Strike! (Boston Edition) March/April 2006

Anarchist News & Commentary

March/April 2006

Strike! (Boston Edition) is a free anarchist agit-prop broadsheet put out by the Boston local of the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC)

This issue's contents: Government Escalates Attacks on the Poor, Rising Fuel Costs, Subway Fare Hikes, Hotel Workers Organizing, BU Bioterror Lab, Intro to Anarcha-Feminism, and more...

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Government Escalates Attacks Against the Poor:
When Will Social Misery Turn into Class Rage?

Massive cuts in social spending. Increased budget for militarism and war. Further tax cuts for the rich. Rising unemployment and poverty for the rest of us… There's a class war in this country. Unfortunately, we're on the losing side. How much more is it going to take before we start fighting back?

Recently the Bush administration presented its $39.5 billion budget-cutting package to Congress. More than half of the funding slashed will be coming from programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, programs that benefit the poor and elderly. Another provision will gut $12.7 billion in federal funding towards grants, loans, and work-study programs for working class students. Further cuts will affect after-school programs, child care, foster care programs, pension insurance, transportation, food stamps, farm subsidies, community development, Section 8, and more.

As if this wasn't enough of a slap in the face, there is also a push to make Bush's tax cuts (which benefits the richest 5% of the population) permanent while simultaneously asking for increased military spending of over $70 billion to continue the bullshit wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and who knows where next. Are these people serious?

It would be easy to blame Bush and his cronies for these attacks on poor and working people and look to the Democrats to fight for our interests. But let's be honest. Were things much better under Clinton? Clinton slashed as many social programs and increased military spending as much as Reagan, and he had a much easier time doing it because he was a Democrat. A party for the rich is always going to be a party for the rich, no matter what name they hide behind.

Its time we look beyond politicians, both Republican and Democrat, because they don't care about our needs, the needs of our families, or the needs of our communities. They only care about profits for the rich and keeping themselves in positions of power. We need to be out on the streets fighting against these cuts… through our unions, community groups, or our social organizations. At the same time we need to develop alternatives to meet our needs, and not be as dependent on the small scraps the government throws our way to keep us quiet.

Let's turn our social misery into class rage, and start escalating our resistance to these attacks on our lives!

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New England Anarchist Bookfair

Speakers, workshops, panels, booktables, art, films and more…

To be held in Boston the weekend of April 21-22nd

For more information: http://www.neanarchistbookfair.org

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Freeze for Oil Profits?
Not Without a Fight!

All of us know how the increases in gas and oil prices have shot up over the last year. For those of us that drive to work, prices have gone up almost 50 cents a gallon on average, and heating oil prices have seen a similar increase. For many of us, this is an impossible situation.

We're keeping our homes as cold as we can stand, wearing extra layers inside. We're doing all we can to stretch our tanks of gas by waiting until the last moment to fill up and avoiding side trips. The prices are just too high.

But why are they too high? Has production of gas and heating oil dropped off? Is there a distribution problem? The answer points to something much more despicable.

Oil companies have seen record profits at the same time we have seen record prices. Their profits are up 35% over last year. These companies' production costs have remained similar, and the prices of crude oil are not increasing at a rate that justifies the cost to us.

The problem is simple: greed. The government is held up and supported largely by these companies that are causing us to pay $1000 more this year on petroleum products than last year.

When this gouging was limited to gas, only those of us who have to drive to work were feeling the worst of the burden. But now that the oil companies and the State have seen how well their ploy is working, they've expanded it to heating oil as well. And now we all feel the chill.

Well what can we do about it? This is a tough question. The money and power involved in this coupling of government and huge corporations is staggering. It is not the sort of problem that can be done away with without a huge amount of change. Writing your Congressman won't do a thing. And because oil products are so pervasive in our society, we have little choice but to pay up. Pay up or freeze is the message they give us. Pay up or don't drive.

We need to be sending back a message of our own. We won't except a government that teams up with companies to exploit us all while lining their pockets. There is little option other than opposing the entire system that allows these conditions to persist and to worsen. In many countries around the world, when gas prices go up it is often met with massive protests and riots in the streets. This has forced the government to step in and lower the prices before they are faced with total social crisis. Maybe its time we start following this example?

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MBTA Plans to Screw You... Again

The MBTA plans to raise subway and bus fares by as much as 25% in January 2007. This would be the second fare increase in three years, despite the continued poor service, substandard facilities, and racist policies that have limited access to neighborhoods like Roxbury and Chinatown.

Transportation officials blame everything from increased fuel costs to a stagnant ridership and want to stick us with the bill. This is outright robbery against working people who need to get to their jobs everyday and are forced to use these public services daily.

Our solution? Fight the fare increase with economic sabotage. Hit ‘em where it hurts, and remember: NO FARE IS A FAIR FARE!

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Organizing to Fight Back: Hotel Workers Rising in 2006

Hotel Workers have fought hard these last few years to ensure all major citywide contracts expire in 2006. This was to guarantee that the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE, would have the power they need in taking on the larger hotel corporations.

In the last twenty years the hotel industry has seen a consolidation. Instead of local, independent, family owned hotels we now find a few large multi-nationals who have an aim to end the impressive industry-based organizing UNITE-HERE! has achieved in the past fifteen years. The workers realize multi-nationals such as Starwood and Hilton can not only withstand a strike, but could easily break the union through decertifying union hotels or locking workers out of their job and hiring scab, non-union workers. These multi-nationals are a threat to the livelihood of hotel workers in that they have increased healthcare costs and at the same time initiated workload increases causing repetitive strain injuries and more rooms for housekeepers.

The hotel workers plan is to fight back and clear the air as to who makes these hotels what they are. The plan on gaining leverage by standing together and demanding rights and dignity not only for themselves, but for their non-union brothers and sisters who cannot organize without fear of intimidation or being fired. Along with room reduction, free healthcare and wage increases, hotel workers know they will not get what they deserve until all hotel workers are organized.

In the coming year, hotel workers will need the community to stand with them.

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Let The Rich Fight Their Own Wars!

On Saturday, February 25, residents of the greater Boston area came together outside of the Tremont Street Military Recruitment Center to resist military recruitment in local high schools and college campuses. The demonstration was called by members of the Radical Youth Alliance, an organization of dedicated youth throughout the area who work together on a variety of issues but focus on resisting the war.

Leaflets were passed out explaining how military recruiters lie in order to trick potential enlistees, and emphasized that the problem is not just one war or one president, but with the system of militarism.

http://operationover.freeyouth.net

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BU Bioterror Lab: Bringing Infectious Diseases to Our Community!

Boston University has undertaken the process of attempting to build BioSafety Level 4 research lab in Boston, a lab to be used for the research of highly deadly and infectious diseases, including anthrax, botulism, and the Ebola virus. And they want to build this lab in the South End / Roxbury!

Not only would this lab put the residents of Roxbury-as well as greater Boston-at the risk of infection of these diseases, it offers to give little (if anything) back to the community. BU has made no commitment to offer jobs in the laboratory to community members, while adding an influx of highly skilled white collar jobs to the area will surely bring a new wave of gentrification to push out long time residents of Roxbury.

The lab has been awarded federal funding, and Boston University hopes to begin building the lab within the month.

Opposition to this lab is vital for the safety Boston!

To become more involved contact: Alternatives for Community and Environment (www.ace-ej.org) at: (617) 442-3343

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Thinking About Anarchism: Anarcha-Feminism

An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations. Central to anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and women. Anarchists believe that the liberty of one is based on the liberty of all and so there can be no true anarchist society without an end to all existing structures of domination and exploitation, including naturally the oppression of women.

As anarchists we believe that the means determines the end. This means that we do not wait for some future revolution to tackle the problems of sexism but instead see that it is important to struggle against it in the here and now. As anarchists we strive to ensure that both our own organizations and also those campaigns we are involved in are free from sexism and power-hierarchies and that all members have equal decision-making power.

We recognize that the full participation of women within the anarchist movement and social struggles of today is very important. In order to shape the future society women must be involved in its creation and, of course, without the participation of half of the population there will be no social revolution. Just as we believe the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class themselves, we also see that, essentially, women's development, freedom and independence must come from themselves. Becoming involved in political struggle is in itself an act of empowerment. Many women in today's society do not believe that they could have a role in fundamentally changing things. However by getting involved, by assuming our place -- agitating, educating and organizing -- we begin to take control of our own lives in the process of actively fighting to change the unjust society in which we live.

Only in an anarchist society will the basis for the oppression of women cease to exist. This is because women, due to their reproductive role, will always be more vulnerable than men in capitalist society which is based on the need to maximize profit. Abortion rights, paid maternity leave, creche and childcare facilities etc., in short everything that would be necessary to ensure the economic equality of women under capitalism, will always be especially relevant to women. Because of this, women are generally viewed as being less economical than men to employ and are more susceptible to attacks on gains such as childcare facilities, etc.

Also, women cannot be free until they have full control over their own bodies. Yet under capitalism, abortion rights are never guaranteed. Even if gains are made in this area they can be attacked, as happens with abortion rights in the USA. The oppression of women under capitalism has thus an economic and sexual basis. From these root causes of women's oppression, stem other forms of oppression like, for example, the ideological oppression of women, violence against women, etc. That is not to say that sexist ideas will just disappear with the end of capitalism, but rather only with the end of capitalism can we rid society of an institutional bias that continues to propagate and encourage sexism.

As an anarchist society will not be driven by profit, there, for example, will be no economic penalty for having children or wanting to spend more time with them. Childcare, housework etc., can be seen as the respon-sibility of the whole of society and thus give women and men more options in general.

Anarchism/Anarcha-feminism joins the fight against class exploitation and that against women's oppression together. True freedom, both for women and men, can only come about in a classless society, where workplaces are self-managed, private property is abolished and the people who make decisions are those affected by them.

Clearly the struggle for women's freedom requires a class struggle by the workers. And in turn, the class struggle can only be successful if it is at the same time a struggle against women's oppression.

- by Deirdre Hogan, Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland) http://www.struggle.ws/wsm

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Contact us!

Strike! (Boston Edition)
c/o PO Box 230685
Boston, MA 02123
nefacboston@nefac.net
http://www.nefac.net