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A text produced externally which is of interest for political, historical or contextual reasons. No political agreement can be assumed.

Working-class experiences of the Gardaí

Date:

A current crisis - Today we live in a media-saturated society that sensationalises crime and gangland warfare in working-class communities.  Some say the media through its various functions has become a sort of moral barometer for the national imagination in terms of how the working classes are perceived.  This, perhaps, is done through newspapers' slash headlines like “Thugs never had it so good” or “Bugsy Malone gang terrorise North Dublin”, or through current TV shows that give a picture of working-class people as rough and disrespectable such as Jerry Springer or The Royle Family. All this actively contributes to the respresentation of the working classes as disresputable.

How the gardaí were made

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There is something mystifying about the police force in the Republic of Ireland. A force born out of a bloody civil war yet strangely absent from popular memories of those long years of violence. A force celebrated for its rootedness in Irish cultural practices yet operating in the same centralised, colonial model inherited from the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force of British state.

Why we put this pamphlet together: Secrets, lies and unaccountable policing

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It really does not take a lot of effort to come across anecdotal evidence of insensitive and sometimes brutal policing in working class areas in Ireland.  As residents, community workers and educators in a wide variety of settings we have both personally experienced Garda violence and have heard countless negative stories about the gardaí.  These stories cover a wide range of issues. Most consistently people, usually but not exclusively young men, complain of insults, intimidation on the street and of physical violence during arrest and in custody.  The violence they describe is of varying degrees of seriousness and routinely involves minor assault (e.g. slaps, kidney punches and limb twisting etc) but more serious violence can and does occur (1).

The WSM & fighting the last war - a reply to James O’Brien

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The left is fond of military analogies so I want to open this piece with the observation that poor generals plan for the last war rather than the next one. Those militaries that planned for World War Two by perfecting the trench systems that dominated World War One had their powerful & expensive fortifications quickly overwhelmed in the opening weeks of the war through blitzkrieg. And in turn by 1943 Blizkrieg was defeated though defence in depth at Kursk.

Occupy Movement, the Zapatista's and the General Assemblies

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The General Assemblies of the Occupy movement are creating a global experience in Direct Democracy.  But this model did not come from nowhere - among other sources of influence is the Zapatista rebellion of southern Mexico, soon to enter its 18th year. Over almost two decades hundreds of rebel communities in Chiapas have used a General Assembly model to decide on how all aspects of life in the liberated zone will be organised.  Despite their different circumstances to those faced by the majoity of the Occupy camps (in urban built up locations) there is still much that can be learnt from that experience.

This piece written for the Irish Mexico Group by a WSM member a few years after the start of that rebellion looks at how the Zapatistas organise themselves in great detail, what some of the problems they had faced are and how they overcame them.  It also looks further into the history of General Assemblies and Direct Democracy in Mexico and around the globe. [Note: This long text is also available as a PDF file in a number of different formats suitable for distribution]

Bibliography of the Wee Black Booke of Belfast Anarchism

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  1. Newspapers
  2. Official papers
  3. Books and journals
  4. Interviews and correspondence

Newspapers
The Anarchist (Glasgow)
Belfast News Letter
Belfast Telegraph
Freedom
Irish News

Conclusion to the Wee Black Booke of Belfast Anarchism

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Anyone looking for a rogue’s gallery or general litany of scallywags in this short history of Belfast anarchists will be disappointed. It is a story of small movements and peripheral figures gathered together over many years and presented to you, the reader, as an account of how Belfast produced and received anarchist activists. It is uneven in places, sketchy on context, and optimistic in analysis.

Belfast anarchism in the Later Twentieth Century

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If Captain Jack White DSO, CNT, was the first of the great individual characters of northern anarchism, those that followed soon after into the later twentieth century were every bit as unique. ‘Slumdom’ Jack McMullen and John McGuffin were not merely products of their time and social circumstances, but transcended the context into which they were born and the politics of their generation. They were in every sense truly dynamic libertarians whose politics speak to us of a far greater and more diverse political culture in Belfast than we have hitherto been led to believe. They also have in common a type of writing whose style approximates to a combination of Emile Zola and Spike Milligan. This makes both individuals fascinating to read though at times perplexing, and it is their writing which marks them out as much as their activism.

Belfast anarchism in the Early Twentieth Century

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It was not until the early twentieth century that an anarchist group was established in Belfast. Although we have little information on anarchists elsewhere on the island, it seems entirely possible that this was the first specifically anarchist group north or south. It emerged in a time of rising militancy, though not working class militancy, and when communal relations were especially strained, and proceeded from the propagandist labours of two remarkable Scottish anarchists. One of these individuals, John or ‘wee’ McAra, as he was also known, is a subject in this chapter.

The Nineteenth Century Irish Anarchism

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Ireland, more than most countries in nineteenth century Europe, had a sizeable rate of emigration, between 1801 and 1921, for example, it is estimated that the population declined by 8 million.(1) As it had a bearing on almost every aspect of life it necessarily also affected political movements on the island, and contributed significantly to political movements elsewhere in the world where Irish emigrants settled.

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