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Articles from the WSM paper Workers Solidarity

Minister for Education backs down in face of threatened protest

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Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn backed down in mid-June on his threat to amend Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, which would have had the effect of allowing unqualified personnel to continue to work as teachers in primary school classrooms.  The Minister made his decision less than 48 hours before a protest organised by members of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) was due to be held.

The Gardai & “Facilitating Protest”

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About 250 people took part in the Eirígí-organised march on the banquet for the British Queen staged in Dublin castle on May 18th last. WSM members joined the demonstration but Gardai intercepted the person transporting our flags and banner to the protest, leaving us somewhat invisible. This was part of a pattern of suppression of visible protest that occurred throughout the visit of the British Queen, despite Garda claims that they would “facilitate protest” in advance of the visit. It turns out the unnamed Garda source quoted by the Irish Examiner in advance of the visit, who claimed “reasonable protest will be allowed - a peaceful protest - but up to a point”, had about as much value as unnamed Garda sources making vague statements ever do. This was despite Eirígí making major efforts to ensure their protests remained peaceful. Before the march, at least two of the speakers stated that anyone not willing to be peaceful should leave the demonstration. Stewards removed a couple of people they judged to have become too rowdy.

Some WSM activity May & June 2011

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As the new government backtracks on their election promises in record time (no surprises there), the problems facing workers, the unemployed and students continue to mount. While the visit of Queen Elizabeth may be seen as a distraction from these more important issues, the WSM nevertheless attended protests against her visit, including the banquet in Dublin castle, whose attendees epitomised the privileged minority who hold the power and wealth in this country. As detailed elsewhere, we mobilised in both Dublin and Cork against the visit. Check out http://www.wsm.ie/c/cork-protests-british-queens for a more in-depth look at events in the south.

Household & Water Tax Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay

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The government has made it clear that it is determined to press ahead with its attempts to impose not one but two new taxes on us.  Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is preparing to bring plans to government for a household tax, probably starting at €100 per year, from 1st January.  This tax will be added to by a water tax, expected to be introduced within the next couple of years.

Thinking About Anarchism: The State

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Anarchists are those socialists who are anti-authoritarian, who place great stress on liberty and workers’ control. For this reason, we want to abolish the state at the same time as we abolish the division of society into a boss class and a working class.

Review: Springtime, the New Student Rebellions

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The autumn and winter of 2010 saw the sudden and dramatic re-emergence of radical student movements, with mass student uprisings taking place across Europe and the United States in opposition to both the austerity measures being levelled against ordinary people as a result of the crisis in capitalism, and the neoliberal restructuring of education according to the needs of capital. Across the Western world, governments are introducing measures to transform universities into “factories of precarious workers” - institutions devoted to the production of graduates equipped with the skills and ideas desired by industries increasingly reliant on immaterial and mental labour, turning ideas into profits. These employees must be willing to work in increasingly precarious situations, either entirely unpaid, or for increasingly low wages on increasingly short-terms contracts – a transformation that is increasingly meeting resistance from both students and academic staff, and which has only accelerated since the present crisis began. Meanwhile, in the Arab world, students have played a key role in the mass uprisings to topple Western-backed thugs such as Zine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.

Why We Celebrate Mayday

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The struggle against capitalism and authority is constant but each year on May Day the labour movement takes time out to celebrate its history and achievements. Rather than dwell on the hardships of struggle we take to the streets and remember what it is we are aiming for - the emancipation of our class. Climbing a mountain means paying close attention to the ground you walk but it’s important to look up now and again in order to focus on exactly where it is you’re headed.

Ecuador: Oil, Rainforests & the challenge of climate change

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In previous issues, we examined aspects of the challenge of climate change. We have argued that carbon trading is merely an enclosure of the atmospheric commons, while carbon offsets are a form of neo-colonialism whereby the “developed north” continues to pollute while the “global south” are paid not to (please see: wsm.ie/content/high-price-lot-hot-air and wsm.ie/content/offsetting-democracy). Another, more radical, proposal is one based on prevention, that is, the non-extraction of fossil fuels. The argument is that once extracted, the use of fossil fuels is inevitable, and that any mechanisms to mitigate the increase in CO2 emissions will be unworkable.

Review: Democratic Left: The Life and Death of a Political Party

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Kevin Rafter's “Democratic Left: The Life and Death of a Political Party” is a study of its short lifespan from 1992, when it split from the Workers Party (WP), to 1999, when it merged with the Labour Party. As such, it can be seen as a companion piece to Scott Miller and Brian Hanley’s “The Lost Revolution”, a history of the Workers Party. Rafter’s work, however, is somewhat different as it has an academic style, being his PhD thesis, which some may find off-putting. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining read for those with an interest in the dynamics of political organisations. All of the main protagonists were interviewed as part of Rafter's research and internal party documents are widely referenced, so his version of events is reasonably accurate, one would suspect.

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