WSM Points of Unity Explained: 8 - Imperialism

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‘8. We oppose imperialism but put forward anarchism as an alternative goal to nationalism. We defend grassroots anti-imperialist movements while arguing for an anarchist rather than nationalist strategy.’

Many places, including Ireland have a history of being occupied by colonial powers and anti-colonial struggles that included a radical element. For instance the role of the Irish Citizen Army, initially set up to protect striking workers from the police, along with James Connolly are well known radical elements within the anti-colonial struggle here. But there are others, as far back as 1798 there were organised groups within the anti-colonial movement that promoted a radical, levelling democracy not just a change of rulers. There were also reactionary elements who wanted a 'free' Ireland to have its own colonies or who supported the slave trade or otherwise advanced white supremacist positions. Nationalism insists on blending all such elements together into a single movement and history in which being Irish erases the difference between radicals and reactionaries of the past and present.

We stand in solidarity with movements against colonialism but reject that nationalist project that seeks to erase differences within those movements in the name of unity. Instead we focus our solidarity on radical anti-colonial movements and tendencies in particular those that include elements strongly compatible with anarchism. In the last couple of decades this is why we had a particular focus on Chiapas and Rojava where unconventional national liberation movements had developed an anti-authoritarian and in some respects anti-nationalist project being implemented on a mass basis. Both cases have strong elements of bottom-up decision making structures based on community assemblies.

There haven’t been equivalent movements in radical Irish nationalism which instead has tended to focus on the use of armed struggle rather than grassroots decision making structures. Which is not to say such elements have not semi-spontaneously appeared, Free Derry of 1969-72 and the workplace occupations of the 1919-21 war both represented tendencies that went well outside the common terrain of militant nationalism. The task of anarchists is to discover, encourage and help build such tendencies within anti-colonial movements rather than simply lining up behind the leadership of such movements.


This is one in a series of short articles explaining the WSM Points of Unity.
To listen to all these pieces together, click here.
To read all the WSM Points of Unity, click here.
This is the last Point of Unity. To read about the first - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas - click here.

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