Speaking & pushing - last Tuesday at the anti-capitalist bloc

Anti capatilsit bloc on Dawson street, DublinIn a couple of hours I'm heading in to the second anti-capitalist bloc march on the Dail. Last week the police tried to prevent us marching but after a couple of minutes we managed to push past them.  The text here is my notes in case I needed to give a speech at the form up point.  On the night I ended up using segments of this at the form up point at the Wolfe Tone statue and another portion after we had pushed through police lines outside Anglo Irish Bank.

This meant I just used the opening couple of paragraphs and the end, I had the rest in case we had a problem getting other speakers on the night, as it turned out we had enough to fill the slot.  Outside Anglo most of what I said was an on the spot reaction to the gardai attempt to provoke the crowd which (I thought at the time) included beating up a couple of my friends. This was a little embarassing as it turned out their injuries were make up, one of them is a face painter and they thought making themselves up as injured protesters was a good way to highlight Gardai brutality at previous protests which they had witnessed and been outraged by. Unfortuanately they did too good a job and this along with the adrenaline jolt of pushing though the police led me to believe that the injuries were real for a full five or so minutes. 

In retrospect it should have been obvious that they were not but they even had some of the Gardai fooled so in a way the point they were seeking to make was all the more beliveable in that their theatrically exaggerated injuries were seen as credible by people on both sides of that short scuffle.  The whole story ended up on national radio a couple of days later where they proved quite capable of expaining their action and getting some discussion of the real issue of police violence despite the best efforts of Joe Duffy, the shows presenter and yet another turn coat ex radical.

Anyway for context the opening section deals with an article by a popular mainstream liberal journalist who had taken part in the previous week's protest, been blamed for the scuffles at the Dail and had published an article hostile to going beyond marching back and forth that day in a major newspaper. I then intended to move on to explain why a similar stunt didn't make sense that week, on the night I felt that segment unnecessary as it had been said by other speakers.  Finally I talked of the resistance of workers in Ireland and what was required before making a brief solidarity statement with Greek workers which I did use on the night and which got a cheer.  The video following the text includes part of my impromptu speech outside Anglo Irish.  It was produced by éirígí a republican socialist group with whom we have called the second anti-capitalist bloc.

It's been a mad couple of weeks, hopefully I'll get to blog all this in more details a bit later on when I have some time.

Intended text
People may have seen Fintan O'Tooles article 'Those who protest have most to fear' in the Irish Times today which once more is trying to create a divide between so called good protesters and bad protesters based on the scuffle at the Dail last Tuesday. The issue there is not that some people tried to push through the Dail gates but that the Gardai used extendable batons against the unprotected heads of protesters in order to defend an empty carpark. Just as they again used batons against the eirigi occupation of Anglo Irish Bank on Saturday morning.

As far back as the 1840's the American abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote of those like Fintan . "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. ..Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

It's perfectly obvious that the reason why the protest tonight will be attended by more than a few dozen people is that the scuffles of last week have turned this into an event. BUT and this is a big BUT this doesn't mean that such scuffles have any more to offer us than constant marching. Last weeks stunt made sense at the time because the gates had been left open and weakly guarded, the possibility of a piece of civil disobedience was there to be taken and only stopped by the Gardai decision to risk cracking skulls. The situation will not be the same tonight.

When riots in Iceland brought down the government there in January last year about 1% of the population were involved in those riots. In Irish terms thats 50-70,000 people. What we shouldn't do today is fantasise that if the 300 of us assembled are militant enough it will give positive results. Things kicking off in a serious way are more likely to be negative at this point in time when we are only a tiny minority. So what we need today is a good bit of self discipline, a collective refusal to rise to the Gardai provocations of the last week and those we may be about to face.

The Economist, this week warns the global capitalist class that "The violence in Greece is a reminder that democratic governments can impose only so much hardship before people rise up." The working class in Ireland has taken a pounding in the last two years between job losses, pay cuts and the slashing of much needed services. We sometimes over state the passivity of the working class here though. Sure we have not seen the wave of strikes and street protests that Greece has but we have seen 1/4 of a million workers go out on a one day strike and vote for two other one day strikes, both pulled at the last minute by the traitorous union leadership. And we have seen a hundred thousand or more march through the streets of Dublin on two separate occasions.

Right now 1/4 million workers are voting on the Public Sector Agreement. In SIPTU the leadership are so scared of losing the vote that they have refused to allow the No side of the argument to be presented to the members in the union press. If the Gardai batons reflect the fear of the government of a risen people then the censorship in SIPTU reflects the leaderships fear of its own membership.

The PSA vote will be a close thing showing that tens of thousands have already rejected the arguments of the tratorous union leaders. We must get this government, and all governments, out of power not by the heroic action of a few but through the mass action of hundreds of thousands of workers in Ireland. Building that movement requires us to be smart as well as brave, of picking the moment and intensity of each fight ourselves rather than having it provoked by the Gardai. Building it will include stunts and real direct actions but is not limited to either.

For those of us here from the organised left and republican movement it means finding ways to honestly work together to build such a movement despite the political differences that separate us and of linking up with union branches and community organisations without expecting them to take the lead of our respective parties. We have a world to win, the time to fight will be the time we return to the Dail as part of a determined movement of 50 or 100 thousand, determined to tear down not the buildings that surround us but the system that exploits and oppresses us all.

We stand with the Greek workers who continue to resist the cuts and reject the demonisation of their resistance and ours that has been waged in the Irish media. Against those who say there is no alternative we declare, "They didn't share the wealth, why should we share the pain? Make the rich pay for the crisis"



may someday need will not be

may someday need will not be such protests and counicare to do that with friends who are known for a long time, knowing that each other's needs and respect is equally on both sides. hope that these protests, or to help friends once in a binding between the government and people of the country.


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