The eleventh issue of the Irish Anarchist Review goes to press in the middle of the biggest battle in the war against austerity in Ireland to date. Tens of thousands of people have taken part in mass demonstrations against the water charges, up and down the country thousands have taken part in acts of physical resistance against water meter installation and hundreds of thousands, at the very least, are getting ready to participate in a mass boycott of the charge. Furthermore, the level of political consciousness of the population has risen considerably over the last year, with a distinct anti-establishment atmosphere, and in some cases an anti-state atmosphere, developing.
May 22nd offers an opportunity for many of us in Ireland to strike a blow against homophobia in voting for Marriage equality.
In the last 24 hours anti-equality campaigners have been setting up fake Yes to equality Facebook pages and then posting links around to large groups like the 26,000 strong anti water charges group. The intention being to trick people into voting No by trying to give credence to the fevered imaginations of homophobes.
On Friday Ireland goes to the polls for a referendum to introduce Marriage equality, when it is passed Ireland will be the first country to introduce Marriage equality by popular vote. In the final days of campaigning the reactionary anti-equality crowd are becoming increasingly open about their homophobia as they become increasingly desperate in the face of defeat.
Marriage as an institution has no great appeal for anarchists. Its primary role in capitalist society is to regulate property ‘rights’ and to promote social norms. But we also know that in our current society marriage has a social standing to which many people aspire. To tell a significant section of the population that they should be denied access to marriage is to ask them to accept a secondclass position vis a vis their straight family members, workmates and friends.
What are the challenges and possibilities of popular self-organisation to reclaim our lives, our homes and our cities.
At this years Dublin anarchist bookfair Jenny and Zoe looked at recent occupations in Dublin, including the Grangegorman Squat in Smithfield where resistance to eviction is ongoing
“Ours is a society in which, in every field, one group of people makes decisions, exercise control, limits choices, while the great majority have to accept these decisions, submit to this control and act within the limits of these externally imposed choices. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of housing: one of those basic human needs which throughout history and all over the world people have satisfied as well as they could for themselves, using the materials what were at hand and their own, and their neighbors labor. The marvelously resourceful anonymous vernacular architecture of every part of the globe is a testimony to their skill, using timber, straw, grass, leaves, hides, stone, clay, bone, earth, mud sand even snow. Consider the igloo: maximum enclosure of space with minimum of labor. Cost of materials and transportation, nil. And all made of water. Nowadays, of course, the Eskimos live on welfare handouts in little northern slums. Man, as Habraken says “no longer houses himself: he is housed” – Colin Ward
Over 100 people, mainly Dunnes workers, marched from the town hall to Dunnes Stores in Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Thursday evening as part of the Decency for Dunnes Workers campaign which focuses on decent hours and earnings, job security, fair pay and representation and right to dignity at work. Marchers included members of the Scrap Water Charges Kildare group as well as a small, smartly dressed doggy. Mandate representatives and numerous local supporters were in attendance.
Could climate change become a catalysing force for radical social transformation in Ireland? Recent struggles around public transport in Ireland prompted me to think along these lines. Last weekend, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann workers went on strike over plans by the National Transport Authority to tender out 10% of public routes to private operators. A few days earlier, SIPTU’s banner at Liberty Hall had been unfurled to state: ‘Say No to Privatisation; privatisation results in fare increase, reduced services, a threat to free travel, a bad deal for taxpayers and job cuts’. SIPTU and NBRU members and strike organisers have emphasised the damage privatisation will do to society, primarily concentrating on the loss of community services and the race to the bottom in bus drivers’ terms and conditions . The striking workers deserve our support and their claims should be taken seriously. This is definitely the case when the regime media adhere to a deeply unimaginative line, loudly declaiming traffic disruption to an imagined city of angry consumers and silently accepting the hollowing out of public services . At the same time, however, we also need to think about what’s not being said, about the words that don’t make it on to the papers or the banner.
On May 5th the Belfast branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement organised a demo and protest in solidarity with Baltimore.
We arranged candles in a circle with flowers in the middle as a vigil to those who have been murdered as a result of police and state-sponsored violence and racism. We then played interviews from Baltimore and Black America out on a speaker in order to allow those directly affected to speak for themselves.
Every 28 hours a person of colour (POC) is murdered by the police force in America. So far 157 known POC have been murdered - we printed out their names to show that they are not just numbers or statistics. Instead of reporting this the media and those with privilege have decided that it is much more important to talk about looting. This is the narrative in a neo-liberal, racist, society that places profit over the lives of people. In a society that is founded upon violence to act violently is to act in self-defence. Freddie Gray didn’t have the opportunity to act in self-defence against the torture he endured which eventually killed him.