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Student Newsletter

Autumn 2012 FREE Photo: Guy Smallman

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capitalism was the only game in town. a time of crisis, the gap between the rich and the poor They are no longer socialists at all. On the other hand the rest of the left is divided into countless small parties, often fighting amongst themselves, with campaigns dominated by one socialist group or another, and each claiming to be the sole bearer of truth. At a time like this we should be buildand ing a united organisation that can present a credible alternative to the mainstream. We need to overcome these divisions if we are to start to make a real difference. Everyone knows a divided movement can achieve nothing. We came together to form the Anticapitalist Initiative to discuss ideas, reach out to people beyond the organised left and create a space to foster collaboration and common ways of working. We come from different ideological backgrounds but we share a conviction; The the left has to change if anti-cuts movement has we want to win. brought a new generation of activists into politics. Demonstrations, strikes and protests have returned to Britain not yet on the scale that can challenge austerity, but every act of resistance,

large or small, confirms the possibility of radical change. However, we cant just get caught up in a never-ending cycle of protest and dissent. We also need to propose an alternative to capitalism so that we can break our chains and achieve real freedom. If we are to connect ideas to action to make discussion on the left really meaningful and not just abstract then we need to move towards a broad, united organisation. One that understands the multiple injustices our society forces upon us; a left fit for the 21st century.

ences, and to develop strategies and solutions. Capitalism is immensely powerful the search for profits effects every single part of our lives. A divided left could never hope to challenge it, but a united left can begin the fight to develop an alternative. There are encouraging signs that a breakthrough is possible. The nearvictory of SYRIZA in the Greek elections proves that the left can rise again. Occupy has shown that large numbers of people across the West are prepared to take direct action. We need to build upon these positive experiences and develop practical answers, without shutting out critical viewpoints. The left we need should be open, democratic, and radical: one that can talk sincerely about a credible revolutionary challenge to capitalism that is not just rhetorical. We are reaching out a hand to all those who would stand against injustice and oppression whether you are organised or unorganised, new to the left or an old hand, we want to you to take part, join your local group and help coordinate our struggle for a better world into a united anti-capitalist resistance.

becomes even wider. Today, governments across the world are using the excuse of 'belt-tightening' to take away jobs and welfare from those who need it most, claiming that this will solve the worlds economic problems. breaks, privatisation bank bailouts, all in the name of austerity, have made the super-rich even wealthier than ever before. But for the rest of us, things are getting worse. A double dip recession, and a decade lost to austerity. Young people no longer believe their living standards will improve over time. We are told to expect less, to live within our means as if the costs of the economic crisis were spread evenly across society when in fact working people are being made to pay the price. This cant go on: radical change is needed. But here in Britain, we dont have a strong left that can challenge the status quo. The Labour Party and the official leaderships of our unions have fallen behind a pro-cuts consensus instead of putting up an alternative. Over the last few decades they have told us that

Anticapitalist Initiative
Missed opportunities and false starts can breed cynicism and apathy. There have been many attempts at unity amongst the left in Britain. They failed because they were half-hearted, insincere, or tried to force one view and one way of doing things onto everyone involved. We dont want to be part of an organisation controlled from the top down. We want to build one that empowers activists to make their own decisions, and provides a space to take energetic initiatives, to share experi-

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day relationship between the personal devising this debate on and the political and how does class Feminism Today, the editorial affect the various issues and problems

team wanted to put the question of facing women today? On an internawomens liberation and its predicaments tional scale, what should the response to the contemporary Left. In this day of the Left be to the issue of womens and age it might seem to many in the oppression in the global south? How West that sexism is based solely on ran- can we navigate that complex web of dom bigotry. If women can now buy imperialism, gender, religion and class their own diamonds and buy their own without inadvertently reinforcing other rings, as pop girl band Destinys Child forms of oppression on women? so brilliantly put it, then lesser pay and professional condescension towards Second and third wave radical feminists often blame the male gender

women must surely be confined to bad per se. In other words, men are to employers, misogynist companies still blame because they are men. The penis living in the dark ages. But while it is and the masculine identity are the roots true that the status quo of the male of the inequality, the driving force of breadwinner and the patriarchal family patriarchy. In fact, this idea has often is increasingly undermined, it would be perpetrated some of the average, liberal a huge fallacy to affirm, even in the views and their perception of women as through lobbying within existing gov- thermore, can we create a society in First World, that feminism and women gentler, more stable and emotionally s liberation are no longer necessary. In a time of austerity and finan- from the start and, thus, their relegation cial disarray, the womens question to secondary social structures to benefit victories (our public education and us all a favour. If we had more women government and business, then ernmental and social structures. To which that scenario no longer reproconservative or neo-liberal feminists in terly unacceptable, maybe even unorder to achieve policy changes that thinkable? tain countries or localities. Those are some of the questions we roundtable at Anticapitalintelligent beings. Men are handicapped some this includes allying yourself to duces itself and where it would be ut-

remains crucial. Just like other post-War feminine leadership would, they say, do can improve the lives of women in cerhealth services, for instance), so too is in womens rights is now at peril. Two The old left sees change in the will try and answer with the Feminism form of class struggle and socialist Today

the terrain gained in the struggle for maybe we wouldnt be in this mess.

Liberal left feminists, as well as revolution. Class above, yet not preclud- ists.org. We have showcased shorttions in this newsletter. To see the full

thirds of the British public sector, the some of the new left and the Marxist- ing, gender is the catalyst of oppression ened versions some of the contribuone the Coalition government is openly libertarian wings, push for a softer ver- or emancipation. attempting to decimate, are women sion of the women & class question. Are these discourses contradic- versions and other articles visit:

employees. And out of the 18 billion Ethnicity and sexual choice are brought tory? Can we merge them into an effec- anticapitalists.org/category/feminismcuts in benefits, about 70% will be di- to the forefront together with gender tive and affective synthesis? Can we today/ rectly affecting women. equality. Feminism is sex-positive, gen- give that young girl in the bar the tools Across the board women are be- der is irrelevant and/or self-defined. to leave that horrible man? And, furing hit the hardest. What is the present Society, in turn, can be reformed Want to see an alternative to austerity? Want to say no to the cuts and privatisation hitting our services? Then join the mass TUC demonstration on the 20 October and the student march on the 21 November

owe a huge proportion of my identity and lifestyle to feminism. It has taught me,

perpetuated by the existence of states. I believe that fundamentally feminism has always been of the left, and always opposed hierarchy, which should be demolished in all structures and relationships. A frequent topic of dispute is the role of men. Whilst all liberation movements must be open to communicate with those who do not define within said oppressed group, it seems feminism still lives in a shadow of obsession with previous waves. We are silenced from the fear of being branded man-haters, and told our raw honesty is segregationist. Whilst it is frequently useful to receive the input and perspectives of pro-feminist men, we must consider the impact this has on the strength of safe spaces for women. Consider then, the apathy staircase (we experience, we reflect, we act) in that many feminists will be moved to action from their own personal experiences. It is important that these stories can be shared and discussed, without continuously having to justify or moderate emotions for fear

of offending, by generalizing, men. Indeed I have just justified myself. I would suggest that it is somewhat rare to attend mixed gender meetings and hear truly honest and open discussions of personal experiences. I believe this can be achieved by more women-only spaces. In actuality, for a man, or other feminists to oppose this on the basis of excluding men is failing to appreciate the privilege pro-feminist men still enjoy women do not have access to the same methods, resources or spaces as men do on a daily basis. The Guardian for example, in December 2010 reported that 78% of newspaper articles are written by men the media being a major opportunity for discussion, debate and influence. It should be appreciated that many women have suffered severe violence and abuse, often on more than one occasion, and thus may find it extremely difficult to discuss this in front of men, and that no amount of vouching will ease such nerves. I, for one, would not feel at ease to openly

address my experiences in the hope of supporting, or building a relationship with other women (who may or may not have had similar experiences), in the presence of a man, whom I could reasonably fear to take a defensive reaction, turn the focus to there are some good men out there, men experience that too, or struggle to empathize with what is a daily struggle for women. Whether individual profeminists are guilty of this is not the point what I mean to emphasize is that whether right or wrong, these feelings of distrust do exist, because women are still unequal and do suffer frequently at the hands of men. Not all meetings need be absent of men, but allowing some to be ensures that women have the opportunity to empower themselves through honest and open discussion, to build a sisterhood with other feminists, and to speak freely without male or misogynist judgement. Read the full article at: anticapitalists.org/2012/08/04/turning-the-tide/

challenged me, comforted me, and introduced me to inspiring sisters who encourage me in every aspect of my life. Without feminism I suspect I would sink into a world of disabling fear and far less hope. Yet I say feminism in inverted commas because it is as diverse as any ideology or movement, and with its different interpretations come different obstacles. I propose the current stutters in our movements are born of a lack of intersectionality, but also an inherited paranoia of the past, that we need to continuously fight the back bite of the second wave, and sweeten our demands to make our feminism gentler to men. I dont suppose it is particularly helpful to stubbornly align with any specific strand of feminism, in that first and foremost my feminism influences my broader politics. What I mean to say is that, I am feminist; therefore I oppose capitalism and all oppression,

Wh

asleep. A man who admits these en the whole scandal recently flared up things, and does not call them rape! Sometimes this same Left was not even mentioning the word rape as if its not important, as if the wrongs and rights of this man cancelled each other out. I was shocked to see this Left coming up with every excuse in the book for this man. That sometimes people admit to things they havent actually done, that the women were CIA agents, that one of them even had the audacity to look happy and throw a party in the days after allegedly being sexually assaulted. As a woman, this sent me a clear message: if you happen to be sexually assaulted by a man who has done good political things, you better not speak up. Because you will be silenced. You will be called a liar, and people will support the man, because powerful men can get away with these things. There is no dichotomy between supporting Wikileaks, being against imperialism, and taking rape accusations seriously. The other choice is to huddle outside the Ecuador embassy building with signs of support, to see Assange on a balcony, smiling like some kind of cross between Mussolini and Eva Peron. The uncritical support Read the full article at:: anticapitalists.org/2012/08/20/when-the-leftapologises-for-assange of Assange from parts of the Left has left a very sour taste in my mouth. It has shown me how much work we still have ahead of us as feminists.

again, I said I wasnt going to talk about Assange. After numerous Facebook arguments with people on all sides, I said I wasnt going to talk about Assange. After being screamed at for daring not to flock down to the Ecuador embassy in uncritical support of an alleged rapist, I said I wasnt going to talk about Assange. And yet, here I find myself talking about Asssange, because it matters. I was shocked to see parts of the very Left which regularly slams patriarchy, and condemns sexism and misogyny, unconditionally defending a man who has been accused of rape. I was shocked seeing parts of the Left defending a man who had unprotected sex with a woman who had specifically not consented to having unprotected sex. A man who initiated sex with a woman who was

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see that attempts to separate the quese coalition government has outlawed squatting, threatention of homelessness from householder property rights is disingenuous. This is because the issue of social justice is absolutely central to this debate. Why do people need more than one home when so many people are sleeping rough? The scare stories of peoples homes being taken over and trashed obscure the fact that many squatters target long term empty buildings, including warehouses and other brown belt industrial areas which are not covered by this new law. Even if some criminal damage occurs during squatting that is a separate matter indeed a separate law to the question of occupying a building and living there when it is otherwise abandoned. Most squatters I have met in London value the principles of community and solidarity. They usually take care of properties they are staying in because they are living there. The political question here, beyond the narrow focus on property rights, is why there are so many empty properties and why there is so little effort to turn them over to people who need them? What the government fears even more is the political nature of squatting which we can see if we understand the history of it. Originating in the radical wing of the parliamentarians in the English revolution, people seized control of the landed estates of the feudal supporters of the king and squatted them to turn them over to the people. Huge numbers of people squatted after the Second World War. People homeless from the blitz and returning soldiers with nowhere to live took over properties whilst left wing parties and campaign groups demanded more social housing to be built by the government. Squatting has always been a response by people when they are faced with the social injustice of homelessness whilst some properties remain empty. Today we face another social crisis caused by the recession. But we have a government which is more interested in criminalising the vulnerable rather than dealing with the actual problems. Despite this new law the fact is that squatting will continue, indeed more people will be driven to it as the economy nose dives and they are forced into difficult choices. Read the full version of this article at: http://anticapitalists.org/2012/09/02/thetruth-about-squatting-and-emptyproperties/

ing around 20,000 vulnerable people with 6 months in prison and a 5,000 fine. The usual hang em and flog em brigade are ecstatic; homeowners associations have been appearing on TV and radio offering their complete support to the new law. Whenever critics point to the social issue of squatting, and why people do it especially in the middle of an economic recession the right wing orthodoxy tries to separate the issue of homelessness from homeowners rights. Protecting the property of homeowners comes first (after all, Thatcher did want a property owning democracy) and criminalising squatting is undoubtedly an essential part of such a dream. There are around 720,000 empty properties across the country. 350,000 are long term empty. After a year on year decrease in newly homeless households between 2003 -09, the number of homeless people in Britain increased by 17% in 2010 and another 14% in 2011. London is a homeless black spot, with close to 6,000 people sleeping rough, up 34% from 2011. London is also an empty properties black spot, with 33,140 empty properties, 14,960 of which have been empty long term. Looking at these figures we can

The Anticapitalist Initiative is based on autonomous local activist groups that want to coordinate together at a national level. We want to build a more united, plural and democratic left, by providing a space for practical collaboration and discussion of the

Local groups in our initiative work autonomously and have a life of their own. If there is not a group in your area, why not set one up? Or perhaps you are already in a group of anticapitalists who would like to affiliate to the initiative if so get in touch. We are a new initiative, have much to discuss and want to draw on a wide range of ideas and experiences on the radical left.
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big questions facing the movement. We came together in April 2012 out of conviction that we needed to build a more, open democratic, plural and united left. Greater Manchester Anticapitalists
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