Conclusion to the Wee Black Booke of Belfast Anarchism


Anyone looking for a rogue’s gallery or general litany of scallywags in this short history of Belfast anarchists will be disappointed. It is a story of small movements and peripheral figures gathered together over many years and presented to you, the reader, as an account of how Belfast produced and received anarchist activists. It is uneven in places, sketchy on context, and optimistic in analysis. Many may disagree with its content or even its ‘regional’ bias, but anarchists, as anti-nationalists, should resist (as anyone on the left should), the old ‘national’ histories of the past which ignore regional, cultural and ethnic diversity for the purpose of constructing a homogenous myth of use only to nationalists and their supporters. Anarchist historians should have, in my opinion, a bias for localised, working class narratives that draw on the lived experience only available in oral historical accounts and supported, where necessary and with caution, from other manuscript and published sources. To what extent this advice has been followed in this publication is open to question but an attempt has been made in general to produce an untold story with the sources available, written in an anarchist spirit with an anarchist bias.

The story of anarchism in Belfast post-1973 has obviously still to be told, and will hopefully, as with this work, be taken up, improved and expanded by others. Just Books, Belfast Anarchist Collective and the whole ‘80s anarchist punk scene will be just some of the aspects to be explored.

Anarchism is still an element in the north in general and in Belfast in particular, and is chiefly a synthesis of anarchist-communism and anarcho- syndicalism encapsulated organisationally in the class struggle anarchist group ‘Organise!’, which is still creating its own history. The global rise of the anti-capitalist movement has acted as a boon to anarchist movements everywhere, and not least here in the north. Devolution, though currently suspended, has also ensured that the Blairite neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, cuts in public services and its panoply of racist, authoritarian and anti-working class measures, can be pursued by local politicians on their days off from the hurly-burly of unrestrained sectarianism and petty bigoted arguments about a national question answered by European and global capitalism a long time ago. Unfortunately, however, British and Irish nationalism are still with us and are as potent as ever. Anarchists have our work cut out for us and many battles to fight, but fighting in the knowledge that we inherit the name and spirit of those working class militants who went before us under the banner of anarchy should encourage us, in Belfast or wherever else we may be found today.

'With a bent arm and a clenched fist in anarchy against all gods and masters'