Red & Black Revolution 1 – 1994

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The annual magazine of the Workers Solidarity Movement, which was published from 1994 to 2009 when it was replaced by the Irish Anarchist Review.  Circulation was 1,000 per issue.

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This issue’s contents, as described in the magazine:

The Left…Ashes to Phoenix? Part One
It has become something of a cliche is say the left is dead. But few have explained this supposed death. New organisations have arisen in recent years that claim to be avoiding the mistakes of the past. How true is this claim? Andrew Flood examines the evidence and comes up with some disturbing conclusions.

The Left…Ashes to Phoenix? Part Two

The left to-day, demoralised by its collapse is without focus or direction. Anarchism given its anti-authoritarian tradition should be able to offer a way forward. But many are reluctant to take up anarchism, Andrew Flood looks at some of the reasons why this is so and suggests the key organisational ideas needed for a new anarchist movement.

Lessons Of Trade Union Fightback

Following the vote on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work at the end of March, the Trade Union Fightback (TUF) campaign was wound up. Here Gregor Kerr, an INTO member who was secretary of TUF, looks at the history and lessons of the campaign.

Freedom & Revolution

Does the end justify the means? Many on the left believe so. Aileen O’Carroll argues that the means used play a part in creating the end that is achieved. The best example of this is the Russian Revolution of 1917

Marx & the State

Some Marxists claim Marx was a libertarian, and Leninism and social democracy are not really Marxist. But in doing so they ignore the anarchist critique of Marx’s political ideas on the state, the party and the organisation of a socialist revolution. Conor Mc Loughlin looks at the contradictions within Marx’s political writings.

Syndicialism: Strenghts and Weakness

The main organisational form in libertarian politics today is syndicalism. Alan MacSimon, a delegate to Dublin Council of Trade Unions who has also attended a European gathering of revolutionary unions looks at the potential, and limits, of syndicalism.

Review: Grassroots democracy

Democracy has broken out in a range of countries in recent years – Guatemala, S. Korea and Argentina to name but a few. But, what is the reality? Kevin Doyle looks at a book that takes a more critical eye.

The EZLN

On New Years Day of ’94 people awoke to the news that four towns in the south-eastern state of Chiapas had been taken over by a group calling itself the Zapatista National Liberation Army. Dermot Sreenan, who recently presented a talk on the EZLN and organised a picket of the Mexican embassy in January ’94, looks at the politics and history of the EZLN.

Scab newspaper in Dublin condemns Anarchism (1913)

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The ToilerDuring the 1913 Dublin Lockout (when the employers tried to crush militant trade unionism by locking out members of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union) bosses and clergy brought out their own propaganda.

The above cutting is from ‘The Toiler’, an employer backed paper set up to counter the influence of ‘The Irish Worker’. It collapsed after 14 weeks.  There was also ‘The Liberator’ which appeared for a few weeks in August 1913.  Both papers claimed to be for ‘respectable’ and ‘moderate trade unionism’ but their only connection with unions was their support for the yellow unions set up by priests like Fr Patrick Flavin’s ‘Workers Union’ in Dun Laoghaire, and the ‘Independent Labour Union’ set up by another priest to break the agricultural labourers strike in north Dublin.  These ‘unions’ had no real existence and disappeared within weeks.

 

Workers Solidarity no.29 (Autumn 1988)

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ws29 coverClick here to download

Among the articles are

Kevin Doyle‘s A Fight for Useful Work, which looks at the response of Lucas Aerospace shop stewards in Britain to threatened job losses.  Their proposal was to stop producing for the military and for people’s needs to be put before the owners’ profits.  After assessing the skills and machinery in the firm’s plants, they came up with an alternative plan for socially useful production.  Among their findings were that they could manufacture artificial limb control systems, a ‘hobcart’ to give mobility to children with Spina Bifida, heat pumps to save waste heat, solar energy cells, wind turbines, a combined petrol/battery car which could cut fuel requirements by up to half, and much more. “…it showed what enormous potential a society based on socialism could have”.

– An obituary for Daniel Guerin; a veteran of the French resistance, anti-imperialist, gay rights campaigner and anarchist.  Accompanying it is his article For a Libertarian Communism.

– The story of the 1913 Dublin Lockout, retold by Alan MacSimóin, for its 75th anniversary.

– A review of Cliff Harper’s Anarchy – a graphic guide.

– The second ‘Thinking about Anarchism’ column, which ran for twenty years, was from Myles Kennedy.  This one looks at ‘freedom’, and concludes that new and democratic forms of organisation are necessary because oppressive structures, like the State, “can only be used to impose the will of a minority on the majority”.

– Ryanair’s anti-union behaviour (some things haven’t changed)

– The leader of the Italian Communist Party sending a message of condolence upon the death of Giorgio Almirante, the leader of the fascist MSI party.  This was the man who, 1944, ordered all Italians to rally to Mussolini’s Salo Republic within 24 hours and decreed that “those who do not present themselves will be considered outlaws and executed by shooting in the back”.  Almirante died an unrepentant fascist.

– How a union won Ireland’s first workplace agreement prohibiting discrimination against workers with HIV or AIDS, and did this at a time when there was irrational hysteria about this condition.

– The privatisation of the Harland & Wolfe shipyard and Shorts aircraft factory, or how those mainly loyalist workforces got a slap in the face inreturn for their loyalty.

– The arrival of ‘two-tier’ wages in the Bank of Ireland.

Libertarian Communist (1980)

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Following on from Tony Zebrugg’s piece on British anarchists and Ireland in the 1970s, here is an article about the Irish labour movement and partition from Libertarian Communist (the magazine of the British Libertarian Communist Group) in 1980. As well as a brief history of the Irish working class, it deals with the ICTU’s Better Life For All campaign.

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At the time most of the left in both Ireland and Britain either enthusiastically supported that campaign (e.g. The Workers Party and Militant Tendency) or dismissed it out of hand as ‘pro-imperialist’ (most trotskyist and republican groups). The LCG’s view was that it was well-intentioned but totally impractical because of the large amounts of capital it would require from the British state to address the economic inequalities that underpinned sectarianism. They also pointed out that there was no point in lobbying the unionist ruling class to get rid of sectarianism as they “would thereby lose their source of strength”.

The promised follow-up articles never appeared as the LCG decided to disband and join Big Flame. BF described themselves as “a revolutionary socialist feminist organisation with a working-class orientation”.

The name ‘Big Flame’ came from a 1969 BBC television play, The Big Flame, written by Jim Allen and directed by Ken Loach, about a fictional strike in the Liverpool Docks.

Anarchist Worker (May/June 1978)

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Anarchist Worker, published by the Anarchist Workers Alliance in the late 1970s/early 1980s, can be regarded as one of the forerunners of the Workers Solidarity Movement. The AWA existed in Belfast and Dublin but was always more of an idea than a reality, with membership never going into double figures. The print run was about 750 (ranging from 500 to 1,500).

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As befits a first issue, we get a page about the Anarchist Workers Alliance and why it was formed. Other articles look at the McDonalds strike for union recognition, the PAYE tax protests, the post office strike, the H-Block & Armagh prison protests, and the six county Payment for Debt Act. Longer pieces look at why the CIE craft workers committee collapsed, and the law that legalised contraceptives in the 26 counties. That was Haughey’s ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ which required a doctor’s prescription to buy a condom.

The centre pages are given over to an explanation of how the Spanish anarchist CNT union structures itself, with the conclusion that it “tries to abolish the bureaucracy that comes with centralisation by making sure that decisions effecting workers are taken by, and only by, those workers effected.”