Andrew Flood

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About Andrew Flood

BMD: So you’ve written quite a bit about anarchism, about politics and history in Ireland. In this context of struggles learning from each other across borders and finding that unity too, I want to step back in history, and wanted to ask if you could expand a little bit about who James Connolly was. For anyone who does not know, Connolly lived in exile in Troy, New York for a while. But, tell us about him and the movement he came out of. And tell us if there is anything important that came out of those struggles for those of us to learn today.

AF: So in the context of the Irish left, James Connolly is kind of everybody’s founding father figure. Everybody sort of claims to come from him. It’s a very interesting story. He was born in Scotland, had served in the British army and then arrived in Dublin as a union organizer. And with Jim Larkin he built a very successful General Workers Union that was very strongly based on direct action.

They fought a massive battle here in Dublin in 1913 when the bosses tried to break that union by locking everybody out. There was a nine month struggle of resistance to that. In the course of that struggle they formed something called the Irish Citizens Army which some people call the first workers militia in Europe. It was basically formed to defend picket lines against police attacks. And that went on to take part then in the 1916 insurrection in Dublin. He was executed after that so there is this whole history of the war of independence where there’s lots of general strikes. There were seventeen general strikes in the course of two years. There were train strikes that happened which meant that British troops couldn’t be transported around. So there is a whole hidden side for that kind of struggle for Irish independence which had very much to do with the left after Connely and the influence of what was a syndicalist union that he built in terms of its ability to then run these massive labor struggles against the ongoing British military presence at the time.

As I said, he’s interesting in that almost every political party claims some sort of connection to him. Some of that is a little more dubious than others. But for anarchists I think the key thing is the kind of syndicalist politics. The idea of workers self organizing and direct action was the way to win struggles. That’s probably what is key. Certainly, some of that was coming from his experience in the States and working with the IWW there.

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The Russian revolutionary liberal Alexander Herzen, who was a close friend of Micheal Bakunin, told a story of how when Bakunin was traveling from Paris to Prague he came across a revolt of German peasants "making an uproar around the castle, not knowing what to do. Bakunin got out of his conveyance, and, without wasting any time to find out what the dispute was about, formed the peasants into ranks and instructed them so skillfully that by the time he resumed his seat to continue his journey, the castle was burning on all four sides".[1] Bakunin was the giant of the revolutionary movement in Europe from 1848 to his death in 1876. At 6'4" and 240lbs he was a literal giant as well as the demon that stalked the bourgeois imagina... (From:
The end of the 1960’s in northern Ireland were a unique time when, as elsewhere around the world, mass popular protest emerged onto the streets with ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The unique circumstances of northern Ireland and the particular form the state backlash took there resulted in a military conflict that lasted some 30 years and dominated politics on the entire island and to a much lesser extent in Britain. Although tens if not hundreds of thousands of people made this history it can also be told as the history of some of the prominent individuals involved, including the Irish republican socialist activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. TG4 broadcast the excellent documentary 'Bernadette: Notes on a Politic... (From:
AS ANARCHISTS believe the bosses will resist a revolution, it follows that we accept the need for armed force to defend the revolution. But anarchists also oppose militarism, that includes standing armies controlled by the state with officers who have special privileges like extra rations, better quarters, saluting, etc. So what alternative do anarchists propose? Anarchists advocate militias where officers are elected and recallable, and discipline is agreed by all in the unit. This is not simply a theory but has been put into practice by anarchists in the course of several revolutions. The Russian revolution saw an anarchist influenced force, the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army - also known as the Makhnovista &endash; who lib... (From:
We don't place any major priority on debating other small left groups but every now and again such an exercise becomes worthwhile. In particular decent defenses of the Bolsheviks actions during the Russian revolution are hard to come by. That is ones that try and defend their actions rather than re-write history and slander opponents. This is a reply to one of the better defenses of the Bolsheviks and is found in Class Struggle, No22, Spring 1994. The Russian revolution was one of the most important events of the 20th century. Until recently the most important debate on the left was whether or not it had failed. Now with the collapse of the USSR a far more important debate is uncovered, why did it fail. As revolutionaries we d... (From:
This weeks New Scientist carries an editorial calling for “robust public debate on geoengineering”. Geoengineering is the idea that if climate change cannot be avoided through a reduction in carbon emissions its worst effects can be avoided through large-scale engineering of our environment. The failure of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen has seen many scientists look to what is perceived as the only possible alternative. Coincidentally I’d just been reading SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance [1] which includes an entire chapter arguing for a geoengineering solution for climate change. The chapter is a little odd, it opens with the authors maki... (From:
Background: The first encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism was called by the EZLN. It was held in the jungle and mountains of the Mexican south-east in the Summer of 1996. Some 3,000 people from 43 countries attended and at the end it was agreed to hold a second encounter in Europe the following summer. This was held in the Spanish state in the last week of July and the first week of August 1997 and this is the story of those who came and what they did. * * * Imagine for a moment marching up a hill, lit only by starlight and a distant bonfire on a hot July night in August, in Andalucia, near the very tip of southern Spain. Looking at the stars you point out the red twinkle of Mars to the comrade whose a... (From:
Normally the settlement of claims to property are something the court system takes very seriously. The very foundation of capitalism after all is that some person can claim ownership of a piece of land, and through that ownership charge others rent to use it. Or that ownership of machinery can be used to take most of the value of what the workers using the machines produce to sell for profit. Obviously such a system depends on the courts and the threat of violence to prevent those actually doing the work or living on the land telling the ‘owner’ to get lost. The major exception is when those with the legal claims are from the First Nations, in particular when the claim is one of collective ownership by a community ... (From:
In 1922 Emma Goldman complained Soviet Russia, had become "the modern socialist Lourdes, to which the blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb were flocking for miraculous cures". And like most religious events that claim a historical validity many of the myths of the October revolution rather then being historical accounts are written instead to create a blind faith in the leadership of the party. Here I am going to look at four myths, widely accepted by the left and right alike on the October revolution and its aftermath, these are That the October revolution was a well planned coup carried out by the Bolshevik party that transformed Russia from a capitalism to communism This subsequently the revolution fai... (From:
Looking back it is sometimes hard to realize the panic the European ruling class was in at the end of the First World War. From 1918 to 1924 Workers councils had appeared in Germany, Russia and Hungary, factory committees in Italy, and armed industrial war was being waged in Barcelona. Even in Ireland the War of Independence included a massive radical mass element with the Limerick soviet, workplace occupations a general strike and tens of thousands taking part in May Day demonstrations even in small rural towns. With this in mind it is unsurprising that the British Prime Minister Lloyd George could write to the French Premier Clemenceau saying “The whole existing order is questioned by the masses from one end of Europe to the other&r... (From:
As predictions for the death toll from the Haitian earthquakes rise over 200,000, ABC News have reported that planes carrying medical equipment and relief supplies are having to compete with soldiers for the valuable slots at Port-au-Prince airport which was taken over by the US military after the quake. Since the start of the great anti-slavery republican insurrection nearly 220 years ago, Haiti has been presented as a dangerous place incapable of running its own affairs and requiring foreign intervention. Yet the reality is its people were the first enslaved population to deliver themselves from slavery and also carried out what was only the third successful republican insurrection on the planet. The threat of this good example was rewa... (From:
Last year I published the article ‘Civilization, Primitivism and Anarchism’ [’Primitivism, anarcho-primitivism and anti-civilisationism: criticism’] to sketch out what I saw as the glaring contradictions in primitivism and where it clashed with anarchism. Primitivism, I argued, was an absurdity that could never happen without the ‘removal’ of the vast majority of the world’s population. And far from being related to anarchism it was in contradiction with the basic tenet of anarchism; the possibility of having a free mass society without a state. The article has circulated on and off-line over the year and sparked numerous discussions. A number of primitivists, including John Zerzan [1], have ... (From:
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, on Thursday, August the 15th, 1969, 400 soldiers from the Prince of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment took up positions around Derry city. Why they arrived has been the subject of myth making and distortion for the last 25 years. The myth is a simple one, that the function of the British army in the 6 counties is to preserve the peace, to keep apart fanatical Catholics and Protestants who would otherwise tear each others throat out at the first opportunity. It is a myth, which like all good ones, incorporates elements of the truth. After the last months few need to be reminded of the vicious actions of the loyalist death squads. But despite this grain of truth it is in fact a distortion, even a lie. Far from the aim... (From:
There is a long standing and in my view pretty counter productive hostility between left political organizations and the radical counter culture. This piece grew out of a reply to ‘The Limit’s of the Counter Culture’ which is part of an online publishing project of Chekov Feeney. Chekov was a member of the WSM for many years and is using this project to slowly reveal his new analysis of radical politics and other ways things might be done. I’ve known him for about 15 years since we met in one such counter cultural political space, the short lived Garden of Delight in Dublin. In any case what started out as a somewhat annoyed response to his piece sat on my drive and grew and grew as I edited it into something more co... (From:
It has become something of a cliche to refer to the death or collapse of the left. What’s still missing however is an analysis of what went wrong with the left. One that goes beyond surface manifestations, and reaches into its core politics. This lack of analysis means that much of the ‘new left’ is not that new at all, merely a repackaging of old ideas in new wrappers. Major changes have occurred in the left throughout its short history. In both numbers and politics there have been wide swings from times of hope and mass numbers to times of despair and collapse. In the late 60’s and early 70’s the left grew internationally, attracting huge numbers and leading real battles. Today this growth has collapse... (From:
Preface In 1926 a group of exiled Russian anarchists in France, the Dielo Trouda (Workers’ Cause) group, published this pamphlet. It arose not from some academic study but from their experiences in the 1917 Russian revolution. They had taken part in the overthrow of the old ruling class, had been part of the blossoming of workers’ and peasants’ self-management, had shared the widespread optimism about a new world of socialism and freedom ... and had seen its bloody replacement by State Capitalism and the Bolshevik Party dictatorship. The Russian anarchist movement had played a far from negligible part in the revolution. At the time there were about 10,000 active anarchists in Russia, not including the movemen... (From:
Peak Oil Theory has been around since the 1970s. Some think we have already reached ‘peak oil’, others think it will happen with the next twenty-five years. The theory argues that when we reach ‘peak oil’ the rate at which we extract oil from the earth (measured in millions of barrels per day) will reach a maximum and thereafter will start to drop. As the rate at which we use oil is currently close to the rate at which we extract it, the point of peak oil will coincide or be closely followed by the world consuming more oil than it is producing. As oil reserves are very limited, within months there simply will not be enough oil available. For this reason Peak Oil Theory tends to come as part of a package... (From:
This text is a draft of a very practically orientated manual for anarchists who wish to get organized. For absolute beginners and isolated individuals (or groups of 2 or 3) A common experience for people, particularly young people who come to anarchism in the English speaking world is one of isolation. In my own case I came to anarchism through reading ‘Homage to Catalonia’ and then the very few anarchist books I could obtain in my city. These were nearly all liberal academic histories or reprints of texts from the 19th century so for quite a while I was unaware that the anarchist movement still existed. It took me a year to find other individual anarchists and another year to discover there was actually a small anarch... (From:’s analysis and criticism of anarcho-primitivists, who are opposed to technology. Some are also opposed to mass society, civilization and language. Foreword The central tenet of primitivism, anarcho-primitivism and anti-civilisationism is the abolition of technology. For most people, arguing against this is completely unnecessary, since it is immediately obvious that it is a terrible idea. Even given the most cursory glance it is clear that abolishing technology would have devastating consequences for humankind and the planet. [1] For starters, the 50% [2] of the UK population who need glasses or contact lenses (which rises to 97% over the age of 65 [3]) would soon be left severely impaired. Tens of millions... (From:
A surprising best seller last year was 'Stalingrad' by the same author. His publishers have obviously re-released this book, first published in 1982, to cash in on this. As you might expect, it is primarily a military history of the Spanish Revolution. But it is a very welcome break from the normal pattern of mainstream military histories of the Spanish Revolution. For the most part these fail to discuss the revolution within the civil war, the thousands of collectives or the role of the anarchists. If they are mentioned, they are usually portrayed as an obstruction to the efficient military pursuit of the war by the republican side. Beevan's approach is fresh and different. He understands that much of what made the Spanish Ci... (From:
To-night I want to talk about the Russian revolution of 1917. This has been a subject of key importance to anarchists for 70 years now, for two reasons. The first reason is that for the first time in history a working class revolution succeeded in ousting the old ruling classes. The second reason is that after the old ruling class was ousted a new class came to power. Those of us who want to make a revolution to-day must understand where the successes and failures of the past came from. The Russian revolution demonstrated that it was possible for the working class to take over the running of the economy and to bring down their old rulers, not once but twice in a single year. After the February revolution of 1917 the workers entered i... (From:
Outside of a few events including the Long March and the Shanghai commune the development of the Chinese revolution is relatively unknown on the western left in comparison with the revolutions in Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936 or even the Paris spring of 1968. Those sections of that left influenced by or proclaiming themselves to be Maoist haven’t helped that situation much. Their histories have tended towards simple tales focusing on the role of one man and collapsed a 100-year history of revolution into the events important to him. This article is a preliminary sketch of the Chinese revolutions from an anarchist perspective. It does not set out to be a history of Chinese anarchism although it draws on some of the histories of ... (From:
As soon as an elected left- republican government took power in February 1936 it was obvious that Spain was heading towards a military coup. The anarchist press repeatedly warned of its approach, the government responded by accusing the anarchists of trying to undermine the army. On May 1st the anarchist CNT union held a national congress in Zaragoza, partially to draw out the lessons of an uprising two years earlier and partially to prepare for the coming revolution by re-uniting the anarchist movement and proposing an alliance to the socialist UGT union. On July 11th the Prime Minister was warned of the coming coup to which he replied "By which you mean you are sure the military will rise? Very well then, but for my part I am going... (From:
It is now five years since the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) came to the attention of the world when they seized five towns in Chiapas on New Year’s day in 1994. The years since have seen only a couple of weeks of actual warfare. However the uneasy cease-fire has seen hundreds of land occupations and several national and international gatherings. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people have traveled to Chiapas to see the rebellion with their own eyes. Hundreds have been deported by the Mexican government for doing so. Solidarity groups exist in most western countries, including Ireland. In 1993 Chiapas was as anknown backwater in Mexico. Now, in the eyes of many activists, it has moved to center stage. ... (From:
From the Summer of 1918 the Bolshevik government undertook the destruction of the Russian Revolution, the destroyed all the gains the workers had won in October over the next four years. Any anarchist who has argued this with Leninists today will know the name of Victor Serge. The material Serge wrote in his first years in Russia consists of crude apologies for the Bolshevik dictatorship. It is not surprising that this is the most popular material among today’s Leninists. But in his later writings the Bolsheviks pet anarchist turns to bite his master. With the illusion of the ‘success’ of the Russian Revolution fading in the late 1930’s Serge rediscovered the brutality of the Bolshevik regime. Serge was... (From:
The EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) came briefly to the worlds attention when they seized several towns in Chiapas on New Years day in 1994. This image of a new armed rebel movement in the period when such movements were meant to have recognized their own redundancy was startling and demonstrated that history was not yet over. Since then most of the continued support the Zapatistas have received is strongly based on the idea that the Zapatistas are different. Different not just from the neoliberal world order they oppose but, more fundamentally, different from the armed revolutionary groups that exist and have existed elsewhere in the world. Those involved internationally in Zapatista solidarity work are drawn to it ... (From:
DESPITE ALL THE talk of peace the war continues. The media has as usual focused on the acts of the republicans, particularly around the Heathrow attack in March. However as the following extracts show the British state is also continuing its war effort and continuing to defend its usual mixture of lies and torture while doing so. They are all taken from An Phoblacht/Republican News (Sinn Féin paper) in the closing weeks of March, mostly stories the media did not consider to be worth covering. "Yet again, an RIR soldier has walked free from a Diplock court even though he admitted supplying the names and addresses of republicans to loyalist gangs. David Murdock was one of three people who appeared before Belfast Crown Court ... (From:
Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico, bordering on the Guatemalan border, the area consisting of the Chiapas highlands and the Lacandon jungle has almost no infrastructure or services outside of those to facilitate tourists. Many of the communities here are extremely isolated, indeed it was only in the 1960’s that the ‘Lacandon Indians’ made contact with the outside world. The population of the highlands and jungle are 99% indigenous living in traditional communities with collective land known as eejido. There is extreme poverty in this area, its estimated that 19,000 people (mostly children) die every year from preventable diseases for instance. There is also considerable wealth, the most fertile areas, the canyo... (From:
The Zapatista rebellion of 1994 has become the 90's equivalent of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions. It has excited the imagination of a layer of active young. The balaclava and pipe toting Marcos is becoming the same sort of visual icon that the bearded and beret wearing Ché was 30 years earlier. And perhaps it is this similarity that has scared the organized anarchist movement into comparative silence on the on-going rebellion in Chiapas? In Chiapas today we see an on-going Low Intensity War. On one side we have the Mexican state, 60 to 70,000 occupying soldiers and the shadowy presence of US advisers. On the other we have a rebel army calling itself the EZLN and over hundreds of rebel communities. This could be a ... (From:

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