Getting beyond Dame Street - DCTU and Occupy v SWP from farce to tragedy

What do you do when the people making the right arguments are manipulative idiots who have so alienated people that opening their mouths amounts to emptying a full magazine into their feet? I started this blog having just come from an Occupy Dame Street assembly. There I witnessed a car crash in glorious slow motion. I felt that deep sort of frustration, where you can see just what is coming, but remain unable to tear your eyes off the disaster as it wrecks all around.

The issue on the face of it is simple. The Dublin Council of Trade Unions has called a pre-budget demonstration and would like Occupy Dame Street to co-organise it. Straightforward enough you'd imagine. Well it's a bit more complex. Occupy Dame Street is a little prone to an anti-union line that is about the 8/10's Sunday Independent’s 'The unions are running the country' and 2/10's the left communist’s 'The unions are running the country.' [Ian, please note that the 2/10's comprises both people who might be called 'autonomists' with some degree of accuracy: Everyone else, there are two in-jokes there, only one of which most of you have a hope of working out].

The Irish unions are also particularly rubbish. I don't just mean the leadership. The leadership is amazingly rubbish. So awful and in such a long collaboration with the government that they more resemble the yellow union leaders of Egypt or Mexico than the standard 'talk the fight but then sit on your hands' leadership of the average European federation. But I don't just mean the leadership. To be honest, the membership has proven to want victories without struggles in a manner that leaves us with the leaders we almost deserve. The left unfortunately felt unable to confront that attitude during the brief Spring of the public sector strike and ICTU demonstrations that where held a couple of years back. These are part of the reasons why turkeys voted for christmas , why public sector workers voted for the Croke Park Agreement.

So it's not so hard to see why your average Occupier might not be too convinced of the merits with linking up with an abstract 'the unions'. But of course, in Ireland as everywhere, there are the unions and there are the unions. Even here there is small left, a small rank and file, that would prefer to fight to defend our collective interests then simply roll over. And if a real workplace based fightback is to emerge, the odds are very strong that it will first start to emerge from that base.

DCTU
This union left has often found expression in the curious body known as the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU). Now the DCTU is a somewhat strange institution. It is comprised of delegates from each of the Dublin unions, but has little or nothing in the way of official power. This hardly makes it a route to a successful union career, and so the delegates are very often unpaid 'rank & file' branch committee members willing to attend the meetings. As often as not this means many of the delegates are lefties of one sort of another, including over the years a number of anarchists. The DCTU organize's the annual May Day march (not too well many would say) but is also very often the body that calls any sort of genuinely broad left demonstration.

There was a moment in last nights debate when a member of the executive of the DCTU compared asking for a list of DCTU members to asking for a list of Occupy Dame Street members. This was a rather large over statement. Somebody, somewhere, must be able to compile a list of DCTU members if they put in the time. But the broader point should have been that if the demanded list had been produced, it would mean little to most people, precisely because the DCTU is not comprised of the union leaders familiar from state TV.

Google isn't finding me useful history of the DCTU but this snippet from the Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht ( 27th February 1986, back in the war days ) captures something of what the DCTU is.

"Throughout the 1950, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and its rival organisation, the Dublin Trades Union Council, were active on social issues, particularly unemployment, price increases and the provision of free public transport for pensioners. Various attempts to mount joint actions were fruitless until 1955, when a combined James Connolly Commemoration was organised.

Congress re-united in 1959 but, due to various difficulties, it wasn't until 1960 that the two Dublin Trade Union Councils merged ; the new constitution of the ICTU severely restricted the role of trades councils in the sphere of industrial relations and inter-union disputes. Correspondingly, the DCTU expanded its activities into an increasingly agitiational role and during the 1960 it played a prominent part in the campaigns of the Dublin Housing Action Committee. Demonstrations were also organised against EEC entry and for the retention of proportional representation.

When the North of Ireland erupted in 1969 the DCTU adopted a position supportive of the Civil Rights movement and when internment was introduced they opened a fund for internees dependants. At this time, links between the DCTU and the Belfast Council were strengthened; since 1969, the DCTU has consistently adopted motions in support of the Nationalist people - it supported the 1981 H-Block hunger-strike and is currently active in the anti-strip-searches campaign"

Probably the DCTU's greatest moment came at the end of the 1970’s when it initiated the massive demonstrations against the high level of tax imposed on ordinary workers. In 1978, when ICTU refused to call a strike against this tax, the DCTU did. On the 20th of March more that 150,000 people took part in a march through Dublin. The port and airport were closed and the ESB had to introduce power cuts by the evening (read more at http://struggle.ws/siptu/f6_tax_march.html )

The power of the DCTU is really a power of reputation. When it calls a demonstration, even today, no one wonders if some political party or the other is 'really' calling the shots. It's nature also means its not a body the ICTU leaders can really control. In terms of the demonstration being debated at Occupy Dame Street last night, the ICTU are apparently concerned that an opportunist speaker might be able to use the platform to criticize them or attack the Croke Park Agreement!

Getting beyond Dame street
From the point of view of moving beyond a few tents on Dame street the DCTU is one of the more obvious mechanisms by which this might happen. It has the right mix of radical history, organisational reach and perhaps most importantly, it is not easy to control. It has a level of independence that might enable it to be the starting point for something much bigger and even less controllable than either the DCTU or Occupy Dame Street as they both exist now. As such, with the possible exception of the Independent Workers Union, it is by far the best element in the 'organised working class' for Occupy Dame Street to relate to. And it is very open to such work. Indeed DCTU has been snuggling up to Occupy Dame Street for some weeks and included Occupy Dame Street in its letter to other organisations who might be willing to organize the 26 November demonstration with. This is probably a good moment to reproduce that letter

Dublin Council of Trade Unions
‘Pre-Budget Demonstration'

28th October 2011


Dear Friends and Colleagues,
On November 2nd, Ireland will hand over €700 million to the unsecured bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank. Over the next nine months, €3.5 billion in total will be handed over to individuals who received extra high rates of interest precisely because it was unsecured.
This is money that is being robbed from the hands of the weak and vulnerable of our society. If even a tiny fraction of it was spent on helping children with special needs there would be no need for cuts. If we fully stopped these unjust payments, there would be no need for the threatened budget cuts in December.
The Greek government has been allowed to write off half of its debt – and we welcome this relief from social suffering. But why should the Irish people not be allowed do the same?
Before yet another cruel budget it is time for a big peaceful demonstration in Dublin. The larger our numbers the greater the possibility of bringing a real change in policy. Mindful of this, the Dublin Council of Trades Unions is anxious to construct a broad, inclusive coalition which unites the trade unions, community organisations, campaigns against cutbacks and political organisations of the left.
We would, therefore, like to invite you to an open planning meeting to discuss our proposal to hold a major pre-budget demonstration in Dublin on Saturday November 26th. The planning meeting will take place in the Ireland Institute at 27 Pearse Street, Dublin on Saturday 5th November at 12 pm.
We propose that the demonstration should promote three simple demands
Stop the policy of austerity – reverse the cuts.
Tax the wealthy not the needy.
For a public investment programme to create jobs.
We want to make a real effort to unite the many campaigners who are already resisting the effects of these austerity policies. We are entering this process of coalition building in an open, transparent and democratic fashion and see the meeting on November 5th as the property of those who choose to participate.
We want to go beyond a once off demonstration to a longer term campaign to bring a change in policy and therefore invite you to attend on Saturday 5th.

Granted, these are not all the demands of Occupy Dame Street but they are a good starting point for getting beyond Dame street.

However, and most unfortunately, that is not the way things were being viewed last night.

Anatomy of a car crash
Last night's Occupy Dame Street’s assembly was a car crash between SWP-induced paranoia and the average Occupiers lack of knowledge about the unions and about the DCTU in particular. I focused on the SWP in my last blog on Occupy Dame Street but basically, this was a classic moment when the hostility, suspicion and paranoia their method of intervention creates backfired into a massively counter productive way which damaged the cause they were arguing for.

The SWP thought the joint demonstration with the DCTU was a good idea. So do I and so too did many other people present. However, disastrously the SWP thought it smart to use their standard method of argument to try and support such a move. That standard method is described in the document 'How to deal with the SWP,' a section of which is below. This incidentally is something that all Occupiers should read, not so much to understand how to deal with the SWP but, to understand how the collective paranoia of the SWP is causing real damage.

That method is described as follows
"a) Placement. The party members will place themselves in little clusters around the room, of there is enough of them. This gives them the comfort of comrades next to them, but also the appearance of being part of the overall crowd.
b) Vocal support. One or two people will mostly propose the party line, with cheering and clapping form other members around the room. This will encourage other neutral people to 'spontaneously' clap and feel these are people worth supporting - unaware usually of the affiliations (not that the SWP hide them, but just that most lefites are unknown to the mass of the populace). If in doubt, other members will start to re-propose the spokes peoples suggestions, until there is support for them, or complete non agreement (which is very rare).
c) Attack. The SWP will have lines of attack for counter proposals that they know are coming. They will have developed criticisms and will execute their opposition to them in the same way that they propose them. This tends to build a momentum that makes their proposals seem inevitable to the new person in the room (or even experienced activists)"

This sort of methodology works for them where people are not used to it and where there will be a vote at the end of the night and so the goal is to polarize the room in order to produce a majority. Part of the standard method used is is to imply that anyone who disagrees with you is a crazed dyed in the wool reactionary. For this reason, it does a lot of long term damage as those targeted in that way seldom forgive or forget.

In the actual situation of Occupy Dame Street it also back fires badly now because people have become familiar with it and are now deeply fearful of being manipulated or subject to another 'takeover' bid. Rather than recognizing the situation they have created and staying in the background, the SWP foolishly dominated the debate on working with DCTU . Three or four of their members spoke a total of seven or eight times - a couple got in more than once through semi abuse of 'direct replies', but then 'direct replies' are often abused at Occupy Dame Street General Assemblies.

This behaviour created the impression that the SWP was on one side of the debate and that the core of the Occupy Dame Street camp was on the other side. As different additional SWPers joined the meeting, various Occupiers came over to me to ask in a whisper if the new speaker was also in the SWP. They had 'recognised' them from their method of intervention and arguments (no doubt handed down at a caucus beforehand) and confirmation of that recognition led to the belief that what they could see was yet another SWP conspiracy unfolding. Pretty much the result was that people who would otherwise have supported the joint event moved strongly towards opposing it. And the couple of people hostile to unions could talk of blocking the proposal (which was a complete disregard and disrespect for the consensus procedure as it happens, but one that in this atmosphere they might be able to get away with).

It also didn't particularly help that one of the Occupiers had spotted and read out the gloating message below posted by whoever runs the DCTU Facebook page. This message was posted in the aftermath of an earlier thawing of relations, when the DCTU banner was welcomed on an Occupy Dame Street march.

"There was a view that no union nor party political literature, banners and placards be permitted. There is a view by some that they are hierarchical institutions and the 'movement' be pure and separate from them. There is a view that their 'branding' is undesirable. This has not been the experience necessarily in the US. But the AFL-CIO has made every effort to ensure that they are not seen as part of the establishment ( as they supported the Democrats etc). Take nothing for granted, every battle has to be made and fought for and won. The ban on political parties still stands. There is a sectarianism behind it. The irony of a small group of people denying freedom of expression and for people to associate and to restrict freedom of expression on the streets hasn't seemed to hit yet. The point has been made that if governments were to ban political parties it would be an attack on democracy. This is a real live debate and will only be won through participation and engagement with a new generation. I urge all trade unionists and workers to get involved and participate on Saturday. The trade unions are part of the 99% but it has to be made clear. The trade union leadership has to decide and say which side they are on and do so publicly. This cannot be ignored anymore. There is a march on Sat at 2pm leaving Parnell Square. Billy Brag will be playing at it."

The appearance of the DCTU taking a side in what has been the most divisive and long running debate at Occupy Dame Street was not helpful to say the least. The reality is almost certainly that this is simply the (sectarian) opinion of whoever is the admin for the DCTU page. It would be rather useful if the person who made this post could clarify if that is indeed the case.

The bigger problem though is that the counter productive battle between the SWP and core Occupiers has now dug the whole movement into a deep hole from which it will be difficult to emerge. And the reaction of the SWP seems to be to call for more resources to help with the digging rather than recognizing that it would be a lot smarter to back off and allow other voices to be heard, voices that don't evoke the same level of paranoia.

Some are, most are not
There is a small group of individuals at Occupy Dame Street who could be called quite hostile to the unions - for a number of reasons, some quite at odds with each other. The vast majority are simply not familiar with unions, beyond having seen various union leaders on the RTE News being pally with Haughey, Reynolds, Bertie and now Enda. These union leaders are perceived, more or less correctly, as part of the 1%. This engenders a suspicion of the unions that will not be broken down by a party like the SWP, a party that nobody trusts who is trying to browbeat everyone else into an alliance based on their standard intervention methods as sketched above.

To put it crudely everyone needs to calm the fuck down, back the fuck off and create the space where some real discussion about how best to work with the radical end of the unions can take place. The discussion and debate needs to become one within the movement rather than one between the movement and the SWP. While it would be tragic if the opportunity for joint action with the DCTU on 26th of November is missed, that date does not have to be a deadline if more time is need, although IMHO it should be possible to debate this out over the next week or so.

Some of my own comrades consider the point of view I outline here, that the SWP's methods have got in the way of their politics, to be at least a little naive. There is a counter idea that what we are witnessing is machiavellian rather than stupid. From this point of view, the SWP having failed to take over Occupy Dame Street are now engaged in a wrecking operation designed to polarize issues in order to pick up recruits (i.e. pushing Occupy Dame Street into an anti-union position leaves the SWP looking attractive to anyone in disagreement with that approach). The aim of the other part of that wrecking operation would be to sow disunity within Occupy Dame Street and between Occupy Dame Street and other organisations it might otherwise work with, pushing people back towards the discredited SWP Enough front as the ‘only show in town’.

Whether my 'they are being stupid' or their 'they are being machiavellian' perspective is correct is not so important for anyone who thinks there is still some potential in Occupy Dame Street. What is important is refusing to allow the SWP or paranoia about the SWP to polarize key General Assembly issues along the lines of the SWP politics. If an idea or initiative is worth supporting it is worth supporting regardless of what the SWP thinks of it. If they are being stupid rather than machiavellian they may be smart enough to back off a bit and allow some real discussion to start to happen. I'm pretty confident that a lot of them will read this blog so we can judge them by their future actions in that respect.

A final note - part of the reasons the problem is so acute is that attendance at the General Assemblie's is quite low, normally in the region of 50 or 60 people. This means that anytime the SWP bring 6 + people down, people can easily feel paranoid as they then make up 10%+ of the crowd and perhaps 40%+ of the speakers. My other Dublin readers, the dozens of you who think Occupy Dame Street is interesting and hope it might go somewhere, could really help out here by making an effort to get to at least a couple of General Assemblies a week. And when you have something worthwhile to add, put forward a point of view that falls outside the destructive polarity that threatens to pull things apart.

Occupy is very interesting at the international level, if perhaps somewhat dysfunctional at the local level. In Dublin it needs to get beyond Dame Street but it needs your help in doing so.

General Assemblies are held every evening at six.

Updated with proofread version (thanks Aileen)

Comments

hey that is amazing u r

hey that is amazing u r taking an interest in us from spain-and i think what the our spanish amigos say is very relevant cos after all it started with the indignants of madrid.
iv heard in madrid they're not camping anymore but the direct democracy thing has moved out into the barrios which i think is great and would be great here.

in responce to a comment up a above about whether the swp are stupid?
I wouldn’t say the swp are stupid, you can’t call people with phds stupid, just not very street wise for all the time they spend on the street. They bring the lectuerers/students kind of hierarchy into the real world and offend people with it because they are so naïve they actually think they can just fuck people off no end and call it ‘sloppy organisation’ and get away with it but they won't get away with it and we won't contiue to tolerate it so that's a head's up for them.

I agree about retaining good

I agree about retaining good relations, and yes it is an argument against an ongoing "alliance" as you say. But this march is only a first case; in the next few months threre are going to be other protests organized by trade unions, by opositions parties and by all other campaigns, and they will keep approaching ods and asking them to participate. That is the natural reaction from any organization in the opposition, typically not because they are trying to hijack the movement (althought some of course will), but mainly out of not knowing what the movement is about; I think the best policy for people to odmake up their mind about what ods are,, what kind of movement they are, what their relationship to political parties and trade unions is, and then try to clarify this to any organization that may contact them, because honestly I think most people just don't understand what is all about. (It is like the comment from Des Derwin above, he mentions three proposals: "ODS participating in the organisation of the march; ODS marching in the march, and ODS taking up the offer of speaking from the platform at the 26th November march. " Ods are not supposed to a "group", it is supposed to be formed by individuals each with their own independent opinion so nobody can speak "from the platform at teh 26th November march" representing everyone else involved with ods; but it is normal people at first find this hard to understand)
Interesting information about 'Alliance against Austerity'. Yes, i know about swp "assemblies".... it will be sad. Spanish person who spoke earlier.

 I think what you say is

 I think what you say is clear enough but I think its an argument against Occupy Dame Street entering into a ongoing allinance of that type rather than taking part in a single march.  The ongoing alliance is actually a complex argument for the reasons you outline - and I think I probably agree with you on that - BUT what is essential is to retain good relations with those taking a more old left approach in order to have them also open to the assembly process rather than hostile to it or simply seeing it as something to be hijacked.  

BTW the situation is now more complex as the SWP seem to have recognised that Enough is dead (just as last year they dropped 'Right to Work') and are now pushing an  'Alliance against Austerity' headed up by the ULA TD's.  This new formation plans to hold an assembly after the DCTU march but it appears highly likely this will in reality be something along the lines of Corporate Greenwash where some of the Assembly form will be used to disguise what will really be the same old methods - ie an 'Assembly' where many of the speakers will be ULA TD's and prosepective TD's and where akward voices won't be heard.

I'm from Spain and I have

I'm from Spain and I have been following the movement over there and when Occupydamestreet happened I was very glad to see that it has finally arrived in Ireland too. I've been following this debate about the dctu proposal to have Occupydamestreet join their march. I know very little about the dctu, but since this debate started I have to say I've only heard good things about them.
However, I don't agree with the idea of ODS joining the protest on the 26th Nov. If occupy joins that March the whole thing will turn into just a group of activists supporting a protest organized by the trade unions. That is not what this movement is about; it is not about people being lead by the political leaders, but about people uniting themselves as individuals independently from political parties and trade unions, emancipating themselves and taking control so that the movement can become a real threat to the establishment. That march and the campaign the dctu are planning is exactly the opposite to this idea, as they explain in that letter to Occupy: "The Dublin Council of Trades Unions is anxious to construct a broad, inclusive coalition which unites the trade unions, community organizations, campaigns against cutbacks and political organizations of the left.” , i.e, what they are planning to do is form some kind of "coalition of the left", that is, the old idea of having the trade unions, the left political parties, etc, to come together to try to pressure or change the government. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is fundamentally opposed to what this movement is about. The dctu protest is about political leaders leading the people, occupy is about the people leading themselves.
I am not sure if I’ve explained myself properly. I understand the movement here is still very small and people are worried about increasing the numbers, but I don’t think that going against the fundamental values of the movement is the right way to do it. I get the impression that people here have confused ideas about what the movement is about. Anyway, I still think people have been doing a great job at Occupydamestreet and I will continue to support as long as it keeps being a people’s protest.

In order to achieve consensus

In order to achieve consensus on the proposal it is essential that some compromises are made by DCTU-there is no way we would support any TD or the head of the swp on the podium, if they get up to speak they will be egged & booed and shouted over on loudspeakers. We want real representatives of the 99% from unions and speakers from ODS. Consensus should be reached, a list of who is in DCTU should be read out at the GA meeting and any concerns of the ODS should be addressed and agreed to.

The 'DCTU question' might be

The 'DCTU question' might be divided into three levels at this stage:

ODS participating in the organisation of the march; ODS marching in the march, and ODS taking up the offer of speaking from the platform at the 26th November march.

Whatever about the other parts the latter question should be less difficult - responding to an invitation to speak and the utilisation of a platform for the promotion of ODS - with, arguably, some precedents: e.g. an ODS panelist appeared on the Marion Finucine Show on RTE Radio.

The time taken to reach a decision has already meant that ODS have not been included in the list of speakers for the DCTU material being circulated for the march.

Best wishes to the camp-aign,

Des Derwin

Executive member and past president of DCTU

(politicial note: not a party member, independent supporter of the ULA)

 Hi Des, thanks for the

 Hi Des, thanks for the comments, thought I saw you near the start of last nights GA, don't know how much of the discussion about consensus and what is required for a valid block you followed but that situation is clearer now.  From the ongoing DCTU discussion I think the expectation is that there are going to be 4 proposals for different levels of co-operation put forward.  The slow debate is fustrating and has the problems I outline in these blogs but I think it is also filling a useful educational role that would remain even if the proposal gets blocked in all its forms.

BTW don't know if your on FB but if so it might be an idea to repost that note to the ODS Facebook page as most people down there check it fairly regularly.  It would probably also help to have more DCTU voices at GA's who people don't associate with the SWP although by all accounts people were impressed with the workshop Sam did yesterday,

Finally as you will have seen from the blog there is very little on the DCTU either in terms of structure or history online - something which should be addresses even apart from this current situation.

why should we make it to GA

why should we make it to GA meetings if I put up my hand and don't get to speak and head of rialto branch of swp Crea Ryder gets to push her way onto the mic 3 times-im so bored by swp floor hogs-i want to hear what the occupiers themselves have to say for a change.

The old Organisational

The old Organisational problem.
You get caught up in process-engineering and lose track of the goals.

Or you focus on a fuzzy goal,

Or you focus on a fuzzy goal, without taking step 1 and step 2 to get there.
I still recommend everyone experience at least one Friday or Saturday night there. Stay there for three or four days and see what you make of it afterwards.

There will always be

There will always be difficulties with keeping a camp going in a small space in the middle of a city and it's important to discuss those difficulties. But precisely because there will always be difficulties, there can't reasonably be an expectation that everyone should shut up about the need to build a wider movement or about wider political aims until those difficulties are gone. Once more: the camp only matters as a potential spark for something bigger. If it isn't going to be a spark for something wider, then its problems are not of interest to the rest of us. Its problems matter as part of a process of building something bigger.

Mark P

FFS You don't half take

FFS
You don't half take things out of context.... who is asking people to "shut up" about the wider movement? Personally, I encourage discussion about that, however what we are taking about is a time-limited discussion on a very specific aspect of expansion ... namely DCTU.

I think talking about the

I think talking about the political approach of the campers when they are getting threatened with petrol bombs and having knives pulled on them is inadvertently missing the point.

Richard

I think that Gordon

I think that Gordon inadvertently sums up the dangers of an insular approach, centred on the needs of the camp and the relationships between campers themselves and between campers and the mere "passers by". To be blunt about it, the camp is not an end, it's a means. I fundamentally don't care if campers organise some perfect harmonious living arrangement or not. The camp only matters to the degree that it's a spark for something wider.

Mark P

Is the spark there? PLEASE

Is the spark there?
PLEASE stop using such patronizing arguments... nobody regards the camp as an end in itself. If you look at the forum you will find that I have previously suggested that we let the camp fall, because it's struggling in it's current state.
However, my assumption is that we want a camp to continue beyond Christmas. The people who camp have battled a lot to provided the space to talk. I'm not seeking to organize the "perfect harmonious living arrangement", I'm seeking to organize adequate living arrangements. The harshness of the living at the camp at the moment is a threat to the camps existence.
I do not feel that the camp has achieved an adequate level of dialog yet. Letting it fall now would not be a good idea in my opinion. Mark, you have also invested time and energy into the camp and I'm surprised to hear that you have no respect for what the campers are putting themselves though. I feel that respect is lacking on all sides, but that some (such as yourself it seems) have no real appreciation for the individual struggle of each person. I respect you for doing the difficult job of facilitation and each person is working hard in the capacity they can.
My impression of the GAs is that they ought to be for discussing what the future is for the country etc. However, for discussing the direction of the movement itself, I think it should really be those who've invested their time and energy into it, such as you or I. Despite that you & I are likely to totally disagree on many matters. The 'passer by' should not have the same level of input into the direction of the movement and I do not see that as exclusionary, because if they want input all they have to do is to start being involved.
So do you think the 'something wider' has been sparked yet mark? Personally, I think it would look pretty bad for the camp to collapse in a disorganized manner at this point. That's what I'm trying to avoid. To avoid the camp's collapse, I believe we must consider those who are there on the ground in the cold & wet. It's the hardest job going in the whole movement and if people want a camp this should be acknowledged. It taxes you physically, emotionally and mentally.
You can try and paint that opinion as elitist if you like, but I think it's a simply a fact.
Gordon.

I think you are hugely

I think you are hugely underestimating the importance of the internal dynamics. The camp (and it's more active members) needs to look inwards. It must consolidate and organize. Issues such as the DCTU have a time and place. The time is totally wrong. I arrived back on Saturday where there was a feeling of coming together after a difficult week of SWP paranoia, then Sunday morning consisted of people venting around an issue with facebook. Then Monday and a heated circular argument about tobacco, followed later by another organization trying to direct what the direction of the camp. It is so incredibly easy to sit in your comfortable room and criticize, but I challenge everyone to go there and stay at least one night. If possible stay a Friday or Saturday night, so that you get to witness what the camp residence have to go through. The abuse has perhaps lessened a bit, but some security have had knifes pulled on them and have to deal with a lot of abuse. There were treats of petrol bombing us on Saturday night. The camp is slowly getting organized, but things like this DCTU debate at this time are not helpful. As for the camper who was saying that stuff about the facilitator not staying there (guessing you mean this)... that was borne out of exactly the frustration I'm talking about. She had been working hard in the kitchen on her own and she needed to be able to vent, but was trying to be stopped from doing so. Granted it was off topic, but she needed the leeway. (however, I think the later shouting down of the facilitator by a non-camper was not appropriate behavior) As someone directly involved, I feel I should have more say in the direction the camp itself is going, than a passerby who decides to speak on the night. I am one of many helping create it's existence by being there when I can and putting all my waking time in for the last month. I would not make the division between camper/non-camper in that respect, but I would for active or not active. In the category of active, I would include the DCTU camera people who've been there from the start, or those people who left after the first week. They should also have more say in the camp's direction than those who turn up and want to re-direct it to their own end on a given night. I'm not talking about hierarchy of any higher degrees than that. Those involved and those not involved. So, is it wrong of me to have that point of view? .... that fundamental changes in directions should be decided by those who are directly involved in making the OccupyDameStreet happen? I'm very interested to know you're counter argument. Is that "we are also part of the 99%"?... if so, join us. However, letting other people take on all the effort and wanting to swan in to re-direct what that effort means............ well, sorry. I've a problem with that. My effort is not intended for the SWP. It is not intended for DCTU (but that's negotiable in the future). It is intended for the Occupy movement in Ireland. gordon

Well I don't camp there but

Well I don't camp there but I'm not convinced that the answers to the problems with the camp will be sorted by looking inwards to the camp sorting out its internal dynamics, as important as they are.  The camp after all doesn't exist in order to camp but to spark something wider.  It's health will largely be determined by the sense people have of progress being made or the opposite.  The second problem with that perspective is that it adds to the developing concept of a two tier movement with those at the core tier feeling they should have some sort of special say in political as well as organisational suggestions.  This was openly expressed by at least one 'camper' in the video embedded in my last blog post. on thew topic.

Well, for me it's simply the

Well, for me it's simply the fact that it's trying to be pushed through that I don't like. It's not the discussion we should be having, as you say, and I agree that people need to back the fuck off.
The timespan is too short. This is very much to do with the justifiable paranoia created by the SWP. In the longer term I think most of us at ODS would be interested in discussing how to further the movement, but lets get the camp sorted out first. This was exactly the wrong time for this sort of discussion to take place and has dragged us back like mad.
There should be no rush into aligning with anyone. We need to get our own house sorted comfortably first, but this has been driven by people who don't camp there. If they did, they'd know it is not the right time for ODS to be looking outward.

Having spoken at some length

Having spoken at some length to one of the more senior SWP members there last night, I'm pretty confident that some of your friends are imputing a level of strategic sophistication and Machiavellian skill to them that they simply don't possess. They are certainly not trying to polarise opinion or push their opponents into holding stupid, backwards, views although equally certainly that is what they are in fact achieving. They are simply doing their usual approach of presenting their views as stemming organically from a movement and not saying who they really are and are quite honestly baffled by the reaction they are getting. Their approach can work well on a room full of the raw, evokes jaded cynicism from old hands on the left, either of which they can deal with, but they aren't used to the kind of paranoiac response they are getting and don't know how to deal with it.

And yes, it is train wreck stuff because on most of the hot button issues what the SWP are arguing is broadly correct. It's worth noting however that the people countering with stupid, self-defeating, purist views are not only developing those views as a response to the SWP's kindergarten-Machiavellianism. The hostility to left political organisations and to trade unions was there amongst a certain subset of the campers before the SWP cranked up the paranoia. It really isn't an accident that some people involved are more comfortable with Eamonn Ryan than with the organised workers movement. But what the SWP have achieved is to push more people towards those views and to entrench people who already held those attitudes in their purism.

As an aside, that's a very good point about the list of DCTU delegates meaning nothing to people unfamiliar with the union movement anyway. But I can't help but suspect that some of the people demanding list want it less so they can find out if David Begg on it and more so that they can google individual trade unionists for SWP connections. Which is of course pretty distasteful.

Mark P

  


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