LIKE cow pats after a stampede, politicians have been appearing all over Dublin West since the by-election was announced. Fine Gael and Labour have a hard neck. They are standing on their record of job cuts, low pay, miserly social welfare payments, water charges and all the other burdens they have been heaping on our shoulders. Fianna Fáil have no problem with that, the only difficulty they have is finding major disagreements with Bruton, Spring and De Rossa.
Sinn Fein want a nationalist alliance with the bosses parties, the Workers Party want to embarrass their former friends in DL, and the Christian Solidarity Party want to bring back the Spanish Inquisition. The rest of them want to raise their profile in the hope of getting more votes at the next election.
Joe Higgins of Militant Labour is going to do very well. As chairperson of the Anti-Water Charges Federation he is popular and hard working. He has done trojan work to build the non-payment campaign and is the candidate least likely to compromise his beliefs.
The Workers Solidarity Movement is not standing a candidate, nor are we urging a vote for anyone. We advise you to abstain. It is not just a question of how dishonest and corrupt most politicians become, nor that they say one thing before an election and do something totally different when elected. [Remember Democratic Left getting elected on an anti-water charges ticket, now they are in a government that is dragging pensioners into court while the beef barons go free after multi-million pound frauds.
The crucial question is whether casting a vote every few years can give you any control over the things that effect your life. Many will vote for Joe Higgins or Tomas MacGiolla because of their anti-establishment stands. But neither can change the system which makes the working class pay through the nose while the rich live it up.
Real power lies in the boardrooms of big business. They decide where to invest and on what terms. To see the power of money over democracy you only have to look at the beef scandal. To see how far the bosses will go you can look at Chile in 1973 where a reforming government was overthrown by a military coup backed by big business. As long as a small minority have massive power they will be the ones calling the tune.
To think that elections provide a real choice, that they can fundamentally change things, is an illusion. Once your vote is cast you have had your say. You have given your consent to a politician or party to make decisions for you. The political system where a few give the orders and the rest obey has been given your personal stamp of approval.
We don't abstain because are opposed to democracy. Not at all, we are fully in favour of it. By democracy we understand the right of people to manage their own lives and collectively organise society in their own interests. Everyone effected a decision should have the possibility of helping to make that decision.
This means workers' councils running industries & services, neighbourhood councils in our communities. These would be federated upwards on a regional and national level. All delegates would be subject to immediate recall if their electors were not satisfied with their conduct.
The outstanding feature of the anarchist idea is that control comes from below. There would be no ruling elite. In this by-election you are being asked to change one of your, admittedly minor, rulers. Anarchists don't want to change the faces in the Dáil; we want to get rid of the division into bosses & workers, order-givers & order-takers.
Despite the combined forces of the lying politicians and the intimidation of the councils we saw out 1995 without a single householder being disconnected. That is a great sign that in 1996 the anti-water charge campaign can deliver a fatal blow to this unjust double taxation.
The campaign must organise in all local areas. We must build our membership and funds and go on the offensive in the local areas. The local groups will have to organise local events (such as regular meetings, pickets of council meetings, councillors clinics etc.) We must be sure that if they try to disconnect people's water that they are chased from the estates with their tails between their legs. We must get everyone on the streets of Dublin to march against the charges on Saturday April 20th.
Since 1994 an armed rebellion has been happening in Chiapas, Mexico. The rebellion has spread outside Chiapas and has seen occupations of land and oil wells. Several towns have risen up, expelling the town council and taking over the administration through mass meetings.
What makes the Mexican revolt new is that, coming after the cold war, it is a break with the authoritarian politics of the Leninist left of that period. The rebel army, the EZLN does not seek to seize power but instead wants to open up a democratic space in which 'civil society' can shape Mexico (and the worlds) future. Instead of promoting 'good leadership' the EZLN seeks to take its direction from 'Civil Society'. Many of the people who have visited Chiapas have recognised the similarity with the struggle waged by the anarchists in Spain in 1936, as depicted in Ken Loach's 'Land and Freedom', a film which has been shown in San Cristobal to packed audiences.
The EZLN have called the 'First Intercontinental Gathering For Humanity and Against Neoliberalism' to take place from July 27 to August 3 in Chiapas. The purpose is explained by EZLN spokesperson, Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos as
Suppose it were not true that there is no alternative possible .... Suppose that the rickety borderline that separates war from peace might possibly not be continually weakened. Suppose that some foolish romantics were to believe that there can be a different world and a different way of life. Suppose, what is more, that these foolish romantics were to also believe that there are others that think the same way. Suppose the inadmissible, that these various crazy fools wanted to establish contact. And just suppose that they suppose that from their encounter something very reasonable might emerge. Wouldn't you want to be part of such a mad encounter of suppositions?
The Irish Mexico Group is sending a delegation to this conference and to the Berlin conference which precedes it.
Contact them c/o Cohlamh, 10 Up. Camden st. for further details.
At the end of the 1980's we were told we had reached the end of history. The collapse of authoritarian communism and Labour Party reformism we were told was the collapse of any idea of changing society. From now on the rich led and the poor obeyed, in case anyone doubted this New World Order the Gulf War of 1991 showed what could be done to those who refused to toe the line as over 100,000 Iraqi's were killed in a high tech display of muscle.
But another voice has also began to express itself, one that was not silenced in 1989 because unlike Leninism or nationalism it had never sought to take power. This voice is at its loudest in Mexico, where on New Years Day 1994 it made the New World Order tremble when it cried Enough is enough!. But its echo is here in Ireland also in every struggle where ordinary people come together and cry enough. Perhaps here it is loudest in the Anti-Water Charges Campaign in which over 10,000 households have joined in a show of community resistance.
The strength of this voice is in its makeup of ordinary people, like you and me. This grassroots politics rather then electoral or authoritarian politics is what anarchism is all about.
We are hosting a public discussion on 'Grassroots Politics and Anarchism' at 8.00 on April 3rd in the Ormond Multi Media Centre to begin the process of bringing more people together in this struggle. Contributors include activists in the Anti-Water Charges Campaign and eyewitnesses to the revolution that is now sweeping Mexico. If you too want to get involved come along and join in the discussion.