Issue 14 of Barricade Bulletin, with articles on anarchist organising in Northern Ireland, the end of the Debenhams dispute, the June 11 day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, a statement from John Paul Wootton of the Craigavon Two, Belfast anarchists, an interview with anarchist prisoner and tenant organiser Ruyman Rodriguez, pioneering Spanish anarchist Teresa Claramunt, the general strike in Palestine, and a review of James C Scott's Two Cheers for Anarchism.
Barricade Bulletin 14 - June/July/August 2021
11th June: International Actions in Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners
Each year Anarchist Prisoners are remembered on 11th June as part of an international day of solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners. Each year, events take place in different countries, such at online talks, workshops on letter writing to public banner drops.
These events are used to help highlight the continuing incarceration of anarchist activists. From the beginning, a number of different anarchist and prison abolitionist groups have taken part. Solidarity actions have taken place to mark 11th June in Ireland, in both Derry and Belfast, that included members of Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee (IWOC), Derry Anarchists, Industrial Workers of the World, Migrant and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice, Anarchist Black Cross, Organise and Belfast Anarchists.
At this actions, a statement from miscarriage of justice prisoner and anarchist, John Paul Wootton was read out. John Paul, who is a member of the Craigavon Two, was wrongfully imprisoned with Brendan McConville on the 30th March 2012 in a Diplock Court following the killing of Constable Steven Carroll, back in March 2009. Carroll was fatally shot in Craigavon.
Both innocent men, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, were wrongfully convicted of the shooting and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit. In Belfast and Derry, a number of banner-drops took place this evening to mark the occasion highlighting the continuing incarceration of anarchist prisoners as well as the ongoing campaign for the immediate release of the Craigavon Two by their family and friends.
A spokesperson for the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee, who helped organise todays events, commented following today’s actions that “it is vital that we actively participate in international actions such as today’s events in Derry and Belfast. It is vital that each of us to help draw attention to the treatment of incarcerated workers currently held within the prison system, North and South. It is important that we make sure that they are not forgotten, they are supported and encouraged to organise against ill-treatment.
“The issue of the continuing incarceration of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton by the state must never be far from our lips when we talk of injustice here in Ireland or elsewhere. This miscarriage of justice has to be called out for what it is by everyone. Every community or political group, every trade union and human rights organisation, all those who genuinely seek human rights and social justice for all. We demand they too raise the concerns of the Wootton and McConville families and help demand an immediate end to this wrongful imprisonment.”
A spokesperson for the Anarchist Black Cross said “We are here to help echo the international call on 11th June as today in many countries throughout the world, anarchist and class struggle prisoners are joining with us in solidarity. Likewise we must never allow anarchist prisoners to be forgotten or isolated by the state, which is why our work is one of solidarity and mutual aid with those on the inside.
“We feel it’s important to help raise awareness of those held the prison system, to also educate and involve community collaboration. Even small acts of solidarity, such as letter-writing, which everyone can do to help reduce prisoner isolation and improve or draw attention to their conditions. Solidarity acts like today’s events are another way to highlight the ongoing imprisonment of comrades or of raising awareness about campaigns such as the Craigavon Two.”
Ainrialaithe Bhéal Feirste: We talk to Belfast Anarchists who are helping to build working class resistance on the streets and in the workplace!
In Belfast today, a small group of anarchists, abolitionists, and anti-authoritarian communists has formed around old and new anarchist infrastructure.
For wont of a better label, we are Belfast Anarchists/Ainrialaithe Bhéal Feirste – leave the fancy names and acronyms to the statists, we’re here to build community solidarity, smash the state, and abolish capitalism (if the sea doesn’t swallow us before the insurrection).
We are a group with shared anarchist values but representing slightly different tendencies inside the anarchist, autonomist, and abolitionist family. Anarchists often struggle to pass on the flame to the next generation as by our very nature we tend to prioritise the here and now over long-term building, so while there have been many anarchist groups before us but most of us only know of them through myth and legend. Though relatively small in number, we are made up of women, gender non-conforming folks, men, and queer people. We are proud to span that divide Wolfe Tone sought to bring together, but we are not struggling for some bourgeoisie state. Rather we want a world free from domination, where all are able to flourish without fear of incarceration, capitalism, or petty nationalisms. Those who organise with us are involved with plenty of other organisations seeking to build a new and better world right here in Belfast and across the North.
As a group, we have worked to keep fascist propaganda off the walls of this city. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been a breeding ground for far-right and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Anarchists helped oppose fascist Irish Freedom Party and their stooges in Yellow Vest Ireland by joining revolutionary socialists and republicans in chasing them out of town. ‘Anti-lockdown’ groups were busy covering lampposts in far-right talking points, so we got busy replacing them with solidarity messages to the people of Rojava, anti-cop propaganda, and anticapitalist slogans. When we discovered British Movement stickers calling for the deportation of migrants and countless other racist dogwhistles, we took them down, covered them up, and plastered anti-Nazi posters in Loyalist strongholds.
When TERF bile appeared on the streets surrounding City Hall, we anarchists tore it down and are committing to a propaganda campaign to stand with out our trans and gender non-conforming comrades and the wider city. There can be no tolerance for fascists, be they National Socialists or TERFs.
But who could forget our homegrown authoritarians and bigots? Loyalist talking-heads and the tired, bitter voices of religious fundamentalists have stoked anger in our most deprived communities and are promising to bring sectarian hatred to our streets. Beatings and shootings in paramilitary-dominated areas across the North have not stopped. Women and trans individuals are still prevented from accessing adequate healthcare. Religious conservatives from both traditions have formed alliances to harass those leaving abortion providers. The authoritarian streak that cuts across the religious divide keeps our communities in bondage and prevents class consciousness. As anarchists, we must rekindle the radical class politics needed to bring our communities together and unite against the tyranny of capitalism, imperialism, and the state. We will look out for ourselves without the opportunistic meddling of state, para-state, and paramilitary organisations. We have much work to do.
However, a united working class offers a chance to build a new world in the ashes of the old – free from the sectarian, patriarchal, racist, and homophobic divisions exploited by those who claim the title of ‘political leaders’ and ‘Ministers’.
These stop-and-start lockdowns have been a learning curve for many people in Belfast and across the globe. Being exposed to the relentless brutality of capital and the state has radicalised many towards liberation politics. Watching helplessly as British, Irish and EU governments alike put the free movement of goods and capital ahead of the free movement of refugees and asylum seekers only became more potent when the borders were shut too late to prevent hundreds of thousands needlessly dying. All the while cabinet ministers, politicians families, and corporate bigwigs consolidated their positions, and got rich off the genocidal commitment to ‘getting the economy moving again’.
The Black Lives Matter uprisings across Amerika, and subsequent solidarity protests across the world, has radicalised a new generation of young, liberation-focused activists and caused white people (like ourselves) to seriously examine our role in upholding white supremacy. The tired old rhetoric of state socialists and assimilationist politicians pales in comparison to the thriving and vibrant conversations surrounding liberation for Black people, Women, Trans people, Queer people, and the oppressed everywhere. Prison and police abolition is now in the mainstream discourse; union agitation has grown and grown; the old world of patriarchal violence and white supremacist ‘civilisation’ is being challenged at every turn. The politics of death that the ruling class relies on is under serious threat as a new generation watches as cops worldwide brutalise, rape, and kill indigenous people, women, and minority ethnic and religious groups. An Injury to One is an Injury to All.
Over the last six months – and closer to home – anarchists in Belfast have taken part in solidarity actions alongside the revolutionary union, the IWW in their struggle to abolish the wage system and free us from the bosses grip. As comrades across Britain took to the streets to fight against the encroaching policing of life, Belfast Anarchists have dropped banners in solidarity #KilltheBill. In Ireland, we watched once again as our comrades in Palestine were catapulted to the top of the world’s consciousness as Zionist cops pulled them from their homes and supplanted them with colonisers. We stood on white lines alongside those who have struggled against colonialism in Ireland and in Palestine, joined as activists emptied Asda’s shelves of Israeli goods, and carried the ‘No War but Class War’ message alongside hundreds in a spontaneous march on the BBC in support of the people of Palestine.
We are setting up a new news-sheet for anarchist and liberationist groups, Caora Dhubh (Black Sheep) and we hope to share news and views from anarchists, feminists, abolitionists, environmental activists, hunt-sabs, queer and trans liberationists, and everyone struggling against systems of oppression in the world we all share. Slowly but surely, we are making new connections, and writing a new chapter in Belfast’s anti-authoritarian left. So as Loyalist bosses are promising a “long-hot summer” to destabilise society for their own nationaistic ends; as fascists seek to mine the growing pool of Anti-Vaxxers for cannon fodder; and as TERFs try to police trans bodies, we must unite our communities in common struggle to fight against the bosses, the politicians, the capitalists, and all who labour to keep us down. For a world where all are free.
Dlúthpháirtíocht go deo.
Belfast Anarchists/Ainrialaithe Bhéal Feirste
Northern Anarchists: Educate, Agitate, Organise!
Over the last number of months, anarchist activity and interest in anarchism generally has increased. This can be seen by anarchist visibility generally, such as participation at public events as the streets begin to open up a bit more due to the pandemic. For ourselves, we have witnessed growth, contact and communication from anarchists in other areas. The distribution of Barricade Bulletin has helped encourage that visibility and this is something we feel needs to continue.
Anarchists in smaller towns or villages have been encouraged by seeing other anarchists mobilise, and not just on social media. Anarchists in Strabane have been active in distributing Barricade Bulletin and anarchist info, and attending the recent solidarity action against Dalradian’s Toxic Gold Mining efforts.
In Monaghan, anarchists have been active this past year, especially after the murder of George Floyd, helping to organise a Black Lives Matter/ anti-DP solidarity demonstration in Monaghan to which the town responded very positively. Anarchists have also been active organising for solidarity for Palestine as well as reaching out to other anarchists around Ulster.
We have also received solidarity from anarchists in Sligo, Newry and Donegal who have reached out where they live since our last issue.
There is of course Belfast Anarchists who have been active around issues such as IWW ‘Wage Theft’ campaign, rents and social housing and ongoing antifascist work. Full report from on Belfast anarchist activity HERE.
Since then, our own mutual consensus following this ongoing wave of local activity by northern anarchists has been to further promote solidarity and networking together in anyway we can: If we don’t do it for ourselves, no one will!
The possibility of creating an informal network of anarchists was one such way that could assist or encourage more informal links, to help build and promote anarchism from:
Sharing and promoting news, publications and solidarity actions on anarchism locally and internationally.
Promoting and sharing anarchist propaganda and educational items and creating more talks/discussions on Anarchism.
Creating ways to provide easy access to relevant anarchist propaganda and educational material.
Another issue was the need for anarchists to be more visible at pickets, protests, demos or wherever possible etc and encouraging solidarity with others to work together to fulfill these ends where possible.
If you or your group would like to be added to this growing list of activism, suggestions or better still become part of such an informal network, then drop us a line at: [email protected]