The following is an abridged summary of a qualitative study undertaken as part of the Masters in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. The thesis drew upon theories of culture, subculture, social movements, radical pedagogy, ethnographies and studies of ultras, gender and football research, as well as studies of the Irish immigrant experience in Scotland, and specifically the role of Celtic FC as an expression of Irish identity.
The Green Brigade of Glasgow Celtic Football Club were founded in 2006 as an explicitly anti-sectarian, anti-racist and anti-fascist group of ultras, who would celebrate Irish Republicanism, oppose the commercialisation of football, and act as an alternative to apolitical fans groups who were perceived as being too close to the management of the club.
‘In the history of humankind every act of destruction meets its response, sooner or later, in an act of creation’ - Eduardo Galeano
In Bolivia, there have been remarkable experiences in urban peripheries, notably in Cochabamba, that reveal the capacity of grassroots associations to construct a free society based on solidarity and mutual aid. The background to the country’s Water War of April 2000 must be understood against preceding waves of struggle, particularly the huge marches for sovereignty and livelihoods of coca growers, Amazonian groups, and others that emerged with the implementation of the neoliberal model in 1985 . Subsequent mine closures and rural migration occasioned huge increases in Bolivia’s urban centres, particularly in Cochabamba, the country’s third largest city. The state water company, Semapa, served only half of the city’s population. In the neglected southern peripheries, neighbourhood groups organised associations to bring water to their homes. Cooperatives, formed without state assistance, dug wells, built water mains, and even created drainage and sewers. In cases where wells could not be dug, the committees bought their own water tankers and organised daily deliveries. By 1990, some 140 urban water committees had formed in the south of Cochabamba, with between 300 and 1000 families in each one .
Ever wonder why the Gardaí show up in large numbers when you’re trying to stop water meters in your estate, but haven’t got the resources to come straight out when you think your neighbour’s house is being burgled? If so, you’re thinking about the state.
Misconceptions & Reality
The most common misconception about anarchism is that it is in favour of ‘chaos’ or some sort of world generally devoid of order and democratic institutions which would leave us at the mercy of predators within our society. Therefore it aims for the destruction of civilisation and democracy itself, which in this view are represented by the state – the guarantor of peace, freedom, and of course, roads.
The campaign against the water charges is the most widespread and powerful grassroots movement in recent Irish history. With hundreds of local campaign groups, daily direct actions, and 4 national demonstrations on the order of 50,000-100,000, the cynical refrain that 'the Irish don't protest' has rapidly been replaced by a sense of ubiquitous rebellion. Irish Water is a depraved neoliberal world in effigy, embodying many of the worst problems of our society including the rule of international finance (and private greed in general) at the cost of the vast majority's well being, and the chronic disconnection of the populace from decision making. As such the movement has become a platform for opposition to austerity, the bank bailout, privatisation, the government, party politics, the EU, and more. Thousands of people have experienced a political (re-)awakening. But while it is possible that we will win this battle, and abolish Irish Water, this struggle represents a precious opportunity to make a grassroots offensive after so many years of being beaten down.
As the trade union leadership does its best to drag us back into a new round of ‘social partnership’, Gregor Kerr – an activist in the Irish National Teachers Organisation – compares the best and worst of recent developments in the trade unions and poses a challenge – Can we save the movement by ridding it of the stultifying bureaucracy that seems set to strangle the life out of it?
The past number of months have witnessed the best and the worst of the trade union movement and its leadership. On the one hand, the presence of 5 trade unions – Unite, Mandate, CPSU, CWU and OPATSI – in the leadership of the Right2Water Campaign has certainly contributed to its being able to mobilise some of the biggest street mobilisations in the history of the state. But on the other hand the paucity of ambition and their perspective on how change in society is brought about, sees those unions and their leaderships doing their best to drag what has been largely a community-led campaign down the well-trodden and unlikely-to-succeed electoral path.
On the last day of August 2014, in a ruling the country and the media barely noticed, Mr Justice Ryan in the High Court in Kerry found against Ciara Hamilton and for the HSE in an utterly terrifying moment for every person becoming pregnant or giving birth in Ireland from here on out. Ciara Hamilton had taken a case against the Health Service Executive after the birth of her second child, during which a midwife had, without obtaining consent, broken her waters, leading to an umbilical cord prolapse and an emergency caesarean section.
The breaking of waters during labour, in medical terms, amniotomy or Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM), is not recommended best practice precisely because it can lead to a cord prolapse, which is a serious emergency when giving birth as it cuts off the blood flow and air supply to the baby. If the person giving birth is a Strep B carrier, as Ciara Hamilton was, it can also carry an increased risk of Strep B transferring to the newborn and causing serious damage to the baby, as happened to Ciara Hamilton’s child. It is listed as a Do Not Do under NICE recommendations. Despite this, and despite ARM being known to carry dangers and risks to both birthing woman and baby, it is still a widely carried out procedure in many Irish maternity hospitals. In the case of Ciara Hamilton’s birth, it was a procedure carried out by a midwife without seeking consent to do so.
Revolutions are seldom made in favourable circumstances. Russia 1917 emerged from the mass slaughter of WWI and the disintegration of an economy under the pressure of the supply demands of that war. Spain 1936 emerged from a well planned and executed fascist coup amongst a powerful military backed and armed by international fascism. Schemas for revolution that depend on quiet times and plenty may well be doomed from the start.
That said it’s hard to imagine more impossible conditions for revolution than that of Rojava. A brutal civil war, 3 small areas of territory that were kept in a state of low development by the previous regime and are not even linked to each other. A fanatic army of barbaric religious extremists armed with captured looted US heavy weaponry attacking from one side, a hostile state quietly backing that army and closing its borders to the good guys on another and waiting in the wings the old regime and its long history of brutal counter insurgency. And above all this the tactical and strategic intervention of an imperialist power whose manipulations have devastated the land to the South East over a period of almost three decades.
A spectre is haunting the people of Europe, but this time it's not one to be welcomed. All the powers of new Europe have entered into an unholy alliance to raise this spectre: Merkel and Rajoy, Hollande and Cameron, Irish Blueshirts and Greek state police. Where is the movement in opposition that has not been decried as terroristic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not cried out for law and order in the face of the more progressive parties? Two questions result from these facts:
What class, classes or section of the population is conjuring up this phantasm? IE, what classes benefit from authoritarian extremism?
What is to be done? IE, What course of action should the people of Europe take to counter this threat? And what role do the libertarian left have to play in bringing that course of action to fruition?
To answer these questions, it is essential to examine the current wave of reaction across the European continent and asses its purpose and its source.
Here in Ireland over the past eighteen months asylum seekers have been organising protests against the conditions they are compelled to live in, including blockading the ‘hostels’ (effectively for-profit open prisons) where they are forced to live in appalling conditions, which some have been made to endure for over a decade.
For the past several years, Anti-Deportation Ireland, a political campaign run by both asylum seekers themselves and by their supporters has been pushing for three demands:
1/ An immediate end to deportations.
2/The immediate abolition of direct provision
3/The rights to work and to access 3rd-level education