11
Feb
11

Arrest the police! – stolen from no-kettling.webs.com

“Kettle” appears in the dictionary only as a noun, not a verb. So, the term “kettling” is not yet official. To determine why this word has acquired this meaning, let us look at the existing meaning of the word.

Well, a kettle is a container used to raise a liquid, usually water, to its boiling point. Based on that, it would be logical to conclude that a police kettle is intended to bring the contents, i.e. the protesters, to boiling point. In other words, the point of the kettle is to aggravate otherwise peaceful protesters. Of course, there are always some who are already non-peaceful (I don’t use the word violence because as far as I am concerned violence is against a person, damage to property is simply vandalism not violence;) however these make up a small minority. It has been shown that police kettles make a lot more people angry than those who were non-peaceful before the kettle began. Essentially, winding up a crowd of people in this way is simply incitement to riot, which is of course a crime.

Unfortunately, under PACE, ordinary citizens do not have the right to arrest a person pre-emptively (i.e. because they believe a crime is about to be committed). HOWEVER: there is a provision in the common law that allows any person to arrest another for a “breach of the peace”, and this provision includes pre-emptive arrest. The case in question – R v Howell [1981] 3 All ER 383 – states that a breach of the peace occurs “wherever harm is actually done or is likely to be done to a person or to his property in his presence to his property, or a person is in fear of being so harmed through an assault, an affray, A RIOT, unlawful assembly or other disturbance.” We have just established that a police kettle constitutes incitement to riot, so the logical conclusion is that any police officer who is a part of the kettle can be arrested by a member of the public at common law for a breach of the peace. And the best bit? If the officer in question tries to lash out with a baton or riot shield, well that’s resisting arrest, which is even more serious.

So, next time you’re stuck in a kettle, go up to the nearest officer, and arrest him (or her) at common law for a breach of the peace. Cite R v Howell if you need to. Get your friends and colleagues to do the same to other officers nearby. And together let’s prove that kettling is illegal!

07
Feb
11

No Platform is for ostriches

I’ve never been a big fan of the whole ‘keep busy and think of more cheerful things’ idea when in troubled times. I’m more in favour of facing problems head on, out in the open. That way, I know what I’m dealing with and it gets sorted as soon as possible. That’s part of the reason why I oppose the NUS’ ‘No Platform’ policy. I don’t like pretending that racists and fascists don’t exist by refusing to debate with them. I think they’ve reason enough to be discredited that debating them isn’t a great threat, either. And if people are in their right minds, they won’t agree with them anyway.

People in favour of no platform have often argued to me that it’s not a principle, it’s a strategy. I have to question whether it is actually a good strategy. Going on from the point above, would you rather defeat a racist in debate or let people feel sorry for them because they weren’t allowed to speak? I’m sure there are plenty of people who might feel sympathetic to racist organisations but if they were allowed to hear them speak would go off of them pretty quickly. If someone is not allowed a platform, perhaps it even martyrizes them to those who may be sympathetic to them. This is especially the case when you consider the followers of that organisation itself. Wouldn’t you be enraged if your leader was told they couldn’t debate in public? Wouldn’t it make you feel even more passionate about your cause?

And I happen to think principle is quite important. The point of having principles is that they – in some way – have a concrete impact upon the world. If they didn’t, then what would be the point in them? The principle I perceive as being at the heart of anti- (top down) no platform is liberty – freedom of expression.  If you begin by saying racists and fascists aren’t allowed a platform, it’s not long until other people are told they cannot talk. Let’s see… gay rights organisation Stonewall and feminist writer Germaine Greer, to name but two. No platform could potentially be used against far-left groups as well, perhaps those that campaigned for no platform policy in the first place! Every idea gets a chance. Just one is enough. If it’s rejected – and rightly so with anything even vaguely racist or fascist – then that’s fair enough. But not allowing an idea a chance in the first place? The progression of society rests on ideas coming to light and being accepted or rejected, so let’s fight the fascists fair and square and let’s have it out in debate and win, so that anyone in their right mind can see that they are plain stupid.

Some people in support of no platform say that racist attacks go up in areas that do not have a no platform policy. Are the attacks really going up? What if they were already at a high rate? That would explain why extremist groups have moved in – because they know they can get support there. It would be a lot more difficult for them to set up camp in areas in which they would have less support, it wouldn’t make sense.

Let’s talk about the BNP. They have fewer seats than a bicycle after the most recent general election. This was relatively shortly after Question Time featured Nick Griffin. He was thoroughly destroyed by the rest of the panel. What also happened around election time was that a metric fuck-load of anti-fascist activists descended upon Barking to campaign against him, engaging with residents about what is so wrong about the BNP. The racists were given a platform and they were debated with. They lost, abominably.

This is what I advocate: Freedom of expression, openness, intellectual freedom and progress. Debates are all well and good. However, when hateful extremists descend on an area, people have a right to kick them straight back out. I’m not talking about intellectually smug policies that do not allow anyone to listen to certain people; policies that could result in the NUS’ own members being removed from their positions by simply arguing with a fascist, but about true no platform. Bottom-up no platform. Nobody likes a racist, and the EDL have not been allowed to march freely without every anti-fascist and his dog coming down to kick them out of town. If someone threatens your community physically, then you have every right to do whatever it takes to expel them. This is the kind of no platform I believe in.

30
Jan
11

Libertarian conservatism: a contradiction of stolen terms.

It’s a sorry state of affairs in this world when the people who are pretty comfortable with mass exploitation are both here and abroad. This along with an ever shrinking group of individuals controlling more and more of the global economy, whilst celebrating the work of a woman who said “there’s no such thing as society”, get away with claiming political decadency from the likes of Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Both of whom advocated policies that would make Gideon Osborne’s black heart explode with the amount of money not allocated to the upper classes.

The problem comes the fact that the right have done a brilliant job of stealing terms from anarchists; at best muddying their meaning, at worse expropriating them altogether. The best example of this would be the label of ‘libertarian’, which used to simply mean someone who didn’t wish anyone (including the boss) to force them to do anything… you know; an anarchist, is now paraded by the worst and most virulent proponents of wage slavery around as though their philosophy is somehow about freedom for all, whilst advocating more and more control for those privileged few who have over those who have not.  Put bluntly, no one can be both a libertarian and believe in capitalism: these are mutually exclusive ideas.

The ‘free market’, though not a term that originates in anarchism, certainly has some stolen ideas because, after all, a free market would be where individuals can freely create and trade their produce without inhibitors, understood literally that has to be anarchism, as what is a bigger inhibitor to individual prosperity than the fact that a small number of people own the lion’s share of wealth and almost all wealth creating materials?

The latest incarnation of this right-wing doublethink in the UK at least is the ConDem’s idea of ‘the big society’ wherein the community will come together, work for each other for mutual benefit along with trying to break down the atomised society we have come to live in. At a glance this sort of looks like people taking control of their communities and making decisions affecting that community within itself… you know, anarchism. But let’s look closer, the government has no plans to give up policing the community: what this ‘big society’ consists of is the Tories telling us that we are responsible for our own public services, down to organisation and the supply of resources. Now, whilst the government decides it has a right to beat, kill or incarcerate us, I feel it has an obligation to the old, the sick and the education of children at the very least, and taking away not just the services.

This weird political cross dressing began – it’s probable to assume – as a ploy to get the plebs on board by arguing ‘hey we just want you poor people to get along in life, whilst these lefties just want to spoon-feed you and keep you poor’ is a more appealing argument than ‘we want us and our friends to control the economy so us and people like us can continue to rule you peasants’. The fact that this terminology has become the norm, however, has to be laid at the door of the left and their willingness to play along. I’ve had a discussion with an American who, whilst is not a liberal lefty is fiercely against the ‘libertarian right’ telling them why individualism is a bad thing. And that’s a right wing victory, they’ve got people who are – whilst very little better – arguing for a better deal for poor people that the worst nightmare of conservatism will allow, attacking them by attacking freedom. Instead of pointing out that ‘free market’ is not free, we are letting people get away with describing safeguards against the worst excesses of neo-feudalist global companies as restrictive.

We can’t allow this to continue, so make sure when next you see a so called ‘libertarian conservative’ or something similar, telling everyone that he’s for liberty somewhat akin to Tom Paine, make sure they don’t get away with looking like the rebel for supporting those who oppress us.

by MFT

30
Jan
11

If a tree falls in the woods, will the country be any better off?

Just ten per cent of Britain’s land surface is wooded, compared to an average of 25% in other European countries. The United Kingdom is unique in that this figure is rising, but a return to a more beautiful and ecologically supportive country has been threatened by government plans to sell off all state-owned woodland in the next ten years.

Along with the other changes being made to the country, we could see our woods being cut down for timber or turned into golf courses and holiday parks, with nearly 40 public forests in the Lakes alone potentially under threat. The future of the 1200 jobs in the Environmental Department is also unclear.

The irony of these plans speaks louder than even a chainsaw: Cameron told us he wanted the greenest government ever, yet that which helps keep the earth at a habitable temperature and allows us to breathe could face the well-worn Tory axe – the government have promised to remove the red-tape of planning permission which would protect the woods. It also doesn’t go unnoticed that 2011 is the UN’s International Year of the Forests.

The Forestry Commission, which currently manages state-owned woodland, has commitments to replace conifers with native broadleaf trees such as oak, beech, ash and lime. The forests are expected to be sold with no requirement to honour these commitments. The privatisation of the forests will doubtlessly incur the opposite – our remaining native forestry being replaced with more and more monocultures that are not supportive of ecosystems.­­­

Another issue with selling off the country’s natural heritage is that the forests will be owned by ‘leasehold’, meaning that access can be restricted. So if the highest bidder found a more profitable use for the land, the forests could be fenced off. In a certain sense, we are all in it together, as everything from ecological stability to dog walking is under attack.

If forests aren’t chopped down, they could potentially be used as tax loopholes: commercial forestry in the UK is free from income tax, capital gains tax from timber crop, corporation tax and even inheritance tax. Funnily enough, the debt the government wish to clear from selling off the forests could easily be raised through dealing with tax avoidance.

Before the trees have even fallen in the woods, public outrage at the plans has already been heard: Protests have been held at locations such as the Forest of Dean, where thousands gathered and burned a statue of Big Ben. Celebrities have also voiced their concerns, raising support for the issue. The privatisation of state-owned forests has yet to go through the House of Commons, so now is the time for everyone concerned with the future of rural Britain to sign petitions, contact MPs and, more pertinently, consider action that will more directly challenge this environmental vandalism.

18
Dec
10

Anti-police poster

 


 

First attempt with Illustrator. Not too bad, eh?

18
Dec
10

20/12 “March of Resistance” – an EDL front?

A “March of Resistance” through London on the 20th of December has recently been called. The group responsible initially used the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts’ logo and claimed the event had been organised by them. After complaints were made, the name of the creator changed briefly to the “British National Union of Students” and then to the “UK People’s Initiative”. The proposed starting location of the march is Piccadilly Circus, an apolitical area that will be brimming with tourists and Christmas shoppers at this time of the year.

Continue reading ’20/12 “March of Resistance” – an EDL front?’

18
Dec
10

Too many kettles, not enough tea

Kettling is a police tactic used to detain large numbers of people at demonstrations and protests. Police lines are formed around a block of protesters and slowly moved further and further in, detaining those within the kettle in a smaller and smaller space, often for several hours. Any attempt to resist being imprisoned is met with batons, shields and often boots and fists. When the protesters are visibly tired and distressed, the crowd is eventually dispersed very gradually, often with FIT photographing all those who are permitted to exit.

Continue reading ‘Too many kettles, not enough tea’