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Provisional Lineup for Grassroots Gathering 2008 (Friday & Saturday)

category national | anti-capitalism | feature author Thursday May 15, 2008 20:27author by intelligent satirists Report this post to the editors

featured image
A Weekend of Anarchy

Its been a while, but now they're back. As the sun comes out we have the first bitch fest of the summer in this (possible) lineup for the grassroots gathering. Reading like a more convoluted version of those old Indymedia favourites - 10 reasons to hate the grassroots gathering - this article proves how popular a bit of criticism, constructive or not, really is.

PLENARY SESSION (ROOM ONE): ONE SOLUTION - DISSOLUTION?

Opening feedback / reports from the sessions (limit of 2 minutes each!! - only a brief recollection - perhaps the most important conclusions reached, if any, from the workshop sessions)

The plenary is open to everyone to talk to, and is being held in an atmosphere of openness and tolerance. No aggressive or intimating repsonses will be permitted. People are free to constructively criticise and discuss openly any doubts they have about their own activism or that of the group.

Provisional Grassroots Gathering lineup for the June Bank Holiday weekend (Friday & Saturday)

This year, the Gathering has decided to look inwards at itself and reflect on several years of action - and inaction. The theme of this Gathering in Dublin is "Reflection, Honesty, and Failure." The aim of this Gathering is to examine issues which we regularly come across as activists (because to say we are anything but activists is lying to ourselves, many of us occupy a large chunk of our time with protesting and related political acitivity such as organising, fundraising, meetings, etc - very much more than an average citizen, even one who may be politically leaning towards us in the political spectrum), yet we do not discuss, confess, or own up to because it is difficult, awkward, or perhaps a little too close to the bone for us to admit when we are wrong or have made a mistake.

The Gathering will take a similar format in previous years where there have been workshops during the day, focusing more on a specific topic, and then a plenary or larger gathering later in the day, where delegates from the individual workshops will give a quick feedback from their meeting, and then the floor will be opened up to a larger overarching theme where everyone can participate. The reports will be given a limited time span as to allow for more people to contribute, and the plenary session will be moderated so as to ensure the same people do not monopolise the contributions.

The Gathering is open for anyone to attend to. This year we are trying again to diversify the attendees, and have sent invitation to community groups and other organisations who have not come to the Gathering before, but given the nature of this years Gathering, and the fact that we had nothing concrete organised with only a couple of weeks before the event, we expect to attract the standard profile of activist to the event (white, reasonably well educated, with good long term prospects, and from a comfortable if not execessively rich background) as we look back over the past few years since the Gatherings began. This issue itself will be discussed in the final plenary session.

If you need accomodation please contact the Gathering. There will be child care facilities in the afternoons, and food will be provided (donations welcome).

FRIDAY:

8pm: SOCIAL EVENING / FILM SCREENING: "The Whole World Isnt Watching" (118m, Scotland/Ireland, 2006, Independent Production). Upstairs in Chaplins Pub, Hawkins Street, Dublin 2. Admission €5.

This film of the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005 takes a critical look at the Dissent! Network that existed in the run up to the summit, and subsequently evaporated into nothing. More of a polemic/essay in the style of "Route Irish" than a documentary, the editors ask what legitimacy the Dissent! network had considering they only managed to bring approximately 5,000 demonstrators to a protest which took months of organising and planning, in a country of over 50 million people (0.01% of the population demonstrated). The model of consensus which the Dissent! Network prided itself on also appears as something of a sham in the post-summit personal interviews, with in-fighting, finger pointing, and (eventually) aggression and physical violence between Dissent! members who disagreed on tactics and wording of a document. Music and visuals afterwards provided by Electronic Resistance.

SATURDAY:

11am: REGISTRATION

11:30am: INTRODUCTION

A general introduction to the day, explaining the theme of the Gathering and the way in which the workshops will operate.

12:00pm

ROOM ONE: HORIZONTAL MEDIA (1)

"Ireland from Below" was meant to be a regular newspaper documenting community struggles in the country, as well as libertarian, environmental, and direct actions happening amongst different groups that operated beyond the traditional hierarchical model. But after two issues, the paper folded in acrimony and personality clashes. What exactly happened? Who was to blame and why did so many people abandon the project very early on? What lessons can be learned from this?

ROOM TWO: OUR DEPARTURE FROM SHANNON AIRPORT

The last genuinely libertarian action with any organisation or decent attendance regarding Ireland's participation in the "War On Terror" with the refuelling of planes in Shannon Airport was in the summer of 2004 with the "AmBush!" campaign. Since then, we have collectively done nothing about this issue, effectively abandoning it, despite the revealing of the abhorrent "torture express" passing through Shannon on its way to Guantanamo Bay, and planes also being fuelled in Dublin Airport. The once active anti war network disappeared with a whimper. Yet the refuelling and troop stop over continues (and even grows bigger), so have we internally conceded defeat without ever expressing this?

ROOM THREE: ON THE TROTSKYIST MERRY GO-ROUND

Why do we participate in predictable marches with boring speeches from people who we dismiss? What is the point of having an anarchist "block" on marches that are deflating and aimless? Five years ago there were regular anarchist marches around the city centre - Carlo Giuliani, the anti EU police meeting, RTS - now there is nothing - why? Why do we ALWAYS tag along to these marches? Are we just hoping to recruit some people along to our type of politics?

1:30pm: LUNCH

2:15pm

ROOM ONE: DIRECT ACTION GETS RESULTS - OR DOES IT?

One regular slogan we proclaim is that direct action gets results. But in many of our campaigns that we have been involved in where the focus has been solely on direct action, we have not achieved our aim - Shannon, S2S, the Bin Tax, etc. Does direct action actually work? When has it actually gotten results for us? Are we wrong to focus on it solely as a method for resolution? We regularly cry foul when other groups do not support our choice of method for political action - but we are just as quick criticise others for their choice of political action - seeking election. With Shell To Sea in particular, the most recent election saw two supportive TDs (Jerry Crowley and Joe Higgins) losing their seats, with the campaign having lost two voices who brought the issue to attention in the media and in the Dail. Now there have been no "days of action" in 2008 with activists from other parts of the country performing direct actions at the site, and the RSC has been disbanded. Would it have been worth swallowing our stance on this occasion to see politically similar activists elected - or are we always to follow the same line that direct action is the only method, and that electoral politics is entirely a sham?

ROOM TWO - SQUAT OR ROT, OR NOT

With so many derelict buildings in Dublin, why does the Seomra Spraoi collective continue to seek a building to rent? How much of the system have we sold out to when we pay a landlord 2000 euro a month? Squatting is illegal in Ireland - but have we given up trying to change the law through direct action? Recent experiences have shown that renting a building does not offer much more protection against harassment from the authorities. Is our reluctance to squat based on our own fears of having a criminal record damaging our chances for future employment?

ROOM THREE: THE TYRANNY OF STRUCTURELESSNESS

At various times we have tried to set up a network associated but beyond the gathering - GNAW, (D/C/G)GN, Grassroots Dissent - and all have evaporated into nothing. Without a formal membership structure, is this destined to always be a failure? Or simply has the Grassroots political ethos been subsumed by the WSM? Is there any appetite for trying to organise such a network, again?

3:45pm

ROOM ONE: HORIZONTAL MEDIA (2)

Indymedia was supposed to be a model for citizen journalism to take off, particularly in this country at its inception, yet it has remained static as a place for the far-left to contribute news and opinions, with community groups and other organisations never utilising it to post up about their actions. In light of mainstream news media now mirroring the comment model, such as the Economist and the Irish Independent, and the likes of the BBC encouraging citizen contribution, is Indymedia as a concept dead? Is it merely a news source with an anarchist slant, where only one type of political opinion passes by the editors? IMC Ireland Editors Chekov (Workers Solidarity Movement), Padraic (Workers Solidarity Movement), James (Workers Solidarity Movement), and Anthony (Workers Solidarity Movement) explain why one organisation or ideology does not control the website.

ROOM TWO: FEMALE CHAUVINIST PIGS

RAG host a discussion based around Ariel Levy's book "Female Chauvinist Pigs". How do we as feminists approach and deal with women who claim that they have listened to the feminist argument, and understood it, yet have no problem objectifiying themselves in beauty contests, advertising, and even pornography? Do we consider these women our sisters and stand with them in solidarity, or are they enemies of gender equality? Are they to be debated with, pitied, hated, or dismissed? Why would we campaign against a beauty contest when women themselves choose to participate in them? Is it a fallacy to simply label all women as having similar political opinions and outlook on life simply because of their gender?

ROOM THREE: THE BEGINNING AND THE END - ORGANISING CAMPAIGNS

When is a campaign a victory and when is it a defeat? Why do we start so many campaigns and protests, yet never follow them up with further actions? When we start up a campaign, do we have our objectives firmly defined - and when we dont, does this ultimately mean that we will eventually lose interest? Are we ready to admit failure when our objectives are not achieved, or do we keep on calling for "struggle", yet not do much of it ourselves? This workshop will look at various campaigns and issues that we started but never really worked out a conclusion to, such as the current Save Moore Street campaign, No Border No Nations from Mayday 2004, Shannon, Get Up Stand Up/Precarity, amongst others.

5:00pm

PLENARY SESSION (ROOM ONE): ONE SOLUTION - DISSOLUTION?

Opening feedback / reports from the sessions (limit of 2 minutes each!! - only a brief recollection - perhaps the most important conclusions reached, if any, from the workshop sessions)

The plenary is open to everyone to talk to, and is being held in an atmosphere of openness and tolerance. No aggressive or intimating repsonses will be permitted. People are free to constructively criticise and discuss openly any doubts they have about their own activism or that of the group.

This plenary session will focus on the future of the Grassroots Gathering, and ask hard questions relating to its existence.

- Why are there only a certain type of activist at this gathering - do we have respect for the methods and organisational structure of other groups who are not libertarian?
- Why are the communities repressed by capitalism (women, ethnic minorities, working/dispossessed class people) so under-represented in our meetings and activities? Are they uninterested, intimitated by our language, or simply uninterested in our politics?
- Is there any point to the Gathering when it is so infrequent, and simply acts as a "talking shop", i.e. no effective organisation to take ideas generated at the gathering into a campaign of action? If this is the case, then why dont we just use the internet more as a forum for letting each other know what we are doing?
- Most of us would call ourselves revolutionaries, and ultimately hope for this, spending our time and mental energy on it - yet there has not been anything even approaching this in the western/developed world in the past 40 years. Are we wasting our time here - particularly in a country with a 75% right wing vote, that doesnt even yet have the maturity to vote on a left/right split?
- Have we as a Gathering or a movement ever participated in a struggle with our methods that was a success?
- Why do we continue with the Gatherings when there is little appetite for them, both nationally and in Dublin? (A previous local attempt, the AAA, vanished after only a handful of sessions).

More information to follow soon.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87600
author by darren - Grassroots Gathering publication date Wed May 14, 2008 15:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just in case there's any confusion the article above by 'intelligent satirists' is not on belhalf of the group currently organising the GG in Dublin nor is it the real timetable for the weekend. We're currently working on the timetable/callout for the weekend & it should be available in the coming days...

author by Simplicituspublication date Wed May 14, 2008 17:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah jee, these intelligent satirists had me taken in until the first comment poster put me right. Funny thing is they seem to put their finger on lots of attitudes and techniques of agit prop on the left that keep activists so emotionally and culturally isolated from that 75 percent of the population that votes FF-FG. The real Grassroots organisers should adopt much of the article's spoof agenda and achieve something realistic into the bargain.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 17:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is amusing and sometimes to the point but also exactly the sort of thing the author(s) should have the courage to put their name(s) to rather than publishing anonymously.

author by ecpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 18:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was about to ask if y'all would screen 'route irish' at this hyper-realist gathering! Tell me - does the film about the dissent network exist?

author by moderate anarchistpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 19:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Grass roots is always an excellent opportunity to deliberate in an informal setting with fellow anarchists and libertarians . Perhaps the authors of the above article felt the need to express themselves in what they consider to be a satirical way .Anarchism is a broad church and unlike the authoritarian left we believe in freedom . But there are boundaries .
For my own part from the outset may I state that the pressing importance of the project we have taken on in the anarchist movement ,the creation of a better more caring world ,should be discussed in an open but mature way . That's what the weekend will be about. From a frank exchange of ideas and out of an eclectic mixing of ‘soft’collective experience with the necessary rigours of methodological individualism the movement can begin to grow over the coming period . Of that I am fully convinced , but ,as I have said before on indymedia ,as anarchists we must first grow up before we grow . The G.R. gathering should be a firm step in the right direction . But the puerile approach of the above article will not be helpful . Are the authors anarchists at all I wonder.
If they are - and I don't discount the possibility that they do in some ways think of themselves as anarchists - they should take on board some of the new seriousness in anarchism that has arisen over the past few years .One small ,but I think not insignificant measure of that new seriousness can be seen in the commitment of the movement’s leading strategists - Checkov , James , Padraig , William and Anthony - to the use of their full names at all times ,a practice that wisely leaves no room for charges of flippancy or frivolusness .
This increasing use of what in anarchist circles has been termed the ‘non-demotic appellative’ may seem at first glance to be at odds with the compassionate egalitarian principles that we cherish so deeply in the movement . But on the contrary: it is a practice to be recommended to all those concerned about anarchism’s negative portrayal by the corporate media and by all those concerned by the perception of the general public that anarchism is somehow not quite serious or ,as is said all too often , “a bit of a joke” .
That’s not to suggest for one minute that anarchists and libertarians are at heart a bunch of stuffed- shirt conservatives . Not at all . Anarchists have never been and should never be afraid of liberating their hearts as well as their minds from all the garbage of consumer capitalism. We should endeavour though to see our political and spiritual selves ,not as in conflict with each other or with one 'part' striving to achieve hierarchy at the expense of an other "part', but as a holistic and organic unity of all parts . And never forget that simply having fun is part of being an anarchist !

On a more serious note ,I would certainly agree in regard to Seomra Spraoi that anarchists would traditionally aspire towards prudhonian concepts of mutualist soft propertarianism based on usufruct and possession - rather than on the inalienable rights of ownership capitalism , for instance . But at the same time an argument could be made for exploring more moderatist approaches to the freeing up of shared space. Indeed does such a “space” necessarily have to be physical and temporal? I hope that is one area that will be seriously examined and explored over the Grass Roots weekend .

author by Another Satiristpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 20:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I believe the following groups have been excluded from the Grassroots Gathering for the following reasons

1. WSM:

The WSM have been excluded from the gathering for three reasons. The first is that they are likely to alienate the working class. Some argue that the upper middle class make up of the WSM excludes the ordinary man from participating in libertarian events. It has also been argued that the WSM attempt at 'being' working class is somewhat embarrassing for a lot of people. There was also a fear that they might hand out their RAG (paper)

2. RAG

RAG have been excluded in fear that they might alienate women from left wing politics. Apparently, this years Grassroots Gathering are attempting a gender balance and a heavy presence by RAG may intimidate the moderate feminists among the community. There was also a fear that they too may start handing out their paper (RAG).

3. Unaffiliated Libertarians

Unaffiliated libertarians are being discouraged from attending in case they join either of the two groups above. The gathering agreed that members of the above groups are likely to attend and feel that the unaffiliated should be protected from aggressive recruiters.

4. Single issue campaigns

Single issue campaigners have been discouraged from attending because they do not fully understand the theory of capitalism and how to organise a revolution. These busy bodies have no theoretical/ intellectual focus, lack sufficient student politics education, and thus - should be excluded from the more serious anarchist activists.

5. Community/ voluntary groups.

These have been discouraged from attending because they are not fully fledged activists. They are too soft, and lack the class framework necessary for building a revolution.

More groups are likely to follow

author by Chekovpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 20:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I must admit that when I glanced at this first, I took it at face value. I was a little surprised to find myself speaking at a meeting which I hadn't been invited to, but ho-hum.

It's a pretty detailed satire though, at least you've been paying attention! I'm sure some of those meetings would actually be pretty interesting, it would make a pretty dour event though.

The second satirist, unfortunately, shares neither the attention to detail nor the wit. It's just a list of stupid prejudices and stereotypes conveniently borrowed from the tabloids.

author by under radarpublication date Wed May 14, 2008 23:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Will there be any speakers from these backgrounds:

bus drivers;
taxi drivers;
truck drivers;
hospital canteen staff;
Glasnevin gravediggers;
Dail ushers;
street cleaners & refuse collectors;
Morning Star hostel staff;
Mortuary attendants;
forklift operators;
Legion of Mary friends of the elderly. ?

In diametrically different ways such people have their thumbs on the pulse of our society and can offer a lot of raw socio-political observations from the grassroots where they operate.

author by Ciaron O'Reillypublication date Thu May 15, 2008 07:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I emailed grassroots address about a week ago offering to do an anti-war (organising in Ireland) workshop. Haven't heard back.

If you already have one I'll join that.
If not I'm willing to meet with however many who are still interested in this subject

There's a thin line between satire and cynicism.
"Cynicism is the fifth column of the establishment!"
It seems to be a powerful dehabilitating streak in popular culture here. I imagine it comes out of 800 years of colonisation rather than indigineous culture.

Satire is best deployed against the rich and powerful

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by xpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 09:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

?? This is pretty cutting alright...

This is the Gathering that should take place, rather than the one that actually will. Yeah it'd be dour, but it'd be an antidote to the sometimes mindless positivism you read about such events ("a great day was had by all, loads of people came, thanks to those who cooked the food, onwards and upwards!" etc). I'm sure similar sentiments were expressed about the last gathering, which then disappeared off the face of the planet for a couple of years but nobody seems too bothered about addressing why or how.

It seems like part of being of a left group means never having to admit you were wrong or you made a mistake... I dont think I've ever seen an anarchist or libertarian write anything here (on imc, or anywhere else) that their organisation or movement made an error of judgement, and taking a different course of action might have achieved the desired or better result. Does being a '(something)-ist' instantly equal absolutely and total conviction in your beliefs to the point of never admitting there might be other ways of doing things...?

The whole ethos of the Gathering or libertarian organising seems a bit questionable to me when you look at the organisations actually promoting it. If communities were to be controlled or organised in a consensus manner by the people that live there, then what kind of an example is it to the people you want to convert or see organise in this manner, when as the proponents of such ideology you cant even do it yourselves, without splits, rancour, inaction, indecision, or lethargy? If you cant organise a campaign with a defined beginning, middle, and end - something you feel angry and passionate about at the outset - then how do you expect non-activists to spend time and effort organising fairly mundane stuff like bin collection, water services, etc in their communities? If you cant maintain some sort of continuity of an organisation or assembly of people yourselves, with fairly homogenous political views, then how on earth would you expect it to happen in a neighbourhood with vastly differing opinions and political stripes...

author by Mark - WSM,Seomra Spraoi per cappublication date Thu May 15, 2008 11:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just a quick initial response..Quite happy to write an extensive repesonse if the author is willing to engage openly..ie use their name

First of some interesting pionts raised.

I'd like to wholeheartedly thank all those involved in the above mentioned groups, organisations, collectives, campaigns, actions etc for providing the real and practical framework for the intellectual musing of the articles author. Posing as witty,it hard not to taste an almost bitter note in its relentless cynicism

No doubt many a question has raised, although not particularly original in themselves. However the composing and framing of the notion of particpation ( how do we get more women, ethnic minorities, taxi drivers, ginger haired people bitter intellectuals "into" our politics) belies a fairly clumsy attitude

But lets no forget that a fairly small amount of people are actaully engaged in the dog work of libertarian/anarchist activity. And sure we are learning lots from mistakes. But thats the things here. We are trying something new, for the most part. We make mistakes, nort because we do things wrong, but because we are doing things differently.

My own sense of the author is that they see libertarianism as a good idea, many even supportive, but for sure an intellectual(in the narrow sense, maybe an ivory towers fab) seeing thier own passive, yet fiarly unsubtle, observations as the same as practical engagement. The articles own selfconscious asthetic damages in fact genuine areas that most groups and collective contine to proactivley and constructivlty address.
But as i say if it wasnt for the hardwork of the relative small number of people invloved in all the thngs referenced in the article, our observer would have little to say or do.

Hopefully they will be up for a more open contributory discussion on this thread

author by Laurence Cox - Grassrootspublication date Thu May 15, 2008 11:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

... as the man said.

I enjoyed this and forwarded it to quite a few comrades.

I think though a few people have got the wrong end of the stick about what Grassroots was intended to be - not a party, not a campaigning organisation, not a mass education / recruiting event. The idea has been to provide a space for activists from different movements who share a broadly defined bottom-up approach to organising to make connections, find common ground and reflect on what's working and what isn't. So GGs are very secondary to whatever campaigns are actually going on at the time. Obviously this can be a bit hard to grasp, but there you go.

For what it's worth, here's a recent article with some of that self-criticism which GGs supposedly don't do:

http://www.wsm.ie/story/2799

A collection of links from past gatherings at:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/68675#comment101500

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Plowsharespublication date Thu May 15, 2008 12:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let's face it this is a pretty sectarian town in terms of organising for peace and justice outside the parliamentary /NGO professional sector.

At the moment I'm involved in solidarity work for the Raytheon 9 who go to trial next week and maybe to jail after that.

I attended one of the rare public meetings with one of the defendants speaking a few weeks ago there was no sign of any anarchists. This was a rare action of nonviolent direct action against the war - something that anarchists spent a lot of time arguing for against the only state sanctioned responses of rallying and marching. There was also a lack of folks from the SP, SF, churches etc at this high quality (in terms of speeches and presentations) meeting.

I then trundled along to May Day and waited around for a mix and mingle at the ba following the speeches before being called prematurely off to relief work. I met an interesting guy form northern Pakistan...initially thought he was Venazuelan because of the leaflets he was handing out! The anarchs I had marched with had skipped the speeches (maybe understandably) and adjourned to another bar.

I saw that the uni Shinners were hosting Tony Benn recently who always gives a good (historical) speech and went along to that. Tony Benn is one of the leading figures in the Stop the War Coalition in England ( coalition heavily dominated by the SWP) and I didn't see any SWP at that one.

The left in Dublin is starting to remind me of the churches...preaching to the converted (the opportunity to engage Joe Public at the successful Speakers Square was not embraced and became reliant on about 4 of us for 18 months (?) until 2 left Dublin. Obama recently described "going to church as the most segregated hour in American life". One could make a similar observations about left public meetings in Dublin

We need to build a dissident culture in Dublin rather than see it as a limited (shrinking) market with different groups competing. A lot of this present Lisbon Treaty activism SWP, PbP etc looks like brand projection primarily.

I think especially with the closure of the social centre we should go back to the Anti Authoritarian Assemblies. I haven't heard a good argument why they were abandoned. The last two I attended were great with about 7 groups (both anarch entities like RAG, WSM ,CW, lowerd deck gig organisers, social centre and anarchs involved in ongoing campaigns Cocal Cola, Rossport, Shannon, Critical Mass etc) reporting on ongoing activity and 25 folks (includiing Poles, Russians, English reporting on other stuff happening else where) mutual aid being offered rather than recruiting form other campaigns and organisations Social time to follow and you've got more chance of recognising fellow travelers when you pass them in the street and get more informal updates on what's happening around town. Without this WSM becomes the only visible anarch show in town which can't be good for the WSM or the broiader anarchist movement!

We got to get off the internet and do some face to face time (beyond singing, dancing and drinking) where we question rumours and get clarification and affirm a broader activist netowrk

author by Josie Walshpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 13:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good article. The second best one I've seen in the last couple of months (Chekov's one on Ganley's Libertas was the first).
Even if it is being portrayed as satire it does ask a lot of very relevant questions, and not just for anarchists. Before I realised that it was a pisstake I was actually planning to attend!!!

author by Amused - Amused readers associationpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 15:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My favourite bit was....

'IMC Ireland Editors Chekov (Workers Solidarity Movement), Padraic (Workers Solidarity Movement), James (Workers Solidarity Movement), and Anthony (Workers Solidarity Movement)
explain why one organisation or ideology does not control the website.'

I would loved to have heard that session!

author by guydebordisdead - wsm (pc)publication date Thu May 15, 2008 15:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An article compiling some of the most generic arguments against each aspect of the libertarian left? A push is required dear friends if you wish to be real satirists. Some of your qualms even contradicted each other and the pulled punches leave me doubting the sincerity of your attack.

Lets face it; the grassroots gathering can't be all things at once, it isnt a rank and file workers network and it isnt a community activist forum nor is it a rainbow or autonomen gathering. What it is is a forum for discussion between a broad tendency that has only recently emerged in Irish politics, you can take it or leave it really. Personally I have never been to one as I see my political home as lying elsewhere, pissing on it is just boring though.

author by Chekovpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 15:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"explain why one organisation or ideology does not control the website"

First of all, you only need to look at the site to see that it does not have strict ideological controls on content. It's jam-packed full of stuff that anarchists would violently disagree with. Personally, I would estimate that I strongly oppose about 50% of the political points made by contributors or else think they're just drivel.

Secondly, the WSM has no organisational involvement in indymedia. WSM members participate on a personal capacity with no mandate from the organisation and no input from the organisation into indymedia policy. The WSM has no policy on indymedia work and has never even discussed indymedia's operations internally, never mind attempting to influence them as an organisation.

Thirdly, one of the people you mention is not an editor any more and the other two joined the WSM long after joining indymedia.

Fourthly, all indymedia editing is done on open mailing lists. That makes claims such as yours easy to back up with evidence if you are so inclined. But hey, that might take a bit of time and it's far easier to throw out a load of unsubstantiated satirical questions.

Fifthly, indymedia is run by a group with a shared ideology, albeit broad and loosely defined. It is summed up basically in the editorial policy. http://www.indymedia.ie/editorial and the various global network documents. Nobody would devote huge chunks of time to helping to run a not-for-profit alternative news site if they didn't have some ideology to motivate them.

Finally, the fundamental mistake that I think you make, in your imlicit attack on indymedia, as well as in most of your other points, is that you massively underestimate the difficulties in effecting change given the imbalance of forces that radicals face in modern capitalism.

I mean, if you look at indymedia, it has provided a free and relatively open service for distributing radical news and views for the last 6 1/2 years or so. It has built up an audience of over 20,000 different readers every day. It has done this on a budget of more or less zero, with a constantly changing cast of volunteer workers, who labour to provide a useful service for those producing alternative news and views. It has done this in direct competition with vastly better resourced media, web-2.0 and state information services. In all that time, there has not been a single, remotely viable attempt by any of our critics to actually build something better.

Indymedia volunteers are well aware of the limitations of the current site and devote a good bit of time and energy into trying out different ways to improve stuff. One of the major problems in doing this is the fact that we have a small tribe of stalkers who launch anonymous attacks on us regularly, almost all of which are also premised on a total lack of appreciation of the scale of the problem.

For all the attention to detail of your satire, it still boils down to yet another anonymous attack by somebody who doesn't even understand the problem, never mind knowing the solution.

author by Libertarianpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 17:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a brilliant piece of satire. Those getting so feverishly upset by it only reinforce the subtle message of the article.

I take this message to be that Anarchists for all their consenus, non hierarchical talk are all too prone to self denial. They are also extremely sensitive to the inconvienent truths that are very well outlined in the article. But, this is human. Most of us deny the inconvienent truths about ourselves. Anarchists are not going to be any different.

The article also poses many pertinent questions that all those involved in libertarian politics should genuinely seek to address. The most important one being the fact that our politics are a million miles away from the reality of Ireland in 2008. Now, an open assesment of how to accept this and work from it is a fairly legitimate basis for any discussion. Therefore, maybe the organisers of the GG may consider having it as a topic?

I would also have to agree that there is most definately a perception by indymedia users that criticisms of the WSM are absolutely unacceptable on the site. Whether this is true or not is another matter, but it is definately a perceived belief by a lot people who use the site.

Anyway, Well done to the authors: this piece should be made a feature.

author by living proofpublication date Thu May 15, 2008 17:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Libertarian you are the chief example that wsm criticism is not censored

author by Mark - WSM, Seomra, and other stuffpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 11:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why was this made a feature? Not asking Indymedia Ed'sd for an answer, just musing to the thread. Its not a great piece and just provides a playground for all those who are immersed in little boys politics, wankery and ego filled "intellectualism". Its a genuinely cynical peice, and if anyone think that the "pertinent pionts" it raises arent a substantial part of where "our politics" is at really can't be that invovled with "our politics"

However, as usual many will seize the childish opportunity to fly there own flags.

Before i start, none of this is about defending WSM. I think we are big bold and ugly enough to withstand the 'satire' thrown our way. I'm more intersted about the 'we' of our looser millue

E.g. Libertarian.......
Whilst i can't find many feverish responses on this thread, your own comment ie "This is a brilliant piece of satire" would have to be the comment closest to the feverish description
If this is a brillant piece of satire then surely,bejasus, its must be an even brillant-er piece of irony that your comment is the most feverish eh?

To the author!
eh?? oh just look how i turned that around oh wow i'm clever clever clever, and did i tell you i was clever? and cynical as wellyeah did i tell you i was cynical too yeah yeah, could ya get that, it wasn't too hidden was it? And to top it all off its really subtle .......really, really subtle too. Brillliant eh? But not too subtle mind, not too subtle for sure. Coz then you might miss how clever i am. Did i tell you i was clever?............. I did? Are ya sure? Ok then ok............Can i be a feature now pleassse. Go on make me a feature, Go on WSM make me a feature, sure its Mark,...After all i am a member...Go on. Oh god the Satire, the Satire oh how fucking funny..... absolutely amazing can you believe how i turned that around eh.... and the world slowly collapses in on itself again........

But sure at least we got Bono looking out for us............

For fuck sake, i know its really nice weather and we probably dont wanna be hanging around the old compuuuter but have a bit of a reality check before ya type

"...I take this message to be that Anarchists for all their consenus, non hierarchical talk are all too prone to self denial."

What message? the message you just created yourself? Fuck me Libertarian you really are excelling yourself here. To tell you the truth i don't know why i'm bothering except that i do. Some things are far too important to let smug and lazy thinking and the comments they breed just lie there. This isnt just about you or the articles author, its about a dangerous, self centered and childish attitude that pervades alot of what passes for 'politics' in this city. You feel confident to come out with, what i consider to be, absolute shite talk in the above comment. Am i being too serious, do i lack humour, you tell me, you know.

What i dont have time for is people who see this stuff as a game, something to carve spaces for themselves, too piss on others just to puff up themselves. I take this as a metaphorical slap in the face, not because i dont have a sense of humour, but because there are a lot of pretensious peoples out there with plenty so say, and with fuck all to add to the building of a healthy, open and mutually supportive movement and seemingly little intent to either. To all the little boys who havent grown up yet and are masquerading as 'part of we', or better still as the 'revolutionaries', intellectual or otherwise this is a personal (but public) FUCK YOU to ya. And that 's as intellectual as i'm willing to make it. If you wanna piss into the ring, keep pissing but dont expect the love your missing dear freinds. Coz, you know what, you have nothing interesting to say we dont already know. Maybe it is time to take stock and declare openly the bullshit, attitudes, and practices that stifle healthy political cultures .

So am i feverish now? Perhaps i am.

Why.?
Coz i know im in for the long hall, as are most of the geniune activist and anarchists that i work daily with. We are proactively attempting to create working cultures and spaces that make your attitude and orientation increasingly irrelevant. We are seeking and challenging oursleves, as well as working on the things we are invovled with.

Have you checked out the events calendar this year yet, have you seen any increase in activtiy or make any analysis of what has been going on in 'Our PoLiticS' ( i'm sure you might have you own take on that activity, no doubt you see it as useless, but i'll have more time for your attitude and the attitutdes of the author when they actually turn up to get their hands dirty, ie become activley involved instead off bitching...

The idea that we all hide "inconveniet truths" might provide a Bushel for your own Glowing Light, but that doesnt stop you attaching yourself to the hard work of others when describing stuff as "our politics".

Your brighter than that Libertarian, but its also clear that your part of that culture that, for all its lenghty repeatitive critique's still kinda sees ' our politics' as a bit of a little big boys game. It smacks of immaturity, self centered egoish, and all the other attributes one can clearly sees in talkers rather than doers. It amounts to intellectual masturbation, except without the results.

This isnt meant to be a personal attack, but as a genuine retort to the 'realities' you seem so keen to flag up. Experience shows that folks who are genuine, and input constructively and genuinely, to real issues facing us in many areas will find that their opinions are always welcome, and indeed needed. But my point is loud and clear again. To all those who want to be little boys playing politics, and with the lack of maturity desire to engage constructively, and would rather puff out their chests sayin "see me, look how clever i am", i'll say it again, Whats this we business, take a good look around, grow up or fuck off

author by edjercayshunpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 12:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

After reading that last post I think indymedia should consider adding a spellcheck facility to the opinion site.

The sharp reactions by several to the satirical article shows that the article poster has hit home.

author by Libertarianpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For sake of clairty: Many people seem to think I wrote the above article....

Thus, for the sake of clarity I want to state: I DID NOT WRITE THE ARTICLE.

There are many parts of the article I disagree with (for example: Seomra Spraoi squatting. I would hate to see Seomra Spraoi squat a building. I think the current approach is spot on). I am also a supporter of GG, but am in favour of more formal structure.

It is a great piece of satire becasue it poses genuine questions that we genuinely need to face up to.

As the authors state: 72% of people vote for right wing parties in this country. Social Partnership is a model that has embraced the vast majority of a) Organised labour b) the community/ voluntary sectors of civil society. It is a model that is studied on the continent on how to develop consensus across political differences. And unfortunately for us- IT WORKS.

We have to face up to this reality if we genuinely want to enact progressive social change.

Presently, we are a sub culture. There is nothing wrong with this. Main stream culture is a load of bollix. However, we cannot claim to be a political force, and I sense that this is what most of us want. Remaining a sub culture may be ok for a lot of people. But, I will be honest, It is not ok for me.

I want Libertarian Democratic ideas to become mainstream and inform how all forms of governance and economics is determined in Europe. A little ambitious perhaps but one needs to be in the current political climate.

Therefore the big question remains: HOW DO WE AS LIBERTARIAN SOCIALISTS/ DEMOCRATS/ ANARCHISTS become a powerful influential political force in Ireland? Is it the adoption of radical reforms, is it using the state? is it participating in local/ national elections? Is it about organising for a future revolution? We need new ideas, new approaches and we need them fast. The best way to generate new ideas is get new people involved,and I think the list above by a previous commentator is a good starting point:

bus drivers;
taxi drivers;
truck drivers;
hospital canteen staff;
Glasnevin gravediggers;
Dail ushers;
street cleaners & refuse collectors;
Morning Star hostel staff;
Mortuary attendants;
forklift operators;
Legion of Mary friends of the elderly.

Facing up to this challenge of building a fresh social movement that ordinary people can relate to is appealing and inspiring. Denying the collasal challenge, and denying that our current approach is not reaching out to the vast majority of working people is not helpful.

We are a minority, a small football club probably has more support than our political ideas. This is not to say we are not influential. We are, and I am sure we provide sanity for all those who wake up every morning and recognise that Irish society is sexist, ugly, monotonous and boring.

But this is where we are unfortunately, and if we want to engage the vast majority of the working people in this country then we need to CHANGE our appoach, and we need to CHANGE FAST to avoid becoming completely invisible.

author by markpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 12:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"After reading that last post I think indymedia should consider adding a spellcheck facility to the opinion site"

i have difficulty spelling words, no biggie, but i totally agree with ya. It would be great to have a spell check facilty

"The sharp reactions by several to the satirical article shows that the article poster has hit home"

Hit home where exactly, eh? i mean just what are the pieces original insightful parts. It might help you move towards making a genuine case rather than bland comments

author by Barrypublication date Fri May 16, 2008 13:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You have done yourself no favours with that comment Mark. I helped out with Seomra Spraoi a bit and played a bit of music and i dont agree at all with waht u said. I actually thought the press release was real, and was going 2 go.

author by Fintan Lane - ISNpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 14:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Might just be me, I guess, but this piece of satire didn't raise even a flicker of a smile on my visage. Honestly, my feeling is that this is MEANT to be negative criticism rather than helpful humour. It's just not particularly funny.

author by Libertarianpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 15:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mark,

When I initially read your post Mark I was pretty pissed off and decided to wait until I calmed down before replying. My response is still far short of the 48 hour rule that they teach you in anger management classes but I am pretty impatient.

I think you have completely misconstrued what I stated in my post. You may have thought I was the author (well, at least I hope you did as this would explain your over the top reaction) but I assure you I wasn’t (I sense it was written by a previous bulwark of the rossport solidarity camp who has subsequently become disillusioned with Anarchism) . Therefore I think your perception of what I think is based more on what you think I belief rather than what I actually do.

I respect you as a person Mark, and the effort you put into Seomra Spraoi amongst other things, therefore I am not going to knit pick at all the things you said. However there are two things I would like to clarify for you and the WSM.

1.

“Maybe it is time to take stock and declare openly the bullshit, attitudes, and practices that stifle healthy political cultures”

I couldn’t agree more Mark, and this is exactly what I think I am trying to do when I argue for the need to be open and honest about Anarchism as a political force in Ireland.

The cliqueness that exists amongst the libertarian left is the first practice that stifles a healthy political culture. Extreme sensitivity to critique is another aspect that destroys a healthy democratic political culture. So yes, I agree, I think we do need to take stock and declare openly the bullshit that stifles political cultures. However, I do not think rational debate and critique is one of them.

2.

You seem (amongst others) to think that one can only be a libertarian if they are involved in ‘activist circles’ or ‘anarchism’. This is total nonsense. Just because somebody does not get involved in this sub culture of anarchists it certainly does not mean they are not politically active as libertarians.

My politics begins in the WORKPLACE not in some abstract activist sphere. Politics is best located where people spend 90% of their productive activity i.e. the work place. This is precisely where I put forth WORKING CLASS LIBERTARIAN ARGUMENTS, and members of a group called’ Workers Solidarity’ should understand & appreciate this.

Impacting the workplace is a lot more engaged than drinking cans with fellow ‘activists’ at a social event. It is also going to do a lot more for the cause of libertarian socialism.

How?

Trade Union activity: Representing workers is not an easy task as any trade union activist knows: Therefore, allow me to show you how I, as a working class libertarian and a SIPTU representative put these ideas into practice in my work place:

Putting forth arguments for greater autonomy on the job

Putting forth arguments for workers to write up their own job spec, allowing for greater creativity, participation and decision making

Putting forth arguments for flat horizontal decision making across the organisation

Putting forth arguments for flexible working hours to accommodate working mothers

Putting forth arguments for disability/ pension/ sick leave benefits

Putting forth arguments for co operative enterprise schemes (i.e. allowing workers to become the biggest shareholder)

Putting forth arguments for the organisation to develop/ design and produce according to cyclical ecological principles.

Putting forth arguments for the need to employ workers from the local community

Putting forth arguments to source all resources locally

Putting forth arguments to contribute to the well being of the community within which the organisation is located.

Trying to collectivise non union workers

Pushing the libertarian agenda at a national branch level (education)

Pushing the agenda for a democratic education structure across the entire education system (from primary to post graduate level)

Opposing all forms of privatisation

Demanding agency workers receive equal rights as contract workers

On top of these activities I am fortunate enough to work in education. I am even luckier to teach on an Industrial Relations degree programme. Now, teaching a class of 20 adult learners (out of formal education for years) about the workings of capitalism and how it affects them as a) individuals/ workers b) their organisation c) their community is hardly ‘unproductive’ or isolated.

This is WORKERS EDUCATION.

Again, as a member of a group called ‘workers solidarity’ you cannot surely see our (working class libertarians) as somehow cut off. Cut off from the sub culture of anarchism perhaps but not cut off from the WORKING CLASS.

Now – does this sound like I have been doing nothing but engage in ‘Intellectual Masturbation’?

Breaking out of the activist clique is the first healthy step towards making OUR (and here I refer not to anarchist activists but all the WORKING CLASS engaged in progressive WORKERS reforms/ rights and revolutions across the globe) POLITICS a reality.

author by moderate anarchistpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 16:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It seems to me that the article was written as an insult to anarchism by somebody on the way out of the movement. Mark’s posts are somewhat angry and impatient and that’s understandable given the amount of commitment he has put into the movement throughout the years , but I would urge restraint . Don’t feed the trolls Mark .

Let the success of this year’s Gathering – and I have no doubt that it will be a great success - serve as a suitable riposte to self-styled satirists who have nothing better to do than traduce a proud tradition about which ,to judge from their tiresome screed ,they know little or nothing. Fintan from the ISN sums up my own feelings to the article very succinctly when he writes, ‘It's just not particularly funny.’

author by Dec McCpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 17:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As somebody who has been involved in previous Grassroots gatherings and is working on part of the forthcoming one I have to say like Laurence I thought the original article was quite funny and at times fairly accurate about some of the problems associated with libertarian politics in Ireland. There is of course a fair deal of necessary exagerration and trimming of the truth in the article but it is satire and that goes with the territory. As to intention....well that is fairly intriguing.

I can't say that, however, about some of the comments which are either misinformed or misleading. Chekov has dealt with 'the WSM borg controls an open publishing news website' nonsense and Laurence has pointed out that we have indeed shown ourselves to be capable of self criticism. For more examples of the same simply look at the DGN fucks up section of this article which I wrote http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=486 or any of the articles on anti-capitalism in Red and black. Besides this I would say and hope that a good deal of the next gathering will be about extending this critique. I should add given the straw man arguments thrown up in the thread that I don't know anyone within the 'milieu' who is labouring under the illusion that we have sorted out all the questions and problems and that all is well.

As to the prolier than thou ping pong that has flared up between libertarian and w -well this is an obvious waste of time. I know and like libertarian who often has intelligent things to say but listing your interventions through trade union work and education is really a bit besides the point. I think I know W as well. Ditto on knowing and liking him but the ad hominen arguments are not helpful.

Hopefully this passion for detailed critique will emerge at the next grassroots gathering but I suspect that a lot of this is just sounding off rather than about building alternatives.

author by markpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 17:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Apols if it seems i lost it a bit by my main piont is the same. i
Iive no interest in trying to iinsult or personalise this., and apoligise Libertarian if you've felt personally slighted. But i make no apoligises for making resonable demands aboput the spirit in which we shape discourses and conversations about our shared politics. Its no a game for personalities, even when personalities play a role. where the persoanl and politics overlap is always going to be sensitive but perhaps it also needs to be address

If people want to define what they are doing by pissin on the work others rather than having the politcal maturity to seek to create ways to bring your arguments forward then why should others waste time on that. I dont know anyone in any of the groups orgs and collectives in involved with who doest get what solidarity means in practice

My main motivation is not anger of some sort that "my" activism is undermined and undervalued. Life is too short and pride rather futile .Its the openly negative dismissal of the many many friends and comrades old and new that angers me. Solidarity is more than just a notion or word. And its not something that only occurs between 'real' members of the working class, Its a real and tangible sentimrent that should, to my mind, orientate anyone who defines there politics as anarchist/libertarian

I have respect for the work energy imagination and commitment many many of my comrades around that continually inspire and help to educate me. When i think that people are statedgically wide of the mark or others thing the same of what im doing/suggesting, or whether people are personally out off line, solidarity and constructive attitudes help make those conversations productive and forward looking. they make knowledge a shared entity and create the compost of healthy inclusive poltical cultures. There is a point however than i feel the only useful thing to do, when people, by thier own actions/attitudes etc, decide to exclude themselves from constructive discussion is to disengage. Whilst saying 'fuck off' might not be the most intelligible response, to do much else is, in my mind. a waste of energy

Is is a coincidence that this seems to be a way of 'doing'political discussion/discourse thats exclusively male i wonder aloud?

does anyone have any thoughts on this?

As for some of the post re: an individuals class. Its exactly the shite i'm taking about no matter whos saying it.

So for sure lets continue to address some of the issues that this article alludes to out of the side of its mouth, but lets not delude ourselves that the loudest critics have the skills or desire to make things work

author by le bertie aryanpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 18:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets not delude ourselves here. The trots cant create struggle, the anarchists cants create struggle, the social democrats and insurrectionists cant create struggle. Libertarian, we live in a period of low struggle and class-retreat. Our forces are regrouping following 100 years of mostly defeat. Stop pissing into the tent ya gobshite.

author by Mark Cpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 19:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wouldn't have realised that this was supposed to be a piece of satire except that I read an email from someone to indymedia.ie asking for that to be stated at the beginning of the article. Just goes to show how much faith the author has in his own ability to be satirical.

Also, not to get into editorial stuff, but I am really surprised at this being made into a feature.

Mark.

author by Chekovpublication date Fri May 16, 2008 22:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The big problem with this 'debate' is that it's based around a pretty major straw man.

Libertarian: "this is exactly what I think I am trying to do when I argue for the need to be open and honest about Anarchism as a political force in Ireland"

Both you, and the author of the satire, have essentially based your arguments on the assumption that anarchists are not open and honest about their strength as a political force in Ireland. You have even used capitalisation patterns to emphasise the ABSOLUTE URGENCY of addressing this problem. You seem to think that most anarchists are somewhat deluded about the strength of anarchism as a political force.

Therein lies the problem. Anarchists in Ireland are small, marginal, with no solid base of support amongst workers and virtually no tradition whatsoever to draw upon. The smears of their enemies are far, far better known than what they actually believe and say. Now, maybe we've run into different people, but personally I've never come across any Irish anarchist who isn't intimately aware of this fact. I mean, it's absolutely, completely and totally obvious - do you really think that it's news to anybody?

It's not just a personal opinion either. You don't have to try hard to find anarchists saying this stuff. For example, here are a few quotes from the WSM's "our perspectives" paper - which is pretty much devoted to an analysis of our position as a political force in Ireland:

( http://www.wsm.ie/story/454 )

"1.1 we have no native anarchist tradition to draw on nor do we have any base in the working class we can call our own"

"1.6 if history shows us the great influence of anarchism in the working class, it also shows us its decline and marginalisation in all but a few countries today"

"1.9 The WSM is a small organisation. So are many anarchist organisations the world over"

"1.10 we will not be too taken aback by our present small numbers. Then we have a good chance of not falling into the trap of pretending we are bigger and capable of more than we are right now. To fall into that trap would be to substitute wishful thinking for reality; to ignore the wider social and economic conditions that are real determinants of growth for revolutionary ideas and organisation. "

"4.1 there are limitations to what we ourselves can do in this situation - given our size and our meagre resources"

"4.2 We have to recognise that right now we are an organisation of only a handful. Secondly we have to recognise that our tradition has no historical existence in Ireland, and this means that there are few others to rely on but ourselves. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we know that these times are very hard for building what we are building."

"4.3 We have to constantly remind ourselves that at present we are tiny and have no real base in any section of the class. "

"4.12 with our present small numbers, there is a limit to how much we can achieve in any given period. We are confident that support for anarchism will grow but we are also aware of the reality we face at present."

And that's just from a single document - which is incidentally the first place where you expect that somebody would look if they wanted to get a clue about what anarchists thought about their strength as a political force. I really don't know where you are getting your impression of anarchist delusions of grandeur from, but to me and the anarchists I know, you may as well be shouting "THE SKY IS BLUE" at us.

Anyway, while I think it's pretty obvious that you're attacking a straw-man, I still think it stems from a fundamental miscalculation of the difficulty of the problem facing us. You seem to imagine that recognising our political weakness is a major problem. I wish it were so. That's step one on a very long road, a step that's not all that important because it's obvious to all but the seriously deluded.

Step two of recognising the problem is to realise that recognising the problem does not make it go away. You can not choose to not be politically weak. The strength of political forces is bound by all sorts of forces that are completely and utterly out of your control. Individuals or small groups of people, no matter how hard they work and how well they direct that work are simply incapable of creating strong social forces, the most they can do is to sow the seeds of radical ideas and try to influence the trajectory of popular forces once they arise.

Step three is to recognise that there is no point in focusing on the scale of the problem because it's simply unrealistic to imagine that there is any simple answer which could bridge the vast chasm in between where we are now and where we would like to be. The problem to focus on is not "how do we become a.major force in the working class" because there is no simple solution. Any such outcome would require either a considerable length of time or dramatic events. We can't see into the future, so there's not all that much point in spending too much time on trying to solve the overall problem.

Step four is to recognise that you need to focus on solving the immediate problem of "how do we get into a better position than we are in now" rather than searching for the final solution. This is not a trivial task - setting proper short and medium targets and ensuring that they are consistent with one's final goal is difficult.

Step five is to realise that, regardless of how well chosen and sensible they are, meeting targets is a lot harder than making them. Almost everything you would like to be able to do to achieve your goals is impossible. You don't have television stations, networks of newsagents or any other of the things that you'd like to be able to reach people with.

Step six is to recongnise that the practical problems are harder to solve than the programatic ones. It doesn't matter how perfect your political line is if none of your target audience ever hears about it.

Step seven is to realise that the odds are overwhelmingly against you. The vast majority of small radical groups go absolutely nowhere. The problems are difficult to solve and require care and thought to overcome. They can only ever be incrementally solved and lead to bigger problems with any level of success. Attempting to reach one's final goal with too much urgency just leads to going nowhere in a frenzy.

Given these problems, which are just completely out of one's control, it is pretty pointless to criticise anarchists for not being a major force in the working class. You would have to be quite deluded to think that there was anything that we could have done differently that would have bridged that gap. Such criticism betrays a hopelessly unrealistic view of the problems that we face.

On the other hand, if you look at Irish anarchism's development over the period to which this article is addressed, it has been pretty much on a consistent upward curve and is today stronger, better organised, more active, productive and visible than it has ever been before. These small steps forward are easy to sneer at, but stuff like the Grassroots Gathering, chaotic and diverse as it was, were significant steps, however small, that brought us a tiny bit forward.

Successfully finding the next small steps forward is the hard bit of politics and it often requires significant compromises and working with people who you don't agree with on lots of stuff.

Finally, while anarchist approaches to political action are certainly open to criticism, electoralism doesn't exactly look like a particularly attractive alternative. In recent years it has been a spectacularly disastrous battle-ground for the left. In general, the Irish left has suffered 30 years of contraction, despite continuous 'moderation' of what is considered left politics. The far-left has almost totally collapsed and barely exists any more. Militancy has almost disappeared from the unions. In such a situation it would seem imprudent to mock the approach of the one left-wing force which has managed to buck the trend and grow from nothing to its still tiny state despite the unfavourable conditions.

author by workerpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 02:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm hostel staff (not at morning star but close enough) and will be representin' at the grassroots gathering.
It's weird people can think anarchists don't have 'normal' jobs....

author by Lollerzpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 02:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Therefore the big question remains: HOW DO WE AS LIBERTARIAN SOCIALISTS/ DEMOCRATS/ ANARCHISTS become a powerful influential political force in Ireland? Is it the adoption of radical reforms, is it using the state? is it participating in local/ national elections?

LOL ... in other words, should anarchists consider becoming completely non-anarchist? ! If you want the adoption of some radical reforms through the medium of the state then the Socialist Party has got a pre-filled sub with your name on it. If you want to safely waffle about rrrrrevolutionary rrrrradical rrrrreforms then the SWP has got a stack of newspapers ready for you (unless you live in the UK in which case you'll also get a Labour Party sub around election time now that RESPECT ain't getting any.)

As could be predicted from the lameness of the original troll droppings smeared about on the front page the quality of "debate" is reflected in the comments such as the one above. A straw-man is not satire. A libertarian advocating statist reforms is not a libertarian, they're a troll.

Nice to see that the editors got duped by the old "This is a criticism you dare not publish" line though.

author by xpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 09:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you read back over the original post, I dont think its as complicated as people have interpreted it. Look at the questions the supposed "workshops" were asking, none of which are that big or all encompassing:

1. What happened with "Ireland From Below"?
2. Why did the GNAW anti-war campaign dissolve?
3. Why do anarchists always go on marches with politicians?
4. When has a direct action focused campaign been a success?
5. Why dont Seomra Spraoi squat a derelict building?
6. Why is there no libertarian network in Ireland?
7. Has Indymedia become redundant?
8. What do feminists think of intelligent women who choose to objectify themselves?
9. Do grassroots-style campaigns ever have a proper goal, structure, or end?

I dont think they're that big questions for a movement to answer either, without people working themselves into a complete frenzy and getting the knives out for each other, despite being quite politically similar with each other (this in itself doesnt say much as us being a movement for a brighter future).

Anarchists regularly ask similar questions on this website about the workings of other left groups, such as the puppetry/undemocratic nature of the IAWM, ineffectiveness of electoral campaigns, etc - but from some of the replies above seem to feel very uncomfortable if the mirror is turned on them. There's one above as well I cant even understand very well, it seems to have been written at lightspeed in a furious flash of anger.

If we're part of a political organisation or movement, we're going to have to deal with criticism from others both within and without I think. Saying that you work with people who day-in day-out work for a better society, and from this are somehow above being questioned or even lampooned is ludicrous. I'm sure if you talked to any political activist, regardless of their party (even FF, PD, ICP, Celtic Wolves) they'd say they put in time and effort of their lives to make society better.

Chekhov wrote a good response to why Indymedia isnt dead, and Dec McCarthy's articles which I'd never read before were good too, admitting mistakes and being honest about bad organisation. I do think this is the sort of thing you never or rarely read coming from the radical left.

That'll be 2 cents please!

author by Plimsollpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 14:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That's a useful summary of points raised in the satirical article, x. Worth more than 2 cents I'd say. Now I hope the main posters on this thread can continue the discussion in relation to the points.

Glad to hear that 'worker' works in a hostel although not the Morning Star and will be at the meeting. Individuals like 'worker' are really down at the grassroots and can tell some home truths to the student bedsitter brigade.

author by bakhuninpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 14:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yeah. Right.

What do students living in rented accommodation know about poverty and inequality?

author by Plimsollpublication date Sat May 17, 2008 16:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I didn't mean it that way Bakhunin. I meant that most poverty today is in the family, whether it be a lone parent with kid(s) or nuclear families in known areas of cities who live from week to week and worry about the rent and the cost of kids' schoolbooks and clothes. Students in bedsitters may live on low allowances but their accomodation isn't in the problem suburbs and inner city decayed spots. It's good for students to become active in politics, but they need to hear firsthand experience from hostel workers and the like just in case they get too steeped in highfalutin' theories.

author by Donagh - Grassroots Gathering 2008publication date Sat May 17, 2008 17:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just in case anyone is interested in information on the real Grassroots Gathering 2008, it's available here:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87600

And, for more details on the substance of the Gathering, here:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1...ate=1

Exact timetables etc. to follow.

Related Link: http://www.myspace.com/grassrootsgathering08
author by moderate anarchistpublication date Sun May 18, 2008 11:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I checked out the real Grassroots site Donagh ,thanks for the link .I found some of the observations in the accompanying article unsettling however such as the comment about the movement needing “ a happy-clappy lucky dip of the same old workshops on the same old campaigns, skill-shares and alternative lifestyle ideas – like we need a hole in the collective head ” That’s too close to the so-called satire of the ‘intelligent satirists’ for comfort imo ,but nonetheless anarchists should make it their business to get along to Gathering if only to let the cynics know that we are not the type of losers that the authoritarian left and corporate media (and cynical ex- anarchists )would like people to think we are.
The ‘intelligent satirists’ undoubtedly introduced an unhealthy dose of negative energy into the preparations for Gathering, intentionally or otherwise . Hopefully the timely intervention by mature compreros on this thread will have steadied nerves a little . I would commend Chekov’s forensic analysis in this regard , particularly his honing in on the capitalisation patterns employed by the authors of the screed .
I know that some younger anarchists and genuine libertarians are still a little upset by the negative energy generated by the article . (congratulations intelligents satirists , you did what you set out to do very well ;are you are feeling proud of youselves?) It would be good if Gathering were to introduce some calming /relaxation measures for the weekend ,perhaps a tribal drumming workshop would be in order or ,better still a few sessions of Spiral centred Dance
. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_dance

author by liz cpublication date Sun May 18, 2008 12:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

my first reaction to this article was wow that's honest. i thought it was open and confident to publicly ask questions that often come up in activist discussions anyway. (and no it wasn't me who wrote it.) it doesn't seem negative or troll-like to me at all. this article was obviously written by someone who is involved and who cares. i agree that a lot of these questions are worth asking and answering honestly . it's a given that the odds against us are huge and the amount of effort people are putting in with limited resources is massive. no-one's disputing that. i would have gone to a lot of the meetings suggested and i get the impression that some of the questions asked in this article will be asked at the real GG. just as at the seomra spraoi weekend a while back people had good discussions on great things about social spaces as well as difficulties and obstacles. looking forward to the GG. see yus there

;)

author by moderate anarchistpublication date Sun May 18, 2008 15:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Defenders of the article present it as a well meant satire or an attempt at opening a much needed debate between anarchists .That view implies that there is an attempt to stifle debate in the Irish anarchist movement . Of course the authors do not come out openly and say that ; they know if they did they would not be taken seriously . So they present their puerile criticisms as satire . I think it can safely be said that the pre-eminence of Voltaire Wilde ,Swift and Juvenal in that field will not be challenged by these epigones.
The WSM has a lively website . I wonder why our intelligent (and modest) satirists couldn’t have posted their opinions there instead of on Indymedia . I wonder why they couldn’t have raised their concerns through the many horizontally structured channels of communication that make anarchist organization so radically distinct from the centralist hierarchies of the authoritarian left. Liz tells us that her ‘ first reaction’ to the screed was “wow that's honest.” . I hope that Liz is not suggesting that anarchists are dishonest most of the time and that this article is some sort of welcome relief.

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Plowsharespublication date Sun May 18, 2008 19:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Defenders of the article present it as a well meant satire or an attempt at opening a much needed debate between anarchists "

I too think debate between anarchist s in Ireland is also essential I think space for clarification of rumours, anarchist analysis of whatever campaigns or praxis people are involved in is also essential If it's limited to the net - all this is done in public and either, understandably, self censoring in terms of concerns of state surveilance and multiplies the possibilities for misunderstanding and further drift into subcultural orbits.

I still haven't heard a good explanation why the AAA networking meetings every 4-6 months were abandoned by WSM and other anarchists.
It's beeen a long time between GG.....chances are it a be a long time until the one after this one. Regular delegate meetings (open to individual activists and anarchists passing through town) followed by a social seems to make the most sense in nourishing a broader movement cattering for various political organising priorities and anarchist tendencies in Ireland.

I haven't got a clue what is happening on the ground at Tara, I'm pretty confused what is happening presently with the Rossport campaign, I've got a bit of clarity on issues surrounding soildarity witht the Raytheon9 and around Shannon, not sure if Food Not Bombs is sitll out there, I've just returned from the anarchist scenes in Australia, Polska, Hungary and London and I'm sure others have been in other places where they could report back on and build networks.

author by Ciaronpublication date Sun May 18, 2008 19:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I still haven't heard a good explanation why the AAA networking meetings every 4-6 months were abandoned by WSM and other anarchists"

that was supposed to read every 4-6 weeks"

If the left could nominate a pub (like sandinos in Derry) to drink in on a general basis that might help as well.

author by liz cpublication date Sun May 18, 2008 22:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

no idea who i'm talking to so it'd help if you put your name. the article suggests that critique and debate are not always welcome. your response seems to suggest that debate should only happen on internal anarchist lists and not on indymedia. why is that?

author by Laurence Cox - Grassroots Gatheringspublication date Sun May 18, 2008 22:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't give answers to all the questions highlighted in X's post, but here are some quick responses to some of them, many of which have been aired in a range of fora - as Dec pointed out, both his article and mine were in RBR, which isn't exactly hard to come across or esoteric, just to take those two examples. In fact most of the answers below aren't based on personal involvement in the campaigns in question (or only marginal involvement), but rather on observations which aren't hard to make.

1. What happened with "Ireland From Below"?

Briefly, there was a painful split over how we should organise the running of the thing. It was a very ambitious effort, in that our goal from the start was to get it not just into the usual outlets, but into local newsagents in communities across the country. Anyone who's been involved in distribution for the alternative press knows exactly just how much of a task this is - it's also a necessary one, for all the reasons of access etc. which have been aired in this discussion. I and various others left after two issues; the remainder reorganised themselves as "Island", which I believe also brought out two issues. It was worth doing, but it was also an enormous effort and there were too few of us to make it work. The usual chicken-and-egg problem: if we had managed to get more people and more communities involved, it would probably have been viable, but without having something actually there and happening, that wasn't going to work.

2. Why did the GNAW anti-war campaign dissolve?

At a guess, the most immediate issue was a combination of lack of numbers able to commit to what was needed in terms of carrying out direct action at Shannon and some pretty intensive policing. Most anti-war organisations have experienced the same problems over the last seven years in one form or another, irrespective of their strategies, and have either downscaled their activities massively or pulled back for now and put their energies into other campaigns - which also need doing. Plenty people who were involved in GNAW are reading this though.

3. Why do anarchists always go on marches with politicians?

Perhaps because - the left being so small in Irish society etc. etc. - sometimes broader alliances are needed, and sometimes it is worth making an issue of something even if we will not necessarily "win" in any simple or short-term way. (If we were looking for simple or short-term wins, we would not be in libertarian politics.)

A different kind of question would be to ask whether specific marches were worth participating in or not, but that's a question for the people involved in the organisations which decide to take part to make their minds up about, just as it is for any one of us to decide what we care about most and where we most want to put what limited energies we have.

4. When has a direct action focused campaign been a success?

The Land War for one - it set the groundwork for the society and state we now live in. More recently, Carnsore Point, the water charges campaign, quite a lot of strikes and community actions. I would also argue DGN, in that our goal was never to shut down the summit (for a range of obvious reasons) but to make our dissent seen and heard. Of course any of these are up for argument, as is usually the case.

5. Why dont Seomra Spraoi squat a derelict building?

Because in Ireland, unlike most western European countries, to squat is neither a relatively minor misdemeanour in itself, nor something which can ultimately be legalised with time, but a major felony carrying a 5-year sentence, thanks to that wonderful defender of freedom Dessie O'Malley back in the 1970s. I'm not particularly involved in Seomra Spraoi and can't claim to speak for them, but this seems like a fairly obvious argument against an open squat.

It was however successfully done on Leeson Street for 8 months by remaining relatively "under the radar", and of course it is done for purely economic reasons (and even more below the radar) relatively frequently.

6. Why is there no libertarian network in Ireland?

To some extent there is - to the extent that people manage to organise a Gathering. For the last two years people have been too busy in Seomra Spraoi, at Rossport and in other campaigns to make it happen.

The original post seemed to imply that what we should be trying to do is to set up a party, and gave examples like DGN. For reasons which should be fairly clear to anyone associated with libertarian politics, DGN was not intended to be a long-term organisation; its purpose was to respond to the EU summit, and nothing more.

Perhaps there would be a space for a long-term libertarian network in Ireland going beyond the Gatherings, but if so nobody has made a good argument or serious proposals in this direction that I've seen, or offered to help make it happen.

7. Has Indymedia become redundant?

Evidently not, or we would not be putting time and energy into this discussion. Unless Intelligent Satirists and X have nothing better to do?

8. What do feminists think of intelligent women who choose to objectify themselves?

This is (notoriously, for anyone who takes the trouble to read feminist theory) a long-standing issue, running back to the 1970s, and one which you can now happily read about in dozens of books on the subject.

But it isn't hard to see that - just as class society has its ragged-trousered philanthropists and racism its Uncle Toms - so patriarchy has its women who decide that their short-term individual interests are best served by trying to play the system rather than change it. This isn't rocket science, it's where real politics starts.

9. Do grassroots-style campaigns ever have a proper goal, structure, or end?

I would have said DGN had all three. Of course we might differ on what appropriate goals, structures and ends should be in the context which Chekov has sketched out of being a very small force in Irish society.

author by Laurence Cox - Grassroots Gatheringspublication date Sun May 18, 2008 22:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ciaron -

As I recall it the AAA was set up after Gleneagles on the simple basis that enough was going on in Dublin, in so many different directions, that it seemed worth while meeting monthly to let each other know what was happening.

After a while not enough people were coming to meetings - I got the impression that this was in part because they just had so much to do with the campaigns they were involved in (particularly Rossport and Seomra) but also in part because many people were involved in a number of different campaigns, so were meeting each other under different hats and hearing things they would hear on their mailing lists etc. anyway.

Unlike the Gatherings we never really settled on a format that would get beyond "here is the news of the day from our project", which didn't go far enough beyond what we already knew about each other's projects from Indymedia and relevant lists to justify meeting.

Other people might have different recollections though - to the best of my knowledge the AAAs weren't ever formally dissolved, so if you or anyone else wanted to try reviving them...

Laurence

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Plowsharespublication date Mon May 19, 2008 10:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"After a while not enough people were coming to meetings -"

How much is enough?... minimally one delegate from each anarch grouping and campaign would make it worthwhile

Last one I was at their were 20+ at the old Seomra facilitated by Mark.
Reports from feminist, CW, Anarchist Youth, Seomra, Critical Mass, Lower Deck Gig Collective, Revolt Video, as well as anarchs active in the Rossport, Tara, Coca Cola, anti-war, legalise dope.
Was there another after that one?

The previous one I was at was hosted at Nicholas Myra hall by RAG. with 25 folks.
My memory of both meetings is that I met and spoke to a lot of people I may have seen around the scene but had never conversed with before and then bumped into some in the following weeks on the street. From my memory folks who participated left the meeting upbeat and energised and networked.

"Unlike the Gatherings we never really settled on a format that would get beyond "here is the news of the day from our project",

This is a mistaken analysis, beyond reports...offers of mutual aid to specific campaigns from people with other priorities (eg. from memory, at that one help requested and offered for establishing Seoma, anti-Coke presence at Croke Park for Coke sponsored OZ/Ireland compromise rules international, distribution of forthcoming RAG 'zine, anti-war attempt to get 100 folks over the fence at Shannon.) Also a good medium to clarify rumors eg. (from memory) had Critical Mass collapsed? why did the plowshares get acquitted?

"and hearing things they would hear on their mailing lists etc. anyway."

I think it has been a huge mistake by the recent movement to over rate the internet as an organising tool You receive info in an atomised position in front of your keyboard...the medium is the message...you are alone! The technology fosters subculture and disengagement....as opposed to face to face communication - AAA, speakers square, solo vigiling

Returning to Dublin after a year it seems that WSM has grown and the broader anarchist scene has shrunk (not sure if that is connected or if that's a bad thing or if that's just a problem of my perception after a month back here).

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Laurence Cox - Grassroots Gatheringspublication date Mon May 19, 2008 12:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK, that's fair enough. I stand corrected!

Seriously though, why not make some of these arguments at the GG? There if anywhere is a place to see if there's an appetite for reviving the AAAs.

We might if anything need to rethink the format and be clearer about the purpose - I recall some of the ones I went to as being rather desultory affairs (but evidently we have different memories of them!) As you say, people were usually glad they'd come to them by the end, but getting people there in the first place was a bit of a struggle.

Maybe if they were a bit less frequent and a bit more formal, as well as being a bit better publicised? They could be a good entry point for people interested in getting involved in activism etc., and on a more useful scale maybe than the GGs (which get better publicised, but are more aimed at people who are already involved).

author by thomas ,moderate anarchistpublication date Mon May 19, 2008 15:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wasn’t suggesting that anarchists should only debate on internal lists. But the WSM , as I’m sure you are aware, has its own dynamic site which is full of vibrant democratic debate between compreros . http://www.wsm.ie/ It strikes me as extraordinary that intelligent satirists didn't at first post their opinions to that site if they really were interested in a serious debate with fellow anarchists . The article does indeed suggest that ‘ critique and debate are not always welcome ‘ in anarchist circles , but if the situation is so bad that anarchists can’t raise their concerns amongst their own compreros , before flaunting them publicly for all our detractors to laugh at ,what does that say about our democratic ,horizontal forms of organization ?

author by Andrewpublication date Mon May 19, 2008 16:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hey 'thomas ,moderate anarchist' you've got the wrong URL there, that is the one for the WSM archive. WSM members are involved in running at least two discussion sites though, the URL you should have posted was either
http://www.anarchistblackcat.org
or
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irishanarchism/ (this one is more of a mailing list then web based one and was very active a few years back but the ABC one is more active today)

author by thomas ,moderate anarchistpublication date Mon May 19, 2008 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the links Andrew . It’s good to see that senior members of the WSM are treating this matter with the seriousness it deserves. Having said that ,the site I linked to does very much look like the WSM’s to me Andrew and not one reserved for anarchism’s extensive archives . And a very fine site it is too ,certainly not one that anarchists should in any way wish to deny or be ashamed to post to. I was pleased to see on Friday last a link put up on it to the WSM’s recently decided upon Code of Conduct . The code -drawn up and agreed upon democratically in the spirit of non-authoritarian anarchist principles - lists ,inter alia, prophylactic measures put in place against any troublemakers that would bring the organization into disrepute . Intelligent satirists should take careful note..........

“Members of the WSM are, whether they like it or not, anarchist role-models. The impression that WSM members make on external groups and individuals in their personal dealings with them is the most important factor that defines our collective reputation and the reputation of anarchism ……… If you are not capable of working constructively as part of a collective, the WSM is not for you .”

The code insists that the WSM aim is to resolve any disputes amicably but if that is not possible .

“We do, however, have the authority to insist on a certain level of acceptable behaviour by all members. If we conclude that, beyond reasonable doubt, a member has acted in a clearly unacceptable way, we may decide, through our disciplinary procedures, to remove them from office, to revoke their membership or to impose conditions upon their continuing membership of the organisation”

author by Mary Kellypublication date Tue May 20, 2008 12:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

have written an excellent article, very funny, hopeful and provoking. A serious critique of campaigns and how we take ourselves too seriously to the detriment of work we are trying to acheive.

author by Andrewpublication date Thu May 22, 2008 16:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think its something of a problem that this spoof announcement is featured while the announcement of the real gathering is buried in the newswire - see http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87600 People use indymedia to look up the details of events at the last minute (well I do) and they are far more likely to see this than the real announcement. Perhaps the word spook could be put in the title and if the real one is not to be featured at least a prominent link placed in the introduction so last minute users don't have to read through the proceeding 54 comments to find it?

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