- Created: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 13:44
- Written by FRFI
FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009
FRFI active across the country
FRFI has been active over the recent period campaigning on many issues, increasingly focusing on the current capitalist crisis. Here are reports of just some of the events that have take place from around the country. For details of meetings and actions to come in your area see our Events column.
Activists in London have opened the academic year with the re-establishment of a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! student society at the London School of Economics. On 1 November our opening dayschool was on the subject of ‘Che Guevara, Cuba and socialism in Latin America’, with the main speakers being Helen Yaffe (UCL/Rock around the Blockade), Al Campbell (Utah University, US), Robert Clough (FRFI) and Fidel Narvaez (Movement of Ecuadorians in the UK).
The dayschool was set in the context of a revolutionary socialist movement that is gathering pace in Latin America. Helen Yaffe spoke about Che’s concept of socialist transformation through the development of productivity and socialist consciousness. She discussed how Che’s analysis is being debated and developed in Cuba, particularly in relation to the Battle of Ideas, as well as in the rest of Latin America. Al Campbell spoke and discussed with the audience about the challenges facing President Hugo Chavez and the socialist movement in Venezuela, as they struggle to overturn capitalism and fend off imperialist aggression and interference from the United States.
In the afternoon we heard an update on the class struggle in Bolivia and exciting news about Ecuador’s new anti-imperialist constitution, which has provided the starting point to free Ecuador from the exploitation of oil multinationals and its crippling overseas debt. The economic model being adopted by the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas has global consequences. It is directly challenging the crisis-ridden capitalist system by showing a living, developing and working alternative. The necessity for similar meetings in the future is clear. FRFI is proud to stand in support of the anti-imperialist and socialist movements in Latin America, and will continue to publicise their achievements.
In London FRFI has also:
• continued the weekly pickets of Marks & Spencer – a protest against the company’s support of Zionism.
• held weekly street stalls against the war and on the economic crisis.
• organised monthly demonstrations in support of asylum seekers outside Communications House reporting centre.
On 25 October FRFI joined the second Northern March Against Racism, called by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) and took the message of anti-racism, working class solidarity and internationalism to the streets of Newcastle. Anti-racists from Jarrow to Carlisle, Sunderland to Durham, Zimbabwe to the Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo to Iraq, young and old, employed and unemployed, chanted together: ‘Unemployment and inflation are not caused by immigration – Rubbish, come off it, the enemy is profit!’
Marching from the West End to Grey’s Monument, the protestors demanded decent living conditions for all. As the march passed the offices of Angel Group, who make millions of pounds every year by providing substandard and unsafe accommodation to asylum seekers on government contracts, chants of ‘Angel Group – Devil Group!’ rang out. On Stanhope Street passers-by showed their support for the march by buying TCAR’s newsletter, Resistance.
As the protestors arrived at Grey’s Monument they were confronted by a counter-protest of around 20 fascists from the National Front and Combat 18, holding a banner reading ‘Stop Immigration – Start Repatriation’. The police stood by and allowed them to continue with their open racism for some time before politely asking them to move on. Their chants and insults were drowned out by the united chanting of the anti-racists, joined by many passers-by.
The street meeting following the march went ahead despite intimidation, visibly from the fascists and from behind the scenes by the police and council. First the police had claimed that they couldn’t ‘accommodate’ the march due to the Sunderland-Newcastle derby on the same day. When TCAR informed them that we had no need to be ‘accommodated’ and that the march would go ahead regardless, they backed down. They then threatened that as they did not consider the rally to constitute a ‘meeting in the open air’, they would not allow a collection to be taken without a permit. Both council and police have refused to define what they do consider to constitute a meeting. In the face of concerted opposition on this point the police also backed down, and took no action on the day.
Speaking at the rally Sam Magill from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! pointed to the roots of the current crisis in capitalism’s inherent contradictions, and the urgent necessity for socialism. She made the point that in order to rebuild a socialist movement in Britain it would be necessary to confront and destroy the Labour Party.
FRFI activists in the Northeast have also organised or supported the following events:
• student societies set up at Northumbria and Durham universities and Newcastle College.
• educational series on the global economic crisis.
• a protest demanding decent food and housing for all.
• a protest against the commercialisation of education.
• Rebel MC all-dayer, raising money for the Monument 4 Defence Campaign.
• street events with the Northern Alliance for Police Accountability.
On Saturday 8 November at Celtic Park, Glasgow FRFI activists joined around 400 Celtic fans gathered outside the stadium, before and during the match against Motherwell, chanting slogans and singing songs against British imperialism in Ireland and around the world. In the face of an intense propaganda campaign waged by the government and risking demonisation by the media, hundreds of fans walked out of the game in opposition to the club’s support for the British Legion and its annual poppy appeal.
This was not just an explicit protest in opposition to British imperialism in Ireland, but also included chants in opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and support for the Palestinian resistance. The RCG recognises the political significance of the protest led by a section of the Celtic support on a clear anti-imperialist basis. This protest comes despite the failure of the anti-war movement in Glasgow and elsewhere to build any real and meaningful opposition against British imperialism. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Celts Against Imperialism were the only political groups on the left to support the protest.
Comrades in Scotland have also held weekly street stalls against the ongoing occupation of Iraq and about the capitalist crisis.
In the last two months FRFI and supporters have been supporting the various groups of migrants organising against the appalling treatment of refugees in Britain. On 18 October we supported a demonstration organised by the International Organisation of Iranian Refugees, which marched to the BBC offices to protest against their censorship of the death of Iranian refugee Nadir Zarebee. It was the third demonstration since his death. Nadir hanged himself in a park in Longsight, a suburb of Manchester, on 5 August 2008, after being evicted from his home in Trafford by the racist Home Office-appointed ‘accommodation provider’ M&Q Properties Ltd.
RATB has had three film showings followed by political discussions. There has been particular interest in Che as a theoretician, and also on the contrast between the development of socialism in Cuba and the absence of any socialist movement in Britain.