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Knife attack in Publico!

Last Thursday, the day after major Mayday demonstrations, a comrade from the Fédération Anarchiste was attacked in the FA’s Parisian infoshop and bookstore Publico by a man in his mid 40’s with a knife. The attacker came at Christophe with a knife while he was packing books and hit him so violently that part of the blade broke off in his skull.

Shortly after the attack they were called and given verbal abuse down the phone, removing the possibility of a simple random event. No, this was a cold attempt at murder almost certainly given the history and context, by someone aligned with the far right.

Publico, where Christophe volunteers his time is a central hub for the Anarchist scene in Paris, much like Freedom in London, it plays host to several groups such as Radio Libertaire and the paper Le Monde Libertaire while providing a warm and welcoming space for those looking to pick up books about Anarchism and related struggles. It is no stranger to assault, “We have already had incursions of right-wing activists in the bookstore, who entered shouting things like “France to the French” but never a savage attack” laments a volunteer and indeed it’s a deeply concerning escalation of the violence as more and more Anarchist and Socialist spaces come under attack. Last year we saw far right storming into Bookmarks and the previous year saw the “Pie and Mash” fascist troop attack the ANAL social centre in Belgravia force them and the crew and homeless guests to defend themselves. Elsewhere the Proud Boys attack on the Portland IWW Union Hall it’s very easy to become concerned about things escalating to the tragedy that befell Libertatia in Thessaloniki when Fascists attacked the social centre, burning it down in the process.

Christophe was taken to Saint Antoine the hospital where he was treated however scans show that a fragment of the blade has remained planted in the skull bone. Thankfully Christophe’s health seems stable and he was patched up and sent home to recover while waiting for an operation to the remove the left over shard. At time of publishing the culprit remains unknown no doubt quite proud of his addition to the air of oppression and constant threat of violence that fascist skum aim to seed with their horrific acts… However, the main concern to Publico’s opening hours remains the ongoing renovation work. The revolution will not be intimidated, it will not be silenced and we will not allow these acts of violence to pass.

Anarchist and Socialist spaces are bastions of liberty and community in an overtly oppressive environment and they must be defended. The threat isn’t just from the xenophobes on the far right but from the state as well with even such large communities as ADM in Amsterdam being evicted by legal and physical force. We must remain vigilant and with all our must protect and preserve these spaces for the benefit of the communities they serve and improve with their existence

Our complete and overt solidarity with Christophe, Librairie Publico and the Fédération Anarchiste during these most interesting times on the streets of Paris.

For more information keep an eye on:-
librairie-publico.com
federation-anarchiste.org

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Militarization Increases in Zapatista and Campesino Territories in Chiapas

The counterinsurgency strategy in regions populated by first peoples supporting the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has intensified since President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s (AMLO) administration took power in Mexico, according to human rights watch groups deployed in Chiapas. In a report published on May 2, 2019, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, (“Frayba”) stressed that in April alone, army units conducted 14 incursions into the territory surrounding La Realidad Caraol in the Lacandón rainforest.

Among the operations that were spotted, observers saw military patrols with tanks. In January, just days after the EZLN released a strong critique of AMLO’s government from La Realidad, soldiers entered the community four different times and conducted another four helicopter flyovers.

According to the watch groups’ report, personnel from the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena, its Spanish acryonym), dressed as civilians, had entered La Realidad to ask about the EZLN’s activities.

The Denunciations Increase

On April 10, 2019, during the commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of Emiliano Zapata’s assassination, the EZLN decried that, with the new government, “the military, police, and paramilitary presence has increased, as has that of spies, listening ears and informants. This, on top of the appearance of airplane and helicopter flyovers, “as well as armored vehicles, like in the times of Carlos Salinas de Gortari” [translator: Mexican president in office at the time of the Zapatista declaration of war.]

María de Jesús Patricio, spokeswoman of the Indigenous Government Council (Consejo Indígena de Gobierno), read the text, which was signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. “They show up in the communities saying that war is coming and that they’re just waiting for orders from ‘way up.’ Some of them make themselves pass for what they’re not and never will be, in order to learn the supposed ‘military plans’ of the EZLN. Perhaps ignoring the fact that the EZLN does what it says and says what it does… or perhaps because the plan is to set up a provocation and then blame the EZLN.”

Thus they asserted that López Obrador is really just acting like his predecessors, “but now he changes the justification: today, the persecution, harassment, and attack on our communities is ‘for the good of everyone’ and it’s done under the banner of the supposed ‘Fourth Transformation.’” [Translator: The Fourth Transformation is AMLO’s term for supposed broad changes in Mexican politics under his leadership. The first three “transformations” were independence from Spain, the reform laws of Benito Juárez, and the Mexican Revolution.]

This militarization that persists in Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s new federal government and Rutilio Escandón Cadenas’s new state government represents an assault on the lives of First Peoples’ communities in Chiapas that defend their right to autonomy, self-determination, and territory.

It’s worth recalling that on May 2, 2014, during the same action in which José Luis Solis López was extrajudicially executed, members of the Historic Independent Union of Agricultural Workers and Peasants (Central Independiente de Obreros Agrícolas y Campesinos-Histórica, a campesino organization and paramilitary group) destroyed the school and the autonomous clinic, also threatening to dismantle the Madre de los Caracoles del Mar de Nuestros Sueños (Mother of the Sea of Our Dreams Caracoles, another name for La Realidad Caracol). That action was a pretext for the Sedena to intensify militarization, which the Frayba pointed out was an act of intimidation, instead of looking for justice and for civil and peaceful means to resolve the conflict.0

One of the Causes: Mining and Megaprojects

This isn’t the first time this year that the human rights group, based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, has denounced military actions against organizations against communities that defend their territories in Chiapas, in the south of Mexico.
During the Women’s Rights are also Human Rights land defenders’ encuentro, which took place March 23, 2019 in the community of Lázaro Cárdenas, in Chicomuselo municipality, they denounced espionage actions against the activists and human rights defenders present at the event.

“Members of the Mexican Army’s 101st Infantry Battalion carried out acts of espionage during the encuentro. Victorino Morales Morales and Alejandro Yera Reyes, soldiers dressed as civilians, surveilled and photographed the activity, which was called for by the Women’s Diocese Coordination (Coordinación Diocesana de Mujeres, CODIMU), of the San Pedro and San Pablo Parish… this constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of association, as well as a risk to the personal safety and security of those who defend human rights in Chicomuselo,” the organization stated to local media. In that region of the Chiapan Sierra Madre, people are organizing against mining activity by a Canadian company called Blackfire that extracts baryte, titanium, and magnetite in several regions of Chiapas.

The parish of San Pedro and San Pablo, located in the municipal capital, has questioned the investment in construction of a military base in the vicinity, which would give soldiers easy access to the municipalities of Frontera Comalapa, Chicomuselo and La Concordia. “The huge investment of public funds in the construction and maintenance of a base raises questions for us, in a time where there are no resources to give Mexicans access to basic necessities like health, education, and water,” declared the campesinos who oppose the project. The project is currently suspended.

There are at least 99 mining concessions in Chiapas, spanning 15% of the state’s territory. Some of them are found in buffer zones for important protected natural areas like the El Triunfo and Encrucijada reserves in the Soconusco region.Hydrocarbon extraction projects and the installation of geothermic power plants remain active in the Zoque region in the north of the state, as do mini-hydroelectric plants and wind farms in the coastal-isthmus region.

Written by Ñaní Pinto This article was originally shared on the 7 May, 2019 on Avispa Midia, you can see the original here.

Avispa Midia are an independent collective of journalists and researchers that seek to discern about the political, economic and social events that take place in across Latin America.

As with avispas (wasps), insects that exist across the world that are equipped with various eyes or ocelli capable of distinguishing between light and dark, Avispa Media seeks to participate in and witness the variety of shades that colour reality.


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CODE BLACK – INDONESIAN COMRADES IN NEED

On Mayday police attacked the a demonstration of some 1000 Anarchists in Bandung with brutal severity on the pretence of stopping some spray painting. this demonstration involved children and families who were sent fleeing.The gathering broke into two sections who were then chased down, attacked, arrested (some sixty people simply being bundled into black SUV’s by masked police) and beaten. Shortly after without any judicial procedure many had their heads shaved, their faces covered in spray paint and some were forced to crawl along the street in their underwear. You can see footage of the demo before the attack of Anarchists singing ‘Buruh Tani’ (‘Farm Workers’) and after the police assault to see how the cops change everything.

In total some 619 were arrested and currently 3 comrades are still trapped in the hellish Indonesian prison system.

Elsewhere in Jakarta, Anarchists took on a police blockade to allow Trade Unions comrades to get to their rally point in a beautiful act of solidarity against the state, however the local Anarcho-Syndicalist union in Jakarta is being targetted by the police.

In Malang, Makassar and Surabaya comrades have been beaten and kidnapped by the state with entire communities being terrorist by the bastards as they preform sweeps looking for Anarchists

The shaving of heads brings back vivid memories religious police units of the Aceh region – who have history of horrifically abusing transwomen – attacking punk charity gigs in 2010/11 beating people up and taking them away for “re-educated” starting with… well as police chief inspector, Iskandar Hasan said “First their hair will be cut. Then they will be tossed into a pool. That’ll teach them a lesson!” … it’s seems shaving heads is a national past time for the pigs in Indonesia now…

All of this has been building for decades with a vibrant culture of resistance. Please take the time to have a read of this interview Black Rose / Rosa Negra had with an Uber driver and member of Persaudaraan Pekerja Anarko Sindikalis (PPAS) last year which talks about how how Anarchist-Syndicalism has developed there and also this 2010 interview with Indonesian Anarchist from the book “Von Jakarta bis Johannesburg – Anarchismus weltweit’ and finally this essay by Vadim Damier and Kirill Limanov which looks into the history of the struggle back to the two hundred years where anti-colonial forces alongside comrades in Europe and India which eventually lead to Anarchist cells forming in 1914/6 and with the ebb and flow of revolution pettering out only for the black flag to return alongside punk in the 90’s.


” In the years 1993-1994, an Indonesian punk scene emerged. Gradually, part of it turned to anti-dictatorship and anti-fascist activity; they established links with social movements and with the labour movement. As the Indonesian activists themselves described, the anarchist movement arose around 1998.

In more recently memory the Anarchist scene in Indonesia has suffered major hits. The Anarchist Black Cross Indonesia (Palang Hitam) had to stop operating a couple of years back after a member pretty much stolen all the funds and donations from around the world and disappeared leaving a divided community spread across thirteen thousand islands. Disconnected from each other and from the international community Indonesian comrades have struggled on and built vibrate Anarchist movement diverse in nature and entirely composed of local autonomous groups and individuals. These are small communities both rural and urban that have been facing a massive crack down for years with the state actively monitoring organisers and disappearing people.



So right now… whats occouring?
Around the world comrades are lighting the fires and sharing their solidarity, some folk are as I type en-route to Indonesia to provide support, develop links and report from the front line as they take action with local comrades. In the UK? Take action. Show solidarity.
Whatever that means to you

You’ll find the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia at 30 Great Peter St, Westminster, London SW1P 2BU
Their phone number is :- +44 20 7499 7661
The Ambassador is called Rizal Sukm

In the words of local organisers Right now we would appreciate international solidarity in the form of actions and also financial support. We will make sure that the mistakes made by Indonesia ABC won’t be repeated. If people are able to provide financial assistance please send it to the paypal below. We will use it for legal fees and to help support our friends who are in hiding because they are being targeted by police.”

https://www.paypal.me/adnandi

Read the call for solidarity here on Mpalothia.net
https://mpalothia.net/indonesia-post-may-day-update-and-call-for-international-solidarity

We are children of workers or laborers who work in factories, offices, warehouses, workshops, restaurants and wherever our parents bow to the employer.
We are school dropouts because we have to help our parents.
We are children who exclude ourselves from school because we refuse to continue the modern wage slavery system.
We are students who work part time, dividing our time between studying and work and are bullied on campus and in the workplace.
We are a generation that is taught how to be slaves and to be turned into ready-made products for industry.
We have to pay expensive tuition fees to be enslaved.
We are prospective workers, replacing our parents who lost their dignity, who feel inferior due to being labeled stupid, working hard under the demands of production, long work hours, low wages and high risk work environments.

We are the future. We have started a new page for a different era. An age without oppression and slavery.
We, are your children.

BEHIND THESE BLACK MASKS, ARE THE FACES OF YOUR CHILDREN


West Papuan Students in Yogakarta express solidarity




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From Bern to Bandung.
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The Anarchist Union Of Afganistan & Iran – United Front


(فارس زیر)

The most beautiful news to the ears of Internationalists is the stirrings of revolution and Anarchism around the globe. Other the past few years we’ve several groups become more visible and active, from union organising Bangladeshi Garment workers to mayday marches revolution minded Indonesians. Recently we’ve seen folk come together to form “the Anarchist Union Of Afganistan & Iran” who along with other groups and individuals are urging all blocks of Socialist, Communist and Anarchist to join a “United Front for Freedom, Fairness and Equality” against the fascistic Islamic Regime of Iran.

STATEMENT ON THE FOUNDATION OF A UNITED FRONT FOR FREEDOM, FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY (Original here)

Invitation to Co-ordination and Cooperation to Overthrow the Islamic State of Iran. In view of the fact that:

•The Islamic fascist regime in Iran quite correctly considers the progressive/Libertarian and left wings movements as one of its most active enemies, and did/do execute, imprison and torture our comrades.

•On the other hand, right-wing ringleaders from all sides, and with the racist propaganda and the prospect of the continuation of the tyranny cycle, suppress any voice of freedom, equality and fairness, through their mass media.

•This common pain will never be healed without organization, coalition, synergy and harmony. We should learn from the Spanish Civil War experience where Left blocs and the Republicans formed alliance as a campaign plan, in accordance with the specific circumstances of Iran and its political forces, to coordinate the fight for freedom, Fairness and Equality. Another example that can be mentioned is the community of Rojava’s popular democratic autonomy, which has been able to coordinate various political from all over the world to combat the tyranny regimes of the region. Thus, it is possible to create a network of pioneers of variety of political with libertarian, equality and fairness tendencies, including women movements, farmers, workers, students and other progressive radical that aims to overthrow The Islamic Regime of Iran under the umbrella of the United Front for Freedom, Fair and Equity.

Hereby by publishing this statement, as a group of individuals and political groups, take the first step in founding this “United Front”, and we invite you to join us in this battle against the “Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Long live: Freedom Fairness Equality Solidarity


This stirring of revolution isn’t coming out of thin air either, back in 2009 there was a movement called “The Anarchist Network” which was growing in popularity amongst workers and students before is was “destroyed due to the betrayal of a member”. The organisers however bounced back in by establishing “The Anarchist Era”, who place focus on the struggle for freedom for the working class with members in Iran and Afghanistan.

This new network has been active ever since, starting small with secretive meetings and sharing their ideas in a clandestine manner, utilising what little power they had to share information with like minded comrades. They have slowly become a more public presence on the Anarchist scene in Iran and international. These slow steps are no mistake, Iran is a very dangerous place to be an Anarchist. In 2013 Soheil Arabi an Anarcho Syndicalist was arrested and sent to Tehran Prison where he has been since reportedly held in solitary confinement and faces regular torture with the soldiers who act as screws beating him and other prisoners up and then refusing medicinal attention.

There is also the case of Abtin Parsa who was arrested in 2014 at the age of 16 and sent to “the IRGC secret prison of Zarghan city” for 18 months, during which time he was tortured by a man named Seyed Jaáfari and was left in horrific conditions in a cell which often rang with the appalling sound of The Revolutionary Guards officials raping inmates. Thankfully he was released on condition that he stopped political activity. He however fled from Iran to Greece on 2016.

In the Uk, watching activists gleefully line up to do a few hours in the cells before sleeping “the sleep of the just”, it’s often easy to be complacent with the struggles of our comrades in distant lands suffer under an authority with no need of a liberal mask.The formation of a union of Anarchists present unparalleled danger to our comrades and yet here they are sharing seditious material and fighting against the state and fanatically religious authorities which seek to suppress freedom.

The “United Front” is a call to action from individuals from across the left wing and “The Anarchist Union of Afghanistan & Iran” which itself formed in 2018 out of three revolutionary groups;

1-The Anarchist Era Collective (a community of anarchists from Iran and Afghanistan operating both inside and outside their countries)
2-The Anarchist group “Aleyh” (based in Afghanistan)
3-The Revolutionary Radical Anarchist Front (based in Iran)

They are expanding and building links with Anarchists around the world. If you are Iranian, Afghani or from any of the numerous communities who call the region home, get in contact. Comrades and allies globally step up and share solidarity and together we can work towards a truly global revolution of the working classes.

Learn more here:-
gozareshgar.com

asranarshism.com
twitter.com/asranarshism
twitter.com/UnitedFront11

اتحادیه ی آنارشیست های افغانستان و ایران – جبهه ی متحد

خوشایندترین اخبار به گوش انترناسیونالیست ها، جوش و خروش انقلاب و آنارشیسم در سرتاسر کره ی خاکی است. طی چند سال اخیر ما شاهد ظهور و تشدید فعالیت های چندین گروه بوده ایم، از اتحادیه ی سازماندهی کارگران پوشاک بنگلادش گرفته تا راهپیمایی های روز کارگر که از سوی اندونزیایی های انقلابی برگزار شد. اخیرا هم شاهد گرد هم آمدن شماری از رفقا برای تشکیل “اتحادیه ی آنارشیست های افغانستان و ایران” بودیم که در کنار سایر گروه ها و افراد، خواستار پیوستن تمامی گروه های سوسیالیست، کمونیست، آنارشیست و جمهوریخواه به یک “جبهه ی متحد برای آزادی، عدالت و برابری” در برابر رژیم فاشیست و اسلامگر خواستار پیوستن تمامی گروه های سوسیالیست، کمونیست و آنارشیست به یک “جبهه ی متحد برای آزادی، عدالت و برابری” در برابر رژیم فاشیست و اسلامگرای ایران هستند


· رژیم فاشیست و اسلامگرای ایران به درستی جنبش های پیشرو/آزادیخواه و چپ گرا را به عنوان یکی از فعال ترین دشمنان خود به حساب می آورد و رفقای ما را اعدام، زندانی و شکنجه کرده و میکند.
· از سوی دیگر، رهبران راست گرا از تمامی جناح ها، با بهره گیری از تبلیغات نژادپرستانه و با چشمداشت به استمرار چرخه ی استبداد،از طریق رسانه های جمعیِ خود مشغول سرکوب هرگونه ندای آزادی، برابری و عدالت می باشند.
· این درد مشترک هرگز بدون سازماندهی، ائتلاف، اشتراک مساعی و هماهنگی درمان نمیشود. باید از تجربه ی جنگ داخلی اسپانیا درس بگیریم که طی آن گروه های چپ و جمهوریخواهان در راستای یک برنامه ی عملیاتی با یکدیگر متحد شدند. باید از آن تجربه بیاموزیم و متناسب با شرایط ویژه ی ایران و نیروهای سیاسی آن، مبارزه ای برای آزادی، عدالت و برابری سازمان دهیم. یک مثال قابل ذکر دیگر، خودگردانیِ دموکراتیک و مردمی روژاواست که توانسته نیروهای سیاسی مختلفی را از سرتاسر جهان به منظور نبرد با رژیم های مستبد در منطقه سازمان دهد. بنابراین این امکان وجود دارد که شبکه ای از پیشگامانِ گروه های سیاسی متنوع با گرایش به آزادی، عدالت و برابری تشکیل داد. این شبکه میتواند در بر گیرنده ی جنبش های زنان، کشاورزان، کارگران، دانشجویان و سایر گروههای پیشروی رادیکال بوده و تحت لوای جبهه ی متحد برای آزادی، عدالت و برابری، معطوف به براندازی رژیم اسلامی ایران باشد.

ما، به عنوان مجموعه ای از افراد و گروه های سیاسی، بدین وسیله و با انتشار این بیانیه گام نخست را در مسیر برپایی این “جبهه ی متحد” بر میداریم و از شما نیز دعوت میکنیم تا در این نبرد علیه “جمهوری اسلامی ایران” به ما بپیوندید. زنده باد آزادی، عدالت، برابری، همبستگی این جوش و خروش انقلابی از هیچ پدید نیامده است. در سال 2009 جنبشی به نام “شبکه ی آنارشیستی” وجود داشت که تا پیش ازآنکه “به سبب خیانت یکی از اعضا”از هم بپاشد، محبوبیتش در میان کارگران و دانشجویان رو به فزونی بود. البته سازماندهان جنبش با تأسیس “عصر آنارشیسم”واکنش نشان دادند، جنبشی که تمرکز خود را بر نبرد برای آزادی طبقه کارگر با کمک اعضای ایرانی و افغانستانی خود گذاشته است.

این شبکه ی جدید که از آن زمان تاکنون فعال بوده است، کار خود را با برگزاری جلسات کوچک و مخفیانه و به اشتراک گذاری عقاید به شکل مخفی آغاز نمود و از همان اندک قدرتی که داشت بهره گرفت تا اطلاعات و اخبار را با رفقای همفکر در میان بگذارد. حضور آنان در صحنه ی آنارشیستی ایران و جهان، به آهستگی علنی تر شده است. این آهسته گام برداشتن کار نادرستی نیست، چراکه ایران برای آنارشیست ها جای بسیار خطرناکی است. در سال 2013، سهیل اعرابی که یک آنارکوسندیکالیست است دستگیر و به زندان تهران فرستاده شد، جایی که بنا بر گزارش ها از آن زمان تاکنون در حبس انفرادی به سر می برد و بطور منظم تحت شکنجه ی سربازانی است که به عنوان زندانبان گمارده شده اند و او و دیگر زندانیان را مورد ضرب و شتم قرار میدهند و از ارائه ی مراقبت های دارویی به آنان سر باز میزنند.

همچنین مورد آبتین پارسا را داریم که در سال 2014 در سن 16 سالگی دستگیر شد و به “زندان مخفی سپاه پاسداران شهر زرقان” فرستاده شدو هجده ماه را در آنجا گذراند. او طی این مدت توسط مردی به نام سید جعفری شکنجه شد و در وضعیتی ناگوار در سلولی محبوس بود که دیوارهایش اغلب با صداهای مخوف تجاوز مقامات سپاه پاسداران به زندانیان به لرزه در می آمد. او خوشبختانه به شرط پایان دادن به فعالیت های سیاسی آزاد شد و در سال 2016 از ایران به یونان گریخت.

وقتی در انگلستان می بینیم که فعالان چگونه شادمانانه صف میکشند تا چند ساعتی را – پیش از آنکه “به خوابی درستکارانه” فرو روند – در زندان سپری کنند، اغلب ساده است که مبارزات رفقایمان که در سرزمینهای دوردست از استبدادی که از نقابی لیبرال بی نیاز است در عذاب اند را وقعی ننهیم. شکل دهی به یک اتحادیه ی آنارشیستی، خطری بی مانند بر سر راه رفقایمان قرار میدهد و با این وجود آنها هنوز در حال به اشتراک گذاری محتواهای شورشگرانه و نبرد علیه حکومت و مقامات مذهبی متعصبی اند که در پی سرکوب آزادی هستند.

“جبهه ی متحد” فراخوانی است برای عمل از سوی افرادی از درون جناح چپ و نیز “اتحادیه ی آنارشیستی افغانستان و ایران” که خود در سال 2018 و از به هم پیوستن سه گروه انقلابی زیر تشکیل شد: 1- جمعیت عصر آنارشیسم (اجتماعی از آنارشیست ها از ایران و افغانستان که درون و بیرون از کشورهایشان فعالیت دارند) 2- گروه آنارشیستی “عالیه” (مستقر در افغانستان) 3- جبهه ی آنارشیستی رادیکال انقلابی (مستقر در ایران) آنها در حال توسعه و شکل دادن ارتباط با آنارشیست های سرتاسر جهان هستند. اگر ایرانی، افغانستانی، یا اهل هر یک از اجتماعات متعددی هستید که در این منطقه مأوا دارند، با ما در تماس باشید. رفقا و متحدان از سراسر جهان، برخیزید و همبستگی خود را به نمایش بگذارید تا با کمک یکدیگر به سوی یک انقلاب حقیقتا جهانیِ طبقه کارگر گام برداریم.

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Who’s Arming Turkey?


This infographic was created by the Shoal Collective who you can find on twitter via @shoalcollective. They are a cooperative of independent writers and researchers, writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism. This graphic was created the highlight thesheer scale to which the British arms industry is involved with supplying Erdoğan’s fascistic regime in Turkey with the arms which are used to suppress Turkish citizens and attack Kurdish communities and the Internationalists fighting alongside them in Rojava.

Who's Arming Turkey?
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Surviving Zimbabwe: An anarchist critique

This article, with the guidance of anarchism as a theory,  provides a critical analysis of Zimbabwe and its current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond individual politics. The real, underlying problem is a society governed by a class system under the control of a predatory state that cannot survive a day without the exploitation of its people. It is essential to organize and educate the masses for a revolution they can claim as their own, against all forms of oppression and that builds on everyday struggles to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe.

This article positions itself not only outside of the state, but against the state, under the guidance of anarchism as a theory. In it, I hope to give a critical analysis of Zimbabwe and its current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond individual politics. Rather, with the use of an anarchist lens, this article will carefully articulate the real underlying problem in Zimbabwe: it is a society governed by a class system, under the control of a predatory state that cannot survive a day without the endless exploitation of its people.

A comprehensive analysis of this nature hopes to make a valid contribution to help organize and educate the masses for a revolution they can claim as their own. A revolution that is specifically against all forms of oppression, and that builds on everyday struggles to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe. Equally importantly, this article is written in solidarity with the actions of the masses who stood against the violent regime on the 1st of August 2018, and again on the 14th of January 2019, and who fight for a better society. It encourages self-activity and the continuous development revolutionary awareness of the popular classes: the workers and working class, the poor, and the small peasant farmers.

Political context

Most media analyses of the problems in Zimbabwe, including its highly repressive state, have seen the causes as basically due to a few bad individuals, such as President Emmerson Mnangagwa (and his predecessor, President Robert Mugabe), trigger-happy generals and police chiefs, and the leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has been in office since 1980. This leads to the view that the problem can be fixed by a change in leading personnel in the state.

This is why the immediate response of many to the 15th of November 2017 military coup that installed former Vice-President Mnangagwa as President, and ousted Mugabe, was excitement and hope. Although this was really a coup by one ZANU-PF faction against another, it seemed a new person in the Presidency would solve the problems. This did not happen, leading many to then see the problem in terms of the unconstitutional way in which Mnangagwa had secured the office, followed by the way in which he consolidated and kept power. Again, the problem was seen in terms of individual behaviour.

Following the 2018 elections, where Mnangagwa headed the ZANU-PF campaign, there were widespread protests. On the 1st of August 2018, after a highly contested election process marred by numerous abuses, people took to the streets. They questioned the validity of the elections, and rejected ZANU-PF, which had, as usual, made sure it “won” the elections by fair means and foul. The government, as if acting on instinct, immediately dispatched the military and police against unarmed civilians, and killed at least six people. As during his coup, Mnangagwa used the means of coercion — that is, military and police forces, and jails, a pillar of the state that ordinary citizens do not own or control — to maintain what is effectively a ZANU-PF-headed military dictatorship.

In order to keep face with the international community, from which ZANU-PF seeks investment, loans and trade deals, a Commission of Inquiry was quickly launched. This presented its findings on the 11th of December. It found that “live ammunition, whips and gun butts” had been used on protesters, that this “was unjustifiable,” and that there was completely disproportionate use of force by the state.[1]

President Mnangagwa himself had to report the findings at a press conference, and even noted the Commission’s recommendation that such repression should never happen again.

Economic context

The situation created a legitimacy crisis for a ruling class, which was also faced with a crippled economy, suffering a serious liquidity crisis, a soaring unemployment rate estimated at 90%, a complete collapse of manufacturing industry, infrastructural crises, huge black markets, and serious agricultural problems.

In order to bolster the regime’s incomes, the President then doubled the fuel price on the 13th of January 2019, demanding that ordinary citizens pay for what became the most expensive fuel in the world. The fuel increase was fundamentally a government strategy to raise funds, given that 68% of the increment was going to taxes.

The announcement triggered a chain of events, which led to a call for peaceful protests and a National Shutdown or general strike, by respected activist Pastor Evans Mawarire and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). And so, less than a month since the Commission of Inquiry’s shocking report on the post-election repression, and the promise “never again,” more than 600 Zimbabweans were arrested without due process. At least 15 people were killed, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. The courts were reported to be unresponsive, hiding in the great dark shadows of the state, shattering the myth of separation of powers and democratic reform under Mnangagwa.

In another offensive, Zimbabwe was turned into a black site through the state’s total shutdown of the Internet, an attempt to hide the vicious nature of the state and allow the ruling class to regain control. This in turn had a brutal impact on the livelihoods of millions, since more than 85% of all financial transactions in Zimbabwe, including simple things like buying bread, require the use of the Internet.

What anarchism/ syndicalism help explain 

The problem with explaining Zimbabwe in terms of a few bad leaders at the head of the state, is that it reduces the problem to the behaviour of a few. It does not examine the system that generates brutal leaders like Mugabe and Mnangagwa, and it cannot explain why the basic system does not change, even when some of the personnel does. It fails to explain why the Zimbabwean state did not change significantly, when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won local elections, or with the entry of the MDC into a government of national unity with ZANU-PF in 2009. As the especifist Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (Uruguayan Anarchist Federation, FAU) has stressed, without a robust and coherent theory, one will always run the risk “of examining every problem individually, in isolation, starting from point of views that can be different in each case or examining them based on subjectivity.” [2]

Therefore, it is essential to develop a systematic theory of the Zimbabwean state, and, in doing so, carefully unpack the political implications. Currently, there is not so much an in-depth critical analysis of the situation in Zimbabwe by the protest movements, but instead, simply a set of updates of what is happening.  On the other side, there is a large section of the Left internationally that is taken in by the language of the Zimbabwean regime and thinks it is somehow progressive – even that Mugabe was better than Mnangagwa. This Left is trapped by the subjective claims of that state, rather than basing itself on an analysis of that state’s objective features, and it is trapped by a  focus on personalities.

Anarchism provides an essential corrective to both these approaches. It rejects the notion that the state is an empty place of power, which can be redirected to good or bad ends simply by changing who occupies the top seats. It argues, instead, that the state is an inherent part of the social problem we face. Control of the state apparatus is always vested in a small political elite, whose power rests on control of means of administration and means of coercion. These can be leveraged to accumulate wealth for that elite, including taking over means of production. These essential features are not changed by its rhetoric and its propaganda: as Mikhail Bakunin argued, “the people will feel no better if the stick with which they are being beaten is labelled the people’s stick.”

The “predatory” state

What developed in Zimbabwe from the 2000s is an extreme example of the state structure, where the state elite has mutated into the main economic elite as well, operating a huge system to extract wealth from the society. The local ruling class is now centred on the state, and it uses the state directly to accumulate wealth and maintain the class system. It either directly controls large parts of the economy, or is involved in the private sector through dense networks of corruption, patronage and rent-seeking. Much of this involves the military and most of it goes through ZANU-PF. The state preys on society, extracting wealth in the most destructive ways– it is “predatory” — and its key figures simply cannot afford to lose control over key state positions through open elections. This is what underlies the repression that is meted out to challengers, and the violence that takes between ruling class factions as well.

As anarchism also points out, no solution for the popular classes can come from involvement in the state, whether through running an alternate party, like the MDC, or through a revolution via the state apparatus, or a military coup.  The state always serves the interests of a small ruling class — the predatory form, as seen in Zimbabwe, is just an extreme example. The problem is not about who is in charge, or which political party: the state as a form of organisation is core part of the class system.  Its core features are not changed by changing faces, any more than a car becomes an aeroplane if you paint it.

When, slightly over a year ago, Zimbabwe bid a glad farewell to the old dictator, Mugabe, no systemic change took place. The removal of Mugabe was masked when the military coup dressed up as a democratic change, but it was simply a change of power between factions and figures in the ruling class; it was not a movement of wealth and power away from the ruling class.

From state power to counter-power

Anarchism, noting this, argues that what is needed is not building a new party, or running in elections, but mass mobilisation and organisation and education, as the basis for a direct transfer of power to the people, and to bottom-up assemblies, councils and committees — away, that is, from the state and the corporations.

Anarchists, as Bakunin argued, obviously prefer free and fair elections a “thousand times” to regimes based on using “live ammunition, whips and gun butts” on protesters, just as they fight also for better wages and more jobs, and for cheaper fuel. But they see these everyday struggles as unable to change the fundamental nature of the system.

Therefore, it is important to fight to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe, but to do this as part of a process of building a popular counter-power; and to see fights for reforms as valuable in themselves, but also as spaces to organize and educate the masses for a revolution they can claim as their own, a complete take-over of society through mass democratic movements.

The National Shutdown in early 2019 shows the potential power of the popular classes, and it was especially interesting to see the ZCTU unions joining the call and mobilising. Anarchists believe that the trade union is an institution that can help workers to organize for reforms, but more importantly, that unions can be regenerated to be part of the process of building new social relations, that is, a site of counter-power, such as can contribute to building a new people’s Zimbabwe.

A new Zimbabwe is possible but we must struggle for it, bearing in mind that the immediate goal has to be to build popular counter-power, involving mass organisation and widespread political education, hopefully growing to a wide-scale libertarian movement that can create a rupture with the state. A  new Zimbabwe will not be handed down by a political party; it will certainly not come from the military under state control; it will require more than just ousting ZANU-PF. Rather it can only be created by ordinary people.

To do so, there is now a need to go beyond protests and move to building a revolutionary, specific anarchist organisation in suffering Zimbabwe. An organisation that will develop a clear program that pulls from all corners of the country, that partners with unions and the poor, the street traders and the small peasants, to build counter-power institutions, that stand as a counter to the state, defend the people and point to a new dawn.■

Leroy Maisiri of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZABF) of South Africa who kindly shared this article with is, read the original here.

[1] Report Of the Commission of Inquiry Into The 1st of August 2018 Post-Election Violence. manicapost.co.zw/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Final-Report-of-the-Commission-of-Inquiry.pdf

[2] Theory, Ideology and Political Practice: The FAU’s Huerta Grande text blackrosefed.org/huerta-grande/

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Statement On the “Yellow Vests” From The Federation Anarchiste (09/12/18)

Several weeks ago, a movement of anger as we have not seen in a longtime appeared in France, totally disorienting the state power. It is understandable and legitimate in regard to the suffered social violence; the diversity of its participants is an indication of how much people are fed up with the successive, more or less hidden, austerity politics. Even if impressive, this revolt is only adding to the recent social movements taking place throughout France in the hospitals, the rail company, universities, high-schools etc.

The main characteristic of this movement is the rejection of representation by politicians and of self-proclaimed leaders. On the occupied roundabouts, new modes of social interaction are being invented. Anarchists approve of this attitude which has always been theirs. However, the revolt will be in vain if it is not followed by proposals. They exist, for example in Saint-Nazaire or Commercy, and even if they don’t fully satisfy the anarchists, they deserve to be supported as long as they are moving toward emancipation.

We are condemning and denouncing the many cases of violent State repression (arbitrary arrests, flash trials, mutilations from police ‘non-lethal’ rounds and other offensive police weapons) as the only answer to the protests.

The victory of this movement will not be the dissolution of the Assemblée nationale (editor’s note: French Parliament) in order to fill it with demagogues/populists and/or nationalists who themselves would not tolerate such demonstrations, but in its disruption through the establishment of self-organising and anarchist federalism.

Fédération Anarchiste

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The Anti-Workers’ Party rage in Brazil: Progressive or Reactionary?

With the radically polarised process of Brazil’s presidential elections and the victory of an openly neo-fascist candidate, an important concept emerges that needs to be better understood within the Brazilian and international activist community: The Anti-Workers’ Party (PT) rage.

The formation of the PT and the New Republic

To better understand this subject, it is important to return to the first half of the 1980s, when Brazil was reaching the end of the military dictatorship period and going through the process of re-democratization. This period is known as the “New Republic” period. The end of the dictatorship in Brazil occurred in a scenario of economic crisis and at the same time of the collapse of various dictatorships in Latin America. In Brazil, this decline was accelerated by a great rise in social movements despite their repression in the dictatorship. One of the most prominent social groups was composed by the metallurgic workers known as “the metallurgical belt of the ABC” (metropolitan region of São Paulo). Numerous strikes and protests led by the group spread through the most diverse social sectors of the country, overcoming the power of repression by the police and the barrier imposed by media censorship. Other groups followed: from landless peasants to students, as well as the progressive wing of the Catholic Church, intellectuals and artists, community movements and workers from the most diverse categories.

The political impact of this struggle was enormous, boosting a historical reorganization of social movements in Brazil. Workers from various factories and categories rejected the rotten union structures (usually linked to the dictatorship) and created new unions such as the CUT (free translation: Central of Workers). From this shift of power and reorganisation of the unions, came the idea of ​​creating a new political party. An independent party from the bourgeoisie, and that unified the diverse social and popular struggles that the country was going through. The Workers’ Party (PT) was therefore created under the leadership of Lula da Silva, a metallurgist from the Northeast of the country, who was at the forefront of the social movements and became a political prisoner multiple times during the military dictatorship.

Throughout the 1980s, the PT was consolidating itself as the main leftist party of the New Republic. Its strategy was to get to power via the democratic electoral route. In the first elections in the country after the military dictatorship ended, in 1987, Lula reached the second round of the process, being defeated by Fernando Collor. Collor would undergo Impeachment two years later due to a corruption scandal. Lula later ran again and lost to Fernando Henrique Cardoso the 1994 and 1998 elections. With the impact of the economic crisis of the late 1990s and early 00s, Lula was finally elected president in October 2002.

The 13 years of PT governments

During the 1990s, PT was already beginning to gain space in the political scenario winning various local and national elections. In many cases, the elected representatives put in practice the social welfare policies and the democratic participation of the population in decision making, such as the participatory budget currently used in several countries. They also launched changes in public healthcare such as the unified system of ambulances (SAMU), inspired by the model used in France, launching in Porto Alegre first and expanding nationwide after 2003.

However, months before the election that led Lula to the presidency, PT released a document entitled “Letter to Brazilians”. In this document, PT committed itself not to alter the pillars of the economic agenda that had been applied by the previous conservative governments (for example, from the party PSDB), calming down the fears that leading economic groups could still have regarding an eventual PT government.

Now in government, PT continued to broadly apply the social-democratic agenda but with some adjustments. During Lula’s second administration, the world commodities market experienced an unusual boom. The Brazilian economy, strongly based on this type of product (oil, gas, minerals, etc.), had grown significantly. The PT government took advantage of the economic growth and increased investments in social policies. The measures did not change the country’s economic structure but allowed the social inclusion of millions of families who were living below the poverty line. It gave access to consumption and goods that a large part of the population had never dreamed of. Sectors of the middle class consequently began to develop an Anti-Workers’ Party rage based on the traditionally retrograde mentality shared by this social class. They struggled to tolerate “poor people in airports and universities”, both seen as privileges reserved to the few. But this new economic scenario of the country went from strength to strength, which left the middle class feeling politically marginalized. Yet the “Cansei” (I’m fed up) marches, a movement of the upper-middle class of São Paulo, typically dressed in green and yellow and protesting against Lula’s presidency, did not reach 100 attendees.

The economic crisis and June 2013

However, the economic growth reached an end. The great global economic crisis of 2007 changed the landscape in Brazil. The commodities market, especially oil, gradually returned to pre-growth levels. Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor, was then in charge of the government. Lula had already served two consecutive terms – the maximum allowed by Brazilian law.

The population was beginning to feel the decline in living standards and to realise that the government was failing to maintain the same economic growth from previous years. There was a feeling that the bill was being paid by the population. The mega-events planned for the country (World Cup and Olympic Games), turned from a source of pride to an example of waste of public funds. All that while the basic needs of the population were not being met. In June of 2013, a student mass protest against the increase of the bus fares in São Paulo was harshly repressed by the Military Police. However, it quickly gained momentum and spread throughout the country. It was the beginning of the so-called “Jornadas de Junho” (Journeys of June), the greatest social mobilization in Brazil’s history: tens of millions of people took the streets demanding further social changes. The protests were very diverse and composed by people from all parts of the political spectrum. In general, the protests of June had in common a progressive agenda. However, the far-right took advantage of the political moment and infiltrated in the process instigating the Anti-Workers’ Party rage, blaming the left for all the social discontent and lack of perspective for a better future.

The 2014 Elections and the Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff

In the 2014 electoral process, Dilma reached the second round against the PSDB candidate in a fiercely contested election. Large part of the upper middle class had adhered to the Anti-Workers’ Party rage. In the second round, PT adopted an anti-austerity speech, more to the left, and reversed the rejection to its policies. At the end of the elections, Dilma adopted a very different agenda from what had been defended in her campaign up to that point, disappointing many of her supporters.

The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, wanted an even stronger pace of fiscal adjustment. It encouraged and radicalised the Anti-Workers’ Party rage, giving support to Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.

Nowadays

In the current elections, with the failure of the traditional conservative parties (such as PSDB), the space was occupied by a neo-fascist alternative: Jair Bolsonaro. To enable his rise, the campaign supported by the international fake News industry (with the participation of Stephen Bannon, former Trump aide) and hate speech. Quickly the campaign took surreal proportions. The far-right took advantage of the desperation and lack of perspective of large sectors of the population to inflame hatred against their “enemy within”: the black, the poor, the women and the LGBTQ. And the left activists fighting the rise of extremism were all labelled as “PT supporters.” The far-right encourages an unhealthy Anti-Workers’ Party rage to facilitate its policy of brutal repression to the social movements, finally making it possible to consolidate their political project.

In this delicate political moment, we understand that the role of the left is to fight the reactionary and neo-fascist president. It does not mean embracing PT with its past mistakes and current limitations. It does not even mean supporting a possible new government from this party. The PT’s alliances, manifesto and recent practices show that the party has not yet realised the need to reinvent itself from within – as for example the UK Labour Party has. It is necessary to overcome the limitations of PT in the future, but today the priority is to fight the neo-fascism.

The post-election period

The  far-right in Brazil used the Anti-Workers’ Party rage as an ideological basis for its strength. Brazil has elected a neo-fascist government. Parallel to that, social movements gain strength and resist, the left reorganizes itself.

A movement of more than 4 million people and led by women stood up to this political threat without defending PT and its alliances. The #EleNao campaign fought the rise of fascism.

No matter what the Bolsonaro government will be, the work of building a new political scenario that goes beyond the polarisation focused on very few parties continues and the task of defending basic democratic rights will be the order of the day. The #EleNao campaign has already shown the way.

We have a long road ahead of us, and we have confidence and willingness to keep fighting.■

Márcia Alves, feminist-socialist activist from Sao João de Meriti, Baixada Fluminense ( peripheral area in Greater Rio de Janeiro).

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Statement From Brazilian Women Against Fascism UK

The presidential elections in Brazil ended with the victory of the neo-fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro of the far-right party Social Liberal Party (PSL), with just over 55% of the valid votes. After a necessary period of recovery and reflection, we as the Brazilian Women Against Fascism UK group would like to outline what we believe are the next stages of resistance and forms of mobilization that will need to be articulated before the government begins in 2019, but whose weight we already felt in that transition period.

We would like to thank everyone who joined us on October 28 in front of the embassy. Our demonstration was very moving and filled us with strength and affection. The solidarity of all those present, the work done collectively, the Brazilian food, the music, the drums, the dances, the hugs, the hail rain and the occupation of the streets … Our immense gratitude to all those involved!

Our victory is knowing that we are fighting on the right side of history. Despite the electoral defeat, the campaign against fascism gained a lot of momentum in the last week of the campaign, especially among women. Even though the elected candidate had the broad support of companies and the financial market, as well as much of the mainstream media, the repercussion of the #EleNao (#NotHim) campaign showed that the path of resistance is possible and will become a reality.

Since then, we have received many messages of support and solidarity from other activist movements, unions and academic groups, offering support and solidarity, and invitations to participate in activities and demonstrations to debate and protest against the advances of fascism in Brazil and in the world. We understand the rise of the far-right as a global corporate phenomenon, based on privileges for the few and the suppression of the rights of the people. Because of this, we believe in the importance of forming a global opposition.

Our movement is a part of and helps build the wider front of resistance of all who oppose Bolsonaro. We are a non-partisan group of women with diverse ideological leanings, but we all have something in common: the strength and the will to fight against the growth of fascism in Brazil. We will not be answerable to the politics of any party, personality or leadership, and we will point out the limitations and responsibilities of each of these. Our main objective is to add and contribute to the resistance, especially of women, in Brazil and internationally.

We are very sorry that Brazilians living in London have also mostly chosen to elect Bolsonaro. It will be necessary to confront this, as we cannot allow his hate speech to be normalized. After the first round of the presidential elections, we saw a wave of violence and attacks on women, blacks, indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ+ community, teachers and people in general demonstrating against the elected candidate. Such a wave did not cease, nor has it diminished with his election. On the contrary, it has increased. Teachers and students were exposed and threatened in various university settings within Brazil, Quilombola communities and Social Movements are being attacked, as well as the entire LGBTQ+ community, among many other attacks. The dangers that Bolsonaro presents are not limited to minorities and human rights, but they cover a wide range of issues, including the environmental issue and the old colonial social structures. His policy proposals are aimed at keeping the lower social classes ever lower, so that upper classes maintain their exorbitant profits and absurd privileges, dramatically increasing the giant social abyss in which Brazil has been for so long, with direct attacks on those who oppose and denounce the government.

We understand that it is the task of all social movements in Brazil to form a united front of resistance against the Bolsonaro government. For this to happen, the connection with the international press and social movements is of crucial importance, to denounce the government and to exert pressure against the path of authoritarianism. This is the role that the collective Brazilian Women Against Fascism UK will seek to play. We have a long and arduous road ahead of us and we will need the help of all who are willing and able to build a grassroots base to disseminate information and a support for our fellow Brazilians.

Please get in touch if you want to get more involved and/or have some idea to offer – we need reinforcements as we plan to schedule an open meeting in January in London to work closely with groups and individuals interested in organising an international boycott campaign against Bolsonaro’s government.

No one will stop our fight for equal rights for all. We will not be silenced. ■

Não Passarão! EleNão!

BWAF UK (Brazilian Women against Fascism UK) is a non-partisan group of Brazilian women living in the UK, organised in reaction to the rising fascist threat to the democratic ideals of freedom, equality and social justice in Brazil and in the world. We are always open to the arrival of new comrades.

  • Stay in touch: bwaf@riseup.net
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An Interview With The Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation

(Originally shared on www.loveandragemedia.org)

Contact BASF:
basfsylhet@gmail.com
facebook.com/basfsylhet 

We do not know anything about an anarcho-syndicalist movement in Bangladesh. Please tell us, how everything started. Had there been anarchist traditions or a union movement for a longer time? Had there been contacts to organizations in other countries?

The Bangladesh anarchist workers’ movement is less than five years old, born out of the ashes of failed Marxism-Leninism.

I recall the antecedent period in Bangladesh history where Marxism-Leninism held hegemony. This was a time of deep faith and affection for the thought of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tsetung, and Trotsky.

As far as I understand, none in the movement knew of anarchism as a political ideology and would not know of it until decades later. We revered the hanging portraits of Marxist leaders, we studied their books, and we integrated discussion of their ideas into our daily lives. Our life’s pursuit was to become socialist revolutionaries. We were so fervent in our beliefs of a better world that we sacrificed clothing for books, food for paper.

The socialist movement was already active in Bangladesh when my generation moved from studying socialism to helping develop a mass socialist movement. In Dhaka, the capital, we helped in the dissemination of pro-Soviet papers, we joined student organizations, and we participated in interviews. We explained socialism to the people, to workers, from the factories to the fields. Our path was guided by science and freedom of expression, and we spread our ideas without imposing on others. But we faced public rejection and death in our efforts.

When speaking in Muslim-dominated areas, many condemned us as atheists and unrighteous. And where we were not simply denounced, many of us were murdered. Our struggle has been the history of bloodshed. We have lost many of our companions. And although the oppressive apparatuses tortured and killed us, we proceeded ahead with the dream of revolution and continued to take those steps to make the revolution. Our work increased the number of socialist organizations and supporters across cities and villages. These bodies were intent to fight against the tyranny of oppression, against the national military dictatorship and against imperialism.

As early as 1980 we were able to hear about the Soviet Union and China’s authoritarian nature and contradictions. We did not believe this was the truth, that “scientific” socialism could be false. Rather, we believed this was imperialist and CIA propaganda. The subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union and the breaking of Lenin’s statue greatly shocked us all. Together with the eastern bloc, the socialist countries of the world changed. They moved away from having even a veneer of socialism and openly embraced a capitalist restructuralization.

This produced a tremendous shock in the thought of our movement. We re-read Marxism’s fundamentals over and over. But none of this helped us to better understand the failure of “socialism.”

We did, however, take an interest in the revolutionaries who criticized Marxism-Leninism. This led us to read the works of many anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin, William Godwin, PJ Proudhon, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Errico Malatesta, Alexander Berkman, Max Stirner, Élisée Reclus, and Noam Chomsky.

Their works are not in print form [in Bangladesh], nor are they in Bengali. So our medium of learning has been through reading anarchist texts through the internet in foreign languages.

By 2012, many of us former Marxists acquired a clear idea of anarcho-syndicalism from our continuous internet studies.

Because I have been involved in tea workers’ struggles since 2000, it was among tea workers and close, political friends that we first introduced anarcho-syndicalist practices through the development of The Tea Workers’ Council. This council did not bear the name of any specific doctrine or party. Because old, authoritarian ways persisted, a clear articulation of anarchism and a regrouping along anarchist principles was necessary.

As a result, on 1 May 2014, many militants formed a twenty three-member committee of those committed to the principles of anarcho-syndicalism. This committee has fostered the development of anarcho-syndicalist organizations in across 60+ places in Bangladesh today.

Presently, we are receiving help from the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation of Australia to improve our organization. With their help, we are also trying to become members of the IWA-AIT [International Workers’ Association – Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores].

We seek solidarity from sister and brother comrades all over the world. We want to work together with everyone.

Why do you think anarcho-syndicalism is a good idea for your lives in Bangladesh?

I think that capitalism is based on the subordination and exploitation of the working class. Workers are oppressed because they are forced to work under a coercive management regime and they are denied the right to control the use of their own abilities or control their own work.

For the working class to liberate itself from this situation, it is necessary to have a strategy. The strategy needs to be workable and show how it has a chance of achieving liberation. This means that the strategy needs to have a good “fit” with the goal or aim. If the masses are to fight to replace capitalism with a form of socialism, it is not worth the struggle if the result is just a new form of oppression, run by some new boss class. Thus it’s necessary to think about how our strategy can lead to a form of socialism where the masses are actually in control of the society, and workers control the places where they work.

The advantage to anarcho-syndicalism, as I see it, is that it has the best chance of creating a form of socialism where there will not be a new ruling class, and where workers will be in control.

The anarcho-syndicalist strategy means building unions that are controlled by their members, and building broader solidarity throughout the working class. The idea is to build a labor movement that isn’t narrowly focused on only fights with an individual employer but has the capacity to fight for more systemic change, and can work in alliance with other social movements. This means that workers have to build solidarity between different sectors, different groups of the oppressed. Only a labor movement of this kind would be able to be a force for basic change in the social structure. Building unions controlled by the members foreshadows workers managing the industries.

The problem with other socialist strategies is that either they don’t seem able to get beyond the present society (as with electoral socialism and cooperativism) or they end up putting power into the hands of state leaders, and tend to create a new bureaucratic boss class. Anarcho-syndicalism, on the other hand, is built to avoid creating a new bureaucratic boss class by avoiding concentration of power into a state bureaucratic machine.

How many groups are there and in which industries / workplaces are they organizing people? In which cities are they placed? 

Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation (BASF) organizes workers at the lowest levels of diverse industries. Workers in BASF represent sectors from tea garden to food processing to rickshaw making to ceramics to brick-fields to construction to transportation to maintenance work to domestic/factory guards to loaders to sweepers to employed salesmen to grocery shop workers to metal workers.

BASF, already organized about 60 groups in different places, whose membership currently is over 1,600 with 45% women, and only accepts employees as their members.

Despite working in some of the largest and most important industrial sectors, workers receive extremely low wages. For instance, working women in food processing receive 45 Taka (0.54$) after an 8-hour work day. Ceramic workers receive 55 Taka (0.66$) per day. Moreover, factories don’t have proper ventilation, cooling, and supervisors mistreat workers. BASF, through sectoral associations, is organizing workers to demand higher wages, paid holidays, and better working conditions. Sectoral associations (shomiti/সমিতি) allow BASF to form struggles depending on specific needs and maintain sector specific autonomy. Each sectoral association has a secretary and a treasurer, and the secretary functions as a delegate to BASF in federation level decision-making. BASF’s student association is working on developing demands for free education for all, while the tea garden workers’ association is developing demands for land rights in addition to better wages and working conditions. Patriarchy pervades everyday life and hinders organizing when, for instance, women do not speak up in men’s presence in association meetings. This happens less among tea garden workers since men and women work together in the hills. In order to address the lack of women’s participation, BASF has made efforts toward building a separate anarcho-syndicalist women’s federation.

BASF is working independently and is not yet affiliated with any larger anarchist organization. BASF understands that capitalism is a worldwide phenomenon and has to be addressed at a global level through solidarity across locales. However, such internationalism requires developing a nation-wide organization—a major challenge for BASF. Assembling while being unregistered as an organization can lead to a five-year prison sentence for organizers in Bangladesh. BASF now has legal registration papers that they can use as shield, however it does not have permission from the local police station to assemble, despite having their organization registered. Anarchism still raises suspicion among local power-holders. BASF is vigilant about imperialist/colonialist tendencies among anarchist partners from the global north.

BASF is focusing on the challenges of eliminating entrenched domination in Bangladesh culture. Dominance has been naturalized across society, from domestic partner relations, to mullah-believer relation, to student-teacher relation to minister-citizen relation. The person in the position of authority is seen as unquestionable and is allowed full exercise of their sadistic impulses. Our student organizers talk about the widespread practice of “ragging,” where upper class students sexually torture lower class students in universities. When BASF organizers protested widely accepted sexual torture at universities, thousands of people protested their questioning of upper class authority.

People are habituated to think of politics as partisan politics organized in hierarchical bureaucracies. As soon as you talk to people about joining the organization (BASF), they think of being the president, secretary, etc. When they don’t get those roles, they lose interest and leave.

Among the membership base, workers lose work hours participating at BASF events. These are workers who live hand-to-mouth, unable to pay for food on days they do not work. BASF does not have enough resources (from food to furniture) to bring all of its association members together into long conferences and meetings. BASF has 60 associations and has received interest letters from many more but is unable to integrate all of them or even meet the interested persons in other parts of Bangladesh.

BASF is committed to moving from just wage struggles to building a broader social movement. Opposed to vanguardism, BASF wants to create spaces for collective reflection and action. It believes political praxis requires more education and consciousness raising among wage workers across sectors, but at the moment BASF is only able to organize workers in short duration for immediate needs. BASF lacks the infrastructure for further political education.

It does not have an office, library, or community space. It lacks computers, original and translated publications, and people capacity to take on popular education projects.

Despite resource drawbacks, BASF shomitis have generated collective “we feelings” among its members, negotiated higher wages, and engaged in practices of mutual aid within its sectors. After natural disasters in the region, BASF members work together to rebuild fellow members’ homes without any external aid. During health emergencies or family events like weddings, members pull together their resources to support one other.

BASF encourages other anarchist organization and federations to develop translations of publicly available literature for Bengali readers. There are a lot of people who are reading online nowadays and we can reach them if we have more Bengali anarchist writings. We should write in Bengali from now on.

Anarcho-syndicalism is an old, but still young idea out of the workers’ movement in Europe. The circumstances in Bangladesh – I guess – are different. Which parts of the anarcho-syndicalist historical / modern practices had been inspiring, which were not useful and had to be dropped/changed? How could anarcho-syndicalism be adopted to your economical and cultural circumstances in Bangladesh today?

While any modern economy will be complex, the simplicity of a future anarcho-syndicalist economy lies in the fact that it will be defined by a few basic principles. It will be a true anarcho-syndicalist economy if:

1) There is no mechanism for profit, or for concentrating wealth and capital. 2) Workplaces are collectively run and are controlled directly and democratically by workers. 3) Any organisational/administrative bodies are composed only of re-callable, accountable delegates who are elected by mass meetings in the workplace or community. 4) Property is held in common (though clearly, we all have the right to our own living space, personal possessions, etc.). 5) All work is voluntary, and goods and services equally accessible. Money, wages and prices do not exist. 6) There is a significant level of economic planning, but not centralized. Regional or wider-scale planning is for complex and larger scale modes of production. Local production and consumption is not subordinate to regional planning, but is on the basis of self-sufficiency.

An economy that operates under these principles is one that is a lot more desirable and effective in ensuring quality of life than the current capitalist chaos.

There are lots of ways in which people will feel the incentive to work voluntarily, and there are lots of different ways in which local and regional economies might work. Some people may migrate to economies which suit them. Some economies may be simpler, based on self-sufficiency more than anything else; others will be more integrated and produce complex goods.

The options are many, but the principles will ensure that everyone has the time and the inclination to get involved in planning and participating in their economy – a far cry from the present rotten, corrupt, and cynically selfish system we have the misfortune to be saddled with.

Getting from here to there is not going to be easy, but humanity created capitalism, and humanity can replace it. The collective act of wrenching control of our own economic lives from the hands of capitalism is the long-overdue revolution we so desperately need.

The success of replacing capitalism will be measured by how much we take control of our own destiny, rather than simply passing it on to some other power, as previous failed revolutions have done.

Real progress is best made not by producing detailed blueprints (for that way lies the slide into abstract politics and leadership), but by sticking to basic principles, and concentrating our efforts on taking action for real change. Real democracy requires real solidarity – and that means agreeing on the basics and then trusting ourselves and the rest of humanity to get on with it. “Keeping it real” is the key.

Anarcho-syndicalism is a strategy for the working class to free itself from the capitalist regime of class oppression and create a system of libertarian socialism based on worker-managed industry.

This is possible in Bangladesh because it is possible for workers to form unions they directly control. I realize that since World War Two unions became increasingly bureaucratic. That was then, this is now. Unions have obvious problems.

What is needed now is for workers to form new unions they directly control, through general meetings and elected delegate (or shop steward) councils. A more directly worker-controlled and militant unionism, a unionism based on class-wide solidarity, would be a much better form of unionism and it would provide workers with a vehicle for making changes in society.

The basic idea is that unions that are self-managed by their members prefigure and foreshadow a form of socialism where workers self-manage the workplaces, the industries. This is a much better model of socialism than the failed statist models of socialism in the 20th century.

However, the building of self-managed unions is only a starting point. The aim of anarcho-syndicalism is basic structural change in society, doing away with the capitalist regime, its system of class subordination, but also anarcho-syndicalism targets the other oppressive aspects of the capitalist regime — its systemic forms of inequality as on racism and gender inequality, its reliance on a top down repressive and bureaucratic state machine. So the question of how possible anarcho-syndicalism is, has to be interpreted as also asking about the possibility for the transformation of society into libertarian socialism.

For this to be possible there would need to be an alliance of unions and social movements of sufficient size, organizational strength and militancy as to pose this kind of threat to the survival of the capitalist regime.

What do you and your comrades think about a Bangladeshi/German exchange? A big part of anarcho-syndicalist practice is not only being organized in unions but to take the production in our own hands. What about the possibility to raise a collective industry and exchange of goods and labor between Germany and Bangladesh anarcho-syndicalist movement? So to say not only capitalist “fair trade” but collective “revolutionary economy.” Is there a possibility to build up anarcho-syndicalist collectives for a future economy in our way of thinking? (This point may lead to a bigger discussion, so take your time to answer it, please.)

It seems that the germs of a possible Bangladeshi/German exchange or the “revolutionary economy” as mentioned are already present.

As of now we do not have the technical or financial means to start co-operatives by ourselves, but we have already considered it as a possibility if the means were to be made available.  Funding co-operatives would be something we could do with surplus funds, if we ever have them.  It is difficult to have surplus funds when we are still having problems just making sure people have food in their stomach.

As mentioned above, the BASF is currently in a period of rapid growth that it is struggling to keep up with. The task of building anarchist-worthy workplace unions consumes all our time.

But this is seeming all the more possible the more sisters and brothers from abroad talk about this to us.  And it is welcomed news that contrasts the immoral spending habits we have seen our entire lives.

We have seen the terrible injustice of stronger nations and their peoples coming to or using indigent nations such as Bangladesh to take advantage of the high purchasing power of their home currencies that is made possible by our cruel impoverishment.

The proposal of such an exchange is in a completely contrary spirit to this. In the least, its solidaric content excites us.

I know anarchists and workers in the USA would also like to use such an economy to turn the weapons of the exploiters against the exploiters themselves here in Bangladesh.

I am glad to hear others from abroad wanting to do what little they can to help us.

If such collectives grew here, its participants would have to carefully chart their development, so that they are in harmony with the general movement and add to its revolutionary character.

I imagine they would socialize their resources, helping to meet urgent organizational and material needs among our rank-and-file that could offer unique opportunities that are not possible outside the framework of such a solidarity economy.

We are seeing successes in our union organizing, and it is difficult to concentrate our efforts elsewhere, especially while our hands are clenched fighting in so many workplaces.

I imagine comrades from abroad would have to come here to offer us technical assistance to make this possible since our hands are so full.

This is an idea and sentiment that I hope continues to grow. I thank all comrades who are discussing this.

What about other aspects of a free society – for example how is the question of women emancipation realized in your organizations? What do the female comrades think about it?

For the emancipation of women we already formed Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Women’s Union (BAWU).

The BAWU identifies the cause of women’s oppression as the economic systems of feudalism and capitalism, rather than in a perceived weakness in national character or culture.

Most of its ideology has been formulated by its founding members. They focus on the class-based exploitation of women, singling out sex workers, domestic servants and female factory workers as the most oppressed.

They condemn the unequal distribution of wealth and refuse to subordinate working women’s struggle to any other ideological cause. Declaring that “the goal of equality cannot be achieved except through women’s liberation,” BAWU views women’s freedom as something that women must accomplish on their own, since relying on others to give them their rights has not worked up to now and likely never will. Revolutionary change, not reform, is seen as the only way forward.

At this point, BAWU and the ideas it represent is still a new phenomenon to Bangladeshi women.

There is a mixture of joy, curiosity, and hesitation.

We hope that our liberatory vision and practices continue to grow.

The recent awakening of the anarchist spirit in the Bangladeshi people is causing big social changes that we hope can continue with the broadening of our experiences and education.

For decades we knew nothing of anarchism, very simple yet profoundly unique ideas that resonate to the core of our essential humanity.

Some of us who have grown up in authoritarian society and discover anarchism later in life have the least grounds to assume that our vision of freedom is the most comprehensive. After all, we lived completely oblivious to something simple and innate for decades, in some cases.

We will continue to be ready to receive and consider new or better ideas that enrich individual liberty and dignity.  Some will come from our interactions from other societies. Perhaps we will discover pre-colonialist ways of life that have been hidden from us and reclaim our heritage.

Being open to new ideas is the easier thing, of course. The task of spreading them and defending those who wish to elevate them against innate conservatism in ordinary people and institutions is the more difficult task.

We hope we are cultivating an anarchist generation that will be able to continue this work.

We are just the beginning, of course.

Are there any syndicalist research groups connected to your unions / syndicates?

Not yet.

Do you regularly publish any books or magazines with anarcho-syndicalist content?

We have taken the initiative to publish a little magazine.

Is there the possibility to send one or two versed comrades for a rally/connective tour to the anarcho-syndicalist groups and unions of Europe / Germany?

Yes. It is important to share our news and ideas.

What are your goals in the next future? How can European comrades support these goals?

Our main goals are as follows:

1) The Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation is a libertarian workers’ movement organized according to anarcho-syndicalist principles. We aim to create a society based on liberty, mutual aid, federalism and self-management.

2) We believe the working class and the employing class have nothing in common. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production and abolish the wage system.

3) In the present we take an active part in the struggle for worker solidarity, shorter hours, immediate wage increases and improved working conditions. And we actively oppose all attacks on workers such as conscription of labor, strike breaking, drives for increased production and longer working hours, wage cuts or unemployment.

4) We want worker/community self-education for complete self-management of production, distribution, social organisation and preservation of a healthy ecological environment. This will come about by worker/community expropriation of wealth and the creation of alternative economic systems.

5) We are opposed to all economic and social monopoly. We do not seek the conquest of political power, but rather the total abolition of all state functions in the life of society. Hence we reject all parliamentary activity and other collaboration with legislative bodies. We believe in fighting organisations in the workplace and community, independent of, and opposed to all political parties and Trade Union bureaucracies.

6) Our means of struggle include education and direct action. To ensure the full participation of all in both current struggle and the future self-management of society, we oppose centralism in our organisations. We organize on the basis of Libertarian Federalism that is from the bottom up without any hierarchy and with full freedom of initiative by both local and regional groups. All co-coordinating bodies of the Federation consist of re-callable delegates with specific tasks determined by local assemblies.

7) We see the world as our country, humanity as our family. We reject all political and national frontiers and aim to unmask the arbitrary violence of all governments.

8) We oppose all attitudes and assumptions that are harmful and injurious to working class solidarity. We oppose all ideologies and institutions that stand in the way of equality and the right of people everywhere to control their own lives and their environment.

European comrades can support these goals in the following fields: 

BASF seeks technical and financial support in the following areas:

1) We need some financial assistance to develop our communication infrastructure for our organizing work. Funds left over would be spent according to our membership’s discretion toward necessary efforts, including education, union campaigns, co-operative opportunities, transportation, and food.

2) Our movement is currently growing throughout the country.  Improving our communication infrastructure would help our organizing activities in over 60+ locals we have already established and in different industries we currently have a footing in.

3) Translation costs from English to Bengali language:

The Bangladesh anarcho-syndicalist workers’ movement is less than five years old, and we are in dire need of printed material to educate and organize..

We are undertaking the “Bengali Translation & Publication Project” here in Bangladesh.

We have begun translating some basic books on anarchism written by thinkers such as Bakunin, William Godwin, Proudhon, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Malatesta, Alexander Berkman, Stirner, Élisée Reclus, Noam Chomsky, and so on.

Our initial plan is to translate and print ten books to build a strong knowledge base of anarchism in our country.

Most of our Bangladeshi comrades come from very poor family backgrounds, so although the audience and organizers are there to share these books, but the means to finish printing them are still lacking.

You can help us print books with a small donation on our website.

Even just one euro would go a long way!

You can also contact us if you have any idea about inexpensive ways to print.

We will appreciate your help very much.

Perhaps anarchist, Bengali books will be useful for workers who live outside Bangladesh, maybe in your places of action.  If you want to organize conferences or pre-order books, contact us through the same means shown above. ■

Here are the books we are working on printing,

  1. The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin
  2. What Is Property? by P.J. Proudhon
  3. The Anarchist Revolution by Errico Malatesta
  4. God and the State by Mikhail Bakunin
  5. Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice by Rudolf Rocker
  6. Nationalism and Culture by Rudolf Rocker
  7. ABC of Anarchism by Alexander Berkman
  8. Post-Scarcity Anarchism by Murray Bookchin
  9. Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism by G.P. Maximoff
  10. Demanding the Impossible by Peter Marshall

Contact BASF:
basfsylhet@gmail.com
facebook.com/basfsylhet