Thinking about anarchism

Thinking about Anarchism is a regular column in the Irish Anarchist paper Workers Solidarity which explains many of the basic slogans and ideas of anarchism

Thinging about anarchism

Anarchism and human nature
It is a very sincerely held belief by many people, that we are "naturally" greedy, rotten feckers and, in the absence of government, some mad form of capitalism would be inevitable

It is often said that there are two types of liberty, positive liberty and negative liberty, or, roughly, 'freedom to...' and 'freedom from...' This, I believe, is a false and meaningless dichotomy

Communist anarchism
Anarchists have a rounded conception of freedom; it is not merely the absence of tyranny, but the meaningful opportunity to shape one's own life. As well as being free from, one ought to be free to do.

Join a Union, Why Bother?
It is not surprising that many people no longer see the relevance of joining a trade union, and that a lot of workers see those 'leading' the trade union movement as part of the problem rather than the solution

Whatever nice theories about crime anarchists might come up with we can be sure that any community subjected to a murder or a rape will want something done about it.

State Terrorism
If we examine history and look at current events in the world we are confronted by a multitude of examples of state terrorism.

An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations. Central to anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and women.

If you want to create Socialism - it must be based on Freedom by James O'Brien
Anarchists also seek to create communism. But for us freedom plays a central role, not only in the future society, but in how we try to get there. That is why, when we talk of communism, we talk of libertarian communism

Unequal power, unequal pay
During the year a spate of reports have 'discovered' what a lot of workers already know - that equal pay for equal work just doesn't exist.

Mutual Aid
Mutual Aid is the fuel an anarchist society will run on. It is also what keeps capitalist society going in spite of all the hardship, greed, and exploitation that exists.

Anarchism, elections and power
Anarchists have always opposed participation in the sham of parliamentary elections (choosing rulers rather than ending the division into rulers and ruled) and this time around it will be no different.

Irish anarchists voted NO in the anti-abortion referendum.But, I hear somebody say, don't anarchists have an objection to voting? Anarchists have no problem voting.

Anarchism and the struggle for Freedom
We're told we live in a free society. We have freedom of speech, we can work where we like, travel where we like, and can vote in elections. But how free are we?

Anarchism and nationalism
Almost all of our present nations, and the very idea of the modern nation itself, are relatively modern inventions. With the rise of the bourgeois state in the nineteenth century, ruling classes needed an ideology to make their subjects identify with the state in which they lived

Direct Action
Every time somebody puts a brick through a window or organises a minor protest there will almost inevitably be someone else who describes it as direct action.

Why can't you all get together?
Last November about 70 or 80 people, from a number of left wing groupings, attended a conference in Dublin calling for 'Left Unity'. The organisers of the meeting wanted to set up an alliance like the Socialist Alliances in Britain, or even a new party like the Scottish Socialist Party. This would be an alliance, based on Leninist groups, coming together primarily to contest the next general election.

Workers have the power
In the WSM we're often asked why we spend so much time talking about the working class. Even the title of our paper, Workers Solidarity, seems a bit odd to some - why are we talking so much about workers? Isn't anarchism for everybody? And aren't we all middle class now?

Democracy In Our Unions?
Trade unions were set up to defend and advance the interests of workers, but over the years have become more and more dominated by a largely unaccountable bureaucracy.

Democracy, majority rule, and autonomy
An element of real democracy is that decisions should be made by those who are effected by them. For a lot of issues, only certain people will really be effected by a decision, and so they should be the only ones to make it.

WHY IS THE concept of class so important to anarchists? Why are we constantly talking about classes and class struggle? Some of our opponents accuse us of living in the past, they claim the working class is dying out.

A revolution essentially is a sudden upheaval in society which fundamentally alters the way that society operates or who that society is run by. It occurs when the mass of the people desire change that their rulers are unwilling or unable to grant.

What about human nature?
We are constantly being told that there will always be leaders and led, rulers and ruled. These ideas are powerful because they seem to make sense. We do live in a nasty, competitive society.

Anarchist Organisation
One of the greatest myths that has been fostered about anarchists is that they are disorganised. Since the anarchist movement first emerged in the International Working Mens' Association in the 1870's it has developed many trends.

Are anarchists violent?
There is a lot of nonsense turning up on TV, radio and in the newspapers, which tries to make anarchism little more than another word for violence. In reality anarchists are no more violent than anyone else

Beyond the 'Days of action against global capital'
For decades, the organisations that manage capitalism have met to divvy up the world among themselves. For the first time, their role as dealers of poverty and misery has been exposed by thousands of angry protesters.

The media constantly tell us that anarchy is just another word for disorder and disorganisation. Whether it be the Star or the 'educated' Irish Times, the same misuse of the word occurs with monotonous regularity. Not all of this can be put down to lazy and careless journalism.

Organising & Agitating
'Don't mourn, Organise', Joe Hill said before he was executed by the US state. It's nothing more than common sense to say that two heads are better than one. The more people working together, the more that can be achieved. But organisation is more than the coming together of kindred spirits.

Anarchism, socialism and freedom
Anarchism views society on the basis of two fundamental pillars. These are the economic nature of society and the manner in which political power is organised. We believe that the economic system under which we presently live must be abolished. We also say that the political institutions of capitalism, which are hierarchical and authoritarian, must go too.

Follow the leader?
Organisation based on a small leadership telling everyone else what to do is always opposed by anarchists. We have no desire to be ruled, ordered round or dictated to. But is this not an unrealistic position that takes no account of the real world?

Anarchism and Marxism
A lot of people who call themselves anarchists will probably be extremely annoyed when I say that the most striking thing is how much we have in common with Marxism. Both anarchists and Marxists are materialists. Both believe that the ideas in peoples' heads are shaped by the social and economic conditions in which we live.

Religion & belief
We believe that people should be empowered to be in control of their own destinies. That means opposing the power of the churches.

The Myth of the Student Radical
There is a commonly held idea that universities are some sort of "red nucleus", a hotbed of activism and socialism. The fact is that students come from many different backgrounds and classes, although mainly 'middle' and upper class. There is no underlying political or economic interest that unites or could unite all students.

Smash the state
One of the best known catch phrases of Anarchism has got to be "Smash the State". It's also one that's easily open to misunderstanding.

Evolution and revolution
There can be no islands in the stream of capitalism. Any such group has to enter into economic relations with the modern capitalist economy eventually.

Capitalism now operates globally. If you are serious about fighting them then there is a glaring need to organise and co-ordinate. It is in answer to this need that revolutionary organisations spring.

The need for an anarchist organisation
Why is it that so many anarchists don't see the need to join anarchist organisations?

Anarchism and Religion
The popular stereotype of anarchists' relationship to religion is that we are all priest-killers and church-burners. This is, as is usually the case with mainstream representations of anarchism, almost completely false.

Neither Orange nor Green
Sinn Féin's politics offer little more to Northern workers, as a class, than the politics of the fringe loyalist groups. Both aspire to getting a better deal for the poor and oppressed in their communities but neither are capable of delivering, as they are limited to rhetorical appeals to the workers of the other side to "see sense"

Against Private Property?
When anarchists say "property is theft" does this mean they are after your tooth brush?

What is Direct Action
Anarchists talk a lot about Direct Action, what does it mean

Anarchism & Democracy
ANARCHISM is about individual freedom. But it is also about building a society that has a fair system of wealth distribution. For this reason, anarchists consider themselves to be democrats.

Training or Education
Our schools are just glorified production lines - children go in one end, workers come out the other. There is little room for the idea that knowledge might be a good thing in itself, that there is more to education than making round pegs for round holes.

Getting organised locally
One local struggle, no matter how determined or daring, won't overthrow the system. On the other hand, a network of struggles, supporting and encouraging each other, can spread and grow to be capable of just that.

Irish nationalism is not for us
Anarchists are for the defeat of British imperialism. But we want more, we stand for the creation of a new society in the interests of the working class. This is very different from the politics of nationalism, of Sinn Fein

Dare to lead... with ideas
Leaders get into positions of power where they tend to make decisions that don't represent the views of the people who put them there &endash; and then they spend their time convincing people that it's the only option &endash; or you might call it selling the deal to them

Red and Black Ireland

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