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2016 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair this weekend 0 commentsRecent Articles about Ireland / Britain Miscellaneous
Opinion: Is the Irish 'austerity referendum' where the real battleground is?
Ireland is to have a referendum after all on the EU austerity treaty and a lot of the left is getting unreasonably excited about this. I say unreasonably because my opinion is that the referendum will not really, as the likes of the ULA claim, be a meaningful ballot on austerity. Austerity is not something simply being imposed on us by Europe through this referendum but something our domestic ruling class are already imposing and have been for a few years. Of course they have used the ECB/IMF as the 'bad cop' to scare us with and when passed will use the EU austerity treaty in the same way. But we need to recognize and organize around the fact that our local politicians and capitalist class are not really a 'good cop' eager to help us avoid the attentions of the 'bad cop' making threatening gestures at us across the room.
A yes vote will certainly be used by the governement as a justification for austerity but a no vote will not be accepted by them as a rejection of austerity. Austerity will continue whatever way we vote - my key worry being that a campaign on a close to meaningless referendum now will server to seriously distract many from the very successful real struggle against austerity in the form of the Household tax. And the larger and more visible a No campaign on the grounds of 'No to austerity' then the larger the mandate the government will be able to claim when the treaty is accepted (even if they have to put the question to us more than once). We saw this happen with the election of the Fine Gael / Labour Party governement where we were told we had made our decision in voting for them.
Recent weeks have seen massive meetings against the Household tax all around southern Ireland, as many as 5-600 people turning up for some. Even small local meetings have seen a substantial layer of people being drawn in (or back into) active struggle for the first time in ages. With two of the three months to the registration deadline passed only 8% of households have registered despite the threat of a 2500 euro fine for failing to do so, a threat that will prove meaning if non-registration is above 50% (and now, if we keep organising, it is looking possible it will be above 80%).
During a discussion about the Household Tax about 10 days back a fellow campaigner remarked this would be a perfect moment for the government to call a referendum on the treaty. The distraction would serve to undermine all the organising that needs to happen over the next month to keep non registration high and build strong local organisation for the struggle to come. A real referendum campaign after all will require large amounts of money for posters and leaflets, and a huge number of person hours in terms of holding meetings, putting up poster and going door to door with leaflets.
Now perhaps that is too conspiratorial but I wouldn't underestimate the intelligence & experience of manipulation of the Labour Party faction now in government that came from the Workers Party via Democratic Left. They are rather good at pulling political strokes. But of course it is more likely that is is simply coincidental that the government suddenly reversed direction and went for a referendum. Even so the probable outcome remains the same though.
The 1.6+ million households that have not registered so far is a more powerful force than any number of ballots cast on a meaningless referendum. A refendum that we all know we will simply get again if we vote down the first time (government spokespeople have already refused to rule out a second referendum in the event of a no vote). But for a left that is increasingly centered on electoralism the referendum looks like an opportunity not to be missed and I suspect, in particular with the worst offenders, that it is where all the energy will go for the next 2 months.
Despite the hopes of the electoralist left referendums are not really places where we can build power and they are certainly not spaces where the power of numbers can be expressed. In advance of the referendum being called I explored the reasons why this is the case in an article for Workers Solidarity called Referenda: A Strategy for Success? Elsewhere on the WSM site in The Austerity Treaty: Is the call for a referendum a sensible strategy? Gregor Kerr argued "If the government are forced to concede a referendum, the ‘debate’ will consist of a series of threats of economic ruin. It is wholly conceivable in such circumstances – especially given the weakness of the left in terms of advancing a real alternative – that a majority of those who vote would actually vote for the treaty – a result which would have a demoralising effect on most of those who would have campaigned against it. Such a demoralising result would do serious damage to the task of building support for an alternative way of organising society."
A no vote can't halt the EU drive to austerity as they can go ahead with that anyway with the other countries if we vote no - Britain has already opted out for instance. This is quite different from the situation with the Nice & Lisbon treaties where a 'no' from Ireland did halt, for a while, the process. The process cannot be halted at the European level by an Irish No vote and it is not useful to cast the illusion that it can be. As before the only thing that can halt the EU austerity drive is for working people across the EU to organise to defeat it.
Some have argued that we need to 'register our dissent' but I'm not sure what value there is in this as an end in itself. In fact I think that attitude is one of the big problems with radical politics today, a feeling that once we have expressed opposition our duty is done and we can go home. We saw that attitude during the invasion of Iraq when over 100,000 demonstrated in Dublin against the refueling of US war planes at Shannon but when Bertie, the then Taoiseach made a joke of our opposition the vast majority just sat at home and watched the war on TV. Arguably the same process happened during the opening years of the crisis where opposition was massive in terms of the one day public sector strike and the ICTU marches but again once we had marched most people went home to watch government policy being implemented anyway.
Now the referendum is called anarchists obviously can't ignore it all together. I'll be voting No but my argument is not an argument about bothering to vote no on polling day. That won't require a significant effort. Its about the level of resources that should be into campaigning for a No vote between now and then. I think these should be minimal both because there are better things to be organised and because the more effort we put in the more the referendum will look like a real vote on austerity.
In bullet point form my initial thoughts on what anarchists should do and say are as follows
- a no vote in a referendum offers very little because it is a nationalist solution to a European (& global) problem, our greatest interest in a No campaign is in building links with movement in Europe. But given the fake nature of this referendum its not clear what real opportunties will arise.
There are my preliminary thoughts. We in the Workers Soldiarity Movement are in the process of discussing what our collective position to the referendum will be. Different members have different perspectives on what is possible although I think everyone would agree with the pitfalls I've outlined. We should be detailing what position the WSM is taking early next week after the process of internal discussion and decision making of all our members is completed by an emergency delegate council on the topic. Feel free to contact us with your opinion on these questions or simply post them to our Facebook feed.
WORDS: Andrew Flood
Sun 29 May, 06:07
Irish Anarchist Review 5 - Summer 2012 16:46 Fri 15 Jun 0 comments
Welcome to Irish Anarchist Review issue 5, produced by the Workers Solidarity Movement. In this magazine we look to explore theories, thoughts and ideas about political struggle. We set out to analyse where we are aiming for as a revolutionary movement and explore how we might get there. The purpose of ‘Irish Anarchist Review’ is to act as forum for a sharing of ideas about revolutionary struggle. Building a successful revolution demands genuine discussion, debate and sharing of ideas. We hope that the articles in here will help to stimulate discussion and provoke debate and perhaps even motivate some of our readers to respond with articles of your own.
Eyewitness to the London riots - it's all about class 16:52 Mon 15 Aug 0 comments
Workers Solidarity interviewed Hackney local and education worker, Alex Carver, about the roots of the London riots. Alex is a long standing activist in the IWW union, housing struggles in the East End, and the big left events since the start of the recession, most recently the M26 Militant Workers Block and the J30 Strike project. He was a direct witness to the rioting on Monday. Here he tells Workers Solidarity why he thinks that the riots are best understood by loooking at class rather than race.
Report from the frontlines of the Ardoyne anti-Orange Order riot 19:19 Fri 15 Jul 0 comments
Rioting erupted in ‘nationalist areas’ across the North on Tuesday after the annual Orange Order parades. The worst of the trouble was in Ardoyne in North Belfast which left 16 police officers injured and with over 60 lethal plastic bullets fired leaving many people injured. WSM member 'John Creagh' reports from the Ardoyne on the disturbances and what they tell us.
WSM twitter live during Ardoyne Orange Order July 12th parade 08:57 Tue 12 Jul 0 comments
It is this time of year again when the spectre of sectarianism and division comes to the fore in the north of Ireland. It is a time when communities, kerbstones and poles are marked and carved into territory. There are those who will be living in fear and silenced from speaking out while the rest of us are told to turn the other check in the interests of peace and stability. It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the ‘marching season’ fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed 'neutrality' of the northern regime and the PSNI in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into ‘their own’ communities.
N. Ireland: Politicians continue to ‘sponge’ off the system 21:54 Thu 23 Apr 0 comments
If truth be told, should we be surprised by revelations in recent weeks concerning the expenses of ‘our’ politicians?
Putting People First – Militantly 20:06 Wed 15 Apr 1 comments
By Keith Hallack, published on April 4th, 2009
That's Capitalism! 21:52 Tue 02 Dec 0 comments
The toys of the rich, Beacon Hospitals group, King Mawati III, Michael Fingleton, confidence in public health, Bank benefits
Solidarity from Ireland with the popular and indigenous struggle in Colombia!!! 05:58 Wed 22 Oct 0 comments
Around 30 people met last Thursday 16th of October at the very heart of Dublin, the GPO, to stage a demo in solidarity with the Colombian popular and indigenous organisations in struggle for various demands, who have been met with full force by the repressive and dictatorial regime of Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Launch of Campaign for a Decent Public Health Service 22:58 Thu 14 Feb 0 comments
Roughly 300 people turned up to the launch of the 'Campaign for a Decent Public Health Service' on the evening of the 11th February in Liberty Hall. The public meeting was organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and the campaign hopes to bring together health workers and their trade unions, patient groups, hospital campaigners, the trade union movement in general and the general public to demand a civilised health service.
Kilkenny Woman Sentenced to Death 22:44 Mon 03 Dec 0 comments
In Ireland we like to think that we’ve long ago abolished the death penalty; that we’ve progressed beyond such primitive practices, that we’re too civilized for that. But Irish people are still being sentenced to death, and not even for crimes they have committed but for the crimes of our murderous health system.more >>
Stormont, Petitions of Concern and Marriage Equality Nov 04 0 comments
The issue of Marriage Equality is to be debated for the fifth time in Stormont today (Nov 2nd). Yet again, however, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) has launched a Petition of Concern to ensure that should the motion be successful its legal passing will be blocked.
For the first time in the history of the Northern Irish state a majority of MLAs (members of the Parliament in the North of Ireland) have voted in favour of Marriage Equality. The motion, however, has fallen due to the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) launching a Petition of Concern which blocks any passing of the motion to law.
The most successful G8 in Northern Ireland ever? Jun 21 0 comments
At the post G8 press conference, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot claimed the G8 summit in Enniskillen was the "most peaceful and stable" in its history. The G8 gangsters may have left dazzled and wined by our local political class but beneath the media spin and smokescreen lies the ugly reality of a new Northern Ireland of one rule for the rich and powerful while the rest of us must accept our place in the ladder, or face the consequences. We only need to look no further than the selective internment of Marion Price and others.
Oppose the G8: Dealers of Austerity May 28 0 comments
The media charm offensive has began as our local corrupt political class roll out the the red carpet to the notorious gang of eight, dealers of austerity, state terror and imperialism. The beautiful, tranquil lakes of Fermanagh will be turned into a "ring of steel" with security fencing extending for miles, protected by an army of professional thugs and watchtowers to keep the rest of us plebs at bay.
Belfast flag riots: Class Unity not Sectarian Diversions Dec 22 1 comments
nce again violence has flared across Belfast and other parts of the north as protests continue around the flags issue. The latest disturbances come as Stormont Assembly leaders, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness meet to discuss another wave of street protests, and their concerns about the damaging effect it is having on the economy leading up to the busiest shopping period of the calendar. But as each issued a separate statement calling for protests to come to an end, loyalist gangs flexed their muscles, blocking off streets and hijacking cars.more >>
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