May - June 2011 Edition of the Workers Solidarity freesheet.
After a quiet start to the year, political activity for the WSM picked up on a number of fronts in March and April. We were involved (as part of the 1% Network) in organising street theatre at the Central Bank in Dublin, aiming to highlight the fact that, no matter who is government, the same wealthy elite is still in power (see www.wsm.ie/c/kenny-gilmore-puppets-string-wealthy). Also in Dublin, we supported pickets at the “Courts of Justice” in support of Gerard McDonnell, who is facing charges in relation to a “floating picket” carried out during the protracted strike at MTL in Dublin docks in 2009 (see http://www.wsm.ie/c/protest-courts-justice-mtl-striker). Our members attended the Feminist Walking Tour, organised by Choice Ireland, on International Womens Day (http://www.wsm.ie/c/dub-feminist-walking-tour-2011). We were also present at the Dail protest following the garda rape threat to female Shell to Sea activists in Mayo.
Down South, our Cork branch remains busy running a series of activities in our “Solidarity Books” venue. As well as film nights, board game evenings and the weekly vegan café, they are hosting “Spring Talks” fortnightly through April and May covering topics such as child welfare and class, the role of women in farmers rights, abortion in Ireland and Cork Labour in the 1916 – 1922 period. Check out the Solidarity Books facebook page for more details. Elsewhere, our members were involved in organising activities for International Womens Day, including a meal, films and talks held in Douglas St. The branch continues its involvement in Cork United Against the Cuts’ and Social Welfare Defenders’ attempts to resist austerity measures.
Outside the urban centres, protests continued in Mayo against Shells recommencement of work following the signing of the foreshore licences required by Pat Carey in the dying days of the last government. The WSM has had a presence there during two weekends of Shell to Sea (http://www.shelltosea.com/) actions carried out against Shell during April. There is a comprehensive resource of articles at http://www.wsm.ie/rossport examining all aspects of the struggle.
As per the article elsewhere in this issue, we are now busy preparing for the 2011 Anarchist Bookfair. Hopefully, the range of talks and the sharing of experiences of anarchists from outside Ireland will prove the catalyst for renewed efforts by us to both promote the anarchist message and get involved in the struggles that lie ahead. If you would like to share in this, please get in touch!
In This Issue
Why We Celebrate Mayday
The struggle against capitalism and authority is constant but each year on May Day the labour movement takes time out to celebrate its history and achievements. Rather than dwell on the hardships of struggle we take to the streets and remember what it is we are aiming for - the emancipation of our class. Climbing a mountain means paying close attention to the ground you walk but it’s important to look up now and again in order to focus on exactly where it is you’re headed.
Thinking About Anarchism: The State
Anarchists are those socialists who are anti-authoritarian, who place great stress on liberty and workers’ control. For this reason, we want to abolish the state at the same time as we abolish the division of society into a boss class and a working class.
Ecuador: Oil, Rainforests & the challenge of climate change
In previous issues, we examined aspects of the challenge of climate change. We have argued that carbon trading is merely an enclosure of the atmospheric commons, while carbon offsets are a form of neo-colonialism whereby the “developed north” continues to pollute while the “global south” are paid not to (please see: wsm.ie/content/high-price-lot-hot-air and wsm.ie/content/offsetting-democracy). Another, more radical, proposal is one based on prevention, that is, the non-extraction of fossil fuels. The argument is that once extracted, the use of fossil fuels is inevitable, and that any mechanisms to mitigate the increase in CO2 emissions will be unworkable.
Review: Springtime, the New Student Rebellions
The autumn and winter of 2010 saw the sudden and dramatic re-emergence of radical student movements, with mass student uprisings taking place across Europe and the United States in opposition to both the austerity measures being levelled against ordinary people as a result of the crisis in capitalism, and the neoliberal restructuring of education according to the needs of capital. Across the Western world, governments are introducing measures to transform universities into “factories of precarious workers” - institutions devoted to the production of graduates equipped with the skills and ideas desired by industries increasingly reliant on immaterial and mental labour, turning ideas into profits. These employees must be willing to work in increasingly precarious situations, either entirely unpaid, or for increasingly low wages on increasingly short-terms contracts – a transformation that is increasingly meeting resistance from both students and academic staff, and which has only accelerated since the present crisis began. Meanwhile, in the Arab world, students have played a key role in the mass uprisings to topple Western-backed thugs such as Zine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
A Day out of the Ordinary! The Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2011
It’s the time of year again that the Workers' Solidarity Movement is busy finalising the last minute details for our annual Anarchist Bookfair. Much has changed since we first began the venture back in 2006, not least the scale of the event, but also the implosion of the Celtic Tiger and its catastrophic effect on Irish society.
Review: Democratic Left: The Life and Death of a Political Party
Kevin Rafter's “Democratic Left: The Life and Death of a Political Party” is a study of its short lifespan from 1992, when it split from the Workers Party (WP), to 1999, when it merged with the Labour Party. As such, it can be seen as a companion piece to Scott Miller and Brian Hanley’s “The Lost Revolution”, a history of the Workers Party. Rafter’s work, however, is somewhat different as it has an academic style, being his PhD thesis, which some may find off-putting. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining read for those with an interest in the dynamics of political organisations. All of the main protagonists were interviewed as part of Rafter's research and internal party documents are widely referenced, so his version of events is reasonably accurate, one would suspect.
The media and the Garda rape remarks
The media narrative regarding the Corrib Garda rape remarks played out with sickening predictability. Sticking as closely as possible to the Garda Press Office line, the news media decided that this was an isolated incident: yes, it was inappropriate for Gardaí to joke about raping captive women, but the matter is under investigation, and anyway it's all just a bit of private banter between colleagues. No need for a wider discussion about societal attitudes towards women, or about the militarised policing of political protest in North Mayo and elsewhere. Up popped Kevin Myers to explain why men are the real victims here, oppressed by the 'politically-correct' thought police, while Vincent Browne informed us that rape jokes “are just part of the lingo of Irish males” and that's that.
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