Libertarian Socialist Discussion in Leicester on Tuesday 10th March 2015, 7.30pm

This coming Tuesday 10th March is the second monthly Libertarian Socialist Discussion, which takes
place at 7.30pm at the Swan & Rushes, 19 Infirmary Square, Leicester LE1 5WR.

The topic for this month’s discussion will look at what constitutes useful or harmful actions for socialists to be involved in. One person will start the meeting with a brief talk to set the ball rolling, then it will open up into a wider group discussion.

Minimal prior knowledge is necessary, but a starting point for the discussion might be the old Solidarity statement (1967), which says:

“Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.”

The function of the libertarian socialist discussion meetings is for those involved to increase their political understanding and to hopefully develop class struggle, libertarian socialist and pro-revolutionary ideas and politics in the Leicester area, over a pint (and a pizza, if you like) in a convivial environment.

See you at the Swan & Rushes this Tuesday!


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Follow the new Anarchist Midlands twitter @AfedMids

Nottingham AF and members in Derby, Loughborough, Leicester and Lincoln (and surrounding areas) have teamed up to form a Midlands coordination of the Anarchist Federation. As part of this we have launched a Twitter account to share info in our region. Look out for more info about meetings, especially in Leicester and Nottingham.

The new Twitter account is called Anarchist Midlands and information about this can be found here
If you already use Twitter, the account is @AfedMids

If you are further West don’t be put off that we have started off in the East Midlands.

Of course, as anarchists, we prefer horizontal self-organising to following, so if you like what we are saying, do get in touch!


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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Something else they are hiding from us!

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a new capitalist agreement between the USA government and the European Union. It gives US business free reign to privatise public services and other regulated industry in the cause of ‘Free Trade’. On the one hand this is another way for big business to take over internationally and for the American capitalist empire to culturally colonise the world. But specifically under threat is whatever is left of nationalised industries and services (not that there is much left of that in England anyway).

The obvious worry here is what is left of the NHS, which working class people are still fighting hard to save. It would also affect food quality by deregulating things like food production and quality, for example by-passing EU regulations about meat quality and the condition animals are kept in. Banking regulations would be undermined. Even the EU admits that jobs would be lost. All the main UK parties (except the Greens) are in favour. Even if there is a EU-referendum, whatever the outcome, this law will overrule.

Similar agreements exist in other parts of the world. A fracking company was able to sue the state of Quebec for lost earnings when it passed and an anti-fracking law. The Philip Morris tobacco company was able to sue the Australia government for its laws on plain-packaging.

TTIP is just the latest in a string of trade ‘agreements’ which have been opposed internationally including by anarchists. In the 1990s NAFTA allowed US companies make money in Mexico and Canada more easily. Meetings of The World Trade Organisation were strongly resisted, not least in London (J18) and Seattle (N30) in 1999. Anarchists need to spread information about this agreement, and we need more mass civil disobedience and anti-globalisation activism at a local and international level to raise awareness and oppose this in practice.


Related article: Why opposing capitalism and privatisation does not imply support for state-controlled services:

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Angry not Apathetic – What anarchists do instead of voting – Special issue of Resistance paper – no. 158 Spring 2015

A new special issue of the AF’s paper Resistance for the election period is out and is free to download. Print copies soon coming. See also twitter hashtag #AngryNotApathetic

SPRING 2015 RESISTANCE #158. ANGRY NOT APATHETIC, GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE. Contents: What anarchists do instead of voting, Labour and the Unions, Lib-dems- a student’s view, Green Party “Tories on Bikes”, Syriza in Greece, Suffragettes, Russell Brand. 8 pages. Read all text online. Free download of full PDF.

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Colin Parker, 1948-2015 – memorial to take place in London on 22nd February

A memorial will take place in London tomorrow for Colin Parker, co-founder of the Anarchist Communist Federation (renamed to the present day Anarchist Federation), who died on January 22nd 2015.

A short biography

Colin Parker was born in the pit village of Crook in Co. Durham on 15th December 1948. His father Martin was a miner. He apprenticed as a fitter-turner after leaving school at the age of fifteen. He worked a a fitter-turner in the local factory owned by Marshall Richards, a manufacturer of wire and tube making machines.
Full story:

The Memorial meeting for Colin is organised by the London group of the Anarchist Federation to take place at 2pm on Sunday February 22nd in the Autonomy Club, Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1. See also:

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Conservatives warned themselves not to introduce poll tax shock

As we leave 2014 it’s good to read that the decision to introduce the Poll Tax and test it first in Scotland has reared its head again now some Cabinet papers have been released to the National Archives: fingering the current Conservative minister Oliver Letwin as one of its cheerleaders.

Thinking back to the good old days, it was great to have had a whole year to plan the resistance campaign in England, and to show that working class people can plan too. In Nottingham we were proud to have held a ‘twinning’ event in Forest Fields where an activist from Scotland came South of the border to explain how they were fighting and winning by refusing to register and by forming local anti-poll tax groups. We sent one of own North over the border as well to see it all first hand. Groups were quickly forming across England and Wales, and the rest is history…

You can enjoy a good read about some of the local resistance here from our very own document archive in Nottingham, The Sparrows’ Nest, and much of this is available online (although you’ll have to visit to see orginals including a couple of banners from the period):
From one of the leaflets we have digitised, see this list of 13 groups as it was in March 1990:

A little more recently we are reminded of a lovely day out in April 2013 (featuring said banners):

Here’s to a Revolting 2015.

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Striking Success – a view on industrial action in education by a comrade in the Midlands – Nov 2014

Striking Success

a view on industrial action in education by a comrade in the Midlands – November 2014

Exploitation in the workplace is the norm. We expect it. We often tolerate it far more than we ought to. Perhaps those of us working in precarious jobs are exploited more blatantly than most – as a PhD student doing ‘bought-in teaching’ for the university, that was certainly my experience. But, when 6 of us got together to do something about it, we were very successful in improving our lot. I think it’s worth writing about it here to let others know that even in the most exploited jobs there is still scope for effective collective action. We do have some power, despite everything.

First off I should briefly explain our working conditions, and what being a ‘bought-in teacher’ means. We were contracted for 3 hours per class (including preparation and marking time), taking one class per week. This, we were told, was a generous offer, since most other departments only give 2 hours per class, or less. The (admittedly decent) rate of pay was £22.05 per hour – but this ‘rolled in’ our holiday pay, which is a very dodgy practice. The contract also stipulated that we would never do more than 6 hours per week, and indeed that we didn’t have to take any work whatsoever – but neither was the university obliged to offer us work. This is similar to a zero hours contract. But being ‘bought-in’ also carries the condition that each period of work is ‘mutually exclusive’, meaning that between classes we were not employed by the university – effectively taking away workers’ rights and benefits (such as sick pay). This is what makes the role of bought-in teacher such a precarious one – no job security whatsoever. And yet, this is the industry standard across higher education at the moment!

It became immediately apparent that the 3 hours contracted to us was woefully inadequate. It was worse for colleagues working in a second language – the time they spent on preparation and marking meant that their rate of pay fell below the national minimum wage! We raised this with our module convenor (who was totally pathetic!) before taking it to our Head of Department. We were just fobbed-off with sympathetic head-nodding and evasive platitudes. It was out of their hands, apparently, and something that was university policy across all departments, and across all universities. We were also informed that the rate of pay meant that we were implicitly expected to be working more than the 3 hours allotted (?!). We were also reminded that we were being given teaching experience which would be essential for our CVs and future job prospects, which suggested that, rather than us doing essential work, the university were somehow doing us a favour! Despite our complaints, nothing was done. Any PhD students doing teaching work will no doubt be familiar with this situation.

But that wasn’t an end to it. One morning we received an e-mail from the module convenor instructing us to come in the next day to pick up exam scripts for marking – unpaid! This had not been part of our contract, and we had been assured repeatedly that we would not be doing exam marking. That was the final straw, our good will and patience was exhausted, and we were all, quite rightly, livid. I typed up a joint statement from the 6 bought-in teachers, explaining our long running grievances, and our objection to this latest affront. I initially expected to be reined-in by my colleagues as demanding too much, or being too confrontational. The opposite was the case. They wanted extra things added in. They demanded more. It was fantastic! We demanded the £22.05 per hour rate of pay for marking and insisted on a set work-rate. If we didn’t receive these conditions, we wouldn’t be doing the work. This was a ‘wildcat strike’, in that we had organised the action ourselves, rather than appeal to the bureaucratically sluggish Universities and Colleges Union (UCU). We did speak with our departmental UCU representative about our grievances, and they were extremely supportive. But going through the union would have been slow and, ultimately, ineffective. We presented our joint statement to our module convenor, when they had been expecting us to pick up exam scripts. The only role of the convenor should have been to pass on our grievances and demands to the Head of Department. Instead, they tried to argue in defence of the entire neo-liberal education edifice, and told us, in the most patronising terms, to get on with it. This unsavoury individual succeeded in making us even more pissed off than we had been before. By the time they had thought to try some ‘divide and rule’ tactics by offering us slightly reduced workloads individually, it was too late. We were united – and that was important.

Within 2 days all of our demands were met in full. Success! Exam marking is an issue that the university are very fragile around. If they fail to supply grades to students on time they are in serious trouble, particularly with the new ‘student-as-consumer’ £9,000 a year fees mentality. It’s all about student satisfaction scores and league tables – any threat to that is taken very seriously indeed. And that is where our power lay in this situation. We do the skilled work of marking, without us it just wouldn’t get done! By sticking together as a group and presenting a united front we were able to improve our conditions. The Head of Department tried to insist that our success couldn’t set a precedent for future employment contracts, but how can it fail to? If departments aren’t willing to offer PhD students fair contracts, to pay them for the work they actually do, as opposed to some ‘implicit’ token, then the precedent IS set. Organise together and withdraw your labour power. They rely on our labour, and they rely on our desperation for CV embellishing work experience to force us to accept exploitative conditions. We don’t have to put up with it!

P.H. Dee

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