Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anti-fascist Activist Killed in Moscow

Anti-fascist Activist Killed in Moscow
October 15th, 2008

A young activist involved with a Russian anti-fascist movement has been killed in the country’s capital, the Interfax news agency reports (RUS). 26-year-old Fedor Filatov died in an area hospital on October 10th from multiple knife wounds sustained early that morning.

A representative of the Antifa movement said Filatov, known in the movement as “Nok,” was jumped by a group of assailants near him home as he went to work. “According to our information, four to eight people armed with knives were waiting for him in his courtyard,” he said.

The source said that a Russian neo-nazi group had already claimed responsibility for the murder on an internet forum as recently as October 12th. While a murder investigation has been launched, law enforcement officials had yet to verify that information.

The Antifa source said the movement considers Filatov’s murder a “planned action” by extremists. “There is not a shadow of a doubt that he died for his beliefs,” the group’s members wrote in a statement.

Russia has seen a growing presense of neo-nazi and extreme nationalist organizations in recent years, and attacks on immigrants and non-ethnically Russian people have become more common. Immigrant community leaders have meanwhile accused authorities and law enforcement of being too lenient in pursuing ethnically motivated crimes.

Groups like Antifa have stepped in to try to counter the growing influence of neo-nazis and denounce their racist and violent activities. Filatov himself helped to found the Moscow Trojan Skinheads, a group described as “a community of anti-political, anti-racist skinheads from Moscow and the Moscow Oblast.”

Filatov was not the first anti-fascist activist to be attacked and killed in recent years.

In November 2005, vocal activist and musician Timur Kacharava, 20, died from knife wounds in St. Petersburg. In April 2006, 19-year-old Alexander Ryukhin was killed by six neo-nazis outside a punk-rock concert. In January 2007, Ivan Yelin was stabbed 20 times by unidentified attackers on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. In March of this year, 16-year-old Alexei Krylov died in Moscow after a group of 15 neo-nazis armed with knives attacked 7 young people near the Kitai Gorod metro station.

Each young man had taken part in the Russian anti-fascist movement.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to the Future

Three weeks later, I'm back at home base: anarchobase.

Cheers and e-special thanks to Ana, Andrew, Anonymous, (the wonderful) Asher, Danny, Denise, Dreck, Hoyden, Insultadarity, Juan Castro, THR and Weezil for their props. (And anyone else I've forgotten to thank -- my apologies.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

War & terror: Hurrah! for the state

1) Feeding the Death Machine: Joe Montgomery

"The Things That Carried Him," by Chris Jones, is the true story of Sgt. Joe Montgomery's death in Iraq and his nine-day journey home to Scottsburg, Ind., to be buried. It's a very strange article -- essentially the story of the transportation of a corpse -- and Jones makes it even stranger by telling it in reverse chronology, beginning with the funeral and moving slowly backward to the moment when Montgomery was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

But somehow it works, and in its painstaking accumulation of detail, it becomes a deeply moving story about how ordinary Americans live and die and attempt to help one another salvage a measure of meaning and dignity in terrible circumstances.

Growing up, Joe Montgomery was a skateboarder and a Nine Inch Nails fan with a goofy haircut and an anarchist symbol tattooed on his arm. He married his high school sweetheart and got a job in a steel forge. But no matter how hard he worked, he couldn't support his wife and three kids, so in 2005, he joined the Army.

On May 22, 2007, Montgomery and his platoon were marching down a dirt road, heading toward a farm where insurgents were rumored to hide weapons, when a buried bomb exploded. Montgomery became the 3,431st American serviceman killed in Iraq.

His body was placed in an aluminum "transfer case," packed in ice, and flown to Kuwait, then to Germany, then to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the U.S. military maintains the world's largest mortuary. Montgomery arrived in a shipment of 14 corpses -- 10 soldiers, two Marines and a body too mangled to be identified...

The Australian armed forces in Afghanistan have also just lost a soldier. Jason Marks, 27, was killed and four others wounded during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan (Matthew Burgess, Aussie soldier killed in Afghanistan, The Age, April 28, 2008). According to KRudd, there's more on the way: "Mr Rudd today paid tribute to the dead soldier, but warned further casualties were likely. “I think the nation needs to steel itself for higher casualties than we have had so far,” he said" (Samantha Maiden, More Afghanistan deaths likely: Rudd, The Australian, April 28, 2008).

Iraq : Documented civilian deaths from violence : 83,221 – 90,782

2) la Città Eterna goes Fascist (again)

Berlusconi candidate wins Rome election
The Associated Press
April 28, 2008

ROME: Residents of Rome have elected the Italian capital's first right-wing mayor since World War II and given Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives another major victory, final returns from local elections showed Monday.

Gianni Alemanno took 53.6 percent of the vote versus 46.3 percent for Francesco Rutelli, a former two-time center-left Rome mayor, according to the municipality...

Alemanno is a leader of the National Alliance, an Italian 'post-fascist' party (the NA formed in 1993). Formerly, he was a member of the fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), which included elements of Mussolini's Fascist Party, and was established in 1946 by the remnants of the Salò Republic, immortalised by Pier Paolo Pasolini in Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma ('Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom'). The film, incidentally, is banned (that is, refused classification) in Australia, and has been since 1998.

Alemanno is also married to Isabella Rauti, the daughter of far-right activist Pino Rauti (a former member of the MSI and also the Ordine Nuovo/New Order), and wears a Celtic cross, which in Australia, Italy and elsewhere is recognised as a symbol of the far right, though he of course insists it is a 'religious symbol'.

3) "Who did you say the good guys were again?"

During the 1960s and 1970s, members of the New Order routinely attacked anarchist and left-wing activists. On May 28, 1974, members of the Order were suspected of involvement in the bombing of an anti-fascist demonstration in the Piazza della Loggia, killing eight. Other outrages committed by Italian fascists and the Italian and US states during this period included the Piazza Fontana bombing in December 1969 (which killed 16 and injured 90), the bombing of Italicus train on August 4, 1974 (killing 12 and wounding 105 others), and the Bologna railway bombing of August 2, 1980, which killed 85 and injured 200.

At the time, the Italian authorities blamed the Piazza Fontana bombing on anarchists (much like the Melbourne May Day Committee blamed the 9/11 attacks on "anarchists"). Giuseppe "Pino" Pinelli, a railway worker, was one of those accused. Arrested by police, he was thrown by them from the fourth floor window of a police station on December 15, 1969, and died. His story was later immortalised by Italian playwright Dario Fo in The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Naturally, no police were ever punished for his murder, although one interrogator, Commissioner Luigi Calabresi, was later shot dead outside his home in 1972. In 1988, Leonardo Marino, an ex-Fiat worker, former armed robber and member of Lotta Continua, gave himself up to the police, claiming responsibility for the murder of Calabresi. He later implicated others, including some of the leaders of the group, Adriano Sofri, Ovidio Bompressi and Giorgio Piotresetafani: see Carlo Ginzburg, The Judge and the Historian, Verso, 1999.

YouTube (among other sites) also has a passable 1992 BBC documentary on the subject of Operation Gladio, a NATO-sponsored project (officially) begun in 1948 and (officially) ended in 1990. The project, managed largely by US and UK authorities, involved the creation of parallel state structures, and utilised members of the European far right (Nazis, Fascists and their epigones) to conduct terrorist campaigns against the left. The monkey business was justified by reference to the threat of 'Soviet' invasion. Speaking of monkeys, Three Monkeys contains a brief history of the Operation: N.A.T.O. Gladio, and the strategy of tension, October 2005. (See also The Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security (PHP), which "provides new scholarly perspectives on contemporary international history by collecting, publishing, and interpreting formerly secret governmental documents".)

The term 'strategy of tension' refers to the ability of such networks as those derived from Operation Gladio to create or to sustain political crises. In this context the (far) right and the forces of 'law and order' are to offer themselves to a frightened population as constituting a viable alternative to violent social disorder (thus shoring up entrenched power and privilege). Gianfranco Sanguinetti's chapter 'On Terrorism and the State' (1975) provides an invaluable analysis of the strategy in the context of recent Italian politics (the English translation is by notbored).

"It wasn't just about killing Americans, and killing pigs, at least not at first. It was about attacking the illegitimate state that these pawns served. It was about scraping the bucolic soil and exposing the fascist, Nazi-tainted bedrock that the modern West German state was propped upon. It was about war on the forces of reaction. It was about Revolution."

From the introductory chapter to The Gun Speaks: The Baader-Meinhof Gang at the Dawn of Terror, Richard Huffman

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Gilded Age

Steve Fraser's essay on The Gilded Ages of the late nineteenth and early twenty-first centuries ('The Two Gilded Ages',, April 22, 2008) is everywhere, just like power and um... er... what was that other thing? Oh yeah: resistance. In fact, the apparent absence of 'resistance' in the US to the depredations of contemporary capitalism is one of the marked contrasts between the two Gilded Ages that Fraser describes, the most recent of which he dates from Ronald Reagan's ascendancy to the US throne:

Reagan's America was gilded by design. In 1981, when the New Rich and the New Right paraded in their sumptuous threads in Washington to celebrate at the new president's inaugural ball, it was called a "bacchanalia of the haves." Diana Vreeland [1903--1989], style guru (as well as Nancy Reagan confidante), was stylishly blunt: "Everything is power and money and how to use them both… We mustn't be afraid of snobbism and luxury."

Er, right.

On the one hand, fear of "snobbism and luxury" is not something that 'style gurus' are exactly famous for possessing, especially those, such as Vreeland, born into wealth. As for the have-nots, Bless'ed are the meek, and a Tatum Frill Dress is available for only $159.95 (RRP).

On the other hand, in 1981, while Ronald, Nancy, Diana and other members of US elites were busy being rich, powerful and stylish, US-sponsored death squads in El Salvador were busy committing rape, torture and murder. For example, the Atlacatl Battalion: elite unit created, trained and equipped by the United States. It was formed in March 1981, when fifteen specialists in counterinsurgency were sent to El Salvador from the US Army School of Special Forces. From the start, the Battalion was engaged in mass murder. A US trainer described its soldiers as "particularly ferocious... We've always had a hard time getting [them] to take prisoners instead of ears."

In December 1981, the Battalion took part in an operation in which over a thousand civilians were killed in an orgy of murder, rape and burning. Later it was involved in the bombing of villages and murder of hundreds of civilians by shooting, drowning and other methods. The vast majority of victims were women, children and the elderly.

The Atlacatl Battalion was being trained by US Special Forces shortly before murdering the Jesuits [in November 1989]. This has been a pattern throughout the Battalion's existence -- some of its worst massacres have occurred when it was fresh from US training.

In the "fledgling democracy" that was El Salvador, teenagers as young as 13 were scooped up in sweeps of slums and refugee camps and forced to become soldiers. They were indoctrinated with rituals adopted from the Nazi SS, including brutalization and rape, to prepare them for killings that often have sexual and satanic overtones.

The nature of Salvadoran army training was described by a deserter who received political asylum in Texas in 1990, despite the State Department's request that he be sent back to El Salvador. (His name was withheld by the court to protect him from Salvadoran death squads.)

According to this deserter, draftees were made to kill dogs and vultures by biting their throats and twisting off their heads, and had to watch as soldiers tortured and killed suspected dissidents -- tearing out their fingernails, cutting off their heads, chopping their bodies to pieces and playing with the dismembered arms for fun.

In another case, an admitted member of a Salvadoran death squad associated with the Atlacatl Battalion, César Vielman Joya Martínez, detailed the involvement of US advisers and the Salvadoran government in death-squad activity. The Bush [Snr.] administration has made every effort to silence him and ship him back to probable death in El Salvador, despite the pleas of human rights organizations and requests from Congress that his testimony be heard. (The treatment of the main witness to the assassination of the Jesuits was similar.)

[On the Salvadoran government's attempts to extradite Martínez, see 'News From Americas Watch', August 14, 1991, available for download as a PDF.]

The results of Salvadoran military training are graphically described in the Jesuit journal America by Daniel Santiago, a Catholic priest working in El Salvador. He tells of a peasant woman who returned home one day to find her three children, her mother and her sister sitting around a table, each with its own decapitated head placed carefully on the table in front of the body, the hands arranged on top "as if each body was stroking its own head."

The assassins, from the Salvadoran National Guard, had found it hard to keep the head of an 18-month-old baby in place, so they nailed the hands onto it. A large plastic bowl filled with blood was tastefully displayed in the center of the table.

According to Rev. Santiago, macabre scenes of this kind aren't uncommon.

"People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador -- they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones, while parents are forced to watch."

Rev. Santiago goes on to point out that violence of this sort greatly increased when the Church began forming peasant associations and self-help groups in an attempt to organize the poor.

By and large, our approach in El Salvador has been successful. The popular organizations have been decimated, just as Archbishop Romero [1917--1980] predicted. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered and more than a million have become refugees. This is one of the most sordid episodes in US history -- and it's got a lot of competition.

When Reagan finally died a long overdue death in June 2004, John HoWARd described him as the greatest post-WWII US President; Malcolm Fraser commented that "He gave America back her pride after the end of the Vietnam War"; Bob Hawke, on a visit to Reagan in 1988, prattled on at length about the achievements of this (other) Great Man of History:

The fact that today, as I said to the Congress, we have more than at any other stage in the postwar period reason to look with optimism to a future where the world can live more constructively at peace is in very large measure, as I told the President, due to his ideas, to his persistence, to his strength, to his determination to shape the agenda and the context of the discussions between the two superpowers. He has ensured properly that when he has come to speak, he has spoken both from a position of strength and from a position where he knows that he has consulted and has the support of his allies and friends. He has insisted that in those discussions that the vital question of human rights shall be a central part of the agenda. And the results have shown not merely in the negotiation for the first of an agreement which has eliminated a particular class of nuclear weapons but also in the area of human rights, the significant advances that have been made in the attitudes and practices of the Soviet Union, that his determination in the shaping of the agenda has been right and that it has borne fruit. And I repeat that we are this day able to look with a greater degree of confidence to a world in which the resources of mankind may be able, with a greater degree of confidence, to be channeled in the constructive uses is significantly a result, as I told you, of the time of your presidency. And we are indebted to you for that...

(On Hawke's legacy, see Peter Fairbrother, Stuart Svensen and Julian Teicher, 'The ascendancy of neo-liberalism in Australia', Capital & Class, Autumn 1997.) The neoliberal policies ushered in by the Hawke-Keating regime (1983--1996) did much to lay the groundwork for HoWARd's (1996--2007), which in some ways was merely the icing on the corporate cake. As for the United States and its initial Gilded Age, Fraser writes:

Legions of small businessmen, trade unionists, urban consumers, and local politicians raged against monopoly and "the trusts." Armed workers' militias paraded in the streets of many American cities. Business and political elites built massive urban fortresses, public armories equipped with Gatling guns (the machine guns of their day), preparing to crush the insurrections they saw headed their way.

Even today the names of Haymarket (the square in Chicago where, in 1886, a bombing at a rally of rebellious workers led to the legal lynching of anarchist leaders at the most infamous trial of the nineteenth century), Homestead (where, in 1892, the Monongahela River ran red with the blood of Pinkerton thugs sent by Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick to crush the strike of their steelmaking employees), and Pullman (the company town in Illinois where, in 1894, President Grover Cleveland ordered Federal troops to put down the strike of the American Railway Union against the Pullman Palace Car Company) evoke memories of a whole society living on the edge...

Everyone was seeking a way out, something wholly new to replace the rancor and incipient violence of Gilded Age capitalism. The Knights of Labor, the Populist Party, the anti-trust movement, the cooperative movements of town and country, the nation-wide Eight-Hour Day uprisings of 1886 which culminated in the infamy of the Haymarket hangings, all expressed a deep yearning to abolish the prevailing industrial order.

Such groups weren't just angry; they weren't merely resentful -- although they were that, too. They were disturbed enough, naïve enough, desperate enough, inventive enough, desiring enough, deluded enough -- some still drawing cultural nourishment from the fading homesteads and workshops of pre-industrial America -- to believe that out of all this could come a new way of life, a cooperative commonwealth. No one really knew what exactly that might be. Still, the great expectation of a future no longer subservient to the calculus of the marketplace and the capitalist workshop lent the first Gilded Age its special fission, its high (tragic) drama.

Fast-forward to our second Gilded Age and the stage seems bare indeed. No great fears, no great expectations, no looming social apocalypses, no utopias or dystopias -- just a kind of flat-line sense of the end of history. Where are all the roiling insurgencies, the break-away political parties, the waves of strikes and boycotts, the infectious communal upheavals, the chronic sense of enough is enough? Where are the earnest efforts to invoke a new order which, no matter how sketchy and full of unanswered questions, now seem as minutely detailed as the blueprints for a Boeing 747 compared to "yes we can"?

What's left of mainstream populism exists on life-support in some attic of the Democratic Party. Even the language of our second Gilded Age is hollowed out. In a society saturated in Christian sanctimony, would anyone today describe "mankind crucified on a cross of gold" as William Jennings Bryan once did, or let loose against "Mammon worship," condemn aristocratic "parasites," or excommunicate "vampire speculators" and the "devilfish" of Wall Street? If nineteenth century evangelical preachers once pronounced anathema on capitalist greed, twenty-first century televangelists deify it. Tempers have cooled, leaving God, like many Americans, with only part-time employment.

The reference to the Haymarket martyrs -- the anarchist labour 'agitators' George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, Albert Parsons and August Spies -- is apt given that May Day (May 1) is only a few days away. In Australia, as in the United States, May Day was once celebrated by workers; today, May Day is largely ignored -- especially by the labour movement -- while in the United States it's been re-christened as 'Loyalty Day', in an explicit attempt to quash the memories of the Gilded Age's dead rebels. In 2007, George II declared "All citizens can express their loyalty to the United States by flying the flag, participating in our democracy, and learning more about our country's grand story of courage and simple dream of dignity."

Well, with rather obvious exceptions.

In Los Angeles, following last year's debacle/police riot, the 'LAPD prepares for May Day protest': "As some in the mock crowd threw bottles and acted the part of agitators, officers assigned to undercover "extraction units" quickly and quietly isolated the rabble-rousers and hauled them away" (Joel Rubin and Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2008).

In boring old Melbourne, this year as in previous years, the 'May Day Committee' have organised a funeral procession for the labour movement, to take place on Sunday, May 4 (noon, Lygon Street, outside Trades Hall). On a positive note, the Committee is no longer comparing anarchists to al-Qaeda, and has even begun to acknowledge the fact that the Haymarket Martyrs were anarchists. (The November 2001 meeting of the Committee passed a resolution, reproduced in its December newsletter, condemning the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington as "anarchist or individualist"!) Next thing you know, they'll be acknowledging the formation of the Melbourne Anarchist Club on May 1, 1886: the first formal anarchist organisation to be formed in Australia.

See also : The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of MAY DAY (Midnight Notes, May Day, 1986), from which the following rather jaunty little poem is taken, penned by a former Buick auto-maker from Detroit, one "Mr. Toad":

The eight hour day is not enough;
We are thinking of more and better stuff.
So here is our prayer and here is our plan,
We want what we want and we'll take what we can.

Down with wars both small and large,
Except for the ones where we're in charge:
Those are the wars of class against class,
Where we get a chance to kick some ass.

For air to breathe and water to drink,
And no more poison from the kitchen sink.
For land that's green and life that's saved
And less and less of the earth that's paved.

No more women who are less than free,
Or men who cannot learn to see
Their power steals their humanity
And makes us all less than we can be.

For teachers who learn and students who teach
And schools that are kept beyond the reach
Of provosts and deans and chancellors and such
And Xerox and Kodak and Shell, Royal Dutch.

An end to shops that are dark and dingy,
An end to Bosses whether good or stingy,
An end to work that produces junk,
An end to junk that produces work,
And an end to all in charge - the jerks.

For all who dance and sing, loud cheers,
To the prophets of doom we send some jeers,
To our friends and lovers we give free beers,
And to all who are here, a day without fears.

So, on this first of May we all should say
That we will either make it or break it.
Or, to put this thought another way,
Let's take it easy, but let's take it.

Carrying the torch

Above : "Members of the 'New Right' pose as a ‘black bloc’ and stand in the same spot for an hour or two so that they can relate the story of this adventure at parties they will never be invited to." Source : CrowdedWorld


The beating heart of the nation, Canberra, came alive recently, with spirited Chinese and Tibetan protest. Alongside of the Tibetans were their comrades, a group of perhaps a dozen or so members of the 'New Right', once again bravely facing down the Communist hordes. In Italy, the far right has also been protesting:

The demonstrators who’ve been disrupting the progress of the Olympic torch around the world have found an unwelcome ally in the Italian far right. Last month, Forza Nuova cashed in on the popularity of the ‘flame of shame’ protests to organise a rally of their own outside the Chinese embassy in Rome. Their leader, Roberto Fiore, expressing outrage at the treatment of the Tibetans, called for the immediate severing of diplomatic relations between China and Italy and a boycott of the games by Italian athletes. The ulterior motive for his unlikely concern for Tibet isn’t hard to make out: one of his campaign slogans calls for ‘un’Italia senza extracomunitari’ (an Italy without non-Europeans, which would mean getting rid of the 200,000 or so Chinese immigrants who live here).

~ Thomas Jones, Short Cuts, London Review of Books, April 24, 2008

In terms of the recent Italian election, the 'extreme' right (the Italian Social Action Party), with Alessandra Mussolini, the Fascist dictator's granddaughter and Sophia Loren's niece, as its mascot, did even worse than the 'far' left, collecting two per cent of the votes and winning no seats. (See The collapse of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy: The price of opportunism, Peter Schwarz,, April 25, 2008.) Of course, that doesn't stop fascism from expressing itself more directly: for example, following the Corrupt Knight's return, fascists staged an attack on the Mario Mieli Centre in Rome.

---- Solidarity with the "Circolo Mario Mieli" ----

Fascism is not only an authoritarian superstructure, used from time to time by capitalism: it is also the spearhead of an ideology that is sneaking its way through our society. An ideology that can be seen in the rising arrogance of men, in the rising arrogance of the bosses, in the rising authoritarianism of the State and in the slimy paternalism of the Church.

Several days ago, the Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli ["Mario Mieli" homosexual culture club] in the San Paolo neighbourhood of Rome was attacked by a fascist squad shouting "fucking poofs!" and praising Mussolini, who damaged the club's entrance while some activists were meeting in an upstairs room.

We would like to express our solidarity with the club and we denounce this latest attack in a long series which has seen the fascist squads engaging in an escalation of violence, including the death some time ago [August 26, 2006] of Renato Biagetti in Focene, near Rome.

[Renato was actively involved in the social center movement in Rome and visited the “Acrobax" often, where his brother was also active. His hobby was music. On August 26, 2006, he went to a reggae party in Fiumicino, near Rome. After the party, while heading home, he was stopped by two young men and attacked. They stabbed him several times in the heart and lungs. He died at age 26.]

These attacks by squadristi, a practice consolidated over the years, never abandoned by the fascists, are usually directed against social centres, occupied houses, associations, against "leftists" and other individuals who do not conform to their hateful ideology.

So in this climate of intolerance and rising racism, the 25th April, when Italy remembers the Liberation from Fascism, takes on a new and special importance.

The struggle against fascism, whose greatest moment was the war of liberation fought by the partigiani, was not then, and is not now simply a struggle against the purest form of capitalist authoritarianism. It is also the struggle of aspiration towards a society of social justice and equality. Today, more so than ever, class-struggle anti-fascism must remember that.

Today more than ever because now it is clear that both the centre-left and the centre-right are attempting to rid the 25th April of its class significance and its militant anti-fascism, turning it into a mere ceremony of "democracy".

Against this, we say:

Fascism is not only an authoritarian superstructure, used from time to time by capitalism: it is also the spearhead of an ideology that is sneaking its way through our society. An ideology that can be seen the the rising arrogance of men, in the rising arrogance of the bosses, in the rising authoritarianism of the State and in the slimy paternalism of the Church.

Fascism is the strong arm of the State that kills you when you get home late or kills you in prison because you were growing a couple of marijuana plants.

Fascism is the arrogance of landlords, the arrogance of entrepreneurs who gamble with your life, and the homophobic obsession of the Church.

If we want to honour the struggle of the many comrades who fought in the Resistenza, who paid with their lives for their desire to see a world free from fascism, a world of justice and equality, then we must make sure that the 25th April is a day when we actively remember the struggle against all forms of authoritarianism...

Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici
"Luigi Fabbri" Branch, Roma
21 April 2008

Speaking of which, check 'Alive and Kicking: Review of Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory', by Uri Gordon (Pluto Press, 2008), reviewed by Alex Prichard, Anarchist Studies 16:1; also the Anarchist Studies archive.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lazarus Averbuch... and the Irish Left Review (and ah, other stuff)

Huh. Never heard of Lazarus Averbuch; never knew of the existence of the Irish Left Review either.

...until now.

Anyways, the ILR contains an interesting interview (April 16, 2008) with Chekov Feeney about the introduction of a Press Council to review complaints by the Irish general public regarding 'bad' press.

Obviously, they'll be swamped.

But how will they actually deal with such complaints, and how effective will the Press Council be in maintaining a watchdog role over the use and abuse of the Irish press? (Damn. I feel like a Trotskyist writing a blurb for a public meeting.) More importantly, can a campaign be initiated to send David Flint to Ireland? With signed copies of Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office?

Or something?

Probably not. In any case, read on.

A more recent article in the ILR reviews David Graeber's upcoming book Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (AK Press, 2007). Graeber is an anarchist and an anthropologist, whose previous titles include Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004; available for download as a PDF) which I thought was -- rather like the Housemartins -- quite good. (And "If Liking Them Is Wrong I Don't Want To Be Right...".) The review is, in turn, taken from the blog, Counago & Spaves: Unpopular Culture for Heretics and Infidels, which is also, ah, really quite good. (I remember them from such financial adventures as

Where was I?

Oh yeah...

On Possibilities:

In this collection, David Graeber revisits questions raised in his popular book, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Employing an unpretentious style to convey complex ideas, these twelve essays cover a lot of ground: the origins of capitalism, the history of European table manners, love potions and gender in rural Madagascar, the phenomenology of giant puppets at street protests, and much more. But they're linked by a clear purpose: to explore the nature of social power and the forms that resistance to it have taken—or might take in the future.

In the best anthropological tradition, Graeber uses rich ethnographic and historical detail to support and illuminate broad insights into human nature and society. In the process, he shows how scholarly concerns can be of use to radical social movements, and how the perspectives of such movements shed new light on debates within the academy.

On the interview with Chekov, in it he makes mention of a new book, Flat Earth News, by Nick Davies, a casually horrifying look at the news media in the UK, which "describes, in meticulous detail, exactly how the press comes to publish the propaganda of the powerful". Curiously, the interview with Chekov also links to the blog Leftwrites, and refers to the arrest of two very patriotic (sadly) gentlemen in the UK, Robert Cottage and David Bolus Jackson aka 'The Friendly Dentist' (below):

In October of 2006, two men were arrested in Lancashire, with the biggest cache of chemical explosives ever discovered in Britain, along with a rocket launcher, crossbow and bomb-making instructions. Both were linked to the BNP, with one of the men [Cottage] having been a candidate just a few months before. This event attracted not one single word of coverage in the national British press-with just a few brief stories in the local press-compared to the saturation coverage of several false-alarms involving Islamic people.

The situation in Australia is, of course, quite similar, as reflected in the experience of Brisbane doctor Mohamed Haneef. In fact:

Earlier this month, it was revealed that 14 Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel are still working on the terrorism case against Indian Muslim doctor Mohamed Haneef, even though the only charge against the former Gold Coast Hospital registrar was dropped more than eight months ago. Nine officers remain assigned to the case full-time, with another five providing assistance “periodically”, the AFP said in answer to a question in a Senate estimates committee on April 3.

~ Mike Head, Australian Federal Police still pursuing Mohamed Haneef,, April 15, 2008

Such facts tend to lead to the conclusion that, in the words of my 'National Anarchist' comrades (sic), "If you're white, you're alright", a sentiment which is, indeed, the title of the blog post on Leftwrites which Feeney refers to. The 'Talbot Street bomb-making haul' features in 'A terror raid that doesn't make the headlines - despite chemical explosives and a rocket launcher' (Charlie Kimber, Socialist Worker, October 6, 2006) -- one of the very few instances of media reportage on the original arrest; others include The Sunday Times (News in Brief: BNP link to explosives charges, October 8, 2006) and The Burnley Citizen (Andrew Hewitt, Ex-BNP man faces explosives charge, October 4, 2006) -- and the final verdict in (among other places) The Guardian (Duncan Campbell, Ex-BNP candidate jailed for stockpiling explosives, July 31, 2007):

A second man, David Jackson, 62, a dentist, was also charged with conspiracy to cause explosions but was cleared after the jury twice failed to reach verdicts.

A BNP spokesman said after sentencing that the prosecution had been brought for political reasons. "We're not condoning it, but it's a quid pro quo to appease the Muslims," said Dr Phil Edwards, of the BNP.

"To keep them quiet, we'll snatch someone from white society. We certainly don't support the bloke. We condemn all forms of violence ... but I wouldn't have thought you could do any harm with what he had."

Dr Edwards said Cottage would not be standing as a candidate for the BNP again. "We never have anyone in the party with criminal convictions," he said, because "lefties and people on your newspaper" would publicise the fact.

Quite. For example, The BNP's terrorist links cites not only Cottage, but David Copeland, Tony Lecomber, Allen Boyce, Terry Collins, Mark Bulman and Joe Owens.

As for Lazarus, he's been resurrected by Aleksandar Hemon in his new novel The Lazarus Project, reviewed by David Leavitt in The Washington Post (April 27, 2008):

At the heart of The Lazarus Project is a true story: On March 2, 1908, Lazarus Averbuch, a 19-year-old Eastern European Jewish immigrant and the survivor of an Easter 1903 pogrom in the village of Kishinev, knocked on the door of George Shippy, the Chicago chief of police. Their encounter culminated with Shippy shooting and killing Lazarus, whom he claimed was an anarchist.

Hemon imagines that a hundred years later, a non-Jewish Bosnian immigrant named Brik, who works in Chicago as a teacher and journalist, wins a grant to do research for a book on Lazarus. His plan, he says, is to "follow Lazarus all the way back to the pogrom in Kishinev, to the time before America. I needed to reimagine what I could not retrieve; I needed to see what I could not imagine."


The structure of The Lazarus Project is ingenious. Alternating chapters give us the story of Lazarus's killing (the story Brik is writing) and the story of Brik's own journey in search of Lazarus. Then, as the novel progresses, these narratives begin, eerily, to merge. Characters from Brik's life -- or versions of them -- show up in Lazarus's story. Even Brik himself makes a brief appearance. It's a conceit that Hemon justifies through a series of meditations on the idea of resurrection that Lazarus, by his very name, evokes. Art is resurrection, but so is history, a point that Hemon drives home when he notes (ruefully) the 1908 newspaper editorials bemoaning "the weak laws that allowed the foreign anarchist pestilence to breed parasitically on the American body politic. The war against anarchism was much like the current war on terror -- funny how old habits never die."

Well, not until the state is destroyed anyways. And of course, in the meantime, the war on anarchism -- and the anarchist war on the triple yoke of capital, state, and patriarchy -- continues.

Antifa (Ha ha ha?)

According to IndyMedia and other sources, that segment of the Master Race belonging to the 'British People's Party' (a cheaper, sillier, and much smaller version of the 'British National Party') received some unwelcome news last weekend, as they prepared to attend a meeting in London. (Incidentally, the latest issue (Spring 2008) of the BPP's zine Imperium contains a feature article on Adolf Hitler's 'art'. Get it while stocks last!) According to the BPP: "The St.George's Day meeting of the British People's Party went ahead despite red street violence which exploded in Central London. Four members and supporters of the BPP were attacked by about twenty-five Red rabble armed with a variety of weapons"; one individual requiring hospitalisation as a result of the 'explosion'. A statement from states that "The redirection point to the BPP meeting was completely turned over, with a number of Nazis, including BPP 'National Organiser' Sid Williamson, a drunken idiot who was supposed to be in charge of BPP security, receiving a well-deserved beating. Others fled leaving their squealing comrades to get their just desserts - with a menu which included hospital treatment! Happy Birthday Nazis! We look forward to giving you the same next year, and every chance we get."

Finally, the following post apparently originated on Stormfront:

This post is to make people aware of the events of Saturday 19th April and the attack by Antifa on the BPP Victoria meeting and to prevent the same thing happening again to any Nationalist group. There is no denying this Antifa group had at their disposal up to 35 people and they were organised, disciplined, informed and very bold. There were several football matches being played in London on that day, a heavy police presence who were doing a lot of stop and searches.

These scum cannot be dismissed as a bunch of kids or a bunch of middle class UAF students, they were very tough, split into small groups, had spotters and were carrying Stanley knives and screwdrivers. The attack took place on the way from the [rendezvous] point to the meeting place (they did not attack the meeting itself which was their aim), a couple of people got a good kicking, but the most serious injuries were a broken ankle and a comrade who was taken to hospital after being kicked unconscious. We were very lucky because previous experience shows the weapons they carry were not for show, they have and will use them. There is a strong possibility that they were present at two previous BPP/[British Movement] events, the aborted Holborn fundraiser concert for the BNP and the aborted Brick Lane paper sale. Please note both events were aborted because of a strong reaction by Antifa's allies in the Police force.

This is not the time for blame and [there] were no cowards at the BPP meeting on that day, but Nationalists must be aware of the red scum[']s potential and any meetings must have a good security regime in order. Discussing with comrades today, I would recommend that Richard Barnbrook... and Troy Southgate (a National Anarchist) [and] New Right... must be on their guard.

Be aware, don't take chances and check out newcomers who ring up and want to come to meetings, even if it means having [two] re-direction points.

Oh yeah, at the same time, the 'National Front', or what remains of it, held their annual rally. About 17 people showed up and, accompanied by about 100 police, marched (on the footpath) from one train station to another. The BNP, on the other hand, are predicted to possibly obtain a seat on the London Assembly at the upcoming election on May 1. Its candidate for Mayor is Richard Barnbrook. Barnbrook is notable for his impending marriage to the BNP ballerina Simone Clarke and his production of a film (as an Arts student in 1989) titled HMS Discovery: A Love Story, "an art film... not a bloody porn film", despite apparently including "long scenes of men undressing and fondling each other, full-frontal nudity and a naked man apparently performing a sex act on another... also repeated scenes of flagellation in which a group of semi-naked men apparently whip a fourth semi-naked man senseless to the ground". : Militant anti-fascist network based in the UK

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The meaning of ANZAC Day

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. ~ Samuel Johnson, 1775

According to the Australian War Memorial site:

ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day...

The date, 25 April, was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916 and was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia, a march through London, and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt...

Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national commemoration. Commemorative services are held at dawn – the time of the original landing – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet and join in marches through the major cities and many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are held at war memorials around the country. It is a day when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.

The "original landing" referred to is of course that of the British, French and Australian troops at Gallipoli in Turkey, part of a campaign to capture the Dardanelles from Turkish control. By the time the failed campaign ended on January 9, 1916, British Empire and French forces withdrew, having suffered approximately 44,000 deaths (there were 26,111 Australian casualties, including 8,141 deaths) and at least 85,000 Turkish soldiers died in the campaign.

For what purpose?

The view of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (2007):



In April 1915, Australian and other troops of the British Empire attacked Turkey, in a doomed attempt to knock a minor ally of Germany out of World War I. Many soldiers on both sides died, but a myth was born. According to this myth, Australians are tough, honest, irreverent towards authority, fiercely loyal and possess courage of legendary proportions. Further, these virtues are embodied in the ordinary Australian "digger". And, according to this myth, these qualities are uniquely Australian.

Imperialism Today, Australian Style

Today, Australian soldiers are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, minor players supporting the failing U.S. "Global War on Terror". These actions are insurance premiums on the Australian alliance with its great and powerful U.S. friend, and are unrelated to the pretexts advanced for these imperialist wars. Australian troops also occupy East Timor and the Solomon Islands and have recently returned from occupying Tonga. These actions are about maintaining Australian control of its smaller neighbours and the Pacific islands.

Patriotism and Militarism

It's hard to miss the patriotic and militarist propaganda these days. Both the Howard Government and the ALP are determined boosters of the military and the worst criticism they can make is to call someone "un-Australian". By supporting militarist myths and patriotic propaganda, they are trying to make it impossible to criticise the military in any way and to compel support for imperialist wars.

Workers can end war

War is endemic in capitalism. Each national capitalist class employs its military to promote its interests at the expense of its own working class and that of other capitalist classes. Workers in Australia, however, have more in common with workers in other countries than with "our own" capitalist rulers. We have nothing to gain from supporting the Australian Government's imperialist wars. As in every country, we do the fighting and the dying, while the bosses stay safe and reap the benefits. But we can end war by refusing to support governments that go to war. By refusing to supply military forces. By refusing to fight in their wars. And we can make a revolution to put an end to capitalism, to all governments and all armies worldwide. We can have a world of freedom, peace and equality.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
25 April 2007

Hmmmm... unlikely. In Australia, the only action taken in opposition to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by workers qua workers (with very few exceptions) has been to rally in protest. The largest such rally was held in Melbourne in February, 2003, at which police estimated 150,000 people took part, while others up to 250,000. On the other hand, the number of Australian casualties has been miniscule: a product, in part, of the token nature of Australia's military commitment; it, in turn, largely the result of the state's alliance with the US and its role as lieutenant in the Asia-Pacific region, and the US desire to provide some kind of impression that such adventures have broader, 'international' support.

Over the water and electronic seas, the following essay, 'ANZAC Day: Occupation Afghanistan and the propaganda system', describes both the significance of the ANZAC myth to war-making and its role in counter-acting public distaste for militarism:

As ANZAC Day 2008 approaches, it is worth considering the role the corporate media plays in maintaining public support for New Zealand's contribution to the NATO-led occupation of Afghanistan, which is over six years old. As the New Zealand Herald calls for the public to send Anzac messages to overseas troops, it's worth noting, as the following article does, how closely New Zealand's corporate media conforms to a propaganda model.

A Peace Action Wellington member has a High Court appeal on Tuesday, 29 April, for burning the NZ flag on ANZAC Day last year. She was convicted of 'offensive behavior' and was fined $500 plus court costs of $130. This is in addition to the 6 hours in the cells on the day of the arrest for a charge that does not carry any term of imprisonment. A second activist was also convicted of obstruction and resisting arrest.

There is also a new web site 'Lest we forget: remembering peacemakers on ANZAC Day' which provides information and resources marking the honourable actions of those individuals who believe war is wrong, and who have risked physical harm, their freedom and their reputations, to bring their message to others that war is never right...

Mark McKenna also had some interesting remarks to make on the subject of Anzac Day:

Patriot act
The Australian
June 6, 2007

The uncritical and self-serving embrace of the Anzac legend by both sides of politics has serious implications for Australia's future, writes Mark McKenna

ON Australia Day last year, I saw English violinist Nigel Kennedy perform at the Sydney Opera House. Kennedy, who cultivates the appearance of a slightly punkish busker-fiddler and is always keen to please his audience, came out on stage and immediately proceeded to play 'Advance Australia Fair'.

As he began, everyone rose to their feet and sang the national anthem. This could not have happened 10 years ago. Then, the traditional understated Australian patriotism would have held sway. The audience would have sung along, almost half-heartedly, but now they stood in unison and sang with gusto. What had changed?

One of the defining features of John Howard's decade in power has been his ability to encourage a greater feeling of national pride in the Australian community. During the past 10 years, a new form of Australian nationalism has emerged: unreflective, earnest and often sentimental. Patriotic display has become a civic virtue. Journalists and academics have commented on the new national mood -- the flaunting of the flag, the commercialisation of feel-good patriotism -- most dating its emergence from the mid-1990s, about the same time that Anzac Day began its resurgence...

And the same time (1995) the now 'traditional' ANZAC Day football match between Collingwood and Essendon was inaugurated.

The moral of this story?

"Our home is girt by sea."

"A bayonet has a worker at both ends."

See also
: Fredy Perlman, The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism

At the going down of the sun / and in the morning / we will remember / we thumped Essendon

COLLINGWOOD 5.3 11.7 15.12 23.16 (154)
ESSENDON 5.2 6.6 7.7 12.9 (81)

Before a crowd of 88,999 people.

Ooh la la!

Anzac clash a cakewalk for Pies, Andrew Wu, Sportal
Collingwood produce Anzac Day best, The Australian
Rampant Pies take Anzac honours, Chris Paine, ABC Sport
Imagine if Pies were fully fit, Len Johnson, realfooty

Friday, April 25, 2008

Neo-Nazis: in and out of jail

Racist bomb-plotter paroled
Nicolas Perpitch
The Australian
April 24, 2008

A RIGHT-wing nationalist who conspired to firebomb Chinese restaurants has been released on parole after 14 months in jail.

John Anthony Van Blitterswyk, 56, was convicted in May last year of plotting with neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist Movement head Jack Van Tongeren and two other conspirators to blow up the restaurants in Perth.

In the plan, hatched in 2004, Van Blitterswyk recruited others to help him identify which restaurants to attack and how they were to be carried out.

But the plot was deferred while a street poster campaign was launched to advertise Van Tongeren's new book.

Police uncovered the conspiracy while interviewing people involved in the poster campaign, including some co-conspirators who rolled over and gave evidence in court against the masterminds.

In sentencing Van Blitterswyk to two years and four months' jail, Judge Michael O'Sullivan said the racist crime was "un-Australian" and that no one should be at risk of attack because of their ethnic background.

Van Blitterswyk has maintained his innocence.

The WA Prisoners Review Board released Van Blitterswyk on parole yesterday for a 14 month-period on condition he does not associate with any ANM members.

Van Tongeren, 58, pleaded guilty to his role in the plot and was given a two-year suspended sentence. He was ordered to leave WA and is now believed to be living in Victoria.

Van Tongeren and Van Blitterswyk had been convicted of hate crimes before.

In 1990, they were found guilty of conspiring to drive Asians from the state and trying to incite a race hate war.

Van Tongeren served his full 12-year jail sentence, while Van Blitterswyk received an early release from his 14-year sentence.

Meanwhile, back in the USSA, former National Vanguard (a split from National Alliance; NV disbanded in March 2007) fuehrer Kevin Alfred Strom is going to jail:

'I am not a pedophile': Strom gets 23 months
Lisa Torrance
The Hook
April 24, 2008

Kevin Strom hoped his guilty plea would have him out of prison with his nearly 16 months time served.

The white separatist who pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography possession January 17 was sentenced to 23 months in prison April 21 in U.S. District Court. Although Kevin Alfred Strom, 51, has been jailed since early January 2007, Judge Norman Moon rejected his request that he be sentenced to time served– and his claim that he "unwillingly" possessed the kiddie porn found on his computer...

Trot Guide: New Zealand


Despite having a population only a fifth the size of Australia's, Kiwis have an abundance of parties, both Trotskyist and Maoist. Well, when I write 'abundance', I mean um, at least seven:

1) Communist Party of Aotearoa : Maoist. Est. 1993. Possibly dead? No news is bad news, and there's been no news since December 2006.

2) Communist Workers' Group of New Zealand/Aotearoa (Member of the Leninist/Trotskyist Fraction) : CWG originated as the New Zealand Spartacist League; it split in 1972... well, actually, the Communist Workers' do it best:

CWG originated as the New Zealand Spartacist League (NZSL) in 1970 under the influence of the Spartacist League-US (SL-US) "Declaration of Principles". The NZSL split in 1972 in a dispute between Owen Gager and Bill Logan and Adaire Hannah essentially over joining the SL-US. Gager argued that the SL-US had not broken completely with the SWP-US, nor did he think that the SL-US represented any programmatic continuity with Trotsky. The theoretical basis for this position is argued in "James P Cannonism" which can be found at this site in the CWG Archive. Gager went on to form the Communist Left of Australia (CLA) in 1974 while Logan and Hannah set up a Spartacist group also in Australia. In 1981 Dave Bedggood then a member of the British RCP formed the Communist Left in NZ in solidarity with CLA. The CLA split over a tactical difference with Gager in the mid-1980s. Gager left and moved towards anarcho-communism. CLNZ had fusion talks with the Bolshevik Tendency (now IBT) in the late 1980s and with Workers' Power (LRCI) in the early 1990s. CLNZ fused with the LRCI in 1992 as its NZ section, Workers Power (NZ) and ceased fraternal relations with CLA. Some members of WPNZ had differences within the LRCI’s over its movement away from Trotskyism in forming a united front with Yeltsin in August 1991, and its characterisation of the first period of the overthrow of the bureaucracy as a ‘political revolution’. The catalyst for the split was the LRCI’s refusal to defend Serbia from the NATO bombs of 1995. Half of WPNZ left to form the CWGNZ, along with the Bolivian and Peruvian sections of the LRCI who were either suspended or expelled. These comrades formed the Liaison Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International (LCMRCI) in late 1995. The main documents of this split can be located under LCMRCI Archive. See 'Declaration of the Proletarian Faction'. Essentially, these fusions and splits were attempts to apply the original position of the NZSL and CLNZ on the defense of dialectics against post-war degenerate Trotskyism. Today the CWG fights inside the LCMRCI and in discussions with other tendencies for a 5th International understood to mean the return to the pre-war method and programme of the 4th International.

Got that? My nomination for the fugliest communist website to ever boil out of New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Long Live the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction and the fight for a new World Party of Socialist Revolution!

3) International Bolshevik Tendency : The remnants of the once powerful and mighty Spartacist League of New Zealand, the IBT (est. 1987) is engaged in constant polemics with its older brother, the still mighty (in my opinion) International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), aka the Spartacists (est. 1966). The Bolshevik Tendency is 'International' in the sense that, in addition to New Zealand, it has a presence in Canada, Germany, the UK and the USA.

4) International Socialist Organization of Aotearoa/New Zealand : Trotskyist, and a derivation from the iSt.

5) Socialist Worker (Aotearoa) : Trotskyist. The comrades have no website, but instead publish a blog, UNITY. A member of the UK-based SWP's iSt... and apparently (like the Australian DSP) on a one-way ticket to Splitsville.

6) World Socialist Party (New Zealand) : Neither Maoist nor Trotskyist, the WSP (NZ) have a totally kick-arse HQ. In other news, the World Party holds an Annual Conference at which most members meet up. At the 2004 Conference "momentous decisions on the future struggle for socialism were made, and a pleasant time was had by all".

7) Workers Party of New Zealand : The Workers Partys' monthly magazine The Spark has been in publication since 1991; Revolution is a quarterly journal published from 1994 to 2008.

Missing, presumed dead:

Communist League of New Zealand | Permanent Revolution Group (1986--1990; fused with International Bolshevik Tendency) | Socialist Party of Aotearoa | Workers' Charter ("Movement") | Workers' Power (New Zealand)

NB. The Socialist Party of Aotearoa emerged as a split from the 'pro-Soviet' Socialist Unity Party (SUP) in 1990. It was led by Bill Anderson, who died in 2005. The SPA's only sign of life is a website, described as being that of the Gordon Watson Branch. It contains contact details for the branch, located in Wellington, and a link to a defunct news service.