The Left

What We Believe - WSM Points of Unity Explained - Audio

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This is a series explaining the 8 Points of Unity of the Workers Solidarity Movement - an anarchist organisation active on the island of Ireland.

The WSM regularly discusses, debates and decides on what our collective political approach is. The Points of Unity are the most basic political agreement necessary to be a WSM member or supporter. They are 8 short points which outline the anarchism the WSM stands for.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 1 - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas

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'1. Anarchism will be created by the class struggle between the vast majority of society (the working class) and the tiny minority that currently rule. A successful revolution will require that anarchist ideas become the leading ideas within the working class. This will not happen spontaneously. Our role is to make anarchist ideas the leading ideas or, as it is sometimes expressed, to become a ''leadership of ideas''.’

We're usually told that class society is a thing of the past. After all, aren't we all middle class now? But this is false, and there still very much exists a severe division between people based on property and work, a hierarchy which is a basic fact of the economic system known as capitalism.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 2 - Power Structures

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'2. We reject the idea that society can be changed through 'good people' gaining control of the power structures. This means we reject both the electoral strategy of the social democratic and green parties and the 'revolutionary' strategy of the various left groups.'

The WSM is working towards a free, equal, democratic society. We believe the only way to achieve this is by people taking their destinies into their own hands, forming grassroots mass movements, and creating new truly democratic institutions.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 6 - (Other) Mass Movements

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'6. We also see it as vital to work in struggles that happen outside the unions and the workplace. These include struggles against particular oppressions, imperialism and indeed the struggles of the working class for a decent place and environment in which to live. Our general approach to these, like our approach to the unions, is to involve ourselves with mass movements and within these movements, in order to promote anarchist methods of organisation involving direct democracy and direct action.'

While the workplace is of course a critical site of political activity, there is a much broader terrain on which to strive for our liberty. Ultimately, we want a world where people are free and content. So, everywhere that we are ripped off, suppressed, attacked, sidelined, or degraded, is a place for us to fight back and band together with others. In a social order which thrives on us keeping our heads down and being passive, resistance in its many forms is to be encouraged and supported. Whether or not that resistance is as radical or as 'pure' as we'd like we should engage, of course with our anarchist heads screwed on. While being a purist sect on the sidelines can feel satisfying to the initiated, ultimately it is a redundant way to make change.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 7 - Oppression and Intersectionality

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'7. We actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice within the workers' movement and society in general and we work alongside those struggling against racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia as a priority. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions after the revolution being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.'

While acknowledging the huge harm caused by capitalism and the state, our concerns do not end there. The Workers Solidarity Movement are anarchists because we oppose all forms of exploitation and oppression. All of the degradation, marginalisation, and violence, in this society. And so we recognise that patriarchy, racism, queerphobia, ableism, religious domination and sectarianism, xenophobia, and every way that joy is sucked out of our lives, are oppressive social systems in their own right which must be overthrown. While capitalism and the state are instrumental in spreading these oppressions, and while these oppressions are instrumental in sustaining capitalism and the state, they have their own independent existence and reasons to be wiped out.

Anarchism, Oppression & Exploitation - WSM position paper

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What is this?

This paper outlines how we the intersections of exploitation and oppressions and what approach the WSM takes in relation to this.  Our collective theoretical understanding is framed in the WSM Constitution’s core point of unity number 7: “We actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice within the workers' movement and society in general and we work alongside those struggling against racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia as a priority. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions after the revolution being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.” 

That theory is informed by the individual and collective experiences of WSM members over 30 years and our adaption of anarchism to our local contexts which includes specific experiences of oppression and personal & historical experiences of the anti-colonial struggle in Ireland and elsewhere.  The development of this paper involved our own experiences being placed alongside our discussions of the broad set of writings and observations emerging from the anarchist and feminist study of the relationship between gender, class and race and in particular what is often referred to today as ‘Intersectionality’.

Rojava revolution - Co-operatives & assemblies - video with commentary in the text

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As they have driven ISIS back in northern Syria / Rojava the Kurdish YPG and their allies in the SDF have won increasing visibility in western media. While such reports often mention the key role in this fight played by women in the YPJ, there is otherwise little examination of the revolution happening behind the front lines in Rojava. That revolution is why they stood and fought ISIS rather than fleeing. This can be true of a lot of alternative media coverage. In part this is due to the limited amount of information on what this revolution involves. but it’s also in part because photographs of women with guns are judged to be more striking than women workers in a co-operative bakery or a community assembly.

We’ve tried to address this imbalance somewhat, both in our coverage and through bringing a number of Kurdish and other speakers over to talk at the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. They spoke about what is happening behind the front lines. What is it that is being constructed that so many have judged is worth going to the front lines to defend against ISIS? Our speakers this year included Erjan Ayboga author of ‘Revolution in Rojava’ and US academic Janet Biehl who has visited the region twice since the revolution to investigate what is happening on the ground.

Thoughts on Squatting & Social Centers

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Over the previous year myself and a small number of comrades have been involved in housing activism in Dublin, specifically in relation using squatting or using occupation as a tactic. This is meant to be a short piece on some of the lessons learnt to inform activists who wish to get involved in this sort activity.

At the start of our career as squatter/housing activists over a year ago occupying buildings seemed like the primary logical option available to us. Not only was it an available and sensible form of direct action, which informed by our Social Anarchist politics was invariable the best and most effective tactic to use, it was also an easy way to alleviate the housing crisis.

What is 'Self-Organisation'? A Basic Introduction

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What is 'self-organisation'?

Listen to anarchists for long enough, and you'll hear us praising the 'self-organisation' of various movements or groups and insisting that political activity needs to be more 'self-organised'. But what does this mean? Why is this important?

It can be an odd-sounding term, but basically 'self-organisation' is doing stuff without relying on or waiting for external leadership or a central authority. A 'self-organised' movement doesn't wait for parties, unions, or whatever leader, to give it orders. A 'self-organised' group isn't controlled from the top-down. Self-organisation – like a related idea, 'self-management' – is at the core of anarchism. It makes us more effective, and gives us an opportunity to practice real democracy.

Nuit Debout - the failure of parliamentary politics in France

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Since the worldwide recession in 2008, we have seen governments around the world make neoliberal reforms, states hammering through austerity measures. In Ireland we know only too well the extent of austerity, the state has cut everything from healthcare to social housing. We have seen the struggle communities have been fighting against the privatization of water. We have seen the ever rising number of people being made homeless, mothers and fathers having to sleep in cars and parks with their children. We have seen massive unemployment, our loved ones having to emigrate to the other side of the world to find work.

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