An Irish anarchist in Africa

In November 1999, having worked 2 full-time jobs for the previous year, I had saved up enough money to travel to Africa with my girlfriend Deirdre. My goal was to travel overland from the Westernmost point of the continent, in Senegal, to the Southernmost point in South Africa. Along the way I wanted to make…

Chekov’s back!

Back in early 2016, I was already far behind my original schedule when I got stuck in the process of writing a theoretical summary of my early experiences on the left. I just couldn't arrive at an article that I was happy with. No matter how hard I tried, everything came out sounding too jaded…

The birth of the anti-globalisation movement

On the first of January 1994, an army marched out of the Lacedon jungle in the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico and seized control of four towns including the regional capital of St. Christobal de las Casas. This uprising was seen as particularly significant by anarchists due to the nature of the rebel army,…

Guilt, sacrifice and purgatory points

Guilt is the primary fuel from which left wing parties [1] derive the energy to power their activities. This guilt is much more mundane and immediate than the “middle class” guilt that is often projected onto such groups by their critics. In my experience, it is fairly rare for members of left parties to feel…

Reds in tooth and claw

When people look at the confusing patchwork of organisations and ideologies that exists on the far-left, a common reaction is to wonder why they fail to unite. On an ideological level, they have much in common, especially when compared to non-socialist political ideologies. On a practical level, they have even more in common. They all…

Anarchy through strict formal structures

In 1998 when I joined the Workers Solidarity Movement, it was firmly situated within the culture of the far left. This provided the organisation with conventions which structured its political activity: internal meetings, street paper-sales, public meetings, participation in demonstrations and protests, and involvement in left-wing trade unions and various ‘progressive’ campaigns - the avenues…

The leadership of ideas

Anarchists generally believe that the major flaw of the most prominent socialist movements in history – from the Bolsheviks to the Labour Party and Syriza – is a failure to account for the corrupting influence of power. In anarchist thinking, the state is a vehicle for domination of society on behalf of a small elite.…

Joining the WSM

June, 1998. I’m sitting on my own in the corner of the upstairs lounge of the Bachelors Inn, feeling slightly foolish. Five minutes ago, I had stood up and announced to a meeting of a half-dozen members of the Workers Solidarity Movement, in the dark and dingy back room of the pub below, that I…

The socialist model: limitations and pitfalls

In the first part of this article, I discussed the basic socialist worldview. In the second part, I examined the predictive power of the model. This, the third and final part, looks at some of its limitations and pitfalls. Given its extreme simplicity, the socialist model has proved good at predicting - in broad brushstrokes…

Socialism: a predictive model

In the first part of this article, I discussed the basic socialist worldview and how it differs from the dominant liberal-democratic alternative. This article continues the theme and looks at the merits of the socialist model as a theory of social dynamics. To recap briefly. The socialist worldview (shown in diagrammatic form above) considers the…