Talks given to WSM meetings or by WSM members

These are the text of some talks given to various WSM meetings including internal branch educations and public meetings. They mostly represent the authors opinion alone and are frequently deliberately provocative in order to start discussion. Some are in a note form and have not been edited for publication here. We make them available to spark discussion and self-education.

Anarchy and Organisation
Talk for the 2004 Irish Social Forum. This talk concentrated on introducing anarchist ideas. Kieran Allen of the SWP and Dermot Connelly formerly of the Socialist Party spoke from a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint.

Republicanism in Crisis &endash; Is There An anarchist alternative?
Since the beginning of December and the collapse of the latest attempt at the creation of a power-sharing devolved government in the North, and more particularly since the Northern Bank robbery, the political establishment has been striving to outdo each other in the stridency of their condemnation of the Republican Movement. Text of talk given to Cork WSM public meeting

Which Way To The Revolution: Anarchism or Leninism
My talk is simply going to be an introduction to the basics of anarchism, though it'll be aimed a bit for those coming from a Marxist view-point. I'll tend to focus on the areas where we disagree, say the difference over authority and the state, rather than on why capitalism needs to go.

Review of The Many Headed Hydra
by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker
Sailors, slaves, commoners and the hidden history of the Atlantic

Its basic ideas revolve around organising all workers into the "one big union", keeping control in the hands of the rank & file, and opposing all attempts to create a bureaucracy of unaccountable full-time officials.

The Marxist theory of the anarchist reply
There is no one Marxist theory of the state, different currents within Marxism have developed their own variants. However all share the idea that the State can, and must, be used as a means towards achieving the classless society

The failure of Marxism
There is much of use within Marxism, I do not propose to throw away the impressive economic analysis for instance, but as an ideology, as a tradition and as a guide for the future it has failed; and failed on a grand scal

Religion and clerical control
In Ireland organised religion, especially Catholicism (with it's named constitutional position) has worked to limit the freedoms of all regardless of their own personal beliefs.

Racism and Irish Travellers
Anti-racist and anti-fascist work has been a major concern of the left. However there are still very few groups or individuals even on the left who identify attitudes to Travellers as Racism.

Revolutionary politics and single issue campaigns
Over the past decades, there has been a tendency for activists to move away from organisations,and organisation on a class basis, and concentrate on single-issue campaigns. In its lifetime, the WSM has been involved in many such campaigns

Leninism and the failure of the Russian revolution
The Russian revolutions of 1917 demonstrate that a revolution is possible but they also warn against authoritarian methods of introducing socialism.

What's the importance of the French revolution?
We can examine the French revolution as a prototype of how revolutions occur and progress. Kropotkin defined it as the "mother of us all ". The ideas and methods of the French Revolution were and still have relevance to us today

Rosa Luxemburg on socialism and objective conditions
Rosa Luxembourg argued that socialism didn't just entail a change in material conditions but also a change in relationships within society, that freedom was a prerequisite for a socialist society

Critical Mass and Reclaim The Streets
Car culture becomes a focus for these two types of demonstration: not because we are all so anti-car, but because cars are only the most visible and tangible representatives of an inhuman consumer society

Carnsore: Why Ireland never got nuclear power
A big victory was won here when we stopped their plans to build not one, but four, nuclear power stations at Carnsore Point in Co. Wexford in the late 1970s.

Religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland and how to deal with it
It goes without saying that any political theory is only any good if it passes the test of real everyday practice, - I want to put forward these few ideas on tackling religious sectarianism

Organising for anarchism
If we don't get our ideas out there, they will be ignored. And the only choice on offer will remain the choice that Bakunin spoke of in 1880. Between tyranny and injustice and slavery and brutality.

Audio: Chekov Feeney of the Workers Solidarity Movement speaks about anarchism in Ireland and anarchist organization. at a meeting sponsored by NEFAC in New York City, USA.

Building Links between movements ( Talk given to the Convergence Conference 2001)
If the question is how do we build links between different groups and movements, the answer has to be another question. Why do you want to build links? In each instance, what is your aim. I say in each instance because it should be recognised that there are many different levels at which links between groups can operate.

Anarchism in Africa
We traveled in Africa for just over a year and, whenever possible, tried to meet with anarchists in the countries we visited. In Africa the organised anarchist movement is quite young

Anarchism in South America
Notes on the history of anarchism in South America and the recent re-emergance of the movement there from a WSM member who recently met some of the groups described.

Building anarchism in Ireland
A talk for ideas and action, 2001

Local or global trade
A talk for ideas and action, 2001

Racism in Ireland - What it is and how it can be fought
A talk for ideas and action, 2001

The history of Anarchism in Ireland
Irish anarchism has no historical tradition. But that is not to say that we have no history at all. We are beginning to uncover forgotten events.

The Celtic Tiger
If one was to accept the mainstream view of how our society works then Ireland of the Celtic Tiger would truly be 'as good as it gets', booming economy, falling unemployment, soaring profits.

As good as it get's?
While the papers are busy telling us that we've never had it so good and there's only 220 thousand people unemployed these days, the truth is harder and harder to find.

The anarchist economic alternative to globalisation
An immediate question springs to mind: has an alternative society every existed, and has such a society existed for long enough to be useful to us as an alternative model to the economic model of capitalism. The answer to both these questions &endash; and this may surprise you - is YES

Anarchist globalisation after Prague S26
From J18 City of London, to N30 Seattle, S11 Melborne, S26 Prague; these are all dates that signify a growing movement of international opposition to capitalism. I took part in the S26 demonstrations in Prague which succeeded in disrupting the IMF congress there.

Anarchism and the Environmental movement [In Spainish]
We should not create a false choice between anarchism and environmentalism but rather ask what sort of environmental theory and action should anarchists favour on the one hand and on the other explain why any environmentalist should also be a class struggle anarchist.

Modern revolutions or is revolution still possable
With the fracture of the working class into smaller workplaces, mostly due to automation, the division of the old communities into suburbs, the advent of mass transport which meant even those in the suburbs no longer worked together, the move into white collar and skilled jobs, In short that the revolution although desirable is now utopian.

Anarchism and the Trade Unions
The Workers Solidarity Movement has, since its formation eight years ago, placed special emphasis on the struggles of trade unionists. Were we right? Why place this special emphasis on trade unions rather than any other organisation or campaign?

Mujeres Libres
The women who founded Mujeres Libres were all active within the anarchist movement, in the CNT or in the FIJL, however as women they were in a minority and found it difficult to incorporate more women into the activist core, either because of the sexism of the men, or because of the reluctance of the women or a combination of both

The Russian Revolution
The Russian revolution has been a subject of key importance to anarchists for two reasons. The first reason is that for the first time in history a working class revolution succeeded in ousting the old ruling classes. The second reason is that after the old ruling class was ousted a new class came to power. Those of us who want to make a revolution to-day must understand where the successes and failures of the past came from.

Factory committees in the Russian Revolution
The factory committees appeared in Petrograd and Moscow around February/March of 1917, and quickly spread. Elected directly by the workers in each enterprise, they appear initially to have formed in a response to theatened closures, and to press for the 8-hour day, though the scope of their demands would son extend.

Four October Myths
Here I am going to look at four myths, widly accepted by the left and right alike on the October revolutiuon and its aftermath

The Cheka during the Russian revolution
Was the Cheka integral to Lenin's doctrine or did it arrive by chance?

The Paris Commune [In Spanish]
The commune was formally installed in the Hotel de Ville two days later in the glorious spring sunshine of Tuesday, 28 March. The national Guard battalions assembled, the names of the newly elected members were read out , as, wearing red, they lined up on the steps of the Hotel de Ville under a canopy surmounted by a bust to the republic. On high the red flag was flying as it had done ever since 18 March and guns saluted the proclamation of the Paris Commune

Emma Goldman
What initially drew Goldman to anarchism was the outcry that followed the Haymarket Square tragedy in 1886 in Chicago. Emma Goldman had followed the event intensely and on the day of the hanging she decided to become a revolutionary.

SIPTU Fight-back and National Partnership
For over a decade the unions have been in a partnership with the bosses and state. This partnership means promising not to strike on a wide range of issues while accepting low pay rises. The problems with partnership are obvious and at least 1/3 of the unionised workforce has voted against previous deals. However partnership has severely eroded 'shopfloor' organisation as little is left to local meetings except individual cases. Despite the apparent widespread opposition as evidenced by Carol Ann Duggan's 42% vote in the SIPTU elections it has proved extremely difficult to bring together any number of activists to campaign against 'Partnership'. Are there untried possibilities or are we in effect waiting for new waves of struggle creating a new layer of activists?

The tasks facing anarchists in Ireland
The Workers Solidarity Movement was formed in 1984. Our starting point was that the working class has the power to overthrow capitalism and create an anarchist society. Our role is to convince our class that this is possible; to win the battle of ideas against the authoritarian solutions of social democracy, nationalism and leninism; and to popularise anarchist ideas and methods.

Prospects for revolution
We are living in a time of great change for the left. For this century the left has been identified with social-democracy (Labour, WP etc.) who saw socialism as being introduced through a few good men taking getting elected through parliament. Or by Leninists who saw socialism as a few good men being put into power by a revolution.

The future for the left
What does the collapse of Stalinism mean for us. Why do we always emphasise the Working Class ? IF it does exist and we wish to relate to it how should we do so ? How do we get from our present situation of marginalisiation to now where our ideas have widespread currency ? Is a socialist revolution possible ?

Why the working class?
Capitalism makes us co-operate every day at work. Each person has to do their bit so that the person at the next stage of production can do theirs.

The changing nature of the working class
The nature of the working class to-day is quite different from that of a hundred years ago. In the late 80's a large part of the left interpreted this as meaning socialism was no longer possible, that the best hope was to form alliances with greens and others in a rainbow coalition which would attempt to limit the worst excesses of capitalism.

Sectarianism in the north and the fight against it
Sectarianism is something that has existed to a greater or lesser extent in Ireland since the plantations and must be overcome if socialism can be introduced

Loyalist myths: King Billy revisited
The Orange Parades on and around the twelfth of July have long been a bone of serious contention and indeed a source of sectarian conflict in the Six Counties. Members of the Orange Order demand their unalienable right to march the Queen's highway, in commemoration of the victory of King William of Orange at the battle of the Boyne - a victory (as the Orangemen see it) for religious and civil liberty.

Republicanism and anarchism
While the prospect of an end to political violence would doubtless be welcomed by the vast majority of people living on this island and especially by the population of the 6-Counties, it is important for all of us to realise where the so-called "peace process" is leading

Anarchists and the Zapatista's
The significance of the Zapatista rebellion initially lay as much in the fact that they dared to rebel after the 'end of history'. While the rebellion and the autonomous communities it has created are certainly worth defending a real question remains as to how relevant it is as a constructive model. Some point to the village and regional councils as a real model for those struggling elsewhere. Others see the continued isolation of the rebellion in Chiapas as a demonstration that the Zapatistas lack any real alternative relevant to the mass of the world's population.

The Zapatista contribution to the new opposition
The challenges we have explored in recent weeks thrown up by neoliberalism and indeed the greater challenge of the failure of the left in the 20th Century require not only a new theoretical understanding of how struggle can be conduced but also real world examples of this actually happening.

What is the EZLN
The reason we are so concerned with the politics of the EZLN is not academic. Rather it is because we understand that real and permanent liberation can only be achieved by an international anarchist revolution. There have been many revolts by guerrilla movements in third world countries, some more successful than others but none have led to a fundamental change in the way society operates.

The Korean anarchist Movement [In Spanish]
In the 2,000 years of Korean history there arose movements fighting for peasants rights and for national independence. Within these movements there were tendencies that may be seen as forerunners of modern anarchism, in the same way as we might view the Diggers in the English revolution The Korean Anarchist Federation in China was formed in April 1924. and published the "Korean Revolution Manifesto".

The Life and Times of Malatesta
}For nearly sixty years, Malatesta was active in the anarchist movement as an agitator and as a propagandist. He was one of the movements most respected members as well as remaining to the end one of its most controversial. He was active in many parts of the world, as well as the editor of a number of Italian anarchist journals including the daily Umanita Nova (1920-22)

Feminism & Anarchism
Basically we view feminism as a progressive movement but one which is capable of taking up confused and sometimes reactionary demands because it fails to locate the cause of womens oppression in the class nature of capitalist society.

Feminism & Anarchism again
I am going to look at the different traditions of political thought that have developed to critique this vision of women's role in society. There are broadly speaking, four theories; Liberal Feminism, Traditional Marxism, Radical Feminism and Socialist Feminism.

Why women are not yet liberated?
A lot of the institutionalised oppression that women such as my mother would have argued against in the 1960's has disappeared. Yet it is also obvious that women are still far from equal. For the majority of us, our right to choose the way of life we wish to lead is as limited as it has always been.

The Left and the Fight for Women's Liberation
The struggle for women's liberation has generally been bound up with other, wider social and economic changes. The first written evidence of equality with men being put seriously on the agenda was during the reformation starting in the sixteenth century.

Abortion in Ireland - Historical Perspective and current campaigning
Abortion was totally illegal in Ireland under all circumstances until the Supreme Court judgement in the "X" case earlier this year, which seems to permit abortion in the extremely limited case of threatened suicide by the mother. The 1861 Offences against the Persons Act states that any person "performing, attempting and or assisting in an abortion is liable to penal servitude for life".

International backlash against abortion
In America the supreme court recently voted by 5 judges to 4 to enforce a restrictive Pennsylavania law which requires a mandatory waiting period foe women seeking abortions and forces teenagers to inform their parents of their intentions to have an abortion. The ruling was greeted with the headline in Village Voice "Court to women : Drop Dead".

Do we need an anarchist federation?
However, in Ireland, our numbers are very small and most comrades have little political experience. Few have been through years of struggling and learning in the trade unions and campaigns. We are a very weak and inexperienced movement. It must seem worthwhile to investigate the possibility of uniting in an Irish Anarchist Federation.

Fragment on organisation
I want to start by looking at the main alterantive to anarchist methods of organisation, Democratic Centralism.

Platformism in action
The Workers Solidarity Movement was formed in 1984. Prior to this the late 1970s and early 1980s had seen the first episodes of public anarchist activity with the emergence of local anarchist groups, many of them short-lived, in Belfast, Dublin, Dundalk and Limerick.

Whatever happened to the AWG
Our welcoming of the AWG was mainly based on a number of reasons. Their experience within DAM had led them to reject Syndicalism They also accepted the basis of the Platform of the Libertarian Communists, On Ireland they took a firm anti-imperialist line, and actually took place in activity around this. Now just over two years later the AWG no longer exists.

An introduction to the history and ideas of anarchism
Where better to start a look at anarchism then to look at the state of the left as a whole. The organised revolutionary left today is at its weakest for many years. Its not so much a question of the triumph of capitalism however as the failure of the bulk of the ideologies of socialism.

Anarchism (Taste the difference)
The last two speakers have talked about their experiences of different examples of ordinary people fighting back. Despite the differences it is the similarities between them that were the motivation for this meeting. Throughout history ordinary people have struggled to make their lives better. All over the world right now ordinary people are engaged in similar struggles, against a world where injustice seems to rule.

Half the world is starving. The main industrial countries are in recession. In Ireland, one in five people eligible for work are unemployed. 4,000 people are waiting for housing yet the government builds less than 50 houses a year. Capitalism as a system does not work for the majority of people forced to live under it.

Any discussion of Racism needs to examine the roots of Racism in order to understand it and to struggle against it effectively. There are basically 3 explanations for the existence of racism.

Racism - a permanent problem?
Although racism already existed in Ireland towards Travellers the state's racism towards asylum seekers in the last couple of years shook us all. Good work is being done in campaigning against this racism by groups such as the Anti-Racism Campaign and Immigrant Solidarity. Yet is it the case that we are now doomed to a perpetual 'holding the line' to prevent further rises in racism? Or is there a strategy by which we can defeat racism in the 'here and now'?

Racism and Irish travellers
Irish travellers are an ethnic minority who are culturally separate to the rest of Irish society. Because they are white and most of the are Irish, people reject the idea that the concept of racism applies to them. However an examination of policies and practises operated by the state and by non-state bodies clearly shows that it is racism that defines these policies and practises.

Fascism leading the racists
Rostock recently became infamous as we all witnessed pictures of the Neo-Nazi youth hurling petrol bombs at the asylum hostel containing mostly Bulgarian and Romanian refugees. One local activist in Germany reported the following. " On Sunday night, a line of riot police could not prevent a second night of attacks, this time by nazi youths armed with molotov cocktails"

Tactics to fight fascism
Fighting fascism can not be done just in terms of ideas. Fascists do not wait until they have convinced a sufficient number of people to put their ideas into power before they put their ideas into practise. Even tiny groups of a dozen or less organise and carry out terror attacks on those they oppose or scapegoat. Only physical confrontation can deter and prevent these activities

The development of capitalism in Japan
In 1869 feudalism was abolished and the clans surrendered their fiefs to the government. All classes were declared equal before the law and barriers on local movement and internal trade removed. Individuals were allowed acquire land and all the professions and trades were thrown open.

Greece: War and Civil War
This talk is based around the Solidarity pamphlet 'The Greek Tragedy', subtitled 'the failure of the left' published in 1968 as a response to the coup in Greece the previous year. It states the left put up little resistance to the coup and places the reason for this in the lack of a tradition of self-activity in the working class. In particular the response of the Spanish workers to Franco's coup of 1936 is contrasted with what happened in Greece.

The revolution in Spain
The extent of the democracy in Spain during the revolution was far more thorough going than anything ever achieved anywhere else in the world at any time in know history. This might seem like a grand claim but I challenge anyone to disprove it.

The Limerick soviet of 1919 [In Spanish]
The first problem facing the strikers was how to feed Limericks 38,000 inhabitants. The committee sat in secession all of monday organising food distrubution. The committee was divided into two sections, one to recieve food and one to deliver it. Hundreds of special permits were issued allowing shops to open

Islamic Fundamentalism