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

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 24 Feb 2003 10:10:55 +0100 (CET)

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

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

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

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

New global anarchist index

3000 + pages on anarchism, Ireland, Zapatistas
revolutionary history and struggles around globalisation
Useful links

     Print out the PDF file of #74 - this issue

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