Irish Anarchist Review 5 - Summer 2012


Welcome to Irish Anarchist Review issue 5, produced by the Workers Solidarity Movement. In this magazine we look to explore theories, thoughts and ideas about political struggle.  We set out to analyse where we are aiming for as a revolutionary movement and explore how we might get there.  The purpose of ‘Irish Anarchist Review’ is to act as forum for a sharing of ideas about revolutionary struggle.  Building a successful revolution demands genuine discussion, debate and sharing of ideas.  We hope that the articles in here will help to stimulate discussion and provoke debate and perhaps even motivate some of our readers to respond with articles of your own.


[Print Quality PDF of IAR 5 ]


As we head into the second half of 2012, we have seen the awakening in Ireland of a renewed sense of political hope.  The campaign against the household tax has established itself firmly all across the 26 Counties and has brought large numbers of people never previously involved in anything into political organising.  In establishing local campaign groups in our areas, in discussing political and organisational ideas with our neighbours and in challenging the powers of the state, we are beginning to realise the strength we have in organising together and many of us are seeing for the first time the real truth behind the old Irish proverb ‘Ní neart go gur le chéile’ – There is no strength without unity.  Over the coming months, the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes will face many battles.  It is by organising it on truly democratic and participatory lines that we can all ensure that it is strong enough to win those battles.

In Mark Hoskins’ article ‘Single Issue Campaigns, Community Syndicalism and Direct Democracy’, he explores what is meant by participatory or direct democracy  and how to make the demand for direct democracy relevant to the day to day struggles and campaigns that people are involved in.  As people get involved in struggles such as the campaign against the household tax they begin to see that the state apparatus is not on our side and neither is it a neutral intermediary between the haves and the have-nots.  Thus the necessity for building alternative forms of organisation becomes obvious.  Involvement in campaigns, participation in decision making and use of direct action tactics are all encouraged by anarchists both as the most effective way to advance particular struggles but also as a means by which people begin to get a real sense of their own power.

In communities across Ireland people who have got involved in the struggle against the household tax are beginning to get that sense.  For anarchists one of the challenges is to ensure that what Mark describes as ‘the battle….between democratic and authoritarian methods of organising’ is won by those who advocate true participatory democracy and that the campaign is not diverted down an electoral cul de sac by which all decision making is channelled through a local ‘leadership’.

In his review of Paul Mason’s book ‘Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere’, Andrew Flood looks at the concept of the ‘Networked Individual’ and explores the extent to which modern communications technology has impacted on people’s ability to organise in a non-hierarchical manner.  He goes on to look at the impact of this on the role of a revolutionary organisation and indeed on the type of revolutionary organisation needed in the era of the ‘networked individual’.  For example with the ease of one to many internet communications does the size of a revolutionary organisation matter any longer?  The coherent anarchist organisation, he concludes, “aims to be a scaffold along which many of the major nodes of a network can rapidly grow and link up as they are needed…”

Sean Matthews in his piece casts a critical eye over the contribution of workers’ co-operatives and social centres to the development of libertarian communist ideas.  Acknowledging that workers’ co-ops have always been championed by sections of the left, and that they can potentially provide a glimpse of “self-management, direct democracy and mutual aid in action…” he argues that we “should not be blinded by their contradictions and should query their effectiveness as a strategy for real revolutionary transformation.”

As we look to build a free and democratic future for ourselves and our children and grandchildren, it is useful to look back at where we have come from and to analyse the political ideas and struggles that have brought us to where we are.  As a contribution to such analysis, Fin Dwyer exposes the story of the early years of Ireland’s independence as being “…one of a dark authoritarian regime based on repression, discrimination and censorship where the elite of nationalist Ireland re-established control over a society that had teetered on the verge of revolution for years…” This is the first of a two-part series which will be continued in IAR6.

In a thought-provoking piece which challenges all of us to “… look at ourselves on a personal level, recognise privilege and develop a wider critique that is truer to our own politics…” Dónal O Driscoll explores “what it means to be anti-racist from an anarchist perspective.” He explores two important principles of anti-racism - the recognition that many of us have privileges simply because of our skin colour or ethnic group and the challenge of giving voice to the oppressed.

Linked to this, Aidan Rowe reviews “The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age”, arguing that “a sophisticated understanding of how racism works under neoliberal governance is key if we are to win the ‘battle of ideas’ against those who would use racism to divide and control us….”  And Shane O’Curry reviews a film that he “approached ….with a lot of trepidation, putting off watching it for weeks”.  “Knuckle” is described as “an epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveller bare-knuckle fighting….” but Shane’s review concludes that it is “an absolutely captivating film, taking the viewer into spaces largely hidden from the outside world. Here, we are much more intimate with Traveller men than in any other film (that I have seen, anyway)…”

We hope that you, the reader, will find the articles in this magazine interesting and thought-provoking.  We hope that they will contribute to a further development and understanding of anarchist politics.  We don’t want the magazine to be a one-way street but would welcome feedback and comment on any of the articles or on any issues that you feel should be covered in future issues of Irish Anarchist Review.

Read and enjoy!