This is a write-up of the notes of a talk made at the 2014 London Anarchist bookfair. I have made a few slight changes/additions. On the day I skipped the section of “small-scale” production (“Kropotkin the Medievalist?) and covered the differences between communist-anarchism and syndicalism in the discussion period. It is based, of course, on the work I did for Direct Struggle Against Capital: A Peter Kropotkin Anthology. A newly translated article by Kropotkin from May 1890 (“The action of the masses and the individual”) is appended.
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.
Anyone researching or studying a subject will quickly conclude that some authors are more reliable than others. However, even the best author makes mistakes and if these chime with the conventional wisdom on a subject then their groundbreaking work in one area can be used to justify repeating their mistakes in others.
With the UK economy finally reaching its pre-crisis peak, many are claiming austerity has been vindicated. We explain why this is nonsense -- the critics of austerity have been proven right while austerity has failed in its own terms.
Serious investment in social housing is required as an alternative to Dublin council housing families in hotels or prefabs
Decades of lack of investment in social housing and the growing housing crisis in Dublin means that Dublin city council now appear to be considering building temporary slum housing. That's not of course what they are calling it but Assistant chief executive and head of housing Dick Brady has revealed a plan to house families in prefabs on derelict sites.
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.
Minister Frances Fitzgerald claimed to be shocked at reports that some women in direct provision centres felt compelled into sex work by the poverty they are kept in. How can that be, its Minister Frances Fitzgerald who actually operates this direct provision system that creates such circumstances.
As the Minister she does not allow asylum seekers to work, leaving them to exist on €19.10 per week, often for periods measured in years. Who can imagine living month after month with such a minuscule amount of spending money? And while she now wants to suggest she has concern for such women the reality is that she is the one who signs deportation orders, orders which will very often send the same women to very much more difficult circumstances.
Read this book.
Perhaps I need to write more? For those who do not know, Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) was one of anarchism’s greatest activists and thinkers for over 60 years. He joined the First International in 1871 and became an anarchist after meeting Bakunin in 1872. He spent most of his life in exile from Italy, helping to build unions in Argentina in the late 1880s and taking an active part during the two Red Years after the war when Italy was on the verge of revolution (the authorities saw the threat and imprisoned him and other leading anarchists before a jury dismissed all charges). Playing a key role in numerous debates within the movement – on using elections, participation in the labour movement, the nature of social revolution, syndicalism and Platformism (to name just a few), he saw the rise and failure of the Second International, then the Third before spending the last years of his life under house arrest in Mussolini’s Italy.
Saturday evening August 23 saw over a 1000 people take part in a demonstration in Dublin demanding the legalisation of Cannabis organised by Legalise Cannabis Ireland. The front banner read ‘Medication - Taxation - Industrialisation - Civil Liberties’ and “We will raise awareness and demand change to Irish legislation for the benefit of every person in Ireland. The time is now to end the hypocrisy’
The message of the march as expressed by the front banner was very much a demand for capitalism as normal rather than the gangster capitalism of illegality. That’s obviously a very limited demand - indeed it’s already been won or partly won in a number of European countries and more recently states in the USA.
Saturday 23 August saw a second large pro choice 'Our Bodies Our Rights: Rally to Repeal the 8th Amendment' march through Dublin bringing the number who took part in emergency mobilisations in Dublin alone over 3,000.
I recorded this 30 minute talk by Mark Bray, author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street followed by an hour of discussion. Translating Anarchy tells the story of the anti-capitalist anti-authoritarians of Occupy Wall Street who strategically communicated their revolutionary politics to the public in a way that was both accessible and revolutionary.
Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section in Ireland - a story of abuse at the hands of a racist, sexist authoritarian state
This is as complete a story about what happened to 'Migrant X' that we are aware of. Migrant X is a young migrant women who it emerged was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite apparently meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and instead forced to carry the pregnancy and agree to a C-section. The pregnanacy itself was the result of rape, Migrant X attempted suicide after being refused the abortion and later went on a hunger and thirst strike. Once what had happened to her became known there were sizeable pro-choice solidarity demonstrations called across Ireland and at Irish embassies overseas.
We have been given information that the migrant woman at the centre of the current forced pregnancy was 'committed' to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination. It’s already known that the initial request was made when she was 8 weeks pregnant. It was this crucial period in which she was being held incommunicado which led directly to the Caesarian option being possible to impose as an ‘alternative’ to allowing her to access the abortion she had asked for.
While we’re on the subject of the difference between (analytical) theory and ideology, we’ll take a brief look at the relationship between science and ideology. See if you can see what’s wrong with the following statement:
“This statement is both objective and non-ideological and therefore good.”
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
Rather worrying news about those mysterious sink holes that have appeared in Siberia. It now appears they were giant methane releases - long forecast by climate change scientists as a likely positive feedback occurrence as permafrost in Siberia melted and released trapped methane. Worrying because methane is a 20 times more potent climate change gas than CO2 because it is more efficient at trapping radiation.