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(en) wsm.ie: March on April 8th to Abolish water charges - WSM newsletter for the day - Many Battles Won, With the War Yet to Win

Date Thu, 13 Apr 2017 09:38:40 +0300


The Workers Solidarity Movement have called an anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc to join the Water Charges march Saturday 8th April in Dublin. This bloc will meet at Connolly Station at 2pm . Look out for the red and black flags. We will be handing out several hundred copies of this 4-page leaflet produced by the WSM, which includes content on the water charges, housing, and the pro-choice struggle, and are looking for folks to help us distribute these on the day. ---- Many Battles Won, With the War Yet to Win ---- We've come a long way. Against the forces of the State and global finance the anti-water charges movement has held the line, and through years of direct action, community organising and mass mobilisations we've pushed the government to the point of defeat on water charges.

In November 2016 the ‘expert commission' basically recommended that water charges as we know them be scrapped and the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil dominated Oireachtas committee - charged with reviewing this by April 14th - has been squabbling over which crippled version of the water charges they can get away with. However, we can't become complacent. For one, the Oireachtas committee seems bent on leaving Irish Water with a foot in the door rather than abolishing water charges entirely, penalising ‘excessive water usage' and stealthily continuing metering.

But even if the committee were to recommend total abolition, we all know how politics works. Talk is cheap, the only way that water charges will be eliminated is by popular power, not out of politicians seeing the light.

We Are All Leaders
Indeed Martin Luther King said ‘freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed' and we have proven this to be true. If there were one lesson to learn from this struggle, or one way to summarise it, it would be in the phrase ‘direct action'. Direct action is simply doing something yourself rather than asking or waiting for someone else to do it. In a society based on being passive, this seemingly simple act is very powerful.

The reason this movement has been so successful is because people decided ‘I don't want water meters, so I'm going to stop them being installed', ‘I don't want to pay water charges, I don't think anyone should pay them, so I'm not going to pay them'. That's direct action. If we had been ‘well behaved' and lobbied politicians as expected, we would have failed. Even big demonstrations likely wouldn't have worked if they hadn't stood upon this bedrock of direct action.

You can't argue with direct action. No matter what anyone says, if I stop a meter going in the ground, it can't be installed. Whatever a politician promises, if you don't pay your water bill, Irish Water can't collect that money.

If the charges are abolished, there will be a scramble among political parties and groups to claim credit. But although parties and unions have made their contributions, (the unions in particular paid huge sums of money to support the movement) they didn't start this movement nor do they own it. The so-called ‘ordinary people' rebelled with no clear victory in sight, and we organised ourselves without needing to be directed from above. It is that wildfire of popular, de-centralised, rebellion which has carried this movement and inspired thousands to politically re-awaken. We are all leaders, we are all architects of history.

Why the Charges Were Imposed
The water charges were imposed for two basic and related reasons. Firstly, as bank bailout tax. Secondly, as part of the neoliberal plan to put all natural resources on the planet into private hands. The water charges are one of many ways to take wealth from the working class and give it to the rich. As part of a worldwide trend, the wealth of the richest 300 people in Ireland has doubled from €50 to €100 billion in the last 7 years. Water is the ‘petroleum of the next century' said Goldman Sachs back in 2008. Big multinational corporations have been scooping up what water resources they can in the Blue Gold Rush.

The charges were not imposed for conservation or environmental reasons. Climate change is a real and growing threat to humanity and all life, but the same suits sit on their hands waiting for us to march off an environmental cliff. Letting 40-50% of our water leak into the ground is just one part of their negligence.

What Next?
While it's important to keep our eyes on the prize, it's worth thinking about what comes after we eliminate the water charges. Something many of us are keen to see is securing public ownership of our water, and all natural resources. The fact is that the fundamental way this economic and political system works has not changed, and neither have the motivations of the powerful few who really run the show.

A referendum on public ownership is a good first step. But Irish Water is a symptom of the greater disease. We have seen how the Gardaí, courts, prisons, and politicians of the state collude with the capitalists and their media. The assault on our livelihoods and freedoms won't end until this whole social system is replaced by one based on common ownership, co-operative work, and personal liberty.

We cannot go home. We have felt our power and we like it. We have experienced real democracy and we like it. What will be our next victory together?

Previous WSM writing on the Water Charges struggle
http://www.wsm.ie/water-charge
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