Friday 21 January 2011

"Polishness", Regional Identity and Patriotism – always on the side of Capital

Statement on the so-called "March of Polishness" in Katowice January 22 and the counterdemonstration planned on that day

The far-right imbeciles of NOP are again organizing a demonstration. This time they claim they are doing so "at the request of the citizens of Silesia". The inspiration for the nationalists are the demonstrations of the Silesian autonomists, trying to build a Silesian identity. This is not to the liking of the Polish nationalists, who aim to demonstrate their "Polishness".

The Silesian autonomists, in turn, try to build support for their project using arguments about benefits citizens will get from regional autonomy. However, for the working class, there is no difference between regional, Polish or international authorities, bosses and exploiters. Capitalism has only one goal: to enrich the owners at the expense of others. The national colours or country of origin of the capitalism doesn't have the slightest meaning. Neither regionalism, nor nationalism nor patriotism will ever be the basis of a movement aiming to overthrow the rule of capital. On the contrary, they can only strengthen it.

We are opposed to the constant manipulation of the nationalists who try to convince us that under their "national" leadership, exploitation won't be exploitation and repression won't be repression. We are against all attempts to channel energy aimed against power and capital into identity projects based on regionalisms or nationalisms. Our struggle is international, just like our interests: to take the means of production from the bosses and owners, to take back control over the workplaces and community and to overthrow all governments, regional, national or international, once and for all.

We don't agree with the attempts by some antifascists, anarchists and other activists who are trying to "reclaim" the idea of patriotism, suggesting that nationalists are not "real patriots", and that the idea of patriotism itself can be defended. Patriotism does not deserve to be rehabilitated. It is only a tool in the hands of cynic political operators who use the principle of "divide and conquer" trying to pit workers against each other.

Building political identity based on national and the state instead of on the grassroots class struggle is the force that drives nationalism, wars carried out in the interest of capital and the false consciousness of workers. Let's break with these superstitions and instead let's declare that workers have no countries, and the arena for our struggle is the entire world.

No war between nations, no peace between classes!
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Citizens Confront Local Government, Conflict Heats Up

Today a group of more than 60 people went to the local council of the Praga district in Warsaw to confront politicians and try to force politicians to resume the session of the local council, which is being run by a group appointed by the President after the chairwoman of the last session (in November) called a break and never resumed it. A council session was opened but soon turned into pandamonium.
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Thursday 20 January 2011

Statement of ZSP Against the Farce of Local Government: Politicians Hide, We Tell them Not to Come Back

In an unprecendented breach of democratic procedures, the ruling party and the left refuse to show up to the City Council. Tenant activists and members of ZSP took over the hall and ZSP announced that we would be happy if the politicians never showed up to work again. Both groups promised to raise hell and start procedures to recall politicians. ZSP also will try to hold organize a popular movement against the politicians.

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Tuesday 18 January 2011

Confrontation against Frontex and head of European Council

On Jan. 17, on the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a conference on migration policy was held at the Kazimierowski Palace featuring keynote speakers Ilkka Laitinen, Executive Director of Frontex and former British Home Secretary Charles Clarke and attended by various Eurocrats and migrant hunters.  Although we found out about this only at the last minute, some people from ZSP and RAS (Radical Solidarity Action) were able to get into the closed conference and made an extended confrontation.  

Frontex chief Laitinen was particularly confronted about recent actions at the Greek Turkish border, iucluding incidents of shooting at migrants and press reports that a few people left their work there because they refused to shoot migrants. Laitinen denied everything, calling it a pack of lies and refused to answer questions about deaths of migrants. The debate got hot, with one woman from RAS and one from ZSP shouting Laitinen down. The member of ZSP pointed out the way in which Frontex was militarized and the controversy around this. There was no intervention by security and both Clarke and Laitinen refusing to address the questions and calling critics of Frontex anarchists. (In this case they were right.)

Prior to this, there was a couple of confrontations with Preident of the European Council Herman van Rompuy. The first was accidental when an individual from ZSP found herself in the morning on the Brussels-Warsaw flight with van Rompuy and other Eurocrats and decided to bother him about the bailout package in Greece, plans for Spain and Portugal and other assorted matters. Upon arrival in Warsaw, we learned that van Rompuy and Latinen were to speak in the same venue but there was not enough time to go to and intervene in van Rompuy's speech. However, just after it, and in the break prior to the conference on migration policy (held in another hall), van Rompuy found himself cornered by a few Eurosceptics, a couple of socialists and anarchists. Bodyguards and state security agents intervened and whisked him away. He did not make it to the conference on migration.

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Activists Confront Local Authorties

On Jan. 14, members of the Tenants Defense Committee and ZSP confronted local authorities in the Praga neighbourhood. The local government is now led by people put in place by the ruling neo-liberal party, in part of a procedural manipulation to take control over the two neighbourhoods in Warsaw where they were not elected. Such maneouvres (too complicated to explain here) have been going on for three years. To give a small hint, the head of the local council made a break in a session years ago and did not reopen the session. Later it was claimed that the session was never ended and subsequent ones were thus never legally opened. All decisions taken for a couple of years were then considered invalid and revoted in one session last year. Currently, a similar maneouvre took place, and thus the elected authorities could not be confirmed and the President installed her people, who subsequently tried to delay things for months.

Although we do not support any of the factions in the local council, we understand that the maneouvres of the President of the City is strictly connected to the desire to control this neighbourhood in particular, in order to speed up the gentrification process. It is significant that the authorities did not want to appoint a housing commission, which is the body responsible for assignining municipal housing. Without a commission appointed, there would be no way for anybody to get public housing in the neighbourhood. Therefore, we reminded then of our demands that the neighbourhoods be under popular control and said that if there is no housing commission, that we form it ourselves and tell people which flats are free and encourage people to go live there. The authorities then decided that it is better for them to appoint a commission.

Protestors showed up with a wheelbarrow to take away the politicians and interrupted the session with the protest, reminding them of the problems of the neighbourhood and our postulates. We also opposed the continued manipulations and interference of the President in local matters and the attempts to override and overturn the results of the elections. Read more!

Friday 14 January 2011

Picket at OBI

On Jan. 12, members of ZSP picketed OBI in Warsaw. In  the morning, leaflets were handed out at OBI headquarters. In the evening, a picket was held in front of one of the stores. The date was not coincidental; that morning a court case started against the firm in Krakow where a woman fired for union activism took the firm to court to fight for her reinstatement.
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Monday 10 January 2011

First Electronic Saleswomen Appear in Warsaw OBI; Workers Speak about Discrimination of Women in Chain

Yesterday ZSP members who went to one OBI store in Warsaw found it closed for stock-taking. Today, in the store we found that OBI has started introducing electonic salespeople in Warsaw.

To remind readers, workers in OBI in Krakow were being psychologically pressured and threatened with eventual replacement by "electronic salespeople". Some of them want to take action against their introduction. We were surprised to learn that they are already now a reality. 

ZSP will campaign against the replacement of real people by these computerized dolls. On Wednesday we are picketing against the repression of unionists in OBI and for the improvement of working conditions. We will now also be sure to take some action about the "electrosalespeople" and draw people's awareness to their significance.

In the meanwhile, it is coming to light that in OBI, pay discrimination against women is basically the norm. We will be trying to document this. The mainstream unions which operate in a few stores in the chain announced that they will start fighting for raises for the employees and the eliminate this discrimination.

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