Anarchist movement

What We Believe - WSM Points of Unity Explained - Audio

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This is a series explaining the 8 Points of Unity of the Workers Solidarity Movement - an anarchist organisation active on the island of Ireland. [Download PDF of these explanations]

The WSM regularly discusses, debates and decides on what our collective political approach is. The Points of Unity are the most basic political agreement necessary to be a WSM member or supporter. They are 8 short points which outline the anarchism the WSM stands for.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 1 - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas

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'1. Anarchism will be created by the class struggle between the vast majority of society (the working class) and the tiny minority that currently rule. A successful revolution will require that anarchist ideas become the leading ideas within the working class. This will not happen spontaneously. Our role is to make anarchist ideas the leading ideas or, as it is sometimes expressed, to become a ''leadership of ideas''.’

We're usually told that class society is a thing of the past. After all, aren't we all middle class now? But this is false, and there still very much exists a severe division between people based on property and work, a hierarchy which is a basic fact of the economic system known as capitalism.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 3 - Platformism (1)

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'3. We identify ourselves as anarchists and with the "platformist", anarchist-communist or especifista tradition of anarchism. We broadly identify with the theoretical base of this tradition and the organisational practice it argues for, but not necessarily everything else it has done or said, so it is a starting point for our politics and not an end point.’

The WSM practices a form of anarchism which strives to be highly organised and coherent.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 4 - Platformism (2)

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'4. The core ideas of this tradition that we identify with are the need for anarchist political organisations that seek to develop:

  1. Theoretical Unity
  2. Tactical Unity       
  3. Collective Action and Discipline       
  4. Federalism’

Federalism is an organisational structure based on “the free agreement of individuals and organisations to work collectively towards a common objective”. It is finding the best balance between independence and coherence. All decisions are made by those affected by them as opposed to centralism, where decisions are made by a central committee for those affected by them. This means, for example, that while all WSM branches are united under a common national policy, they are also autonomous, i.e they can make their own local decisions. It also means that we have no leaders or officials with higher authority than others. Rather, we have 'officers' who are delegated temporary authority to perform certain tasks as mandated by the membership (for instance, to be treasurer).

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 6 - (Other) Mass Movements

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'6. We also see it as vital to work in struggles that happen outside the unions and the workplace. These include struggles against particular oppressions, imperialism and indeed the struggles of the working class for a decent place and environment in which to live. Our general approach to these, like our approach to the unions, is to involve ourselves with mass movements and within these movements, in order to promote anarchist methods of organisation involving direct democracy and direct action.'

While the workplace is of course a critical site of political activity, there is a much broader terrain on which to strive for our liberty. Ultimately, we want a world where people are free and content. So, everywhere that we are ripped off, suppressed, attacked, sidelined, or degraded, is a place for us to fight back and band together with others. In a social order which thrives on us keeping our heads down and being passive, resistance in its many forms is to be encouraged and supported. Whether or not that resistance is as radical or as 'pure' as we'd like we should engage, of course with our anarchist heads screwed on. While being a purist sect on the sidelines can feel satisfying to the initiated, ultimately it is a redundant way to make change.

WSM Points of Unity Explained: 7 - Oppression and Intersectionality

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'7. We actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice within the workers' movement and society in general and we work alongside those struggling against racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia as a priority. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions after the revolution being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.'

While acknowledging the huge harm caused by capitalism and the state, our concerns do not end there. The Workers Solidarity Movement are anarchists because we oppose all forms of exploitation and oppression. All of the degradation, marginalisation, and violence, in this society. And so we recognise that patriarchy, racism, queerphobia, ableism, religious domination and sectarianism, xenophobia, and every way that joy is sucked out of our lives, are oppressive social systems in their own right which must be overthrown. While capitalism and the state are instrumental in spreading these oppressions, and while these oppressions are instrumental in sustaining capitalism and the state, they have their own independent existence and reasons to be wiped out.

How to organise a meeting

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Organising requires getting together and making decisions, sharing information and organisational work.  It only takes a few informal chats among any group of people before it becomes obvious that some structure is greatly needed in facilitating group functioning.  Without structures and procedures people often forget what was agreed, what tasks were to be done and by whom, or when the next meeting is.  
 

What Is Anarchism?

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Like almost any political term, ‘anarchism’ is very broad in scope and covers a huge range of ideas and practice.  Instead of trying to give an exhaustive description, or detail everything that is and isn’t anarchism, this article will attempt to get to the heart of it, and capture the essence, as far as possible, at the core of anarchism. Giving a complete definition of such a broad term would take many more words than will fit here and has been done well in other places (e.g. An Anarchist FAQ).
 

What is 'Self-Organisation'? A Basic Introduction

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What is 'self-organisation'?

Listen to anarchists for long enough, and you'll hear us praising the 'self-organisation' of various movements or groups and insisting that political activity needs to be more 'self-organised'. But what does this mean? Why is this important?

It can be an odd-sounding term, but basically 'self-organisation' is doing stuff without relying on or waiting for external leadership or a central authority. A 'self-organised' movement doesn't wait for parties, unions, or whatever leader, to give it orders. A 'self-organised' group isn't controlled from the top-down. Self-organisation – like a related idea, 'self-management' – is at the core of anarchism. It makes us more effective, and gives us an opportunity to practice real democracy.

The making of an anarchist in Portlaoise prison

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In 2010 I was sentenced to 6 years for having possession of 20 grams of explosive powder.  I was to serve 4 years and 8 months in Portlaoise prison.  This is not an in-depth study into prison and jails, and it is not an academic piece. It is simply an experience. My experience of jail will be different than other people’s experience because no two people’s experience will ever be the same. The other person’s experience will always be different no matter how great or small.   

My experience started with 3 days questioning in a Garda station in Mountjoy. After the questioning was over I was charged with having an explosive substance, having materials used to build explosives and membership of an illegal organization.

From the Garda station I was brought straight to the special criminal court which was in Green Street courthouse at the time. I was brought to the holding cell, which resembled something out of a cowboy film or a medievil film. There was no door on the cell, there was a gate made from bars. On the wall of the cell were messages written on the wall by people that have come through here, messages of support, people's names with numbers beside their name indicating how many years the person got, names of different republican groups, pictures of soldiers with guns, symbols such as the hammer and sickle.

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