What is the left?

In the last episode of my narrative, I described the Fédération Anarchiste’s mobilisation in response to the fascist attack on the Plume Noire. This pulled me into active, explicitly political activism for the first time and exposed me to a whole new world which I had only been vaguely aware of until then. For, while…

Among the automonistas

Lyon, November 21st, 1831. The silk weavers known as the canuts, who were concentrated in the Croix Rousse neighbourhood, went on strike. They walked around in a bunch, shutting down any workshops that remained open. In the course of their marching, they encountered a detachment of the National Guard, which was staffed mainly by wine-merchants.…

Afghanistan: what the hell happened there?

Two weeks ago the NATO forces in Afghanistan handed over formal control of security to local Afghan forces, with the US aiming to withdraw a big majority of troops by the end of 2014. The Afghan state is corrupt and weak, with authority barely extending beyond Kabul. By contrast, the Taliban must be extremely disciplined…

Caribbean contrasts: part 2

Jamaica is a country of great social chasms.  In Kingston, the villas of uptown and the ghettos of downtown occupy separate social universes, connected only by the battalions of service personnel who, among their other duties, maintain the social wall. Most of the tiny country’s interior is covered in lush rugged mountainous terrain where a…

Caribbean contrasts

18th September 1996. I’m on a beach. It is like a prototype of the ideal beach – a fringe of palm trees, bath-warm water gently lapping at the shore, bright blue sky, turquoise sea and fine white sand. It’s deserted save for three women splashing in the surf in the distance. From somewhere beyond the…