Monday, 29 January 2018

A Bulgarian Anarchist's Story - Alexander Nakov

The following book is the autobiography of the 97 year old revolutionary anarchist communist in Bulgaria, Alexander Nakov. This first English translation was edited and contributed to by former AF members now associated with this Communist Anarchism blog.


 

The Dossier of Subject No. 1218 

A Bulgarian Anarchist's Story

by Alexander Nakov


ALEXANDER NAKOV, BORN 1919: “SECONDARY EDUCATION IN FASCIST PRISONS… HIGHER EDUCATION IN BOLSHEVIK PRISONS”

Of the few who managed to survive the horrors of Bulgaria’s Stalinist concentration camps, Alexander Nakov is possibly the most representative of the older generation of active and committed anarchists.

Initially reluctant to write his memoirs, Alexander was eventually persuaded by friends that his story needed to be told. And by telling that story, he now remains a vital link between the anarchist militants of the past and the youth of today.

In clear and concise prose, Alexander details his youthful activity, his subsequent imprisonment and his fierce resistance to an inhuman system.


As well as his memoirs, this book also contains official government and state security documents about the author – documents that give yet another insight into the anarchist Alexander Nakov, targeted by the "People’s State" and classified as "Subject No.1218."

Translated from the Bulgarian original by Mariya Radeva, edited by Rob Blow, foreword by Nick Heath.


* * * * *

Published by Black Cat Press
ISBN 978-1-926878-16-4 (paperback)
178 pp., index; 5 colour plates; 29 in-text graphics; 213x134x13mm, 245 g.


For a review of the book, click HERE
For more info on Alexander Nakov, click HERE
 

Send £14 - price includes UK postage
If overseas, drop us a line for any extra postage costs.





Taken from the Communist Anarchism publications page

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Abolish Universal Credit


Text of a leaflet handed out by our friends in London Anarchist Communists at a demo at Trafagar Square, 27th January 2018

ABOLISH UNIVERSAL CREDIT


The May government is bringing in Universal Credit (UC) by stages. It replaces Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, ESA, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. At the moment there are 590,000 people on Universal Credit in England and Wales, with around 50,000 new claims each month.
The Tories have been planning this since the 2010 Election and have been slowly introducing Universal Credit since 2013

Lies
  • The Tories say it will encourage more people back to work
  • It will be more efficient than previous benefits
  • It will improve people’s lives and raise their incomes
Facts
  • More people back to work?- in minimum wage, zero hour contract or other unreliable jobs!
  • More efficient? You can only apply for Universal Credit online, and only get messages about UC online. But many don’t have the internet at home, and with the closing of many public libraries with free internet access, many a will be forced to pay to use a cybercaf√©.  Already, people have to wait six weeks or longer to receive their first UC payment. This causes hardship to many who have no savings to rely on.

Billions taken from the unemployed, the disabled, the needy
  • When fully implemented millions will be worse off. What this is really about is cutting the Social security
  • Housing subsidy will be cut creating more homeless
  • Disability elements cut or abolished completely
  • Some rates lower than current benefit rates
  • Support for child care massively cut
  • Easier sanctioning forcing people off UC to live on nothing
  • UC will be time-limited
Facts
  • Many have already turned to Citizens Advice already- one in ten of those already claiming UC
  • The six weeks already means referrals to food banks, many getting in arrears with their rent, and evictions. One foodbank has said that its referrals have doubled. Two south London boroughs have said that half of the claimants there have gone into further debt as a result.



"While the Universal Credit will in many cases increase the financial incentive for one person in couple households to move into some form of employment, incentives for many second earners will be weakened in comparison to the current situation... This will particularly affect women as they are more likely to be the second earners in households and they usually earn less than men and do more informal caring work. Worryingly, the Government finds 'that any such risk of decreased work incentives for women is justified'... this could mark the start of a return to a 'male breadwinner model' in which men do paid work and women stay at home to look after children and other dependents." (Women's Budget Group)


The Way Forward

Universal Credit could be the equivalent of the Poll Tax for the May regime. The Thatcher government’s very unpopular Poll Tax resulted in mass non-payment, riots and the eventual resignation of Thatcher.

This government is weak and fragile and mass resistance could topple it. But we have to turn the despair at worsening conditions into a positive anger and a determination to resist. But don’t rely on the Labour Party to help. All they can offer is not abolition of UC but a tinkering with it.

Already the Tories have been forced to climb down over the 55p a minute Universal Credit helpline charge. As well as that, twelve back bench Tory MPs are worried about a Poll Tax style scenario and about their seats and asked the Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke to pause the roll out back in September 2017.

The message has to be NO! We won’t pay for your crisis! 

London Anarchist Communists
Original article HERE


From our recent “Nation or Class” discussion




Here are the fleshed out notes from the introductory talk at our recent discussion meeting on Nation or Class. Those who were at the discussion are welcome to add comments they may have made on the night. Those who were unable to attend can also add comments if they so wish. 

[NB: comments subject to moderation]


The idea of class has been around in one form or another throughout history (and pre-history) and Marx described history itself as the history of class struggles: workers/boss class under capitalism, lords/serfs under feudalism or slaves/masters under slave societies.

The idea of the nation, on the other hand, is a relatively recent construct, going back a couple of hundred years to the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution. The idea of a nation state is a construct of capitalism itself, the ideal geographical unit for managing capital and controlling workers within a specific region. This is how the nation state developed over the last 200 years – as the ideal form of social organisation for rapid technological change, mass production, automation, modernisation and increasing urbanisation that resulted from the industrial revolution. Before capitalism, the idea of nation made little sense and people were far more likely to owe their allegiance to their feudal lord, tribe, family, god or monarch rather than to a “nation”. Now, though, the idea of the nation is everywhere, seen by many as a natural state of affairs and sometimes portrayed by nationalists as ever present, going back to the beginnings of history . 

Today, in this period of global capitalism, the nation and the nation state as a social entity still serve capitalism well. But for us anarchist communists, just as capitalism is incompatible with socialism, the idea of the nation, nation states or any form of nationalism is also incompatible with any meaningful idea of socialism, communism, anarchism. We accept that history is the history of class struggle in various forms and history does not stop now that the world is divided into nations (nations that still continuously change, divide, enlarge, swap allegiance). And if real socialism entails seizing the means of production from the ruling class and abolishing class society and replacing it with a communist society based on “from each according to ability to each according to need”, then to see any kind of commonality with the ruling class makes no sense.  

As we often say, the working class has no country. In fact, we have far more in common with workers in Poland, China, Johannesburg, Mumbai or Rio de Janeiro than we do with people like Richard Branson or Alan Sugar, just because they happen to come from the same islands as us. Or, in Alan Sugar’s case, happen to be the archetypal “working class boy made good” (and became an enemy of the working class, is what they don’t usually mention).

Just as capitalism and its ruling class is international, so the working class is also international. For us then, revolutionary working class internationalism is vital if we are to ever get anywhere as a class and one day defeat the international ruling class and abolish the capitalist system. Any kind of unity between workers and bosses, rulers and ruled, order givers and order takers, exploiters and exploited is a contradiction. This unity includes “national liberation struggles” in which the (neo) colonialized workers and peasants unite with their native oppressor against a foreign oppressor or imperialist power.

The idea of uniting the oppressed with their oppressors in “the national interest” was unsuccessfully attempted by Mussolini’s Fascist corporate state. Also, Nationalism has been a constant part of social democracy, back to the days of the Trade Unions and the Labour Party acted as prime recruiting sergeant for the carnage of World War 1 (all in the national and patriotic interest, of course); and the collapse of the Second International, when the respective socialist parties lined up behind their own ruling classes in that inter-imperialist “war to end all wars”. Since it was formed, the Labour Party in and out of government has been consistently every bit as nationalistic (and war-mongering) as its Conservative/Liberal opposite numbers (possibly more so under the Blair government). The Corbyn led party of today is every bit as supportive of the national interest - which is always, by definition, the ruling class interest.

In these times of neo-liberal global capitalism and the existence of powerful multi-national corporations, which have more economic clout than many nation states, the concept of the nation is still valuable as a way of carving up the world, dividing and ruling… but also possibly because workers are far less likely to pledge allegiance to “the company” than they are “the nation” or some vague notion of patriotism. 

More cultural aspects of modern life, work, social organisation, education, sport, festivals, all reinforce, in one way or another, patriotic and nationalistic ideals. So, a red or a red and black flag at a sporting event would be seen as overtly political, while a union jack or other national flag would not. Come October and November (all year round for some), the wearing of the red poppy to commemorate the 1918 Armistice has become compulsory for anyone being interviewed on TV or for footballers at all levels kicking a ball about in public. Failure to "wear your poppy with pride" may have repercussions.

The Left, including sections of the anarchist movement, still clings to its stance of supporting national liberation struggles. And while it is right to be supportive of those who are exploited or oppressed by a colonial or neo-colonial force and who resist that oppression, when that support is for what is clearly a national, cross-class movement, then we will criticise this. 

It is not so long ago when slogans such as “we are all Hamas” were popular on the left in support of a range of particularly vile, often anti-Semitic and religious fundamentalist “anti-imperialist” factions against the Zionist regime in Israel. Further back, elements on the UK Trotskyist left (and to their shame, the Anarchist Workers’ Group) were calling for support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq against the imperialist bloc – much to the bemusement of Iraqi communist and anarcho-communist refugees in Britain who had fled the terror of Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Arab National Socialist Party. Going back even further, UK Trotskyist groups (among others) were vocal in uncritically supporting the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese goverment, doing so in the awareness that the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army was, at the time, engaging in pogroms against… Vietnamese Trotskyists.  Now, the left, including many who would call themselves anarchists, are offering increasingly uncritical support for the PYD/YPG – Syrian offshoot of the nationalist PKK in Turkey. Clearly, lessons have not been learnt.

Interestingly, another more recent phenomena on the left seems to be of a kind of working class identity politics that has always been there but which is now developing a distinctly national flavour. Most significant perhaps is the Patria Socialista organisation in Italy. For such groups, the working class clearly does have a country (Italy, in their case). Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any such grouping at present in the UK, but such a stance is not completely alien to some individuals on the UK left, so time will tell. For us though, we’re sticking with the old “workers of all countries unite” motto, revolutionary internationalism, and when faced with inter-imperialist war, we’ll carry on with “no war but the class war” thank you very much. 

But all that said, this gives us an enormous challenge. It’s one thing to disagree with the national liberation politics of various elements on the left but, given the depth of nationalism that exists within the broader working class, the question is how to undermine nationalism, patriotism, national identity and national unity in the wider class?

Comments welcome...