Last week, GAF London went out for a bit of subvertising on the Underground to expose some of the worst corporations contributing to climate breakdown and environmental destruction.
Across several Tube lines, we put up posters laying bare the devastation caused by members of the London-based International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). For more details on this, see our previous post about the ICMM and the coal industry.
If you’d like to do something similar, you can download our Tube posters below and do some adhacking of your own!
Over the course of about 3 hours, we managed to put up 60 posters, which was as many as our funds allowed. Unfortunately we live in a capitalist society where everything comes with a price tag, and while our aims are big, our pockets are small.
If you believe these kinds of projects are worthwhile and would like to help us do more of them, we would really appreciate a small financial contribution to our Open Collective account. You can also support our work by following and signal boosting us on social media, by starting your own GAF, and by talking to the people in your life about green anti-capitalism—this struggle will only be won if everybody gets involved in whatever way they are able to!
The trial of the Golden Dawn party is the longest trial in Greek history ever – after starting officially on the 20th of April 2015, the final verdict will finally come out this Wednesday, the 7th of October 2020. It is also the largest court hearing of Neo-Nazis since the Nuremberg trial as 68 people, including the organisation’s entire leadership and MPs, are facing charges of operating a criminal organisation while posing as a politicall group.
During the trial, testimonies have been heard from the families of the murdered Fussas and Luqman, the attacked Egyptian fishermen and communist trade unionists, as well as a whole host of other victims of their violence. The prosecutors systematically proved that they were a neo-nazi, highly hierarchical organisation and that their actions consisted of organised criminal activities and not isolated incidents.
The importance of this trial however goes beyond its length and the unprecedented volume of evidence material. In a country whose public institutions have a legacy of fascist sympathising dating back to the aftermath of the WWII and the Civil War, the final verdict will send a very clear message. And it is in no way self-evident what that verdict and that message will be.
We got a taster of the entrenched fascist state fighting back when at the end of last year, as lawyers prepared to make their closing arguments, the state prosecutor – an official who sits alongside the judges and recommends what course of action they take – officially suggested that Golden Dawn’s leadership should be acquitted of the most serious charges, since the violent crimes were “isolated acts for which the leadership was not responsible”.
The story of Golden Dawn is a powerful cautionary tale. It is the closest we have come to seeing fascism in its most extreme form regain a foothold in European politics in this century. Every country in Europe has groups like Golden Dawn whose hopes of breaking into the mainstream lie in economic collapse, intense social conflict and a state that doesn’t enforce the law. Golden Dawn’s power lay in the social unrest created by extreme austerity and the failure of the state, but also in the platform given to it by the media, and people’s unwillingness to face up to the problem and fight back against it
It took advantage of the anger, social erosion and poverty created by the aftermath of the debt crisis and the extreme austerity measures imposed by the IMF, Eurogroup and European Central Bank with their bailout programmes to position itself as a radical alternative to the corrupt state and mainstream political parties. It also harnessed the anti-immigration sentiment that had also begun to rise at that time by openly positioning itself against migrants and refugees.
Complicit in aiding the rise of Golden Dawn were the country’s institutions. The existence of tight links between the Greek police and Golden Dawn was an open secret, and as such police would largely turn a blind eye for them during their attacks against migrants and leftists. The mainstream media covered for them, presented them as a legitimate political party and omitted to cover most of their criminal activity. The mainstream political parties also legitimised them by accepting them as a political party.
It is most probable that the case may have never even come to court if it were it not for mass anti-fascist protests in the autumn of 2013 placing the government under public pressure. As important as this verdict is, fascism is not only beaten in court-rooms. The most important fights happen in the streets, in the schools, in the workplaces and the neighbourhoods. It has to be rooted out in the places where the conditions are created that aid in its growth and “average” people are turned into far-right extremists.
In GAF London we believe that is absolutely necessary for environmental activists to actively oppose fascism in all its forms. Not only to stop it from infiltrating our movements using the rhetoric of ecofascism, but also because in the coming years, when the effects of climate change become even more evident and the social order starts to fracture, fascism could play an important role in shaping the outcome. The same economic and social crisis that Golden Dawn took advantage of in order to raise to prominence will occur again in an even more extreme form. These could give fascist movements another opportunity to gain power by presenting themselves as the only alternative to the chaos caused by capitalism and the environmental catastrophe. And even if they never attain full control over the state apparatus, we have already seen them being used as the pawns of governments to repress emancipatory movements. Such as during the George Floyd uprising in USA, where they violently attacked BLM protesters; often in coordination with the police forces. Any environmental movement that tries to implement radical change will have to face these same threats.
Wednesday’s importance lies not only in what will take place inside the courtroom, but also outside in the antifascist demonstration. From London we stand in solidarity with all our Greek comrades and support the broad movement that has risen in Greece to fight for the conviction of Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation and the protection of their society from the insidious creep of fascism.
As our Greek comrades put it:
They are not a political organisation. They are not a social organisation. They are not innocent.
amarnaThe fight against the capitalist system and the authoritarian nation states driving the destruction of the planet must be an international one if it has any hope of succeeding. That’s why we decided to reach out to anarchists in Belarus to learn about the current wave of protests confronting the regime of Lukashenka. We did it by contacting the Anarchist Black Cross Belarus, but this interview represents the opinion of a single anarchist in Minsk and doesn’t reflects the position of any particular organisation or group.
From GAF we want to send our solidarity to everyone in Belarus fighting against state oppression. Specially to our anarchist and anti-fascists comrades, we hope all of you stay safe. We are encouraged by the acts of defiance we are seeing every day coming from Belarus and angered by the horrible violence of the state. We hope this interview spreads awareness of the situation in Belarus and inspires acts of solidarity all over the world.
What is the historical background that explains the opposition towards the current government? What circumstances precipitated the current wave of protests?
Aliaksandr Lukashenka occupies the presidential chair since 1994. In 1996 he organised a kind of coup d’etat (through a referendum with falsified results), and since then the country is a dictatorship with more and more repressive legislation and less and less space for political movement. Nevertheless, at the start of his rule, Lukashenka enjoyed some support from portions of the population. His assumption of an office coincided with relative economic stability after stark economic crisis of the early 1990s (and some people tended to falsely attribute this relative stability to Lukashenka’s rule).
Lukashenka in many ways continued to pursue the policy of his predecessor, prime minister Viachaslau Kebich (there was no presidential chair in Belarus before 1994). For instance, economic and political ties with Russia continued to be very strong. Another political bet of both Kebich and Lukashenka was to proceed with privatisation extremely slowly and cautiously. In contrast with neighbouring Russia, Poland and Lithuania, Belarus have not privatised many of its biggest industrial enterprises until now. It was made in order to reduce number of working places in industry slowly and hence to avoid social explosion. In case of fast privatisation, massive dismissals would be unavoidable. Social support for families with children continued to exist (especially with three, four and more children). Public health system is still free of charge for all Belarusian citizens (but not for citizens of other countries, even if they live in Belarus many years and pay all their taxes here).
But at the same time dismantling of social guarantees took place. For instance, in late 1990s short-term labour contracts (usually one year long) started to be introduced universally instead of previous system of contracts not limited in time. At the end of a contract year, an employer can dismiss an employee without a need to provide any justification. This measure was highly unpopular. But the regime managed to keep salaries rising, and the working population slowly accepted the new system. The short-term contracts are widely used not only to dismiss labour activist (e. g. unionists), but political activists (e. g. activist of political parties or social movements) as well.
There are almost no social guarantees for jobless people. Unemployment payments are as low as an equivalent to 10 euro per month, and conditions are applied (e. g. an obligation to perform public works couple of days per month), so most unemployed simply do not lose their time to fill papers in an unemployment office. Moreover, in 2017 Lukashenka tried to introduce something similar to general poll tax. Even unemployed had to pay a fixed minimal tax per year. Due to massive tide of protests, the presidential decree was rolled back. But this attempt was seen by the people as a serious breach of an unspoken social contract, and influenced current protests.
For a long time, political opposition was relatively unpopular, as some of its most vocal speakers are either economic liberals and advocate privatisation, or political conservatives who advocate e. g. ban of abortion (so far abortion is legal and free of charge in Belarus). At the same time, there are many currents within the opposition, including social democrats, left party (former communists) and greens who do not advocate neither privatisation, nor ban of abortion.
But this year the situation changed profoundly. During the first wave of coronavirus, authorities made many political mistakes and outraged citizens. First, they did not provide adequate information and in many times resorted to outward lies (e. g. statistics of deaths related to epidemics was falsified from the very start). Second, Lukashenka scorned and ridiculed ill and dead people, blaming them (not the policy of his government) in their illness. Such behaviour caused massive outrage even in-between former supporters of Lukashenka. Third, no social support was offered to people who lost their jobs or significant part of salaries. In Belarus, no services or industries were closed by governmental decree, but many industries suffered from the crisis anyway, e. g. tourism, transport, restaurants, export-oriented industries (as the demand declined). Fourth, many medics who had worked overtime under stressful and risky conditions, were not paid properly.
As a result, when presidential campaign was announced late spring, people immediately lined to give their signature to all oppositional candidates, but not to Lukashenka. The authorities answered with repressions: several candidates and some of their supporters were jailed. This tactics only enraged even more people, and already in July there were protest rallies during which some protesters fought back riot police (I have to underline, protesters did not attack riot police). However, authorities allowed one oppositional candidate, Sviatlana Cikhanouskaja, to run in the elections. Cikhanouskaja substituted her jailed husband, Siarhiej Cikhanouski. Election campaign rallies of Cikhanouskaja gathered crowds of supporters, even in tiny and deeply provincial towns. The authorities started to be so afraid that they banned all Cikhanouskaja’s rallies in the last week before elections.
The election results were falsified, as it happens always since 1996, but there is general feeling that in reality Cikhanouskaja overwhelmingly won. Her campaign mobilised those people who usually do not participate in elections, and Lukashenka’s ratings are close to historic minimum (24% in Minsk in March-April 2020, with obvious later decline).
What role are anarchists and anti-fascists taking in the protests? What are their main objectives when intervening in the protests? How are they seen by the rest of protestors? – What tactics are being used by protestors when confronting the state forces in Belarus? Have they been influenced by recent uprisings around the world, such as Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon or Portland?
Anarchists are on the streets, however, anarchists rarely mark themselves specifically as anarchists to avoid being busted (or worse). Therefore, the general public has little idea that anarchists are present. Anarchists come to demonstrations with banners and posters and spread leaflets to pursue anarchist agenda (e. g. anti-police, feminist, anti-nuclear).
Tactics of protesters in Belarus is hardly influenced by other uprisings. Belarusians are very provincial, participants of the protests rarely have an idea that in Hong Kong anything happens at all, not to speak about Chile.
So far the protests are largely peaceful. But when police attacks protesters, sometimes protesters fight back and e. g. do not let to bust fellow protesters. In early August, there were several occasions of symbolic improvised barricades made from garbage bins and construction fences.
What tactics of counter-insurgency are being used by the state to stop the protests? Are anarchist and antifascists being targeted in a particular way? How are they defending themselves?
On 9-12 August police used everything: tear gas, flash-bang grenades, rubber, plastic and steel bullets, water cannons, armoured vehicles to break barricades, tortures (including beating some protesters to death). There are several people dead (some shot, some tortured to death), couple of dozen missing, several hundred were severely wounded by grenades and bullets and several thousand were tortured in police stations these days. From 13-14 August, police violence was reduced. Police continues to beat and detain people, but there is only one report of a murder which happened in the second half of August.
Since 14 August, couple of thousand protesters faced arrests or fines. There are more than 70 political prisoners who face criminal charges, several thousand more protesters face criminal charges (in the status of defendant or suspect), but are not under arrest. Many of them have left the country. The most widespread accusation is “organisation of mass disorder and/or participation in it”.
In Minsk, anarchists are rarely targeted in a particular way, due to our invisibility. Otherwise, we expect arrests. Some anarchists were arrested for their active participation in women marches or for their involvement in human rights organisations. But in these cases, not anarchists, but feminists and human rights defenders were targeted by police.
In Hrodna and Baranavichy, anarchists were arrested when they formed anarchist blocks during demonstrations.
Three anarchists are under arrest and face criminal charges, two of them because already before the elections they were on the police list of ‘especially dangerous’ anarchists.
In the recent uprising in USA, sectors within the very own protest movement played a role in quenching the insurrections by calling for peace, civility and reform. Is something similar happening in Belarus or are militant tactics widely supported?
In Belarus, the whole protest started from the unfair elections. It was further propelled by extreme police violence in the early August. Protesters demand, inter alia, to hold “fair” elections and to punish police officers who killed and tortured. It is strange to assume that these same people who demand legality would call for an insurrection.
The protest is largely bourgeois (not totally, but largely), well-paid specialists and owners of small and medium-sized businesses march on the streets. They are demanding exactly peace, civility and reform. Why would they change their demands?
Militant tactics do not enjoy wide support, but militant slogans do. Protesters shout outward abuse at Lukashenka and his police, same slogans are repeated in graffiti, and the whole protest is very much carnivalesque (in all senses, including e. g. subversion of hierarchies).
Many people are ready to fight back the police to prevent arrests. This is not seen as violence. Most police officers are masked to hide their identity, and it became highly popular to demask them, to tear masks off.
Information is gathered and published on police officers who practiced violence, sometimes with their phone numbers and home addresses.
Some time ago three or four private cars of local police officers were burned down in a small provincial town of Drahichyn.
Has there been attempts by opposition political parties or forces to take control over the movement and co-opt it for their own political objectives? If so, what has been the response from the protestors?
Again, it is electoral protest. Most protesters want oppositional political parties or forces to take control of the country. The movement (or at least its largest part) wants to be co-opted.
What opportunities do the current protests present for anarchists and anti-fascists in Belarus and what would it mean for them the fall of the current regime?
The protest give anarchists a forum to speak and a space to practice ideas. In the last three years, almost all web-sites of Belarusian anarchist were declared ‘extremist’ by the Belarusian state, and all internet providers block them (it is possible to access these sites through proxy, VPN or Tor Browser). Almost all printed anarchist propaganda was declared “extremist” as soon as it was found and confiscated. It is punishable by law to share articles from anarchist web-sites or anarchist leaflets e. g. at one’s facebook page (big fines are applied). So it is hard to underestimate possibilities for propaganda which current protests have opened. However, one has to spread propaganda with caution. Some weeks ago, two anarchists had been detained in the centre of Minsk and subsequently were arrested for spreading leaflets.
The fall of current regime most probably will bring some liberalisation of the legislation. First, anarchists would like to depenalise expression of anarchist ideas (to abolish “anti-extremist” legislation). Second, there is whole range of social, environmental, legal changes which anarchists are anticipating and struggling for. A list of some of such changes was published by anarchist group Pramień: https://pramen.io/en/2020/09/proposal-of-program-minimum-for-the-period-of-uprising-in-belarus/ (this publication was followed by interesting discussion in Russian).
How can anarchists, antifascists and other anti-authoritarian sympathisers offer solidarity from abroad?
You can make solidarity actions, e. g. in front of Belarusian embassies and consulates (or simply at the central square of your town). You can organise benefits and donate money e. g. to Anarchist Black Cross Belarus (https://abc-belarus.org/?p=13148&lang=en) or to Pramień (https://pramen.io/en/2017/11/four-way-to-help-the-anarchists-in-belarus/#comment-36645). You can help Belarusian refugees, several thousand people have left the country, including some anarchists and anti-fascists (sorry, no ready recipes, please search for information and contacts yourself e. g. through Belarusian anarchist web-sites). And, obviously, you can spread the word.
London hides in its streets the offices of more companies and organisations that run the world than most people know. The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is located just off Oxford street in an unremarkable and unmarked office building. In solidarity with Ende Gelaende‘s struggle for system change and an end to coal mining in Germany, we want to draw attention to the ICMM’s involvement in the coal industry in particular.
The ICMM is the mining industry’s key lobbying organization and counts as its members companies who are profiting off plundering the earth and destroying our climate. Here, we give just a glimpse of the devastation inflicted upon people and the environment by ICMM members. The large-scale exploitation of people and planet for the profit of companies like these must be stopped. GAF stands in solidarity with movements around the world resisting the destruction brought by the mining industry.
Anglo American Plc is a British multinational mining company based in London. The company has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
In 2018, its CEO Mark Cutifani was paid £14.67m, technical chief Tony O’Neill £8.17m, CFO Stephen Pearce £7.4m, the three-year shareholder returns were 285% and the company’s revenue was £21.28bn and its operating profit £4.7bn.
AngloAmerican is one of the joint owners of the Cerrejón coal mine.
Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia
Cerrejón is a large open-pit coal mine in northern Colombia. The mine is one of the biggest of its kind and extends over 690 square kilometres (270 sq mi). The mine is owned by three giant UK-listed mining companies: BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore. All of which receive billions of pounds in finance from UK banks and pension funds.
Its steady expansion since its founding in 1976 has led to the destruction of whole villages populated by local indigenous and Afro-Colombian people. The Cerrejón mine is in Wayúu indigenous territory and when mining began local people were not consulted. Instead, their lands were seized, and communities were forcibly displaced, violating their constitutional land rights. Pollution and dust from the coal mine has contaminated water supplies and the air.
Indigenous groups report that their traditional lifestyle has been badly affected, soil pollution has caused failed crops, fishing areas have been contaminated and displacement has disturbed inter-community relations. Roche, Chancleta, Tamaquitos, Manantial, Tabaco, Palmarito, El Descanso, Caracoli, Zarahita, Patilla. These are the names of just some of the communities that have been devastated or simply wiped off the map by the Cerrejón mining project.
In June 2020, lawyers for the local Wayúu community lodged a request to the United Nation special rapporteur for work to be immediately halted over environmental and human rights concerns.
Address: Nova South, 160 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5LB
BHP is an Anglo-Australian mining and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is the world’s largest mining company, with 30 operations in 13 different countries around the world. It is among the top 25 fossil fuel producers worldwide.
In 2019, its CEO Andrew Mackenzie was paid £2.72m and the company made a net profit of £6.4Bn.
BHP is co-owner of the mining company that runs the Mariana dam.
Mariana (or Samarco) Dam Disaster in Brazil
On the 5th of November 2015, the Fundão tailings dam at the Germano iron ore mine of the Samarco Mariana Mining Complex in south-eastern Brazil suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in flooding that devastated the downstream villages of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo, killing 19 people. The extent of the damage caused by the tailings dam collapse is the largest ever recorded, with pollutants spread along 668 kilometres (415 mi) of watercourses.
The failure of the dam released 43.7 million cubic metres of mine tailings into the Doce River, causing a toxic brown mudflow to pollute the river and beaches near the mouth when it reached the Atlantic Ocean 17 days later. The disaster created a humanitarian crisis as 700 people were displaced and cities along the Doce River suffered water shortages when their water supplies were polluted.
Samarco, the mining company involved in the disaster, is co-owned by BHP and Brazilian firm Vale. In 2016, charges of manslaughter and environmental damage were filed against 21 executives. In 2019, a £3.8bn claim for damages over the dam collapse was raised against BHP Billiton by 235,000 Brazilian people and organisations, including municipal governments, indigenous tribes, utility companies and the Catholic Church. It claims BHP failed to act on repeated warnings from independent experts about the dam’s integrity.
Address: 50 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8HD (reportedly will move to 18 Hanover Square, W1S 1HD later in the second half of 2020)
Glencore is the largest company in Switzerland and the world’s largest commodities trading company. It is one of the world’s leading integrated producers. In 2013, Glencore merged with Xstrata, the world’s largest coal mining company, and as of 2013, it ranked twelfth in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies.
In 2019, the CEO Ivan Glasenberg was paid £1.16m, but owns 8.4 per cent of Glencore stock, and the company was worth UK£19b.
Glencore’s long history of dirty dealings puts most other companies to shame.
Tax avoidance, sanctions busting and interference in governments and armed conflicts
Its founder, Marc Rich, defied international trade embargoes to do business with embargoed regimes, including Iran during the hostage crisis, Libya under Ghaddafi, Chile under Pinochet, and apartheid South Africa. The company also did deals with North Korea’s Kim Il Sung, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, and through convicted money launderer Gilbert Chagoury, with Sani Abacha in Nigeria. The CIA found that Glencore had paid $3,222,780 in illegal kickbacks to obtain oil in the course of the UN oil-for-food programme for Iraq. In the 1980s, they worked with the Israeli secret service, Mossad, to set up a secret pipeline to sell Iranian oil to Israel. As a result, its founder, Marc Rich, was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for almost 20 years.
The McArthur River mine in Australia has not paid royalties to the government since it opened in 1995. Glencore subsidiary Prodeco is accused of financing a paramilitary group in Colombia between 1996 and 2006, during the country’s armed conflict in an attempt to control the carbon industry. In 2011, the company was accused of tax evasion in Zambia that cost the Zambian Government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. In 2015, Glencore was fined in South Africa for supplying substandard coal to the utility company Eskom. In 2017, it was accused by the government of Ghana of illegally importing and reselling petroleum products. In 2017, the US tax office ruled that Glencore had understated its taxable income by diverting US$190 million offshore. In 2017, the London Metal Exchange fined Glencore US$1.4 million for falsifying warehouse documents. In 2018, the UK Court of Appeal upheld sanctions against Glencore for tax evasion. In 2018, Glencore received a subpoena from the US Department of Justice in relation to money laundering and non-compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In 2019, the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission notified the company of an investigation into whether the company violated parts of the Commodity Exchange Act, or regulations concerning corrupt practices related to commodities.
Glencore has also bullied governments, suing Bolivia and Colombia through Investor-State Dispute Settlements, and using oil-backed loans to control resources in Chad, leaving the country in a financial crisis. Its subsidiary Xstrata faces a lawsuit in the UK after allegedly paying the police force in Peru to attack protesters. And its subsidiary Katanga is subject to legal proceedings in both the US and Canada for giving false statements to investors.
And this is just scratching the surface of Glencore’s dirty practices and without even touching on its multiple human rights abuses, workers’ rights violations and accusations of profiteering off child labour.
South32 is a mining and metals company headquartered in Perth, Western Australia. It was spun out of BHP Billiton on 25 May 2015. The company is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange with secondary listings on the Johannesburg bourse and the London market.
In 2019, the company had a market capitalisation of £6.75bn and paid its CEO Graham Kerr £5.4m.
South32 is one of the chief companies responsible for the polluting of South Africa.
Poisoning Mpumalanga district in South Africa
South Africa currently generates 90 percent of its electricity through coal, yet air pollution from coal-fired power stations kills more than 2,200 South Africans every year and causes thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma in adults and children annually. South32 is the fourth highest emitter of greenhouse gasses in South Africa. South32 has 4 energy coal mines and associated processing plants near the towns of Emalahleni and Middleburg in Mpumalanga.
The province of Mpumalanga accounts for 83% of South Africa’s coal production and the Highveld region is the most polluted of the world due to the mining industry and power stations. The city of Emalahleni within the province has more than 22 collieries in the municipal radius and the dirtiest air in the world. As a result, it was declared a “High Priority Area” by the South African government in 2007. Energy production through coal releases sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides and particulate matter at levels that exceed the maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.
Mpumalanga contains at least 6,000 abandoned mines that are spilling acid water and heavy metals into the environment. In some areas, coal seems to have been burning underground for decades, and sinkholes and polluted groundwater from abandoned mines are a hazard to the surrounding communities. Decades of coal mining have poisoned the landscape and driven the Olifants River to a crisis point, with the Limpopo river on a similar track. Acid mine drainage from coal mining areas has had a devastating impact on water resources, with acidification of rivers and streams, elevated metal levels and consequent fish die-offs. The pH levels in the region are below 1, indicating high acidity, and residents say that birds fall dead from the sky when they fly over the area.
However, none of this energy is produced for the locals. As children play on the old mine dumps, adults collect the coal waste for domestic fires. There are millions of households in South Africa who don’t have access to power, although the wires supplying the mines are visible from where they live.
Teck Resources Limited, known as Teck Cominco until late 2008, is Canada’s largest diversified natural resources company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. Teck Resources was formed from the amalgamation of Teck and Cominco in 2001.
The company is the second largest seaborne exporter of steelmaking coal. In 2019 the company made £9.18m in revenue, paid its CEO Don Lindsay £5.09m and its Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President Ronald Millos £7.61m.
Teck has been poisoning British Columbia for the last century.
Destroying British Columbia and poisoning Indigenous peoples in Canada
In 2018, Teck produced 26.2 million tonnes of coal from six mines (five of which are open-pit) in southeastern British Columbia and western Alberta, with most of it exported to countries in the Asia-Pacific region. To get at the coal, the company uses a technique called cross-valley fill, which in practice, looks a lot like mountain-top removal mining. Workers dig into hillsides, creating massive, terraced craters, flattening mountains and filling valleys with massive heaps of rock.
These massive open-pit coal mines are leaching high concentrations of selenium into the Elk River watershed, causing one of the biggest selenium contaminations in the world, damaging fish populations and contaminating drinking water. It was discovered in the autumn of 2019 that 93% of adult trout had disappeared in the last two years from Fording River, where Teck’s largest mine is located. Long-term water pollution flowing from Teck’s coal mines is a danger also downstream in Lake Koocanusa, through the Kootenai River in Montana and Idaho, and right back into Canada in Creston. There are also concerns about carbon emissions, travel routes used by grizzly bears moving along the Continental Divide, destruction of mountain grasslands important for bighorn sheep, and First Nations’ rights.
The subsistence fishermen and First Nations who eat fish caught downstream from sources of pollution have high blood concentrations of selenium, and in the communities nearest to the mines selenium is contaminating drinking water. In humans, chronic exposure to high selenium concentrations can cause nausea, fatigue, skin lesions, neurological disorders and intestinal problems. In other animals, high levels of the element have been shown to cause liver damage, paralysis, and even death.
Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation – which is comprised of 12 indigenous groups and located across the border in Washington State – brought a lawsuit against Teck in 2004 claiming the company had dumped 140,000 tons of slag directly into rivers adjacent to its Trail smelter between 1896 and 1995, polluting the surface water, ground water and sediment of the upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt with hazardous metals. The company has acknowledged in court that, between 1930 and 1995, the plant intentionally discharged nearly 10 million tons of slag and effluent directly into the Columbia River from its mining and fertiliser operations in Trail.
Address: Suite 1, 3rd Floor 11-12 St. James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LB
Vale, formerly Companhia Vale do Rio Doce or CVRD, is a Brazilian multinational corporation engaged in metals and mining and one of the largest logistics operators in Brazil. In January 2012, Vale received the “people’s choice” Public Eye Award as the corporation with the most “contempt for the environment and human rights” in the world, mainly in relation to the Belo Monte Dam.
In 2019 the company made £6.25m in revenue, but it is so secretive that salaries of its executive board remain unknown.
Vale is being held responsible for the Brumadinho dam disaster.
Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil
The Brumadinho dam disaster occurred on 25 January 2019 when a tailings dam owned by Vale at the Córrego do Feijão mine suffered a catastrophic failure. 270 people died as a result of the collapse, of whom 259 were officially confirmed dead in January 2019 and 11 others reported missing.
The dam failure released around 12 million cubic meters of mining waste that first hit the mine’s administrative area, where hundreds of the mine’s employees were having lunch, and the community “Vila Ferteco” before reaching the Paraopeba River, the region’s main river, which supplies water to one third of the Greater Belo Horizonte region. It is very likely the waste stream will also reach the São Francisco River which passes through five Brazilian states and the dams of two hydroelectric plants. The National Water Agency (ANA) stated that the tailings could pollute over 300 kilometres of river and affect the region’s whole ecosystem.
Evidence has been found that Vale officials knew Brumadinho’s dam was at risk since at least November 2017 and that the company had executives systematically hide evidence of safety concerns and retaliated against auditing firms that flagged problems.
One day after the failure, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources announced a £35.4 million fine on the Vale company. Brazilian judicial authorities froze £2.3 billion of Vale’s assets. In January 2020, Vale’s former chief executive, Fabio Schvartsman, and other senior officials of Vale and TÜV Süd, the German firm hired to assess the stability of its dams, were charged with homicide and environmental crimes as a result of the dam disaster. In April 2020, Vale’s safety inspectors refused to guarantee the stability of at least 18 of its dams and dikes in Brazil.
The anticapitalist struggle is an intersectional one. Liebig34 provides a perfect example. In their fight against housing being a commodity, capitalism and patriarchy, they have been a symbol for radical queer feminism for 30 years. Now, the project is faced with the threat of eviction. Being the valuable and inspiring project that Liebig34 has been, it cannot be taken away. Liebig34 stays! This interview serves to provide an insight into the immense value of Liebig34 and hopes to encourage action and solidarity.
What is the origin story of Liebig34, what is it, and what are it’s main principles, values, and goals? What have been some of the biggest changes in the last 30 years? And what has kept Liebig alive and active for all this time?
Liebig was originally squatted on June 30th, 1990, the summer after the fall of the Berlin wall, where many buildings were left empty. The house sits on the corner of Rigaer Straße, a place particularly known for its squatting history. In 1999, liebig then turned into a women-only and lesbian space. Over the years and adapting with the times, liebig became more inclusive towards non-binary and trans people. We now define it as an anarcha-queer self-organized houseprojekt, living without cis-men, but all other (a-) gender-identities welcome. So to put it more simply, no more TERF bullshit tolerated in our home! Liebig’s one of the few hausprojekts (the name for legalized squats in Germany) where cis-men do not dominate the conversation of our leftist space. It’s a space for us to empower one another with a DIY mentality. Liebig is self-organized both politically and practically, whether that be projects and maintenance, and learn from each other by having political conversations and with learning new skill sets. You didn’t have to be already integrated into the Berlin leftist-scene in order to join the collective, so despite the exclusion of cis-men in our home, it has been arguably one of the more inclusive hausprojekts for this reason. Liebig has had so many generations living within its walls, with thousands of people of different backgrounds, languages and cultures. Most importantly, Liebig34 has served as a refuge to people wanting to live outside the confines of our patriarchal capitalist society. Simply the need for a space like this is the most important reason why it has stayed alive over all these years.
In the past what have been the main struggles Liebig34 has faced and what are the current struggles? Especially recently with the threat of eviction, but also how has COVID-19 affected Liebig and their events?
When Berlin went practically bankrupt in the 2008 economic crisis, it sought to sell the hausprojekts which were owned by the city at that point, and if the residents weren’t able to buy their own home, it was then sold to property investors. In Liebig’s case, this investor is Padovicz, a notorious slum lord of Berlin, owning about 200 buildings in Friedrischain alone. Our contract with him ended December 31st, 2018, and since then we had been living in a limbo of uncertainty, with a threat of raids or surprise evictions at any moment, and many arduous court dates in between. Our house, because of constant cop presence and threat of raids and random searches in the “danger-zone” of Rigaer Strasse, we can no longer be a safe space for people, which is something we once prided ourselves being able to do. We no longer have our guest-room, which was one of the few places in Berlin hausprojekts still so open to people in need. We’re now constantly working in preparation for our eviction date, which is October 9th. We unfortunately have not been able to have any solidarity parties in our bar since COVID-19, which was our main source of financial support for legal and repression costs. We’ve started to do kufa (kitchen for all) dinners again in a corona-safe way out our bar window. This is important for the community to not only bring people together and provide hot meals for those who can’t otherwise afford it, but also as opportunities for people to support us through donations.
How has the eviction threat manifested itself? What struggles come with it? And how has Liebig34 resisted it so far?
Our eviction date is now October 9th, and we are working persistently and hard as fuck towards the countdown. We will certainly not go down without a fight! We now spend most of our time preparing for our eviction date, and when you’re in this survival mode it leads little room for a community to thrive. However we still make sure there is room to support each other on emotional levels, and still enjoy coming together for meals, projects, and celebration. After all, this is our home, and we want to maintain some degree of comfort with our last moments inside it, eviction or not.
In relation to the eviction threat, but also generally, what role do cops play and how does Liebig handle that?
As briefly mentioned above, Rigaer Strasse was declared a “Danger Zone” in 2015, giving the police more leverage over people’s rights in the area, where they can search and detain people at their will. The cops always show up to linger on Dorfplatz (village square) right in front of our house often in full riot gear for any little event or gathering. In 2019 there became “Operation Nordkiez” which installed a special unit of cops that are volunteers for especially this kind of “Danger Zones”. The Politically Motivated Street Violence Police Unit (PMS) went also into the street to keep track of the anarchist spaces with undercover cops patrolling the area. They constantly spy on the street and the collectives, labeling us as radical leftist terrorists as a tactic for justifying the violence they impose on the community.
As an antifascist project with international inhabitants, how has Liebig been affected by fascists?
The house has been subjected to many attempted Nazi-attacks over the years, and every time there is a fascist manifestation there are many threats directed towards Liebig 34. The most recent major event in Berlin was where fascists and COVID-19 deniers came together from across the country August 29th, and once the demonstration of 20,000 people were dispersed we knew we needed to protect the house. What was pleasantly unexpected was the impressive community turnout, who came to support us on Dorfplatz and we knew we were not alone.
With all the struggles that Liebig faces, does it get support from its local community and what is its general relationship to the community?
While one of our many self-proclaimed slogans is “Loud and Dirty,” many people of the local community acknowledge and appreciate our house as a symbol of resistance against gentrification. We stand for more than just a living collective, but for the genuine Berlin that investors are actively trying to clean up and wash out. Between Berlin’s past fight against Google, and Berlin’s current fight against Amazon, Liebig has served as a symbol for anti-gentrification in the past few years. (We don’t include the luxury apartment complexes on Rigaer as part of the community, however they obviously don’t like us.)
What is Liebig34’s relationship with other squats in Berlin?
We often say the phrase “One Struggle, One Fight” when talking about the autonomous spaces often in danger across Berlin. And since this year there has been so many institutional attacks on these spaces the time to come together has been so much more important. Syndikat, Potse, Drugstore, Meuterei, Rigaer 94, DieselA, and Kopi are just some of the spaces that have been either raided, evicted, or are in major threat of obsolescence just in the past year. While of course there are sometimes our political and personal squabbles with each other across different spaces, we know our common enemy is the Police and the State, who want us to be divided and feel alone. We share this common fight in defending our spaces.
More broadly, as Liebig has been such an active part in queer and feminist radical politics the last 30 years: why are the queer and feminist fights so important to the anticapitalist struggle?
As many of us know, the patriarchy and capitalism are oppressive structures that work together to make the lives of women and queer people especially so difficult. This house has always been anti-capitalist since 1990, but the need for its feminist and queer identity was decided by its inhabitants because leftist spaces can and do still perpetuate misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. We know Feminism and Capitalism cannot co-exist, no matter how hard pop culture attempts to integrate the two. However, no matter the economic hegemony, we all must constantly work to unlearn the bullshit the patriarchy, colonialism, and other cultural hegemonies have instilled in us.
And finally, in these rough times how can people support Liebig and other housing projects? Both people from Berlin and further away.
If you’re in Berlin there will be several demos and events leading up to Day X, and a Protest the night of October 9th and also probably the day after, too. Keep updated with our twitter and check our blog! If you can’t get to Berlin or support in physical ways, keep our fight in our thoughts and in your political conversations as a hope to continue this movement no matter how many places they try to evict! Challenge the sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. in all your leftist scenes! “Liebig Bleibt” is not only about us trying to keep our house, but to keep the spirit of our political goals and ideas alive in the hearts of generations to come.
Tomorrow, a coalition of climate groups will be holding a socially distanced protest to raise awareness of the link between climate justice and migrant justice. The ecological crisis is already upon us and hitting the inhabitants of the Global South first and in the coming years it is only going to get worse. In anticipation of the inevitable new waves of migration from climate refugees, we are witnessing the increased militarisation of borders in the Global North as well as the rise of racist rhetoric against migrants and refugees.
GAF will be joining tomorrow’s protest, please join us too. The meeting point is the Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square at 10am.
YOUTH 4 CLIMATE JUSTICE COURT CASE
Six young people from Portugal are taking thirty-three European countries to the European Court of Human Rights for failing to do their part to avert climate catastrophe. Their goal is to seek a legally binding decision from the European Court of Human Rights requiring governments in Europe to take the urgent action needed to stop the climate crisis using the argument that the European Convention on Human Rights obliges European governments to fight climate change.
While in GAF we believe the state is part of the problem and no real solutions can be found working within their apparatus, we applaud the initiative as a useful precedent and a good way to raise awareness and start fruitful discussions and hopefully also actions. The young plaintiffs are being supported by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), you can help by sharing the case on social media or donating to the funds being raised to cover the legal fees. For more information, visit youth4climatejustice.org.
INTERNATIONAL RESISTANCE TO MINING FILM FESTIVAL
In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, Indigenous activists and mining affected communities across the globe, London Mining Network presents the International Resistance to Mining Film Festival. The films deal with the colonial legacy of international extractivism and the lives it affects. From Bouganville to South Africa, Australia to Colombia, these true stories remind us of the human cost of mining as well as the amazing acts of resistance that it inspires.
Films will be shown at 7.30pm between 21 and 28 September 2020. For more info and to register your place, see the Eventbrite page.
SUSTAINING ALL LIFE & UNITED TO END RACISM AT CLIMATE WEEK
Sustaining All Life (SAL) and United to End Racism (UER) are international grassroots organizations working to end the climate emergency within the context of ending all divisions among people. SAL/UER is participating in Climate Week, September 21-27, a week of international climate events happening online. They will present many interactive workshops and forums that address barriers to resolving the climate emergency. Topics include Eliminating the Effects of Racism in our Climate Activism; Women, Girls and Climate Justice; Jews and Climate Justice:Building a United Front and War and Climate Change. Their six forums provide opportunities to amplify the voices of people who don’t generally get heard and include Voices of Latin America, Indigenous Voices and Youth Leading on the Climate Emergency.
This year, just like the previous years, Ende Gelaende is organising an action against coal infrastructure in Germany. They will be holding a decentralised blockade in the region of the Rhineland from the 23rd to the 28th of September. The Coal Extension Act will keep coal alive for another 18 years, using billions of Euros. Ende Gelaende are fighting to ensure that coal is phased out immediately and the door to a fundamental system change is opened. They plan on placing themselves between the coal diggers and the threatened villages to protect them. It is to be a publicly announced blockade with a wide range of opportunities to participate. To find out more check their facebook pages or their call to action.
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of David Graeber yesterday.
David Graeber was an American anthropologist and anarchist activist author know for such books as Debt: The First 5,000 Years, where he explores the violence that lies behind all social relations based on money, and calls for a wiping out of sovereign and consumer debts and Bullshit Jobs in which he argues that most white-collar jobs were meaningless and that technological advances had led to people working more, not less.
Graeber also had a history of involvement in political activism since the 90s including being a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and being a pivotal figure in the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011 as well as the Global Justice Movement. He was a professor at the London School of Economics at the time of his death.
So you’ve decided to set up a local GAF group! Amazing! This is how the movement spreads and how we create a vibrant, linked up international movement. The first GAF group, in London, was set up by just a few people – it may seem like an intimidating task, and it takes work, but it’s very doable and the rewards for both yourself, your community, and our planet will be huge.
The first thing to do is read our Aims & Principles and Points of Unity. These are the only things that link all GAF groups – in every other sense they are networked but autonomous, but any GAF group or member who does not adhere to and believe in these principles has no place organising under the GAF banner. Any questions or concerns, get in touch and we can talk about it!
Capacity and what you already have
Assess your capacities (skills, time, resources, mental energies to put into organising), what you already have, and the base you’re working from. Ask yourself:
– Do you have any friends who’d be interested in this?
– Do you know any pre-existing leftist/environmental groups whose members may be interested in getting involved?
– Are there any good meeting spaces or social centres in your area? If the answer is no, keep looking! Libraries, community centres, squats, and even pubs often have spaces you can meet in. In summer, parks and green spaces can be nice.
– Are there platforms you can spread your message on? Anything from local physical noticeboards (think supermarkets, corner shops, community centres, libraries) to local digital spaces. Even the smallest communities tend to have a local Facebook group or page.
These are the big ones – there’s no need to start thinking too big yet. If the answer to any of these is ‘no’, don’t be discouraged. It’s a surmountable obstacle. Pop us an email/Facebook message and we can help.
Security and safety
It’s a fact that if you are fighting for climate justice, you are eventually going to be the target of repression by the state and private entities. To resist it, you need to start thinking about security culture as soon as possible. Any mistake you make early on will haunt you later down the line. Even if right now you are not doing anything that may attract heavy surveillance, maybe in the future you will. And then you will regret not getting your security right from the beginning.
First of all, you should consider what personal information you are going to share with the people you are going to organise with. Using an activist alias or “nom de guerre” as opposed to your real name is a good idea. Also avoid sharing personal information that can be used to identify you, such as where you live or work.
For any online communication, you should use accounts not linked to your personal identity. Ideally you should delete your social media or create fake accounts only used for activism. Wherever possible, use secure services and software. Applications like Signal or Element or services like Protonmail or Riseup are worth looking into. If you upload any file to online platforms or share around, make sure to delete any metadata they it may contain; as some types of documents store sensitive information without you knowing it. Take advantage of VPN and the TOR network when using the internet, but always keep them separated from your personal browsing. Use encryption in your devices and strong passwords everywhere. If you have trouble keeping track of your passwords, use an open source password manager such as Keepass. There are many other things to keep in mind and tools to use, so try to keep up to date with the latest developments in computer security and strive to find a balance between ease of use and security that works for your group.
But ultimately, none of these will offer complete protection if a state-level actor is really putting all their resources trying to gain access to your data. It’s important to still follow this advice, as you still need to defend from more run of the mill threats. But in the end the best and most important advice is that if you don’t want the state to find out about something, never say it on or near any electronic device. And never, ever write anything that could be construed as evidence of a crime on any online platform; no matter how secure they are. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways: let your phones at home and go for a walk in the park or a forest. Enjoy nature while you plot the downfall of capitalism.
Finally, always remember the most important principle of Security Culture: people should never be privy to any sensitive information they do not need to know. This may seem harsh and you may feel the need to share confidential information with your comrades, specially once you get to know them a bit. This is just part of our nature as social beings. But keep in mind that restricting the information you share is not about not trusting your comrades, but rather about wanting to keep them, and yourself, safe.
Creating an online presence
One of the best ways to establish a basic presence online is to use Facebook. As much as we resent having to use capitalist platforms at the moment, it’s the fastest way to reach a lot of people in a local area on a short time scale. We can send over things like the image files for the logo that you can then edit if you want, to personalise. Take a look at the other GAF pages for inspiration! It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate – just a simple page with the logo, your name, and a short description of what GAF is. The first step is to follow this link: facebook.com/pages/create. From here you will be guided through the basic steps.
You may also want to create a Twitter/Instagram account if you have capacity for this at the moment, however this isn’t essential.
You will also want an email address. We recommend Riseup. We can sort you out with a Riseup invite. Protonmail is also a good alternative. Do not use mainstream, insecure email services like Outlook, Gmail, etc. Although you can never be certain an email server is entirely secure, anything that goes through a non-encrypted email service (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) can be read by the authorities. For more information on digital security, get in touch and we can send some stuff over.
Working towards your first assembly
The best way to kick start a new group is to hold a public assembly. This is an event where you invite people to come, talk about GAF, find out who’s up for putting in the work to be an organiser, and hopefully come out the other side with some next steps. These next steps will often be your first action, but not necessarily. We recommend sticking to safer, less risky actions at first while you get to know your new comrades and build trust. The key to any successful group is genuine trust, affinity, and friendship.
Who to contact
Before ‘going public’ with your event, it’s a good idea to see which existing groups might be interested. Local anti-fascists, environmental groups, anarchist groups and other leftist groups are a good start. One thing to be aware of is that some groups might be interested who do not organise in a bottom up, horizontal manner as laid out in GAF’s aims & principles. It should be made clear to these groups that should their members begin to organise under the GAF banner, that they will have to organise in a different way than they are used to.
It’s a good idea to pop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask who we know in the area, as we may be able to point you in the right direction. Likewise if you are unsure of any groups, let us know. Be cautious of Extinction Rebellion groups and established hierarchical communist groups – they often have great members but sometimes their ideals and styles of organising do not sit well with GAF’s aims & principles.
You should also get any friends or acquaintances you think might be interested involved. It’s easier to set up and run a successful assembly with friends and comrades than alone, but that doesn’t mean that going solo isn’t a very doable option!
Planning and promoting your assembly
The following is adapted from our Assembly Checklist, which is available on request.
You should decide amongst yourselves the date, time and venue. Community centres, libraries, social centres, squats, parks (in nice weather), and even pubs can provide good spaces for an assembly. Be sure to consider accessibility. Venues with stairs, or that are difficult to get to via public transport, are not ideal. If you can’t decide on a venue right now, that’s okay, it can be announced closer to the time.
The next thing to do is to write an invitation text. This should include:
What GAF is, why the assembly is being held, what you want to talk about and what you want to get out of it.
Whether food will be offered.
Whether childcare will be available.
The accessibility details of the venue, including acknowledgement that people can get in touch to ask about accessibility needs that haven’t already been addressed.
Don’t worry if you don’t know all this yet. You can amend the invite text later, but it’s good to at least show that all of this stuff is being thought about.
Next, promote the event. Send the invite text to any organisations you identified earlier who may be interested – usually email is the best route here. If possible, it can be a good idea to print posters and flyers to stick up around your community.
If nothing else, you should create a Facebook event on the page you created earlier. To do this, go to your page, go to Events, and find the button to create a new event. Then just make a title, copy your invite text into the description, set the date/time and location if available, and you’re good to go! Let us know when you’ve done this and we’ll share your event on the main GAF social media accounts, our website, to our mailing list, and to anywhere else we can think of!
Childcare and food
If possible, it’s good to offer food and childcare. Assemblies tend to last between 3 and 5 hours in total, including breaks, so people get hungry! This can be anything from snacks (hummus and dips are a firm favourite) to a hot meal if you have capacity/kitchen space.
If possible, childcare should be made available too in order that the event is accessible to parents. If this isn’t possible, don’t worry.
If possible, challenge the men in your group to take on these responsibilities. GAF groups should always try to destroy social hierarchies, and as these roles are often pushed onto women, men should try to take them on for a change.
Creating the agenda
Now that you’ve got your event up and there will hopefully be a few people turning up, it’s time to decide what you’re actually going to do. To do this you should know the goal of the assembly. A good goal for a new group could be just to get to know each other, get some commitment from people, create private channels to communicate (we use an app called Signal, mostly – it’s like WhatsApp but a little more secure. Remember not to ever write anything down you wouldn’t want read out in a court of law, even on ‘secure’ apps and email servers), and plan your first action. It is also wise to include a safer spaces policy, that can be immediately outlined so that people understand that GAF spaces are supposed to be inclusive, and bigotry/intolerance will not be tolerated. We can send over our safer spaces policy in advance. Below is a sample agenda.
1. Safer spaces policy
2. Introductions – go round and get everyone to tell you their name (or whatever name they like to use), their pro-nouns (they/them, she/her, he/him etc.), and why they came to the assembly.
3. A short introduction to GAF. Read out the aims and principles and maybe talk a bit about what got you interested in GAF and why you called this assembly.
4. What are some of the biggest issues in your area? Are there any nearby major polluters, companies who invest in fossil fuels? Think outside the box – remember it doesn’t have to directly relate to ecological destruction. Capitalism as a whole is destructive, anything that contributes to it is by default.
20 MINUTE BREAK
5. Brainstorm ideas for a first action. This could be something that symbolically or practically disrupts capital, or something that helps people while spreading the messaging. It can be good to split into breakout groups for this! Examples of previous actions from assemblies include: guerrilla gardening with seed-bombs, banner drops, postering sessions, and much much more. Use the skills and experiences of your group, and look at what’s relevant to your area!
6. Decide when you’ll next meet, and what next steps need to be taken for your action. It’s also smart to set up a communication channel – we recommend the app Signal. It’s like WhatsApp but with more secure encryption. IMPORTANT: Do NOT write anything on even a secure app like Signal that you wouldn’t want read out in a court of law.
7. Go round and reflect on the assembly as a group, and find out who wants to be further involved. GAF may not be for everyone so it’s good to see who really wants to get involved, and who’s just going to sit in a long-forgotten group chat.
8. Go to the pub! Or cafe, or park, or anywhere. It’s important to get to know each other though.
Remember that this is just a sample agenda, and will not fit the needs of every (any?!) specific group. If you come out of this first assembly with an idea for a first action, a few solid comrades you like and think you can come to trust, a next meeting date and a way to communicate, you’ve done well.
Keep meeting, keep agitating. Aim to help people, hurt the system, or convincingly spread the message with every action you take. Your anger at the system will get things going, but trust and care for your comrades make sure they endure. Never hesitate to reach out to other GAF groups for inspiration or help. Solidarity always.
Marginalised groups will always be hit the hardest during any crisis, such as cis and trans women, the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour and disabled people. This article talks about women in the traditional roles, that are still widespread in almost every society, and how they will be one of the groups most negatively affected by climate change with a focus on peripheral or “developing” countries and why climate change is a Feminist Issue.
Women’s contributions to domestic life are undeniably vital. But becomes even more evident in peripheral countries (Gramscian sense) where survival still dominates, and women are incapacitated with work and abuse to the point where resistance to the patriarchal-capitalist system is unimaginable. In addition to the challenges women in Western countries are faced with, women in peripheral countries take on roles of both ‘productive’ work such as agricultural labour as well as ‘reproductive’ work such as care roles for children and the elderly and sick (to name a few). Climate change affects food and water security and people’s health on a massive scale. A study by Médecins Sans Frontieres has shown that already through changes in rainy seasons the cases of malaria and other water borne illnesses have increased in certain parts of the world. With more frequent floods and at new times. The people to look after the sick and injured will, as traditionally prescribed, be women, further resulting in the neglect of their own needs, health, and progress.
Water is the most often talked about aspect that climate change will affect negatively. Changing water patterns and new schedules for floods and droughts will result in both food and water insecurities which no government will care to resolve. More than that, rising sea levels will result in shortages of freshwater; for every centimetre that sea levels rise, sea water will penetrate freshwater two metres inland and thus create a shortage of freshwater for drinking but also irrigation.
With climate change making living situations more precarious and stressful, it is mainly marginalised groups, and in this case particularly women’s, mental and physical health that will suffer. Patriarchal societies and the men within them who do not fight the norms they are brought up with will allow those in positions of power to relieve their stress by blaming, abusing, and exploiting the women in their communities even more than before. This would be in addition to the immense pressure that many women will already be subjected to as they try to keep their families alive and if necessary sacrifice themselves for them and their community. Reports by the UN have pointed out that women when faced with food shortages or droughts, distribute their rations amongst their children and male family members, subjecting themselves to severe malnutrition and death.
Climate change is a feminist issue because it will be women, along with other marginalised groups, who will suffer the most and sacrifice the most. This is due to the gender roles they are appointed and expected to uphold. These two struggles are interlinked, as not only will the exploitation of women worsen, the degree of this being dependent on how badly affected their region is but through this exploitation women will be unable to support their communities anymore, whether that may be due to burnouts, femicide, or sacrifice.
In our fight against patriarchy we need to remember to fight intersectionally and be anti-capitalist and remember why. Beating the patriarchy and with that destroying capitalism we follow an ecological agenda and stop women from further exploitation. This requires radical feminism that allows no room for patriarchal belittling and discrimination. Supporting women in the global south and the most exploited regions, as well as supporting black and native women is a must and we must all stand united and fight these interwoven threats to us and our sisters across the planet.
Boris Johnson has just said that people should be out clapping for “our wealth creators, our capitalists, our financiers”. Stating that it is the bankers, the CEOs and people like the Conservative Party’s big money donors who are the most important people in the British economy’s recovery after the pandemic because they take ‘risks’.
It’s important to note who takes the actual risks in a capitalist economy. It’s regular working people who have to take all the risk just to survive. Regardless of how much ‘risk’ the CEO claims to take, it is always the employees who will be struggling for food if the business collapses, not the executives.
It’s not the ultra-rich like Boris Johnson claims, in fact, there is almost nothing short of revolution that can present itself as a serious risk to billionaires. In the pandemic the richest 25 people on the planet have gained $255 billion while millions of people have been forced out of their jobs and some out on to the street through violent evictions.
There is a huge strain on Food Banks with some showing a 300% increase in demand in the last few months. This is because the so-called wealth creators, capitalists and financiers have made an active choice to create a society in which even if you work over 40 hours a week some can barely afford to feed their kids, and in a pandemic people are forced out of work with only the cruel system of universal credit to keep them alive.
Outside of the UK, there are millions of people in refugee camps who barely have basic sanitation and have no opportunity to socially distance amid the pandemic, but these aren’t the people who the government wants to help. The bankers who have millions of pounds at their disposal rally against these refugees being provided safe access to the UK and do nothing to help anyone but themselves.
Lets not clap for capitalists, lets chase them through the streets!
In the same time where the Prime minister is asking people to clap for capitalists, we are seeing historic revolutionary movements across the world. When the President of the USA is publicly discussing anarchists as a serious threat to the capitalist system and there are insurrectionist movements spanning from Chile to Hong Kong and on the streets of the the beast of capitalism and imperialism that is the US itself, it’s clear that there is serious change coming.
We won’t ever achieve serious change by working through the present system, we will take change by smashing the system and building a new world together, with no place for capitalists or financiers. Lets not clap for capitalists, lets chase them through the streets until there is no one stuck out on the street, no one struggling to feed themselves and no one stuck in a system that is destroying the world we live in.
2020 is turning out to be a year unlike its predecessors, forcing us to redefine how we act and how we react. This May Day, the usual displays of working class radical mass action were off the cards due to COVID-19. However, now more than ever, despite being told repeatedly by the state to “stay at home” and be obedient, radical action was needed to mark this anniversary. Workers’ rights have suffered multiple attacks over the last decade and now the pandemic is shining a bright light on the inequalities of our society and the war that is waged against the working classes by those in power.
This Mayday GAF sent out a call out to all to participate in any way they were able in actions of revolt, small or big, because not even a global pandemic can quell the rage of the oppressed. We were heartened to see how many of you responded to the call as hundreds of autonomous actions against the state and capital took place all across the country. The GAF May Day Revolt saw banner drops, postering campaigns, graffiti and other actions taking place across the country from Devon to Scotland.
May Day maybe done for this year, but the spirit of resistance lives on – we must continue to disrupt capital and build a new world no matter the date. What ever happens 2020 will prove a crucial year and will see many changes, it is up to us to make sure we get a say in what those changes will be.