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Organising in the Workplace with SolFed

This past weekend saw a number of members of the North London Local of the Solidarity Federation travel to lovely Brighton to attend a day-long SolFed workplace organiser training hosted by the Brighton Solidarity Federation.  The training, which focuses heavily on the practicalities of organising at work, not only gave us the chance to network with other SolFedders and interested workplace militants, but to have strategic conversations about establishing an organising committee in each of our workplaces.  We look forward to keeping in touch and putting the training to good use.  Bosses beware!

If you're interested in getting trained up, please send an email to training (at) solfed.org.uk

Working-class history: Anarcho-syndicalism on Merseyside

We are very grateful to a comrade from Manchester Solidarity Federation for lending us a book entitled 'Building the Union: Studies on the growth of the workers' movement: Merseyside, 1756-1967'. Below we publish several extracts from the book specifically about anarcho-syndicalism locally in the early part of the 20th century. The essay is by Bob Holton.

Protests and disruption at Liverpool Town Hall

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were amongst the crowd of 300 people who gathered outside Liverpool Town Hall to protest as the council set its austerity budget. With £91m of cuts on the table, local people and community campaigns - including the Park View Project to rehabilitate alcoholics and the Whitechapel Centre for the homeless as well as more than a few nurseries and SureStart centres - joined activists and campaigners to make the council hear their message.

At first, people huddled on the pavement on both sides of the road. Spirits were high and there was a lot of shouting and chanting, but it wasn't until one woman walked into the road with a banner and everybody else joined in that things really kicked off. This buoyed everybody's spirits even further and there was a mood of defiance in the air.

North Londoners attend SolFed Weekend School

This past weekend saw over one-third of the active membership of the North London Local of the Solidarity Federation take the train to Northampton to join approximately one-third of the total of the national organization for a weekend of strategizing, comradely debate, and hearty discussion.  With topics ranging from an anarcho-syndicalist approach to opposing the cuts to website development, the meeting allowed for networking and a honing of organizational strategy.

We met up with ‘old-timers’ who’d been in SolFed since the 1970s (before SolFed was even SolFed!) and new members, including a majority of the recently founded Thames Valley Local.  With lots of productive conversation, the meeting will help locals not only craft motions for our upcoming national conference but, organizationally, to galvanize both local and national initiatives.

Beware all vanguards!

Way back in the midst of time (or the mid 19th century to be precise) was an organisation called the first International Working Mens Association - or First International for short, which declared that "the emancipation of the working class is the task of the workers themselves". We would do well to remember those words as we struggle against austerity, as there's no shortage of would-be vanguards vying to substitute themselves for mass collective action.

The paradox of reformism - a call for economic blockades

Neoliberal ideology is a crock of shit and everyone left of Labour knows it. Critics have pointed out its flawed assumptions regarding perfect competition, consumer access to information, human nature and a host of other factors that nowhere apply in the real world. They’ve also pointed out that where neoliberal policies have been applied, the results have often been disastrous and rarely matched the promised outcomes of prosperity for the rich and trickle down for the poor. One famous example was the so-called J-curve model for transitioning the former USSR to Western-style capitalism. The ‘J’, a small downswing in transition followed by a long upswing when neoliberal policies worked their magic, turned into something more resembling an ‘L’, plunging millions into worse poverty than before.

And then there’s the cuts.

The Big Flame (1969): dockers, class war and workers' self-management

Written by Jim Allen and directed by Ken Loach, The Big Flame was broadcast as the BBC's Wednesday Play in 1969. It documents a fictional unofficial strike on Liverpool's docks in which the workers, frustrated by the uselessness of their union officials, decide to take matters into their own hands (as we in SolFed advocate).

London Coalition Against Poverty

One of the most exciting developments in London over the last year is the formation of the London Coalition Against Poverty. LCAP is inspired by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty in Canada, who have created a successful and empowering model of grassroots community organising over the last two decades. It brings together activists, advice workers and campaigning groups in order to tackle the causes and effects of poverty, merging advice work, direct action and libertarian organising.

Warsaw Rent Strike: Community Organizing in the Context of Social Atomization

In Warsaw a rent strike has been going on since Oct.1. Despite the fact that the issues may effect up to a quarter of a million people in Poland's capital city, we cannot say that a significant percent of public housing tenants have joined. This is mainly due to a lack of tradition and the extreme social atomization of the population - something typical in many post-Soviet bloc era countries. There is also the issue of a minuscule grassroots social movement and the disdain of the left for anything radical and outside the realms of reformist and party politics. [1]

An open letter to parents and school staff from a local teacher

We're publishing here a letter to parents and school staff that we received from a local teacher.

Protests by college and school students on November 24th and 30th were an exuberant festival of disorder. Young people threw down a challenge to adults facing threats to our livelihoods from the all-party cuts currently starting to kick in. Students as young as twelve got out on the streets, stepping out of their allotted roles and creating a vibrant, positive response to the vicious attacks that their generation are facing. At one Brighton school over 550 pupils walked out - a third of the total school population - as well as hundreds from other Brighton schools and Lewes Priory.

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