Let’s remember victims of British tyranny. You said it, Akala

November 5, 2018

The vindictive, cowardly racism that black Britons face on the streets is rooted in empire, the hip-hop artist and writer Akala insists in his book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.

The argument that racism is shaped by imperial oppression, and by class relations – that it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere in people’s heads – runs through the book. And so

Akala. Photo: Alexis Chabala / Two Roads books

does the theme that struggles against empire are a key part of the path to a better world.

“As much as a tendency to dominate, divide and brutalise has been a seeming constant for the past few millennia at least, so too has the tendency of sharing and co-operation, of rebellion against dominant powers and attempts to create a more just order”, Akala writes (p. 148).

“The degree to which humans have secured a more just world has been born out of the struggles against empires as much as anything else.”

Akala recounts the British empire’s crimes – from slavery, through colonialism in Africa to selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for the genocidal onslaught in Yemen right now – and Read the rest of this entry »

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London: callout for solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

November 1, 2018

We are an ad-hoc collective of anti-fascists in London who want to organise a solidarity event to support anti-fascists in Russia on 19th January 2019.

19th January is a significant day for anti-fascists and anarchists, as each year demonstrations are held to remember Russian comrades, the journalist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who were murdered by fascists in broad

“They’re not terrorists. The terrorists are at the FSB, and they torture people.” Participant in a picket in St Petersburg in May this year. Photo by Jenya Kulakova. Courtesy of the Russian Reader.

daylight 10 years ago, as well as other fallen comrades who were victims of fascist violence.

Markelov, an experienced lawyer and social democrat, spent years fighting for justice in workers’ struggles, environmental protests and against the violence of the Russian state. Read the rest of this entry »


Brazilians against Bolsonaro

October 28, 2018

Brazilians gathered last night in London, in front of their country’s embassy, to remember the musician Mestre Moa do Katendê, who was murdered this month.

The event was also a protest against authoritarianism and violence, and against attacks on democratic rights. “It’s a very worrying moment in Brazil”, one of the organisers told the crowd of about 200 people, during a break in the music.

Mestre Moa was reportedly killed on the night of the presidential election first round, after saying he would vote for the Workers Party. The killer, who has been arrested, was a supporter of Jair Bolsonaro – who is the front runner in the second round of the poll, being held today.

There were drums aplenty, and singing and dancing, at yesterday’s event. Leaflets were Read the rest of this entry »


The climate fire raging under the international political system

October 8, 2018

Review of Climate Leviathan: a political theory of our planetary future, by Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright (London: Verso, 2018)

What are the real political prospects, as the world hurtles towards global warming? Not our hopes or desires, but really possible changes – good, bad and horrible – starting from where we are now?

Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright, researchers of political theory who have been actively

Photo: Mikael Miettinen, creative commons

engaged in the “climate justice” movement for many years, address these questions in this thought-provoking book.

There are two fundamental ways to divide the options, they argue (pp. 28-29). First, whether the future economic order will be capitalist or not. Second, “whether a coherent planetary sovereign will emerge, that is, whether sovereignty will be reconstituted for the purposes of planetary management.” By “planetary sovereign” they Read the rest of this entry »


Prisoners of a frack-friendly establishment

September 27, 2018

The British establishment is stepping up its deranged assault on anti-fracking protesters. How else can we interpret the 15-16 month jail sentences handed out yesterday at Preston Crown Court to three peaceful protesters?

Simon Roscoe Blevins (26), Richard Roberts (36) and Richard Loizou (31) were convicted in August of causing a public nuisance. They took part in a four-day direct action that blocked a convoy of tricks carrying drilling equipment from entering the Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, operated by Cuadrilla.

The judge, Robert Altham, made clear the political nature of his decision in court yesterday. He said he thought the three men posed a risk of reoffending, and could not

Anti-fracking protesters (l-r) Rich Loizou, Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe-Blevins, outside Preston Crown Court with supporters before sentencing

be “rehabilitated” – because “each of them remains motivated by an unswerving confidence that they are right.”

He added: “Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions. Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody can achieve sufficient punishment.”

The judge’s vindictive sentencing is squarely in line with a small section of the UK Read the rest of this entry »


Starting to understand the Syrian tragedy

August 14, 2018

Review of The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy by Yassin al-Haj Saleh (London: Hurst and co., 2017)

We all need an understanding of the fate of the Syrian revolution: what it was up against, how and why was it drowned in blood, what its future holds. To this end, the publication of Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s book in English is very welcome.

The Syrian tragedy is a turning-point for movements of social liberation internationally. A mass popular uprising of exceptional scope and scale was defeated with an exceptional torrent of violence. In the rich, horrific history of repressive governments, few have waged such savage, relentless war on their citizens, or so cynically chosen to destroy the fabric of society by civil war rather than lose control of it.

Not only did the world’s governments allow the regime a free hand to torture and murder Syrians, but much of the so-called “left” stayed silent, or even supported the torturers and murderers. Reckoning with this disaster, and the reasons for it, is a precondition for any meaningful radical politics in future.

Syrian fascism

Saleh’s book comprises a series of articles written between the 2011 uprising and 2015, in which he returns again and again to analyse the Syrian regime, the “new bourgeoisie” with which it is most closely associated, and the social forces that support it.

In “The Roots of Syrian Fascism”, written in April 2012 – when the uprising was just over a year old – Saleh calls for a discussion of the roots of the fascist violence by Bashar al- Read the rest of this entry »


Support Ukrainian political prisoners

July 24, 2018

Ukrainians and Londoners demonstrated at the UK parliament yesterday, calling for the release of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. On the hottest day of the year, they chanted “free political prisoners”, “free the hostages of the Kremlin” and “stop the war in Ukraine” to passers-by.

They highlighted the case of film director Oleg Sentov, who was yesterday on the 71st day of a hunger strike, and is seriously ill. Sentsov is demanding the release of the 70 Ukrainian prisoners. The

The demonstration in Parliament Square, London, yesterday

prisoners include opponents of Russian military action in eastern Ukraine, some Crimean Tatar community activists. Many of them, including Sentsov himself, have been framed up on fictitious “terrorism” charges that have been condemned internationally as bogus.

For information on the prisoners’ cases, see these links.

“Sentsov considers his solo release would be a ‘total failure’”: article, with links to pages on other Ukrainian prisoners (from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Report of a visit to Oleg Sentsov (from the Russian Reader)

An interview with Oleg Sentsov’s cousin, Natalya Kaplan, who visited him earlier this month (from the Russian Reader)

An outline of the case of Pavlo Hryb, the Ukrainian school student framed up by the Russian authorities (from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Report of the campaign of repression against Crimean Tatars (from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

What Sentsov could die for, by Maria Kuvshinova (from the Russian Reader)

■ Stories by Oleg Sentsov, on the PEN International web site: “Testament”, “Autobiography” and “Dog”.