Saturday, 30 April 2011

Fight the Cuts - Fuck the Elections!

In March the Assembly voted through a cuts budget of over 4billion. Over £700 million will be cut from health and over £150 million from education. The people implementing these cuts are looking us to return them to power in May. Increasingly working class people are seeing through the illusion of democracy and refusing to vote. After all, it only encourages the bastards!

That time is upon us again, the time where we get to sit down and decide who is worthy of our vote, of representing us at Assembly and Council level. And, lucky citizens that we are, we’re spoiled for choice! We have been presented with a veritable smorgasbord of candidates of all shapes, sizes and political backgrounds. As well as the line-up of usual suspects we have a gaggle of eager young hopefuls ready to pit their manifesto-writing skills against those of the jaded old warhorses. Freed from obscurity for 6 weeks only, these bushy-tailed campaigners are bounding from the shadows like dewy-eyed Disney bunnies, clutching handfuls of carefully thought-out speeches promising to deliver change and and create a better future if only we’d be good enough to put a wee mark next to their name.

The reality is, they’ll deliver nothing but countless annoying leaflets, and create nothing but a fire hazard in your hallway. Political parties, no matter what their size, and yes! even those who slap the sexy soundbite ‘Socialist’, ‘Worker’ or ‘Communist’ in front of their name, have absolutely nothing to offer. Sure, they might earnestly throw themselves into campaigns ‘fighting’ cuts, taxes, fees, whatever else is trendy and/or at the forefront of ‘working-class consciousness’ at the time (read – whatever will get them noticed), but the noticeable absence of any action or campaigning in the areas in which they’re not standing in election screams their true intentions in the face of anyone who cares to listen (some like to blame a lack of ‘resources’ – more appropriate is the term ‘sincerity’).

Along with the ardent lefties, an altogether more immediately sinister emergence has occurred. The far-right forces of the BNP (British National Party) and UKIP (UK Independence Party) have crawled their way out of the woodwork, presumably to blame the cuts on immigration. Well, that’s not strictly true. UKIP also state that they offer an alternative to the established Unionist parties by ‘rejecting bitter old sectarian politics’ and reaching out ‘across communities’ to keep Northern Ireland in the ‘democratic union’ of the UK. It’s good to know that the age-old Catholic v Protestant rivalry is now being transcended by racism; something which UKIP presumably think can bind our war-torn communities back together again. It conjures heady visions of peace walls being torn down, taigs and huns embracing in the once-divisive rubble, holding hands as they pick up debris, smiling lovingly at each other as they pelt the windows of migrant workers…. very progressive.
The establishment parties, of course, let’s not forget them! What are they promising? Well, that would be sectarianism, poverty, unemployment, cuts……. Basically just a proven version of what everyone else is trying not to admit. All have now turned round and stated that water charges are indeed on the way, and it won’t be long until they whip the cap off student fees in line with Westminster. So a two-tier education system for the privileged, and an annual bill of £300 on top of everything else in their box of treats. It’s an irresistible combination.

On a more serious note, the emergence of these right-wing forces is telling in itself. The decimation of public services, attacks on living conditions, cuts in almost every industrial sector leading to massive levels of unemployment – all of these things have caused poverty, anger and despondency, and overall a desperation for change. Can’t get a job? No, it’s not because of capitalism, it’s because the Poles have them all. Schools closing? That’ll be all the funding going to the Muslims. Waiting for a council house? Well, the government’s been selling off land earmarked for social housing for decades, but never mind that, did you notice that a family of Asians got one before you did? And by the way, the overcrowding in hospital’s got nothing to do with cuts and closures, it’s all to do with the waves of immigrants arriving daily on Great Britain’s shores.
Absolute shite, of course. Take a step back and the cause becomes clear – the inherent failure of the capitalist system. It doesn’t take a genius to know where the real finger of blame should be pointed, at the governments riding roughshod over workers. Even David Cameron has recognised that communities are in “discomfort and disjointedness”, although our great ‘leader’ then went on to place the blame, rather bizarrely, on “immigrant communities unwilling to learn English” than to acknowledge the real cause. Unsurprising that he should do so, seeing it is his party who are at the moment cutting the life out of working-class people; although it is nice in a way to see the Tories go back to their traditional values. The airbrushed and shiny face of the ‘friendly Conservative’ pre-general election was just plain weird.

Obviously, change is needed, permanent change. The problem is that the people promising it from your doorstep will never deliver it. Liberal or Tory, Green or Orange, Left or Right – all they will give in return for your vote are promises and policies as two-dimensional and false as their plastic posters which are currently adorning lampposts and telegraph poles.

Using the current system of ‘democracy’ to swap one set of tyrants for another is pointless, all a government can and will ever give are crumbs from the fat-cat table. Temporary reforms, such as the NHS, will be given with one hand to shut us up for a bit, then taken away with the other when times get hard for the super-rich. There is a growing realisation that this is the case, and with it a steady decline in voter turnout in election after election. The alternative is this – working-class people organising and taking control of their industries, communities and lives. Not entrusting our future to a bunch of power-hungry idiots, but seizing control ourselves. Making sure we live in a society where nobody is ever, or ever can be, in a position to oppress any other. Getting rid of a system which does nothing but fuck us over. Ensuring there is not only work available for all, but also within a system which is run by the workers, not an exploitative minority of parasites getting fat from our blood and sweat.

Anarchism is not a system of ‘no rules’, but rather a system of ‘no ruler’. It is based solely on the belief that the working-class has the tools and capabilities necessary for running the show ourselves, and indeed that this is the only way that true equality can ever be reached. We don’t need wars, famine, banks, sectarianism, division and corruption! We need class unity and change, to fight and win against a defunct system which has for so long got away with giving us nothing.

In saying all that, I must admit that all those posters do brighten the place up a bit. And on windy days, there’s nothing like seeing a four-foot image of a politician’s face smacking repeatedly against a lamppost.

further info & source: http://libcom.org/news/fight-cuts-fck-elections-29042011

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Why We Celebrate Mayday

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.
 
May Day’s association with class struggle stems from the trade union movement in the nineteenth century which fought for an eight hour working day. Their demands remained unheeded and direct action was then seen as the most effective way of creating change. Workers and unions set a date of May 1st 1886 on which workers would create the eight hour day themselves.

On this day an estimated half a million people took to the streets across America. In Chicago, where anarchists were the strongest organised force among workers, violent incidents involving police and strikers led to a crackdown on the labour movement by state forces. Eight well-known anarchists of the time were arrested and prosecuted as part of a campaign of terror aimed at crushing the strike movement.

Their subsequent trial closed with State Attorney Grinnell’s speech: “Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial. These men have been selected, picked out by the Grand Jury, and indicted because they were leaders. There are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society.” Four of these men, Parsons, Engel, Spies and Fischer, were hanged, while another man, Lingg, committed suicide in his cell and the three other men sentenced to lengthy jail terms.

May Day has since become a tradition of celebration of how far we have come in the struggle for democracy and freedom, a symbol of resistance, of people power and direct action. Every year, workers globally gather to celebrate the social and economic achievements our struggle has gained so far. One of the largest May Days in Ireland in recent years was in 2004, When an EU summit in Dublin clashed with our annual holiday. A weekend of activities was organised celebrating May Day and opposing the capitalist agenda of the summit.
May Day today poses the question - why should we continue to celebrate?

Well, we should never forget our history or the potential we have to take control back of our lives. Here in Ireland, the labour movement has forced the bosses and the state to give many concessions around workplace conditions and basic social needs. We are well capable of defending these gains and of going on to win much more.

More on May Day:
 http://www.wsm.ie/c/origins-mayday

May Day! May Day! Rossport Solidarity Camp Summer Gathering Sat 30 April - Mon 2nd May

Many activists from Derry and across the north west will be attending the Rossport Solidarity Camp Summer Gathering for the May Bank Holiday weekend and have called on people show their solidarity with the campaign to come along.  

Over the May Bank Holiday Rossport Solidarity have called on as many people as possible to come and see for yourself what's at stake and learn more about the campaign. 

The injustice faced by the community here is symbolic of the corruption and problems faced by people all over Ireland.

Come for a weekend of workshops & actions. Meet the affected community and hear their stories of resistance to Shell. See this incredible place and go on the Walk the Pipe tour. This will be a family friendly space with a kid's area.

Stopping Shell's proposed Corrib Gas Project would safeguard the environment, the health and safety of those who live here and the €600 billion oil and gas that should belong to the people of Ireland.

This will be a busy time for actions as Shell will be attempting to work on the pipeline so if you haven't been up to the camp yet, the gathering is a great time to get involved.

Bring your tent & sleeping bag. Food will be cooked collectively, donations welcome.
Transport is being organised from Derry with many people sharing their cars etc.

For more info:
http://www.shelltosea.com/content/may-day-may-day-rossport-solidarity-camp-summer-gathering-sat-30-april-mon-2nd-may

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

First Belfast Left Festival

The first Left Belfast Festival is here. In the week leading up to the time where we appreciate the efforts and gains made by workers in their fight for progress it's incumbent on us to sharpen our ideological tools in the modern day struggle.

The Left Belfast Festival aims to display the analytical rigour as well as celebrate some of the creative vibrancy of socialism. During the week we will open space for democratic debate and discussion on issues that impact on us all as well as show both local and international films that act as catalysts for progressive criticism.

In Solidarity with Women on the Frontlines

On Friday 8th April in Derry several activists from the feminist grouping, Women Activists for Social Justice held protest in Derry City Centre to highlight continuing violence against women on the frontlines across the world.  
The action was also used to highlight the recent threats in Mayo by Garda against  Shell To Sea Women activists threatened with rape.
 Source: Women Activists for Social Justice

Day of Action in Derry

The Pink Ladies Breast Cancer Support Group will be holding a Day of Action on Friday 15th April to demand Cancer Servies for the Northwest to be based at Altnagelvin Hospital. 

The group has called on the people of Derry and the wider Northwest region to join them at the Guildhall Square to show their support.  People will be assembling at 1pm on Friday 15th April in the Gulidhall Square.

The need to reject armed republicanism

Last weeks killing of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr combined with the massive public backlash expressed on various media outlets and rallies has served to strengthen the status-quo and the acceptability of the PSNI. In doing so providing a hostile environment for radical politics to operate in and ‘legitimacy’ to an intensification in intimidation and repression of republicans, their families and dissenters who dares to question the status-quo. Some media commentators suggesting that the booby trap car bomb will do for the PSNI what Bloody Sunday massacre did for the Provisional IRA. 

The politics of condemnation is a familiar ritual and convenient smokescreen from the so-called great and good in our society. Iit is these politicians, faceless bureaucrats and clergy who have laid the foundations of sectarianism, inequality and injustice which keep the scars of the past still burning. The actions of those who continue to plant the bombs are just as futile and counter-productive as it the spin and words of wisdom coming from the lips of McGuiness and Robinson. The life of Ronan Kerr is no more equal than the lives of countless of people who have suffered and died at the hands of states and police in Ireland, both North and South and across the world.

As fellow WSM comrade James Mc Barron has already correctly pointed out in an earlier articlearmed struggle in the context of the six counties is a cul-de-sac’ and more importantly ‘Every bomb attack and every shooting allows Martin McGuiness and Peter Robinson off the hook as they are presiding over massive cutbacks and attacks on the working class’.

Further reading:  http://www.wsm.ie/c/armed-republicanism-dead-end

The North’s richest getting richer

Despite the rest of us struggling to pay off the bills, poverty wages and coping with increased living costs or being flung on the dole the so-called great and good in our society the wealthiest have never had it so good. Top of the list in the wee north is Eddie Haughey who has a combined wealth of 340 million.
Lord Ballyedmond owns veterinary healthcare firm Norbrook Laboratories. Paid more than £2m last year. Along with a car collection (Rollers, Jags, Bentleys and a Ferrari), he also owns a Sikorsky S76B helicopter, just like the British Queen. He owns an island on Lake Victoria in Africa, Corby Castle and estate in Cumbria. It appears times are hard for the lord of the manor as he is 'only down 80 million'. In stark contrast a single mother from Strabane who successfully appealed against her jail sentence of 3 months this week for stealing 10 pound jeans.

 Third on Northern Ireland’s top 40 rich list we have Belfast property tycoon Shamus Jennings worth a staggering 187 million (up 4.3m). In the midst of a shortage in social housing and increasing homelessness we all know whose properties we need to expropriate and bring back into social use. Last on the list is former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill and a great manager he was too for the hoops. Lets hope someday he will do some good with his money but I certainly won’t be counting on it.
 In the Republic we already have a situation in which 1% of the population own 30% of the wealth while on a global scale the latest rich list produced by Forbes magazine shows that the collective wealth of the world’s 1,210 billionaires has reached a new record high of $4.5 trillion- up nearly $1 trillion on last year’s total.
At the same time three billion people (around 50% of the world’s population) exist on a meagre $2 a day. Then they have the cheek to tell us that we live in a free and equal society and that we are all in this together type nonsense.

Meanwhile Rise, Belfast’s biggest piece of public artwork, is now under construction. Costing half a million the massive silver and white steel sculpture, which will be taller than the city’s Albert Clock, is being built at the Broadway Roundabout — just yards from where some householders still have outside toilets and some of city’s most deprived areas. Some have already dubbed it ‘The balls on the Falls’. 

“When this was first suggested by DSD (the Department for Social Development) I and this community were totally opposed to it,” said Ulster Unionist councillor Bob Stoker.
“As one man said to me, ‘I’ll be able to sit in my outside loo and look at the lights’.
“Housing regeneration is more important than public art.' 

We maybe entering a ‘new era’ but its clear we the working class are not part of it and it is about time we begin to realise our collective potential as a class and fight back.

Source:  www.wsm.ie/

Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2011 - May 14th

The 6th Anarchist Bookfair will take place in Dublin the weekend of 14th May 2011 at Liberty Hall, Eden Quay.

If you would like to hold a book stall at the fair, please email the coordination committee via wsm.ireland@wsm.ie
...
Preliminary lineup - this is provisional, expect changes and additions, if you RSVP to this event as a yes or maybe we will send your updates as they are available

Help us promote the bookfair by Inviting your friends or sharing the event to your profile.

International meetings

Peripheral Visions: A range of speakers from the peripheral countries of the EU that are being targetted for IMF/ECB intervention
“Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?”- Wayne Price (NEFAC) from New York
Soccer vs. The State .- Gabriel Kuhn
Arab Spring – details to be announced

Local meetings: Irish History, RAG, Choice, Shell to Sea, Intro to Anarchism

Stalls:, PM Press, AK, WSM, RAG, Irish Labour History, IPSC, Choice Ireland, IBT, HOPI, Manchester AF, S2S, LASC


Info: http://www.wsm.ie/bookfair

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Garda - "Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you"

Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you - the words of a Garda Sgt as he discussed with at least two other Gardai how they were going to interrogate one of two female Shell to Sea campaigners they had arrested and who were being brought to Belmullet Garda station. Just second earlier while they were discussing how to interrogate the women one Garda suggested they threaten her with deportation. The Sgt responds with the addition of the rape threat which he repeats before another so far unidentified Garda chimes in with “hold it there, give me your name and address there, I’ll rape you” prompting the Sgt to repeat it one last time as “or I’ll definitely rape you.”

Read more on this and audio: http://www.wsm.ie/c/garda-corrib-rape-pipeline 

"Dissident" Republicans in Armed Struggle Cul-de-sac

When “dissident” republicans killed policeman Ronan Kerr with a booby-trap car bomb on Saturday, they were pursuing what they believed was a strategy that would eventually lead to the defeat of British imperialism in Ireland, firstly by destroying the policy of normalisation, "ulsterisation" and the co-option of  republicans into the political system, and ultimately in breaking the will of the British ruling class to maintain their hold in Ireland.


They were wrong of course. If we have learned anything from 30 years of armed struggle it teaches us that, but worse than that the very action carried out to defeat imperialism and those who have been co-opted by it actually reinforces the state and the forces which they seek to defeat.  The fact is the vast majority of people in the north and also the vast majority of the” nationalist” working class and further the vast majority of republicans do not want a return to war.  Indeed if you could point to the one thing that unifies people in Ireland the most it is a determination not to drift back into war.  Yes Sinn Fein have betrayed what they once proclaimed to believe in, yes imperialism still plays a role here, yes the institutions in the north represent a sectarian carve up that divides the working class into two competing communities, yes it weds people to their tribal leaders and yes it secures the division of Ireland between north and south and rich in poor, but blowing up Ronan Kerr or any other policeman will not change that.

Every bomb attack and every shooting allows Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson off the hook as they are presiding over massive cutbacks and attacks on the working class,  who are the only people that can deliver a united socialist Ireland.  People are wedded to these leaders and their parties because they portray their way as the only way to maintain peace and insure progress.  Whilst left republicans, socialists, anarchists etc. might loudly protest the cuts, and call and work for working class unity, the constant rumble of potential war in the background drives people back into the arms of Sinn Féin and the DUP. The northern state is no longer run in the sole interests of the unionist capitalist class as allies of the British ruling class,  interests that necessitated massive discrimination against catholics at all levels, but rather it is now run in the interests of both the nationalist and unionist capitalist class with the nationalists given a guaranteed share of state power. The oppressed are now the working class of whatever hue.  

A recent Eirigi document uses the phrase “Only through socialism can the salvation of Ireland come”, a James Connolly quote. It is instructive to note that the most progressive sections of republican opinion recognises the centrality of the question of socialism and seek the well of James Connolly for some inspiration.  The key to defeating imperialism in Ireland is in winning all sections of the working class to socialism, in such a context unionism makes no sense to “protestant” workers nor does narrow nationalism make sense to “catholic” ones.  The ideas propagated by Sinn Féin of cross-class catholic unity and the DUP of the same to protestants can only be challenged in the sphere of shared working class interest. I am not suggesting ignoring or down playing the role of imperialism, but let's fight together against the common enemy and develop a vision of what sort of society we wish to see, that socialist and democratic vision will set us on the road to a united socialist Ireland.

For the “dissidents”the key should be an honest assessment of what can bring the objective closer and a realisation that the armed struggle in the context of the six counties is a cul-de-sac. Shut down the war, get the prisoners home, develop a strategy that wins people to ideas that liberate them economically and socially and maybe progress can be made.
 
Words: James McBarron WSM

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Class War hits the streets of London - Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!

Last Saturday, 26 March saw up to half a million take part in a TUC organised anti-cuts protest in London.

In the aftermath of the protest there has been much controversy about the 700 strong black bloc that broke away from the protest to throw paint at and break the windows of banks, luxury car dealers and the 4,000 a night Ritz hotel in Central London.

Workers Solidarity's Australian correspondent Sean Matthews argues here that a few broken windows was not violence but a legitimate display of class anger and that if anything this was a welcome distraction from the speech of the Labour leader Ed Miliband whose party initiated and imposed cuts and privatisation of public services over the last decade.

Story continues:
http://www.wsm.ie/c/march26-london-riot-anarchist-black-bloc