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Tuesday May 11, 2004 16:07 by Dermot - WSM (personal capacity)
The SWP on the frontlines (when it comes to running away).
When there are empowering marches and actions against the state, history can be re-written quickly, especially by the Trotskyists to reflect that nothing would've been possible without their 'Leadership'. Fortunately, due to the March on Farmleigh being organised by the Dublin Grassroots and getting little or no support from the SWP, it is going to prove a little more difficult for them to claim any part in it. In fact less than 48 hours later the Party had issued a leflet condemning us, telling us to Get Organised, and calling us 'Maggie Thatcher's Children acting like capitalist consumers'. Oooh that hurts. It has all the hallmarks of Herr Kieran Allen in one of his parental lectures to the children of the revolution. In any case, this article describes the real involvement of the SWP in the Mayday events and will hopefully pre-empt any more of their attempts to re-write history which have already begun.
The disappeared leaflet
Let's deal with the limited involvment of 'Another Front is Ineviatable' sorry, another Europe is possible with the Dublin Grassroots.
The first contact we had was when Rory Ahearn showed up at an organising meeting off Grassroots activsts in the Teachers Club 18th asking for co-operation and co-ordination with their planned demo for that Saturday. We askd him then if it would be possible to have a speaker from their platform advertising our march to Farmleigh. He said he would ask at a meeting of the AEIP on Wednesday and get back to us. It's worth keeping in mind that a few Dublin Grassroots people had attended meetings of AEIP and found a dozen or so people present. At this meeting in the Teachers club we had over 60 people present.
It's almost needless to say that we never received any contact back about the speaker on their March despite the fact that the Carnival at Heuston train station was going on for four hours. Rory beggs to differ I'm sure. They decided in the end to announce our march from the platform, but no-one besides Caoimhe Butterly (who has worked with Grassroots previously) actually did, and this was in a personal capacity.
In the last few days in the run up to Mayday we were interested to see an "open letter to the movement organising for Mayday" from Rory Ahearn asking activists to make sure there was no violence on the day itself. ". The big lesson (from Genoa) learned was that we cannot defeat the state through tactics that are based on small number elitely padded-up protestors confronting the police." and he goes on to write "But if there is violence from our side on May Day, the state will have the excuse it so desperately needs to smash our movement, ban protests when George Bush comes,..." It went on to say that "we must unite in our calls for peaceful demonstrations on May Day as we have done. But we must go further. The Another Europe is Possible Coalition will be having over 50 clearly identified and co-ordinating stewards on the AEIP carnival and march focussed on ensuring all attendees abide by the principles of peaceful action and non-confrontation....We call on all groups organising to do the same and ensure that we can unite in creating a day that will lay the foundation for creating the days of protest."
At the time when the letter was written, Rory and the SWP knew well that the Grassroots march had published guidelines that did not include stewards. They also knew well that there was going to be a block on the Grassroots march that intended to seperate from the main march and confront the police. Since, they knew that their standing among grassroots and wombles activists was very very low indeed and they were very unlikely to be listened to, their "call on all groups" was widely interpreted as a way of preparing the ground for a condemnation of the 'uncontrollables' in the event that things went wrong..
This letter, although he later claimed it was intended intenally for the movement, was published on Indymedia on the Wednesday before Mayday. Effectively he was saying, come on our peaceful toothless protest, do not get involved in anything that might be illegal. Someone with even the most limited understanding of poltics should understand the the violence does not come from people in bicylce helmets and padding, it comes from the Uniformed Robocops with their sticks, shields, boots, batons, and their newly accquired water canon. This open letter was just another method for Rory to demonstrate that AEIP is the acceptable option for demonstrating. It gave the established traitors in the Labour Party, Green Party the ability to 'pose' about being against Europe without actually taking up the gauntlet and protesting in the faces of the heads of state. Rory was being Pontious Pilot and washing his hands of the dirty protesters who were not going on his legal march but instead choosing to take their protest to the leaders in Farmleigh.
The State decided to effectively ban the march on Thursday 29th May. They didn't say that. They just used Primetime on RTE (Pravda for our little republic) to illustrate how the riot police would be deployed in Park Gate street, and anyone marching down to assemble there would be charged and driven down various streets leading from the quays. If that isn't a banned march then I don't know what is. The message was simple. If you don't co-operate with the cops, as AEIP had done, then you don't get to march. If you dared go on the other march, the Grassroots one, you were going to be met with force. That's what the State said.
The Grassroots thought it was appropiate to switch the assembly point to the GPO. This was communicated in a press-conference the next day at the indymedia centre, Friday. Rory was present and knew that the assembly point had been switched. Yet, talking to some members of the SWP that night outside Liberty hall there was a rumour going around that the march was cancelled. This rumour was no-doubt helped and given legs by some of the Trot leadership.
The day itself. In the 6 hours of the AEIP event, there was apparently no room for a grassroots speaker, instead the old merrygoround of election candidates was trotted out. At the carnival which took place after the march from the bank (Central) to the Train Station (Heuston) the Grassroots march was only announced by Caoimhe during her speech. She stated quiet clearly that she requested off members in the SWP that it was announced again but it wasn't. Not whilst she was present.
We gathered outside the GPO and marched to Farmleigh.
The Grassroots Banner and march stopped 300 meters short of police lines. At the end of that road the full might of the state and it's violence was waiting to be unleashed on people. We knew that we had promised people a peaceful march and that was why we had to stop there. Individuals could choose to go on or not and many did. In Libertarian politics we respect the decisions of individuals.
A Black Bloc marched up to police lines shouting solidarity and the police, who'd been itching to try out their new toys (and no doubt get a few belts in) hit them and others.
The SWP, or at least 12 people carrying SWP flags, marched past the Grassroots banner, up about twenty meters stopped for a while, and then rapidly retreated another 10 and stayed their out on their own. This was pretty bizzare behaviour and the only explanation that we could think of was that they were paving the way for the "we went further than the grassroots historical revisionism. Then, when the water cannon was used Richard Boyd Barrett went up and started shouting through a megaphone telling people that we were leaving now. Grassroots organisers told him to "f**k off". As the police attack continued, organisers approached the lines to tell people to fall back to the banner, and to keep together as our only hope was to stick together and march back into the city to diperse. We were worried about the march being split by Riot Police who formed on the side roads. We walked the banner back a bit and continually stopped it in order to ensure that people had a place to fall back too, a secure position.
On the other hand, the SWP didn't stick around for the long march back home and didn't seem too concerened about the comrades who might get left behind. They MEGAPHONED the message to leave. Then, after about twenty minutes of being ignored, they marched back into town and they just kept going. They did not stick around for the rest of the protesters. The vanguard led the retreat! Meanwhile the Grassroots organisers struggled to keep the crowd together all the way back to O Connell st so that the police wouldn't be able to pick off isolated protestors to fill their arrest quota.
I presume someone had to get back quickly to write the leaflets condemning the Grassroots orgainsers for not being organised or having a leadership, or for not being in the SWP effectively.
Rory Ahearn had nothing to do the Monday afternoon street party, Reclaim the Streets. But that didn't prevent him being the media whore that he is and presuming to speak on behalf of the organisers as he did from his quote in the Irish Independent. That was annoying. But what really got the blood boiling was the leaflet that the SWP handed out at the RTS.
The leaflet (which is attached) was handed out by the SWP. I'd like to draw your attention to the paragraph that states "we are not Maggie Thatcher's children acting like capitalist consumrers who each make individual choice - while the riot police pick off our comrades."
Two days later Rory claimed that he had never seen the leaflet and there is a rumour this leaflet has been 'disappeared' as the Party once again got the popular mood wrong. Condemning the actions of the organisers of a march of over 3000 people, who defied the state and the law by going on a banned march wasn't so smart after all.
The next line in the leaflet is particularly rich. "Faced with this level of thuggery, we either move forward togherher - or we hold the line together." Apparently their concept of 'holding the line together' is ordering everybody to leave through a megaphone and then pissing off at a trot while "Thatcher's children" wait around to give protection to their comrades on the long march back in. They obviously had to get back into the office and type up some sort of condemnation of a march that had nothing to do with them.
On the RTS on Monday, numerous people complained to me that the SWP had a bookstall and showed me the leaflet that they had handed out. I pointed to the crowd dancing in front of the sound system and then pointed to the forlorn sight of Kevin Wingfield standing behind a collection of Lenin's finest works. Above the sound of the music I screamed "don't worry about it, the real revolutionaries are the ones dancing."
Finally, the Leninist virus is as irrelevant today as it should have been the moment the first sledge-hammer hit that wall in Berlin.
The text of the dissappeared leaflet in full:
RIOT COPS RAMPAGE ON MAYDAY
There was no riot by demonstrators on Mayday. There was an attack by riot police who were itching for a fight. They had been hyped up by McDowell and the corporate media.
Within minutes of minor skirmishes on Saturday the uniformed police pulled back to allow top cop Noel Conroy, to personally deploy his riot police and his new water cannon.
The aim of the whole operation was to intimidate people off the streets for the Bush protest. Just read the Irish Independent this morning!
This lying rag - which is a propaganda sheet for the securocrats- claimed that 'international agitators' are _ planning a 'Round Two' during the Bush visit.
The state strategy is to stop a repeat of February 15th when over 100,000 came out on the streets.
Last Saturday night the state was organised. We paid for it with the arrests of 23 comrades who are bunged up in jail over the weekend.
Next time we have to be highly organised - ready to defeat them with people power.
On Saturday night, the organisers of the march stopped 200 metres before police lines - and they said it was a matter of individual choice whether people confront the police or not.
But in the fight against state power we have to be collective. We are not Maggie Thatcher's children acting like capitalist consumers who each make individual choice - while the riot police pick off our comrades.
Faced with this level of thuggery, we either move forward together - or we hold the line together.
FROM CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO SOCIAL DISOBEDIENCE
There is one other pressure point where we can beat the state. They can deploy their riot police to block Ashtown gate, but they-cannot-force us-into-work, into college or into school.
The movement against the Bush visit will be more successful if it can call on the power of tens of thousands of workers.
But for that to happen, the anti-capitalist movement needs to genuinely link in with workers struggles. That starts by actually supporting workers in struggle, being active in the unions, fighting to overturn the terrible leadership of SIPTU and the ICTU who deserted the movement on Mayday.
To do that you need socialist politics which bases itself on the class struggle at the heart of society. The police are only the boot boys for the rich fats cats who run our world. As well as taking on the puppets, we need to challenge the power of their masters.