Workers Solidarity Movement

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The Workers Solidarity Movement is an anarchist-communist organisation in Ireland, identifying itself as broadly within the platformist tradition of Nestor Makhno. The anarchist communist tradition is the main tradition within the left-wing (the right wing being the state-socialist/authoritarian Marxist tradition) of the revolutionary socialist/labor movement-its main theorists historically were Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta.The organisation was established in 1984 and publishes the paper Workers Solidarity and the magazine Irish Anarchist Review.


The structure of the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) is based on federalism as set out in the platform. It also has a contact system and supporter system for those who cannot commit as much time or energy to anarchism but who wish to get involved somehow. The WSM aims for the direct participation and input from all its members in debating and formulating theory and policy -it is the opposite of the top down authoritarian socialist/republican parties in this respect. Potential contacts/supporters or members can self register at .


The WSM aims for the complete re-organisation of society along anarchist communist lines.[1] That is a society free from domination, oppression and economic exploitation.[2] This means the formation of community/workplace assemblies in each area which will take over the running of localities through a form of direct democracy and de-centralised federalism. These assemblies will vote for councils which will administer the affairs of their respective area/work places, however final executive power will rest in the mass assemblies. The councils will be based on rotating delegates who are most likely volunteers and will federate together on a local, regional, provincial, national and international level, at all times remaining accountable and revocable by the council who voted the delegates in and finally by the mass assemblies at the base. In this respect power flows from the base and not the top. Through the process of revolution the instruments for production (factories, farms, offices, public services) will be taken under direct community ownership and socialised.The workers will operate the workplaces as agencies, in control of their own destinies, only subject to the contracts they have collectively, voluntarily and freely entered into with other workplaces and the community as a whole. However, the workplaces will belong to the community at large. This will be necessary as no area or workplace can be self-sustaining. Therefore, a system of interlinking contracts and one of mutual aid will arise.[3] Wayne Price has described the basic principle of an anarchist society as 'as much de-centralisation as is maximally possible,and as much centralisation as is necessary'.[4]

On the issue of policing the WSM aims to radically reform the methods of policing within communities. Any police action would come under direct community control, with workers militia taking control of safety and protection from vigilante/criminal groups within the community. These militia would be from the communities and be directly re-callable to the mass assemblies/community administrative councils and be aimed at the minimisation of crime by rehabilitating those who engage in crime in a healthy and productive manner-quite different from the harsh penal system of prisons in place today. Although in an anarchist communist society it is likely that little crime would occur due to the nature of free exchange and mutual aid within communities. Simply put people would be free to take what they needed from the community stores as long as they worked for the community (3–5 hours a day). Those unfit for work - the disabled, elderly and young - would also have free access to these stores.[5]


Origin and early years (1984-2001)

The Workers Solidarity Movement was founded at a meeting in Cork in 1984 [6] as the culmination of discussions in Belfast, Cork and Dublin by a number of unaligned anarchists and anarchist groups from Ballymena, Belfast, Cork and Dublin on the need for a national anarchist organisation (the Ballymena and Belfast groups had withdrawn from the initiative by the time of the Cork meeting, and the unaligned anarchists at the Cork meeting also declined to join the newly formed WSM). After an initial period of very modest growth it split in the late 1980s, with some Cork members joining or rejoining the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. At the time of the 1991 Gulf War it was relaunched but saw only a little growth in the early 1990s. In this period it was the main political organisation involved in the Dublin Abortion Rights Group which organised the successful 'X-case' demonstration which pressured the Irish courts to overturn an injunction preventing a pregnant 14-year-old rape victim from leaving Ireland to have an abortion in England.

In 1994 it initiated the Anti-Water Tax Campaign in Dublin. This campaign grew rapidly in the three years to 1997 when the attempt to impose the new tax was defeated. At its height it claimed 60,000 households as paid members of the campaign. A WSM member, Gregor Kerr, was the secretary of the campaign and, although small, the WSM played a role in the defeat of the tax.

The WSM has been involved in a wide range of struggles in Ireland: its members are involved in trade unions, have fought for abortion rights and against the growth of racism (especially state racism) in Ireland, and have also been involved in campaigns in support of workers from countries such as Nepal, Peru, Mexico and South Africa.


In November 2001, along with the Irish Mexico Group, Gluaiseacht, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, and the Alliance of Cork Anarchists, the WSM organised the first Grassroots Gathering in Dublin. The impetus behind this emerged from members involvement in struggles around globalisation and in particular the summit protest movement. WSM members took part in summit protests in Seattle, Prague, Brussels, Genoa and Seville and helped organise some of the related Reclaim the Streets events in Dublin.

In recent years the better known struggles the WSM was involved in included the 2003 March 1 action against US war planes in Shannon, the 2003 Anti-Bin Tax Campaign in Dublin and the 2004 EU Mayday protests also in Dublin as well as campaigning against the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland in 2004. In 2006, Noam Chomsky, the acclaimed United States linguist, philosopher and author, held a talk with the WSM in the Teacher's Club, Dublin.[7]

WSM members were also among the founders in 2005 of the project, which the WSM continues to participate in.

Current activity (2008-present)

File:Mayday 07.jpg
WSM on May Day demo, Dublin, 2007

This period had seen a rapid growth in WSM membership from a dozen members to a group with five branches (Dublin [3], Cork [1], Belfast [1]) and over 60 activists in early 2008. Much of this growth was lost over the following 5 years and at the start of 2013 the WSM had branches in Dublin & Cork with members & supporters in Monaghan, Galway, Castlebar, Limerick, Belfast and Derry.

WSM members were involved in the Terence Wheelock Campaign, the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, the Rossport Solidarity Camp as part of the Shell to Sea campaign, Cork Autonomous Zone, Indymedia Ireland, and Unlock NAMA . Members are still involved in the Cork and Dublin Shell to Sea groups. They have their national office and Dublin branch in the social centre Seomra Spraoi, and members are active with the Independent Workers Union of Ireland, the Abortion Rights Campaign, and the anti-Raytheon campaign in Derry. Although the WSM Autumn 2005 conference prioritised the IWU they also have members in SIPTU, Communication Workers Union, Teachers' Union of Ireland, IMPACT, Civil and Public Services Union and the INTO.

The WSM produced the 127th issue of its bi-monthly paper Workers Solidarity in the Autumn of 2012. 4,000 copies of each issue were printed and distributed. At the 2013 national conference, the WSM decided to discontinue 'Workers Solidarity'.[8]

In Spring 2009 it published the 15th and last issue of its magazine Red and Black Revolution which targets left-wing activists and had a much smaller circulation than Workers Solidarity. This was replaced by Irish Anarchist Review, which has a circulation of 3,000 and comes out twice a year, in April and October, to coincide with the Dublin and London anarchist bookfairs.

The WSM has also published numerous pamphlets including 'Towards a Cure' on health,[9] 'Parliament or Democracy?' [10] and the Irish Rebellion of 1798 [10]

In 2014 the WSM was heavily involved in supporting the workers of the Paris bakery occupation on Moore street and other protests around workers rights. More recent activity has had a heavy focus on the campaign against water charges.


In its 2004 pamphlet 'Crossing the Border', Organise! criticised the WSM for being too influenced by Irish republicanism and of using language that threatened to alienate the Northern Irish Protestant working class. Organise! has also criticised the WSM for supporting the election campaign of Des Derwin, a SIPTU activist who ran for a national position in SIPTU in 2002.

The role of the WSM in campaigns in Ireland has been attacked by the mainstream media on a number of occasions. On the 19th of October 2003 the Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest selling Sunday newspaper, claimed that the WSM "had infiltrated the [Bin Tax] campaign in significant numbers".[11][12] The April 25th, 2004 issue of Ireland on Sunday claimed that WSM members were linked with the WOMBLES in England in advance of the EU Mayday protests at the start of May that year. The same paper subsequently made a personal charge at another WSM member, calling her an 'unreconstructed' "left-wing die-hard…" who "regularly contributes to anarchist and feminist websites and magazines" after she had appeared on The Late Late Show.

Former member James O'Brien has alleged[13] that recently, under the guidance of Andrew Flood, the organisation has begun to abandon platformism and support individualism. O'Brien claims that many senior and experienced members have left the organisation over the last 3 years and have been replaced by younger, so-called, lifestyle anarchists with limited understanding of class politics, and "who are, at best, deeply uninterested in Socialism". O'Brien alleges that the WSM has failed to make any progress in influencing trade unionists and has come to focus most of its time on identity politics and new social movements such as feminism, veganism, environmentalism, LGBT issues and anti-racism. Andrew Flood has disputed[14] these claims, alleging the existence of factual errors in James account (not least that currently there are no vegan members of the organisation) and stating that the WSM spent far more times on traditional union & community work than in these areas.

See also


  8. Flood, Andrew (17 December 2013). "WSMNationalConference". WorkersSolidarityMovement. Retrieved 29 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1
  11. Reilly, J., "Far left pulling the strings on bin charge campaign", The Sunday Independent, Sunday October 19, 2003 [1]
  12. " The Anarchists Are Coming!", Anarchist News, November 2003 (WSM response)[2]
  13. O'Brien, James (16 August 2012). "The WSM and Anarchism: A Political Analysis". Spirit of Contradiction. Retrieved 3 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Flood, Andrew (20 February 2013). "The WSM & fighting the last war - a reply to James O'Brien". Anarchist Writers. Retrieved 21 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links