Alan MacSimoin remembered by Des Derwin

  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_views_data WHERE cid = 'audio:block_1:results:e2ea5c385baf9bc6f2dc7e7c2ab92a1f' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 27.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8590\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:38:\"Climate Change Denial Myths: The Truth\";s:7:\"_random\";s:19:\"0.00412437599536439\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"4754\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:65:\"Interviw from ICTU Feb 2009 march against job losses and pay cuts\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.006411965011071381\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"4062\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:37:\"Successful Belfast anarchist bookfair\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.009489506491915795\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"7272\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:89:\"WSM & SP MEP Paul Murphy debate fiscal treaty & what the left should say - DABF2012 Audio\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.011674886580253846\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"7565\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:78:\"Exploring the Lessons of the 1913 Lockout and its Legacy for Today - DABF 2013\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.022228048203725412\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"7795\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:66:\"The British Miners strike of 1984-85 -Video & Audio from DABF 2014\";s:7:\"_random\";s:19:\"0.02235947644557755\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:166;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:6;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:0;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1565442799, expire = 1565443099, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'audio:block_1:results:e2ea5c385baf9bc6f2dc7e7c2ab92a1f' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 112.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_views_data WHERE cid = 'video:block_1:results:f5c6d356ca91ffd2154f329f17217e8d' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 27.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:3:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8100\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:61:\"Dublin protest against Suruc massacre outside Turkish embassy\";s:7:\"_random\";s:21:\"0.0010017668837697868\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"6081\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:50:\"Hundreds protest war-criminal Tony Blair in Dublin\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.009716222071755884\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":3:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8198\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:50:\"Barricade Inn - statement ahead of High Court case\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.024063240759133585\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:195;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:3;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:0;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1565442799, expire = 1565443099, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'video:block_1:results:f5c6d356ca91ffd2154f329f17217e8d' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 112.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_views_data WHERE cid = 'Random_PDF:block_1:results:e68b582e4e1b607b9c3dbd91146da490' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 27.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:2:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8119\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:60:\"Solidarity Times leaflet for August 29th Water Charges march\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1254:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/SolidarityTimesCover.jpg\" style=\"width: 350px; height: 494px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />We are the crisis of Irish Water! We do not want to have our water commodified, metered, and privatised. We know why this is happening &ndash; to increase the wealth and privilege of a global financial capitalist class and their political servants in the EU and Ireland.</p>\r\n<p>We refuse to bow to them. We have gotten up before dawn to stop water meter installation on our streets. We have organised meetings in our communities. We have marched in our thousands and in our hundreds of thousands, shouting &ldquo;Enough!&rdquo; and &ldquo;No way, we won&rsquo;t pay!&rdquo; and &ldquo;Shove your meters up your arse!&rdquo; We are not just angry, we are determined.&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p>We have forced this government into climb-downs and concessions, and we will do the same to the next one. We have decided to boycott Irish Water. We are encouraging our friends, co-workers and neighbours to do the same. Our community of communities is strong and growing stronger. We will keep on growing. When we break Irish Water, we will clear the rubble and grow real solidarity, real co-operation and real community in its place.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:7:\"_random\";s:20:\"0.016960516587794308\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"4331\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:40:\"Anti-education cuts leafet to distribute\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:657:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/images/educationcuts.gif\" style=\"width: 141px; height: 200px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 2px; float: left;\" />As part of the growing struggle against education cuts WSM branches have produced a leaflet that is being distributed by anarchists who study or work across the education sector. We&rsquo;re working together to build a democratic and open campaign that can fight education cuts, challenge the imposition of fees and push to improve access to, and quality of, education. You can help by downloading the leaflet and distributing it at education protests or at local schools and colleges.\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:7:\"_random\";s:19:\"0.02145861277492588\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:73;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:2;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:1;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1565442799, expire = 1565443099, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'Random_PDF:block_1:results:e68b582e4e1b607b9c3dbd91146da490' in /var/www/public/includes/ on line 112.

In recent years I saw less of Alan than in previous years. Yet I regularly bumped into him and it was always an enthusiastic and humourous short reunion.  That’s because like many here Alan was involved in every campaign of the day But Alan seemed to be involved in  all the minor as well as the major campaigns. And going right back, and without a gap or a letup over five decades. And he remembered it all. And in detail!

[This is the speech Des Derwin delivered at Alan MacSimoin's wake]

The quantum and variety of his activism came not just from the unrelenting succession of his involvement and the changing focus of the hour, workplace to union to campaign to community, but from his breadth of interests and his enjoyment of various ways of reaching out to people where they were at.

So he was a school student militant, an organiser of the unemployed, a staunch trade unionist, a shop steward, a rank and file democrat, a socialist, an anarchist, a campaign and community activist, a writer, a historian, a left media editor and innovator. Some of the initiatives and groupings Alan was prominent in you may not even have heard of at this remove. Such as the Peoples March for Decent Jobs, the Dublin Umemployed Action Group, the Anarchist Workers Alliance, SIPTU Fightback.

I will dwell on only those in which I worked closely with Alan. These were in the trade union movement and the ITGWU and SIPTU in particular. Alan was involved in almost all the long series of campaigns against each centralised wage deal. My closest collaboration with him was probably on SIPTU Fightback, a regular oppositional newsletter produced in eleven editions around the last three years of the last century. Three of us - and only three - published SIPTU Fightback, and the third was Mary Muldowney. Three friends met regularly, mostly in the Batchelor Inn, to commisssion and edit a publication that represented some -  however pathetically infinitesimal - serious and concrete alternative in the largest trade union. Its demise was unfortunate and premature, but through it, and their common union work in Trinity I think, one of the biggest surprises of my life occurred. My two friends so unexpectedly but so sucessfully became united.

I want to refer to one aspect, or two related aspects, of Alan MacSimion because it may not get the proper emphasis in the coming sad yet celebratory days : Alan was a revolutionary and an anarchist. In both cases he gives the lie to any mainstream media misuse of those terms. Alan, like the times he has lived in, was far from armed insurrection. He was far from republican armed struggle too, though you will find anti-repression campaigns among the myriad he was active in. He advocated and worked for, and from the point-of-view of, a revolution in the social order, an upending of capitalism and the ruling class, of exploitation, oppression and inequality, and their replacement by the rule of working people.

In his day, our day, that meant small political organisiations and publications and not-so-small contributions to historical movements. It meant support for and encouragement of every struggle from below and unbending insistence on grassroots and rank-and-file organisation, control and freedom-to-act and act militantly. He never wavered from that, right until the end. He did in his time what revolutionary could do, mostly routine, unsung, small scale work. He did it with extraordinary relentlessness, constancy and consistency. The bigger picture was painted too,  in the intellectual contribution of the organisaton he helped to establish, the Workers Solidarity Movement, and  in his  own writings largely.  practical and for the specific occasion, which will hopefully be a lasting testimony and education.

Anarchism is a serious and respectable body of politics. Democratic in its action and aims. And none more serious than Alan's Platformist anarchism with its orientation to the organised working class. It was always my conviction, shared by no one else as far as I remember, when in the Socialist Workers Movement in the 1970s, that Alan's Anarchist Workers Association, and not any of the other Trotskyist groups, was the closest politically to us.

I want to end with two highlights of Alan in my memory, one big event and one passing quip. Not many people know this, but when the X case burst onto Dublin City centre in 1992 in a spontaeneous wave of anger the hastily organised rally at the GPO was chaired from the top of a van by Alan MacSimoin. I remember, for some reason, the impatient reaction of the crowd when Alan - doing his revolutionary socialist duty - introduced first of all a speaker from the current wornen's strike in the city.

And finally my funny story from so many about and from Alan, mostly a lot funnier mind you. During some anniversary of 1916 a few people were talking about related  things and the new histories and personal accounts of the Rising. Alan said, "As I was going into the GPO on Easter Monday to buy a stamp!

Be proud, Mary, and Alan's family and friends. Rest in power, Alan. We lose your democracy, your realism, your human touch to politics, your great knowledge, your wit and humour. Yet even for materialists you live on, in, and in what you have given to, the movement.

Des Derwin.

See also the WSM piece

Alan passes through an honour guard from SIPTU, the union he was an activist in for many years

Like what you're reading?
Find out when we publish more via the
WSM Facebook
& WSM Twitter