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(en) Ireland, Report from Autumn 2005 WSM (anarchistfederation) national conference

Date Mon, 31 Oct 2005 19:10:55 +0200

The Workers Solidarity Meeting held its Autumn 2005 conference over the
October bank holiday weekend. National conference is the decision making
body of the WSM – it does everything from agree the collective political
positions of the WSM to decide what mechanisms we use to make decisions.
This conference took place in a period of growth in the libertarian
movement across Ireland. As part of this the WSM has increased in
size over the last couple of years which meant that at this conference
we needed to deal with both structural issues arising from this
growth and the political direction of the organization.

The conference was held in Dublin and well attended - around 80%
of WSM members made at least some of the conference. Some 70
motions covering eight different areas were discussed and voted on
over the weekend. Financial and other reports were also presented
and questioned/discussed by the membership. The conference ended
with elections to the various commissions and editorial groups
within the WSM

The full text of the amended WSM position papers will be published
next week but here is a summary of the areas discussed.

Trade unions

Eight motions addressed WSM work in the unions and the changing
nature of the Irish workplace in particular in relation to the
increasing percentage of women and /or migrant workers. The focus
of debate was around the Independent Workers Union (IWU)which
was singled out as particularly worthy our support because of its
work to recruit and organise low paid workers and its
anti-partnership stance. After some debate we decided to encourage
all of our members to become either full or associate IWU members.

The Partition of Ireland
The debate around the WSM’s position with regards to partition
continued at this conference with some 24 individual motions and
some 7 amendments to these motions. Individual changes are too
many to list here but as a result of this session this position paper
will again see very substantial modifications. The paper continues to
move towards addressing all aspects of partition rather than just
concentrating on the provisional IRA and other republican
campaigns against the border. Debate focused around the effects of
partition on the south - in particular the reasons for the decline in the
percentage of the Protestant population and the true level of state
influence and power held by the Catholic Church. The concept of
partition as a compromise for some unionists as well as Irish
nationalists was also debated (as was much else!).

WSM constitution
The WSM constitution describes how the organisation functions and
in particular how it makes decisions. As the WSM has expended in
the last couple of years from one branch and a couple of members in
Cork to three branches we have learned that what we had worked
out in theory in terms of operating as a national organisation, did not
work so well in practice. This session concentrated on how we
would make decisions between conferences. In total there were 14
motions and 7 amendments to these motions. On the day itself we
suspended standing orders for this session in order to allow
additional amendments to be put forward as the discussion

Because internal democracy is so fundamental to anarchism this
session was both painstaking and protracted with a lot of intense
debate on what would look like minor issues to those with less
concern for democratic decision making. After a three-hour debate
we have emerged with what should prove to be a workable inter
conference national decision-making structure complete with a new
name, the ‘Delegate Council’.

One interesting aspect of this debate was the need to deal with
situations where there were up to four different amendments to the
same motions. We had to resolve how we would decide on which of
these four were accepted. After some discussion we went for a
system of voting where a hand vote would be taken and the proposal
with the lowest number of votes eliminated. The vote would then be
retaken and the proposal with the lowest number of votes again
eliminated. Once agreed this turned out to be quite a rapid way of
conducting a multiway vote so that that the result reflected the views
of the majority.

International perspectives
In this session our two old papers ‘International
Perspectives’ and ‘Building an anarchist International’
were merged into a single paper. Changes made reflected the
increasing role the internet plays in international relations between
anarchist groups. We also formalized our agreement with the
anakismo.net project which included agreeing a delegate to the
anarkismo.net editorial list and a annual donation to the project.

Our Perspectives
There were eight motions on the WSM ‘Our perspectives’
paper. These reaffirmed our commitment to working in mass
organizations, set up a group to organize a national speaking tour
outside of Dublin and Cork and re-affirmed our commitment to
helping to build a broad libertarian movement. We also debated ways
to improve the level of political debate within the organization and
the agreeing of a collective approach to struggles. A major decision
was to retire our position paper ‘State capitalism in Russia’
which was felt to be outdated and largely irrelevant outside of
Leninist debates. A working group has been set up to discuss the
Russian revolution and its aftermath and to prepare a new draft paper
for a future conference.

Other stuff

Other areas there were motions on include WSM administration,
practice and publications. This would mostly only be of interest to
members although they do include setting up a group to get drafts
for a new logo.

The next WSM conference will happen around March of 2006.
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