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By Oscar
The murder of George Floyd in the United States by the police has unleashed a wave of popular outrage in that country and throughout the world. Massive demonstrations, direct action against the police and in response to repression have been common these past weeks. This murder, adding to thousands of others, revives the widespread protests of 2014 in the United States, following the many murders of black people, especially youth.

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A ‘just transition’ needs an abrupt rupture with neoliberal orthodoxy, not eco-platitudes and a recipe for austerity

By Michael Rafferty

Michael Rafferty calls for the Green Party to demand a break from economic and political orthodoxy.

“Any proposal must be transformative on climate action and commit to strong progress towards a more sustainable and fairer society,” the Green Party said when it entered talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in early May. Even the most generous reading of the Programme for Government being voted on by Green Party members across the island this week reveals that neither objective was secured in any meaningful way. 

The release of the document was trailed by an impressive media strategy and leaks describing somewhat nebulously the extent of concessions won by the Greens: a 7% annual reduction in carbon emissions, a ban on fracking, a referendum on housing and several other apparent major ‘wins’. 

When it took until last Monday afternoon for a leaked version of the 139-page document to be confirmed as the final one, suspicions were already palpable that Green members were being ‘bounced’ into supporting the Programme hours before a web-based special convention to debate the contents last Thursday, with members voting this week. 

Finally afforded the opportunity to interrogate the detailed product of lengthy negotiations against the optimism of the weekend press, the holes in the ‘transformative’ proposals began to appear: the 7% annual emissions to be paid for through regressive consumption taxes and through retrofitting of housing (cui bono?); the emptiness of a vague ‘right to housing’ referendum sometime in the future without any real departure from current housing policies or investment in public housing stock; the absence of any redistributive proposals which would tackle corporate tax-avoidance and chronic underfunding of public and health services. 

The long document avoided the use of committal language in favour of mere intentions to ‘review’ and ‘consider’, carefully avoiding getting bogged down in the numbers that might demonstrate that it doesn’t add up to ‘strong progress towards a more sustainable and fairer society’. 

The appendices showing the economic justification for the proposals, the statistical proof that they would achieve their objectives and not hit the poorest the hardest, the graphs showing that the climate data-modellers had crunched the numbers to ensure the policies were sound… weren’t there. The banal scientism of positivist economic data, a feature of many a greenwashed masterplan, would not be needed to sell this deal to the required two-thirds of Green members. Not just because it couldn’t, but because ‘there is no alternative’: rejection of the deal would lay the blame for the ensuing constitutional crisis at the Greens’ door, with an election nobody wants and further delays to the retirement holiday of a frankly inconvenienced Taoiseach. 

The Green Party should use the opportunity it has to actually achieve what it wants, not choose from a severely limited menu of ‘no alternatives’.

The bottom line from the negotiations is that some transition (but not transformation) towards a low-carbon economy is possible within this financialised capitalist frame, but only if it co-exists with the continuation of tax-haven status for corporates, and only if the costs are borne by consumers, workers and renters—certainly not by industry. The overall economic model—which emerged from the Celtic Tiger period, survived austerity and a neoliberal ‘recovery’ since 2016—is sacrosanct. Those on high incomes can continue to dodge tax and extract rent; overdue investments are put off or downplayed, while the “just transition” is funded by anybody who works more than a cycle-ride from their home. 

After some thirty years, it should be clear that the Irish version of neoliberalism cannot provide anything like a ‘just transition’ without major economic reorientation. Irish political economy shifted from modest state-entrepreneurialism before the Celtic Tiger to (ab)using Dublin as a magnet for attracting global financialised flows and service-firms. Now the Irish State badly needs to increase the scope of its role in its economy beyond being a carpet-bagger for transient corporate clients. 

The Irish State was never at the races in terms of healthcare, infrastructure and housing even before austerity and could be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic impact without a departure from the crisis-ridden ‘stability’ caused by building the national economy around a globally-relevant financial city. 

The formation of a government in these unprecedented conditions ought to have been an opportunity to break with the neoliberal orthodoxy of the last three decades, but the Greens instead find themselves prevaricating over a very poor proposal. The ‘alternative’ is not just about which other parliamentary coalitions can be built from the February 2020 General Election result; it is about finding consensus outside the Civil War parties to deconstruct this low-tax monolith. Without this break, other trajectories for Ireland (green, eco-socialist, or other) will continue to rely on external events. 

The Green Party should use the opportunity it has to actually achieve what it wants, not choose from a severely limited menu of ‘no alternatives’. That we need a ‘just transition’ is not in doubt—but it can’t happen without an abrupt rupture with the present neoliberal model. Few opportunities arise to do this democratically, but the Green Party holds one of them in its hands at this very moment.

Working from home is no domestic bliss

By Padraig Mannion

The corporate embrace of working from home will hurt workers, especially women workers, and trade unions must adapt, writes Padraig Mannion.

CSO figures show that at the end of 2019 there were over 2,360,000 in employment in the Republic of Ireland. Unemployment was less than 5%, 118,000 people. 

Four months later, after the Coronavirus restrictions and lockdown of certain sectors of the economy, the situation was radically transformed for 50% of the workforce. Roughly 600,000 were unemployed because their sectors were shut down, and a further 600,000 workers approximately were having their wages heavily subsidised by the government. 

A third cohort of workers affected by the Coronavirus restrictions are those who are now working full-time or mostly from home when previously they would have worked in a central location with their co-workers. 

On 19th May the CSO published the results of a comprehensive survey which gives us a close approximation of the numbers working remotely. Just under 16% of workers (377,600) have been transferred to full-time working from home while another 12% (283,200) are either working from home part-time or were already doing some work from home but have had their home working hours extended. This just over one quarter of all workers in the Republic of Ireland are now working either full or part-time from home.

This massive surge in the numbers working from home raises serious issues for workers, their families, employers and society at large.

Some large multinational firms are obviously reasonably happy with the shift to remote working and clearly see potential in this development for cutting costs and increasing profits. On May 21st, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s adoption of permanent remote work. Zuckerberg predicted that half of Facebook’s workforce will take him up on the offer over the next five to ten years. 

The sting in the tail for workers who adopt this work model is a reduction in wages “to reflect the local cost of living”. In other words, workers cannot bring their Silicon Valley wage with them to Detroit or Delaware. Obviously, there is an immediate payroll saving for the company, plus a reduction in the amount of office space needed. A win-win scenario for company profits.

“Difficulties in working from home affect women more than men.”

On the other hand, workers are not so universally enamoured with the change to working from home. On May 19th the CSO report ‘The Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey’ found that of those new to working from home, almost half (48.6%) of the women reported that they would like to return to their workplace after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. This compares to less than one in three (31.7%) of male respondents.

Among the issues highlighted by women who wish to end the working from home arrangements are worries about maintaining social ties, childcare responsibilities, caring responsibility for another relative, and the difficulties of working while sharing family space with children. The survey itself was taken up during the last week of April. It would be interesting if the CSO carried out a follow-up survey to examine if, or in what direction, the results might change.

An online survey conducted in the first week of May by NUIG and the Whitaker Institute also looked at the issue of remote working but from a somewhat different angle and without using the same representative sampling techniques used by the CSO, and without giving a gender breakdown for results. However, we are told that of the 7,241 survey participants that 77.5% were female. Here, only 22% of respondents wanted to discontinue home-working, 

Results from the whole group highlighted three major problems faced in working from home: not being able to switch off from work; that collaboration and communication with colleagues and co-workers was harder; and poor physical workspace. We can see that the last two issues, in particular, would be heightened for lone parents, for workers living in crowded or indeed overcrowded accommodation, and for workers who also act as carers for parents or other relatives. In other words, these difficulties in working from home affect women more than men.

The Financial Services Union, in a survey of their members who are homeworking, found that: 44% feel pressure to answer calls and emails outside of working hours; 56% have seen an increase in work intensity; and 66% report an increase in work-related stress. As a response to this the FSU are calling for workers to have the right “to disconnect”.  

Remote working also raises fundamental questions for the trade union movement. How can trade union organisation, union recruitment, workers’ representation in disputes with management, and collective bargaining evolve and adapt if remote working becomes standard across large sectors of the economy which are now office-based. 

Already, in many sectors like accountancy, financial services, and technology, trade union density is low and management has a virulent anti-trade union approach. If workers employed in firms here are, in the future, to be dispersed across the country, or indeed outside the country, then where can unions gain a foothold? 

This is a challenge which some trade unions have already recognised, as even before Covid-19 a small minority of workers had sought, or had volunteered for, remote-working. Thus, unions (like SIPTU, FSU, Fórsa) have already greatly increased and refocused their social media presence. Unions’ social media presence is increasingly being developed as a vital communication and recruitment tool rather than as merely an add-on to traditional media as an outlet for press releases. 

Technology for online recruiting, online training, online meetings is being increasingly used and adapted by the union movement to suit their needs and provide maximum security to their members. This is a process that will continue and expand greatly over the next few years.

Reframing the Recovery Debate

By Michael Taft

Progressives need to reframe the discussion on recovering from the pandemic around a new, public-driven business model, writes Michael Taft.

The public debate is being limited to a very narrow space – reducing the policy options to increasing taxation or reducing public spending (or both), because as we all know: ‘we can’t keep borrowing forever’. Of course, progressives must enter this debate. The resources needed for social and economic investment cannot be sustained on our current narrow tax base. And while the income supports are welcome we will need policies to ensure people can return to work (reducing unemployment costs) and, just as importantly, return to quality jobs (reducing the prevalence of low-road employment). 

Therefore, we need to reframe the debate. And for progressives, this new frame should be rooted in driving a new business model. The projections are necessarily tentative but nonetheless grim. The ESRI projects that even under their benign scenario nearly 250,000 jobs could be lost this year, while a worst case scenario would see 350,000 jobs lost. The Fiscal Council projects that nearly 500,000 jobs will be lost in the second quarter this year, with only half of them returning by the end of 2021. 

It’s not just job losses. The worst impact will be experienced in the low-paid sectors such as hospitality and retail. We should expect downward pressure on wages and working conditions as these sectors recover, with a rise in precariousness and in-work poverty.  Quite simply, with demand for jobs outstripping supply of jobs, working conditions can potentially deteriorate.

“By focusing on the transformation of the current business model, progressives can open up a new front in the economic debate.”

Driving quality employment is one aspect of a new business model. The crisis has crystallised the role of enterprise (along with public services, social protection and investment). We are now seeing what was always evident but hidden by ideology and orthodox managerialism: that enterprises are social assets; that business is (or should be) accountable not only to its owner but to the wider social interest. Actually, this was articulated by Seán Lemass as far back as the 1950s. This calls for a new public-driven business model that cuts across the public and private sectors. 

This is a big canvas with at least three distinct elements.

First, the expansion of current public enterprises and the creation of new ones. This is about driving employment, investment and value-added in the market economy which, in turn, will drive private sector activity. Public enterprises are essentially investment-driven vehicles. Released from the logic of shareholder value, they are free to maximise the social utility of profits; namely, investment. 

When we refer to public enterprise we understandably think of the big ones: ESB, Bord na Móna, CIE, Eirgrid, etc. But do we know of Abargrove (catering), Advanced Environmental Solutions (waste collection), or Greener Ideas (a joint energy venture)? The CSO lists over 200 public commercial companies in the non-financial sector and nearly 40 such companies in the financial sector. Many of these are subsidiaries of larger public enterprise companies, while some are project-specific (e.g. a wind farm). Nonetheless, there are a considerable number of companies which can become instruments of growth – and this doesn’t include a number of non-market public agencies which nonetheless support market activity such as Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Nor should we see public enterprises as only national bodies. We can carve out a new role for local public enterprises that are supported by local and regional government and agencies. This would require institutional reform but, as the National Economic and Social Council pointed out in its recent proposals regarding ‘Just Transition’, the best response is local because local communities and economies have different needs, strengths and abilities.

Second, a public-driven model should not be reduced to an exclusively state response. Democratic models such as labour-managed enterprises, civil society enterprises, hybrid enterprise models (local public enterprises that are labour-managed or local community managed) and other forms of democratic business models can play an important part in, especially, local-based policy. Again, this requires stronger local and regional governments and agencies. And given the small to almost non-existent presence of cooperatives in Ireland, considerable resources will be needed to publicise and support such initiatives. 

Third, we need to find ways to transform private enterprise practices. The legal right to collective bargaining and regulation, as well as traditional incentives (tax relief, grants) all have important roles in transforming our current business model. These can be supplemented with an explicit state policy to promote what can be called ‘public purpose enterprises’ – businesses that can avail of an advanced suite of state supports on the basis that they promote collective bargaining and employee participation, prioritise investment (in R&D, new skills, market expansion), reduce inequalities in wages and the gender pay gap, and promote environmental sustainability. In this way we can demonstrate the competitive advantage of market enterprises that commit to greater democracy, investment and climate justice.

By focusing on the transformation of the current business model, progressives can open up a new front in the economic debate. While we will need to fully participate in the fiscal debate (borrowing, deficits and debt, taxation, etc.), we must also show that the fiscal is a reflection of enterprise quality, and that enterprise quality is a function of democracy. The increasing participation of people in the generation of employment and value-added can launch the Irish economy on to the high road. 

To paraphrase Keynes when he referred to unemployment – look after enterprise quality and the budget will look after itself.

Writedown debt to rebuild the economy

By Conor McCabe

A debt jubilee is needed to ensure a just recovery, writes Conor McCabe.

Debt is a creature of accountancy and the law. It has no physical presence but has a coercive power due to state enforcement of its mechanisms. Rent, for its part, is essentially parasitic.

In times of crisis it is folly for the state to privilege such profit over the survival of the real economy.

We have been here before. We cannot do the same again.

We need to introduce a debt, rent, and utility bill moratorium and subsequent write-down for the coronavirus months, coordinated by government and the state, and tied into the liquidity response that the European Central Bank (ECB) has already undertaken.

These measures are needed to ensure that people get through this crisis somewhat in one piece, and that the State has the resources going forward to tackle the housing and health issues that dominated the recent election, as well as to ensure we can implement a green new deal that is vital to our future.

The signs so far, however, are not good. 

The government has put in place a moratorium on evictions – the absolute bare minimum needed in a pandemic – but has refused to deal with the payment itself outside of a ban on rent increases. 

This is in spite of the fact that unaffordable rent is a key issue that dominated the recent election. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, and tens of thousands of businesses have shut down. It is unlikely that all will be able to open up once the current restrictions are lifted.

Despite headline initiatives such as a Covid-19 payment of €350 per week and the (temporary) public administration of the entire health service, the Government’s response is actually not that different from that of the previous recession – protect banks and landlords over the real economy.

We cannot afford to make the same mistake this time. To make an analogy, significant sections of the economy have been put into a state-induced coma so that our medical services can fight this infection. Countries across the EU, including our own, are purposely shutting down economic activity in order to save lives.

In Ireland it means that there are hundreds of thousands of people who have a reduced income, but under current arrangements they are being treated for the purposes of rent, debt and utilities as if nothing has happened. 

At the end of all of this we need a debt jubilee – a writedown of loan and rent payments that were due during the coronavirus months.

The message from government is clear: protect people in the short-term but make no structural changes.

The Government response so far, however, has been to ask banks to defer loan repayments, not to get rid of them. Similarly, it has asked landlords to show some ‘understanding’ with regard to rent payments.

It has not, however, given itself legal powers to enforce these requests. This merely straddles people with debt for the months during which they were told to stay at home and not do anything.

It has increased welfare payments, but done nothing – absolutely nothing – to tackle high rents and low supply. 

The collapse in Airbnb rentals should have been used by the state to introduce a long-term solution to the housing crisis. Instead, it has taken out short-term leases at full rent with corporate landlords to house homeless families until such time as hotels open back up again. 

The message from government is clear: protect people in the short-term but make no structural changes.

The question, then, is what should be done and how to achieve it.

At a minimum, the following is needed:

– Full moratorium on domestic rents and mortgage repayments for people affected

– Full moratorium on commercial rents and loan repayments for businesses affected

– Full moratorium on utility bills for businesses affected

– Legislation to ensure that claims for rent, mortgage, and loan repayments, as well as utility bills missed during the crisis, are not legally enforceable

– Legislation to ensure credit history is not affected by missed payments during the crisis

– Interest-free loans and overdraft facilities for businesses to pay suppliers and contractors

 – Negative interest-rate loans for non-commercial and arts bodies/collectives/ venues/facilities.

The suspension of rent, mortgage, and debt repayments would take a significant burden off people’s shoulders, and enable affected households to get through this crisis on the announced payment of €350 per week.

We need to push the debt of the coronavirus breakout into the world of finance, which is where the significant and almost unlimited support measures announced by the ECB will come into play.

It is the role of the ECB — not renters — to ensure that otherwise healthy banks and utility companies remain solvent. The ECB, for its part, has made it clear it is willing to honour its responsibilities.

At that stage it is then possible to look at either write-downs or the quarantining of coronavirus debt by placing as much of it onto the balance sheet of the ECB or through a bad bank fully funded by the ECB. There it can be parked for decades while we go about restructuring our society on environmentally and socially sustainable lines. 

None of what has been proposed here is outside the realm of possibility. It can be done. The mechanisms are there. It is all about whether the political will is there. 

That is a question for our progressive parties to answer. At this time of political flux, it remains to be seen whether they are willing or able to step up to the plate.

Isolation is Communal - Covid19

By andrew

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine - Under the shelter of each other people survive.

It is within times of crisis when the thin veil of neoliberalism slips to reveal the emperor is not wearing any clothes. It exposes the sheer inefficacy of capitalism to cope with human crises and cater for the most basic human needs. In these times, when the capitalist state is left reeling, we see glimpses of community, solidarity and interdependence emerge once again - the very ideals neoliberalism has for the last 40 odd years attempted to erode and eradicate. It exposes that the ‘common sense’ manner of organising our lives, work and economy is entirely at odds with the will of the people but also, very importantly, it provides us with the opportunity to imagine a transformed world.

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Movement of Freedom - An overview of the current situation in Lesvos

By dermo

Tensions have been growing amongst the migrant communities in Lesvos since the beginning of January when the new right-wing government (New Democracy) implemented more aggressive migration policies with a view to “decongest” the Aegean islands and to stem the flow of migration. Deputy minister Stelios Petsas announced that “the government, from the first moment, followed a different policy on the refugee-migration issue. With a comprehensive plan based on four axes: guarding the borders, speeding up asylum procedures, increased returns and closed pre-departure centers.” What this translates to is increased spending on border controls, a staggering backlog of asylum claims, fast-track border procedures that fail to protect people (including children) from deportation if they are rejected in the first instance, even if they appeal, along with large scale confinement and detention.

People protest against the Pre-Removal Detention Centre in Moria Camp after an Iranian migrant was found dead, hung in his cell.

People protest against the Pre-Removal Detention Centre in Moria Camp after an Iranian migrant was found dead, hung in his cell.

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It’s a Yes - a central contribution to the Repeal story that can be built on

By andrew

The publication of the co-directors history of the Together for Yes (T4Y) campaign is an important step in building an accessible collective history of the final stage of the long struggle to repeal the hated 8th amendment to the Irish constitution. It along with the forthcoming Together for Yes review of the referendum campaign should probably be read by everyone who worked for Repeal, if for no other reason than to get a better understanding of the ‘big picture’ of what we were involved in.

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Feminists in Ireland release letter in solidarity with "our friends in Rojava"

By andrew

The following letter has been signed by feminists living in Ireland, including WSM members

A Letter to our friends in Rojava

As feminists living across the island of Ireland, we wish to express our heartfelt solidarity with our courageous sisters and comrades in Rojava as their project for women’s freedom is under attack. Please know that as the fascist Turkish state attempts to isolate, dispossess and brutalise the communities of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, they will only serve to strengthen our collective resistance and resolve.

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Transport needs and Climate Breakdown as 25,000 march through Dublin

By andrew

As part of the global climate strike about 25 thousand students marched through the center of Dublin city. This was one of many demonstrations that took place around Ireland, even the small dormitory towns around Dublin like Maynooth had their own demonstrations. So the actual numbers protesting in Ireland was probably in the region of 40,000.  In this piece Andrew looks at how collective action can halt Climate Breakdown using the example of the need for transport to illustrate why individual consumer choices cannot fix things.

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XR strategy is based on bad science

By andrew

If you happened to be using bad science to impose a strategy that turned out to be inefficient, and if as a result of this inefficiency billions of people died... who would be the most violent person in the room? This is the question Roger Hallam (a founder of XR) and George Monbiot (a Guardian journalist and prominent supporter of XR) would do well to ponder as the collapse of the earth's biosphere and the system fueling that collapse are claiming more lives every day.

Both of these men have been arguing in favor of non-violent civil disobedience as the only acceptable tactic to avert catastrophic climate change. This stance is usually justified by referencing a study entitled “Why Civil Resistance Works” authored by Erica Chenoweth.

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Review: ‘Worshipping Power: an anarchist view of early state formation’ written by Peter Gelderloos.

By andrew

This book unapologetically does away with many tired myths about the origin of states, their alleged utility and the so-called social contract. For far too long these myths have led many to accept authoritarian institutions as necessary for the coexistence of human beings in large scale societies, allowing a tiny minority to enslave exploit and murder in plain sight, under the protection of a legitimizing discourse. But that shit is going away.

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Protesting racism in Rooskey

By andrew

Rooskey - when I heard the name, it triggered some flicker of recollection. A memory was stirred. As it turned out, it is not far from where my mother's family come from. I had a cousin who grew up in a nearby Longford village, I had actually cycled through this place. So it vaguely came back to me, and I remembered the bridge spanning the Shannon, as that great river flows onto Lough Ree and down towards Athlone. My mother's people grew up around that Lough. I’ve spent summers listening to the wind whistling through the telephone wires. Today I was on my way to an anti-racist protest.

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Ode to ARC - a video love story

By andrew

To mark International Women's Day 2019 we are releasing this video that celebrates the grassroots womens organising responsible for victory in the 2018 abortion referendum.  We'd heard the text at the ARC Christmas party and immediately felt it would make a fantastic video, hopefully you will agree.  The authors introduction is below, we've also recorded a background interview with her about the campaign which gets further into the grassroots organising themes expressed in the video, see link at end.

The author Mary writes "On International Womens Day two years ago we gathered on O'Connell  Bridge and in towns all around Ireland as part of Strike 4 Repeal, demanding that the government call a referendum on the 8th amendment. On International Womens Day last year, we marched under the banner of Votes for Repeal. We had a proposed referendum date, the structure of a campaign, energy, commitment and determination. But the result was far from certain. On International Womens Day this year, Ireland is free of the 8th amendment. Barriers to access remain and the work of ensuring free, safe, legal and local abortion care for everyone who wants and needs it continues. But we are in a place we did not think we would be a few short years ago. We have moved out from under the shadow of the 8th. We got here through collective action, hard compromises, exhaustion, friendship, compassion, determination and grit.

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In defiance of government spin nurses cry Enough is enough

By andrew

The West’s awake, so too the other provinces, as defiant nurses and midwives take to the picket lines. Buoyed by massive public support, members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) took part in their first strike in 20 years.

Generally feeling undervalued and suffering the effects of prolonged understaffing and hospital overcrowding these workers counter-intuitively withdrew their labour in the first of a series of 24-hour work stoppages.

Known for their dedication and immense sense of good will which has for decades covered up the cracks in a health service that itself seems to be in ill-health, this female dominated profession has once again risen up to say “Enough is enough!”

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Brexit & a border poll - an anarchist view on the possibilities and consequences

By andrew

“Every exclusively political revolution that is in defence of national independence or for internal change... [and] that does not aim at the immediate and real political and economic emancipation of people, will be a false revolution. Its objectives will be unattainable and its consequences reactionary.” Michael Bakunin.

With less the two months until the Brexit deadline, the North of Ireland remains on edge as the British PM announces plans to deploy police reinforcements to six counties echoing past images for many of aggressive border checkpoints and control stoking up conflict.
In the the midst of this Brexit spectacle the real war continues to ravage the streets, housing estates and workplaces across the North in the form of a brutal austerity agenda of class warfare in cuts to public services and social welfare under the Stormont Fresh Start Agreement resulting in misery and deprivation for the many while the wealthy few have never had it so good on a local and global level. According to a recent report released by Oxfam in January this year ‘Billionaire fortunes increased by 12 percent last year – or $2.5 billion a day - while the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth decline by 11 percent’ (1)

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The Next Global Crash? On China and the 21st Century Crisis

By Tom

Today, China is the driving engine of global economic growth. A major crisis of the Chinese economy will almost certainly drag the global economy into the next recession in the 2020s. This may turn out to be far more damaging than the Great Recession of 2008.

Minqi Li is a political economist at the University of Utah and an advocate of China’s Maoist New Left [1]. His most recent book, ‘China and the 21st Century Crisis’, outlines capitalism’s next looming crisis. Regardless of the proximate cause, this coming crisis will be economic, political, and ecological. It will also be global.

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Was winning the Repeal referendum inevitable?

By andrew

The vote to remove the ban on abortion from the Irish constitution in May 2018 was overwhelmingly carried, with almost 2 out of every 3 voters voting Yes remove the ban. The margin of victory was such that some post-referendum polemics made the mistake of arguing that victory was always inevitable, that the campaign didn’t matter. Such arguments tended to be made by opinion writers who never liked the Repeal campaign and in some cases published pieces during the campaign arguing that unless whatever aspect they disliked was dropped the referendum would be lost.

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Alan MacSimoin remembered by Des Derwin

By andrew

In recent years I saw less of Alan than in previous years. Yet I regularly bumped into him and it was always an enthusiastic and humourous short reunion.  That’s because like many here Alan was involved in every campaign of the day But Alan seemed to be involved in  all the minor as well as the major campaigns. And going right back, and without a gap or a letup over five decades. And he remembered it all. And in detail!

[This is the speech Des Derwin delivered at Alan MacSimoin's wake]

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The centre collapses - the Yellow Vests emerge

By andrew

On the apolitical labelling of the movement - Many of us have been following the Yellow Vest clashes on the streets of France with great interest and trying to understand this movement that appeared to come from nowhere.  It is another story of the pressures of late stage capitalism collapsing the center of politics, a center no longer able to fool more of the people most of the time.  A movement made possible by social media but which also reflects the often chaotic ‘apolitics’ of such movements.  And worrying in the context of the millions being poured into far right propaganda a movement in which the far-right have made some progress in infiltrating, even if our comrades in France are physically driving them out of the protests.

There is no such thing as an apolitical movement, all there can be is a movement with internal contradictions as well as internal struggles to resolve those contradictions.

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