What is important is that we do what is right, not what is legal. Sometimes these things overlap, often they are in conflict. What the struggle against the water charges has shown clearly is that a slave mentality of blindly obeying the law will never lead to a better world. We must attend to real justice, not the judicial system.
There's a famous quote from US historian, author, and activist Howard Zinn:
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders …and millions have been killed because of this obedience …Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves … [and] the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
This photo was taken at Thursday evening's demonstration against the criminalisation of protest - in particular the arrest of almost 20 people for participating in a 2 hour blockade of the Tánaiste 3 months previously. It shows protesters holding signs saying 'ACAB' – but what does this mean? It means 'All Cops Are Bastards'. We can hear some people objecting already: 'not all Gardaí are bad'. But please hold on, that's missing the point entirely. ACAB doesn't mean that each police officer as an individual person is nasty, sadistic, dishonest, and so on. It means that every police officer is bounded by their job as an agent of the state, and this necessarily causes cops to act like 'bastards' - whether or not they want to.
On Newstalk's Pat Kenny show Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic, said: 'There are some people who are kind of living ... anarchy fantasy through a lot of this, these ... kind of ... Irish Water protesters. There's no question of that'.
Mr. Kelly is surprisingly correct. The principles of anarchism are to be seen everywhere you turn in the struggle against the water charges.
People coming together in solidarity, building community spirit through the initiative of individuals, practising real democracy to organise against the injustice of the powerful, so that we may free ourselves from the burden of toil and arbitrary authority and live contentedly - this is the anarchy fantasy.
Tonight members of the Labour Party voted against a bill which would allow abortion in situations where the foetus has no prospect of survival.
The second time they did this was after Savita Halappanavar died in October 2012. Within months of this they again voted against abortion.
Last November, I took part in a week-long language school at Oventic, Chiapas. I spent the week living and learning with two US-based comrades – Laila, a tattoo artist and socialist/feminist from Memphis, and Michael, a housing rights activist from Baltimore – alongside the wider Zapatista community of Oventic. Our ‘guides’ for the week were our neighbours – Natalio and Paloma as well as Stephanie (who was learning to be a teacher) and Efrain (a linguist, philosopher and educator all rolled in to one). These were the people we met and spoke with every day. What follows are some reflections recorded along the way.
We have had months of outrage from media & politicians over the last months about the 2 hours Joan Burton spent stuck in a luxury car. This morning we saw a wave of Garda raids at dawn on political activists involved in that protest, one of whom faced 8 Garda barging into his house to arrest him while he tried to get his two young kids ready for school.
That's the nature of policing in this country, one law for the rich and powerful, and another for anyone who dares to stand up to the powerful. The laws are written to protect those with wealth and power, to allow them to keep the rest of us down and desperate. It fast it turned out almost none of their scams that caused the crisis were even illegal (under the laws they paid politicians to draft).
The French proto anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote over 150 years ago that
“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.
The Garda raids against the Jobstown 4 at dawn are an illustration of how the state works to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. Nothing illustrates the repressive role the state plays better than having a squad of strange men turn up at your door at dawn to take you away against your will. It’s an exercise in power that it meant to scare, to frighten others into staying quiet.
Whenever people refuse to be bought off or diverted into ineffective action or electoralism the state deploys the stick. For months Gardaí have been attacking people in communities across the country for continuing to resist water meter installations. And over the last decade we saw state repression being directed again and again against the community around Rossport because they refused to give in to Shell. There is huge and growing outrage directed at the Garda, it's at moments like this that the old anarchist slogan 'Smash the State' comes into focus.
This morning squads of Garda around Dublin mounted dawn raids on the houses of water charges protesters over a sit in 3 months ago in Jobstown. At the same time across the city bankers and other speculators named in the HSBC Geneva Private Bank leaks slept soundly in their beds knowing no one was going to be knocking down their door. If you want to understand the nature of power the contrast provides an excellent example.
The raids this morning were all about what the politicians' spin doctors like to call optics. Politicians, media and the Gardaí are on a drive to criminalise and marginalise those resisting the imposition of water charges. Sit ins and blockades have been part of political protest in Ireland for decades, the IFA routinely has far more militant protests.
Earlier today over 50 people protested outside Amnesty International HQ, in Dublin, against the brutal treatment of republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison in Antrim. This has flared up again with, for instance, republican prisoner Martin Kelly having his arm broken and face stomped on by the riot squad only 5 days ago. Here is the background to the struggle of these political prisoners for basic human rights.
When the H-blocks closed as a part of the peace process in 2000, republican prisoners were put into Maghaberry prison because it is the only high security prison in the North of Ireland. But anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans were getting imprisoned in Maghaberry from the late 90's. The prison administration straight away treated all political prisoners as “criminal”. The rights that were gained from the prison struggle in the late 70's early 80's were taken away.