Ireland has an indigenous revolutionary tradition that successfully mobilized tens if not hundreds of thousands in the struggle for more freedom over the 200 years since 1798. Irish republicanism has always included a radical democratic and leveling element and which continues to provide part of the culture of resistance of the most down trodden sections of the working class. Many believe this makes it the best base to build from, at the fifth Rethinking Revolution meeting Andrew Flood asked if they are right? This article contains the draft text of the talk and the audio recording of the meeting.
To quote someone who sums up the intellectual times in which we live, Sarah Palin: “now is not the time to experiment with socialism” This, during the worse crisis since the 1930s! Anarchists would say that is precisely the time – but only as long as we are talking about libertarian socialism!
This was a talk I gave to the WSM during the spring of 1997 as part of a set of re-orientation talks and debates we were having in that period and which set us up for the Seattle wave. This is perhaps foreshadowed where I wrote "the fact that the Zapatistas have emphasised the need for a global response has resulted in the creation of a global network against neoliberalism ... This network is fragile, .. But the central importance of the gathering is that it is creating a new tradition of international solidarity."
This talk was probably part of a debate at a conference of the Irish anarchist groups (WSM, Organise, Class War) in 1994. We are living in a time of great change for the left. For this century the left has been identified with social-democracy (Labour, WP etc.) who saw socialism as being introduced through a few good men taking getting elected through parliament. Or by Leninists who saw socialism as a few good men being put into power by a revolution. Essentially both were variations on the Marxist conception of socialism. Anarchists who argued that socialism could not be brought about by a few good men but only by the self activity of the working class were dismissed as everything from dreamers to bomb throwers.
We wanted this debate today (WSM Ideas & Action 31 March 2001) because we recognise that we share a considerable number of points of departure with those who advocate local sustainable development from an environmental rather then a nationalistic perspective. The idea for the session came out of a discussion I was having a couple of months ago with some of the activists involved in the S26 collective. They were a little annoyed at the description of the movement against corporate globalisation being labelled 'anti-capitalist', as this was not how they choose to define themselves.
In 2003 in Dublin over 20 people were jailed for resisting the imposition of the bin tax in Dublin. There were some who saw the bin tax struggle as being an example where the 'environmental agenda' is counterpoised to the 'working class' agenda. I don't and I think the few environmentalists who have supported the ruling class line in this have done great damage to the environmental cause. The bin tax pure and simple was about imposing the neo-liberal agenda, what some people call 'globalisation'. A core part of this agenda is to transfer the costs of running society from the rich and corporations to workers and the poor.
This is the text of a talk given to the WSM Ideas & Action dayschool 13 Nov 1999 shortly before the Seattle WTO protests. It looks at whay anarchists should be interested in the Zapatista rebellions and in particular references the anti-capitalist network that was emerging around the rebellion.
The emergence of the Anarchist Workers Group at the start of the 1990's was something the WSM welcomed. Most of the people involved initially with the AWG came from the South London branch of the Direct Action Movement. At least one founder member of the Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF) was also involved initially in the AWG. This meant they also had a branch in the North of England made up of people from Manchester and Liverpool.
The nature of the working class to-day is quite different from that of a hundred years ago. In the late 80's a large part of the left interpreted this as meaning socialism was no longer possible, that the best hope was to form alliances with greens and others in a rainbow coalition which would attempt to limit the worst excesses of capitalism.
Greece has been a somewhat unstable entity throughout its history and particularly with the coming into being of nation states in the 18th century. Its borders have shifted, expanded and contracted on several occasions over the last 200 years leaving behind a legacy of quite virulent Greek nationalism. Greek armies were also involved in foreign intervention against the Russian revolution in north west Asia minor.