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The History of Belfast anarchism

category ireland / britain | anarchist movement | news report author Friday September 09, 2011 23:55author by Sean Matthews Report this post to the editors

Historian Mairtin O Cathain’s ‘Wee Black Booke’ has now been added to our archive for you to read or download. In it he pulls together reports of anarchism in and around Belfast in the years from 1867 to 1973. With no local movement for much of this period, the pamphlet looks at some individuals whose political activity merited mention in the media of the time. O Cathain’s work stops before the emergence in the late 1970s of the groups from which contemporary anarchist organisations Workers Solidarity Movement and Organise! can trace their roots.

Historian Mairtin O Cathain’s ‘Wee Black Booke’ has now been added to our archive for you to read or download. In it he pulls together reports of anarchism in and around Belfast in the years from 1867 to 1973. With no local movement for much of this period, the pamphlet looks at some individuals whose political activity merited mention in the media of the time. O Cathain’s work stops before the emergence in the late 1970s of the groups from which contemporary anarchist organisations Workers Solidarity Movement and Organise! can trace their roots.

He pointedly finishes off by referring to the fact that the forces of ' British and Irish nationalism are still with us and are as potent as ever. Anarchists have our work cut out for us and many battles to fight, but fighting in the knowledge that we inherit the name and spirit of those working class militants who went before us under the banner of anarchy should encourage us, in Belfast or wherever else we may be found today.

Some readers will be aware of Captain Jack White who fought in the Irish Citizen Army and later became an anarchist after participating and witnessing the Spanish revolution in practice. Other names will be unknown to most mainstream historians and even anarchists including Bolton Hall and William Baillie who later emigrated to the USA. Hall was involved in communal experiments, propaganda, and union organising. Baillie was more of an individualist, though he still realised that “personal freedom was tied inexorably to collective and economic freedom.”

John McAra was a Scottish anarchist who came to speak in Belfast, where he was arrested and jailed. A small group emerged from his activity, but appears to have died away after the First World War. Jack McMullen was a public speaker with socialist with anarchist sympathies, who campaigned against slum housing and unemployment in the 1920s and 1930s.

Finally there is John McGuffin, a founder member of the Belfast Anarchist Group, who was involved in the early Peoples Democracy and the civil rights movement. The author also discusses the impact of the conflict here on the movement and the temporary stranglement of any viable non-sectarian class struggle alternative to the status-quo.

‎As the author acknowledges in his book, 'We freely acknowledge the marginal status and relative unpopularity of the movement, though people’s misconceptions aboutanarchism have long been a difficulty in popularising it. It nevertheless has attracted a number of extraordinary people over the years from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century, and the message, method and spirit of anarchism has rang out in the streets and halls of Belfast at times of great social radicalism and in periods of inveterate reaction.'

This excellent pamphlet provides a small glimpse and snapshot of the history of belfast anarchism, a movement and tendency which still continues to grow spreading the gospel of independent working class self-management and direct action on the streets of Belfast and beyond.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/c/history-belfast-anarchism
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Not actually the book fair poster imageThe Dublin anarchist Bookfair returns to Liberty Hall on Saturday 12th of April this year 19:43 Tue 08 Apr by Andrew 0 comments

There will be discussions, speakers from movements engaged in struggle, home and abroad.  There will be books and stalls and much more.  If you’ve been to one, then you know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t make sure you keep the date set aside, and we’ll be seeing you on the 12th of April. Please mark your attendence on the main Facebook event for the bookfair and invite any friends you think should be interested.  Publicity is one of the big costs of hosting it every year so you contribution in that way really helps.

wslast.jpg imageReport on WSM (Ireland) National Conference - Autumn 2013 20:50 Wed 18 Dec by Andrew 0 comments

The WSM had its Autumn national conference in Dublin on the 23rd November.  National Conference is the ultimate decision making body in the WSM. It happens every six months usually over a day or two. As well as discussing motions time is also spent on discussing the past six months activity and prospects for the next period. Conference also hears reports of activity from all branches, officers and working groups.  This covered areas like the Irish Anarchist Review, WSM Website, Dublin Anarchist Bookfair and our pro-choice and anti racist work.

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We are pleased to announce our affiliation to the international anarchist communist co-operative project, Anarkismo. Our affiliation comes after months of discussion and clarification of Collective Action's political positions as well as the positions of constituent members of Anarkismo.

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On the 10th anniversary of the death of former Civil Rights activist and Anarchist John McGuffin, local activists including former friends and comrades gathered in Derry’s Bogside and gave the iconic monument a fitting rebellious make-over with the red and black colours of anarchism. Over the next fortnight the black flag of anarchy will fly over Free Derry corner in a fine tribute. No Gods No Masters!

textSolidarity Books (Cork) is up and running! 23:13 Mon 21 Dec by Cork WSM 0 comments

A new, alternative meeting space and bookshop has just opened on Douglas Street, Cork in Ireland. This is early days but we want to get the word out that this new initiative needs you and your support!

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The Workers Solidarity Movement and Anarchist Communist Discussion Group, organised a successful day of discussions and workshops last Saturday in the Belfast Unemployed Centre tackling issues such as fighting fascism and racism from a class perspective, anarchist organisation and our vision of a free, classless, post-capitalist society.

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The passing of US anarchist prisoner, Harold H Thompson last October marked the end of a revolutionary, a fighter for the libertarian ideal, who remained unbowed and unbroken in the face of a social order built on domination and exploitation.

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Alan from the WSM described it as "A lovely sunny day with a good anarchist turnout." and reported that "several people I spoke to afterwards thought a minimum of 2,000 people were on the march, the majority of these from the unions with maybe 20% from different left groups"

text2008 The Cork Grassroots Gathering 23:07 Mon 09 Feb by Ray 0 comments

The Grassroots Gathering is a twice-yearly coming together of anarchists and libertarian socialists who are active in political groups and campaigns up and down the island of Ireland. The second of 2008's Gatherings was held in Cork on 14th-16th November. The 90 or so attending, combined with the quality of the discussions, left its organisers very pleased with the weekend. It showed that there's a lot of life left in the Grassroots Gathering as a show-case for trends and thinking among Ireland's libertarian left.

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Report of the National Secretary for the Fall 2008 Conference held at the Teachers Club in Dublin on the 25th and 26 of October.

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textWolnosc: Rozmyślania na temat anarchizmu Feb 27 by Oisin Mac Giollamoir 0 comments

Mówi się o dwóch typach wolności- pozytywnej i negatywnej lub uogólniając, o istnieniu wolność od.. do. Uważam tą dychotomie za nieprawdziwa i mało znacząca. Wolność nie jest słowem opisującym dwojakość, wolność odnosi się tylko do jednego stanu rzeczy.

textRola organizacji anarchistycznej Feb 26 by John Flood 0 comments

Patrząc na dzisiejszy świat trudno jest sobie wyobrazic jak miało by powstać społeczeństwo które chcielibyśmy zobaczyć. Ale zamiast siedzieć z założonymi rękami czekając na upadek kapitalizmu albo nadejście rewolucji, wierzymy w organizowanie sie tu i teraz.

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Dublin has an influential anarchist group, the Workers Solidarity Movement. It co-ordinates involvement in local campaigns ('especifismo' social insertion) and distribute a free quarterly news-sheet of 6000+ copies. Glasgow lacks this, but is not lacking in serious community struggles or a need for closer and more structured involvement of anarchists and other socialists in those struggles.

textThe end of the British anarchist magazine Black Flag? Nov 23 by Anarcho 6 comments

Observant attendees of this year's anarchist bookfair may have noticed that Black Flag did not have a stall nor was a new issue out. Some speculation has been made on the libcom.org forums that it is no more. The truth is, perhaps. It depends on what happens next and whether people get involved.

textWhere to Now? Anti-capitalist protest - global and local Jun 24 by Gregor Kerr 0 comments

Debate on the effectiveness of the Black Bloc tactic could well go on forever. It is certainly hard to avoid the conclusion that anti-globalisation protests that avoid direct action will kill off the movement, or at least greatly reduce participation in it.

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imageAnarchists Condemn G8 Scaremongering May 23 0 comments

In response to yesterday’s Irish News (Mon 20 May 2013) front page article, “Police to Occupy hundreds of vacant premises in Belfast during G8”, the Workers Solidarity Movement condemned security forces scaremongering in the media.

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Solidarity Statement with "Freedom"

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imageHundreds expected to attend Dublin Anarchist Bookfair May 18 WSM 0 comments

Hundreds of people from all over Ireland are expected to attend the 7th annual Dublin Anarchist Bookfair which takes place in Liberty Hall, Dublin on Saturday 26th May. The Bookfair, organised by the Workers Solidarity Movement, will consist of a day of meetings, debates, discussions and films and will also host bookstalls and information stands from a large number of political organisations and campaigning groups.

imageWorkers Solidarity 127 May 15 WSM 0 comments

Anarchist news opinion and analysis from Ireland

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