Solidarity is a word that fills the songs, slogans and even names of movements in the anarchist, socialist and left tradition. Yet the meaning of the term is often assumed to be common knowledge that needs no further explanation or enquiry. In line with the theme of this issue of the Irish Anarchist Review this article aims to look a little deeper into the history and meaning of this term and how it should inform our activity today and the problems we face. Particularly in situations when equal empowerment between all the participants in the solidarity relation cannot be assumed as a starting point. Clearly solidarity, class and equality are all in some way intertwined, but the question is how, exactly?
As class-struggle anarchists dealing with the relations between gender, race and class, we must, in theory and practice, pick a path between two pitfalls. On one side is economic reductionism – the reduction of all political questions to the social relations of production – which erases the perspectives and struggles of women, queers and people of colour; submerges their voices within an overly generalised class narrative, in which the idealised Worker is implicitly white heterosexual and male; or consigns their struggles to a secondary importance compared to the “real struggle” of (economic) class against class. On the other is a stultifying and inward-looking liberal-idealist identity politics, concerned fetishistically with the identification of privilege and the self-regulation of individual oppressive behaviour to the (near) exclusion of organised struggle, which, while amplifying the voices of the marginalised, consigns them to an echo chamber where they can resonate harmlessly.
Over all the forms of oppression and exploitation we face today, debt is cast like a shadow. In “Capital’s Shadow”, Paul Bowman analyses left wing theorisations of debt and concludes that there is a lack in their understanding of “the real nature of money” and poses the need for a “new research project that analyses not only value, but value at risk over time, and through that the role of credit, risk and the world market in the current global regime of accumulation.”
In a wide ranging interview Paul Bowman talked to Felipe Corrêa (FC) a Brazilian anarchist who is member of Organização Anarquista Socialismo Libertário [Libertarian Socialist Anarchist Organization] (OASL) about anarchist orgainising in Brasil, just how global the crisis really is and the forthcoming World Cup.
We don't live in a socialist world. In fact never before has capitalism exercised such total hegemony. Despite huge disaffection with austerity and global capitalism, for billions of people the world over, an alternative is impossible to imagine. One of the key tasks of the left then, is not just to oppose attacks on the living conditions of working class people, but to provide an alternative vision of a society where we do not exist to serve the economy, but rather the economy exists to serve us, a society where the slogan "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" becomes a reality.
Released in Summer 2011 and now in its second edition, Chavs is Owen Jones' attempt to help rescussitate debate around class within mainstream outdated concept and political discourse.
￼￼￼￼Broadly speaking, it is focused on the fate of working class communities in Britain since the Thatcher era and the disappearance of working class political representation, and puts forward some possible ideas to envision a renewed class politics for today. The book has proven a popular one and has propelled its author's public status as a prominent left-wing commentator, and one of the main voices of initiatives to reclaim the Labour Party as a working class organisation.
“In Turn off the Red Light – Should We Advocate It?”, T.J., explores the problems faced by sex workers in gaining recognition by those who normally fight for workers rights and outlines how criminalisation of demand has created new problems in countries where that has been introduced.
In “Sex and Sex Work from and anarcha-feminist perspective”, Leticia looks at the theoretical background to the debate between those who argue for decriminalisation and those who “see sex work (or even sex in general) as violence against women”. She argues that because sex is commodified, sex workers should be treated in the same way as others who engage in exploitative labour.
The Occupy movement may have come into our lives just over a year ago with a bang but it went out months later with a whimper. Cathal Larkin uses the benefit of hindsight to look at the phenomenon as it manifested itself on these shores and what anarchists could have done to make it work better. The difficulties as Cathal argues did not lie in making arguments for democracy has been the case in so many other campaigns but in that the occupiers “didn’t see this conception extending to the realm of economic production” and in developing the 99%/1% analysis into a deeper class analysis. Recognising problems with current modes of consciousness raising, he utilises Paulo Freire’s pedagogical framework in an attempt to subject “our own political strategies, methodologies and theories to critical scrutiny”.
In ‘Not Waving but Drowning: Precarity and the Working Class’, Mark Hoskins takes a critical look at the idea put forward by some academics and even parts of the anti-capitalist movement that the “precariat” is the revolutionary subject of our epoch. After examining the subjective conditions of the precarious subject today and comparing its objective conditions to those of the working class of the last century, he goes on to explore how these conditions relate to our end goal, a communist society and what lessons that can teach us in our attempt to get there.