The internet brought many advantages to radical organising, not least the speed at which movements can grow and the ease with which complex ideas can be made available to almost everyone. But there were certainly negative side effects and here I want to look at what is probably the most important of these, the move away from sustained collective organising, analysis and preservation of lessons.
It’s useful to start with the statement that there is not point looking back to the past and wishing we where there instead of here, or in a very similar fashion just demanding the ‘discipline’ of past periods without understanding why that discipline was organic to that period.
The easiest way to understand what I mean is to understand the collective newspaper publishing projects of the past. There required many individuals to pool their efforts & cash to produce often well crafted and widely distributed papers. At the time unless you were wealthy this was the only option to reach many people. When printing was technically difficult and expensive it demanded considerable resources from a lot of people in order to distribute your message. And because a lot of resources were going into the distribution of what was a very limited number of words it made sense that a lot of time was spent on what exactly those words were.
The Barricade Inn was a squatted social centre in the centre of Dublin. During the peak of its activity over the summer of 2015 hundreds of people were involved in putting on events in the space that thousands of people attended. In this audio we talk to three WSM members who were involved in opening up and running The Barricade about what happened there and what lessons they drew from the experience.
Hundreds of people responded to the High Court demanding the eviction of Apollo House by linking arms to form a protective ring around it. The judge refused the residents an extra week to find accommodation despite the housing minister failing to deliver what had been promised.
It emerged overnight that housing minister Simon Coveney has failed to deliver on the terms he agreed in order to get Home Sweet Home to vacate Apollo House. Protests are taking place outside Apollo house and across the country in response to this betrayal.
You can tell a lot about someone from what they worry about. The Housing Minister Simon Coveney isn’t so much worried about people sleeping on the streets at the moment. He is losing sleep about the thought that other people might fill their swimming pools with free water!
A bit of great news as the year closes - Apple have been told they owe 13 billion to the Irish state. Great news now in terms of housing, healthcare and eduction where that money is badly needed. But also great news in the long term for workers everywhere as its a blow against corporate tax avoidance.
This video was shot on the morning of the Apollo House injunction hearing at the High Court, 21st December. As well as footage from outside the courts on our way there we had earlier visited the sites of other occupied buildings evicted in the last 20 months. We discovered all of them were still vacant and in most cases no visible work at all had been done on them.
About an hour ago the Apollo house occupation received a finally crafted piece of legalistic bullshit designed to divide homelessness activists from the professional services on 'Health & Safety' grounds. Health & safety has become the go to excuse for pushing people onto the streets, when the Halston street (ex) prison was occupied over the summer we say the same 'concern' this time over the fact that the pigeon shit found in that building was a health and concern safety. As we observed then there is plenty of pigeon street on the cold, wet streets of Dublin but now its winter and those streets are very much colder.
RTE Drivetime engaged in some shameful clickbait trolling on Twitter last night to try and get a few more listeners. While they have congratulated posh schools for engaging in token sleep outs they decided to directly attack the occupation of Apollo house and its bringing into use as an emergency shelter for homeless people.
Once it became clear that Trump was going to become the president of the USA, my Facebook feed became cluttered with attempts to understand how that could possibly happen. How could a white supremacist, misogynist and utterly transparent snake oil salesman accumulate so many votes? Those on the left both inside and outside the borders of the USA struggled to understand what had happened.
A common conclusion in too many of these pieces is that the left needs to reach out, and listen to the concerns of, those who voted for him as a priority. In a similar fashion to how sections of the left evaluated Brexit, they see a working class anti-establishment rebellion in the Trump vote from what they term the ‘white working class’. They believe that component was won by Trump because it has been neglected by the left - often, they will assert, because the rest of the left was distracted by what they call identity politics.