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(en) Workers Solidarity #74 - Direct Action and fighting to win

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 12 Feb 2003 12:21:32 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> Direct Action and fighting to win
Anarchists are not particularly interested in protesting against the evils of
the world - we would prefer to abolish them! Political parties, of both left
and right, are happy to make statements and mount ineffectual protests that
are intended to achieve little more than a bigger profile for their own party.
And when their party gets big enough they will sort out everything for us.

That might be alright for those who merely want to change their rulers. It
holds no appeal for anarchists who want to abolish the division of people into
bosses and workers, rulers and ruled.

There is a very real connection between the means you use and what you end up
with. Thirty years ago a British libertarian organisation called Solidarity
summed it up very well: "Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever
increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the
solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses
and whatever assists in their demystification.

Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses,
their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their
alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to
which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly
acting on their behalf. "

As well as working for a complete change in the way society is run, we all
have to live in the here and now. We try to stop things getting worse
(cutbacks, new charges, wage restraint, etc.) and we struggle for what
improvements can be achieved.

Anarchists have been active in the growing movement against war. We have used
our paper to explain why war is not in the interest of ordinary working people
and have made suggestions for taking that movement forward.

Marching around Belfast, Cork or Dublin to show opposition to war is not going
to stop it. This doesn't mean that public demonstrations have no role to play.
They can draw attention to an issue, they can bring likeminded people together
and break down the media induced feeling of being in a tiny minority.

But getting a few thousand names on a petition or even a few thousand people
on the streets will not make the government change its mind about anything it
considers important. Nor will 'witnessing' for justice or small stunts. There
is little point in appealing to the 'decency' of politicians who have
interests diametrically opposed to our own.

Ireland's contribution to the war for oil is allowing the use of Shannon
airport for refueling US military airplanes on their way to the Gulf. Surely
then, the key task for anti-war activists is to stop this. Ahearn, Harney and
their pals won't tell George Bush that Shannon is closed to his war machines.

We can either rely on 'public opinion' (which is ignored when it suits our
rulers - health cuts being a prime example) or we can take action ourselves. A
few thousand people at Shannon Airport taking down the fence and sitting
around the military planes, if repeated a few times, would probably be enough
to see them off. If this happened Shannon wouldn't be exactly the most secure
location for servicing troop carriers and bombers.

Of course the state could respond by mobilising every spare Garda they could
find and maybe even some Irish soldiers - but that would be a big risk for
them. It would lead to a lot more people taking sides, and the chance of a big
demonstration breaking through a major force of cops would be very damaging to
their authority.

The choice is between impotent protesting and fighting to win. Protests can be
used to build a large confident movement or they can become just an end in
themselves. A good example is the success of the campaign which won the
abolition of the water charges. There were those who told us to trust the
'better' politicians, to vote differently, to leave it to them.

They were irrelevant to what happened. Socialists and anarchists went into
their own neighbourhoods and built a mass movement based on non-payment. They
didn't ask anyone to do anything for them - they did it themselves. And it
worked. The government had to cave in and the tens of thousands who had
resisted the legal threats and refused to pay got a small taste of their
potential power when they get together.

Today a similar movement is being built against the bin tax. And it is growing
fast because a lot of people know that we can win. There are no certain
victories but the experience of the water charges shows that winning is possible.

If we really want to change the world (no small task!!!) we need two things: a
huge number of people who understand the alternative that could be created,
and the confidence that they can do it. We attach particular importance to
struggles that can be victorious, and we insist that that mass participation
and real democracy are essential. It is out of the confidence that you taste
in victory that we can begin to inspire people to start to take control back
over their own lives. We want people to be empowered into being individuals
who dispense with the idea of being led anywhere, and who feel in control to
decide and determine their own destinies. These victories as well as giving us
gains now, they also prepare us for the bigger battles of the future.

We have no need for small groups of wanna-be leaders to do things for us.
Everyone involved should have the opportunity to play a full part in making
the decisions. Afterall, isn't socialism essentially about who makes decisions
- the few or the many.

Alan MacSimoin

[This article is from the Irish anarchist paper 'Workers
Solidarity' on the web at http://struggle.ws/wsm.html ]

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