The past 18 months have seen a massive show of strength from Dublin communities. In opposition to the double taxation water charges imposed by the 3 County Councils, PAYE workers and householders have come together in the biggest campaign of civil disobedience seen in this State for many years. Not since the time of the massive tax demonstrations of the late 1970s has such a show of strength been seen. Despite threats, intimidation and attempted bribery by the Councils, tens of thousands of working class people have united in boycotting the charges. The strength of the campaign is a tribute to the many activists who have attended meetings, distributed leaflets, canvassed support, collected money, organised fund-raising events etc. etc.
There is no doubt that this campaign can win. The very fact that the current government on its formation was forced to acknowledge the opposition to these charges is a tribute not alone to Dublin communities but to the hundreds of people who have fought local authority charges throughout the State for more than a decade. As the Councils begin to take non-payers to court, they will quickly realise that they have no chance of forcing us to pay. Water disconnection orders will be resisted by local communities and if water is disconnected to any residence local campaigners will restore supply. The Councils will have no answer to this level of community solidarity.
It is this community solidarity which is the bedrock of our campaign. This solidarity and co-operation must be expanded and developed in the coming weeks and months in order to ensure that we finally kill off these charges. And activists and communities should realise that the basis for building this solidarity is self-activity. Through their involvement in this campaign many people who have never been involved in campaigns before, never spoken at public meetings before, never done door-to door canvassing or collections before have realised that they are more than capable of getting stuck in and doing all of these things and more.
This campaign now needs to get organised at a street-to-street level. There is nothing mysterious about this organisation. Nobody needs any experts to do it for them. It is simply a case of the talent which exists in every community being used. People who have spoken at their first public meeting will realise that writing letters to the paper, for example, is no big deal. Likewise drafting leaflets, organising pickets to prevent disconnection's, organising teams of people to reconnect water if necessary - all of these are tasks which every single person reading this leaflet is capable of - just have the confidence and go do it!
The water charges which we are being asked to pay are just the start. If we let the Council away with this, they will soon be looking to introduce charges for other services such as refuse collection and sewerage. Residents thoughout the country are already facing even bigger bills. Just look at these examples :
Mayo £205 - £235
Wexford £160 - £175
In their manifesto for the 1985 local election Fianna Fail stated
Fianna Fail are totally opposed to the new system of local charges and on return to office will abolish these charges and repeal the legislation under which they are imposed.
Before the 1987 general election Paddy Lalor, Fianna Fail's director of elections wrote in a letter to Matt Larkin General secretary of the National Association of Tenants Organisation (NATO)
In relation to local charges Fianna Fail is committed to the revocation of the 1983 legislation which gave power to levy charges.
All other political parties have also said that they are opposed to service charges.
But in Power
In the estimates votes for 1994 and 1995 all Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats along with a majority of Fine Gael Councillors voted in favour of the imposition of water charges in South Dublin.
Labour and Democratic Left Councillors have recently agreed to support the charges at their current level in the estimates for 1996.
As Anarchists the Workers Solidarity Movement have been involved in the campaign against water charges since there imposition. We salute all those people who have had the courage to stand up to the political establishment and take a principled stand against double taxation.
In the struggle against the water charges there are several different strategies we can choose. We can seek to put pressure on politicians, or elect a new set of politicians, and hope that they will end the water charges. We can put our trust in the courts, and rely on the arguments of lawyers to win our battles for us. Or we can act for ourselves, and, through direct action, make the charges impossible to impose.
The trouble with looking to politicians to end the charges is that they have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted, not just on the water charges, but on a host of different issues. And if you feel sure that you can trust a particular politician on the water charges, how sure are you that they will vote in accordance with your wishes on other issues? In the courts, although we may hire the best lawyers there are, and we may have justice on our side, in the end, the law is made by the government, and they can block any legal loopholes we may uncover.
The only real alternative, then, is to defeat the charges ourselves, through our own efforts. Though this can initially seem an impossible task, in fact it is well within our grasp. We have already seen that whenever the council cuts someone's water off, we can reconnect it. We can stop disconnection's before they happen by coming out onto the streets and making it impossible to cut water off. We can stop the orders for disconnection from being served by showing up in our hundreds and disrupting the courts. And because all of these are things we can do ourselves, we can't be let down by people betraying our trust - we will have more control over our actions, more freedom in our lives.
But the freedom we seek, the freedom we demand, is much more than that. It is freedom from poverty, from unemployment, the freedom to live our lives without always having to worry about money. These freedoms are at the heart of revolutionary change and socialism. And real socialism - anarchism - is even more than that.
It is a time of real freedom. It is a time when the shackles of the old oppressive order are thrown off and the workers movement explodes into a recreativity as it copes with organising every facet of society so that the needs of all are met. Everyone can get involved, through their assemblies and delegate councils, in decision making and planning that used to be the sole concern of central government. Freedom of ideas, criticism and input will not only be a practical reality but a necessity.
Capitalist society is organised in a top-down way. Orders come from the top and those at the bottom obey them. The institutions by which the bosses rule, the Government and the State, are built so that the rule of a minority over the majority is possible. Control of political freedom, ideas and information is fundamental to their working. Participation is strictly limited so that most people never have any say.
That is why we wish to abolish these structures. They can never be used to create socialism but instead will actively sabotage the workers' cause. The workers states advocated by the Leninists for the transition to socialism have proven to be its greatest enemy. Only workers' councils can form the basis of the new society.
We stand uncompromisingly for a new world. One which will be owned and managed by all those who work. It will be organised from the bottom up and production will be to meet peoples' needs, not for the private profit of a few. Anarchist society will make real the old call from each according to ability, to each according to need. Every individual will enjoy complete control of her/his life with no limit on their freedom as long as they do not encroach on the freedom of anyone else. Now, isn't that something worth struggling for?
WE PAY A LOT more tax than anyone else. Last year the average PAYE taxpayer paid £4,113. The 50% of farmers who paid any tax paid an average of just £1,119. The self-employed - including business people, doctors, dentists, accountants and financial consultants - paid an average of £3,993.
We also paid an additional £1,801 million in PRSI. Although shared between the employer and the worker this is effectively another tax on workers. Last year the total PRSI take was greater than the combined total tax collected from Corporation Tax, farmers and self-employed.
To give one clear example, in the five years up to 1993 Air Lingus workers alone paid as much tax as all the farmers in the 26 counties.
Rich criminal tax evaders were granted two amnesties within five years, while working class people are now dragged into court for refusing to pay twice for their water! In Cork householders were jailed for refusing to pay double taxation, yet no rich person has ever been jailed for real tax evasion in Ireland.
The Beef Tribunal revealed massive tax fraud organised by the Goodman firm. Goodman paid only 1% of turnover in tax in the 1980s. He paid more in political donations to Fianna Fáil.
Big business avails of the lowest Corporation tax rate in Europe at 10%, well below the EU recommended 30%. On the other hand we had our PAYE, PRSI and VAT increased to make up the shortfall when rates were abolished, now we are told to pay twice. If they want more money let them tax their friends: the super-rich, wealthy self-employed and rancher farmers. We aren't paying any more.