Review

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

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Released in Summer 2011 and now in its second edition, Chavs is Owen Jones' attempt to help rescussitate debate around class within mainstream outdated concept and political discourse.

Broadly speaking, it is focused on the fate of working class communities in Britain since the Thatcher era and the disappearance of working class political representation, and puts forward some possible ideas to envision a renewed class politics for today. The book has proven a popular one and has propelled its author's public status as a prominent left-wing commentator, and one of the main voices of initiatives to reclaim the Labour Party as a working class organisation.

Pushers Out! - The inside story of Dublin's anti-drugs movement

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Walk five minutes from O'Connell St, Dublin's main thoroughfare, or five minutes from Christ Church Cathedral, an important tourist attraction, and you will find yourself in a very different world from that depicted in the tourist brochures. Pushers Out tells the story of how people living in the North Inner City and the South Inner City (and later the suburbs, and some small towns) organised to save their communities from heroin. Not relying on the state to solve their problems, they started to organise themselves. One such working class organisation is Coalition of Communities Against Drugs (COCAD).

No Global - The People of Ireland Versus the multinationals

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Essentially it is an account of the various environmental clashes that have taken place in Ireland since the mid-70s when the Irish Government's policy of attracting multinational corporation into Ireland - in particular in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector - moved into full swing. In terms of being a record of these many struggles, No Global is a very useful compendium with a lot of first hand information as well as useful analysis. The author was involved in some of the events he addresses and this adds a particular validity to the account.

The Dunnes Strike & Managing Change - the two souls of the trade union

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For three weeks, in June-July 1995, nearly 6,000 mostly young and part-time workers struck against Ireland's largest private sector employer, the firmly anti-union Dunnes Stores, over Sunday trading, zero-hours contracts, the proportion of full-time jobs and other issues. But the principal, and unstated, issues were probably union recognition and the organisation of the newly emergent semi-casual, part-time, young (and mainly female) section of the labour force. The result, while disappointing on the concrete 'economic' issues, was generally greeted as something of a breakthrough on the latter 'political' issues.

Union activists are facing new management attacks but the trade union leadership speaks only of partnership with the bosses. Des Derwin, member of the Executive of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and of the Dublin Private Sector Regional Executive Committee of SIPTU gives his personal view on the two souls of the unions. 

Democracy - The Art of Re-making Society

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David Graeber’s excellent insider account of the occupation of Wall Street [1] offers us an insight into what form the politics of resistance needs to take. It will be dual purpose, having to both build resistance and also build anew. It will be about renewal, hope and learning. Crucially, how you build resistance will inform and shape what is to follow. It will entail democracy being built from ground zero.
 
During Occupy wall street there was a electric hum that came from that community. People were actively engaged on a social level, face to face discussions everywhere attempting to make it an active space for direct democracy. In that electricity of building community, ideas flourished, principles were applied, democracy was direct and actions flowed from the place where decisions were reached, collectively. In short, politics has to became about the remaking of society.[2] What is society if it is not about people? It can only be rebuilt by people; people meeting, planning, discussing, deciding and acting together.

THE WORMS THAT SAVED THE WORLD - a review of a brilliant children's book

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THE WORMS THAT SAVED THE WORLD is an illustrated children’s book about a rebellious group of earthworms who fight to save their home from a luxury golf course that takes over their headland. Written by Kevin Doyle and illustrated by Spark Deeley, the book introduces us to Connie and her friends as they band together to save their community and their home. 
 
 
At first, the worms try to make do but the growing pollution combined with the new owners’ intolerance force them to take action. They realise that they cannot win against the powerful golf club on their own so they seek the help of other animals who share the headland with them. They are a determined and inventive community of worms and in the end the win back control of their home. (Hurray!) The story was inspired by a famous campaign that took place at the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, Ireland in the early 2000s.

Rojava: a new world in our hearts?

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War is hell. In September 2015, the heartbreaking image of Alan Kurdi went viral. The picture of the little Syrian-Kurdish boy lying face down on Ali Hoca beach in Turkey highlighted Fortress Europe’s racist response to those refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.  Abdullah Kurdi, Alan’s father, returned to Kobane to bury his wife and two sons. He wrote to the world: ‘I am grateful for your sympathy for my fate. This has given me the feeling that I am not alone. But an essential step in ending this tragedy and avoiding its recurrence is support for our self-organisation’. Kurdi was referring to the emergent experiment in popular democracy sweeping Rojava, the most hopeful thing to have happened in the Middle East for a very long time. A popular, anti-authoritarian rebellion is struggling against the death-world of capitalist modernity. And for now, it seems to be winning. 

Book Review: Kristin Ross Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune

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Kristin Ross has written a beautiful, inspirational account of the life and afterlife of the Paris Commune and of the everyday communards who brought it to fruition.

“Communal Luxury” takes as its subject matter the Paris Commune of 1871, one of the single greatest advances toward a free society ever attempted in human history. The Commune arose in the course of a devastating war between France and Prussia (Germany), with the French army’s defeat prompting the collapse of the imperialist, authoritarian French regime. The people of Paris organised their own defence, bought their own cannons, and refused to hand said cannons over to the new French Republic. Instead, staging a worker-led insurrection, they declared Paris to be liberated from both the French and Prussian forces and set about constructing a free society, one in which all comers participated in decision-making and all wealth was shared in common. The Commune lasted some 72 days in the spring of 1871 before being brutally crushed by the reactionary forces of Nation, Church, State and Capital. Some 25,000 men, women, and children were executed.

 

Ireland's Great Wealth Divide - A critical look at the David McWilliams documentary

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Monday night (22/09/2015) RTE aired the misguided David McWilliams documentary "Ireland's Great Wealth Divide". It points out that the richest of the rich have far, far more than their fair share and that it's considerably worse than "we" think it is - this is demonstrated with opinion poll data (see image below) showing how Irish people would like wealth to be divided, contrasted against how "we" think it's divided and how it's actually divided. It also argues against the notion of trickle down economics, pointing out that the wealthy don't let their money trickle down and do not create jobs.

Murray Bookchin ­- The Next Revolution (Review)

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Despite being a pathbreaking figure from the 1960s onward in anarchist, green, and directly­ democratic political circles ­ having predicted early on the significance of ecological issues and technology to left­wing social struggles ­ Murray Bookchin today remains unknown to many on the left, and to those who do know of him he remains controversial.

Disliked by class struggle anarchists and Marxists for his advocacy of community organising over workplace organising, and by anarchists involved in single ­issue activism for their lack of organisation and supposed concern with personal rebellion over social change, he made quite a few enemies in his last days for fiery polemics directed at his intellectual opponents. While his supporters in organisations like New Compass defend him for his consistency, others argue that he ended up alienating potential allies by refusing to ever waver on his specific revolutionary vision: focused on creating a municipal­ confederation of ecological communities practicing direct­ democracy, founded on a philosophy of science, reason, and humanism.

This new collection of essays from the last few years of his life may provide a useful entry­ point of his philosophical and political project called social ecology and generate further debate for the future of libertarian socialist organising in an age of increasing militarism and climate crisis.

 

 

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