Chomsky and others, but it is one that comes in stark opposition of many of the more contemporary branches of anarchist thought. The refusal of democracy, regarding it as an arcane and artificial form of engagement that can only result in alienation, is a common perspective within the world of insurrectionary anarchism and post-anarchist thought, and it is interesting to see McKee zig here where the contemporary discourse often zags. While discussions as to whether or not this is a wise idea might be interesting, it’s also noteworthy that this mode of common-sense discussion is paramount for McKee’s project: to make this discourse accessible without becoming too embroiled in the depths of debate. Here, again, McKee is successful, as a willingness to engage with the text on his terms yields fruitful results despite the potential for debate over specific terms.

Due to this contrast between the framing of McKee’s work and post-anarchist fields, there is, therefore, an interesting parallel between McKee’s text and another (though much less accessibly written) text from the 1990s: Todd May’s The Political Philosophy of Post-Structuralist Anarchism. This densely written text is one in which May finds himself embarking on a similar project: how, in the face of the last half-century of critical thought, do we ground anarchism as an ethical project? What is most interesting in McKee’s text, and a sign of his skilful navigation of the subject, is how close the conclusions drawn match those of May’s despite an almost entirely different pathway towards them. Whereas May reaches his conclusions via engagement with Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard and Foucault – giant figures in the continental philosophy of the 20th Century – McKee begins his analysis with figures of anglophone philosophy, tracing the roots of the state and its authority to Hobbes and Locke, before proceeding through Nozick and Rawls. Further than this, McKee’s premise rests upon an acceptance of the idea of a social contract in some form. For McKee, this contract

A further interesting, though unexpected, strength of Authentic Democracy is the willingness McKee shows to engage with economics as a practice. While there is much debate about the place of economics in an anarchist worldview, it cannot be disputed that it is a vital element of discussion regarding capitalist and statist political perspectives and must be addressed by any serious thinker of these things, if only to dismiss the field. McKee does not dismiss it, and by engaging with the economic concerns of the state immediately after detailing some of the roots and effects of ideological social assumptions, McKee directly implies the marriage between the two which so heavily impacts much of modern life. Taking a swift route from the East India Company through to the IMF and David Harvey and Noam Chomsky, McKee effortlessly elucidates the uneasy tension between economic and political power and highlights the failure of representative democracy to reconcile the roiling conflicts inherent to such a system. For many readers who are not familiar with generations of left wing writing, Authentic Democracy is a brilliant introduction to some of these nuances, and McKee’s willingness to engage seriously with thinkers from a broad spectrum of political thought – from the aforementioned Rawls and Nozick, to the engagements with Gramsci, Marx, and Proudhon – will serve as a wonderful starting point for further investigation.

Finally, revisiting his descriptions of leaving the University to become a school teacher, McKee transitions into a discussion of the educational system under capitalism. Rapidly sketching an outline of education, particularly British education, as being a system that seems designed to produce incurious and fearful individuals that cringe under the watchful eye of a superior, McKee condenses many of the critiques of capitalist education into an impressively brief discussion that takes direct aim at the ‘conform and obey’ model of schooling. While this is perhaps the briefest section in the book, it is clear that it is also an avenue of criticism about which the author is particularly passionate, as the strength and clarity of the argument here reaches a level of almost irrefutable bluntness which is difficult to oppose in any real sense.

Summarising these previous discussions, McKee closes the book with a return to his original claim: that it is only anarchism which can satisfactorily fulfil this concept of providing a ‘better’ life to ‘the people’. While there are a number of semantic issues that can be taken with McKee’s lines of argument – some of which have been delineated earlier in this review – the simplicity with which he presents his conclusions is striking in tone. Despite not wholly rebutting those who would be critical from the start of concepts such as democracy, it is also clear that this is not McKee’s task in this book: he is willing to let those conversations take place elsewhere. The primary drive of Authentic Democracy is to confront the statist on their own terms: what claim does the state make in justification for itself, and from how many angles can we demonstrate that even on the state’s own terms, traditional notions of anarchism is a superior approach to the traditional notion of the state. In this, it is clear that McKee is successful – any further discussion, it is clear, is to be had from the position that the state is defunct as a concept. Post-anarchists and anarcho-communists can dialogue about the specifics, the frameworks, and the concepts – and these are certainly conversations that are vital to have, with far-ranging consequences – but there is no longer any need for us to spend time entertaining the notion of the state, which dies so piteously when subjected to even the most routine inspection of its own position.

Jay Fraser

Jay is a writer from Lincolnshire in the UK. He is currently completing an MA in English Literature and has written for Organise!, Strukturriss, and Lumpen Journal among many other places. Find him on Twitter @JayFraser1 if you are so inclined.

Authentic Democracy is published by and the publisher Tippermuir Books: and is availabe though independant retailers such as AK Press.

For more information about McKee and the book (including a postscript on how Covid-19 does/doesn’t affect the argument in the book), visit everythingdanmckee.com/authentic-democracy

The AUKUS partnership announced on 16 September is a big step towards war against China. The centrepiece of its first initiative is the announcement by the Australian Government that it will buy eight nuclear submarines from the United States or the United Kingdom. The reactions to this announcement are almost as significant as the purchase of the submarines themselves.

Australian military procurement since the end of the Vietnam War has been an ongoing debacle, marked by indecision, late changes of direction, huge cost overruns and major delivery delays. These factors have been a permanent embarrassment to successive Australian governments and generations of military brass, but they are not solely the product of simple incompetence. They also result from Australian imperialism’s dilemma: being a European outpost on the edge of Asia and being a developed economy with rapidly growing Asian economies for neighbours. Australia’s relative decline means it faces an increasing contradiction between its ambitions and its capacity. Attempting to maximise its capacity via military procurement is extremely risky and is resulting in a decrease in the Australian military’s strategic autonomy. The submarine decision is a major step in that process.

By deciding to purchase these submarines, the Government has given up pretending that Australia “doesn’t have to choose between its history and its geography”. It has decisively opted to stand with the United States against a rising China and to do so in an ostentatiously aggressive way. The submarines have a mission which is so obvious to the security establishment that military pundits were describing it openly on the day of the announcement. They are to hang around in straits and channels between islands in what is called the first island chain, a series of large and small islands that separates the South China Sea and the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean. There, they will help bottle up the Chinese navy and prevent it having free access to the open ocean. The Pacific Ocean is to remain an American lake and Australia has volunteered to help.

However, keeping China in this subordinate position is easier said than done. For over four decades, it has been developing with extraordinary speed. Though it has slowed somewhat in the last few years, its growth is still vastly stronger than that of the US or any other developed country. Its GDP is projected to overtake the US around 2030, give or take a few years depending on whose crystal ball is consulted. The US has seen off previous challenges to its dominance, with its would-be rivals stalling at about two thirds of US per capita GDP.

China, though, is a different kettle of fish. Its population is four times that of the US, so even if its development stalls at half the US GDP per capita, it will still be double the US GDP in aggregate. The US military advantage over China and its global dominance more generally would become completely unsustainable by then, if not well before. Continued US dominance requires China’s development to be halted – either by economic strangulation or, failing that, by war. Indeed, a recent issue of The Diplomat, an elite magazine for the Asia Pacific region, said:

It is probably worth thinking about how and what the the United States might do in order to reduce Chinese economic growth, including aggressive decoupling and the stringent use of financial and technology sanctions.”

The United States and its closest allies (there are none closer than Australia) are attempting to undermine China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a project by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party to take China’s development to the next level and reorient the economy of the region around it. In addition, the US is increasingly using intellectual property laws to prevent China acquiring technology, trying to prevent China exporting its technology to other countries and waging a trade war against China’s exports (something Trump started and Biden hasn’t dropped). Australia is somewhat conflicted in this project, since it sells so much iron ore and other minerals to China, but this hasn’t prevented it participating in the US campaign. Australia has been especially active in trying to keep the Belt and Road Initiative out of the South Pacific.

However, China’s economic strangulation is far from assured. The relative decline of US power in the last half century means that China may still maintain a superior growth path to the US through economic relations with other developing countries, primarily in Asia but also in Africa and even Latin America. US economic warfare may, in fact, backfire and put the US rather than China into the slow lane.

And this is where things get really dangerous. Nobody wants a nuclear war, but nobody wanted World War I either. That war occurred even though the great imperialist powers didn’t want it because they wanted something else even less – having their vital national interests subordinated to another power. War with China would occur the same way. The greatest danger is the Thucydides Trap, the temptation for the US to launch a war on China before China becomes too powerful to wage war against.

This, then, is what is driving the AUKUS partnership. It is an attempt to keep China militarily subordinate, even to the extent that it is surrounded by US military bases and cannot sail its navy into the Pacific Ocean without US permission. Australia already plays a vital role by being a vociferous US ally in the region and, even more importantly, being the site for the US spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs. This base is essential to the US military satellite system, since without it there would be a large blind spot in its global surveillance. The role of the Australian submarine purchase is to maintain Australia’s leverage in the anti-China campaign. Australian capitalists still want to export to China and also want to preserve Australian imperialist interests in the South Pacific.

The submarine purchase, though, is proving to have unintended consequences. The decision to acquire nuclear submarines with US technology required dumping a $90 billion contract to buy conventional submarines from France. The duplicity of the Australian Government, particularly that of Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Marise Payne, has outraged the French Government at a particularly unfortunate time. With the imminent retirement of Angela Merkel, the senior political leader in the European Union will be the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, which has been under negotiation for a couple of years, was expected to be concluded very soon. It looks to be an early casualty. More significant is the attitude of France in particular, but the EU generally, towards co-operation with the US over China policy. If France is going to be shafted by its erstwhile allies in the Pacific, it’s a lot less likely to see things Uncle Sam’s way when the US President wants a common front against China.

Even more important still, especially for Australian imperialism, is reaction in the Asia Pacific. The media constantly refer to unnamed countries which support the submarine acquisition and the US anti-China campaign. Two states which might conceivably approve are Japan and Vietnam, neither of which would be keen to advertise the fact. Meanwhile, both Malaysia and Indonesia have publicly expressed concern. Neither are particularly fond of China, but they definitely don’t want a regional arms race. And an arms race is what they will get, since Beijing won’t be taking the submarine announcement lying down.

While it is possible that the Australian Government under Scott Morrison has simply blundered into this situation (much of his Cabinet, including Morrison himself, have failed upward), the same cannot be said of the United States. Joe Biden is an old foreign policy hand and came to office promising to rebuild US relationships after the chaos and unpredictability of the Trump years. The US has made a conscious choice in how it addresses relations with China. Instead of building a broad alliance to push back against poor behaviour by China, it has put together a narrow one (reminiscent of the “Coalition of the Willing” in 2003) to stake out an aggressive military posture. This is not an accident. The US and China are on a path to war and AUKUS is a big step towards launching it.

China is entitled to become a developed country and its population is entitled to the standard of living which comes with that. The US attempt to strangle its economic development and keep it a poor country is a crime against humanity and the barely hidden threat of nuclear war is an even bigger one. Over the next few years, we can expect a strong media campaign in the US, UK and Australia concerning a multitude of complaints against China. Some of these (notably its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Tibetans and the people of Hong Kong) will be real crimes by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. Regardless of whether Beijing’s crimes are real or imagined, though, the motivation for the complaints will be the same. They will be attempting to solidify public opinion behind the anti-China policy and the path to war.

In Australia, the public opinion campaign will have one certain result. There will be a massive increase in racism directed at people of Chinese background or appearance. Anti-Chinese racism has been officially frowned on by Australian governments for about three decades. They have preferred to use Aboriginal people, Muslims and, lately, Africans as their lightning rods for social discontent. Developing confrontation with China will change that. Chinese migrants, their children and even people of Chinese extraction whose family have been here for generations will be seen as a potential fifth column. They will be subject to random violence and abuse in the street, suffer discrimination justified by patriotic reasoning and receive unceasing demands to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia and their hostility to Beijing. It won’t be pretty.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on the labour movement in Australia to oppose the AUKUS partnership and its anti-China campaign. The nuclear submarine purchase underlines our established position: not a person, not a penny for the imperialist Australian military! We have no illusions in the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. It is a gang of corrupt bureaucrats whose Stalinism is so degenerate that it celebrates Chinese billionaires. There are more US dollar millionaires in Beijing’s National People’s Congress than there are in the US Congress. Our opposition to AUKUS instead derives from our opposition to our own ruling class.

Against the AUKUS partnership and the looming threat of war against China, the MACG raises the banner of international working class solidarity. We are opposed to all governments worldwide, but our task is to overthrow the capitalist class here in Australia. Our aim is for a workers’ revolution which sweeps the world, toppling all ruling classes without distinction. This revolution will abolish imperialism by abolishing the nation state. In its place will flower a global community, organised on the basis of consistent federalism and practicing libertarian communism. Now, that’s something to fight for.

DOWN WITH AUKUS!

DOWN WITH ANZUS!

CLOSE PINE GAP

MACG - Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

This statement from the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group about the announcement of the AUKUS partnership. Released 26 September 2021.Originally Published : https://melbacg.wordpress.com/2021/09/26/aukus-a-big-step-toward-war

Late last month a family of five died when their boat sank trying to cross the Channel. Bruno L had met them just weeks before, while passing out aid, and writes here about a family full of love, and a toddler full of joy, and a loss that should not have happened.

Artin, little man.

Only 15 months old. We met you two weeks ago. You were alone, poking in the fire in the middle of the forest, little crocs at your feet and a life jacket on. It cut right into our hearts. This is not what a toddler’s life in 2020 should look like. You are too young for the fire, too small for a life jacket. 

We soon saw the rest of the family. We shared out some blankets and you were so proud of those boots you got, too big, but for you they were beautiful. We returned to the cars, to the showers we were trying out and a little later we saw you again … Your vest was put away and you walked straight to us, strangers to you. Your family: brother, sister, mum and dad followed rather timidly. 

We promised you shoes and a football for your brother. You kept on smiling and adventurously, fearlessly, climbed our empty shared van. I picked you up and put you back on the ground but you climbed back up, tirelessly naughty. Several times in a row. You walked away from me looking back to see if I followed. I play-chased you across the ground with small hard steps and you ran away beaming, occasionally looking back to your mama. 

I asked her if I could take a picture of you and I could. “Wave, Artin,” she said proudly, and you immediately waved back. Little did I know then that that photo would mean so much to me now.

I was still thinking about you when I got home. The love for you that came from your mum and dad. The security you received from them in these appalling, inhumane circumstances. It felt so strange. How they were looking for a better life for you in this chaos. How your brother Armin and sister Anita were clearly more marked by the situation than you, little Artin. You who walked through life so happily in your oversized boots. You who experienced everything that we found abnormal and poignant as quite normal, you knew nothing else. 

Sleeping in a discarded Quechua tent, wandering around in the forest, washing yourself with the green water from the pond, waking up with ten armed officers around your tent who take or destroy everything and then hope for a new blanket from a volunteer who comes by. Joining hundreds of men for food in a long line. I mean little man, I wondered how that ignorance of the “normal” made you hop through life more happily than your timid 12-year-old sister.

A few days later, at home, we read a short message on a French site that a group of refugees were being rescued from the high seas. “Coincidentally” they also found a dead man washed ashore on the beach, probably from another boat. A two-year-old child was taken to a hospital. I thought back to you. Imagined that that was you and how your parents would fare.

And then yesterday the message came that family with three children had died during a failed crossing. And for a moment we thought: oh no, hopefully not you.

You push it away and try to move on. But it won’t go away. And the more reports we received, how painfully clear it became … two parents, brother and sister have died and been found, a child of 15 months has been missing. In the meantime we received confirmation …

Little Artin … your life jacket failed to save you. Did you still have it? Was it taken from you in an evacuation or did you wear it proudly and was the cold water, the high waves fatal to you? Did “our” North Sea, the sea in which our children play and swim, become a seaman’s grave for you little captain of the rickety boat? Were those last kilometers of your journey of more than 7,000 km really too much?

Blankets, soup, tents will not help today. There’s nothing we can do for you anymore. Except giving the anonymous little guy a face. So that more people know that none of this should be. So that my small, short friendship with you was not in vain and this little anonymous figure from the statistics gets a face. And a name:

ARTIN


This article is an edited machine translation of a piece from Allemaal Mensen. The photo of Artin was taken on October 17th. It was originally publish on Freedom:freedomnews.org.uk/2020/11/01/artin-little-man-i-remember-you/

You can find more information about this tradgic loss here : www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54717137