Magazine

Articles from one of the WSM magazines

The Twisted Road to Partnership: Can the trade union movement be saved from the bureaucracy?

Date:

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.

 

 

Island of No Consent - Maternity Care and Bodily Autonomy in Ireland

Date:

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.

 

 

Rojava - Revolution Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Date:

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.

All the Evil in the World – Pandora, the One Percent and the New European Reaction

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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:

  1. What class, classes or section of the population is conjuring up this phantasm? IE, what classes benefit from authoritarian extremism?

 

  1. 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.

 

A Prison by Any Other Name - The fight against direct provision

Date:

 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

 

 

Turnips, hammers & the square - why workplace occupations have faded.

Date:
What if we build it and they don’t come? That was the experience of the left during the crisis - decades had been spent building organisations and a model of how crisis would create revolution, but when the crisis arrived the left discovered that the masses weren’t convinced. The expected pattern of crisis leading to small strikes and protests, then to mass strikes and riots and then perhaps to general strike and revolution didn’t flow as expected. Under that theory the radical left would at first be marginal but then as conditions drove class militancy to new heights, the workers disappointed by reformist politicians and union leaders, would move quickly to swell its ranks.
 
In 2008 and 2009 that was the expectation of the revolutionary left organisations across Europe and North America, but that cycle of growth never materialised. In 2011 revolts did break out, but not in the manner expected and so the left could only spectate and criticise. Beyond that the period of struggle from 2008-2014 suggests that there is less strength in building struggles around broad ‘bread & butter’ issues than we imagined and a suggestion that diversity proved more useful in sustaining progressive struggle.
 

Middle Men and Market Forces - An interview with Conor McCabe

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The following is an edited transcript of an interview cum dialogue with Conor McCabe, author of the 2011 book “Sins of the Father” on the economy of Ireland since independence and researcher on financial shenanigans and corporate misdeeds in the Republic. I keeping with the theme of this issue of IAR on the institutions of power in Ireland, we wanted to explore how money and market forces operate through the specific structures and class composition of Irish society.

 

 

An End to Growth? Beyond the productivist bias of the historical left

Date:

Capitalism is making you fat. Capitalism is also destroying the environment. These two things are more closely connected than you might think. Not all growth is good. Certainly the growth of people’s waistlines and indexes of body fat have lead scientists and health professionals to warn of a global obesity epidemic. 65% of the world’s population now live in countries where being overweight kills more people than being underweight. Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980 and 1.4 billion adults over 20 are now overweight.

Solidarity, Engagement & the Revolutionary Organisation

Date:

Over the last couple of years the WSM has been going through a process of re-examining the way we relate to people interested in what we have to say. Alongside this we have recently begun to try and get a better understanding of what it is we do. Both these processes have some major implications in reaching an understanding of what the usefulness of a revolutionary organisation is in the modern era of broad and loose social networks.

 

Bread and Robots: Automation, urban farming and the abolition of wage labour.

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“Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, except in being lazy.”
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

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