This is a write up of the talk I gave at the 2016 London Anarchist bookfair. I covered most of what I planned in my notes although some of it was summarised more than indicated here. It covers the basic myths and realities of the period and concentrates on non-Anarchist sources – academics and Leninists themselves. This is not because the anarchist critique is lacking, no far from it. It is done to show that the anarchist critique has the support of a substantial body of evidence. As indicated in the talk, all quotes are from section H of An Anarchist FAQ.
As they have driven ISIS back in northern Syria / Rojava the Kurdish YPG and their allies in the SDF have won increasing visibility in western media. While such reports often mention the key role in this fight played by women in the YPJ, there is otherwise little examination of the revolution happening behind the front lines in Rojava. That revolution is why they stood and fought ISIS rather than fleeing. This can be true of a lot of alternative media coverage. In part this is due to the limited amount of information on what this revolution involves. but it’s also in part because photographs of women with guns are judged to be more striking than women workers in a co-operative bakery or a community assembly.
We’ve tried to address this imbalance somewhat, both in our coverage and through bringing a number of Kurdish and other speakers over to talk at the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. They spoke about what is happening behind the front lines. What is it that is being constructed that so many have judged is worth going to the front lines to defend against ISIS? Our speakers this year included Erjan Ayboga author of ‘Revolution in Rojava’ and US academic Janet Biehl who has visited the region twice since the revolution to investigate what is happening on the ground.
Why can’t the 99% simply vote in a government that acts in their interest and not that of the 1%
At a simple level parliamentary elections sound like the ideal way for the mass of the ‘have nots’ to use their numbers to overcome the power and influences of the tiny number of have’s. Occupy talked about this division in the language of the 1% and 99%; a crude approximation that does reflect a reality where the number of wealthy decision makers is actually very tiny, indeed less than 1%. So, why can’t the 99% simply vote in a government that acts in their interest and not that of the 1%? [Listen to this article]
One of the more bizarre developments of the last year has been Russell Brand or, more correctly, the response that he has provoked across the political spectrum. Watching commentator after commentator froth at the mouth and seeing Cameron proclaim in the middle of an election campaign that a comedian was a “joke” was, to say the least, strange. It reached a (to use a word Brand would surely approve of) climax when it was proclaimed by the right that Ed Miliband was “getting into bed” with Brand – by having an interview with him. Seriously?
Sometimes the old ones are the gold ones. The attempt by the Irish state to damage the electoral chances of the Anti Austerity Alliance by hitting them where it matters - in the pocket - reminds us of how shallow parliamentary democracy is. The Anti Austerity Alliance is the political front the Socialist Party runs under but for the next elections its unified with the SWPs People Before Profit as the rather lengthy AAA - PbP.
It's broadly understood that cash determines who wins an election more than any other factor. Indeed with the US presidential election, for almost a century, the winner has always been the candidate who had the most money behind them. So in terms of influencing the outcome of an election denying a party the right to fundraise is probably the single most effective tactic short of banning them outright.
17th May and ISIS capture Ramadi and with it another huge stock of modern US weaponry. Something like 6000 US trained Iraqi soldiers have fled the city without putting up much of a fight. From all accounts the ISIS force was considerable smaller and reliant on a waves of suicide car bombs for its final attack. It’s not hard to see why ISIS had been successful in establishing the idea that it was indeed an unstoppable force carrying out gods will.
But on the same day to the north west ISIS suffer yet another major defeat at the hands of the YPG and YPJ in Rojava. The YPG/J unlike the Iraqi army is a force almost starved of heavy modern weaponry. Photos have circulated online of self constructed armoured vehicles, often tractors with steel boxes bolted on, that for all intents and purposes are identical to the home made anarchist armour of the 1930s Spanish revolution. And no match at all for the captured US armour ISIS have.
Austerity was never going to be defeated by the vote. We don't live in an economic democracy, we live in an economic dictatorship where only those with vast wealth determine its course. Parliament provides a useful illusion, one that limits our dreams and stops us acting to make them a reality. The real defeat in Greece will not be the capitulation of Syriza but rather if that capitulation is broadly accepted as the end of the road of struggle.
Last night (2 July) the IMF in effect put its weight behind the Syriza government and the call for a No vote (OXI) in the referendum. An image of Chile's socialist president Allende, murdered in the 1973 US coup 'backing' the No vote captured for us both the contradictions and dangers of Sunday's vote in Greece.
It now appears that the Syriza's insistence that the severe nature of what the Trokia demanded meant that the Greek people had to directly decide through referendum on whether or not to comply has been replaced with the more standard 'We can decide for you' of electoralist politics. That is unless the letter from Tsipras offering a deal that the Financial Times has leaked is a forgery, which seems unlikely.
According to how uncritical individuals and organisations are of Syriza they are currently taking one side or another in an argument as to whether this indicates a sell out or is some new master stroke. But it reinforces our criticism of the hopes placed in electoralism and Syriza. Once more the people who elected them and those in solidarity with them across Europe are reduced to being spectators in something akin to an episode of West Wing.
The ideas of each age tend to become that of the ruling ideology and we are seeing an extraordinary example of that at the moment. As a response the ECB/IMF attack on Greek democracy an online fund it campaign has been set up to fund the 1.6 billion interest owed and so far 1,863 people have contributed.
The first problem is the obvious practical one that the 1.6 billion if raised only represents the latest interest instalment on an unplayable debt over 300 billion. So even if successful such a project would only kick the ball down the road for a month or two.