The struggles of 2002 & 2003 - organising for change


The last year or so has seen a hectic period for activists in Ireland. From the May 6th Gardai attack on Reclaim the Streets in Dublin, through the anti-war campaigns, people have been coming into conflict with the state. In Dublin, we are now in the middle of a struggle with local anti-bin tax groups across the city taking action to defeat the councils refusal to collect rubbish.

There are some common lessons from these struggles. The government's continued support for US military refuelling at Shannon even after 100,000 had marched on February 15th shows how easily the government can ignore 'public opinion'. The introduction of service charges across the country, culminating in the Dublin bin tax, is another example of the government ignoring the popular will. The first time in service of imperialism, the second in the service of those who really run the country, the rich and the corporations.

The Garda attack on Reclaim the Streets showed not only the state's willingness to suppress those who move beyond complaining but the massive Garda cover up that followed it shows how even in clear cut cases it is one rule for us and another for them. All the more obvious when you consider that over 60 people who took part in anti-war protests were arrested; some have spent weeks in jail and others have been fined thousands of euro. Most of these arrests were at Shannon airport and over 20 people have been banned from the whole of County Clare for the next two years.

These are the cases everyone knows of, but there are others. The violent eviction by hired thugs of squatters from a house in Parnell Square in July saw the Gardai arrest not the thugs but one of the occupants. The massive fines against Cork activists protesting at the exclusion of all but the very rich from the Old Head of Kinsale shows again that the law is on the side of the rich. The examples could go on and on.

These examples show how the odds are stacked against us, but often ordinary people stand together and win despite this. We feel confident that the bin charges in Dublin will provide one such example of a victory in the coming months.

But the defeat of the bin tax will not mean the government turns to tax the rich and the corporations. In the 90's we defeated the Water Charges only to see what is essentially the same tax being reintroduced with a different name. Fighting and winning some of the time is not enough. We need to also organise to transform society and to do away with the divisions into rich and poor, order givers and order takers.

The organisation which produces this paper, the Workers Solidarity Movement, is one of a number of anarchist groups in Ireland. We are anarchists because we recognise that as long as we limit ourselves to protesting the worst aspects of capitalism we are trying to hold back a flood with wet tissue paper.

For many of our readers the experiences you shared with us over the last year demonstrate the truth of this far better then any well crafted words. Now is the time to do something about it, to organise not just for the struggles of today but also for the revolutionary transformation that is required tomorrow.

We are not insisting that the only way to do this is to join the WSM. We welcome new members but we recognise not only are there already other libertarian groups who share our broad goal but that this struggle does not belong to any organisation; it belongs to all those who are exploited. But we do offer one way to organise in the here and now towards building a libertarian movement that will overthrow capitalism.

It is up to each individual to choose what is the way they wish to go forwards. But just as combining against the bin tax or against the war makes us stronger so too does combining in political organisations. Whether this means joining ones that already exist, or with others creating something new is up to you. But it is in all our interests that we start to organise now for the long term struggle that lies ahead.

If you'd like to join the WSM just talk to any of our members, write to us at PO Box 1528, Dublin 8 or email us at We'll tell you what's involved, you can also check our website

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

Print out the PDF file of this issue
This edition is No77 published in September 2003