Regular readers of the site may have noticed I've been posting a lot more news items as blog posts in the last months and that a new tag, WSM FB has appeared on them. That tag indicates the item was original written for the WSM Facebook page.
I’ve written a good deal about both the positive organisational opportunities created by social networking. Here I’m going to look at one of the strong negatives, the intensification and deepening of conflict as a result of online disagreement . This results in fracturing movements even resulting in people unable to be physically in the same space as each other, never mind work together in a sustainable way.
This piece has been written over many months, and I’ve delayed publication at several points to avoid what I’m saying being mistaken for a specific commentary on the latest flare up. Take my references here as being very general and drawn from a long exposure to political discussion on and offline. I’ve been arguing with people online since 1992. Where I’m referring to specific incidents I’ll make that clear, otherwise I’m talking about patterns I’ve observed rather than specific incidents. This is defientley not about you, dear reader even if I hope its relevant to you.
There have been enormous changes in the world and on the left in the last 30 years. How do these effect what the role of an anarchist organisation like the WSM is? The weekend of October 11th after a couple of years of discussion the WSM reached some collective agreements around this in the form of the position paper below which replaces an older text that largely dated from the 1980's.
I was part of a long education and discussion process that culminated in this new position paper on "Anarchism, Oppression & Exploitation" being agreed by WSM National Conference at the start of October 2014.
Joan Burton has seized upon her brief inconvenience in being faced with the people in Jobstown last week to try and smear water charge resistance in general.
Now the Phone is already notorious for inventing quotes from random people she claims to meet about how they just love austerity so perhaps you’ll forgive us some cynicism. In any case, according to the Irish Times:
"Joan Burton has accused Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy of “smirking” while protesters threw missiles and taunted gardaí with homophobic and misogynistic remarks during the water chargers protest."
I was rather surprised to see a talk I gave in Galway back in 2003 used for a smear campaign article written by a ‘Victoria White’ against the current mass resistance to the water charges. It’s worth dissecting this to understand how establishment power works in Ireland, in this case a connection between an ex-Government party and the media that would probably be invisible to almost all the readers of the smear in question.
It’s a confusing time to be on the revolutionary left as everything that was once certain turns to smoke. Technology has overturned & remade what constitutes effective communication & the construction of networks. Quite how to organise is no longer clear and old reference points of 1917, 1936 or even 1968 no longer provide definitive models.
On Saturday I was taking photos at the Gaza solidarity march through Dublin to post to the WSM Facebook page as part of the may we are now using the page to report news as its happening. I spotted this placard in the crowd and took a couple of pictures of it, figuring that people's frustration with the huge focus Irish media and politicians have put on the Garth Brooks concerts would make it popular. On returning home I posted it to our Facebook page with the text below. I thought it might generates 10 or 20,000 views but at the moment of writing it is only 3,000 short of quarter of a million and should exceed this within the next hour.
An explanation for our readers outside Ireland. The Irish media has been dominated for the last week not by the unrelenting Israeli bombardment of Gaza but by the fact that a US singer, Garth Brooks, can only play 3 rather than 5 concerts in Dublin's largest sports stadium.
I'm off on a short (4 city) speaking tour of Norway from next week. It initally expanded out of an intention to go somewhere interesting for the Solstice and Oslo and then the train north being the closest / cheapest way of doing that. When I contacted Motmakt members in Oslo suggesting I do a talk while passing through they suggested turning it into a mini tour and going much further north that I'd originally planned. And I could hardly turn down the opportunity of doing a talk 350km north of the Arctic Circle, in the city of Tromsø which not only will have no sunset on the solstice but won't have one anytime in June or July. On the way I'll be stopping off at Bergen and Trondheim.
It’s election time in Ireland and as usual the excitement of the electoral game has resulted in some on the left losing the plot. I’m referring in particular to the continued endorsement erstwhile leftists are giving to a virulently anti-choice MEP candidate, one Diarmuid O'Flynn. Diarmuid you see is considered sound on the issue of the bank bailout debt. That alone is enough to not only overlook his anti-choice politics but to attack those who raise this contradiction as ’posturing’ ‘minoritarian’ ‘arrogant’ ‘postmodern’ ‘moralists’ who lack an ‘alternative strategy’.
The insults quoted are all from a single afternoon Facebook row and were leveled at anyone who dared to question people on the left endorsing an MEP candidate who stated "The only occasion on which I can foresee abortion arising in the EU is as an equal rights/civil right issue. I would vigorously oppose any such imposition on Ireland.”