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.
At this session I edited from the Dublin anarchist bookfair Dave Douglass talked about his experiences of 1984 - the year the British mines almost defeated Thatcher. "That fight in 84-85 involved the whole community, it was not only about unions. It was partly about unions but it was about an industry, it was about a way of life. The miners were almost an ethnicity, with father to son for hundreds and hundreds of years in the same miner family. And we had a very strong revolutionary and radical tradition. So, all of the politics of power, fuel power was about political power and not just about energy. It was about more than that. It was about "Who rules ?""
The start of September saw a walking tour organised by the Stoneybatter & Smithfield People's History Project to mark the anniverseries of the 1913 Lockout and the collapses of two tenement houses on 2nd September 1913 which resulted in the death of seven people. The tour started at the statue of Jim Larkin on O'Connel st and proceeded via 6 stops to the site of the collapse where relatives of those killed laid wreaths. There was then the launch of a commermorative pamphlet and a social in the Cobblestone Pub.
About a 1000 people took part in the annual March for Choice in Dublin on Saturday 28 September. Because there was an all island final on huge numbers of people saw the march through town and quite a few stopped to clap the march passing. The march was organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign.
Despite spending in the region of a million euro and getting the backing of the catholic church its now clear that the anti-choice extremists of Youth Defence & the Pro Life Campaign were resoundingly defeated when the Dail finally voted though legislation implementing the X-Case judgment of 21 years ago. This time last year they were confident that they already had enough Fine Gael TD's on board to block the required legislation but they reckoned against the wave of public anger that followed the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was denied a potentially life saving abortion in a Galway hospital.
Day 3 (Monday 24 June) of the week of action against Shell in Erris saw more spy cameras on the perimeter of the Shell compound at Aughoose destroyed overnight & anti-Shell slogans was painted on the walls and gates. During the day itself a Shell survery boat was successfully blockaded by Shell to Sea Kayaks although a couple of Kayaks were dragged along by the boat and capsized.
Several hundred people took part in a demonstration in Dublin last night (Monday 4 March) demanding the government legislate for abortion access as laid down in the X-Case judgement over 21 years ago. Government after government have refused to introduce this legislation due to politicians own conservatism and their fear of the huge resources of the US funded anti-choice movement. But the massive mobilisations that followed news of the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was refused an abortion in a Galway hospital in the Autumn have forced the Labour Party & Fine Gael to finally begin the process of introducing legislation.
Selma James, the activist and political writer, spoke in Ireland during the week. She has been active since the time of the Spanish revolution in a number of countries and across many struggles but is possibly best known for the International Wages for Housework Campaign and her writings around gender, class and racism. I got to her 'Defending Caring and Welfare in Careless Times' meeting for the School for Social Justice in UCD where I tweeted notes to the WSM Twitter feed. The video of her talk (but not the more controversial Q&A session) has also been uploaded as has her entire talk 'How Can Women Defeat Austerity?' at CERSA, NUI Maynooth.
Picture: Theresa O'Keefe, used with permission
The left is fond of military analogies so I want to open this piece with the observation that poor generals plan for the last war rather than the next one. Those militaries that planned for World War Two by perfecting the trench systems that dominated World War One had their powerful & expensive fortifications quickly overwhelmed in the opening weeks of the war through blitzkrieg. And in turn by 1943 Blizkrieg was defeated though defence in depth at Kursk.
Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dail after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.
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