As we prepare to enter the 3rd month of the Occupy movement a commonly heard criticism targets both the lack of clear demands and the related complex and often drawn out decision making processes being used at Occupy General Assemblies. These criticisms however miss the point, against the traditional left with its package of pre-set answers (best before 1917) what makes Occupy different is that process of decision making through assembly. The assembly form is not just a way of making decisions but also a different form of doing politics. The Assembly is in embryo the different world we seek to create.
Months of intense resistance by ordinary people in Greece appear to have resulted in a partial victory. The EU crisis summit conceded that bond holders be forced to shoulder 50% of their losses. This did not come easy, Greek workers have staged several general strikes and Athens has seen day after day of large scale rioting.
The contrast with Ireland is clear. Here the union leadership called off token resistance in the first months of the crisis and workers passively marched, shrugged their shoulders and went home. As a result the ordinary Irish worker alone, the majority of 'the 99%', have shouldered all the costs. Bond holders will scontinue to have their failed gambles covered. Next week alone another 700 million will be handed over to the Irish & global 1% to cover their losses in Anglo. This is our ‘thanks’ for being the poster boys for austerity across Europe.
The 'Occupy X' movement arrived in Ireland over the weekend when a core group of around 50 people set up camp at the Central Bank Plaza on Dame street. Numbers grew to a few hundred at times over the next days and nights as supporters came down to join in for a while and the curious stopped to see what was going on. Issues highlighted by participants included the bank bail out, IMF intervention & the ongoing Great Oil & Gas Giveaway.
In science, the validity of a theory is generally proven by its predictive abilities. A theory suggests certain outcomes and if those predictions come to be then it becomes accepted as valid. Strangely, while proclaiming itself "scientific socialism" (something, like so much else, appropriated from Proudhon), Marxists refuse to apply that criteria to the socialist movement.
On the 9th of July 2011, I debated “Marxism and Anarchism” with the Leninist group Alliance for Workers Liberty at their conference “Ideas for Freedom.” This article is based on the notes I used and reproduces the content of my contribution.
This leaflet was created to hand out at a debate on “Marxism and Anarchism” at the AWL 2011 “Ideas for Freedom” Conference.
On the morning of January 1st 1994 a previously unheard of armed group in the state of Chiapas, South East Mexico, seized control of seven town and cities, freeing prisoners from jails and setting fire to police stations. This was the EZLN or Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional), the military wing of what came to be referred to as the Zapatista’s. By the standards of South and Central America the rebellion was a minor, short lived and small scale conflict, the fighting was over within 12 days. But what marked the Zapatista’s out was not their use of arms but the politics behind the rising, the large scale and long lived experiment in direct democracy that followed and perhaps most importantly the huge influence they were to have on the emerging summit protest left over the decade that followed.
These are two letters and part of a leaflet related to an article in the SWP's Socialist Review by Pat Stack on anarchism. This article (imaginatively entitled "Anarchy in the UK?") was an attempt to rubbish anarchism in the eyes of the "anti-globalisation" movement at the time (around 2000). It had to be the worse article on anarchism I had seen (and there is stiff competition for that honour, usually from the SWP!).
Today*, in an even more meaningless exercise then normal, a minority of the population of Ireland will choose between two almost identical options as to who will implement the ECB / IMF austerity plans for southern Ireland. Outside of this plan the wealthiest 1% will continue to set economic policy tomorrow as they did yesterday and have throughout the last decades. The electoral circus we are now going through provides the rest of us with the illusion of control even though deep down almost everyone acknowledges the ritual as having no real impact on what policies are actually implemented. (written 25 Feb 2011)
Originally published in 1988 a few years before the crisis in Stalinism, Pat Devine’s model of a planned economy has been republished with a new preface during the crisis in neo-liberalism. He comprehensively discusses capitalist planning, central planning and market socialism before sketching his own economic vision.