“Always be honest and logical with people who are honest and logical. Do not be either with a system that is neither.”Carl Cattermole: The Prison Survival Guide.
Originally published by Wessex Solidarity. Written by Mal Content.
This is written as the British government has once again changed the “rules”* for the territory of England. Scotland and Wales will continue to make their own, under the devolved administration, and of course Ireland will have two sets, causing people to scurry back and forth across the border.
* What a stupid idea; no-one ever takes pride in following rules, only in getting around them.
I’m not remotely interested in these changes, which only reflect what people were doing anyway, or what the state found it could not police, with a smattering of pointless detail on precisely under what circumstances people are “allowed” to meet others from outside their “household”* to give the impression some thought has gone into it.
* I’ll take a moment to deconstruct this bourgeois concept; it is a hateful thing and we should have no truck with it. It implies property ownership and once involved a retinue of servants, including women and children who had no agency and were subject to abuse.
The privatisation of domestic space that accompanied the separation of production from reproduction encouraged Working Class folk, contrary to their own traditions, to mimic the bourgeois household and abuse their own.
The nuclear family is simply the most efficient unit for wage labourers to reproduce at their own expense. The Working Class has always drawn its strength from the extended family, tribe or village; the atomisation of these support mechanisms has been high on the capitalist agenda since the industrial and agricultural revolutions.
Anyone who believes the policy-makers are wiser than us is irredeemably stupid and at high risk of dying from something or other at any time. For example some fuckwit has decided that public transport is safer than car-sharing! For a taste of just how dense these people are, here’s a screen shot from the government’s own website:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary: “Retail is the sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.” – Not wholesale, transport, research, manufacturing, cleaning, construction or admin. But you knew that, and so did I.
My purpose here is to examine the class dynamics that will develop in the aftermath, and how we can turn these to our advantage. Indeed, how we must if we are to avoid the bleak future the bosses have planned for us.
As stated previously the concept of “lock down” is construed entirely in bourgeois terms. Their slogan “stay at home, stay safe” is aimed at a tiny minority who are thus able to monopolise the moral high ground. If I had a pound for every middle class prick on the radio telling us “we all work from home now” whilst waiting for a Worker to deliver their groceries, I’d be able to retire. The television combines corporate team-building bullshit with adverts for technological gimmicks and online gambling.
For the precarious and heavily exploited people who keep the infrastructure running, the only noticeable effect of “lock down” has been the closure of their leisure facilities and meeting places, reduction of already sparse and overcrowded public transport, queueing at the shops, and the pressure of a potentially unsafe working environment. The bosses have tacked a ‘race to the bottom’ in health and safety on to that of wages and security.
Workers in hospitality and entertainment, bar and sex work have been subjected to a simple lock-out. The “furlough” scheme is inadequate and doesn’t apply to everyone; 80% of fuck all is fuck all.
Added to this, is the interruption of Working Class children’s education, and loss of their main/only meal of the day, yet another handicap in the lottery of life. It hasn’t occurred to the toffs that many families rely on free school meals to feed their kids, or perhaps they have reverted to the 20th century tactic of using starvation to keep the lower orders from developing.
The changes will feed a new group of workers to the virus, after healthcare, logistics and transport, now manufacturing and construction, whilst the idle rich – including the media and politicians – continue to hide themselves away. Golf and tennis are coming back, but not basketball or boxing. It’s all intended to keep the bourgeoisie firmly in the saddle. As ever, the workers suffer and scrimp to protect their masters’ wasteful and extravagant lifestyles, the bourgeoisie’s self-inflicted crisis of 2007 fell entirely on the poor whilst the rich got steadily richer without a hiccup.
The tinfoil hat merchants would have us imagine the entire situation has been manufactured to allow the imposition of totalitarianism, I won’t entertain this idea, we know our leaders are all bent, but they really aren’t that clever. Neoliberal disaster capitalism is programmed to exploit every crisis to increase the power of the ruling class – but not at the expense of everyday commerce. Even the most unscrupulous capitalists: Virgin’s Branson, Wetherspoons’ Tim Martin and B.A.’s Willy Walsh, bemoan the ineptitude of their political lackeys.
They have visibly been caught on the hop, despite having been warned by the study they commissioned in 2016 that the NHS would not be able to cope with a pandemic, they carried on squeezing it and flogging it off. They shot themselves in the foot with ‘brexit’ and presumed we would carry the can for that as well. You’ve only got to look at that idiot Boris de Pfeffle Johnson pointing at a graph on telly to conclude that he’d never set eyes on one before. Nor are we fooled by their arbitrary “steps” and “phases”. Pfeffle will be getting the sack as soon as they can find a replacement; there should also be hue and cry from our Class over the thousands of unnecessary deaths from their failure to procure adequate PPE, ventilators or testing.
Ask yourselves: how much longer will you let this gang of chancers blight your future in pursuit of their failed neoliberal project?
The money economy is going to take the biggest hit of its life. It was not fully developed during the Black Death and since the modern banking system appeared in the late mediaeval period it has always been fed and watered by the expansion of empires. War has never hurt the bourgeoisie, two World Wars and the cold one generated huge state subsidies to industry for the development of technologies they would come to own and protect with patents. Almost everything we take for granted in the modern world was invented for the military. The debt thus created and traded is underwritten by the Working Class.
This is entirely different, it’s a straight contraction of commercial activity; it has not served any of the functions of war: to destroy surplus production, to cull the working population*, no lucrative technologies have been developed and there will be no rebuilding of infrastructure. The bosses will be desperate to recoup their losses and expect us to do it for them. Capitalism will not survive unless it is carefully nurtured, unless we sacrifice to make up their profits, and why would we want to do that?
* Appalling though it is, the death toll will not have a significant effect on the labour market.
There is going to be mass unemployment, homelessness, failure of health and welfare systems, and vast numbers of empty buildings – what are we going to do about it?
If the anarchist movement has any value in the modern world we must be on hand to offer credible alternatives, bring our experience to bear and lead by example. This is the moment we have been waiting for.
We need to squat everything – including residential dwellings – in an organised systematic fashion and we will need to exercise self-discipline, not just because the virus is likely to be with us for some time. We recall the devastation wreaked on Working Class communities by thatcher. People on the street without support can rapidly lose self-respect, empathy and focus.
The spooks are most likely going to flood the country with cheap smack as they did in the 80’s, or maybe ketamine. Don’t be prison fodder; if they can’t extract your surplus-value they will lock you up and make money out of you that way.
There will be skilled trades-people standing idle who can co-operatively prepare buildings for use once the homeless have taken and secured them.
Occupy unused land and grow food on it.
Turn disused restaurants into free canteens for the Working Class.
Set up neighbourhood supply and defence committees to protect the vulnerable and resist evictions, deportations etc.
Create no-go areas for cops, bailiffs and other undesirables.
We should look into occupying manufacturing facilities with a view to making something useful (to us). The simple act of setting up a co-operative venture, learning and sharing new skills, organising the work and supply chain by consensus, prepares us to take over industry once and for all.
Some will find teaching their children at home works for them. With the range of skills and experiences available to the extended family or ‘village’ kids can learn much more than how to fit themselves to the wage system. Who knows, they might actually find things they enjoy and are good at.
Empty offices can be social centres, libraries, medical or legal drop-in points, venues for gigs, film shows, seminars, meetings, self-defence training or whatever you want.
We should have our own radio stations, they’re more fun than the internet and easier to keep a grip on.
It has been suggested there will be no live entertainment this year, well they can fucking back out with that! We may see a revival of the free party/festival scene, playing cat and mouse with the babylon. Parties could be timed to coincide with more serious expropriations. The more we stretch their resources the less they will have to evict squatters.
Those of us who find ourselves by chance still in waged labour are another front. It beggars belief after decades of austerity and precarity that most of our Class are still not unionised. If this is you, get into one fast, you can join the IWW for a pound a month unwaged, or, if appropriate, one of the more location and industry specific such as UVW, CAIWU and IWGB. It will fall to us to prevent the boss class re-asserting itself; all the old Wobbly tactics are as relevant as ever.
- Sick-in, the slightest sniffle will now give you good reason to take seven days self-certified, you’re doing society a favour!
- Good work strike, be kind to your class, turn a blind eye to shoplifting for example.
- Sabotage (need not involve physical damage), use your imagination here.
- Expropriation (theft), you need never queue for bog rolls again!
- Open mouth (whistle blowing); let’s hold the bosses fast to the rules while we break them.
- Working to rule. Health and safety legislation allows any worker to walk off the job if they believe it poses a risk to themselves, their colleagues or the public. They cannot be disciplined for this and their belief does not have to be correct, only reasonable. This is a good excuse for a sit-down strike while they sort it out.
- Shirking, skiving, go-slow; take it in turns to do fuck all for half an hour, see above.
- Dual power: organise the work to suit yourselves and by-pass the boss, it’s good training for when there isn’t one.
- Bombard management with grievances to tie them up and waste their time; I see no problem with using the law as it is the terrain on which we operate, so make yourself an expert. It’s skewed in favour of the bosses but this has led to a culture of impunity whereby most of them can’t be arsed to familiarise themselves with it, which leaves a lot of ‘low hanging fruit’. It’s akin to hitting your opponent with the door or the wall rather than bringing a cosh to the party. The only thing that matters in a fight is who’s left standing at the end of it.
You’ll find more tactical detail here:
Here’s a pamphlet on taking over the healthcare sector:
Let’s hope it’s a long, hot summer and we have some good riots.
Mal C. X
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