Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Not Fooled by Stormont Crisis Talks!

With talks up in Stormont looking as if it is nearer conclusion, fears are growing amongst working class communities across the North that a ‘so-called’ £2 Billion bonanza brokered between the Stormont politicians and the British Government will undoubtedly lead to further cuts in public services, forced jobs losses and of course the implementation of a horrendous and much feared social welfare bill.

Since its introduction, the Bedroom Tax which has already been rolled out in England and Wales has only attacked the most vulnerable in our society. It has traumatised those of us in Social Housing by fracturing families and communities whilst forcing many from into crisis housing.

It is true that the introduction of such policies here will directly impact on Pensioners, Students and those of us on benefits. In the year ahead as the politicians step into their sectarian electoral mode, we have to mobilise to effectively reject any further cuts to our living standards.

For anarchists, this can only be done by genuine workplace and community grassroots organisations, free from the sectarian politics which has clearly dominated all our lives here in the North of Ireland for far too long. We have to ensure that they get the message, we have had enough!

Friday, 12 December 2014

All We Want For Christmas is..

Just in case anyone wants to get us something…

Anarchism - reading guide:
http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-reading-guide

Fight The Charges: We Can Win!


On Wednesday tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Dublin to protest against the government’s latest attempt to bleed the working class dry. The Anti-Water Charge protest effectively shut down the city as the capital came to a standstill.

A delegation from the Belfast branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement travelled to Dublin in a gesture of solidarity and protested in with our comrades in the south. The fight for working class liberation is not contained within these artificial, man-made borders; struggle and solidarity know no borders. We should fight injustice wherever it is present.

just as in the six counties, people across the South already pay for their water despite the fact that in many areas it is undrinkable and that the infrastructure is in serious need of repair. Here we have been told by the establishment that water chargers have been deferred until 2016. Last October, DUP MLA, Trevor Clarke, stated that “[Water charges] could end up back on the table for consideration much sooner.” This combined with reports of attempted water meter installations in areas of Belfast and in Derry should serve as a wake up call.

For anarchists we are clear as to where our allegiances lie and its not with the politicians up in Stormont. The only difference between our ruling parties is the colour of their election posters. There is no difference in their pay slips, but there is between our and theirs! One thing is for sure is what is in our best interest is not in theirs.

This is not just another tax and the issue is much bigger than water. Water is vital to our existence and while they have taxed us for everything else they are literally trying to make us pay for our fundamental human right to water; to existence.

The Earth and all its resources belong to all its inhabitants not just the tiny elite of the wealthy. It’s not good enough that people are dying on our streets; it’s not good enough that we have homeless people and peopleless homes from a situation that they created.

We are all entitled to safe, secure, suitable and comfortable housing – your country of origin shouldn’t make a difference, people shouldn’t have to live in dire, hopeless situations in the Direct Provision centers because they don’t speak the same language or look the same as us. Likewise pregnant people shouldn’t have to be put into situations where they can’t even afford an abortion let alone a child.

The most vulnerable in our society, the working class, are under attack and we have to say loud and clear that enough is enough!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Join the Workers Solidarity Movement

You can join the Workers Solidarity Movement in Derry or the North West area and would like to become a WSM contact today, fill out the form below and then click the Create New Account button at the bottom of the page.

If you want to become a WSM member or supporter just check the relevent boxes and we will be in touch.

http://www.wsm.ie/user/register/

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hands Up Don't Shoot! - Derry Solidarity Action

Anarchists in Derry took part in today's solidarity action at Free Derry Corner to demand justice for Michael Brown, an 18 year old black youth murdered by a cop in Ferguson. The event today was organised by the Bloody Sunday March for Justice Committee, the relatives of 14 people murdered by British Paratroopers in 1972. Please share!



Thursday, 23 October 2014

HOMES WITHOUT LANDLORDS': CO-OPS AS A SOLUTION TO THE HOUSING CRISIS

" How to set up a Co-Op "

Radical Routes is a network of housing co-ops and workers co-ops all across the England, Scotland & Wales.

The network is based on mutual aid and solidarity: co-ops support each other and provide legal, financial and planning advice to new co-ops free of charge.


Radical Routes Ireland is inspired by this approach to solving the housing crisis and people taking direct control of their own lives. We aim to promote and support the development of a grassroots co-op movement in Ireland.


Sunday 2nd November, 3pm (Upstairs) Sandino's Bar, Water Street, Derry

Derry Facebook Events Page

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Peadar O'Donnell Weekend 2014

Full details of this years Peadar O'Donnell Weekend taking place in Dungloe on Fri. 17th Oct to Sun. 19th Oct. 

For more details click on the facebook link:  Peadar O'Donnell Weekend

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Foyle Pride: Stonewall Rebellion - How it all began

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Celebrations have recently been seen all over the world, as a celebration of sexual diversity. It's worth remembering the history of Pride celebrations, of their origin in a homophobic and repressive culture, and their challenge to a world that refused to recognise sexual freedom. In this article, Paul McAndrew discusses the origins of Pride as a moment when the queer community in New York stood up and fought to be proud of their sexualities.The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between New York City police officers and groups of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people that began during the early morning of June 28, 1969, and lasted several days. It was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, because it was the first time queer people had forcibly resisted the police. At the time, gay bars were illegal, the only queer bars were underground and Mafia-run. Violent police raids were common. People got prosecuted even for cross-dressing.

Extract from the"The Village Voice, July 3, 1969

"Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square: Sheridan Square this weekend looked like something from a William Burroughs novel as the sudden spectre of "gay power" erected its brazen head and spat out a fairy tale the likes of which the area has never seen.


“The forces of faggotry, spurred by a Friday night raid on one of the city's largest, most popular and longest lived gay bars, the Stonewall Inn, rallied Saturday night in an unprecedented protest against the raid and continued Sunday night to assert presence, possibility, and pride until the early hours of Monday morning. The result was a kind of liberation, as the gay brigade emerged from the bars, back rooms, and bedrooms of the village and became street people."

The police raided the Stonewall Inn for the second time in a week just before midnight on the Friday. As the patrons trapped inside were released one by one, a crowd started to gather on the street. Cheers would go up as favorites would emerge from the door, strike a pose, and swish by the detective.
When the paddywagon arrived the mood of the crowd changed. Three drag queens were loaded inside, along with the bartender and doorman, to a chorus of catcalls and boos from the crowd. People were shouting to push the paddywagon over, but it drove away before anything could happen.

A transgender woman, Sylvia Rivera threw a bottle at a police officer who had attacked her with his truncheon. The next person to come out was a dyke, and she put up a struggle - the scene became explosive. Beer cans and bottles were thrown at the windows, and coins were thrown at the police. One of the protestors was dragged inside the Stonewall by three of the police.

The crowd erupted into cobblestone and bottle heaving. An uprooted parking meter was used as a battering ram on the Stonewall door and a burning litter bin was thrown inside. The police inside turned a firehose on the crowd. 13 people were arrested and four police officers, as well as an undetermined number of protesters, were injured. It is known, however, that at least two rioters were severely beaten by the police.
On Saturday, the windows the Stonewall were boarded up and painted with queer liberation slogans like "We are Open," "Support Gay Power — C'mon in, girls." Hostile press coverage was also pinned to the boards. That night the crowds of protestors returned and were led in "gay power" cheers by a group of gay cheerleaders. "We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We have no underwear/ We show our pubic hairs!". There was sustained hand-holding, kissing, and posing which had appeared only fleetingly on the street before.

Soon the crowd got restless. "Let's go down the street and see what's happening girls," someone yelled. They did and were confronted by the Tactical Patrol Force, (originally set up to stop anti-Vietnam war protests). However, the TPF failed to break up the crowd, who sprayed them with rocks and other projectiles. The third day of rioting fell five days after the raid on the Stonewall Inn. On that Wednesday, 1,000 people congregated at the bar and again took the cops on in the streets.

By the end of July, the radical, libertarian left-wing Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed in New York and by the end of the year the GLF could be seen in cities and universities around the US. It sought links with the Black Panthers, the Womens Liberation movement and anti-war organisations. Similar organisations were soon created around the world including Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

The following year, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, the GLF organized a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Between 5,000 and 10,000 men and women attended the march.
Queer Pride celebrations began as commemorations of the Stonewall Riots.

 This article is from Workers Solidarity 98, July/August 2007

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Not The Church - Not The State!

Some images of yesterday's gathering in Derry by around 60+ pro-choice activists in protest and in solidarity with the migrant women forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy and then compelled to agree to an unwanted C-section south of the border. Similar protests took place across Ireland, North and South, as well outside Irish Embassies across the world.

Alliance for Choice is organised both locally and nationally and welcomes anyone interested in supporting the campaign for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland to get involved. You can also visit the AfC website on: www.allianceforchoiceni.org for further actions and gatherings.












Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We Are Not Vessels! Vigil in solidarity with suicidal woman denied abortion

Across Ireland and Europe, vigils are being held on Wed 20th Aug at 6.00pm in solidarity with the young woman who, suicidal because she was pregnant as a result of rape, was denied an abortion, forced to continue the pregnancy, forcibly rehydrated when in desperation she went on hunger and thirst strike - before being forced to deliver her rapist's baby by C-section. 

The UN Committee on the rights of women said that, in not allowing rape victims the right to abortion, Ireland treated such women as "vessels". 

Abortion is not available for women pregnant as a result of in the North either.

 We Are Not Vessels! Vigil in solidarity with suicidal woman denied abortion

Monday, 28 July 2014

International Decriminalisation of Abortion Day: 27th Sept.

The 3rd Annual March for Choice will be 27th of September in Dublin, marking International Decriminalisation of Abortion Day. 

Further info and travel details from the North West to follow in coming weeks.  Organised by AFC For now: we just can't wait to see you all there!


Gaza Protest Update!

At the DAWC meeting earlier on tonight, it was agreed that on Wed 1.00pm, there will be another protest at BBC Radio Foyle against biased reporting of the terror campaign against the people of Gaza.

Following on from a successful march last Saturday, there will be another march this coming Saturday August 2nd at 2pm, assembly point will this time be in Guildhall Square for a march through city centre. More detials will follow. 


Please Share this info! Please Attend the Protests!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Week of Solidarity Actions in Derry

Following on from such a great protest on the bridge on Saturday, the Derry Anti War Coalition organised a series of daily solidarity activities for next week. 

They are:

Mon 21st 12.30pm Protest about biased BBC coverage at Radio Foyle

Tues 22nd 7.30pm Film "Where Should the Birds Fly", about daily life in Gaza, followed by Q&A with Film Director Fida Qishta (herself from Gaza) Nerve Centre cinema

Wed 23rd 12.30pm Solidarity Rally Guildhall Sq

Thurs 24th 3.30pm Lobby of new Derry-Strabane, Guildhall

Fri 25th 6.00pm Boycott activities

Sat 26th March assembling 2.00pm @ Railway station, Duke Station going to Guildhall Square for rally.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Rally For Choice: Counter the lies! Sat 5th July Belfast

Youth Defence/Precious Life are holding their annual "Rally for Life" in Belfast, come let them know that they can no longer same or harass those who choose to have abortions. The will be a bus to the event from Derry.


There will also be a bus organised from Dublin (prices based on what you can afford) for this event, fundraising event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/660656263970266/?fref=ts

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Foyle Gay Pride 2014

It's been announced this week that Foyle Gay Pride 2014 parade takes place on Saturday the 23rd of August. Anyone interested in having a float in the parade, all you have to do is get in touch with festival organisers at sha@foylepridefestival.com

Foyle Pride Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/foylepride?fref=ts

Monday, 9 June 2014

Hands Off Our Homes!

Did you know that plans are afoot to privatise YOUR housing. If you are a Housing Executive tenant you should know that under current proposals by Housing Minister McCausland the total privatisation of social housing across Northern Ireland is taking place. The proposals are to break up the Housing Executive, giving our public stock over to Housing Associations. These Housing Associations could possibly be local although there is a good chance they will be from mainland UK where unfortunately this kind of abolishment of public housing is common place. Our new potential landlord could be from Manchester, Wales, Scotland. ..Who knows at this point. The Housing Executive has 88000 homes, yes homes not financial units as these new landlords will see it. 

Once the Housing Executive is privatised what will this mean for us and our home. .....increase of rent, your new landlord will have borrowed money from a financial Institution. This of course will have to be paid back and also cover their increasing overheads therefore a surge in rent, sometimes as much as 35 percent. 


Withdrawal of local services. ...it is more cost effective to remove local offices and points of contact replacing them with call centres and online services.


 Public meeting on Tuesday 10th June at 7pm in St Joseph's Parish Centre, Galliagh, Derry.

Public meeting Wednesday 11th June at 7pm

Please come along to find out about the changes to social housing and what it will mean for us all.
You are the major stakeholder and you must demand your right to vote!

Thousands take part in Anti Racist March

Saturday saw a successful Anti Racist March in Belfast with thousands taking to the streets. Workers Solidarity Movement members from Derry, Dublin and Belfast took part in what was of the largest anarchist contingents in Belfast for some years. The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions estimated as many as 7,000 people took part.

More photographs at the Derry Anarchists page.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Racism and the Class struggle

Racial oppression remains a defining feature of the modern capitalist world. It is manifest most spectacularly in violent attacks on immigrants and minorities by fascist gangs. More important to the fate of these communities has been the systematic and increasing discrimination by capitalist states, manifest in attacks on the rights of immigrants, cuts in welfare services, and racist Police and Court Systems.

How can racism be defeated?

An answer to this question requires an examination of the forces which gave rise to, and continue to reproduce, racism. It also requires a careful analysis of which social forces benefit from racial oppression.

 By racism is meant either an attitude denying the equality of all human beings, or economic, political and social discrimination against racial groups.

The roots of racism

Capitalism developed as a world system based on the exploitation of workers, slaves and peasants - black, brown, yellow, and white. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the young capitalist system centred mainly on western Europe and the Americas. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Africa and Asia were brought increasingly into the ambit of capitalist power.

Article continues here: Racism and the Class struggle

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Bigotry at the heart of Stormont



The recent racist attacks in Six Counties against migrant workers are an indictment of the status-quo which thrives on blaming minorities for the problems inherent in capitalism. It is the political class and sections of the tabloid press who constantly provide the ammunition for racist attacks.
 
The Islamophobic outburst by Peter Robinson the first minister of Northern Ireland needs to be seen in a context from a rise in the far right across Europe to western military occupations abroad to a local administration riddled with everything from sectarian bigots, xenophobes, and homophobes to sexists to those who believe everything stems from Adam and Eve.

Peter Robinson’s public defence of Pastor James Connell who described Islam as ‘satanic’ and ‘heathen’ going on to say he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or devotees of Sharia law; but would trust Muslims ‘to go to the shops’ provides a green light and convenient justification for the ongoing racist ethnic cleansing of newly arrived migrants by loyalist paramilitaries in mainly working class communities across the North.

His public comments are another echo from the distant past whenever shades of unionism including  his former master Ian Paisley frequently engaged in sectarian outbursts against Catholics and homosexuals helping to sow a climate of conflict and fear for decades and like his forefather this needs to confronted root and branch.

Peter Robinson’s half arsed private apology to so-called ‘Muslim leaders’ and token concern from their junior partners in Sinn Fein is another example of the entire system being rotten to the core built on sectarian bigotry. 

While last Saturday’s rallies organised across the North are an important first step, we need to be building firm foundations in communities and workplaces’ where these racist attacks are continuing and not pandering to the reactionary ideology of loyalism which does not represent ‘protestant working class communities.’ The contradictions of this message was clear on Saturday whenever a platform was provided to a PUP (Progressive Unionist Party) representative yet according to the PSNI its armed militia the UVF are involved in most of the attacks in South and East Belfast. (1)

In recent years we have witnessed governments utilise racist sediment from scaremongering over ‘asylum seekers’ to a ‘roma invasion’ none of which has come to fruition.  This is the deliberate whipping up of fear and division to divert our anger away from the real causes of their problems. Problems such as poverty, housing shortages, and unemployment have all been blamed on immigrants - rather than those really responsible such as landlords, property developers-capitalism.

Anarchists believe in equality between all people regardless of where their ancestors may be from, what colour their skin is, or where they were born. We all have an immigrant history in one way or the other. We want a world with no borders, where people are free to travel the world and settle where they wish – this is not a freedom that should be only be available to the rich and imperialism.

In confronting racism and sectarianism we need to build class unity based on common class interests, fighting for a better standard and quality of life for all while respecting our rich diversity and intersectionality of struggles from abortion rights to environmental campaigns. These symptoms must be tackled where in all areas of our social life, rather than appealing to our politicians or calling for tougher legislation or even simply a problem of ‘bad education’ as some liberals want you to believe.  All this is a distraction from the root cause of the problem. 

  We need to expose and attack the institutions which are legitimising racism in our society; we need to stand up against racist bullies and fascists carrying out attacks on migrant workers. Central to this is the need to physically and ideologically confront fascism and racist gangs wherever it raises its ugly head and the building of opposition to the system of wage slavery and exploitation which promotes racist scapegoating and the criminalisation of immigration.

Racism is motivated and perpetuated by greed, promoted by those in power. It festers in ignorance and misplaced fear. Our alternative is social equality and freedom for all.
1)      http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-26871331

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Unite Against Racism March: 7th June

Anarchists from across the North will be gathering in Belfast next Saturday, 7th June, in solidarity with Amnesty Int. & Trade Union backed anti-racist March and Rally, which begins in Writers Square at 2pm. Full details on the link below. Please attend and share this link. 

Stand up Against Racism!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1613024922255339/

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bakunin: 200 Years Celebration

IN DEFENSE OF BAKUNIN AND ANARCHISM

"They key point is that, like Marx and Engels, Bakunin and those who came after him believed in a social revolution by the working class and all the oppressed. Yet they rejected Marx’s program of seizing a state and centralizing the economy. They (correctly) predicted that this would result in a new exploitative tyranny. Instead they advocated the self-organization of the working people, through committees, councils, associations, and militias, to democratically self-manage society. This goal has not yet been achieved, but it one worth fighting for."

http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27026

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Ulster Workers Strike 1974

This month as the local media and historians alike look back on the 1974 Ulster Workers Strike, a strike that not only brought the six counties to a virtual standstill, it also helped topple the then "power sharing" government in Stormont.

Below is an anarchist examination of these events which took place during the month of May 1974, this article was written in 1994.

http://www.wsm.ie/c/ulster-workers-council-uwc-strike-1974

also CAIN: http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/uwc/uwc.htm

Monday, 19 May 2014

Electoral Farce Continues

As Local and European election campaign gets under way, anarchists in Derry have been out and about as well.

If you too can see though the electoral farce and would like to get involved with the Workers Solidarity Movement then please PM or drop us an email: derryanarchists@gmail.com

WSM on Aarchism, Parliament & Democracy





Thursday, 8 May 2014

Giro d' Italia Protests to Highlight Violation of Human Rights

After today's high court decision, which ruled against a claim for discrimination from a young woman from the North, after she had to travel to England and pay to access an abortion, a protest has been organised to coincide with the Giro d' Italia in an effort to highlight the ongoing violation of women's human rights across the six counties due to the restrictive anti-abortion laws that are in place on both sides of the border. 

Please support! Please share! News link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27325363

WSM also has a Youtube channel

The WSM also has a Youtube channel with 83 individual videos in it which have been viewed by over 100,000 people. It's a mixture of videos from protests and direct actions alongside interviews on current issues and public meetings and discussions.

You can check it out our Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/WSMireland

Monday, 5 May 2014

Local & European Elections May 22nd

So, what’s your problem with voting?

What problem? We’ve no problem with voting. How do you think we make decisions? We discuss proposals and then register how many are in favour and how many against; or, in plain English, we vote. We do this all the time in our own anarchist organisations, in our unions, in our community groups.

But you won’t stand candidates for the Dail, Stormont or Westminster, you won’t even vote in any of those elections.
We anarchists want a society where the division of people into bosses and workers, rulers and ruled, is ended. So, we have no interest in choosing who will be our rulers. It’s pretty ABC, you might as well ask a teetotaller if she wants a pint of Guinness or one of Beamish.

This electoral process involves the mass of working people relying on a few representatives to enter parliament and do battle on their behalf. Our sole involvement is one of voting every few years and perhaps canvassing and supporting the party through donations or whatever.

Anarchists do not believe any real socialist / anarchist society can come about through the good actions of a few individuals. If a few can grant us freedom then a few can also take our freedom away.

Anarchism is about real participative democracy - based on delegation rather than representation with delegates being elected only to implement specific decisions. Delegates would not have the right to go against the mandate of those who elected them. Delegates would enjoy no special rights or privileges and, unlike TDs or MPs, would be subject to instant recall and dismissal if they disobey their mandate. This idea is obviously the complete opposite to the parliamentary idea. We do not seek a few leaders, good, bad or indifferent to sort out the mess that is capitalism. Indeed we argue constantly against any ideas that make it seem such elites are necessary.

So why do you call on people to vote in referendums such as the referendum on citizenship in 2003, the one you called the “racist referendum”, or referendums on the European Union?
There is a big difference between voting in order to make a decision and voting for someone to whom we will hand over decision-making. That’s why we threw ourselves into the referenda on children’s, divorce and abortion rights. We went out knocking on doors, putting up posters, organising public meetings, speaking on TV and radio, and leafleting our neighbourhoods. Referenda are closer to anarchist ideas of direct democracy and are, while flawed, far better than electing a politician to office once every few years.


Even if you don’t agree with the current system, you could use elections as a platform for your ideas.
Yes, it could certainly be argued that we could. BUT it would come at a price – and a very costly price. We would certainly get a few minutes every now and again to say our piece, we might even get the very occasional favourable mention in the newspapers. But the cost of this would be to re-inforce the clientilism and passivity which is an inherent part of the electoral system. Elections are about leaving the vast majority of people in the role of passive observer of political life rather than active participant. Anarchists want to see working class people take an active role in bringing about change in society. Participation in electoral politics has the opposite effect. The cost is too high a price to pay.

But wouldn’t it help to build a mass movement if we had people in parliament?
Talk about putting the cart before the horse. What mass movement has ever been built by having TDs or MPs? To get socialists elected implies that there are already a lot of voters who understand and agree with socialism, otherwise why would they vote for a socialist candidate?

Even on a local scale, look at the election of anti-hospital closure TDs like Paudge Connolly in Monaghan. He was elected because the run down of the health service was already a burning issue and thousands had taken to streets. His election was a result, not the cause. And it didn’t stop the rundown of Monaghan hospital.

The downside of his election is that it reinforced the idea that engaging in ‘real politics’ is the way to get things done. And our rulers just love that, it moves us back to passivity and dependence. We can support our ‘representative’ as opposed to putting on real pressure by means of direct action like strikes and blockades.

And why can’t you do both?
For starters, electioneering almost always results in the party using it gradually becoming more moderate. In order to gain votes, the party must appear "realistic" and "practical" and that means working within the system. If you use language like ‘socialism’, ‘class struggle’ and ‘revolution’, it is said you will frighten off potential voters.

It’s a lot easier to leave any mention of it out of your election leaflets rather than having to explain that it simply means a complete change, and not some gang of demented maniacs marching through streets awash with blood. And that’s just one example. You end up trying not to offend your potential electorate, rather than trying to convince them of your radically different ideas.

History is littered with examples of parties which started off from the position of combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary politics but which became part of the system. From Marxian Social Democracy at the turn of the 19th/20th century right through to the German Green Party in the early years of this decade, we have seen example after example of radical parties starting off from the position of declaring the need for direct action and extra-parliamentary action. Indeed they often refer to their electoral involvement as the least important part of their strategy. In every single example, however, the parties involved have ended up considering the gathering of votes as more important than the message. The revolutionary slogans and policies eventually get watered down in order not to offend potential voters, the elected 'representative' loses touch with the real world.

And even if a political party or organisation approaches elections from a purely cynical point of view – i.e. with no illusions in the system, with no real interest in getting elected but wanting to use the tactic of standing in elections to provide them with a soapbox – and even if that political organisation manages to avoid the watering-down of its message, there is still a fundamental problem. What message is being given to the electorate – is it ‘Get involved, fight back, make a difference’ or is it ‘Get involved and support us to make a difference’? As I’ve said already, it’s impossible to be involved in the electoral process without re-inforcing passivity and clientilism.

The campaign against the bin tax in Dublin is a prime example of a campaign which became subservient to the electoral ambitions of various political parties. In several areas the development of the campaign was stunted by the fact that certain individuals who were going to be standing in the election wanted to be the principal spokesperson and organiser – ‘leader’ if you like - of the campaign in that area. So trying to combine campaigning and electoralism will inevitably lead to the campaigning becoming subservient to the electioneering.

But it doesn’t have to be like that, you can’t deny that the vote for Joe Higgins in Dublin West helped to beat the water charges?
Well, I can. It was mass non-payment that defeated the water charges. His own Socialist Party agrees with us on that. Getting a few individuals elected is not what scares governments. If it were, the election of anti-health cuts TDs like Jerry Cowley and Paudge Connolly would have seen hospital wards reopened and waiting lists slashed. It hasn’t, draw your own conclusion.

While we are talking about Joe, I want to say that he is held in high regard by many anarchists as an honest and selfless socialist. And I say this even though Joe's existence makes it a bit harder for anarchists - it's easy to point at him and say "if only we could have a government of people like Joe wouldn't it be so much better?" And it sure would! But there's a problem. For every Joe there's a Tommy Sheridan... or a Pat Rabbitte.... or someone else who thinks he or she is bigger or more important than their mandate.

And even if the power and wealth doesn’t go to their heads, people may change their politics. Once elected, politicians are free to do as they please until the next election. There is no mechanism for enforcing the mandate or withdrawing support if the elected person does not hold to his/her mandate. We have to hand over our decision making to someone we have no effective control over. Society remains divided into order-givers and order-takers.

It could of course also be argued that the political system will always tolerate one or two Joe Higginses. In fact his existence as a TD serves quite a useful purpose – the establishment can point at Joe as an example which proves that their democracy works. ‘After all it can accommodate views right across the political spectrum from Michael McDowell to Joe Higgins’ might be their mantra. But have you ever thought about how the establishment might react if there were a dozen TDs like Joe Higgins? Or if there was any danger of a government being elected on a radical socialist platform? How would international capital react? How long do you think it would take multinational capital to effectively shut down the Irish economy?

As Emma Goldman pointed out, "if the anarchists were strong enough to swing the elections to the Left, they must also have been strong enough to rally the workers to a general strike.” If we’re to bring about change, if we’re to take on the might of international capital we can only do so in the context of politicisation and direct involvement of the mass of working class people. It can never happen as long as the mass of people remain passive observers or supporters.

Does this mean anarchists are just negative, that we should put all our energy into anti-election campaigns?
We don’t see this as an important activity at all. Our aim is not to have elections where only 10% vote, that would be meaningless in itself. In the U.S.A. only about 30% vote in most elections and it is possible that up to 50% of the population is not even registered to vote. Only someone whose brain is missing, however, would claim this meant the U.S. was more anarchist than Ireland. Not voting may just be a sign of despair ("what's the point"). We want working people actively organising and struggling for the alternative.

What we will do is use the opportunity of a time when people are talking a little more about politics to challenge the notion that important decisions can only be made by a very few, whether they be elected politicians or unelected business tycoons; and put across our anarchist ideas.

The amount of our energy that anarchists put in to specific anti-election campaigns is tiny compared to the amount of time we spend campaigning. Since the last election in the 26-Counties, anarchists in the WSM, as well as producing 24 issues of our newspaper Workers Solidarity (distributing 6,000 copies of each issue) and 7 issues of this magazine, have been involved in huge numbers of campaigns – Shell to Sea, Justice for Terence Wheelock, anti-racism, anti bin tax, workers’ rights, trade union work….. If you look back through issues of our paper or look at our website (www.wsm.ie) you’ll get something of a flavour. So far from spending huge amounts of energy on anti-election campaigns, the vast majority of our work is aimed at encouraging the involvement of working class people in fighting for their rights, in real political interaction in other words.l

If more people abstained it would just lead to the right winning elections, more DUP and PD type politicians.
Possibly. However anarchists don't just say "don't vote", we say "organise" as well. Apathy is something we have no interest in encouraging.

If a sizeable number of working class people refused to participate in the electoral charade but became actively involved in their trade unions, in community groups and in campaigns actively fighting for change, whichever party was in office would have to rule over a country in which a sizeable minority had rejected government as such. This would mean that the politicians would be subjected to real pressures from people who believed in their own power and acted accordingly. So anarchists call on people not to vote for governments and, instead, organise themselves and be conscious of their own collective power. This can curb the power of government in a way that millions of crosses on bits of paper never will.

But, even if the present set-up isn’t perfect, surely you are in favour of democratic rights?
The right to the vote is just one element in the hard won struggles of workers (and suffragettes!) over the last couple of hundred years. Democratic rights - in short the ability to organise and promote alternative ideas - were an important gain and one that is well worth defending.

Obviously it is preferable to live in a parliamentary democracy rather than a dictatorship. We don’t see any significant immigration into North Korea, Iran or Belarus, but many people are prepared to risk a lot in the hope of getting into Canada, the Netherlands or Ireland. It’s not just about the prospect of having a better standard of living, it’s also about having more liberty.

Even the most flawed democracies are forced to make concessions that dictatorships do not, such as a certain amount of free speech, less censorship, rights for women and gays, a degree of independence for trade unions, letting people come together in organisations to seek changes in the way society is run, and so on.

However we are not naive and we do realise that none of these are absolutes. What we call ‘rights’ can be taken away as well as conceded. The level of freedom we enjoy is set by how much the bosses need to give in order to keep the majority content, plus the amount that is forced from them through struggle. None of the rights we now enjoy were simply handed down as gifts by our rulers, they all had to be struggled for.

In democratic societies life is better and it easier to engage in such struggles. That’s why we are all in favour of defending the ‘democratic rights’ we now have. As Mikhail Bakunin put it “the most imperfect republic is a thousand times better that even the most enlightened monarchy.”

And your alternative is what?
By using direct action we can force politicians to respect the wishes of the people. For example, if a government or boss tries to limit free speech, then anarchists would try to encourage a free speech fight to break the laws in question until such time as they were revoked. In the case of environmental destruction, anarchists would support and encourage attempts at halting the damage by mass trespassing on sites, blocking the routes of developments, organising strikes and so on. If a boss refuses to introduce a shorter working day, then workers should join a union and go on strike or stop working after 7 hours.

Similarly, strikes combined with social protest would be an effective means of stopping authoritarian laws being passed. For example anti-union laws would be best fought by strike action and community boycotts. The example of the water charges in the 26 counties in the late 1990s shows the power of such direct action. The government could happily handle hours of speeches by opposition politicians but they could not ignore social protest.

As Noam Chomsky argues, "within the constraints of existing state institutions, policies will be determined by people representing centres of concentrated power in the private economy, people who, in their institutional roles, will not be swayed by moral appeals but by the costs consequent upon the decisions they make -- not because they are 'bad people,' but because that is what the institutional roles demands."

He continues by arguing that “those who own and manage the society want a disciplined, apathetic and submissive public that will not challenge their privilege and the orderly world in which it thrives. The ordinary citizen need not grant them this gift. Enhancing the Crisis of Democracy by organisation and political engagement is itself a threat to power, a reason to undertake it quite apart from its crucial importance in itself as an essential step towards social change."

So, far from doing nothing, by not voting the anarchist actively encourages alternatives. As the British anarchist John Turner, General Secretary of the United Shop Assistants Union back in the 1890s argued, anarchists "have a line to work upon, to teach the people self-reliance, to urge them to take part in non-political [i.e. non-electoral] movements directly started by themselves for themselves . . . as soon as people learn to rely upon themselves they will act for themselves . . .

We teach the people to place their faith in themselves, we go on the lines of self-help. We teach them to form their own committees of management, to repudiate their masters, to despise the laws of the country. . ." In this way we encourage self-activity, self-organisation and self-help -- the opposite of apathy and doing nothing.

The anarchist argument is very well put in 'Parliament or Democracy' by Kevin Doyle at
http://www.wsm.ie/c/anarchism-parliament-democracy

Text from http://www.wsm.ie/c/anarchism-elections-your-questions-answered

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Derry's May Day 2014

Several hundred people took part in this years annual May Day march and rally which was orgainsed by the Derry Trades Council.

A number of trade unions took part, from Unite, Unison and NIPSA as well as a host of community groups and campaigns, not to mention anarchists from the city.

Some more images of today's events will follow. If you have any please send them or email us at derryanarchists@gmail.com or PM us on Facebook