This year marks the 125th anniversary of the 1889 London Dock Strike. While this strike was preceded by others which showed of a new spirit of revolt amongst the unskilled, including the match-girls strike and the unionisation of London gasworkers, the dockers’ strike had more of an impact due to the numbers involved. As well as an important event in British Labour history, it also played a key role in the development of anarchism as it provided a concrete example of the power of organised labour and the importance of anarchist involvement in it.
The text below is translated from the poster at the centre of this image of the destruction of Gaza by the Israeli state. But it refers not to this horror but another in 1943 when the Nazis crushed the Warsaw ghetto, wiping out the poorly armed organised resistance that operated out of a warren of bunkers & sewers hidden beneath the ghetto. This poster was by one of the armed factions that defended the Ghetto, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB)
All people are brothers;
Yellow, brown, black, and white.
Talk of peoples, colors, races -
Is all a made-up story
For the size of its population Ireland has seen very large Gaza solidarity demonstrations. It is also one of the few places in the world outside the USA where there has been public displays of support for the Israeli military assault. Internationally there are many variations of this map where activists present to their population what the expulsion of the Palestinians from much of the land they once occupied would look like in a local context. One of our members prepared this but we soon realised its an impossible image to post without some reflection on our own settler colonialist past.
People in Ireland have been protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza in every city and many towns across the country. Online polls show a majority want the government to take action through expelling the Israeli ambassador. Yet the southern government abstained on a crucial UN vote to set up an investigation into Israeli war crimes. We’d suggest when you include a look at the map above it becomes very clear that this is yet another example of the Irish state putting its alliance with the imperialist countries that have imprisoned the majority of the worlds population in misery ahead of the wishes of the population.
This isn’t new. During the American invasion of Iraq over 100,000 marched through the streets of Dublin demanding an end to our participation yet the government continued to allow US warplanes to refuel at Shannon. When hundreds of people threatened to physically enter Shannon to stop the refuelling ‘our’ same government deployed riot police and even the army against ‘their’ people’. Last month they sent 80 year old Margaretta D’Arcy to jail for a second time for refusing to stop protesting against that same refuelling, a decade on. And a few days ago they even arrested two TD's for daring to try and inspect a clearly visible US military plane that was on the runway for weapons or prisoners.
“Either competition, – that is, monopoly and what follows; or exploitation by the State, – that is, dearness of labour and continuous impoverishment; or else, in short, a solution based upon equality, – in other words, the organisation of labour, which involves the negation of political economy and the end of property.”
– Proudhon, System of Economic Contradictions
[Chapter from AK Press "The End of the World as We Know It?"]
In a blurry black and white photograph from Italy in the 1960s, a worker rides a Vespa past a factory wall on which is scrawled operaist graffiti "Il Vietnam è in fabbrica" - Vietnam is in the factory. Today it would be more likely to find "The factory is in Vietnam" on the walls of the long-closed factory. Yet these two moments are not unconnected. So how did we get from the fall of Saigon to the fall of Lehman brothers, from Nixon to Obama? The answer from much of the Left seems to be "financialization", understood not as a materialist process, but as fulfillment of the Communist Manifesto's apocalyptic vision that "all that is solid melts into air."
Financialization, credit, debt become immaterial, intangible factors, things of air and fiction, in the process becoming explanations that explain nothing. Trying to step back from such ultimately unsatisfying interpretations, this chapter begins the attempt to outline a materialist history of how the global capitalist system has evolved since the demise of the post-WW2 Bretton Woods system in the ruins of Saigon, to the present day rise of China as the world's foremost industrial power and the onset of stagnation and decline of the West.
Almost two years after Shell smuggled their Tunnel Boring Machine out of Dublin port in the middle of the night, and then spent 3 days meeting resistance across the country before getting stuck in the bog, they removed it from Erris Monday night.
What if we build it and they don’t come? That was the experience of the left during the crisis - decades had been spent building organisations and a model of how crisis would create revolution but when the crisis arrived the left discovered that the masses weren’t convinced. The expected pattern of crisis leading to small strikes and protests, then to mass strikes and riot and then perhaps to general strike and revolution didn’t flow as expected. Under that theory the radical left would at first be marginal but then as conditions drove class militancy to new heights the workers disappointed by reformist politicians and unions leaders would move quickly to swell its ranks.
This article appeared in Anarchist Studies (volume 22, number 1) in the spring of 2014
The links between the two schools of revolutionary socialism – Marxism and class struggle anarchism – have produced much debate, some more helpful than others. Into the helpful pile comes Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) edited by Alex Prichard, Ruth Kinna, Saku Pinta and Dave Berry. Twelve excellent chapters and a terrible one are sandwiched between a useful introduction and conclusion. Overall, it is essential reading for all those seeking to enrich libertarian socialism in the 21st century.
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