Fintan O’Toole’s ‘alternative facts’ about anarchism (2017)

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Fintan O’Toole is literary editor of The Irish Times, and has been an op-ed columnist for the paper since 1988.  He has written over a dozen books, most recently A History of Ireland in 100 Objects.  O’Toole is also one of Ireland’s best known liberals.  On January 20th 2017 he spoiled an otherwise very good article about Donald Trump by making ill-informed connections between anarchism and free market capitalism.  On January 25th 2017 the Irish Times published a letter from this archive setting him right.

trump-letter-it-25-01 click here to download

 

O'Toole jpegclick here to download

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Irish labour radicals & the Industrial Workers of the World in the early 20th century (2016)

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The ‘One Big Union’ is a motto of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founded in Chicago in 1905 and continuing today with several thousand members in the USA & Canada, about one thousand in the Britain, and smaller numbers in a handful of other countries.

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Reflecting disappointment with the achievements of political Labour, the IWW is ‘syndicalist’ in advocating that working people rely on militant trade unionism (and not politics) to create a socialist society. Prominently associated with the IWW’s revolutionary ‘Wobbly’ wing were Cork-born Mother Jones, Tom Glynn of Gurteen, Co. Galway, and James Connolly, an IWW organiser in New York. ‘Big Jim’ Larkin gave a graveside oration for Joe Hill, best-known of the Wobbly martyrs.

This conference will examine the contribution of Irish people to the IWW in America, Australia and South Africa, and consider the influence of the IWW’s syndicalism on bodies like the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union and the Irish Citizen Army.

This conference, open to all, takes place in NUI Galway & Galway city centre on Friday and Saturday 11-12 November 2016.

A modest €5 registration charge covers the cost of tea, coffee and biscuits over the two days.

prDownload the programme as a PDF here.

Full programme:

FRIDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 1, 2.00 pm: Chair: Sarah-Anne Buckley, ICHLC
Jim Larkin, Jack Carney and the American Irish Worker (1917), James Curry
Patrick J. Read’s ‘Irishness’ & the Creation of the Wobbly Mythos, Matthew White
Joe Hill and Ireland, Francis Devine


Panel 2: 3.45: Chair: Prof. Terrence McDonough, ICHLC
The Rebel Irish & the IWW: The Roots of American Syndicalism, Kristin Lawler
Sacco and Vanzetti and the Radical Irish World, Niall Whelehan
From Socialist to Syndicalist, to Communist: The political development of William Z. Foster, 1904-1922, Liam Ó Discín


8 pm Function Room, John Keogh’s, Upper Dominick Street
‘Rebel Voices: Galway Wobbly Connections’. Chair: Catherine Connolly TD
Peter Yorke: A Galway priest & the San Francisco labor movement, Tadhg Foley
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: A Galway Rebel Girl, Meredith Meagher
The Syndicalist Trajectories of Tom Glynn & Mary Fitzgerald, John Cunningham

SATURDAY, 12 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 3, 10.15 am. Chair: Jamie Canavan, NUI Galway
Connolly the Marxist Socialist, but what sort? Bolshevik, Menshevik or Industrial Democrat? The ideological impact of the IWW, Manus O’Riordan
Industrial Unionism and Social Democracy: Connolly as vector of organising principles, Gavin Mendel-Gleason
‘We Irish are a working race’: Connolly & Flynn in the United States, Stephen Thorntonbad

Panel 4, 12.00, Chair: Mary Gibbons, Galway Council of Trade Unions
Captain Jack White: Syndicalist? Leo Keohane
Syndicalism as a dirty word: Press coverage of radical trade unionism in early twentieth century Ireland, Donal Fallon
Patrick Quinlan: nationalist or militant IWW member? Gerry Watts

Keynote address, 2.15 pm: Chair: Tish Gibbons, Siptu
‘Romances and Erasures’, David Howell

Panel 5, 3.30 pm Chair: Jackie Uí Chionna, NUI Galway
American Reactions to the 1916 Rising, Luke Gibbons
Rebel Women and the IWW, Teresa Moriarty
The Irish & the Mooney case: a miscarriage of Justice in California, John Borgonovo  

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This conference is organised by the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class at the National University of Ireland-Galway.

Barricade Bulletin (2016)

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BB 2016click here to download

August 2016 saw the first issue of a four page Barricade Bulletin from Derry Anarchists (an initiative of the local Workers Solidarity Movement branch).  It is “our intention to issue this free news sheet every two months locally to help generate anarchist info and knowledge of class struggle anarchism to a wider audience beyond the boundaries and limitations of the internet”.

Articles include an interview with one of their own members about how he became an anarchist, and a cover story about the ‘internment by remand’ of dissident republicans like Tony Taylor and the jailing of the Craigavon Two, whose case is “an obvious miscarriage of justice not witnessed since the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four”.

BB 1969click here to download

There was another Barricade Bulletin published from “Free Derry” in 1969.   The Northern Ireland Labour Party was a lethargic and liberal unionist party which died from irrelevance by the end of the 1970s.   However in the late 1960s Derry had a lively and militant branch, involving much of the city’s left, and they were the publishers of this.  Among those involved were Mickey Divine, who joined the INLA and died in the 1981 hunger strike; Eamon McCann, now a People Before Profit MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly; and veteran feminist and journalist Nell McCafferty.

Anarcho-Syndicalism in Ireland 1984 – 2016

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Anarcho-syndicalism might be said to have arrived in Ireland in the mid-1980s when it was adopted by the Ballymena Anarchist Group.  There had been individual anarcho-syndicalists active in their trade unions previously, including some Dublin supporters of the (British) Syndicalist Workers Federation in the 1960s, but this was it’s first public appearance.

The past three decades can give an impression of there having been numerous shortlived groupings.  The reality is that, despite many changes of it’s name and that of it’s publications, there is a continuity of politics and members.  Essentially, we are seeing different phases in the development of the one organisation.

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Membership was initially based on Antrim town and Ballymena.  By the late 1980s Belfast had more members and it has remained like that since.  Membership has been almost totally north of the border, with just the occasional member in Cork, Kildare and Dublin.

 

1984

saw the creation of Ballymena and Antrim Anarchist Groups. The Ballymena group, some of whom had previously been in the Young Socialists, was in existence for several months before the Antrim group and published two issues of Black Star.  Both groups then went on to jointly publish six issues the Antrim Alternative, with a circulation of 300-500.

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1985 – 1989

The Antrim Alternative was succeeded by an explicitly syndicalist magazine, Organise! the Voice of Anarcho-Syndicalism.  By late 1986 the Ballymena and Antrim Anarchist Groups had changed their name to Organise!  

Organise 5 coverClick here to download

1991 

Belfast Class Struggle Anarchist Group – Initially influenced by the British Class War, this small group from the (loyalist) New Mossley and Rathcoole estates, found their definition of working class too narrow.  A couple of those involved went on to contact Organise! and were involved in that group’s re-emergence.  While still sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalism, it initially described itself as “class struggle anarchist”.

Organise - where we stand 1991Click here to download

1991- 1999

Organise! – IWA  (publication: Rebel Worker). In this period Organise! again became specifically anarcho-syndicalist and the name of the bulletin, for a time a magazine, reverted to Organise – the voice of anarcho-syndicalism.  In 1996 Organise! affiliated to the International Workers Association as it’s Irish section.  By 1999, with a much reduced membership, it found sustaining local activity and their involvement in the IWA increasingly difficult to maintain, and decided to disband.

Rebel Worker 4 coverClick here to download

 

Organise 2:8 coverClick here to download

1999 – 2001

After the dissolution of Organise!-IWA a series of discussions were held by anarcho-syndicalists under the banner of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network.  Those involved created the Anarcho-Synicalist Federation shortly afterwards.  The SSN produced a single issue of Solidarity Magazine.  They also produced the Belfast Solidarity Bulletin.

 Solidarity mag cover Click here to download

 

2001 – 2003

The name changed to Organise! – Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and they continued to produce the Belfast Solidarity Bulletin.  They also put out 2 issues of Wildcat, a joint bulletin of Organise! and the tiny Anarchist Federation (Ireland).  The AF(I) was very closely connected to the (British) Anarchist Federation.

Resistance 10Click here to download

In it’s brief life, the AF(I) -with a scattering of members in Kildare, Dublin, Warrenpoint and Belfast – produced 10 issues of Resistance, before merging into Organise!

 

2003 – 2012

In 2003 it was announced that “after successful discussions, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, Anarchist Federation (Ireland), Anarchist Prisoner Support and a number of individuals merged to relaunch Organise!”   Published Working Class Resistance,

WSR10 coverClick here to download

then The Leveller.

Leveller 6 coverClick here to download

This version of Organise! initially attempted to build a broader class struggle anarchist federation becoming specifically syndicalist again, probably by 2005.

 

2012 -2015

The organisation decided to join the British section of the IWA, the Solidarity Federation, as it’s Belfast branch.  Members of Organise! in other parts of Ireland were attached to the Belfast branch.

At the 2013 conference of the Solidarity Federation Belfast was formally admitted and its constitution changed so that it was now the IWA section for Britain and Ireland.  Irish members reserved the option of forming an independent IWA section in Ireland in the future.  Organise! remains the name of the SolidarityFederation (Ireland region). Currently this consists of the Belfast branch, along with members in Lisburn and Portadown.

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In April 2016 they opened an office/meeting room/library at 22 Berry Street in Belfast city centre.

Property Tax debate: WSM v. Socialist Party (2013)

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Mark Hoskins of the Workers Solidarity Movement and Ruth Coppinger of the Socialist Party debate the next steps after the defeat of the fight against the property tax on people’s homes. This appeared in the August-September 2013 issue of the Workers Party magazine Look Left.

LL, CAHWT 2Click here to download

Look Left is available from many newsagents and bookshops, including Ireland’s biggest chain, Easons.  Its circulation is about 5,000.

Elections debate: WSM v. Workers Party (2012)

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Mark Hoskins of the Workers Solidarity Movement and Alan Myler of the Workers Party debate the pros and cons of participating in parliamentary elections. This appeared in the November-December 2012 issue of the Workers Party magazine Look Left.

ll2Click here to download

Look Left is available from many newsagents and bookshops, including Ireland’s biggest chain, Easons.  Its circulation is about 5,000.

2012 Frank Conroy Commemoration in Kildare

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Conroy pngclick here to download

This is from the January/February 2013 issue of Look Left, the magazine of the Workers Party of Ireland.  Frank Conroy was an Irish socialist republican who served with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.  As the final paragraph notes, wreaths were laid by organisations as varied as the Workers Solidarity Movement (anarchist), eirigi (socialist republican), Anti-Fascist Action, the Communist Party of Ireland, the Labour Party, Tus Nua (a split from the Green Party), and the Workers Party.

Although the Workers Party is in the same broad grouping as many of the world’s Communist Parties, its Look Left magazine regularly carries articles from other left currents, including anarchists.

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