The 2014 Dublin anarchist bookfair hosted a panel of women activists who informed us about how they became involved in the movement, what drew them into this life of campaigning for social justice, rights and attempting to change the world in which we live. They inform us of how they remain motivated, inspired and sustained in active political life.
Over the last couple of years the WSM has been going through a process of re-examining the way we relate to people interested in what we have to say. Alongside this we have recently begun to try and get a better understanding of what it is we do. Both these processes have some major implications in reaching an understanding of what the usefulness of a revolutionary organisation is in the modern era of broad and loose social networks.
Tear gas is a very good place to start trying to understand what is happening in Turkey. The main purpose of tear gas is to terrorise and thus break up large crowds of people. In Istanbul over the last weeks huge quantities have been used over and over to prevent large anti-government demonstrations developing. This wasn't about 'riot control' - generally there was no riot to control. In this piece I'm going to put the Gezi park revolt in the context of the cycle of struggles that began in 2010 and of the specific economic, politcal and historical situation of the Turkish republic to try and draw out the lessons for all of us fighting global capitalism.
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.
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”.
The Social Solidarity Network came into existence in the Autumn of 2009 in Dublin as an initiative of the Workers Solidarity Movement. It faded out of existence a few short months later and never amounted to all that much in the interim beyond a couple of meetings, a leaflet distribution at a mass ICTU march and a badly organised and executed protest at the Dail on budget day. Nevertheless there are some useful lessons (mostly of the ‘how not to do it variety’) to be taken from its short existence.
The revolutions and revolts that swept the world in 2011 took almost everyone by surprise. One of the first strong attempts to explain why they happened is Paul Mason’s ‘Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere.’ He argues that “the materialist explanation for 2011...is as much about individuals versus hierarchies as it is about rich against poor.” By far the most provocative element of his book is the idea that communications technology, in particular the internet, is transforming the way people behave and that a significant contribution to the revolts of 2011 lie in these changes. If he’s right it had profound consequences for the form and structure of revolutionary organisations including anarchist ones.
This article also availale on audio & video, see end.
The Workers Solidarity Movement, along with anarchist organisations throughout the world, refuses to take part in parliamentary elections. Is it not downright weird, or even hypocritical, when anarchists claim to want more democracy than anyone else? Is this a rejection of democracy? Alan MacSimoin tries to answer some of the questions that arise again and again.
Ireland has an indigenous revolutionary tradition that successfully mobilized tens if not hundreds of thousands in the struggle for more freedom over the 200 years since 1798. Irish republicanism has always included a radical democratic and leveling element and which continues to provide part of the culture of resistance of the most down trodden sections of the working class. Many believe this makes it the best base to build from, at the fifth Rethinking Revolution meeting Andrew Flood asked if they are right? This article contains the draft text of the talk and the audio recording of the meeting.
In 1887 four Chicago anarchists were executed. A fifth cheated the hangman by killing himself in prison. Three more were to spend 6 years in prison until pardoned by Governor Altgeld who said the trial that convicted them was characterised by "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge". The state had, in the words of the prosecution put "Anarchy .. on trial" and hoped their deaths would also be the death of the anarchist idea.