The 100th issue of Workers Solidarity



This is the 100th issue of Workers Solidarity. Why do we bother? After all, nobody gets paid for writing, or doing layout, or stuffing envelopes, or putting copies through neighbours’ letterboxes, or giving them out at union meetings or in city centres. 

Well, we are sick and tired of a system that won’t provide us with decent health care, or economic security, or affordable housing. We are sick and tired of a system that pays farmers in one country not to grow food while people in another country starve to death, a system that spends billions on weapons of mass destruction but won’t cough up to keep people alive.


There is nothing natural about this. A small group (let’s call them the capitalist or ruling class) makes all the big decisions, and do so in their own interests. The vast majority of us (working people and our dependents) create the wealth and run the services, but the bosses are in control and constantly try to maximize their wealth and power at our expense. One class rules, the other obeys.


We think we have a better idea of how society could be run, and how change can be achieved. We are anarchists, we want a stateless and classless socialist society where people can participate directly in making decisions that will effect them, where there is no division into rulers and ruled, where freedom will enjoy no limit except that the freedom of others is not interfered with.

So how do we get more people interested in this? The Late Late Show won’t have us on the panel every Friday night, the Independent won’t give us coverage, the media are not overly generous in their coverage of anarchists!

We decided to publish a paper to explain our ideas and link them to people’s concerns. Over the years we have been an 8 page monthly, a 20 page quarterly, a tabloid size and, for the last x years, a free bi-monthly. Our circulation, which started at 1,000, is now 8,000. It’s a drop in the ocean but it’s a slightly bigger drop these days. And all funded out of the pockets of WSM members, who donate between 2% and 5% of their income to support the organisation's work.


Over the years we have covered important struggles like the Dunnes Stores strike against apartheid, the anti-war movement, the fight for abortion rights, the battle against sectarianism and imperialism in the North, the successful non-payment campaign which defeated the water tax, and much more.

We didn’t give away free DVDs but did put cash into some pockets. Back in 1984 there was an EU directive that unemployed married women should get the same dole as men. The difference was about a fiver a week (worth about €30 today). The government dragged its feet and then told nobody that they were entitled to claim the difference for the years the government waited before changing the law.

Workers Solidarity stepped in and printed a claim form you could fill out and hand in when signing on. That issue was a big seller at the women’s labour exchanges (yes, they even segregated the dole in the good old days!), and eventually a lot of women received their back money.


One story that still raises a smile was not hugely political, it was a short report from the long and bitter British miners’ strike of 1984/85: “The police at Wath in the north of England got what was coming to them for spoiling the fun of the pickets.


“Miners built a snowman, and to give it the final touch placed a toy policeman’s helmet on its head. A right swine of a Superintendent did his nut. He ordered the pickets to remove the helmet.

“On being told to sod off he jumped into his landrover and drove at the snowman. Only to find it had been built around a thick concrete post.”


Back home, Ireland was being plagued by moving statues. Dozens of them were roaming around the place but, strangely, only visible to those who wanted to see them. It kicked off Ballinaspittle, Co. Cork, where “they take their religion seriously, and evidently, so does God. So much so that he’s taken to moving statues as a sign to the masses that… well, that he exists.

“What other possible reason could he have for shifting lumps of concrete about, which is probably the most unproductive act imaginable. After all, with 56,000 children under the age of 12 dying every day from starvation, even a hour long miracle to save 2,333 of them from their pitiful death would surely be enough to convince even the most hardened cynic that yes, God really does exist.

“People will understandably flock in their coachloads to see for themselves and be reassured that in a world blighted with war, poverty, disease, starvation and brutality as well as incredible wealth and riches… God still cares…

“And so the dope pushing Bishops, from the splendour of their palaces will continue to supply the valium to the masses until the masses begin to rise up (for it is written in the prophesies that sooner or later they will rise up) and realise they don’t need the valium at all, and how on earth did anyone ever fall for that moving statues craze.”

Workers Solidarity has been very involved in the struggle to challenge clerical power and has given extensive coverage to the pro-choice movement, the successful campaigns for divorce and contraception, and exposing church protection of paedophile priests. We continue to be one of the growing number of voices saying that abortion should be a choice for women.

The anarchist movement in Ireland is growing. We were able to bring 4,000 to an explicitly libertarian and anti-capitalist march when the EU heads of state visited in 2004. Other anarchist groups have come into existence (like the Revolutionary AnarchaFeminist Group in Dublin and the Belfast-based Organise!), you are more likely these days to run into an anarchist at your union or community group meeting, as well as at a Shell 2 Sea protest, or an Old Head of Kinsale mass trespass.

This year we saw the doubling in size of the Cork WSM branch, the formation of new branches in Dublin, a distribution for Workers Solidarity which now includes Armagh, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Sligo, Wexford and Wicklow. We have a long way to go, and we know there are no shortcuts to a genuine social revolution, but the route has been mapped and the first steps taken.

If you would like to help increase the circulation of anarchist ideas we can send you 20 (or more) copies of Workers Solidarity to give to friends, put through neighbours’ letterboxes, or hand out at events. Just write (or email with your address and tell us how many copies to send. And when you are finished with this copy why not recycle by leaving it somewhere others can read it, at work, on the bus, in the café or the doctor’s waiting room.


This article is from Workers Solidarity 100 Nov/Dec 2007

PDF of Workers Solidarity 100