Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Workers’ Solidarity Movement (Ireland) has come to an end

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I developed a lot of political respect for comrades of the WSM, who worked well with political rivals on political campaigns where common objectives were sought.

I think particularly of referendum campaigns opposing various pro-austerity European Union treaties, and referendums on the Irish abortion ban which was finally removed from the state constitution in 2017. Also, many WSM comrades worked in a collaborative way with other revolutionary left activists in trade union activities and the mass boycotts of water charges and the property tax. The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections. Once the Irish revolutionary Left made a small but significant electoral breakthrough – moving from margins to better connection with mass struggles – the political writing was on the wall for electoral boycott anarchism. In my opinion that trend began – we are still living through it – when Joe Higgins scored an extraordinary by election success in Dublin West in 1996, running as an anti Water Tax candidate, and as a member of the Socialist Party. Higgins lost that contest by a very small margin, but comfortably won a Dáil seat in the following 1997 General Election, unseating then Labour TD and coalition minister Joan Burton.

The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections.

Members of the WSM present at this meeting spoke strongly against this proposal. They said that we would much prefer to see the charge defeated by the working class organising on the streets to show their opposition. Being anarchists they believe that people have to seize back control over their own lives and this is not done by electing some official to fight your corner. Now that we were winning, we just had to keep on pushing forward with our demands to have this charge abolished. Electing Joe to sit in the Dáil to argue our case was never going to be empowering. Joe would have been ignored just as on the local council his opposition to the charge was ignored. While their arguments were well received and considered, the decision of the meeting was to endorse Joe’s candidacy.

In the end Councillor Joe Higgins nearly became Joe Higgins TD (Irish MP) but for a few hundred votes. In the end however, Irish politics didn’t vary from the mean and the son Brian Lenihan Junior was elected to the seat his father had died in.

https://libcom.org/history/articles/dublin-water-charge-campaign-1996

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Dublin_West_by-election?wprov=sfti1


Ireland 🇮🇪 in the 1990’s – Successful Mass Boycott Campaign Defeats State Water Charges

On a personal level, I wish to record the fact that the late comrades, François Vercammen and Gerry Foley of the Fourth International, encouraged me to actively engage with these political developments, and followed these stories very actively. This was despite (because!) I was bureaucratically expelled from the FI organisation styling itself Socialist Democracy in 1996.


WSM has come to an end – we look forward to new anarchist beginnings

Workers’ Solidarity Movement (Ireland) has come to an end


The Workers Solidarity Movement has taken the decision to disband the organisation some 37 years after it formed. While we recognise the WSM’s many achievements over the years and while we are each committed to continuing the cause of anarchism in some capacity, we have collectively agreed that the WSM is no longer the best vehicle to achieve that aim.
We intend to maintain existing WSM material on and offline as an archive. We also intend to develop discussions around what the legacy of the organisation is, its achievements and lessons to be drawn for the future.
Each of us expects to remain active in anarchist politics and indeed to often find ourselves working together, including potentially as members of future organisations. We recognise that old habits are hard to overcome and that younger generations of anarchists are better placed to come up with the structures and organising practices most suited to the current moment.
As anarchists, we still carry a new world in our hearts. We know that the way you fight back and struggle will shape the victory. The WSM has come to an end. We hope this decision will open a space for new revolutionary anarchist ideas, energies, and new beginnings.
Text finalised December 7th, 2021”

A Brilliant WSM Front Page

(thanks to https://irishelectionliterature.com/) for the image.

John Meehan December 8 2021

See also : https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2021/12/08/wsm-to-disband/

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