Monday, 30 November 2015

the Role of the Police in Modern Britain

The police, to add a metaphor, are dogs on a lead. Since the arrival and election of New Labour, and beyond, the police have been given such autocratic powers, and whatever orders they are given by the Home Secretary, obey like Hitler’s little puppies. We are told, quite laughably, that the police up and down the country are subject to the same laws as ourselves.  It would be interesting to explore this further.  Just take one example: PC Simon Harwood.  Ian Tomlinson was a hard-working father, and a good, decent human being but he is not anymore because he is dead. The PC is seen on camera throwing Mr. Tomlinson to the ground, and later died, but how did he die? We know the answer to that question.  He died of internal bleeding.  A direct result of Harwood’s actions, but we are told otherwise by the pathologist, Freddy Patel. This man, was, at the time, employed by the Home Office; the Home Office knew some rather disturbing things about him. The doctor had, in the past, made some grave errors, in diagnosing the causes of deaths, some very scandalous cases emerged involving children. But the Home Office, under New Labour, allowed the man to conclude that Mr.Tomlinson died from a heart attack.  A heart attack? Yes, indeed.  In actual fact, the man had died from internal bleeding.  We know this because this is what further pathologists concluded.  Because of this, Harwood could not be charged with manslaughter, yet he was seen on television throwing an innocent man to the ground.  Little has been said about the other police officers that observed this. 

How many people have been charged over the News of the World hacking scandal? Very few indeed, when in reality it should be hundreds, including police officers, and many of them.  But of course like many things in Britain all that has been hidden.  In fact, during the first investigation, led by John yates, concluded nothing, and appeared to investigate nothing. Public figures such as John Prescott often complained the police did not interview him as he was only one of the many victims of phone hacking. Rupert Murdoch was the police’s greatest ally. Yates also headed the investigation into “cash for honours”; same results.  It is often said public enquiries and investigations into people in high office are a scheming practice to hoodwink the public, this is largely true.  The police batter women at protests, infiltrate environmental protest movements, and have sex with the women, which some class as rape, murdering tens of people in custody with complete immunity from criminal prosecutions.  In sooth, what are the police?  That is not such a difficult question to answer.  On a regular basis, the police use violence, manipulation, and use propaganda to argue they are “protecting the public” and doing it for the purpose of “national security interests”.  The police, are, to use an analogy, assassins, hired by the mafia to subject innocent people to horrific violence, the government being the mafia, and the police being Hitler’s little poodles.  Of course, under the pretence of democracy the police can not subject men, women and children to horrific violence, just enough for them to get away with.

Because the police often act like thugs, T.V shows are constantly being made to indoctrinate their viewers into believing the police are just, moral and decent, and all they want to do is put bad people in prison.  When the police raid homes they subject people to a terrifying ordeal, on protest movements they act with such thuggery and violence, they constantly stop, search and harass people.  It ought to be the case because the police officers’ authority and extensive powers, their punishment ought to be different to the rest of society as they are in a unique position of trust.  The parents of Stephen Lawrence will long remember the disgrace of the police, as will the Irish that were terrorised by them in the 1980s, the Guildford  Four were wrongly imprisoned, as the police were astutely aware from the outset, they also refused to apologise to Barry George who spent nine years in prison for a murder he did not commit.  Instead of apologising the police said instead they would watch him like a hawk.  Yet when a police officer is killed the country goes into a crazed moral panic.  Bring back the death penalty, they say, allow police to have guns, and so on.  Giving a police officer a gun is akin to giving a terrorist a bomb.  As for the death penalty, by the mere mention of it, It presupposes the police are more worthy victims than anybody else.  They may as well be worshipped in Olympus along with Zeus and Hera.

Police constables are far less dangerous than their superiors, for these superiors do not often go for this thing called “justice”, but something else.  They, at every opportunity, push for the maximum sentence of their victims, even when they know the individual in question is innocent of any crime. They will lie, forge witness statements, lie and oath, giving the judge the justification to give defendants outrageous prison sentences. There appears to be no moral approach. It is also true the police work on targets; a terror that could strike the individual at any given time.

Now, the police, along with the Crown Prosecution service (CPS), are charging people with what we would call “thought crimes”, or what the Bush Administration would call “pre-emptive war”, attack them before they attack us. The astonishing and revealing thing about this is they need no evidence for such violence, which has been the hallmark of American foreign policy since 1945; there is little difference between the police. There is a crime which consists of the conspiracy to do this or the conspiracy to do that, in this regard, the police act within an autocratic framework,  these are not crimes at all. In the twentieth century British citizens are living in an open-air prison, and as for people released from prison, they are reduced to a fascist framework: they are removed from society completely.  Any criticism of the treatment of “offenders” is shot down by the Government, the media and other “responsible” organisations.

Britain is fast becoming a police state. There has emerged two registers which the police oversee.  Most famously or rather notoriously, there is the Sex Offenders Register (SOR), and the lesser known Violent Offenders Register, it is also known as VISOR (Violent and Sexual Offenders Register). These “offenders”, a favourite word used by the police, are visited by them on a regular basis but it is good, the public argue, because it protects the public. No, it does not.  In fact, one could argue it puts the public in greater danger at having these stringent controls in the first place.  

Now, due to court judgements, people subject to these registers can now appeal to be taken off them. The people responsible for taking them off this dreaded thing is not a judge as one may expect, but the police, which means, in reality, few, if any will ever be taken of these registers. A crime is committed, that person goes to jail, they are released, then subject to the most barbaric controls and it is the police that, potentially, dominate every aspect of their lives; where they stay, where they live, who they associate with, who their partner may be, and so on. Orwell would be very amazed if he saw modern Britain.
15th October, 2012
 
 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Emma Goldman






Emma Goldman was born on the 27th June 1869.  She belonged to a Jewish family in the Russian Empire.  Out of her siblings, she was not the eldest or youngest: she was the middle child. Emma had two older half-sisters and two younger brothers. The “middle-child” went to elementary school in the city of Koenigsberg.  Her parents were extremely conservative. It was at the age of seven when Emma Goldman was to live with her grandmother in Eastern Prussia.


Emma Goldman’s life was tough from the outset.  She was born into a ghetto; her father would beat her into frenzy at an early age, while her mother remained docile and passive.  She describes her father in her own words as “the nightmare of my childhood”.  The man even tried to marry her off at the age of fifteen but the young feisty and rebellious Emma was having none of it.  She was determined she would carry on with her schooling.  Poverty was rife everywhere; in Emma Goldman’s lifetime the world was on fire.  To say her life was tough is a little unfair, we may say, when all things are considered that her life was not tough at all; no, it was totally barbaric, barbaric by the way she was treated by her father, authority and other menacing figures. This is nothing to what Emma Goldman would endure later in life.  She would be hounded to the degree that she would even struggle to find shelter, persistently be incarcerated for no apparent reason but of course the state always find a way to justify such things, they always have done, and is true to say, always will do; she was to be persistently terrorised by the press, rather the capitalist press.  She would have breakdowns, bouts of depression, there even came a time when she withdrew from public life completely; she had to, she simply had no choice.  Indeed, Emma Goldman was a marked woman. 


 What a scandal; what an outrage; what an abomination that such a person, indeed any person, should be treated like a savage animal in this diseased fashion.  To treat an adult like this is shameful but to treat a childlike that is inhumane, but such things happened.  At the age of thirteen, she moved with her family in St. Petersburg, another ghetto.  It was 1882.  It was in this same year that she was forced to take an utterly degrading factory job. Here, she was treated like a virtual slave. It was horrendous but the young girl simply had no choice in the matter.  She was first employed making corsets; she would later manufacture gloves. Ultimately, it was poverty, the worst crime, as Bernard Shaw said, that forced Emma’s family into this action. Inevitably, so, the young girl was forced to quit school for a bit of sweatshop labour. This, it turned out, was to become Emma Goldman’s real education.  It was here where she saw real torment; she saw suffering; she saw things she would never forget.  This is the real Emma Goldman: Emma Goldman the humanitarian; the; sympathiser; a woman of noble intentions; of charity; of everything that is good and decent in a human being.

It is true, Karl Marx’s nearest and dearest friend and co-contributor to many of his works, Frederick Engels, was happy to work in the office at the Ermen and Engels textile factory of ill-repute, in Manchester, England,  which his father owned, for textile factories in the 19th century were all of ill-repute, as they are today.  Marx would, as it is well known, often borrow money from his friend, money coming from the expense of sweatshop labour.

 Karl Marx, the saintly Karl Marx, the hero of the oppressed, the conscience of the worker, the humanitarian. What rubbish; what nonsense; what fictitious fantasy, that Karl Marx and his lesser-known friend should be deemed heroes of the working classes.  Emma Goldman, I am sure, would be thanking such factory exploiters’ such as Engels and  son, for people as herself to be treated like a non-person, as Orwell would have it, to be treated like a mechanical machine; to be treated like a forgotten slave.  The voices in those appalling sweatshops are distant ones, or rather forgotten. While the two fine gentlemen-Marx and Engels-spout their propaganda, these young, innocent voices are lost forever, never to be returned.  We shall never know the truth of their lives. 


 At the age of fifteen, Emma Goldman’s father tried to force her into marriage, when she refused he blew-up, grabbed her French grammar book and threw it into the fire like a crazed madman.  She only had to endure her overbearing, grotesque father for another two years.  A great opportunity had opened up for her.  It was her chance to get out of Russia, to get away from the tyrannical Tsars, and move to a country full of liberty and freedom like the United States, where she eventually went.  Many years later Emma Goldman had this to say about the North American country:



It has been suggested to me that the constitution of the United States is a sufficient safeguard for the freedom of its citizens.  It is obvious that even the freedom it pretends to guarantee is very limited.  I have not been impressed by the adequacy of this safeguard.  The nations of the world, with centuries of international law behind them, have never hesitated to engage in mass destruction when solemnly pledged to keep the peace; and the legal documents in America have not prevented the United States from doing the same.  Those in authority have and always will abuse their power.  Moreover, the instances when they do not are as rare as roses growing on icebergs.  Far from the constitution playing any liberating part in the lives of the American people, it has robbed them of the capacity to rely on their own resources or do their own thinking.  Americans are so easily hoodwinked by the sanctity of law and authority.  In fact, the pattern of life has become standardised, routinised, and mechanised like canned food and Sunday sermons. The hundred-percenter easily swallows syndicated information and factory-made ideas and beliefs.  He thrives on the wisdom given him over the radio and cheap magazines by corporations whose misanthropic aims of selling America out.  He accepts the standards of conduct and art in the same breath with the advertising of chewing gum, toothpaste, and shoe polish.  Even songs are turned out like buttons-all cast from the same mould.



Her lucky break came when her half-sister, Helene, decided to emigrate to America, Emma went along with her and started a new life for herself.  Again, she obtained work in a factory; the name of the factory was Garson Company.  The wages paid to her was a mere two-and-a-half dollars a week.  It was here that she worked very early in the morning and very late at night.  The exploitation of the girls in the factory was not only economic but also sexual.  If the young girls refused the advances of the brutes in the factory, they often found themselves wandering the streets.  This was New York in the United States: the land of the free; the land of opportunity; of miracles.  It was not the case that America is a land of opportunity was and is a complete fraud.  The girls in the factories fared worse here than they did in Russia.  What drudgery; what suffering; what turmoil; what filth!  Come to our country, the United States, and we will beat you; we will torture your soul.  We will make you suffer; we will force you to work until you can no longer stand; until you can no longer breathe.  How free it is to be American, what repression, oppression, and what total lunacy!  It is easy to exploit a 17-year-old girl from Russia; it is also easy to enslave an entire nation.  All this to Emma Goldman who was still unfamiliar with the Russian language.  Soon after the factory job, she married a fellow compatriot.  The marriage ended before it began.  Afterwards the divorced Emma Goldman moved to New Haven.


  In the 19th century the United States called itself names like “free” and democratic”. Was it “democratic” and “free” in these horror-show factories Emma Goldman worked in?  She was not yet give the nickname “Red Emma” or labelled “the most dangerous woman in the world”, because, thus far, she acted like the rest of us do, as a slave, watching imperialism rip open people’s souls, doing nothing, saying nothing and challenging nothing. 


The event that shook Emma Goldman’s heart to the very core had not yet materialised.  May 1886 had not yet arrived, after this time Emma Goldman would become more than an exploited girl in an awful factory in the land of the oppressed; she would become so much more than that.  She would meet the most radical women and men of her age and she would become involved in revolutionary activities in the next fifty-years or so.  Indeed, she was destined to become the most notorious anarchist in the country, probably in the world.  It is the stuff of nightmares and Emma Goldman was the protagonist.


 What initially drew Emma Goldman to anarchism was the Haymarket Affair: workers in the country had long been protesting about the atrocious working conditions.  People were in revolt about the persistence of the eight-hour day movement. They were persistently working for the eight-hour day.  By this time, 1886, the movement of the knights of labour was really at its height.  The crescendo ended when the great strike against the Harvester Company of Chicago came about, strikers were bloody massacred, as well as murders of labour leaders.  Following this was the Haymarket bomb explosion in Chicago.  A bomb had been thrown at a crowd of police officers.  The following year there was a mock trial. At the trial, the judge said: “not because you have you caused the Haymarket bomb, but because you are Anarchists, you are on trial”.  Indeed.  Eight anarchists were placed on trial for conspiracy, they were eventually convicted on the flimsiest of evidence; four were hanged.  Emma Goldman followed the trial with a great amount of intrigue; this grave injustice changed her life forever.  She was converted to anarchism. 


 The United States of bloodbaths; the United States of state murder; the United States of doom.  The savagery was almost immediate.  After the Haymarket affair, that is, after the bomb was thrown in the throng of police officers the witch-hunt against anarchists was immediate.  They were persecuted, hounded, and brutalised by the land of the free.  It has been known for many years the United States government despise workers, union members, anarchists, socialists, nihilists, existentialists, atheists, feminists, ecologists and so on.  Nevertheless, to execute the people you dislike is the stuff of fascism.  No doubt, the United States would like to patent organised violence, for it is a state that forever carries out acts of organised and premeditated murder.


 Emma Goldman now joined the radicals in the U.S. She attended public meetings on a regular basis.  The first socialist speaker Emma Goldman heard speak was Johann Greie, a German lecturer.  She was still working in a factory in New Haven, making corsets.  She met anarchists, socialists, and all other types of radicals during this period.  She was reading newspapers, magazines and pamphlets on anarchism.  It was through reading Freiheit that converted her to anarchism even more so than the tragedy of the Haymarket martyrs.  The editor of Freiheit was Johann Most.  The year was 1889, Emma Goldman was 20 and full of fire, Most made her his protégé, and she started giving lectures and addressing small migrant crowds.  During this time she became ill due to the factory work; she moved to Rochester, and then to New York.  At this time, Emma Goldman and other anarchists were living in hellholes; in concentration-camp conditions.  Many anarchists living in America came from countries such as Germany and Austria because they have anti-socialist legislation, which drove thousands from their native land. In New York, anarchist meetings for Emma Goldman were a regular occurrence. The first anarchist lecturer she was to hear speak was Dr. H. Solotaroff. It was around this time Emma Goldman met Alexander Berkman.  She, in 1889, was a leading organiser in the cloak-makers strike, led the anarchists into the 1891 May Day demonstrations which the socialists tried to ban.  With Berkman, and an artist friend, Freyda, they formed a commune; the three of them became lovers. 


 Emma Goldman, in the years to come, was to become one of the greatest, prolific and most eloquent speakers then U.S would ever see.  She had all the qualities the state despises in an individual.  She had courage, determination, threw herself into the anarchist cause, and worked harder than she had ever done in any factory.  It would be necessary, if another Emma Goldman were to emerge, for the authorities to imprison her for an indefinite period, for she would inspire and encourage the poor; the oppressed; the unemployed; the workers; anybody to organise, to fight, fight, fight!  That is why such people are deemed dangerous.  All it takes is a single radical for thousands of more radicals to emerge.  There are tens of thousands of radicals walking the streets today, the only problem is they just do not realise it, and sadly, never will.  For all the propaganda they are bombarded with controls people's behavioural patterns, and brainwashes them to behave like the docile slaves of the state, of course, there must be criticisms of a certain sort, but these criticisms fall within a very structural constraint.  Anything too critical and your voice will be silenced entirely.  This is how media groups deal with democracy and freedom; in the Stalinist fashion but for the Emma Goldman’s of this world, if there be any, it will be a long, gruelling, cold and dark journey indeed.


  1892 had arrived; Emma Goldman was entering her 23rd year, Berkman his 22nd.  The eight-hour-day struggle continued. Homestead, in Pennsylvania, striking steel workers against the Carnegie Steel Corporation were heavily suppressed.  Nine members of the steel workers were murdered in cold blood and many others injured.  Emma Goldman was mortified.  Henry Clay Frick, the corporation’s manager, proposed a 22% wage cut, something the unions rejected.  As retaliation, Frick closed down the Steel plant and planned to re-open it with non-union workers.  While this was going on, Emma, along with Berkman, planned to go back to their native Russia but these events changed their plans.  Emma Goldman, here, remembers the slaughter at Homestead, and Henry Clay Frick:



“LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN HOMESTEAD-FAMILIES OF STRIKERS EVICTED FROM THE COMPANY HOUSES-WOMAN IN CONFINEMENT CARRIED OUT TO THE STREET BY SHERIFFS”.  I read over the man’s shoulder Frick’s dictum to the workers: he would rather see them dead than concede to their demands, and he threatened to import Pinkerton detectives...a few days after our return to New York the news was flashed across the country of the slaughter of steelworkers by Pinkertons.  Frick had fortified the hometown mills, built a high fence around them.  Then, in the dead of the night, a barge stacked with strike-breakers, under protection of heavily armed Pinkerton thugs, quietly stole up the Monongahela River.  The steel-men had learned of Frick’s move.  They stationed themselves along the shore, determined to drive back Frick’s hirelings.  When the barge got within range, the Pinkerton’s had opened fire, without warning, killing a number of Homestead men on the shoe, among them a little boy, and wounding scores of others.



Clay Anders Frick would long live in Emma Goldman’s and especially Alexander Berkman’s memory.  These were perverse times in America; it was only six years previously in Chicago where anarchist scapegoats were convicted on trumped-up charges.  Now, the bloodshed was worse, and the consequences would prove to be far heavier.  Emma often directed her diatribes at “philosophical anarchists”, rather than revolutionary figures, in other words anarchists that theorise, write on the struggle but do not actively participate in the struggle.  It is true, if anarchists must exist, the state would wish them to be “philosophical anarchists”, rather than revolutionary figures.  For indeed, the books written by these radicals are not widely read at all, if they were, the state would have to find some way to suppress the material.  Nevertheless, as it stands, they have little to worry about.  Emma Goldman was deemed dangerous, as will be revealed, but for now, Emma was debating with Alexander and Freyda what their plan of action would be next.  The choice they made would prove to be catastrophic. 


 Henry Clay Frick had blood on his hands, but he did not care about that, Emma Goldman did, and the youthful, idealist twenty-three year-old, along with her two friends, decided to employ Frick’s philosophy: violence.  Alexander Berkman, at just twenty-one, had the temerity to shoot Frick, murder him and Emma Goldman would be a willing participant.  It was her role to raise the money in order to buy the gun.  She even tried, on Fourteenth Street, to make money as a prostitute, but failed in her task, here she recounts the event:



Saturday evening, July 16, 1892, I walked up and down Fourteenth Street, one of the long procession of girls I had so often seen plying their trade.  By eleven o’clock, I was exhausted.  My feet hurt from the big heels, my head throbbed.  I was close to tears from fatigue and disgust with my inability to carry out what I had come to do. 



I made another effort. I stood on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Fourth Avenue, near the bank building.  The first man that invited me-I would go with him, I had decided.  A tall distinguished-looking person, well dressed, came close.  “Let’s have a drink, little girl”, he said...I was conscious of the man’s scrutiny of my face and body.  I felt myself growing resentful.  Presently he asked: you are a novice in this business, aren’t you? “  “Yes, this is my first time-but how did you know?”  “I watched as you passed me,” he replied. ”But thousands of girls are driven through economic necessity,” I blurted out and he looked at me in surprise.  “Where did you get that stuff?”  I wanted to tell him about the social question, about my idea, who and what I was, but I checked myself.  I must not disclose my identity: it would be too dreadful if he could learn that Emma Goldman, the anarchist, had been soliciting on Fourteenth Street.



Emma ended up borrowing the money to pay for the gun.  Had the three youngsters in the commune gone mad? It appeared so.  Emma Goldman, the would-be prostitute and Alexander Berkman, the would-be murderer.  All they were doing was employing the terror Henry Clay Frick do in this world, albeit the terror was not aimed at defenceless steelworkers, it was aimed at a brute of a man, a tyrant no less.  As the example has been highlighted above, the young anarchists did not know what they were doing.  To denounce a violent act by an anarchist is well and good, but to justify state and corporate violence is inconsistent.  In fact it is more than state and corporate violence, it is outright terror but the terrorist aggression they use is against the poor, the needy, the helpless and no the Fricks’ of this world.  It is easy for humanitarians to lose sight of things, and think it is justice to destroy the aggressor or aggressors.  Indeed, if the state acted, as it should have, Frick would have been imprisoned for his nefarious crimes he committed, but as is well known, such people are above the law. 


 On July 23, 1892, Berkman entered Frick’s office in Pittsburgh, and shot him twice before being thrown to the ground and before he knew it he had been escorted off by the police.  The act failed; Berkman did not murder Frick.  Henry Clay Frick responded by crushing the union with the help of the National Guard.  For his troubles, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years imprisonment at Pennsylvania Penitentiary, which can only be described as a hellhole, and indeed, it was.  The maximum sentence he could have received is seven years; such are the wonders of the American imperial justice system!  He would end up spending fourteen of those years in prison. 


 Meanwhile the police were pursuing Emma Goldman, in an attempt to prosecute her over the attempted murder of Frick.  The fact that she happened to be in New York at the time and not in Pittsburgh was enough to avoid being charged with any wrongdoing.  The authorities of all kinds, as well as the capitalist press persecuted her.  She was the target of abuse.  She defended her act by the use of oratory but everyone was against her, indeed, she was a marked woman.  Even her anarchist comrades criticised her in public, including Johann Most.  For Emma had counted on Johann the Most to come to her defence; she was wrong.  Most, a man, in the past, had published papers on bomb making.  In an unforgettable event, the hot-tempered Emma Goldman, sat next to Freyda, watching, or rather listening to Johann Most speak, she asked him to withdraw his attack on the actions of Berkman, when he responded by calling her an “hysterical woman”, Emma leaped on the stage, produced a whip and whipped Johann Most into a frenzy before walking from the hall. 


 In the following year, 1893, Emma encountered more trouble of a different kind.  During this period in her life, she was organising as well as being on the lecture circuit, getting involved in all kinds of issues.  It is true there was nobody in the world like Emma Goldman.  Her energy and her attacks on the state, marriage, the church, on everything. She was labelled as “the most dangerous woman”.  Thousands in the city were living on the streets, thousands were unemployed living in awful conditions, so for Emma, this was no time to rest.  A huge demonstration was taking place at Union Square in New York, the protesters were cloak makers.  She was one of their invited speakers.  “Necessity knows no law”, she said “and the starving man has a natural right to a share of his neighbour’s bread”, then she uttered those fatal words: “Ask for work.  If they do not give you work or bread, then take bread”.  The following day the capitalist press went on the rampage once again over Emma Goldman’s comments.  The Chief of police in New York obtained an arrest warrant for the twenty-four year-old; she was incarcerated for several days.  She was being charged with “inciting a riot”, although no riot took place.  During the trial, the assistant district Attorney addressed her:

           

            “Do you believe in the supreme being, Miss Goodman?

            No, sir, I do not.

            Is there any government or laws on earth whose laws you approve of?

            No, sir, for they are against the people.

            Why don’t you leave this country if you do not like its laws?

Where shall I go?  Everywhere on earth, the laws are against the poor, and they tell me I cannot go to heaven, nor do I want to go there.



She was found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison on Blackwell’s Island.  In the penitentiary she worked as a nurse in the hospital as well as studying English Literature, it was in this environment that she matured. The following year at the age of twenty-five, she was released.


 When she was released she became known as “Red Emma”, this was her first time in prison but it certainly not her last.  By this time, she was now the most famous anarchist in America and she was only twenty-five.  Like today, the capitalist press, remained as an extension of state power, she could not breathe without them knowing about it first.  Now she was even more watched than ever before.  She even said the following: “For further information (about me) consult any police department in America or Europe”.


  Throughout the 1890s, she toured and lectured extensively right across America and Europe.  The 1890s for Emma Goldman was exciting enough.


1897 was the first year when she undertook her first lecture tour.  After her two trips to Europe (1895 and 1898), she attended clandestine anarchist meetings, lectured and studied nursing and midwifery.  She showed no sign of slowing down either; her energy was as fiery as ever.  It is a queer thing to ponder if Emma Goldman was alive today she would have spent more years in prison, undergone more attacks by the capitalist press, be watched and monitored ever more closely.  For back in Emma Goldman’s lifetime anarchism was a very strong movement, but today it is laughable to even suggest such a thing.  It is true the more civilised people become the more autocratic government is.  Ultimately, the aim of the government is to control the people it laughably claims to represent.  This means rooting out the radicals, by monitoring them, shrivelling them, hounding, terrorising, threatening, manipulating, bullying, condemning, imprisoning and even eliminating them. 


 Emma Goldman was now in her thirties; Berkman was still languishing in prison and the event of the year would prove to have Emma Goldman a marked woman once and for all, she would be an outcast, she would suffer like she had never suffered before because of one inopportune meeting with a young Polish immigrant.  On the 6th September 1901 President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz at Buffalo. Emma Goldman was immediately set upon, hounded and persecuted, anarchists all over the world were arrested, intimidated interrogated, it was a repression against a group of people that had never even seen America before.  She was arrested and taken to Chicago where she was incarcerated for a number of weeks.  She was persistently interrogated and cross-examined.  When the Polish immigrant, Leon Czolgosz assassinated the then American President, he claimed it was Goldman who incited him into the act.  She denied the accusations for one simple reason: Czolgosz was lying.  He had met her during one of her lectures.  Emma Goldman recounts the story:



The President had been shot at the exposition grounds in Buffalo by a young man by the name of Leon Czolgosz.  “I have never heard the name”, Carl said, “have you?

            “No, never”, I replied.

“It is fortunate you are here and not in Buffalo,” he continued.  “As usual the papers will connect you with this act.”

“Nonsense”, I said.  “The American press is fantastic enough, but it would hardly concoct such a crazy story”.



She was wrong. The headline on the front page on one of the newspapers read: “ASSASSIN OF PRESIDENT MCKINLEY AN ANARCHIST.  CONFESSES TO HAVING BEEN INCITED BY EMMA GOLDMAN.   WOMAN ANARCHIST WANTED”.


 Emma Goldman had seen a picture of McKinley’s assassin.  “Why, that’s Nieman!” she gasped.  The same man asked her for anarchistic literature in Cleveland.  Before she was arrested police forces in the whole country were searching for her, thousands of them.  When the police arrested her, they said: “You’re the shrewdest crook I ever met! Take her, quick!”  After some weeks, the newspapers published a few lines saying: “After a month’s detention Emma Goldman was found not to have been in complicity with the assassin of President McKinley”.

 After she was freed, she thought of the young assassin waiting for his death sentence.  She felt pity for him, and decided to write an article, the response she got was terrifying.  Almost everyone condemned her.  In the article, she wrote:



Leon Czolgosz and other men of his type far from being depraved creatures of low instincts are in reality super sensitive beings unable to bear under too great social stress.  They are driven to some violent expression, even at the sacrifice of their own lives, because they cannot supinely witness the misery and suffering of their fellows.  The blame of such an act must be laid at the door of those who are responsible for the injustice and inhumanity which dominate the world. 

As I write, my thoughts wander to the young man with the girlish face about to be put to death, pacing his cell, followed by cruel eyes:



            “Who watch him when he tries to weep

                   And when he tries to pray

            And watch him lest himself should robe

                 The prison of its prey”.



My heart goes out to him in deep sympathy, as it goes to all the victims of oppression and misery, to the martyrs past and present that die, the forerunners of a better and nobler life.”



When asked if was not sorry the President was dead, Emma Goldman replied:



Is it possible in the entire United States only the President passed away on this day?  Surely many others have died at the same time, perhaps in poverty and destitution, leaving helpless dependents behind.  Do you expect me to feel more regret over the death of McKinley than the rest?

My compassion has always been with the living.  The dead no longer need it.  No doubt, that is the reason why you all feel sympathetic to the dead.  You know that you’ll never be called upon to make good your protestations.”

            “I think you’re crazy”, replied the reporter.



For the next several years, repression against anarchists in America was so unprecedented that Emma Goldman had to retire from public life and change her name.  From now on, she became known as Miss E.G Smith.  She lived by sewing, nursing and managing a group of Russian actors.


 In 1906, two events happened that changed Emma Goldman’s life: Alexander Berkman, or Sasha, as she liked to call him, was finally released from prison, after fourteen years of pure torment.  That he even survived is quite incredible.  The second event was the arrival of the English anarchist, John turner, he induced her to come out of retirement and she did.  Berkman and herself started publishing Mother Earth which replaced Free Society but this was forced to close after the murder of McKinley.  Of the former publication Goldman and Sasha were the co-editors, the first issue published in March 1906.  It ran until 1918, when the pair found themselves in prison yet again.  Her touring and lecturing during this time was prolific.  In 1910, she spoke 120 times in 37 cities to 25,000 listeners.  She kept on going; despite the authorities doing everything, they could to stop her.  It was unlike the aftermath of the McKinley murder, where she was hounded out of every property; indeed, she could not even find shelter, she found herself living with prostitutes.  Now Emma Goldman had replaced Miss Smith.


 In February, 1916, Emma Goldman was arrested and imprisoned for disseminating information on birth control; Goldman and Berkman’s trial over Woodrow Wilson’s 1917 draft bill...such was the life of Emma Goldman.  Emma Goldman arrived in San Diego in 1912, when she was in her 43rd year, to see the I.W.W (International Workers of the World), as well as the Anarcho Syndicalist union.  People were beaten jailed and even murdered by vigilante groups.  Over five years later when President Wilson signed the Draft Bill for all twenty-one to thirty-year-old men for compulsory conscription, Emma Goldman and Sasha came up with their own “No-conscription manifesto”, of which they distributed 100,000 copies.  In June 1917, the edition of Mother Earth, read:



We oppose conscription because we are internationalists, anti-militarists, and oppose all wars waged by capitalist governments.  We will fight what we choose to fight for.  We will never fight simply because we are ordered to fight. 



We believe that the militarisation of America is an evil that far outweighs, in its antisocial and anti-libertarian affects, any good that may come from America’s participation in the war.



We will resist conscription by every means in our power, and we will sustain those who, for similar reasons, refuse to be inscripted.



At one of Berkman’s rallies, a supporter was arrested and sentenced to two years for conspiracy.  Blast, Sasha’s journal was raided by marshals, as was Mother Earth, the contents confiscated.  Consequently, the two anarchists were arrested and charged.  The trial started on 27th June 1917, on Emma Goldman’s 48th birthday.  She addressed the jury; here are selected passages from the speech:



The stage having been appropriately for the three-act comedy, and the first act successfully played out by carrying off the villains in a madly dashing automobile-which broke every traffic regulation and barely escaped crushing everyone in its way-the second act proved to be even more ludicrous.  Fifty thousand dollars bail was demanded, and the real estate was refused when offered by a man whose property is rated at three-hundred thousand dollars, and after that, the District Attorney had considered and, in fact, promised to accept the property for one of the defendants, Alexander Berkman, thus breaking every right guaranteed by even the most heinous criminal.  Finally the third act, played by the Government in this court during the last week.  The pity of it is that the prosecution knows so little of dramatic reconstruction; else, it would have equipped itself with better dramatic material to sustain the continuity of the play.  As is was, the third act fell flat, utterly, and presents the question, why such a tempest in a teapot?



...It is organised violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom.  It is the accumulated indignation against organised wrong, organised crime, injustice which cause the political offender to his act.  To condemn him means to be blind to the cause which make him.



...To say that America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe for America.  How else is the world supposed to take America seriously, when democracy at home is being outraged, free speech suppressed, peaceable assemblies broken up by overbearing and brutal gangsters in uniform; when free press is curtailed and every independent opinion gagged.



Despite the speech or indeed because of it, the pair were sentenced to two years in prison, and upon release they were to be deported back to Russia.  It was the judge who recommended they be deported, when he said “we have no place in our country”.

The judge's recommendation was followed.  The Government revoked her citizenship, and after serving two-years in prison, she, along with Sasha, was deported to Russia.  Emma Goldman was now 50.  She, along with 247 other “reds” were flown out of the country in what became known as the “1918 Alien Exclusion Act”

After the pair were released in 1919 they were deported to Russia.  Even Lenin told Emma Goldman free speech did not exist in Russia. It was not the utopian paradise she expected it to be, far from it.  She and Berkman travelled the country looking at the archives at “revolutionary Russia”, and were completely mortified by their findings.  It was in these archives where they found widespread repression and forced labour camps.  She writes about her thoughts on Leninist Russia:



All the succeeding acts of the Bolsheviki, all their following policies, changing of policies, their compromises and retreats, their methods of suppression and persecution, their terrorism and extermination of all other political views-all were the means to an end: the retaining of state power in the hands of the communist Party...once in possession of the state the communists began their process of elimination.  All the political parties and groups which refused to submit to the new dictatorship had to go.  First the Anarchists and Left Social Revolutionists, then the Mensheviki and other opponents from the Right, and finally everybody who dared aspire to an opinion of his own. Similar was the fate of all independent organisations. They were either subordinated to the needs of the new state, or destroyed altogether, as were the Soviets, the trade unions and the cooperatives...while the workers continued to starve, engineers, industrial experts and technicians received high salaries, special privileges, and the best rations.  They became the pampered employees of the state and the new slave drivers of the masses. 



Two years later, in 1921, the pair left on temporary voluntary exile, being so outraged at the extent of Lenin’s state terror.  What provoked them to leave their homeland was the treatment of the sailors of Kronstadt.  When these sailors, and other groups went on a series of marches in March 1921, appealing directly to Lenin and Trotsky, asking for basic things like free elections, freedom of speech, the Government responded by massacring the workers in their thousands.  It was time for Emma to leave and settle in Western Europe.  In 1925, she became a British subject, and in desperate need of a valid passport, she married an English anarchist.  She left with her new passport for Canada.  In the 1930s, she denounced Hitler regularly, during this time, in her sixties, she was not quite the Emma Goldman she used to be, she had, in her own words, “moved to the centre”.  She was allowed back in America because she was no longer a danger; she was tame, her views moderate.  Emma Goldman’s time had been and gone.  Sasha had committed suicide, and in early 1940, Emma Goldman suffered a stroke, three months later, on May 14th, she died.  The U.S authorities were generous and allowed her body to be shipped to Chicago so she could be buried among the Haymarket martyrs, she was seventy. 

November 2012

           

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Inspiration to us all


Erich Maria Remarque is famous for writing All Quiet on the Western Front, in that book as well as others he documents the horrors of war and the plights of the refugee, thus living a kafkaesque nightmare which plague their lives, and when we read him, ours too.  There are many other authors who bring these beleaguered lives to the forefront of our attention.
 The refugee has been getting a lot of attention of late, and stories surrounding them are often quite awful and depressing, but it need not be that way.  It certainly need not be that way at all. There are remarkable people and there are remarkable people. We hear stories of how Jews were helped to safety during world war two, Aharon Appelfeld, the great Romanian-born writer, escaped a Nazi camp when he was a child, and tells his story in his novels as well as the stories of others.

 Juha Petri Sipilä is the current Finnish Prime minister.  He leads the Centre Party and has done since June 2012.  On 19th April, of 2015 , Finish general elections were held and Alexander Stubb, who, at the time was the Prime minister of the country with a population of five million people, admitted defeat at the ballot box and that made way for Sipilä.  "It seems as though the Centre has won. Congratulations," so said Stubb of the Coalition Party. As Monday morning approached the Finns were celebrating a new progressive, liberal government and this was despite the tide of racist political parties’ sweeping the country. 
            On the fifth of September the Prime minister declared something which is unusual in politics; it was a gesture of goodwill, humanity, humility and benevolence.  He offered his private home in northern Finland to asylum seekers.  People, of course, were left open-mouthed at this.

 He said the following: "We should all look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we can help… My house is not being used much at the moment. My family lives in Sipoo [east of Helsinki] and the prime minister's residence is located in Kesaranta’. 


 In response to this wonderful gesture people offered all sorts of plaudits and the hope was that others would follow his gracious act.  Well, there are other similar stories of goodwill.  In Iceland because the government take so few refugees, people around the country have decided they will offer their homes to them.   This is happening elsewhere to.  The President of Uruguay for example.


 José "Pepe" Mujica, President of Uruguay has offered his summer house retreat to one-hundred orphaned Syrian children.  This same President, incredulously, to quote the BBC:



‘It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.

Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.

This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.





‘I have lived like this most of my life’, he humbly said.  He spent fourteen-years in prison and has been shot six times, in 2009 he was elected President, and like Evo Morales of Bolivia, is known as ‘the poor President’.  One of the neighbouring countries, Venezuela, had Hugo Chavez who used to read to the poor and to the illiterate.  There are similar stories around the region.  These are touching stories and ought to inspire us all.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Prostitution





It is commonly accepted today prostitutes living and breathing on the streets of Britain are in less than a harmonious state.  They are still referred to as “whores” by the intelligentsia and writers of all kinds.  The statistics on prostitutes walking down the street in this cruel and imperial island are not only shocking to many, but also totally criminal.  Statistics, of course, change from time to time, but to cite some from recent times will show its faithful enthusiasts often label the barbarity of the trade, as it is often labelled by its faithful enthusiasts. Up to 90% of “working girls” are dependent of the lethal drug, heroine; the average age a woman, or rather a child, begins as a prostitute, is just fourteen; upto 40% of the girls have been raped at least once, and these are just cases reported to the police. The statistics speak for themselves, as does the Government’s policy towards these poor girls. 

The government of its day in Britain, whatever government may be, is of little consequence and makes little difference what government is in power on legislation concerning this issue, and especially for the well-being of those girls.  What the beastly men in power are doing here is beyond grotesque: they are forcing young girls into the dangerous areas in cities across the country, making the event of terrible things happening to them more likely.  They are often beaten, raped, and even murdered because the Government would prefer them not to be around where all the “respectable” people live, so they are moved on to more gruesome areas.

They are, as George Orwell would refer to them as, unpeople or an unperson; they do not matter; they are of no significance, they do not influence the Government class-war agenda so they are left alone to suffer, to suffer alone, no doubt.  This is one kind of prostitution, we could be perverse and call it voluntary prostitution; there is some choice for many of these girls working in these horrendous circumstances, but if this was not macabre enough, there is a far darker element to prostitution, which is what we call forced prostitution, or sex-slaves, being trafficked from place to place.  For these girls, there is a heavy price if they refuse sex: they are raped, beaten and even tortured to such inhumane levels, that a commentary on the torture would appal many.

In a study by Oxford University’s Centre for Migration, policy and  Society (COMPAS), say children, and this is just children, leaving aside adults, 120,000 of them, children that is, are trafficked into the country for exploitation; that is staggering 1 in 100 children. That is a rate far higher than in the North American countries such as the United States or Canada.  Sex trafficking is more prevalent in Eastern Europe amongst teenage girls and adults, in Southeast Asia, child sex tourism is much more common, it is not hidden either, and men all over the western countries, as elsewhere, go to these countries for that purpose alone.  There was a European-led initiative to help prevent or at least limit sex trafficking throughout the continent, but Tony Blair and later Gordon Brown refused to take part, the only country to decline, and such brutes did not hide the reason either: they were against these victims staying in the country as immigrants, no, they would prefer horrific abuse to continue once again.  That, in essence, is the state's policy towards vulnerable children and women in the country, and outside it.

The process of trafficking young girls for sexual exploitation is truly horrific and is purposely kept out of the capitalist press, for if people knew, such barbaric practices would have to be stopped almost immediately.  Of course, the Government like to downplay the figures and statistics on these issues.  Indeed, it is important for people to know.  There are times, albeit seldom, that such things do reach the mainstream press, but then the following day the newspaper moves onto more mundane aspects of the “news”, such as the daily, infantile affairs of parliamentary politics, government reshuffles and so forth.  They do not like to tell their leaders’; girls’ from Eastern Europe are promised luxurious jobs in London, Paris, Madrid and so on, with a high wage.  It is a dream come-true for many of these impoverished young girls. The dream, however, is short lived.  Their passports are stolen, which can only be described as mobs and gangs, they are then kidnapped and ultimately “trained”; that is raped by large groups of men, usually Balkan and other Eastern European lunatics that traffic the girls, so they train them to have “sex” with perhaps 40 men a day, that is  raped 40 times a day.  Many of the girls are never seen again.  The girls either take their own lives because the abuse is so unbearable, others are killed because they no longer exist as a financial commodity to these criminal gangs, or they are just caught up in a cycle of abuse, which is impossible to escape from.

The girls are sold to those wild beasts, and have to pay back the “debt”.  However, unknown to them, the debt can never be paid off because it keeps rising and rising.  They employ similar tactics as a loan shark.  A friend of the girl or perhaps the girl’s boyfriend may be heavily in debt and they repay these gangs by taking their girlfriends’ or whoever it maybe, and selling her into sexual slavery.  It is the stuff of nightmares.  The practice could be abolished tomorrow, but for reasons, which only they know, states and governments around the world, would prefer such horrors to take place.  For they do nothing to stop them, and more, they do not even pretend to do so.

Such a thing could never happen to a daughter of a politician, a Monarch, a tyrant or whoever; it only happens to other people’s children.  Just like terrorists belong to distant lands, never our own, that is why we are able, or rather, they are able to break laws of every kind and keep people locked up, abused and mistreated for years on end.  Likewise, the electorate know this would never happen to their own children but we do not know the response of the electorate because the media continue to act in a criminal fashion and decide not to inform people of the facts.  By not informing them they are preventing people from acting on their empathetic impulses, and in turn, bear heavy responsibility for the suffering of these young girls.

A lot of it has to do with fanatical racism.  It is dressed up as “nationalism”, “patriotism”, and other such things.  “Charity starts at home”, is one of the most perverse phrases in the English language but what does it tell us about our society when men go out to rape these girls?  A phone call is all it takes to free them, that is all it takes.  For these men morality is made of sterner stuff.  Men and women can walk down the streets of New York, London, Sydney, Paris and wherever else, pretending such suffering does not exist, such people can do this for all eternity, and there are a small minority of people who do know. The people who laugh and joke about it have less ethics than government itself.

 It is true, there is a third kind of prostitution. It is, like the first, voluntary, but does not take place in dark and seedy street corners.  It takes place in “brothels”, “massage parlours” and other places.  Many of the girls’ call themselves “escorts”.  They are often young and attractive young women, and come from all parts of the globe.  They are in safe and luxurious apartments, neither are they forced into this type of work and they even refuse clients if they wish because they often work alone, for themselves. This is a more preferable form of prostitution. However, once again in Britain, successive governments have undermined such practices.  The premises where the girls work are often the target of the police and ultimately the premise closes, due to draconian licence laws and harsh practices.  These women are then pushed into the streets, to live a life of misery and agony because the treasury would like to robs the pockets of all its citizens (apart from the richest ones, where opposite rules apply).  They do this, and still have an obnoxious smile on their faces.

If only these girls were left to their own devices and lead lives through self-determination, and without government interference.  Indeed, so what the Government should be doing is taking these girls from the streets and putting them in safe shelter to work in a safe environment where they can be looked after.  They should see that the girls get urgent help with drug addiction and other problems.  Many of the girls come from the most hopeless of backgrounds.  A certain amount of them have been in care, prison, been subject to child abuse; they really ought to be offered counselling.  These suggestions are not even debated, let alone implemented.  They are not made because the state, in all its recidivism sees the girls’ as unpeople.  It is the current fashion for governments to pretend to care about people’s lives.  If it was not such a serious matter, we should all die of laughter. 

So it is up to charities and volunteer groups to help these girls, and for Human Rights groups, such as Amnesty International, to document such abuses and highlighting the savagery of sexual slavery.  In fact Amnesty have been campaigning for some years on this issue but the media often ignore these organisations, when it suits their interests to do so.  The public ought to be forced to hear such horrific stories of abuse and their struggle; their experiences must be documented, until this happens nothing, absolutely nothing will progress.  The media will continue to be loyal servants to the state.  In the meantime, young girls in many parts of the world are screaming for their lives as they are raped night after night, in some dark, alien world somewhere. Such girls may never see freedom, humanity, affection, love or happiness again

16th November 2012