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(en) Ireland, Alt. Media May Day! May Day! Anarchy Against the EU in Dublin by Alexander Trocchi, CrimethInc Foreign Agent

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 10 May 2004 14:37:09 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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They've learnt the ropes In Ireland, engaged in civil war, fighting
for the ruling classes in their battle against the poor, so Ireland's
just an island? It's an island of the mind. Great Britain? Future?
Bollocks, you'd better look behind! - Crass "Big A, Little A, Bouncing B"
On May 1st of 2004, the leaders of the European Union feasted
behind the towers of the plush Farmleigh Castle in Dublin, while
less than a mile away outside the largest protest in recent history
in Ireland took place. Inside the castle, under the august
beneficence of An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of Ireland, current
President of the European Union; Blair, Berlusconi, and the rest
of the criminal Presidents and Prime Ministers toasted their new
formal allies, mostly their former enemies from behind the Iron
Curtain from Slovakia to Estonia. With this expansion of the EU
from 10 to 25 nations, the EU is now contains 450 million people,
surpassing North America in both capital and population as the
world's largest economic and political zone. Outside the gates,
protesters locked armed and broke a line of police, only to be
beaten back when the Gardai (Irish police) unleashed water
cannons imported from the warzones of Northern Ireland onto
the crowd. The contrast itself speaks volumes. Inside, the new
"democratic" monarchs of Europe congratulate themselves for
another round of successful empire-building, outside, peaceful
protesters sit down in front of the riot cops and their water cannon
while Irish kids throw beer cans and stones at the police. The
eerie silence in Dublin after the event as the police drag nearly
thirty protesters to jail speaks volumes. And in the words of
anarchist August Spies to his judges on a May Day over a century
ago, there will be a time when our silence will be more powerful
than the voices you strangle today. Why the struggle? What's the
odds? And why the day?

The Roots and Perversion of Mayday

The EU perversely celebrated their expansion on May Day, a day
that has since before civilization itself celebrated anarchy and life.
Since the dawn of time, the coming of Spring has been celebrated
with wild abandon by humanity, as nature, with whom we are so
intertwined, comes back to life - from the Celtic festival of
Beltane to Italian festival of Floralia, throughout the world
Mayday was a rebellious and fertile celebration that have
historically served as thorn in the side of power. Peasants
selecting a Queen of May, nominating the pagan Green Man as
the lord of Misrule, and enthroning an Abbot of Disobedience -
and this all was associated with Robin Hood and his Merry Men
who took from the rich and gave to the poor! Up to the 17th
centuries Puritans disapproved of the wild parties were held in the
woods on May Day, where everyone regardless of class and
gender engaged in drink and sex with abandon. The church first
tried to neutralize it by declaring it a Holy Day to celebrate the
saints, but the peasants ignored them, leading to May Day being
outlawed by the Catholic Church and being one of the few days
without a church service.

In the United States, the labor movement - including many
anarchist organizers and agitators - engaged in a massive strikes
in the early 1880s, bringing the manufacturing capital of Chicago
to a standstill. While an uneasy peace prevailed May Day itself,
Chicago police on May Day attacked striking union members at
McCormick Reaper, leaving four dead. Anarchists called for a
meeting in Haymarket Square to discuss the matter and to arm
themselves in self-defense, a meeting that was peaceful until it
was surrounded by the police. Someone threw a bomb and seven
police were killed, and in the ensuing chaos eight anarchists -
including August Spies and Albert Parsons (husband of famed
anarchist Lucy Parsons) - were arrested for murder. At their
mock trial, they were sentenced to death, and even the judge
admitted that they were on trial for their insurrectionary words
and for being anarchists, not their deeds on May 3rd as no
evidence of them having anything to do with the bombing has
ever been found. Many anarchists, such as Emma Goldman,
were radicalized by the events. During their funeral procession,
hundreds of thousands gathered to mourn them. Ever since
Haymarket and May Day have been commemorated as a
celebration of working-class resistance against state and capital as
well as a pagan celebration of life. In the United States, the
government proclaimed a state-sponsored "Labor Day" in the first
Monday of September to celebrate their control over the union
hierarchy, and rechristened May Day as "Law Day." Despite this
historical travesty, anarchists today all over the world, from Korea
to the United States, celebrate resistance on May Day. So it
comes as no surprise that the European Union would once again
attempt, as everyone from the Romans to the United States has,
to co-opt May Day into a masturbatory celebration of state power.
And as always, resistance returns - this time as a network of Irish
activists "who come together to fight for a better future", known
as the Dublin Grassroots Network, and who called for protests on
May Day. Their call was endorsed by other activists around the
world such as the London-based anarchist WOMBLES collective.
The perversion of May Day was not going to go unchallenged

The Rise of Fortress Europe

Still, many Irish and Americans regard the European Union as
kindler, gentler alternative to a world dominated by the
psychopathic military power of the United States, and this myth
belies the danger of the European Union, dubbed "Fortress
Europe" by its opponents. Many still think of Europe as a land of
happy-go-lucky social democracies with free health care and
applaud the actions of Chirac and Schroeder standing up to
Bush's genocidal war. Little could be further from the truth. If
anything, it is the European Union, not the United States, that
stands as the most likely example of the next phase of capitalist
Empire, as a tightly economically integrated trans-national
multi-lingual superpower with expansive borders, a power that
prefers the velvet glove of economic exploitation to the iron fist of
military power, and a tight division between the ruling class and
their wage-slaves, both illegal and legal... all at the service of
corporations and unelected bureaucrats. The European Union,
while openly protesting Bush's war, struggled to maintain its oil
rights more than Iraqi rights and marks its meeting in Dublin as
another chance to get behind Bush, as Ireland's formerly civilian
airport at Shannon now becomes a pit-stop for Bush's war planes.
Instead of free health care and education, the European Union
aims to privatize everything Margaret Thatcher style, starting
with ending free garbage pick-up last year in Dublin and having
everything from pensions (retirement) to college on its rooster for
privatization next. If anything, it's the European Union that
allows the rich rulers, the bankers and the politicians, of Europe
to more tightly co-ordinate their plans for the destruction of local
autonomy and human rights, while getting good publicity from
the occasional development project or protecting European farm
subsidies. In an international context, the European Union
gathers its forces to make non-aligned countries such as those in
South America and Africa accept the "Argentina plan" of
neo-liberalization, as Ireland watches manufacturing companies
such as Fruit of the Loom move their factories to Morrocco where
union organizers are routinely murdered. The EU supports free
movement of capital everywhere, while the free movement of
people is restricted. Thousands of people wishing to enter the EU
die in inhumane border camps, and those lucky enough to get in
are denied all rights and work for below minimum wages in
sweatshops and as servants. The Schengen Information System is
used in the fashion of Big Brother to track every move of
immigrants, and soon...a new database will be made for
protesters. It's the people everywhere who will be beneath the
star-studded boot of the EU. Yes, welcome Eastern Europe and
Mediterranean Isles to the European Union! Ireland may have
won their independence from London, but they lost it to Brussels.

Welcome to Ireland

Ireland has a history that is mostly unknown to many anarchists.
In the Dark Ages it stood as a beacon of learning and tolerance,
until it was brutally conquered by the invading Vikings and
English, later made into a "white" colony, where many of the
brutal methods used in Africa and other colonies were pioneered
and perfected. For example, girls who had become pregnant,
illegitimate, orphaned, or just deemed "too pretty" or
"unintelligent" were locked up and put to work, without pay, in
profit-making laundries for the Catholic Church to "wash away
their sins." To this day abortion is illegal in Ireland. Irish were
considered sub-human used by England as a source of cheap raw
materials and even cheaper labor. When the main crop of
potatoes - a monocultural cash-crop approach to farming being
currently inflicted across the world by globalization - was hit by a
blight the ensuing famine killed over a million, with over another
million fleeing in "coffin ships" to the America as greedy English
landlords took advantage of this opportunity to seize Irish land.
Large amounts of Protestant Scots moved into Northern Ireland
at the bequest of the English rulers, particularly Ulster. Ireland
has to this day still not recovered its population. As with many
colonies, a national liberation movement, often with socialist
tendencies, developed, forming the basis of what later became
Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its legal arm, Sinn Fein
("Ourselves Alone"). Waged through both electoral constitutional
agitation in British Parliament, in 1911 the Liberal Party in
Britain through its support behind Home Rule for Ireland, but the
forces of the Ulster Unionists and the Conservatives defeated the
plans. The British aristocracy and Ulster Unionists began arming
themselves to defeat the Irish independence movement, and in
the Easter Uprising of 1916 Irish rebels began an armed struggle
against Britain - one that was put down through the execution of
sixteen of its leaders and the razing of many poor Irish
neighborhoods in Dublin. Seeing their legal efforts fail and the
immense brutality that the British were ready to use to crush
dissent, Irish society rose up in revolt. A wholescale guerrilla
campaign against the British began, with some tactics such Tom
Barry's Flying Column in Cork becoming examples to guerrillas
everywhere. An illegal Irish dual power structure developed, with
"British" and "Irish" having separate versions of everything from
church to townhall. In 1919 the city of Limerick was taken over
after a general strike that was called in protest of the police
murder of a Irish rebel. Limerick was then under the control of
workers' councils, which ran the city in a co-operative manner for
two weeks. After years of war, a truce was declared in 1921 and
the subsequent Treaty split Ireland into the Irish Free State and
Northern Island. While many Irish sided with the Irish Free State,
the IRA reorganized and continued a guerrilla war to reunite
Northern Ireland with Ireland, including a bombing attempt that
almost killed Margaret Thatchter, and ambushing British soldiers
and state-sponsored anti-Irish death squads. These anti-Irish
forces such as the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) used
violence to put down a non-violent civil rights movement for
equal rights in Northern Ireland. Calls for disarmament and
negotiations with the British government have led to a relatively
peaceful period recently, but currently the British government has
dissolved home rule for Northern Ireland and the situation is
tense. In the South, the moving of American high-tech
companies like Intel to Ireland led to a brief economic boom in
which Ireland could be paraded about by EU and neoliberals as its
"Celtic Tiger," but a general economic recession and blatant
government corruption have soured the picture considerably.
Given the long history of tragedy that Irish people have suffered at
the hands of the British military and "Troubles" in Northern
Ireland, it is not surprising that many Irish people have issues
with the dogma of nonviolence and violence, as well as
balaclavas. However, it is also clear that Ireland has a history
resistance that could prove a fertile ground for uprisings against
their new colonial overlords, the multinational corporations and
the EU.

Getting Ready to Rumble

The Dublin Grassroots Network has called for a Mayday action,
and with nothing particularly interesting happening in Edinburgh,
I jumped over to Ireland. When I arrived in Ireland, the only place
I could find on the maps given out at the Dublin Mayday website
was the Indymedia Centre. Surprisingly, there was no clear
convergence centre, and e-mails of my comrades in Indymedia
Scotland to Indymedia Ireland had told us not to come early since
everything was sorted. When I got to the Indymedia Centre, this
was far from the case. First, it was obvious that the spirit of the
anti-globalization movement was in the air, with tables set up
with groups from the Irish anarchist Workers Solidarity
Movement to the Greek Anti-Authoritarian Movement giving out
free literature, and free tea being provided. However, the air was
tense - and logistics were a mess. After an announcement that
the local kids from the council flats (housing for those on the
dole, or welfare) were dismantling people's bikes for spare parts, a
hoarse Irish activist announced that the squat they had hoped to
use as a convergence centre and for housing had been raided by
the cops and that the three squatters who were there holding the
fort down were in jail. Immediately, there was panic. The police
were already arresting people, and now there was nowhere to
have meetings or even to sleep.

Perhaps one of the most stunning parts of the build-up to Mayday
in Dublin was the tabloid's sensational lies that "Anarchist mobs
were going to destroy Dublin" and even a full-spread article on
one of the organizers of Dublin Grassroots Network entitled
"Teacher by Day, Anarchist by Night." While I'm sure many
anarchists would have loved to see a few corporate banks get hit
with a molotov, and the windows of a McDonald's broken, the
fear-mongering that anarchists were going to destroy ordinary
people's property - or as one tabloid claimed, release a chemical
bomb killing 10,000 innocent Dubliners - was absolutely
unwarranted. As usual, the press was trying to divide the
protesters from the people who are every day suffering under the
heel of the very system the protesters are against. While some of
the outrageous slander may be attributed to the strange British
and Irish tabloid culture - where the lines between legitimate
news and tabloids are blurred, clearly this a part of a larger
strategy by the global elite to use the media to spread their
message and label revolutionaries as terrorists. Thus, the window
is open for Indymedia to broadcast the truth. As the tabloids
become more and more obviously outrageous in their lies, and as
the actions of the protesters were clearly going to prove them
wrong, the man and woman on the streets was going to know
that their not only was the state-sponsored media lying, but that
their rulers of the EU were clearly afraid of something - and that
something was popular revolt, not broken windows. Dublin
Grassroots Network and Indymedia Ireland, unlike many
Indymedia Centres which had long ago given up on even
interacting with the corporate media, decided on a proactive
media offensive, using the opportunity of the Mayday protests to
bring anarchism and the problems of the EU into the spotlight.
They did - and although the tabloid media distorted things,
anarchists got called on to Irish talkshows, did radio interviews,
and even the tabloids generally made it known that the protests
were "anti-capitalist" and "against the EU", surprisingly without
putting a nationalist slant on things. Everyone in Ireland had at
least heard about "anarchy" and "anti-capitalism" in the build-up
to Mayday.

However, with no convergence centre and nowhere to go, many
protesters began hanging out in the Indymedia Centre, which
began causing problems since Indymedia Ireland was using the
space under the auspices of the Dublin-based Community Media
Network, which weren't too keen on having the space being used
for anything other than video showings. This led to a weird
situation with Indymedia Ireland members serving as
representatives of the shadowy Community Media Network,
telling protesters to stop cooking food, making banners, and
having meetings in the Indymedia Centre since it was a "media
centre", not a "convergence centre," despite there de facto being
no convergence centre. This led to no small amount of ill-will
between Indymedia Ireland/Community Media Network and
many international protesters, who were occasionally locked out
of the centre and felt that the Indymedia Centre was prioritizing
press conferences with corporate media over housing, food, and
even having a meeting to find out what the hell was going on for
Mayday. Despite the harsh words, it soon became clear that there
was going to be no media event to report on without the
protesters, and in between video showings Indymedia Ireland and
Dublin Grassroots Network folks managed to pull together a few
short planning meetings and tried managed to not get everyone
kicked out the Indymedia Centre. There were clearly two tactical
problems - one is that a squat should never be guaranteed for
something as critical as a convergence centre, and also more
open and egalitarian process where Indymedia Ireland and the
Community Media Network sat down and talked out the
problems with the protesters instead of delivering orders was
needed. However, given the stressful situation and occasional
harsh word, both sides fundamentally made good out of a bad
situation. Outside, an open international anarchist meeting
happened to co-ordinate the tactics for the next day, and as one
Brit noticed "that the balance of the class war is not
fundamentally in our favor" and that the Irish comrades had
asked for a peaceful protest, a tactical decision was reached: the
protesters would not destroy in property or provoke the police, but
if the police tried to stop the march by force the protesters were
going to defend themselves, linking arms and breaking police
lines if necessary. This tactical stance was quickly accepted by
the Dublin Grassroots Network, and everyone went home happy
if nervous. At the last minute the Dublin police declared all the
anti-EU march illegal and its meeting point off-limits, but people
quickly chose to a new location under the strange steel pinnacle
in the heart of the busiest street in Dublin - and just a few hours
after the meeting we heard the meeting point announced over the
corporate news. Also, Dublin experienced it's largest critical mass
ever - with over five hundred people - and the tide of despair
slowly turned to one of hope. Also, the next day an "undercover"
tabloid reporter printed the "Secret Diary of Anarchist No. 214" in
which the contents of the tactical meeting were divulged.

Earlier, a jail solidarity march had taken place that surprisingly
unmolested managed to block the front of jail with a banner
stating that "Our Passion for Freedom is Stronger than Any
Prison," and despite rather low numbers managed to attract
random Irish children on bikes, who pumping their fists in the air
led shouts of "Free Polly Murphy". I might add that while our
passion is very strong indeed, being in jail is till an experience I
have no wish to repeat regardless of my current passions. After
the march, several homeless Irish people came by and asked us
what were doing. We gave them some pamphlets, but they told
us that they couldn't read. So we sat down for nearly an hour in a
park explaining that essentially the EU makes the rich richer and
the poor poorer all over Europe, and that poor Irish people have
more in common with poor Poles than their so-called leaders and
bosses. The homeless Irish folks emphatically agreed, and even
got some of their friends to come by to hear the explanation
again. Noticing that most people on the street seemed
sympathetic despite the media onslaught, my affinity group
decided that it was time for last minute outreach to the Irish
people. A pamphlet entitled "To the Proud Men and Women of
Dublin" outlining the arguments against the EU and for
international anarchy was quickly typed up and copied, and
within hours our group had distributed a thousand copies to
council flats and other poor areas in Dublin. While the city of
Dublin went through pains to hide its poor on obscure streets and
behind the gates of council estates, we were met unilaterally with
interest and support, with one older Irish man telling us to "stick
it to the real terrorists like Blair!". The most common
misconception seemed to be that we were advocating a "Ireland
for the Irish" approach, but after explanation even the town drunk
who just a minute beforehand had seemed a tad racist was
declaring himself an international socialist. The police, clearly
threatened by the flyers, stopped us and searched our bags,
searching for "the bleach that anarchists were going to throw in
cop's eyes." If the people of Ireland were too smart for the
tabloids, it was clear the cops were reading and believing them.

Water, Water Everywhere and not a Drop to Drink

Even though the streets of Dublin were lined with cops and the
air smelled of a police state, I sat back in the pub relaxing with a
pint of Guinness with an international cabal of anarchists from
throughout Europe, one of whom even had a full-page expose of
his background as "troubled schoolboy," his taste for wearing "a
reinforced baseball cap to escape police beatings," and claimed
that his "military-grade battle sense would bring chaos to
Dublin." Surrounded by slightly besotted Irish football fans
playing pool, as our pictures from the Critical Mass and prison
solidarity march came up on the screen, the Irish locals laughed
at us and gave us winks. Given the relatively small numbers at
the protests and the high police harassment, we were worried, so
we chugged one final beer and marched to our meeting spot in
front of the GPO on O'Connell Street - and to our delight there
was thousands gathering to protest the EU. Due to its open
organizing and non-sectarian image, the Dublin Grassroots
Network had attracted hordes of Irish people, ranging from union
members to punk rockers to protest the EU. It was clear this was
going to be the largest anti-globalization march Dublin had ever
seen, legal or not.

The march began at a fast pace, as one Irish anarchist noted, the
fastest he had ever seen a several thousand march move. Luckily,
it was fast enough. The Dublin Grassroots Network had decided,
given the police's continual efforts to shut down their march -
that they were not going to tell the police any march route, and
instead did a few sudden street turns that surprised the police,
and for hours the march went on relatively unmolested by police.
In fact, it went so fast about half way through a collective break
was taken, and the police still didn't catch up! The police, unable
to handle a march that didn't follow their directions, let the march
go within a mile of Farmleigh Castle, much closer than anyone
had expected. While the banner of the march award definitely
went to the Irish anarcho-punk women with the huge mohawks
and the "One must have chaos within to give birth to a dancing
star" banner, other anarchists got in a Black Bloc to prepare for
the inevitable confrontation by the police. While a small army of
police surrounded a McDonald's, a Volkswagen dealer made of
what appeared to be pure glass went undefended, with the Black
Bloc smiling as they went by it peacefully. Lots of ordinary Irish
people joined in the march, often with a pint of Guinness in hand.
Children from council flats we had seen earlier stealing bikes in
front of Indymedia and running about dilapidated buildings while
handing flyers also appeared in the march. One who recognized
me went up to me and asked "When the riot was going to
happen," and informed me that he and his twelve-year old friends
had made petrol-bombs in preparation! I told him the riot was
going to begin whenever the police attacked the march, and to
keep cool.

The march soon came to a gateway, and the police, desperately
noticing the march was getting without earshot of Farmleigh
castle, formed a wall in front of the march. The front of the
march, we had been a model of self-restraint and discipline up to
this point, in an orderly fashion let the Black Bloc come to the
front to confront the police. I had myself been holding one of the
banners in the Bloc, and soon found myself in the frontline,
locking arms with my fellow black-clad anarchists...quite a few of
which had smiley-faces stenciled on their balaclavas. I wasn't
sure if that was supposed to be funny for ourselves or the cops.
We approached the front of the police-lines, bracing ourselves for
the final showdown. Butterflies in my stomach, I admitted to the
anarchist I was locking arms with that "I'm not actually sure this
is going to work." She nodded likewise, but what choice did we
have? We had to do something and we had made an agreement
with the rest of the protesters. So, with cries of "Solidarity!"
coming up from all sides, we walked up to the line of cops and
braced ourselves. We ambled right into the line of cops, who also
locked arms. For a few minutes we did a strange dance with the
cops, with a horde of people pressing behind on us, the pressure
on both us and the cops began reaching the breaking point.

I gasped for air as the crowd pushed against my back, caught like
a sandwich between the crowd and cop. The police chief yelled at
me "You call this non-violent!", to which I responded that he
could simply let us march right to Farmleigh Castle instead of
stopping us. The line of anarchists slowly formed a wedge, and in
one giant heave the three-deep cop line broke, and anarchists
began running straight down the road past the fleeing cops with
triumphant cheers. I screamed for people to maintain formation,
but it was too late - and riot cops with shields and batons in hand
had used the delay to get in formation behind the fleeing line of
cops we had just ran through, and within minutes all hell had
broken loose as the riot cops began an attack, and the recently
triumphant anarchists ran back. Then, as if out of nowhere, a
water cannon imported from Northern Ireland appeared and
sprayed the crowd. Instead of fleeing, the riot cops stood in
amazement as people began running towards the water cannon,
dancing in the falling water.

As the water cannon began to move forward surrounded by a
squadron of riot police, as another group of protesters began
sitting down in front of water cannon, brandishing peace signs in
their hands. Confused, the riot cops and water cannon lost its
momentum, and the one-two combination of Black Bloc
anarchists breaking the police lines and non-violence civil
disobedience threw the cops for a loop. As the riot cops beat the
protesters that were blockading their new toy from attacking the
rest of the crowd, the main part of the march divided into two
parts - one part that stood a bit back, and others that rushed the
water cannon, including one brave soul that jumped on the front
of the water cannon. The one time I have seen a water cannon
disabled was when in Quebec City when a courageous anarchist,
hockey-stick in hands, jumped on the side windows of it and
smashed them in, terrifying the drivers of the water-cannon into
backing their cannon up. However, in the streets this time any
action of this sort was clearly prevented by lines of riot cops
surrounding the water cannon. Quite a few demonstrators noticed
that the water cannon couldn't fire very well at targets that were
right in front of it, and crowded the riot cops and the water
cannon, causing the riot cops to occasionally lash out in panic
and stalling their attempted cleaning of the square. Many people,
with the majority probably being Irish locals, began throwing their
beer cans and water bottles at the police lines, and the situation
began resembling a strange Irish intifada in Dublin. A Greek
friend of mine in our Scottish affinity group was asked by a Sinn
Fein member who had just lobbed a beer can at the cops where
he was from. When he replied that he was from Scotland, the
Sinn Fein member said he was glad to see a member of the
"Scottish Liberation Army" there to help out. Perhaps such an
organization actually exists, and in the heat of the moment we
had little time to explain the merits of internationalism! One
particularly creative fellow even managed to grab a few bricks.
Slowly but surely, the crowd was forced back, and as usual with
most protests, what had started as an organized and disciplined
effort degenerated into a sort of chaotic mass of people after the
cops attacked. During most protests a fairly detailed plan for
before the cops attack is drawn up, but no endgame for after the
inevitable cop attack is ever made. After the march, we were
tagged by a undercover cop.

One female police officer was supposedly "given a serious
wounding" after being hit by something - of course, the protesters
were labeled as violent thugs in the tabloids the next day in the
media over this one incident, and no mention was made that the
police woman was merely "doing her job," her job being
defending the EU leaders who are responsible for the
state-sponsored murder of thousands, from Iraq to refugee camps
in on the borders of the EU itself. And we protesters are simply
doing our job too, a job with its own set of occupational hazards,
such as being beaten by the police and thrown in jail. Our job is to
stop the murdering bastards, and unlike the police woman,
no-one's paying us. Given the situation of being assaulted by riot
cops and a water cannon imported from Northern Ireland, we all
were having the time of our lives.

Anarchists Plan Street Festival in Revenge!

In the words of one comrade describing Mayday in Berlin, "just
as it takes a whole village to raise a child, it seems it takes a
whole community to host a sustainable riot." Riot would be a
strong word for Mayday Dublin, as it was - besides a some
throwing of mostly beer cans - one of the most non-violent and
disciplined anti-globalization protests I had ever seen. It was
obvious the local communities of activists and many ordinary
people were behind us! However, the tabloids were having none
of it: "Anarchists plan Revenge Attack Tomorrow!" screamed the
papers. Regrouping at the Indymedia Centre, we were forced to
have a very brief meeting in between arguments with the
Community Media Network about the validity of having meetings
in their space. While there was no time for a wrap up, a quick
plan was made to do a jail solidarity march with the nearly thirty
people arrested at the Mayday demo and then converge back the
City Centre of Dublin for a Reclaim the Streets.

Although due to the strange holiday bus schedule and the fact
that our affinity group was staying half an hour out of town, we
managed to make it to the jail solidarity demo, which again did a
impromptu street seizure and again was met with incredulous
stares by the few Dublin cops who managed to get their act
together enough to try to at least follow us. Joined by local kids
on bikes, who raised their fist in the air for a "Free Polly
Murphy!", we converged with the Reclaim the Streets. For what
seemed to be an excruciating long period of time we sat around,
waiting for something to happen. Local children held up an
"Expansion = Exploitation" banner with the Wombles, and when
they were told that they were holding a banner next to the most
infamous anarchists in Dublin, one child said, "You're a
Womble? I hate you!", but then kept holding the banner. It was
almost too cute.

Finally, the crowd, led a Samba band, took the streets as the
police harmlessly watched. Several hundred us, blowing whistles
and banging on drums, marched down the street. A cry went up
that someone had been arrested, and we rushed to the unmarked
van where the cry came from. However, within minutes the van
pulled out, and giving a thumbs up, we knew that our mate
hadn't been arrested - but had jumped into the sound-system
van! The crowd gathered at an intersection in front of a local pub,
where locals stared at us like we were mad from the windows,
and couples from the flats around us leaned out their windows to
see what the anarchist mob was about to do next. The van
opened and out came speakers, turntables, banners, and within
minutes somehow the record player hit the turn table and the
deep bass of a reggae beat to bring down Babylon itself came out.
The crowd went wild, and within second a formerly lonely and
forgotten intersection in Dublin became a wild dance party that
would have done a pagan May Day ceremony proud. The
dancers, a strange mix of international and Irish protesters from
yesterday mixed with kids who just wanted to dance and everyone
began vibrating their hips as one. Out of nowhere Food Not
Bombs and large quantities of free beer appeared. Dublin police,
who gained some notoriety by brutally suppressing the last
Reclaim the Streets in Dublin, just watched. A woman dressed
head-to-toe in latex with a baby dressed as an angel started
erotically dancing near them, and even the cops smiled. The party
was on! It went on for an indeterminate number of hours, till
finally we left, well-fed, well-danced, and drunk off both the
alcohol and life.

Hindsight is Twenty-Twenty

If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour
movement . . . the movement from which the downtrodden
millions, the millions who toil in misery and want, expect
salvation -- if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will
tread on a spark, but there and there, behind you -- and in front of
you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire.
You cannot put it out.

August Spies, at his trial after the Haymarket Massacre

The true measure of a protest comes not from the events of the
few days of confrontation it engenders, but from the building of
movements in creates in its wake. For a city such as Dublin that
has never hosted an globalization summit before, the true success
of the Mayday protests will be measured by the growth of the
anti-globalization and anarchist movements in Ireland. It appears
that in this, Mayday Dublin was a success - for weeks, despite the
slanders of the corporate media, anarchists and anti-capitalism
was the subject of everyone's chatter. Afterwards, instead of
showing themselves to be black flag-waving terrorists, the
anarchists - including the internationals - showed themselves
capable of restraint and co-operation with locals. There was no
massive property destruction against ordinary Irish people.
Instead, there was a well-coordinated confrontational approach
was taken, that pushed the limits of what the protesters thought
they were capable of, and did break police lines. It was clearly the
police who reacted with real violence, with batons and
water-cannons, making Dublin appear to be Belfast of the
Troubles. The build-up and media relations by the Dublin
Grassroots Network and Indymedia Ireland got hundreds, if not
thousands, of Irish people interested in confronting power and
seizing control of their own lives from the capitalist machinery,
whether it was based in Brussels or anywhere else. There were no
bombs. Instead, there was a popular march that fought back in
self-defense and a damn good street party. Ultimately, the
message got across, and actions spoke louder than words.

There were clearly some infrastructure problems with the
protests, and these are to be expected especially in a place such
as Dublin where the first big anti-globalization protest is
organized. First, not having a convergence centre made the entire
time more difficult. As did the behavior of some members of
Indymedia Ireland who acted as hand-maidens for authoritarian
dictates of the Community Media Centre. Obviously, the strength
of a protest comes through the action on the street, not the
amount of people with video-cameras trying to document the
action. It's clear that only through open, transparent use of
democratic (or anarchistic if you ask me!) consensus should
decisions be made, and room should be made for discussion and
compromise, as well as last minute adaption. Lots of people who
came from out of town, such as myself, were understandably
being tailed by undercover cops and having a convergence centre
as a safe haven of sorts would have been useful. Large and secure
accommodation needs to be secured beforehand, and every
Indymedia centre should post-Genoa expect to be raided and try
not to let fear run their operations...and having working
computers with internet connections helps. Actions such as the
no-border action were hindered by protesters being housed far
away and having no knowledge of the city layout. Having large
spokes-council meetings - as much as people including myself
get bored to tears in them - is utterly essential. Even while only
the most common-sense decisions usually get made, it's
important for people to have access to the information about
what's going on. Also, before doing something crazy like
marching straight into police lines its good knowing that other
people are with you. Strangely, meetings can boost morale. The
international protesters also took far too little time to actually talk
to local Irish activists, and didn't take the time to fully understand
the difficult circumstances and local context they were working
in. And many internationals brought beer into the Indymedia
Centre, against both common-sense and the wishes of the IMC.
Solving these problems is a tall order to say the least - so invite
people over early, and take honest stock of the situation before
the next globalization summit comes to town, and the fact that
the G8 is coming to Britain next year is already on everyone's
minds. Lastly, the corporate media will lie about dissent, since
that's its whole modus operandi. Lack of good media should
never be mistaken for lack of popular support. As our experience
flying in the council flats showed, there's hordes of people who
agree that politicians are corrupt, that government is useless, and
that the real violence comes from the wars of our elites and the
expense of the poor, who get poorer as the rich get richer. In fact,
this anarchist analysis is common-sense! So go out and talk to
your neighbors before the protest, especially people in poor and
working-class areas of town, and these one-on-one conversations
are more valuable than any website or news report.

The real tactical strength of Dublin came from its creative play of
differences, as all good protests do. In all of these
anti-globalization summits, it was the combination of forces that
always have proved crucial. In Seattle, the combination of the
lock-downs and the Black Bloc, with the massive numbers
brought about by the labor and environmental alliance, won the
day. In Quebec, it was the anarchists who pulled the fence down,
only to make room for the Quebecois locals to stage a revolt
against the occupying Canadian police. At the anti-G8 protests in
Switzerland, it was a combination of tactical burning blockades
combined with large marches by civil society that mucked things
up for the G8. It does us little good to argue about the One Right
Way (tm) to have a protest, and it does us much better to open up
the space for a true diversity of tactics. The defining moment of
the Dublin Mayday protests was win, right after the Black Bloc
had broken police lines, the water cannon appeared, and
immediately pacifist protesters sat down in front of it to block its
forward motion. Many of those, such as the anarchists that
charged the riot cops and the pacifists that lay in the path of the
water cannon, are still currently being held in Dublin - so go find
an Irish embassy or consulate and protest! A movement is only a
strong as it can support its members that are behind bars. And
despite the arrests, our passion for freedom is stronger than their
prisons. For a few moments in Dublin, it was as clear as night
and day - on one side stood the riot cops and their water cannons,
guarding their leaders who wined and dined in castles, and on the
others stood everyone else - children from Council Flat,
black-clad anarchists, independent journalists, pacifist in rainbow
colors, working-class Irish men and women. The veneer of
legitimacy was stripped from the European Union, and it was
People versus Power. August Spies would have been proud, I
hope. The subterranean fires, the fires of anarchy and freedom,
are still burning in our hearts more than century after his
execution. And no water cannon is going to put the fire out.

In the socialist world, the first of May is considered the Labor
holiday. This is a mistaken description that has so penetrated the
lives of the toilers that in many countries that day is indeed
celebrated as such. In fact, the first of May is not at all a holiday
for the toilers. No, the toilers should not stay in their workshops
or in the fields on that date. On that date, toilers all over the world
should come together in every village, every town, and organize
mass rallies, not to mark that date as statist socialists and
especially the Bolsheviks conceive it, but rather to gauge the
measure of their strength and assess the possibilities for direct
armed struggle against a rotten, cowardly, slave-holding order
rooted in violence and falsehood.

Nestor Makno, Dyelo Truda No.36, 1928

For more info:

Indymedia Ireland: www.indymedia.ie
Anarchy in the UK: www.enrager.net
WOMBLES: www.wombles.org.uk
Dublin Grassroots Network: www.geocities.com/eufortres
Workers Solidarity Movement: www.struggle.ws
Anarchist Propaganda by CrimethInc: www.crimethinc.com


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