Black Flag 227 review

Black Flag is probably the longest-running anarchist magazine in the UK and it has recently returned, refreshed from a 2-year hiatus. Issue 227, published on May Day, is the second issue since the return and contains much of interest to activists in Scotland.

New articles cover the Commonwealth Games-led "regeneration" of Manchester, and a clear-eyed evaluation of the "credit crunch" that is as lucid and readable as you're likely to find.

The Manchester article covers the much-acclaimed but low-achieving gentrification schemes in the city. Lauded as a model of business-led regeneration, the truth turns out to be very different, with poverty affecting half of the city's children despite grand claims. Glasgow residents will find this of particular interest given their Councillors obvious aping of the model and similarly grand claims around hosting of the Commonwealth Games as the city's latest poverty panacea.

The article on the BNP's electoral rise, while Anglo-centric, is also topically useful to activists in Scotland. It makes clear links between the rise of the BNP and policies (or lack of) advocated by other political parties, including those on the Left. It identifies a fascist strategy based on de-stigmatising a BNP vote, focussing resources on lower middle class ("white flight") areas and consistently framing class issues (e.g. housing) as race-based. This "racialising" strategy has been played into by fuckwitted politicians such as Margaret Hodge when they seek to counter the BNP by pandering to the same instincts as the fascists do. Without awareness and concerted effort from  progressive forces, the authors warn that the damage could take years to undo.

A possible route to this is indicated through the interview with London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) members about their "direct action casework" with Hackney's homeless. After a gradual process they now have a base of support in the low hundreds and and are planning to extend their campaigns to debt and workplace issues.

The widest context of poverty is provided in an article on the credit crunch / economic crisis. This is the clearest analysis I have read on this topic and while not a short bus-ride's worth, well worth the effort. Covers both the economic theory and the social effects of what will inevitably used to attack ordinary peoples' living standards while protecting those responsible for the "market failures".

There's also features on Anarchafeminism past & present, the 2007 strikes in France and a number of reviews.

Copies of Black Flag are available by emailing black_flag [AT] lycos.co.uk or from AK Press. Alternatively, copies are on sale at Glasgow Anarchists' regular Saturday afternoon stalls at Buchanan Street; and the Radical Independent Bookfair.

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