Building anarchism in Ireland

31 March 2001

Aileen O' Carroll


Look at the world. There is so much wrong with it. Africa is being decimated by AIDs. Children are dying in Iraq because they can't get basic medical treatment. Millions of people worldwide daily live in the shadow of poverty, millions of people fall through the cracks.

Even in Ireland, rich in comparison to many places in the world, the best most of us can hope for is to spend the most of our lives working for somebody else.

Even here many of us will not get the medical treatment we need, should we be unfortunate enough to fall ill.

Many of us will never be able to afford a house, and so will always live in insecurity. Many of us will never have the time to spend on our hopes and of dreams.

The majority of us will never be able to fullfill our full potential.

We have very little control over our lives. Decisions made on the worlds stock market determine whether we will have a job or not, whether we will be forced to leave this country or not. Our quality of live is determined by nameless people in nameless places

Its depressing and its overwhelming. And most people puts their heads down and get on with making the best of a bad situation.


This is the text of a talk given to a Workers Solidarity Movement meeting. As such it represents the authors opinion alone and may be deliberately provocative in order to encourage discussion. Also it may be in note form. Still we hope you find it useful. Other talks are here
We want to change all this and I won't lie to you, it not easy.

If the world is going to be any different people have to wake up, they have to take control back, they have to fight.

They have to stop making do, they have to demand more.

They have to stop being observers, they have start being participants.

Participant and observer.

People in power want a world of passive consumers. they want us apathetic, they want us cynical, they want us to believe that nothing changes.

What is it that we can do? There are so many problems, there aren't very many of us, people are less and less interested in politics, its harder and harder to compete with TV and the mass media.

It may be difficult, but it's not impossible. The prize is great, its worth trying for.

In the WSM this is what we do.

First, we spread our ideas as far as possible. We produce a paper every two months. In it we spread anarchist ideas. We report on victories. We expose the powerful. Initially we used sell, but found it difficult to get it distributed in shops. So we put our heads together, we changed, and now we give it away for free. We give it out on the streets, we drop it door to door, at Dart stations, at demonstrations.

We look for other ways to get anarchism out there. We've build a huge internet site. We produce leaflets targeted at particular issues and campaigns. Twice yearly we have public meetings like this one. Ever month we have discussion meetings which we use to develop our ideas, to learn more, to develop our anarchism.

Secondly, as you have heard today we are involved in a number of campaigns. We fight to win so that we can improve the quality of our lives, if even in a small way. But more than that, campaign work is about empowerment, victory makes people powerful. We fight to win the small battles so we have the confidence and the ability to win the big ones. We fight to win so that people will know what it is an anarchist stands for, so people know what sort of world we want to live in.

Thirdly, we build links with anarchists thoughout Ireland and in other countries. Recently two of our members have travelled through Africa, meeting Anarchists in Nigeria and South Africa, through South America, meeting anarchists in Bolivia and Mexico. Our members have been to Chiapas, to the May Day in London, to the anti-WTO demonstration in Prague, to meet anarchists in Lyon, in Florence and in Spain. We work in Ireland, but we know the fight is Global.

At the moment there are eight of us. The hard truth of it, is our work is limited by our small size. There are loads more things we'd like to do

The image of society we are given is that it is static, its basically unchanging. Its an image that causes apathy, cynicism, hopelessness, and its an image that suits people who hold the reigns of power.

Its funny because, in fact society is always in a state of change. There is always a struggle over what is and what is going to be, eg at the moment there is a fight over the right to travel from country to country, over the amount we pay in taxes to the government, over whether we can protest on O'Connell Street or not.

As I said earlier, there are two choices. You can either be a participant or observer. You can either take part in the struggle, fight for what you believe in or you watch as others play games with your life.

We don't have all the answers.

We know it is not easy.

But we know that we are not content to sit back.

That's why we are here today.

That's why we need you to help us.

We only have one life. Its worth fighting for.

Thank you very much.