Media go on the smear in response to vibrant water charge movement

The Irish Times ( 24 Nov ) has added its weight to the voices from the establishment demanding that anarchist access to social media be limited. The article is hidden away in the business pages under the headline "Social media causes grave damage and must become regulated" and ends with a call for internet companies to avoid "confrontation with authority" by censoring before ordered to do so by the government.

The method as with all such censorship calls is to go for 'what about the children' appeals and 'OMG terrorism' - very literally in this case. It's unusual to see that rhetorical trick so crudely executed, here is the relevant paragraph in full;
"It is clear that the various platforms are causing harm to children and provide practical assistance to terrorists abroad and ex-terrorists at home. Social media has brought more illness to Ireland than Ebola has. Anarchists, extremists and all-round loonies can find a voice and organisational structure – if only for a decent riot – amidst a political fragmentation that rewards those who shout the loudest."

The intention is clearly to limit the debate to that allowed by the propaganda model. In the case of the Water Charges that is a debate limited to a discussion about who is responsible for the poor implementation and disastrous PR. And whether or not enough back benchers will revolt to trigger an early election. In other words, business as usual where most of us get to spectate and choose the least worst option every few years.

The article is written by an Investment Banker who we are told was "Chief Investment Officer for global fundamental equities, State Street Global Advisers (SSgA)" and also that "Previously he was CEO of Bank of Ireland Asset Management". Alongside the various smear stories we've seen hints at such action since Joan the Phone acquired her new nickname by blaming the governments troubles on water charge resistors ability to shoot video of Garda brutality with their mobile phones. She has a point, as we explained in response to a similar article that appeared in the Examiner before Jobstown

"Perhaps it was once true that the organisational capacity and resources of ‘sinister fringes’ were essential to the coming together of large movements.

Back then simply exposing those required elements was enough to scare many away from such movements. But that was before the explosion of the internet and the mass use of social media.

Anyone who has tracked the emergence of the water charge resistance has been struck by the way that, far from being developed only by radicals organising meetings in the local community centre, it has been very much produced by ordinary people sharing their experiences on Facebook.

It’s no coincidence that weeks earlier Minister Burton whined about campaigners with mobile phones. Incidentally in very similar tones to Erdogan whining about Twitter when faced with the Gezi park revolt in Turkey.

The political class cannot imagine ordinary people self organising on a previously unprecedented scale and so imagines that the real forces must either be the technological tools that enable this and/or ’sinister fringes’.

The water charge resistance is not driven by any fringe. It’s driven by hundreds of local pages, like Edenmore Says No, some with followings in the thousands and some in the tens of thousands.

This isn’t a movement that has a single centre the establishment can decapitate. It’s a multi-headed organic expression of the power people have when they create collective solutions through co-operation, empowerment and real solidarity."

When faced with mass popular revolt the governments of Egypt, Syria and Turkey did respond by trying to cut off access to social media. That's very unlikely to happen here but perhaps the Facebook HQ down at Grand Canal dock is coming under some pressure to try and reduce the visibility of this and other pages. The Irish Times article suggests that "The businesses at the heart of social media can offer the solution, they are the clever ones: they can write the algorithms that can drain the swamp" (link in the comments).

So we'd like to suggest two actions you can take 'just in case':

1. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wsmireland
2. Register for our low volume targeted email system at http://www.wsm.ie/user/register

Let's do our best to keep the debate about what sort of society we want wide open and not let it be pushed back into whether we get to vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum in an early election.


This  rather defiant message from the 'Ladies of North Dublin' on the day more water charge resistors are dragged before the courts. In this musical number from this morning they advise 'You can stick your injunction up your arse'. While keeping a GMC Sierra van hemmed in.

This was Donaghmede this morning (19th) where a huge fleet of GMC Sierra vans was kept blocked in preventing the installation of water meters. The scene was described as "Absolutely brilliant PEACEFUL atmosphere (nearly like a street party). So much support from passing traffic and lovely random people stopping to give us sandwiches, water, soup etc."

Meanwhile the Irish Times carried yet another attack piece on the campaign (is anyone keeping count?). This time from one Stephen O'Byrnes, one time National Press Officer and Policy Director of the right wing neoliberal Progressive Democrat party. Poor Stephen is worried that the media is being too even handed in covering the protests. We are sure that will have the jaws dropping on many of our readers but it certainly exposes how shallow democracy is for those with power in this country.

 


We are rather amused by this profile that appeared in the O'Brien press today ( in this case the Sindo )

Workers’ Solidarity
Terming itself Marxist and anarchist, it is most frequently seen at any anti-government and anti-globalisation protests, its members noticeable by their red and black flags and banners. It is mainly a student group but attracts some figures gardai describe as ‘professional’ protesters from similar groups around Europe who migrate to centres where protests are taking place. Like other leftist groups, it is growing in line with austerity protests.

Well at least the got the colour of the flags right.


To attack the water charges resistance many politicians and media outlets during the week have been trying to frighten people by talking about 'anarchist infiltration' of the campaign.

While the O'Brien owned press goes into overdrive publishing scare stories about the water charges resistance lets remind ourselves that the movement is already so big and connected that few believe.


Dear politicians & media - could you lay off the 'OMG anarchists' scare stories for 24 hours. We've exhausted ourselves laughing at them and our ribs hurt.

Also please do some research, we suggest you start off by googling 'An Anarchist FAQ'.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

 

  


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