Saturday, 21 May 2011

Leveller - Issue 6

New issue of the Leveller now available - link here for the PDF, or available from Just Books in Belfast. 

Monday, 9 May 2011

Just Books presents: Robyn G Shiels, TB Chapman and more

Just Books Music Events presents:
Robyn G Shiels
That Bastard Chapman
The Legendary Hank

Plus DJ Joe Greene (Radio K)

Front Page Bar (Upstairs)
Donegall Street

Friday May 20th 
8pm til late

£5 door tax - all proceeds to Just Books Collective

Book Launch - Soccer Vs The State by Gabriel Kuhn

PM author Gabriel Kuhn finishes his tour of Ireland with the launch of his new book 'Soccer Vs The State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics' - a look at how football has maintained it's image as the game of the working class, despite turning into a multi-million pound industry rampant with corruption, shady deals and commercialisation. 

Front Page Bar (upstairs)
Donegall Street
Sunday 15th May 8pm
Free Entry

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Anarchists picket Alliance Party HQ

On a rainy lunchtime on the 13th January, Organise! members and supporters picketed the Alliance Party HQ in South Belfast in protest of their recent statements supporting the immediate introduction of water charges.

While we face a double-tax on water of up to £400 pa, on top of increased rates, the chief executive of NI Water Laurence McKenzie, faces a yearly salary of £250,000.
Over 40,000 homes across Northern Ireland had their water cut off over the festive period. As a result McKenzie faces the possibility of a £ 1/2 million golden handshake. Not a bad result – plus we can guess he wasn’t one of the thousands queuing for water in sub-zero temperatures!

NIW estimate that the cost of fixing the water system and bringing it into line with the rest of the UK is £50m a year over a ten-year period. That’s an estimated total of £500m! But whose pocket will this be coming out of? Logic would dictate that the executives of NIW and the politicians who have presided over the running down of our water service be made to pay for their own failures. But the reality is, as it always is, it’ll be the working class who are punished and made to fork out.

Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry stated that “continually deferring water charges means even greater cuts in public spending”. Utter balls—the cuts and attacks on working class people were coming with or without water charges—and we know it.

He also stated that since the poor and vulnerable are more dependent on public services, it is somehow ‘unfair’ not to tax them £400 a year for water! “Avoiding water charges means deeper cuts in public services”, he says. No mention of removing the cap on industrial rates, or the cap on rates on properties worth more than £400,000.

This is no oversight – the Alliance Party, along with the rest of Stormont and Westminster, want the working class to pay for their and their cronies’ crises! Not big business or the super-rich, their partners in crime, but the layer of society least able to pay.

United working-class action has forced the deferral of water charges until this point, and we will continue to fight until they are defeated entirely.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Just Books presents: That Bastard Chapman

Just Books is kicking off the first music event of the new year on the 24th February courtesy of the lovely Chappy, who will be playing his unique 'blues n roll' style of musical mashings.

As usual there will be a rock n blues DJ after the main gig until 1am, and all proceeds will be going to Just Books.
Doors 8pm, Tax a fiver, blah blah blah.

Protest Against Attacks on Education

On Wednesday 15th December the Executive at Stormont announced their draft budget. Sammy Wilson claimed it proved the Executive could "take difficult decisions" and indeed it does. It proves our politicians can implement attacks on the working class like politicians the world over.

Far from protecting working class families this budget sees asset stripping, pay freezes and cuts as the way out of a crisis of capitalism. There can be no mistake, with the real level of unemployment in the north at around 100,000, more jobs will be lost while government sets about attacking benefits and the most vulnerable. As well as riding roughshod over the workers, the Assembly now prepares to vote on whether or not to raise tuition fees to a potential staggering £9,000 per year, and implement cuts in EMA. This will make tertiary education simply inaccessible to working-class people and ensure education is once again the privilege of the few who can afford it, rather than a right for all.

The alternative to this budget is already within our grasp, students have shown the way forward. We need to take this campaign onto the streets and leave the political parties in no doubt that we, the working class, will oppose these attacks. We are facing all out class warfare and we must fight back - hard!

Organise! members have been closely working with FEE and the NISA in building a strong, united campaign against these attacks, but what is needed is united working-class action across the board.

Protest against education cuts and order the politicians to listen - meet this Saturday (29th) at 1.30pm outside the Arts College in Belfast for the demo.

Organise Supporters Meeting

Organise! are holding a meeting for supporters, sympathisers or those simply interested in the organisation to talk about who we are, what we do, where we are now and how we can move forward in the new year. 

The meeting will be mainly based around open and informal discussion between attendees and Organise! members, on a variety of topics including building, recent struggles & protests, the organisation as a whole and what we should do in the next 12 months. Other topic suggestions also welcome.

For further information please email or ring 07518775428.

All welcome - pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested in attending.

Date: Thursday 3rd February
Time: 7pm
Venue: King Street Arts, 48 King Street, Belfast

Map to KSA
Facebook event page

What is Direct Action?

From the black block ‘having a go’ to going on marches, from smashing up a McDonalds’ to attending a picket, from throwing bricks to going to fundraising concerts for single issue campaigns – all of these activities have had the term ‘direct action’ applied to them.

Direct action has been confused with actions that are probably best termed as ‘symbolic’ – and which are, on many occasions, ineffective. A lot of the confusion has been due to the media terming anything that they regard as outside the perimeters of ‘normal protest’ as ‘direct action’ – however some confusion is down to activists themselves confusing the terms. Many activists, for example, regard protests such as the G8 summit as direct action, but these types of protests, even if they are successful in shutting down the event, remain as symbolic.

Direct action has also become a by-word for violence, to the extent that much of the anti-war and anti-globalisation movements talk specifically about NVDA – Non-Violent Direct Action.  That’s not to say that people engaged in direct action shouldn’t defend themselves or that violence is never acceptable – simply that this view of direct action is partial and misrepresentative.

So, what is direct action? Put simply it:
“…refers to action undertaken directly between two individuals or groups, without the interference of a third party. Specifically to Anarcho-Syndicalists (and other libertarian communists) this means the rejection of participation in parliamentary or ‘statist’ politics, and the adoption of tactics and strategies which place responsibility for action firmly in the hands of the workers themselves”

Clich├ęd as it may sound; direct action is really about empowering ourselves and breaking the dependency on others (political parties, unions, bosses and official intermediaries) to do it for us!

Fundamental to direct action is the [realisation of] the reality that we can depend only on ourselves to achieve our goals” (Solfed)

Political parties may say they are fighting for your rights and your interests, but when their only central aim is to build for their own interests and election campaigns, how can this be true?

Direct action in our workplaces
Direct action can be applied in as many different areas as there are forms of direct action. Of course for libertarian communists, the main areas of application are in our workplaces and communities. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) say:
Direct action is any form of guerrilla warfare that cripples the bosses’ ability to make a profit and makes him/her cave to the workers’ demands. The best-known form of direct action is the strike, in which workers simply walk off their jobs and refuse to produce profits for the boss until they get what they want”

Strike action is at times more limited than this implies, particularly given the constraints of the trade union bureaucracies,  the impact and fear of anti-union legislation and a prevalent  ideology of social partnership with bosses, political parties and big business.

Wildcat or ‘unofficial’ strikes, where this stranglehold is removed have been increasingly used by workers in recent years and such action certainly returns some of the impact to the strike weapon.

There are some methods of direct action available in the workplace other than the strike. Rudolf Rocker, a German anarcho-syndicalist, wrote in 1938:
By direct action the anarcho-syndicalists mean every method of immediate warfare by the workers against their economic and political oppressors. Among these the outstanding are the strike, in all its graduations from the simple wage struggle to the general strike; the boycott; the sabotage in its countless forms; anti-militarist propaganda and I particularly critical cases…armed resistance of the people for the protection of life and liberty [against, for example, fascism]”

Direct action is about workers acting to defend or improve their conditions using work-to-rule, strikes and occupations rather than relying on the Labour Relations Agency or industrial tribunals to do it for them. A local example of this was the Visteon occupation in west Belfast, where workers occupied the factory in protest to removal of their redundancy packages with the closure of the factory. This was done without the official jurisdiction of the union, despite the factory operating in a ‘closed-shop’ format.  The workers done it themselves then informed the union, stating that they would continue with or without their support. The workers were successful and won back their redundancies.

Direct action in communities
Before the war on Iraq thousands of people marched in opposition on February 15th 2003, including some 15,000 in Belfast and 100,000 in Dublin, but were ignored by politicians.
Working-class people united in the We Won’t Pay campaign have successfully managed to defer the introduction of water charges in Northern Ireland by pledging to refuse to pay. Water charges and bin tax were fought and defeated in the South using direct action – anti-water charge campaigners in the north can learn valuable lessons from these victories. Civil disobedience and direct action also defeated Thatcher’s Poll Tax in Britain.

Across Europe thousands of students have come out against the hiking of fees and the attacks on allowances, many of whom have broken from the strait-jacket of ‘peaceful’ a –to-b marches.
Direct action is harder to ignore than a short dander round our cities!

A rejection of ‘powerlessness’
Direct action is a rejection of the notion that working-class people are powerless to change their conditions. Improvements to our lives are not handed down benevolently from above – they must be fought for. For libertarian communists direct action is more than an effective means of defence or even of going on the offensive and changing something for the better – it is, for the working-class:
A continuous schooling for their powers of resistance, showing them every day that every least right has to be won by unceasing struggle against the system” (Rudolf Rocker)

Direct action is an essential preparation for the free socialist society that we strive to create. Through engaging in direct action, even when we made mistakes, we have the opportunity to learn from experience that there is no need to leave things to ‘experts’ or professional politicians. We should have learnt by now that that course offers us nothing but disempowerment, betrayal and broken promises, and results in a pervading sense of powerlessness. And yet we are far from powerless!

Direct action teaches us to control our own struggles while building a culture of resistance that links with other workers in struggles. Solidarity and mutual aid find real expression and as our confidence grows so too does our ability to change the world. It is needed now more than ever, and we also need a campaign which opposes all cuts and fees, which is controlled by its members & participants, which is ready & willing to promote direct action and is willing to fight. Such a campaign of must be geared towards escalating the struggle to the point of a general strike against austerity – anything else is likely to fail, and we cannot afford to fail.

Direct action gets the goods.

Who we are

Organise! is a group of working class people, who have come together to form our organisation, who are fed up with being fucked about by the profit system, fed up with seeing our communities torn apart by racism, sexism, nationalism and sectarianism, and sick of a greedy few getting rich off everyone else’s backs. We want to improve everyday conditions for ourselves and other working class people, but we also struggle for the revolutionary transformation that can create a free and equal society, one based on mutual aid and co-operation. Sound crazy?

Maybe it does, but all the alternatives assume the continuation of the present system… and that’s even crazier...The current system isn’t working- stress and overwork affect more and more people while others are flung on the dole; we live in a world of plentiful resources yet millions starve; some people make vast fortunes just because they own companies, land, property or natural resources, but those of us who create the wealth, work the land and build the properties are left struggling to pay for the natural resources; politicians tell us there’s no money - not for wages, benefits or local amenities, but there’s always plenty for war; both locally and globally the gap between the richest and the poorest sections of society has never been so great and for all humanities technological advances we spend more time working than people did 40 years ago; instead of a war on poverty they’ve got a war on ‘benefit fraud’, a war on drugs and a ‘war on terror’ and the same institutions that create war, poverty and environmental destruction stigmatise, imprison and deport the resultant refugees.

We don’t think these things are inevitable or coincidental, we think they are related to capitalism- an economic system defined by wage slavery and the accumulation of profit out of other people’s work. So we support all workers against their bosses in demanding higher wages and better conditions. We try to intervene practically to support workers engaged in disputes and are also active in our own workplaces and communities.

But it’s not just a question of trying to struggle by in a world of exploitation and oppression; we look to a future where workers control production and society in their own interests. And unlike some people who claim to oppose capitalism, we don’t want to be a new set of leaders and we refuse to be led by anyone else.

Contact us:
phone: 07518775428