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The Capital In Madison has been Occupied for the last three days

According to people who were there, the Capital building in Madison has been occupied for the last 3 days by students, workers and unions who are angered by the proposed cuts and legislation effecting the collective bargaining rights of state employees. Governor Scott Walker has threatened to deploy the national guard to police the picket lines, or respond to whatever may happen. But thus far, the Governor apparently fled and has been hiding in his parents house since this all started on Monday.

A text that has been floating around and passed out read:

“Crisis isn’t simply what happens to us. We aren’t victims with no agency who desire a return to a capitalism that works. We understand that capitalism is working. This is what it does. But what do we do? How do we escape the order of established politics and protest and enter into resistance? How do we render the world which alienates us inoperative and become a force capable of being the contradiction that tears it apart? How shall we become the crisis?

We propose: Choose to be partisans in this war which has already started. Block the economy, strike, occupy, and sabotage.

We respond to Scott Walker, his policies, and what he represents, but we must become a force that makes all positions of power obsolete. It will then no longer matter what politicians think or do. It will only matter what we do.”

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France: The Cold Autumn Heats Up

From Libcom:

“Despite the colder weather, and the increasing lack of petrol, the social movement is heating up, fueled by fun, fire and fury. “Operation Snails’ Pace”, strikes, mini-riots, schools blockades, General Assemblies, occupations, and today the 4th 24 hour “General” Strike since 7th September …but where is it all going? What contradictions aren’t being confronted? Read on…

Lorry drivers yesterday joined the movement, with the explicit aim of “blocking the economy”. They have been launching “Operation Snails’ Pace” (going slow on major roads and motorways) around Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, south of Paris, Tours, Frontignan, Arras, various parts of Normandy and lots of other places – officially there were 30 “go-slows” around 15 different towns yesterday. This, on the day before the Union-called “General” Strike called for today, Tuesday October 18th: “General” is in inverted commas because clearly there’ve been loads of people who have worked in those sectors which have officially come out on strike. Some of these ‘go-slows’ lasted only 20 minutes, but others for several hours. Ordinary cars go-slow in the fast lane, because big lorries aren’t allowed there.

Various petrol depots have been blockaded. Despite the government claiming on Sunday that only 200 petrol stations have closed down, the organisation responsible for producing petrol station statistics said yesterday – Monday – that 1500 have closed; and the amount of petrol stations that have run out of Unleaded 95 or Unleaded 98 must be a great deal more than that. This shortage is as much to do with the refineries’ strikes and blockades as with the dockers strike which has left at least 60 tankers stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to embark.

Lycees continue to be blocked (officially – ie Ministry of Miseducation figures – 260, but 600 according to UNL – the Union Nationale de Lyceens).
There have been mini-riots and stand-offs with the CRS in at least 5 towns – Nanterre just outside Paris, Lyon, Lille, Mulhous and Borges. So-called “casseurs” (literally “breakers”: see this text from 1994 in English “Nous sommes tous des casseurs”) have been attacking this and that all over the country, sometimes intelligently, sometimes indifferently, sometimes stupidly and sometimes really nastily.

In Marseille the binmen have been on strike for over a week (joining the dockers and the refinery workers). The rubbish is upsetting the tourists, who are anxious to consume the new gentrified areas, brought in by artists and the construction of a modern tramway, free from the stench of revolting proles. The mayor is also upset. Marseille is already preparing for the year it becomes the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2013. With Ryanair withdrawing from its airport base there, giving the term ‘capital flight’ an almost literal meaning, the project of bringing in the punters from the four corners of the globe could well be grounded. All that glorious regeneration of a nice cleaned up surface, designed to reduce all sense of a past into a souvenir photo, could be destroyed by radical subversion. A binman said, “We’re the proletariat, we can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs.” Though this possibly comes from an old-style CP-influenced guy, in the atmosphere of Republican ideology where everyone is encouraged to describe themselves as a “citizen”, this is a refreshing reminder of a basic socially antagonistic truth. A 16 year old from Marseille, Sarah Jlassi, added “This has gone beyond pensions, it’s about our unjust, divided society.” (The Guardian today). Though this is certainly at the centre of the movement, youths in the media and on the street, from whatever background, are constantly saying how stressed their parents are after work, how consequently they can’t communicate with them.

A few years back, the mayor brought in the army to clear the rubbish. Whether he does so again, in the current more generalised climate of class war remains to be seen, but he could encounter more frustration than merely Ryanair’s O’Leary playing hard to get. Certainly in the longer term – the overtly ‘radical milieu’ there has long been organising against gentrification and the cultural rubbish that’s going to fill the streets in less than a bit over 2 years time (a translation of this text on art and gentrification has become very popular there over the last 18 months).

In Languedoc-Roussillon, where I live:

Nimes (Gard county), all the lycees closed, and there were sit-ins at the prefecture.

Ales (also the Gard) – a blockade of the railway lines, with fires to keep warm.

Firemen were on strike throughout the Gard, only answering the most urgent calls.

In Perpignan, 150 strikers blocked a petrol depot for 4 hours, with tyres burning all over the roads. A train driver supporting the blockade said on telly, “This is not just about retirement but about the whole future of this society”, though the different ways of understanding the implications of that are about as many as there are people who feel the same way. 200 teachers occupied a local state institution (didn’t catch what it was). A firetruck was attacked with stones.

In Frontignan, near Sete, 300 train drivers and truck drivers, plus others, blocked an oil depot, beginning very early in the dark morning – stopping distribution in 3 counties. A train driver said, “We’re doing this for the future – for our grandchildren”, though they were also clearly doing it for themselves.The cops, preceded by a nicey nicey reasonably-toned Prefet (head of administration for the area) asking for a calm dispersal, unblocked the depot in mid-afternoon without resistance – 300, in a fairly isolated spot, not being enough against cops armed with tear gas and flash balls. However, the expulsion was immediately followed by a mini-General Strike in the Frontignan area.

Aude also had a blockade of an oil depot up till mid-afternoon.
In Montpellier the “concierge” (security/surveillance office) of a lycee was completely wrecked by fire. And many of the windows of this lycee were “broken” (they’re very thick top security windows, so none of them shattered) by 50 or so hooded youths. A teacher, who quite possibly objected to this reasonable attack, had a molotov thrown towards her, without touching or injuring her at all. She called them terrorists. The school was evacuated.

On Friday 15th October, 60 or so youths attacked the blockade of a the top notch lycee in Montpellier (“Joffre”) – the BAC (anti-criminal brigade) and suspected RG (equivalent of Special Branch) cops had been seen in their cars outside, leaving just a minute before the crowd of youths arrived. The youths also attacked “college” (12 – 15 yr olds) students, and went on to attack another school nearby, this time going through the dormitories robbing what they could. A car with a couple in it was overturned outside this school, and apparently a tram driver was stabbed in the hand. A radio journalist told a teenage girl he was interviewing that he had inside information that they’d been manipulated by the police, though he never actually broadcasted any of that (probably for fear of losing his job). Clearly, however, the degradations of life on the estates and the gang mentality that survival engenders, means that some youths don’t really need to be manipulated – they see everything in terms of a dog eat dog world, and it will take some considerable risk of a dialogue between those who identify with and participate in a more general social movement and these more nihilistic but utterly directionless youths to shift this to the advantage of both. Certainly moralistic finger-wagging is the last thing that will influence any change in this area: it’s part of the world they rightly hold in contempt, but cannot see or struggle or really want to find any way out of. This is not helped by the catch-all condemnations of anything that involves violence as “casseurs who’ve got nothing to do with the movement”. The local press was full of condemnation of these acts (though some of the worst, surprisingly, weren’t reported) but when the headmaster of Lycee Joffre pushed the gate onto the hand of a blockading school student and broke his wrist, this was played down as an ‘accident’. At another school in town, an anti-blockade teacher on the inside of a gate blockaded on the outside pushed a large barrier (that had been placed on top of the dustbins that are the main structure of lycee barricades) back onto the pavement, narrowly missing seriously damaging the faces of a couple of students. A parent who politely warned the teacher of the dangers of what he was doing was later punched in the face by this teacher. But blanket criticism of “casseurs” is a convenient way of ignoring these contradictions, and of not looking at what is justifiable and what is sick in “casseurs” actions.

Lycee youth chant of the week: “In Parliament the MPs jerk off all day” (it rhymes in French and they sing it).

A lot more could be said, and I haven’t even been to develop the answers to the questions posed in the introduction, but I’ve got to go now. Apologies for the lateness, and insufficiency, of this: internet, computer and personal problems have caused the delay…………”



Long battles erupt in Athens protest march
03/06/2010, 2:01 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , , ,

From Libcom:

“Long battles erupted today at the Athens protest march against the measures. The GSEE union boss was heavily beaten by protesters while battles with the cops developed for 3 hours all across the centre of the city after riot police attacked anti-Nazi resistance symbol Manolis Glezos

The demo called by ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union, and GSEE, the private sector umbrella union, started gathering at 12:30 in Syntagma square, after another 10,000 strong demo by Communist Party umbrella union, PAME had ended its own demo and marched to Omonoia square. Soon around 10,000 people gathered in Syntagma, a large number considering there is only a 4 hour stoppage and not a strike today.

All was quiet until the GSEE union boss Mr Panagopoulos took the microphone to address the protest. Before managing to utter more than five words, the hated union boss was attacked by all kinds of protestors who first heckled him and threw bottles of water and yogurt on his face and then attacked him physically like a giant swarm. With bruises, cuts and his clothes torn, the PASOK lackey struggled his way towards police lines, as the people attacked again and again. Finally he managed to hide behind the Presidential Guard and up the steps of the Parliament where the hated austerity measures were being voted. The crowd below encouraged him to go where he belongs, to the lair of thieves, murderers and liars.

What the bourgeois media call the “lynching” of the union supreme boss became a prime subject of infight within the parliament with the government accusing the Radical Left Coalition that the attackers originated from its block (GSEE itself blaming KOE, a Maoist group of the Coalition), a half-truth at best. The Communist Party has refused to condemn the attack, only noting it disagrees with it. This is the first time such a high ranking union boss is attacked at a rally that its union has called, and the act is widely believed to mark a new era in union history in greece. The initial phase of the attack against the union boss can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJW33W9t0bw&feature=player_embedded

Soon after the beating of Panagopoulos, small skirmishes started between protesters and riot police forces in the form of body-to-body battles in front of the Parliament. During one of these incidents, riot cops attacked Manolis Glezos, the heroic anti-nazi resistance fighter who had lowered the nazi flag from the Acropolis during the german occupation. The elderly man was trying to help a man from being arrested at them time and had to be removed from the battle scene in an ambulance as tear gas fired directly on his face caused him serious pneumonic problems and he remains in serious condition in hospital (for a video of the attack see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FX3S3I7Nos&feature=player_embedded).

The attack on Glezos gave the signal for a general attack of thousands of people against the cops, many of who were wounded during the battles which included rocks, sticks but no molotov cocktails. During the clashes 5 people were arrested, 2 of who are accused under the anti-hood law, while the rest with small non-criminal breaches of the law. During the clashes many riot shields and helmets were taken from the cops and burned along with other flaming barricades on the streets. 7 cops are reported by the police as heavily wounded, some with knee-cap and other bone breaks.

Due to extended use of tear gas at around 14:00 the atmosphere in Syntagma square was so unbearable that among chanting “the cops are not the children of the workers, they are the dogs of the bosses”, the demo turned into a protest march with the direction of the Ministry of Labour, half a km south of Omonoia square. At reaching Propylea more clashes with the police took place, while a sole high-ranking cop was isolated and beaten by the crowd. Further down on the way to Omonoia, protesters attacked a riot police squad that was guarding the National Legal Council. The riot police squad was cornered and attacked by means of sticks rocks and flares, before being forced to retreat inside the building after one of its members was captured by protesters and repeatedly trampled by the angered crowd.

The march then continued to Omonoia and from there down Peireaos street where banks, economic targets and expensive cars came under attack, before the march reached the Ministry and the protesters tried to break its central doors. More clashes with the police ensued and the march turned back to front and decided to march once again to the Parliament. On the way, cops came once again under attack by protesters with many riot policemen wounded and retaliating by means of tear gas. After reaching the Parliament, the march refused to desolve and took once again to the street in a bravado of resolve, until it reached Propylea where it came to an end. After the end of the march 6 more people were detained while taking refuge to the Social Security Headquarters, but have been released without any charges against them.

In Salonica, upon reaching the gates of the Ministry of Thrace and Macedonia protesters pulled down the heavy iron fences of the Ministry and moved into its front yard where they were confronted by riot police who made use of tear gas amongst flaming barricades.

Finally, the workers of the National Printing Units have occupied the premises and refuse to print the legislation imposing the austerity measures. Unless the legislation is printed there, it is not legally valid. Meanwhile the occupation of the State General Accountancy by layed-off Olympic Airways workers continues. The workers have also permanently closed off Panepistimiou street (the equivalent of Oxford street in London), at the heigh of the building, with all traffic diverted by side-roads.

A general strike by ADEDY and GSEE has been called for March 11.”

http://libcom.org/news/long-battles-erupt-athens-protest-march-05032010