Saturday, December 31, 2011



Amazingly enough I finished reading two books on a single day. There are two more rather technical books that I am still reading, but probably few would be interested in them. The first book I finished was the collected fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. I've already mentioned said book here. The second book is Garry Wills' 'Papal Sin'. You can read it yourself here at Google Books. I hope the referral is right. I often make mistakes in long addresses.

I have to say that the book surprised me. From the title and a brief perusal I expected this book to get into the gritty details of medieval and Renaissance Popes with all the neat stories about simony, nepotism, sexual impropriety and political treachery. Nope. The network of deception that the author heads for began in the 19th century with Pope Pius IX. There is, however, more than enough dogs' dinner in the last 1 1/2 centuries to satisfy the most ardent critic of the Papacy.

Wills is hardly the most ardent. He is still a very devoted Catholic, whatever his heretical opinions. He denies the 1870 Vatican I promulgation of Papal Infallibility from the point of view of Church tradition in addition to the thuggish schemes initiated by Pius to gain the acceptance of his infallibility.

I must say that I enjoyed this book immensely, especially considered the recent death of my Sister Ann who was a nun with heterodox opinions. Wills begins his book with chapters showing the "bad faith" and lies of the Catholic Church. He saves his own reformist opinion for the latter chapters where he contrasts the views of the Church Father Augustine to modern Papal opinion.

Along the way he scatters gems such as the fact that the apostles were married; that there were no priests in the very early times of Christianity and no bishops until even later. He emphasizes the democracy of the early Church and suggests that this should be a model for today's Church.

What can I say here as an ex-Catholic and an atheist for over 45 years ? This book is obviously addressed to other Catholic believers. It makes an appeal to the "winter soldiers" who continue to resist foolish Papal pronouncements.I would recommend it for believers as an eye openers to the fact that there can be dissent in the Catholic Church. Perhaps even unbelievers could profit even more by reading this book. It may allow them to formulate their objections at a higher level.

Monday, December 26, 2011



Last Wednesday December 21 the Province of Manitoba finally moved to evict Occupy Winnipeg from Memorial Park at, of course, 7:00 am. According to what I read Occupy Winnipeg was the last Occupy camp to be evicted in Canada. Not bad strategy on the part of the City and Province actually, especially considering the dispute about who is responsible for "peace"-keeping on Provincial land within the City. In the end Manitoba Conservation and the Winnipeg City Police outnumbered the hardy souls, three in number, who were still braving the cold in the early morning by 10 to one. Once more the mosquito was swatted with a sledgehammer.

Unlike other cities Winnipeg (along with the Province) elected to let cold and the street demons deal with their problem which they did in the end. Other jurisdictions elected to apply the iron fist much earlier. As can be seen this delaying tactic was, from the point of view of authority, much less damaging to said authority than showing off earlier. The final decision to evict was because of what I believe was fire number three at the site. The most likely arsonists are the street demons, especially those who were previously booted out.

The wife and I actually visited the site only three times, twice to bring food and once for a failed offer to cook Christmas dinner for them. On the last evening visit I saw evidence of the security patrols that they had instituted to try and prevent further arson, though Molly thinks that a weapon is better to clear thugs than a dragged along kid (for sure). If Occupy here and elsewhere want to attempt this tactic again in the Spring instead of moving on to new things as many have done they're going to have to be a lot better at security next time around. That, however, may be beside the point as many (most ?) locations are already doing new things. For local updates you can still check out the Occupy Winnipeg Facebook page.

Saturday, December 24, 2011



In the countries where anarchism is a tradition the idea of "anarchist subcultures" is definitely a peripheral matter. Even in countries where anarchism is not a large tradition but where historical memory has been preserved anarchists are well into moving beyond subcultures. But in countries such as Indonesia (and many others) anarchism is being introduced via the "punk subculture". This may not be the optimal way to introduce the ideology, but it is the way in reality.

In Indonesia the area of Aceh has become a testing ground for the Indonesian state insofar as they hope to trade federal tolerance of vicious Sharia law (amongst other matters) for the unity of Indonesia. Thus the religious nutters of this part of Indonesia are allowed to run riot providing they refrain from attacks on the central government. One of their high handed attacks has been to attack the punk subculture present even in this remote Islamist outpost. Here is the call from Indonesian punks/anarchists in A-Infos for solidarity with their struggle.


Indonesia, Worldwide Solidarity with Aceh (anarcho-)Punks

64 young people were arrested at a punk concert in Banda Aceh on Saturday December 11th. A few days later they were taken to a police training school, where their hair was ritually shaved, their clothes and possessions were taken from them, they were forced to pray, and the Acehnese authorities stated that they would be held for 10 days for 're-education'.

Actions in support of the punks have taken place across Indonesia but also around the world as punk communities have responded to the news, after mainstream media outlets broadcast pictures of the mass detention.

---What happened in Aceh?---

After years of war and the devastation of the 2004 tsunami, a peace process was started which resulted in considerable autonomy for Indonesia's northernmost province. Former GAM fighters won the elections. One of the changes they brought in was a form of Islamic Sharia law, which is not enforced in any other part of Indonesia. Currently Aceh is in the run-up to new elections and different candidates are pitching their image to the public.

In nearly all parts of Indonesia there is a large punk scene. Many young homeless kids are attracted by the music and the lifestyle and can support each other in many ways, forming a subcultural community. Indonesian punks often earn a living by busking on buses or at traffic lights, and travel the country for free, hitch-hiking on the back of trucks. But at concerts, which are usually free or cheap and organised according to DIY ethics, people from all backgrounds come along.

The concert on 10th December 2011 was a benefit gig to raise money for orphans. Apparently the event started at about 3pm and it was supposed to continue into the night. but at 21.30, police climbed onto the stage and demanded that the event should finish. The people there tried to negotiate for the gig to continue, but the cops didn't seem to care.

Reacting to the cops' behaviour, the punks started singing a popular resistance song, Darah Juang (blood of struggle), but as it happened, that song seemed to provoke the anger of the cops who then started beating people and arresting them. The arrested punks were taken to the Seulawah National Police School one hour from Banda Aceh city. That's where their hair was shaved off and they were forced into the lake.

Punks in Aceh who weren't arrested have found it difficult to get any communication with their friends, because it seems they are in isolation.


Punks in Indonesia React

Jakarta 17th December:

"Reacting to the repression in Aceh where 64 punks were arrested by Sharhia police, various punk groups from around Jakarta came together for a solidarity action with one demand: Full freedom for the 64 detained Aceh punks. The target of the action was the Provincial Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darusalam representative's building, and then finally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. The action started from Ismail Marzuki Park in front of the Jakarta Institute for the Arts (IKJ). At the HI traffic circle, several people cut their hair into a mohawk as an act of solidarity and a protest at the state's coercive attitude in repressing the arrested. We proclaim our full solidarity and encourage everyone, whether a punk or a sympathiser to get out and show your own solidarity.

Let the people who are behind the iron bars know that they will never be alone.” (translated from negasi blog)


- 19th December

"Solidarity actions against the arbitrary arrest of 64 punks and their detention labelled as reeducation by Aceh's sharia'h police have taken place in Jakarta once again. This time the target was the Indonesian Police headquaters (Mabes Polri) located at 3 Jalan Trunojoyo, south Jakarta. Around 100 people from various places joined this action to “Save the Aceh Punks” (from negasi blog)

In Makassar, Sulawesi, about 100 punks gathered at an abandoned department store on Monday afternoon (19th December) to prepare for a demonstration which took place two days later.

Around the world: Moscow:

“On December the 15th a group of anonymous punks from Moscow decided to act upon receiving news of brutal state repression of Indonesian punk-scene. We consider ourselves anarcho-punks and these news offended us in the deepest sense. We wont tolerate any religion to hold sway over living being’s freedom, especially over our subculture. Thus on the same evening we gathered to express our rage. We chose the Indonesian embassy as our target. For us solidarity starts on subcultural level. We feel that modern Russian anarchists pay too little attention to subcultures of resistance. We wish the news of our action to reach Indonesian comrades. We hope they will have their spirits soar after hearing that in such far-away country there are folks who feel solidarity with their struggle.

Punk is not a crime.

Religion is fascism.

Fight for your looks.”(from act for freedom now)

In London there was a demonstration outside the Indonesian embassy with 25+ people showing up.

In the United States there have been actions at the consulates in San Fransisco and Los Angeles.

Even in China, punks are collecting mixtapes to send over to Aceh when the punks get out.

Video Links:

Thursday, December 22, 2011



I've reached the age where I see my siblings dying, something quite different from having your parents die (many years in the past for me). Just this week I have been to Calgary for the funeral of my sister Anne. Sister sister actually. She had been a member of the Congregation of the Sisters Of Charity of St, Louis for many decades (since 1959), and had actually been Sister Superior on two different occasions. My sister died in the Calgary airport. For some inexplicable reason I want to attribute her massive heart attack to running to make a connecting flight. I don't know why I want to insist on this. It was indeed chance. Perhaps I want to be assured that the dice of chance were really loaded against her.

In any case I will miss her tremendously. I always enjoyed argueing religion with her, no matter how upset her and I may have been at the time. She was actually one of the people I have met in my life who could make a reasonable argument for the existence of God. Her political views were a strange mixture, containing great sympathy for the semi-anarchist Catholic left such as the Berrigans, along with justification of the evil done by the Catholic Church vis-a-vis the first nations of Canada. To her credit I did see a certain antipathy to the Jesuits (I survived five years of the bastards). Too bad I never heard her views when she was teaching theology in Edmonton.

My sister: Four degrees. A PhD in English literature which led to a few arguments about post modernism. She was open to it. My own position, based in empiricism, was that it was nonsense through and through. She was on her way to Montreal to deliver a paper when she died. Actually I never saw evidence that academia had poisoned her taste for literature which postmodernism has a great tendency to do. On the other hand our tastes in literature were quite different.

In any case she was a remarkable woman whose career spanned Canada, Europe, Africa, the Caribean and the USA. While we often disagreed we loved each other and had great respect for each other. Memorial tributes, according to her will, may be made to a charity supporting women's education in Kenya. She herself taught there under the sponsorship of Canadian Crossroads International.

Sunday, December 18, 2011





The news tonight is that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has gone to join his unlamented father in apotheosis. The Korean regime has in fact gone well beyond the bizarre mutation of a Marxist hereditary monarchy. It has become a modern day version of the Egyptian Pharaohs or the Roman Empire with the happily deceased (to those who were losers in the power plays) elevated to Godhood. Even Stalin at his worst would never have imagined the heights of glorification that the Land of Eternal Famine ,the North Korean state, has bestowed on its head executioner. There is little doubt that Marxist philosophy can lead its believers to strange acts of tyranny when in power and strange acts of justification when not in power. Still it would hard to imagine anything stranger than North Korea.

The NK regime will probably survive, but even that is uncertain. What is sure is that there is only one remaining "communist" dictatorship left in the world- Cuba. I wouldn't count China , Vietnam or Laos because they have retreated from totalitarianism and are now merely "authoritarian". The Cuba regime has much less chance of surviving a visit from the Reaper than North Korea does.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



Well, this probably counts as non-news as nobody should be suprised that a Conservative Party wants to gut the power of organized workers to fight back. The following articles (English and French) from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) warns of this desire. I think the most significant point made below is that union books are already open to members, the only openness that should count. The government, of course, sees this as merely an opening salvo in a long term campaign to deprive the NDP of union support. Now I'm also not too thrilled by the chains of gold that tie unions to the NDP, but my idea of union independence would be from the ground up, with more democratic and active unions. NOT by repressive measures on the part of government. Here's the CEP's article.

The Harperites are at it again, another attack on unions

By Dave Coles
On December 5th Russ Hiebert, Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, B.C. introduced Bill C-377 an act to make union books public. You might remember in early November his previous bill C-317, on the exact same topic had to be withdrawn due to parliamentary procedures and didn’t even make it to second reading. It must have been a big defeat for Mr. Hiebert given he had the coveted 1st spot on the private members bills priority list and now it’s back again (at the bottom of the pile) with a new name and a few changes (he can’t introduce the same thing it’s against the rules).

So, did anyone out there think his first shot across the bow, was it? Does anyone actually really think this is about so called transparency or accountability? This has absolutely nothing to do with fairness or ethics or about making bad legislation better. This is a calculated attack on unions, unfair in its segregation of labour organizations and discriminatory in its disclosure requirements.

What the Harperites don’t understand about unions is that our books ARE open to All our members – it’s the basic premise under which we operate. Furthermore, there are provisions under the existing labour legislation and the Canadian Revenue Act.

Let’s be honest the real crux of the bill is political activity of labour organizations. They don’t like what we do and how we do it. But Mr. Hiebert ‘Political Action’ is one of the founding pillars of trade unions-whether you like it or not. Our members know this, vote for this at all our conventions and support our actions. Furthermore the Lavigne Supreme Court decision of 1991 affirms the rights of Unions to engage in political activity without restrictions that a charity is subject to. So this begs the question, how is it fair that you want us to disclose such information on political activity and lobbying to the tax authority when it’s perfectly legal?

Labour must be on alert and mobilizing now to counter a clear and present danger. As long as Harper encourages and coordinates actions like 377 there can be no business as usual with this government.

Les partisans de Harper recommencent à attaquer les syndicats

Par Dave Coles
Le 5 décembre, Russ Hiebert, député conservateur de South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, en C.-B., a déposé le projet de loi C-377 , dont l’intention est d’obliger les syndicats à divulguer leurs états financiers. Vous vous souviendrez peut-être qu’au début du mois de novembre, son projet de loi précédent C-317, sur le même sujet, avait dû être retiré en raison de procédures parlementaires et ne s’était même pas rendu en deuxième lecture. Ce fut sans doute toute une défaite pour Russ Hiebert étant donné qu’il avait la première place tant convoitée sur la liste prioritaire des projets de loi d’initiative parlementaire, et ce projet est maintenant de retour (au bas de la liste) sous un nouveau nom et avec quelques modifications (il ne peut déposer le même projet, ce qui est contraire aux règles).

Alors, est-ce que quelqu’un là-bas pense que son premier projet était un coup de semonce? Est-ce quelqu’un pense vraiment que ce projet porte sur une soi-disant transparence et reddition des comptes? Ce projet n’a absolument rien à voir avec l’équité ou les principes éthiques, ou même à améliorer une mauvaise législation. C’est une attaque calculée contre les syndicats, une attaque injuste sur le plan de la ségrégation des organisations syndicales et discriminatoire sur le plan des exigences de divulgation.

Ce que les partisans de Harper ne comprennent pas à propos des syndicats, c’est que nos états financiers SONT ouverts à TOUS nos membres – c’est la prémisse de base sur laquelle nous oeuvrons. En outre, des dispositions existent en vertu de la législation actuelle du travail et de la Loi canadienne de l’impôt sur le revenu.

Soyons honnêtes, le vrai nœud du projet de loi porte sur l’activité politique des organisations syndicales. Ils n’aiment pas ce que nous faisons ni comment nous le faisons. Mais monsieur Hiebert, « l’activité politique » est l’un des piliers fondateurs des syndicats, que vous soyez d’accord ou non. Nos membres le savent, votent en sa faveur à tous nos congrès et soutiennent nos actions. En outre, la décision Lavigne de la Cour suprême en 1991 confirme les droits des syndicats d’entreprendre des activités politiques sans les restrictions auxquelles un organisme de bienfaisance fait l’objet. Ce qui soulève la question, comment pouvez-vous souhaiter que nous divulguions de tels renseignements sur les activités politiques et de lobbying aux autorités en matière fiscale lorsqu’elles sont parfaitement légales?

Les syndicats doivent être en état d’alerte et se mobiliser maintenant pour confronter un réel danger. Aussi longtemps que Harper encouragera et coordonnera des actions comme le projet de loi C-377, nous ne pourrons agir comme si de rien n’était avec ce gouvernement.

Monday, December 12, 2011



2011 was a remarkable year. As revolutions sparked throughout the Arab world the "lower" classes of many other countries also rose up as evidenced in Europe, North America and South America and now even in Russia. In sum there hasn't been so much opposition to power for decades. It's hard to say where this will all lead. As the following article says the year has been quite remarkable, and few (nobody ?) could have predicted its events.

The following article is from the online magazine 'The Indypendent'. The reader should note that "Molyneux" is NOT "Mollymew"

2011: A Revolutionary Year
By John Molyneux
December 11, 2011 2011 will go down in history as a revolutionary year akin to 1848 and 1968: a year in which ordinary people round the world rose up against their governments and ruling elites – their respective 1%s.

Politically speaking, the year began on 17 December 2010 when a young vegetable seller called Mohamed Boazzizi set fire to himself in the southern Tunisian city after police confiscated his stall. What followed was unpredicted by any commentator, left, right or centre. The tone of the first Reuters report make this clear:

Police in a provincial city in Tunisia used tear gas late on Saturday to disperse hundreds of youths who smashed shop windows and damaged cars, witnesses told Reuters.There was no immediate comment from officials on the disturbances. Riots are extremely rare for Tunisia, a north African country of about 10 million people which is one of the most prosperous and stable in the region.

Twenty two days later on 14 January, after riots, demonstrations, violent clashes with security forces and finally mass strikes had spread across Tunisia, the country’s dictator, Zinedine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years with full support from the West, fled to Saudi Arabia. The Arab Spring had started.

Eleven days later on Tuesday 25 January vast numbers of Egyptians poured onto the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. They were, of course, met with brutal repression but they fought back. It was the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution. All the commentators agreed that the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, would not be a push over like Ben Ali.

However, by Friday 28th, after three to four days and nights of intensive street fighting and many deaths, the hated police were defeated: in Cairo where the people claimed and held Tahrir Square; in Suez where the main police station was burned down, and across Egypt. The police fled the streets. Mubarak was on the rocks.

Then on Wednesday 2 February Mubarak and his regime counter attacked. They mobilised thousands of ‘supporters’ – in reality paid thugs and plain clothes police – to launch an all out assault, on horses and camels, with machetes, iron bars, whips and rocks, on the people of Tahrir. It became known as ‘the Battle of the Camel’, but once again the people, thanks to great courage and great numbers won the day.

Still Mubarak clung on, infuriating the people with speeches in which, despite rumours that he would resign, he insisted he would continue. Street demonstrations became ever larger – it has been estimated that, all told, 15 million people took part. Then on 9-10 February, the Egyptian workers began to go on mass strike. This was the coup de grace. On 11 February the military dumped their leader. It was only 18 days after the start of the revolution, four less than it took to remove Ben Ali.

On 16 February protests against Gaddafi began in Benghazi and quickly turned into an uprising. On the 25 February there were mass protests – ‘Days of Rage’ – in cities right across the Middle East., including in Sana’a in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Iraq (where six were killed), in Jordan and also back in Tunisia and Egypt. At this moment the march of the Arab Spring seemed unstoppable and it has to be said that if the rest of 2011 had continued the way it began we would all be living in a very different world today.

Unfortunately, as well as ordinary people, there are also rulers and ruling classes and they fight back. The Gaddafi regime, in particular, fought back with terrible ferocity. In Tripoli his armed forces remained loyal and he simply mowed the Libyan revolutionaries down in the Square. By 20 February over 230 were dead. The rebels gained control of Benghazi and other cities but Libya was divided and in the civil war that followed Gaddafi’s superior conventional forces gained the upper hand to the point where they were threatening Benghazi. Meanwhile the Bahrainis of Pearl Square, like the Egyptians of Tahrir before them, were in the process of overwhelming their local police force.

At this point the forces of Western Imperialism, fronted by Sarkozy, took the initiative. In mid-March, under the guise of a ‘humanitarian intervention’, they mounted a sustained air assault on Libya which eventually had the effect of destroying the Gaddafi regime and handing power to the Transitional National Council, while simultaneously taming and putting a pro- western stamp on the Libyan Revolution. Meanwhile the Saudis, in what was probably a coordinated move, marched into neighbouring Bahrain and crushed the revolution.

Nevertheless the Arab Spring was by no means exhausted. Mass struggles escalated in Yemen and then in Syria, struggles which continue, at the cost of thousands of martyrs, to this day. In both cases the dictators, Saleh in Yemen and Azzad in Syria, clung on with great brutality and determination, and in both cases the popular movement has shown immense courage and resilience with the result that in both there has been a kind of deadly stalemate. At the time of writing the regimes appear to be slowly disintegrating, but so far the revolutions have not yet seen the mass strikes that were decisive in Egypt. At the same time there are rumblings of revolt in Saudi Arabia itself.

On 15 May things took a different turn. The spirit of Tahrir Square leaped across the Mediterranean to Spain when thousands of protesters set up camp in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, proclaiming that ‘They (the politicians) don’t represent us!’ and demanding ‘Real democracy now’. When the police beat the protesters the movement took off like wildfire and squares right across the Spanish state were occupied, with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, mobilised in their support. As they said ‘Nobody expected the Spanish Revolution’.

Next, less surprisingly, the revolt started to interact with the already high level of workers’ resistance in Greece. More mass demonstrations, riots, and general strikes followed as the crisis of Greek capitalism rapidly intensified.

Another unexpected development in the Summer was outbreak of mass protests over housing and other issues in Israel. Then in September the struggle made the leap across the Atlantic in the shape of Occupy Wall St. Again it was police repression, especially the arrest of 700 demonstrators on Brooklyn Bridge on 1 October, which fuelled the flames and led to ‘Occupies’ across America. Crucially organised labour identified with and actively supported the struggle, producing the highpoint of the Oakland General Strike of 2 November.

In Britain the struggle has also been rising. The past year has seen mass student protests, a 750,000 strong trade union anti-cuts demo in March, a big public sector strike on 30 June, the August riots, and now an even bigger strike on November 30. With 2 million workers out this was the largest strike since 1926, won huge popular support [61% according to a BBC poll] and was accompanied by unprecedented demonstrations nationwide, eg 20,000 in Bristol, 10,000 in Brighton, 10,000 in Dundee. In Northern Ireland there was the important development of 10,000 or so Catholic and Protestant workers uniting in Belfast. The week before there was the small matter of a general strike in Portugal.

While all this has been happening the Egyptian revolution has deepened and developed. From a struggle against Mubarak it has become a struggle against the military, the independent unions have grown and – so far- all attempts to crush the movement by force have been heroically repelled.

The explanation for this global tidal wave of revolt is essentially very simple. The international capitalist system is in profound crisis and the 1%, the ruling class, everywhere is trying to make the rest of us pay for it and in place after place people are fighting back. From Tahrir to Oakland we are feeding on the inspiration of each other’s resistance. Confidence is rising and for the first time in a generation revolution is back on the agenda.

For us in Ireland this raises a question. We have been hit harder than most by the crisis and attacks of the 1%, so why has there not so far been mass revolt? In February we saw an expression of mass discontent at the ballot box with the election of 5 United Left Alliance TDs but there have not yet been masses on the streets. The answer seems to lie in the interaction of three factors- the legacy of the Celtic tiger, the years of trade union/government social partnership and the shameful refusal of the union leaders to initiate resistance – which together have led to a certain mood of bitter resignation.

But here we need to remember that in any wave of struggle, 1848, 1968 or 2011, there are always places or times when little seems to be happening – not just Ireland but Sweden and Russia for example (though there is unrest growing in China) – and this can easily change.[Since this was written, as if to prove the point, mass protests against Putin have erupted from Moscow to Vladivostok} ‘Nobody expected,’ Tunisia or Egypt or Spain or Occupy Wall St. And resignation is not agreement, it suddenly turn into its opposite when an unforeseen spark gives people the confidence that what they do will make a difference.

One thing is certain the year and years to come will see many such sparks. The economic crisis of capitalism, merging with the crisis of climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis of the whole of humanity. So the great slogan of Tahrir Square ‘Revolution until Victory!’ has the potential and need to become a slogan for us all.

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Most of Molly's "action" is now over at her Facebook site. Over there there is an interesting "debate" if you can call it such. The substance concerens the "torching" of a cop car by supposed anarchists at a recent demonstration about the rigged Russian election. Anarchists certainly took part in the demonstration against the rigged elections. What I await confirmation of, given the police set-up that led to the torching of three police cars in Toronto, is verification from the REAL anarchist organizations in Russia. We'll see. If it is true it is an act of stupidity. If not true it is one more example of how low the Russian government can sink.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011



One thing I am certain of about the Occupy Movement (much more certain than how it will all end up) is that it has finally leapfrogged over the leftist concerns of the last few decades and their petty territorial politics. Those who are not leftists will be puzzled by this formulation. Others who are comfortable in leftist ghettos will be offended. Many of us who identify with a "left tradition"will be more than happy that someone has broken the silence.

What do I mean by the puzzling formulation above ? I mean that the "left" in the past few decades has surrendered any hope of reaching the majority and has become quite comfortable with drawing academic income (or worse quango income). For its personal comfort it has abandoned any idea of large scale social change and has become satisfied with the- let's call them for what they are- "opportunities for corruption". All that is required is to continue to pump out the same old propaganda about the "unique oppression" of social group a to m.

Yeah it makes money for some, but that's all it does. Suddenly there comes a political movement out of nowhere that deliberately tries to address the vast majority of the population and their concerns. WOW; it's like being transported 70 years into the past.

Will it last ? Your guess is as good as mine. The Occupy Movement walks a tightrope between the hell of political co-option and the opposite hell of ineffective militancy. It's a golden mean. Wish them luck.

Monday, December 05, 2011



Oh my, is this "news" ? During good times the rich pull ahead as they manage to grab the fruits of expansion. In bad times guess what ? They keep pulling ahead. Good or bad they will get their paws into the till. Here's an interesting item about the widening of inequality here in Canada.

Canada’s wage gap at record high: OECD
tavia grant
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Dec. 05, 2011 5:00AM EST
Last updated Monday, Dec. 05, 2011 7:56AM EST
The gap between Canada’s rich and poor is growing amid shifts in the job market and tax cuts for the wealthy, according to a study that shows income inequality at a record high among industrialized nations.

A sweeping OECD analysis to be released Monday shows the income gap in Canada is well above the 34-country average, though still not as extreme as in the United States.

Income inequality is a hot topic these days, as mirrored by the Occupy movement’s concerns over the growing gap between the rich and the rest. Protesters aren’t the only ones preoccupied with the disparity; prominent figures from Warren Buffett to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz have also fretted over the growing gap, exacerbated by the recession and weak recovery.

“Income inequality increased during both recessionary and boom periods, and it has increased despite employment growth,” said Stefano Scarpetto, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s deputy director of employment, labour and social affairs, during a presentation of the report.

A growing wage gap carries significant economic consequences. Countries with greater income inequality tend to see shorter, less sustained periods of economic growth, an IMF paper this fall concluded.

“Greater inequality raises economic, political and ethical challenges as it risks leaving a growing number of people behind in an ever-changing economy,” the OECD paper said.

Its 400-page analysis, entitled Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, a follow-up study to one released in 2008, delves into reasons behind the growing gap.

Canada in particular has seen a widening chasm since the mid-1990s. OECD research shows the average income of the top 10 per cent of Canadians in 2008 was $103,500 – 10 times than that of the bottom 10 per cent, who had an average income of $10,260, an increase from a ratio of 8 to 1 in the early 1990s.

The richest 1 per cent of Canadians saw their share of total income rise to 13.3 per cent in 2007 from 8.1 per cent in 1980.

Moreover, the richest of the rich – the top 0.1 per cent – saw their share more than double, to 5.3 per cent from 2 per cent. At the same time, the top federal marginal income tax rates tumbled – to 29 per cent in 2010 from 43 per cent in 1981.

Two factors explain Canada’s growing gap: a widening disparity in labour earnings between high- and low-paid workers, and less redistribution.

“Taxes and benefits reduce inequality less in Canada than in most OECD countries,” the study said.

Shifts in the labour market are a key reason why the gap is widening, Mr. Scarpetto said. The prevalence of part-time and temporary contract work is eroding wages. Technological progress has been more beneficial to high-skilled workers, while the gap in men’s earnings in particular is growing ever wider.

The gap in hours worked is growing too, as in other OECD nations. Since the mid-1980s, annual hours of low-wage workers in Canada have fallen to 1,100 hours from 1,300 hours, while those of higher-wage workers fell by less, to 2,100 from 2,200 hours.

Rising self-employment also played a role, as the self-employed typically earn less than other full-time workers. This explains more than one-quarter of the increase, the report said.

Taxation is another factor. Before the mid-1990s, Canada’s tax-benefit system was as effective as those of the Nordic countries in stabilizing equality, offsetting more than 70 per cent of the rise of market-income inequality, the report said. The redistributive effect has declined since then, so that taxes and benefits now offset less than 40 per cent of the rise in inequality.

The OECD report isn’t the only analysis of Canada’s growing income gap. A September study by the Conference Board of Canada found income inequality has been rising more rapidly in Canada than in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Its analysis of 18 countries found that Canada had the fourth-largest increase in inequality between the mid-1990s and late 2000s.

There are social implications too, with more academic research linking income inequality with poor health outcomes. Last month, a study by Montreal’s public health agency found an 11-year difference in life expectancy between men who live in its poorest neighbourhood and those its richest.

The OECD report makes a slew of suggestions on how to narrow the gap. Taxing the rich more is one, along with closing loopholes and ensuring compliance with tax rules.

More importantly, the report said labour market outcomes could be improved by investing more in people – through education, skills training and job retraining programs. “More and better jobs, enabling people to escape poverty and offering real career prospects, is the most important challenge.”

Saturday, December 03, 2011



Thursday, December 8, 2011
5:00pm until 8:00pm
James W. Burns Executive Education Centre , 177 Lombard Ave (2nd floor), Winnipeg, Manitoba
Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
What Does “Occupy” Mean to Business and How Should Businesses Respond?
The I.H. Asper School of Business is pleased to invite you to two interactive public forums on Economic Inequality and Business. In the backdrop of public debate on economic inequality, these forums will discuss the relationship between Businesses and Societal Inequality.The public forum will feature a panel of experts speaking on the issue, followed by a moderated discussion with the audience.

-Art DeFehr, Founder, Palliser Furniture
- Alan Freeman, Economist
- Michael Benarroch, Dean, Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba
- Hari Bapuji, Associate Professor, Asper School of Business, Uof M
- Reg Litz, Professor, Asper School of Business, Uof M - Moderator
5:00pm - Doors open and reception begins 5:30pm
- Program Begins 7:00pm
- Program concludes and reception resumes
RSVP to Scott McCulloch at 474-6482 or Space is limited, so please RSVP early.For more information, contact:Judy WilsonDir Marketing & CommI H Asper Sch of Business Phone: (204) 474-8960

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



As the various Occupy camps fall one after another (a proof of the need for organization ?) to the various authorities it is perhaps about time to reflect on why these protests have gathered the sort of support that "the left" has failed to gather for decades. There are a lot of reasons, and I hope to comment on them in the future. For now, however, let's examine one of the key factors behind the success of the protests.

One of the key reasons behind the success of Occupy is that they have chosen a path of non-violence. This doesn't mean that they are automatically morally superior. It does, however, mean that they are rational enough to chose the most effective tactics. This really comes under the heading of good advice such as, "don't fart loudly in Church". In other words there is a time and place for everything. It should be obvious, but for some it is not.

I only feel this is noteworthy because I have seen otherwise sensible people disparage the Occupy movement because (rhetoric coming now) "it can't defend itself, as evidenced by the police crackdowns". Such a statement ignores two things. One is the obvious structure of reality that some seem to have been detached from particularly in North America. The simple FACT is that the so-called "self defense" tactics as advocated by that defend the actions of something like the Black Block have failed every single time over and over and over. Not once, not twice, not even 50 times but 100% of the time every time they are tried. At its worst the police let the BB vandalize things for a short period of time for the necessary propaganda value. Then the BB disappears and lets their allies take the heat. At its "best" the BB always loses for at the end of the spectacle the police still control the streets. Proving that you're crazy and you want to lose endless fights is not "self-defense". Some have defined this sort of behavior as a characteristic of insanity.

This disparagement of the Occupy movement is written from an emotional viewpoint, and the best that I can do is advise holders of such opinions to go outside their social circles and see with their own eyes how the vast majority looks on those who appear to be innocent victims of police violence as opposed to gangs fighting the cops and always losing. To their credit the majority of people involved in Occupy recognize that they are doing politics and not psychotherapy. Some may be under delusions about how nasty the police can be. Others may have "moral arguments" for their non-violence, but I really think that at least a large minority and possibly a majority recognize that the picture of police attacking non-violent people is "the shortest way to the goal of gathering public sympathy".



The following item on the international finamcial crisis is from the Anarkismo website.

Europe & the Bankers
The limits of democracy in Project Europe

When the Arab peoples began to agitate at the start of the year, European countries quickly began to distance themselves from the dictators they had been nursing for some time, in order to seize the flags of change that the people were demanding in the streets. By doing theis, they sought to calm the clamour for social and economic demands and substitute them with cosmetic democratic reforms, as if the struggles of these peoples had not been about the right to bread but the right for access to the polls. There were some who accused the Europeans and their big brothers in Washington of hypocrisy: while the were "horrified" at the repression in Syria, they supported it openly in Bahrain and Yemen; while they waved the bugbear of radical Islamism in Yemen, they openly supported a regime of jihadists that was seeking to impose sharia law in Libya; while they were demanding the resignation of Assad, they closed one eye to the medieval monarchies of the Emirates, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. It is absolutely no surprise, since the imperialists (and the USA and EU are imperialists in the classical sense of the term) never act unless it is for a goal that fits in with their own material and geopolitical interests. Hypocrites they may be, but their hypocrisy is fairly predictable.

Others also denounce hypocrisy on the part of the Europeans when they talk about "democracy", seizing this concept too and deforming it at will, when what they were doing was carefully channelling the process of change in the Arab countries in a typically Leopard-esque way ("change everything in order to change nothing"), so that there would be no more open dictatorships but monitored "democracies", with the army as the final custodian of the imperial interests. After all, the only freedom they know how to defend is the freedom of the market [1].

But there were also others again who corrected us saying that the European countries were not hypocrites, but merely contradictory: i.e., that it wasn't that they were not "democratic" in themselves, it was that they had one policy at home and another abroad. Foreign policy was naturally determined by their venal interests, whereas domestic policy was supposedly based on well-rooted democratic values.

It just needed the entrance onto the scene through the Puerta del Sol of the "indignados" in all their glory and majesty for this myth of a democratic Europe to explode. Western democracy, as some call it, works as long as no-one protests. As Chomsky has so dramatically demonstrated, in advanced capitalist societies the real mechanism of control is not so much the police baton as the creation of forced consensus by means of a stifling form of propaganda. Once the people decide to move outside the tight limits on democratic liberties by this small elite that governs, European democracy shows its teeth and imprisons, beats (no-one dares say torture, but it is also this) and even kills. It happened in Genoa ten years ago and it has happened several times in Greece, but the memories of European citizens are fragile things...
The Bankers Coup in Greece
Last week we witnessed a real coup d'état in Greece. When the "social democrat" George Papandreou took the crazy initiative of calling a referendum to decide whether Greece would continue to remain as part of the Euro zone, he was immediately pressurized into quitting. The pressure, naturally, did not come from the Greek people but from the mandarins of the European Union. Why is the EU against a referendum? What can be more democratic than a referendum, where the people get to have a direct say on policies that directly concern both them and the next three generations at least?

The EU's opinion on referendums is all too well known to anyone living in Ireland, where people twice voted against European Treaties (Nice in 2002 and Lisbon in 2008) and on each occasion were forced by Brussels to vote again after being threatened (and not in too roundabout terms) with all sorts of dire consequences ranging from expulsion from the EU to expulsion from the Eurovision Song Contest.

In Greece, they knew that they would have lost the referendum and so it was aborted in the most anti-democratic of ways, showing how they can force an entire people into remaining part of a commercial zone that is bleeding them to death with illegitimate, extortionate debt. They got rid of the social democratic Papandreou and substituted him, without any election, with a certain Lucas Papademos, ex-governor of the Bank of Greece until 2002, then vice-president of the European Central Bank and finally economic adviser to Papandreou. This is the man who was responsible for the transition from the drachma to the euro, who had a leading role in the irresponsible loans to Greek banks and, lastly, who personally promoted the failed economic policies of a government that brought an entire country to ruins. In other words, we are talking about the persons who alone is more responsible than any other for the mess that the Greeks find themselves in today. But the bankers have spoken: they will not accept any hint of "populism" (the word that is used when "democracy" gets results that Capital does not want) and the hard times that are in it demand a strong hand both to control finances and to control the streets, a stong hand for the poor, but a generous hand for the poor speculators... the bankers in power!
Technocrats and liars in power
In the meantime, the Italians have a good many reasons to celebrate the downfall of the pathetic, decadent Berlusconi, who transformed his premiership into nothing short of a reality show, with a little extra spice from sexy showgirls, sex with underage girls and "bunga bunga" parties, all serving to cloak his links with the mafia and the rampant corruption throughout the country. But they have less reason to celebrate their new premier, Mario Monti. His history is similar to Papademos': he was a European Commissioner, an adviser both to Goldman Sachs, speculators extraordinaire, and to the infamous multinational Coca Cola, and he is close to the current president of the ECB, Mario Draghi. We can only guess whose interests he will be serving, albeit perhaps more efficiently than the corrupt clown who has just left office.

In Ireland too the government fell at the end of last year, and in the improvised elections that were held in February, an apparently schizophrenic coalition was elected: Labour (who in Ireland are to the right of Tony Blair) and Fine Gael, a firmly right-wing nationalist party who once even flirted with Nazism, even to the extent of sending men to fight for Franco. They reached office by promising all the usual lovely things that are promised during election campaigns. They promised that they would review the outgoing government's accords with the ECB and renegotiate the rescue plan; they also swore they would not shift the load of the debt onto the shoulders of the poorer parts of society. And in fact, they also lied, as is usual during election campaigns. Not only have they worsened the terms of the rescue package agreed by the previous corrupt government, they have announced further cuts in the next Budget which will hit the poor, social spending and the workers, while the bankers who created the mess continue to receive their millionaire bonuses because - according to Labour - those bonuses were agreed before the crisis started!

These governments will guarantee that this illegitimate debt will continue to be paid, that they will get every last cent out of us before these countries declare themselves bankrupt. There is no other logic to these Structural Adjustment Programmes and cuts in social spending that are strangling internal markets and de-stimulating spending. It's a case of getting everything you can now before the house burns down.
Governments are falling... but where's the alternative?
The tragedy in Europe is that governments are falling but there is no way out of the crisis being indicated by the mobilized people, partly because the popular movement itself is in crisis after decades of social pacts, immobilism and pacification and due to a quite thorough ideological penetration of the bankers' fallacies in every layer of society. There are the struggles in Greece, but so far they haven't proved enough. There are the "indignados" in Spain, but the working class there has only just started to wake up. In Italy and Ireland, protests are practically nonexistent. In Ireland, any mass mobilization is limited to the weekends (so as not to "damage" the economy), and as far away as possible from government buildings, where bankers are reminded of their social responsibility. As soon as the mass mobilizations that challenge the regime begin, what will happen in this (social) democratic Europe, so proud of its civil liberties? We've already had some idea with the experience of the Basques and Northern Ireland, which demonstrate that when democracy doesn't work, they resort to a state of emergency, something which is as much a part of capitalist democracy as the illusion of elections. Don't forget that in March 2009, at the time of what proved to be a flop of a general strike in Ireland, Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, asked the government to militarize the country's airports in order to prevent any union action.

There has not been even the slightest hint of a revolution in Greece and already they've carried out a coup d'état - not a military one, true enough, but a coup nonetheless with a force that is greater than that of arms: the force of the euro. This should be proof enough for all those who still believe in the mantra of liberal values rooted in European society that these things can happen here, too. In the final analysis, capitalism is based on brute force and its exercises in democracy are merely formal, cosmetic. The "indignados" in their camps around Europe are right to demand real democracy, when everyone can see that the decisions that concern all of us are taken in Brussels and by the ECB.

We should of course never forget that there can be no democracy in politics unless there is democracy in economics. As long as the economy (i.e., the organization of the means to guarantee the people's subsistence) is in the hands of a minority, it will be at the service of a minority. And this minority will have power over the others, without having to worry whether it governs by means of referendums or technocrats. This is the basic limit of democracy, sacrosanct private property and this should be the first element that any truly alternative project must challenge if it is to overcome the crisis.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

15 November 2011

Article written for Translated by FdCA-International relations office.

[1] On monitored democracies that are being set up under the patronage of the EU and the USA in countries which have deposed their dictators, see the articles I wrote some months ago: and

Sunday, November 27, 2011



The following is a document sign by a number of libertarian socialist organizations reiterating their support for the People's Struggle in Egypt. The following is from the Anarkismo website.

International Libertarian Statement of Solidarity with the Egyptian popular Struggle

On the weekend 19-20th a new wave of mass protest all over Egypt broke out because of the systematic violence of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) against the Egyptian masses. People are tired of its dictatorial behaviour, the use of extreme force against protesters, the military trials that in 10 months have ended up with 12,000 comrades rotting in jail, their censorship, the torture, kidnappings and selective murder of activists. People are tired of the military council hijacking the banners of our revolution to continue the same old dictatorship through other means. People are tired of the sectarianism they promote to divert us from our real fight for justice, equality and freedom.

Imperialism has dictated an "orderly transition" to democracy in Egypt. The military have shown themselves obedient in implementing this design. The people in Egypt demand an end to dictatorship and the uprooting of all the remnants of the hated Mubarak regime. People in Egypt want to feel, at last, that they have a country run by themselves for themselves.

The anarchists in Egypt, and the international solidarity movement with the libertarian revolutionaries, wholeheartedly support the just struggle of the Egyptian people to continue their revolution and deplore the massacre of protesters that shows that the SCAF is no different to Mubarak.

Unlike other sectors that hold illusions about bourgeois democracy, we believe that democracy and the State are irreconcilable. Real democracy was put into practice by the Egyptian people when they formed their popular committees and ran their own communities, their own towns, their own affairs from the bottom up. We call to strengthen these popular committees, we call to decentralise the country, to make every single political position recallable by the committees if they fail the popular mandate.

We also believe that the yearning for democracy is incompatible with the capitalist system, based on the elite control of the economy and the means of life, which condemn 25,000 human beings each day in the world to die of hunger. Real democracy is only possible when all of society democratically runs the economy and the industry of a nation. This requires collective ownership of land and companies and self-management by the workers and peasants themselves. If the few control the wealth of the world, the few will keep having power over the majority. The free market is a more subtle form of dictatorship.

Therefore, we call for the trade unions and the workers to take a leading role in the current struggle, to occupy their workplaces, to turn them into workers' cooperatives and to prepare for the full self-management of the Egyptian economy.

The crisis of Egypt will not be solved with half-hearted solutions. We need the commitment of the youth, of the women, of the working class in order to uproot the sources of tyranny and violence in our country - the capitalist system and the State. Let us all unite under the banner of the struggle against military rule, but let us defend a revolutionary, libertarian option for the Egyptian masses.

25 November 2011

Libertarian Socialist Movement (Egypt)
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy)
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (Switzerland)
Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (South Africa)
Workers Solidarity Alliance (USA)
Confederación Sindical Solidaridad Obrera (Spain)
Grupo Libertario Vía Libre (Colombia)
Centro de Investigación Libertaria y Educación Popular (Colombia)
Instituto de Ciencias Económicas y de la Autogestión (Spain)
Federación Comunista Libertaria (Chile)
Revista Política y Sociedad (Chile)
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (Australia
Common Struggle - Libertarian Communist Federation (USA)
Unión Socialista Libertaria (Peru)

Related Link:

Saturday, November 26, 2011



I have recently finished 'The Collected Fairy Tales Of Hans Christian Anderson, and am about 80% through 'The Collected Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm'. Lots of things could be said about these collections. The most obvious one is the bourgeois pietism of Anderson which creates a much"grimmer" picture than the bucolic peasants of the Grimm tales.

One little example, however stands out to me. I am reading direct translations from the Danish and German, and guess what ? The phrase "and they lived happily ever after never appears. I suspect it was a Victorian invention to sanitize death out of the originals. Here's a few examples of how the Grimm tales end:

1)"During the rest of their lives the farmer and his wife were tormented by a guilty conscience and spent their days in poverty and misery. (The Poor Boy In The Grave)

2)"The king drowned, but Hans married his daughter and became the king" (The Griffin)

3)"And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day; otherwise it would have eaten away part of his face. Thus the son wandered about the world without a moment of rest" (The Ungrateful Son)

The book purlates with such endings, some grimmer than others. About the closest one gets to the traditional fairy tale ending that we grew up with would be statements like, "...and so they lived happily until they died". I'm not a literary historian by any means, and so I am left to wonder when and why the classic fairy tales were bowdlerized.

Thursday, November 24, 2011




It was today in 1859 that Charles Darwin published 'The Origin Of Species'. It can be argued that this has been the most influential book of the modern age. Today pretty well anybody involved in the sciences is a "Darwinist". This doesn't just apply to the obvious disciples such as biology, anthropology or archeology. Evolutionary thought is now a paradigm in fields as far apart as cosmology, geology and even chemistry.

Those who refuse evolutionary thought are a tiny minority, at least outside of the USA. On the left there are a tiny number of academics who deny that evolution has anything to do with humans. On the right the USA is the only country in the world where large numbers of people oppose the idea of evolution for religious reasons. In a strange twist of "survival of the fittest" America still has to come to terms with its high class university system bleeding India, Russia, China, Japan and Korea for talent while at the same time religious obscurantism helps to keep the public school system in the USA as substandard.

Thursday, November 17, 2011



Here's an interesting item from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) about a lawsuit initiated 28 years ago demanding equal pay for equal work at Canada Post. I heard about this decision while driving about the city for work today. The internet and print reports add little to the initial report. Basically a 28 year lawsuit was recently settled over different wages paid to women as opposed to men decades ago. Well thanks guys ! There is a lot to be said both pro and con about this decision, but let us assume a sympathy for workers' position. All that Molly can ask is whether this matter would have taken 28 years to resolve if the workers in question had applied direct action ways of pressuring the government ie direct action? It's a thought to think. Here's the bare bones from the Cape Breton Post.


The Supreme Court has handed the Public Service Alliance of Canada a victory in a marathon dispute over pay equity with Canada Post.
Topics :
Canada Post , Supreme Court , Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
In a rare ruling from the bench Thursday, the justices unanimously found for the union in a case that began a generation ago.

PSAC claimed in August 1983 that women were being discriminated against under the Canadian Human Rights Act because they made less than men in comparable Canada Post jobs.
After more than a decade of hearings, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2005 that the crown corporation had violated the act and awarded back pay and interest of about $150 million.

But the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the tribunal’s decision, saying the finding of discrimination was not supported.

The justices said reasons for their decision will be available later.

Thursday, November 03, 2011



As I've mentioned before, both here and on my Facebook page, the very fact that the movement has refused to set up a list of demands to the power elite is a source of strength not weakness. What the Occupy movement is is a widely based challenge to the very power of that elite to direct society. It is not a delegation ,cap in hand, for whatever meagre reforms the elite my offer. The very lack of clarity that the movement is accused of is actually a formidable strength.

A consequence of this refusal to limit the movement's meaning to a shopping list is the amazing fact that the Occupy movement has touched the "Populist Chord" that the traditional left has been unable to play upon for decades. Looking at the participants one sees a broad cross section of society, and the "99%" slogan has caught on with a population not yet ready to camp out themselves. I have noticed a truly remarkable absence of the usual lefty private language and even the fractious "anti-isms" that doom most leftist movement. Those who have taken up this struggle obviously understand the value of unity, and they act accordingly. This has hardly been the case amongst the left of the last few decades, and it is a welcome breath of fresh air.

This lack of particular demands is actually quite unifying. The Occupy movement doesn't just demand a larger slice of the pie for groups a, b, and c. It says there is a whole different and better way to cook pies.

Friday, October 28, 2011



The first part of this series was published over at my Facebook page a little while ago. Yet a movement such as the 'Occupy' protests deserves far more than one comment. There is little doubt that this has become the most extensive political movement of the last century even if the number of participants says that it is not as intensive as many others. Yet, without plan, direction or control a worldwide movement has arisen that directly challenges class society worldwide. While anarchists, especially in Spain, have been at the forefront of this movement and while anarchist methods of organizing have become the accepted standard of the protesters it would be utterly false to say that this is solely an "anarchist movement". The central themes of the movement have been those that anarchism shares with a broad left consensus. The only "point of pride" is that anarchists have shown the way to a much broader constituency that actually extends far beyond the traditional left. This is "propaganda of the deed" at its best, without self-destructive violent acts, without the illusion of provoking an immediate uprising and without the arrogant supposition that the so-called "revolutionary vanguard" (cough, cough) are the posessors of all truth. In other words the Occupy movement is amazingly morally clean for a protest movement.

But one thing I would like to point out now is how what seems to external observers as a fault is actually a virtue. I am hardly the first to point this out, and I would like to refer the reader to the Bureau of Public Secrets website for a much more thorough discussion. What I refer to is a very frequent so-called "criticism" of the Occupy movement as to its lack of "specific demands" and it seeming to be a collection point for a wide spectrum of grievances. All that I can say to this criticism is that it is "true" but it misses the point entirely. The Occupy movement has arisen as a broad protest against the inequalities and injustices of our present class societies. OF COURSE every interest group and demand will attach themselves to such a broad based movement. Perhaps even some of their activists will recognize the fact that their grievances cannot generally be solved under the present socioeconomic system.

Thus they attach themselves to a movement that (metaphorically) goes for the jugular because of the insufficiencies of their single interest group/issue groups. Make no mistake about it, the Occupy movement has "gone for the jugular". What it presents in a world diluted manner is the challenge to the representative "democracy" that revolutionary movements have laid out for almost 150 years (since the Paris Commune) ie the challenge of "direct democracy". This goes far beyond any simple reforms. It is not the question of whether the billionaires will pay their fair share of taxes. It is a question of how ordinary citizens can have enough influence to prevent any such perversions of law occuring.

The Occupy movement merely seems incoherant because its goals are far removed from what is usually considered "politics" in our societies. Its basic message is not this or that reform but rather a totally new way of "doing politics". The Movement Is The Message.

Thursday, October 20, 2011



The following appeal is from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).


Stop the Sell Off of Toronto Community Housing!‏

Statement from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

In a move that falls in line with the plans of Rob Ford, Toronto CommunityHousing is looking to sell off close to 1000 homes. The money raised in the sale would, we are told, go to meet the $600 million repair bill that years of neglect have created in public housing owned and operated by the City of Toronto. The sell off will involve ‘stand alone’ homes throughout the City.

Tens of thousands of desperate people sit on the 10 years’ long waiting list for rent geared to income housing in this City and the housing authority is now looking to sell off a major portion of this precious resource. Displaced tenants will have to be moved into units presently standing idle, that will be renovated with the money from the sale. This will mean that few people on the waiting list will get housed while the stock of public housing is reduced massively.

As bad as this move is, for Rob Ford and his allies, this is only a first move. They will carry on until public housing is entirely privatized.

This attack is a major part of an austerity agenda to destroy public services in Toronto and it has to be fought. TCH tenants and their allies must mobilize to stop the sale and defend their homes.

On Friday, October 21, from 9.00 AM to 2.00 PM, the TCH Board is meeting at their main offices at 931 Yonge Street. A call has been issued for people to make deputations to the Board by Tenants for Social Housing which we are including with this statement. However, it is beyond doubt that the fight will continue beyond this Friday and a serious and determined struggle on this vital issue will have to be taken up.

Join Toronto Stop the Cuts Network in the fight-back against city cuts!

Join a neighborhood committee or start a new one!


Join with the Tenants for Social Housing - We Are Not for Sale Mobilization:

Stop the Sell Off of Social Housing - We are Not for Sale!

Toronto Community Housing Corporation Board Meeting

THIS Friday October 21, 9 am to 2 pm 931 Yonge Street

TCHC will be recommending the sale of your home and over 1,000 more at a Board meeting on Friday, October 21. We still have a chance to stop the sale of our homes and the dismantling of our communities!

• Register to make a deputation at the Board meeting by or call 416-981-4232 before October 21,2011.

• Send TCHC CEO Len Koroneos an email at today and let him know that you do not support the sale of our homes! Join tenants at the Board meeting and let TCHC know that We’re Not For Sale!

Sunday, September 18, 2011



It's been many many years since I left my old home town. 48 if I count right. I left it at precisely the right time, when I was turning 13. Enough of "being one with nature". Time to get into some serious trouble. Which, of course, I found in the (cough) "beautiful" city of Regina. My purpose in what I write below is to show a life that was as "stateless" as possible, under harsh climatic conditions. A life that was endured and sometimes enjoyed by a diverse mixture of ethnic groups and not just some favoured "oppressed" group. Perhaps the town of my childhood memories doesn't deserve recording. Except for one salient feature. It was a town in an area that never had a functioning and overbearing government. Now it is true that most natives in this part of the world grew up under exactly the same conditions with the difference that they saw more of the cops than we did. They also suffered a lot more from the (triple cough) helping arm of the churches, something that simply couldn't happen in a town where there were 3 distinct churches and education was public and non-demoninational.

So let's start with the obvious ie the police. We saw the RCMP a grand total of one time in the 13 years I lived in said town. Did this mean that we were a community of saints. Obviously not. There was the usual vandalism and petty theft which the community found it could deal with far better on its own than by calling for the 'tender actions' of government. Not that the retaliation wasn't sometimes overdone, but short of cutting off fingers or toes any physical pain is preferable to being cast as raw material for socia1l workers to "reform". The one occasion where the state/government proved itself useful was when one farmer went nuts and killed his wife. He came down to the general store to surrender, and he sat there for the required hours until the RCMP felt it was convenient to pick him up.

I mention this just because it is the most obvious "state function" that comes to people's minds, right up there with firefighters and above education and health care. The point that I want to make is that many of the functions that government now performs were or are provided by other means in the not-so-distant past, Or a little bit beyond the city limits in most provinces where rural firefighting is on a volunteer basis. Many other things such as education or health care could easily be provided via cooperatives rather than government. Sometimes a person may recognize all of this but still draw the line at police and the "justice" system. It seems almost unbelievable that people could do without what radicals call "the oppressive arm of the state". It is, however, true that the vast majority of people in history have lived without police (unless you count the agents of the landlord coming to steal things), and there are those such as myself who grew up in such conditions ie it is a living memory.

This doesn't mean that I think some almost mythical revolution could abolish the need for police, courts and prisons overnight. If I were having coffee with a cop I would admit that people like him or her are needed in the near future. Yet I would also say that it is indeed possible to do without police. More than possible. It is a fact that I can remember in my own life. Yet a change in the way people in a neighbourhood act towards each other is a much more effective remedy for crime than more police even today. What anarchists, at least those in the broad majority tradition of anarchism is not a society without demands and rules. It is a society without a specialized caste who enforce such rules or in the case of our present society also enforce the rules of the more wealthy.

What anarchists propose is perhaps summed up by a very clumsy neologism ie the "smalltownization" of a society that presently lives mostly in cities. This is not some marijuana addled vision from the 60s and 70s where everyone has to "go back to the land" and "pretend" to be indpendent of the wider society. What it means is that urban neighbourhoods could grow to have many of the virtues of a small town (such as its ability to live without police) without some of the vices.

Not that my home town was any anarchist utopia by far. We were connected into the wider society by such things as electricity from Sask Power. The electrical grid came in on the same year as I was born. Before that the town had its own generator like most northern communities have even today. This was also the same year, ironically enough, that they took passenger service on the railway away from the town. I see no reason, however, why a crown corporation such as Sask Power couldn't be run as a cooperative. Many advantages actually. Similarily the Province paid teachers' salaries, something that was different from my father's time when teachers were paid by the local community. Another example of memory of a different life. We actually had a Provincial highway a couple of miles from town, but the road to town was maintained (or not) by the RM as were the dirt trails that led out to various farms.

Then, most importantly, we were connected to the wider society and hence to the state by the fact that our rural economy was built on the availability of gasoline (and also oil for the privileged few who didn't have to depend on wood in the winter). Can the universal availability of hyrdocarbon products be provided outside of the state or big business ? The answer is obviously yes as Co-op service stations are a constant feature of most of the western provinces of Canada. If it is done it is possible.

I have to admit that what I have said may seem like something conservative rather than radical, but I have to say that most "conservatives" are actually quite "progressive" in their desire to clear away all obstacles to the increase in power and wealth of the people they imagine are the "wealth creators". My vision is frankly reactionary in the desire to turn back the clock (or ahead if you like) to a different sort of politics and economy. I stand in the anarchist tradition of such people as Paul Goodman in his book 'Notes Of A Neolithic Conservative'.

More on this topic later.