Beyond Hierarchies: A Free University Dayschool

Protest and Power in the 21st Century Beyond Hierarchies is a Free University Day School examining alternatives to the hierarchical power structures that shape society today. The day will incorporate short talks with interactive theatre and workshop discussion.

HOW DOES POWER WORK?

The first session will examine contemporary power relationships and how politicians came to believe that the only way was free market capitalism: with workshop discussion on different areas e.g. industry, society, politics, environment.

THIS IS NOT A RIOT.

In the second session we examine possible tactics and mechanisms of change with Harry Giles of Open Source Theatre  – click here for more info.

‘This is Not a Riot’ is a piece of interactive theatre about violence and protest, and was premièred in Hackney last year.

MUTUAL AID.

The third session looks ahead to the alternatives that we want to bring about. Does Public Ownership have to mean Nationalisation? Does Nationalisation have to mean Beaurocracy? Can Cooperatives and Collectives really work? Is Radical Decentralisation the antidote to Globalisation?

These questions and more will form the basis of workshop discussions followed by a final plenary.

Although the day school is free, numbers are limited, so to ensure your place, please book now by emailing dundeeuncut@gmail.com

The free day school is located here:

Tayside Deaf Hub
The Old Mill,
Taymills,
23 Brown Street,
DD1 5EF Dundee,
United Kingdom
Link to facebook event – click here.
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Interview with an Egyptian Anarchist

Interview with an anarcho-communist activist in Freedom Square in Cairo

Please tell me your name and what movement you are from.

I’m Nidal Tahrir, from Black Flag, A small group of Anarcho-Communists in Egypt.

The world is watching Egypt, and even moving in solidarity. However, due to the internet being cut, information was difficult to find. Can you tell me about what has happened in Egypt in the past week? What did it look like from your perspective? (You can write a lot in this part.)

The situation in Egypt is So crucial right now, it begins with an invitation to the day of rage against Mubarak Regime in January 25th., no one has expected that an invitation to a day of rage from a loose group, Facebook page, not really organized called ” we are all Khalid Said”, Khalid Said is Egyptian Youth who has been killed by Mubarak police in Alexandria last summer, it was that Tuesday who begin everything, it was the spark for the whole fire, on Tuesday big demonstrations were in streets in every Egyptian town, on Wednesday begins the massacre, it begins with trying to finish the sit-in in Tahrir square on Tuesday late night, and continue in the following days, especially in Suez town, Suez has special value in every Egyptian heart, it was the centre for resistance against Zionist in 1956 and 1967, in the same district, which fought Sharon’s troops back in Egyptian-Israeli wars, Mubarak police has made a massacre, at least 4 people killed, 100 injured, Gas Bombs, rubber bullets, Fire Guns, strange yellow substance thrown above people, may be mustard gas, Friday was called the Jumu’ah of Rage, Jumu’ah is Arabic for Friday, it’s the national weekend in Egypt, in many Islamic countries also, it’s sacred day in Islam, because the big prayers in this day, called Jumu’ah prayer, it was planned for demonstrations to go on march after this pray, in the noon, the police tried to prevent the marches with all of his power and violence, there was many clashes in Cairo,(in downtown, in Mattareyah (east of Cairo)), all over Egypt, especially in Suez, Alexandria, Mahalla (in delta, one of the centers of working class), from noon to sunset people marched in Cairo to Downtown, to sit-in in Tahrir till Removal of Mubarak regime, Chanting one slogan ” People demand removal of the regime”, at sun set, 5p.m CLT, Mubarak has declared curfew and bringing army into Egyptian towns, this curfew followed by planned escape of police, letting out the criminals and thugs which called Baltagayyah, and police plan great escape of criminals in many Egyptian prisons to scare people in Egypt, no police, many army troops couldn’t control the street, scared people, it followed by news jam in Egyptian TV channels, radios, newspaper about luddites in many towns, about thieves firing at people, people organized ” people committees to secure every street, it was welcomed by the regime to make people more scared about instability in the country, but it also a point we could start from it to build workers councils.

As of Wednesday, there are clashes between pro and anti Mubarak people. Is that the correct way to describe it? Who are the “Mubarak supporters?” How are these clashes affecting the attitudes of average working class Egyptians?

It’s absolutely wrong to call it clashes between anti- and pro-Mubarak, pro-Mubarak demonstration was consisted of many of Baltagayyah and secret police to attack the protesters in Tahrir, it has only began after Mubarak speech yesterday, after Obama speech too, personally I think Mubarak feels like slaughtered ox who try to throw his blood over his slaughters, feels like Nero, who want to burn Egypt before his removal, trying to make people believe he’s a synonym for stability, safety and security, in this way he’s really made some progress, the holy national alliance now has been formed against Tahrirites (Tahrir protesters) and Commune de Tahrir, many people are saying, especially middle-class, demonstrations must end because Egypt has been burned, Famine has begun, and it’s not true at all, it’s only an exaggeration, every revolution has its difficulties, and Mubarak using fear and terror to stay more, personally I’m saying even if the protesters were the responsible of this situation, Even If, Mubarak must leave, must go out, because of his disability to deal with the situation right now.

What do you see happening in the next week? How much is the position taken by the US government affecting the situation there?

Nobody can figure out what would happen tomorrow or next week, Mubarak is an idiot stubborn, and Egyptian media making the biggest media campaign in its history to detain the protests, next Friday, February 4th. There calls for another million march to Tahrir Called “Jumu’ah of salvation”, the position taken by US government affecting us more than demonstration, Mubarak is such a traitor who could kill the whole people, but couldn’t say no to his masters.

What has the participation of class struggle anarchists been? Who are their allies? (obviously keep security in mind)

Anarchism in Egypt is not big trend, you could find some anarchists but not a big trend yet, anarchists in Egypt joined both protests and popular committees to defend streets from thugs, anarchists in Egypt put some hope on this councils, the allies of anarchists in Egypt are the Marxists of course, we are not now in the moment of ideololigical debate, the whole left calls for unity and then argue about anything, anarchists in Egypt are a part of the Egyptian left.

What forms of solidarity can be built between revolutionaries in Egypt and revolutionaries in the “West?” What can be done immediately and what should we do in the long term?

The most difficult obstacle Egyptian revolutionary can front is that the cut of communication, western revolutionaries must put pressure to their government to prevent Egyptian regime from doing this, that’s for now but no one could say what happened in the long term, if the revolution win then the western revolutionaries must build solidarity with their Egyptian comrades against expected aggression from USA, and Israel, if the revolution had been defeated then it would be massacre for all Egyptian revolutionaries.

What will the main tasks be once Mubarak leaves? Has their been much planning about this on the street level? What have anti-capitalist revolutionaries proposed?

the main task now, speaking about street demands is new constitution and provisional government and then new elections, there’s much planning about this issue from many political trends here especially Muslim brotherhood, the anti-capitalist Revolutionaries is not very big in Cairo, the communists, democratic left, Trotskyites calling for the same demands about constitution and new elections, but for us as anarchists, Anti-capital, Anti-state too, we will try to make the committees which has been formed to protect and secure the streets more strong, trying to turn it into real councils.

What do you want to say to revolutionaries abroad?

Dear Comrades all over the world we need solidarity, Big solidarity Campaign and Egyptian Revolution will win.

“We Pledge not to riot.”Riot

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Excellent article on the London Student Protests against the coalition, examining the bounds of  “lawfull” protest:

http://littlerichardjohn.blogspot.com/2010/12/we-pledge-not-to-riot.html

London Student Protest and the storming of Millbank Tower

Wednesday 10th of November saw over 50,000 students march through the centre of London in opposition to the proposed raising of tuition fees to £9,000. The demo had been called by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College lecturer’s Union.  (UCU) The organisers were said to have been expecting around 12,000 people to take part but they under estimated the scale of opposition to this clearly classist policies which would make higher education only available to the richest in society.  The 50,000+ crowd snaked its way through London stopping at 10 Downing Street to chant some abuse, then stopping by the parliament building and then proceeding past Millbank tower which houses the Conservative Party’s campaigning office. Once the march was passing the Millbank tower a bloc of anti-capitalist students splintered from the main march towards the reception area of the tower and forced their way in and opened the doors to the rest of the protestor many of whom looked sheepishly at each other for a minute but eventually began to flood in with ever increasing confidence.  Once the example had been set thousands began to enter and spread until the whole courtyard was occupied and people began to enter and smash the offices, occupying the building and the roof tops.

The corporate media, the government and even the National Union of student’s president were quick to blame the actions on a “small rogue minority” of “socialists and anarchists who led the nice middle class kids astray, despite the participation of an estimated 5000+. (Around 10% of the march) The “despicable ,“ “mindless,” “hardcore” mob “hell bent on destruction and chaos” was mostly made of school, college and university students many of whom professed to this being their first political protest.  This action was bigger than just the issue of tuition fees; it was a manifestation of years of years of undemocratic rule, unequal opportunity and frankly a refusal to accept a system that most people clearly see as rotten and working against them.

The analysis by Last hours is an excellent summary of the issues raised:

During yesterday’s protest against cuts to education crowds stormed Tory headquaters. Windows where smashed and offices destroyed. As a result we can witness the capitalist system bend and buckle in its attempts to dismiss these acts of anger as illegitimate.

Amongst the 1,000s that played some role in the invasion of Millbank Tower, where workers and students from all areas of society. We condemn both the media claim that a small group of anarchist antagonists where responsible (juxtaposed by their own images showing thousands rallying around the building) as well as the notion that the students involved are part of a privileged class. The idea that working class youth are some how exempt from the desire for education is both naive and patronising.

In fact, on the day anarchist attempts to form a visible block failed in comparison to other  recent protests. Instead symbols of an anarchist presence could be seen peppered throughout the crowds, mingling with the masses. A sign that anarchist theory has embedded itself well amongst current student communities and individual anarchists would rather march within the safety of friendship groups  than along obscure political allegiances.

There was a common feeling that this protest represented more than just anger towards a rise in tuition fees. Many non-aligned individuals seemed furious at finding themselves with a political system that does not represent them. Indeed those that have profited for so long off of the broken backs of the poor are growing concerned.

Though some claimed the success of the demonstration was down to students listening to ‘impassioned speeches’ on the day most quickly grew tired of so called leaders talking for them and moved back to Millbank Tower to either watch or take part in the invasion. The NUS’ attempts to control the protest, and later their condemnation of the days actions, can only be seen as an attempt to fulfill their own political agenda. This agenda aims to channel anger back into a broken, hierarchical political system and as a result such organisations should be considered part of the problem.

In reaction to arrests and the following media hysteria, a campaign has been launched to support those involved. It is important at this point, to send a message that those willing to fight will be supported. Building networks and communities of solidarity are as an important part of the struggle as any other.

Scottish Trade Union Council anti-cuts protest

Saturday 23rd of October saw the Scottish Trade Union Council call an anti-cuts march which was attended by upwards of 20,000 people. This was one of the biggest protests Edinburgh has seen for a long time and saw a respectable Anarchist Bloc. Most encouraging of all it was not just made up of the “usual suspects” but saw thousands of people from very varying walks of life. As Edinburgh Anarchists put it :

” We even ended up chatting to the Prison Officers’ Association and Tayside Police Admin(!) How’s that for getting out of the anarchist ghetto?”

This is exactly what is needed to succesfully fight pubic spending cuts and find constructive ways to build our own alteratives. The ability of the Trade Union Council to attract this many people to come out onto the street was impressive and heartening for what often may seem like the decline in strength of trade union movement. lets hope this new found momentum translates into action and grass roots organisation. Whe banded together in defence of one another we are strong enough to resist this coup by the rich. We must fight for every job, every public amenity, every school, every park and anything else they will try to take from the people. It has been a long time since the working class have had a victory in this country, but remember that local community organisations and flat out refusal to co-oprate is what made the poll tax unworkable and eventually brought down Thatcher. By organising as unions, neighbourhood/community groups and anti-cuts networks we can win this . As put in the leaflets we handed out:

We need collective, grassroots responses to our hardships. As anarchists we want better lives for ourselves, our neighbours, our friends and our colleagues. There are alternatives to to a society forced on us by the rich, Let’s build them.”