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The Battle Against the Bin Tax

category dublin | bin tax / household tax / water tax | feature author Sunday August 07, 2005 12:46author by Mark P. (Socialist Party/Personal Capacity) Report this post to the editors

The Role of Socialists in the Working Class Movement

Update: Invasion Of The Wheelie Bin Snatchers

One of the most significant struggles to affect working class people in Ireland in recent years took place in the autumn of 2003. This battle was between the anti-bin tax campaigns and the combined power of the four councils covering the whole of Dublin, the Fianna Fail/PD coalition government and the Irish state. The battle against the bin tax exploded in September 2003 and was a dominant national issue for the rest of the year.

This peak of the ongoing campaign against the bin tax saw households across Dublin refusing to pay the charges, thousands of people taking to the streets, dozens of blockades of bin trucks and 22 people imprisoned. It also saw considerable disagreements emerge amongst different elements within the campaigns. The most visible of these disagreements was over the issue of blockading bin trucks in other areas of Dublin when the struggle in Fingal was underway. The Fingal Campaign and many activists in the rest of Dublin believed that it was necessary to escalate direct action across the entire city. Some others, particularly some forces within the City Council campaign, felt that doing so would be rash.

The Socialist Party, which has played a very prominent role in the anti-bin tax campaigns, has produced a lengthy document outlining what it sees as the key elements of these disagreements. This is not a straightforward historical account of the struggle. It attempts to record the main developments in the battle against the bin tax, deal with the role of socialists in the campaign and to draw lessons for future campaigns.

“The differences of approach that emerged relate directly to what is the best way to build campaigns and conduct struggles. They also relate to the role that socialists should play in the rebuilding of the working class movement, which everybody agrees will be a vital issue in the years ahead. The issues re-surfaced again in the build up to the local elections in June 2004 and have continued on the bin tax and around the debates on how and when to establish a new left party for working class people. The differences are current and very relevant and undoubtedly will come up again and therefore need to be clarified.”

RELATED LINKS
30,000 Word Socialist Party Document
Dermot Connolly On These Issues
Irish Socialist Network On The Campaign
Socialist Party Anti-Bin Tax Archive
Workers Solidarity Movement Anti-Bin Tax Articles
SWP Bin Tax Archive
Indymedia Ireland Bin Tax Campaigns Archive

author by Sharon.publication date Fri Aug 05, 2005 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congratulations to all of us who have not paid , a second time , for this service !

It is not a 'sexy' issue , but it does effect each of us at least once every week - we in this house have not paid one cent extra to the Council for this service , nor will we !

Sharon,
Clondalkin,
Dublin 22.

Related Link: http://1169andcounting.blogspot.com
author by ex-Militantpublication date Fri Aug 05, 2005 21:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The sole purpose of Peter Hadden's document (for it is he who wrote it) is to portray Dermot Connolly in a bad light to party members. This is deemed necessary to erase any doubts about how someone who played such a prominent role in building the Militant/SP in Ireland could have broken with them. This document has nothing to offer in terms of a real analysis but is simply an exercise in nit-picking minutae. Its quite clear from its concentration on Connolly and his role in the Dublin Campaign and its efforts to associate him with the wicked witches of the SWP, that it is aimed at SP members only. Its is not a pamphlet you would give to the man or woman in the street and Im sure it was not written for that purpose. Neither Connolly nor the SP, nor any of the other groups involved were 100% correct and many mistakes were made during the height of the campaign but this pamphlet, despite the authors protestations to the contrary, portrays Connolly/Collins as responsible for all the mistakes and the SP as infallible. There is not one admission of any mistakes made by the SP!

This document sadly reflects the turning inwards of the SP, the dominance of the view that they are the only party really connected to the class, that they dont need to work with others on the left because the rest of the far left is irrelevent and all Labour and SF members are just right-wingers sowing illusions amongst the working class. Despite the reasonable approach of some SP contributors like Mark P, this pamphlet is an accurate reflection of the insular and dogmatic clique that is currently dominant in the SP.

author by Mark P - SP personal cap)publication date Fri Aug 05, 2005 21:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually my anonymous friend you are wrong about everything bar one issue where you are partially correct. That one issue is on the target audience of this document. It isn't aimed only at Socialist Party members or we wouldn't have made it publically available, Neither however is it aimed at the general public at large. It is intended to be read by anyone with an interest in the socialist movement or the struggle against the bin tax - including the very left you claim we wish to ignore.

On the other issues raised, the document was not in fact written by Peter Hadden nor is it aimed at explaining some supposed political treachery on the part of Dermot Connolly. It deals with Dermot's role because (a) he was a leading figure in the more conservative wing of the anti-bin tax movement and (b) because his lengthy polemic against the Socialist Party is the most developed expression of the attitude of that wing of the movement.

This article puts forward a clear argument about what had to be done in the bin tax struggle. It outlines what the Socialist Party did and what certain other forces did and it tries to examine the current state of the left in Ireland. I suggest that you leave the soap opera element out of your analysis and try to deal with the political issues and the issues of method raised in the article. Political disagreement and criticism can be enlightening but conspiratorial nonsense rarely is.

author by Terrypublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 00:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another thing worth mentioning, although I suspect it played a very minor role is that there was a bin tax website called: StopTheBinTax.com that was setup by the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown campaign.

Unfortunately it got almost zero coverage in any of the leaflets or literature handed out thus this would have played a role in it's low profile. Had it been printed at the bottom of every leaflet and newsletter, perhaps more effective use could have been made of it.

The Fingal campaign eventually got their own website which was called: www.nobintax.info although the domain name seems to have now lapsed.

It would be true to say that a lot of folks are not very techie or internet savy, but I view websites and mailing lists as just one more tool in the box of tricks, besides activities like all kinds of foot work such as leaflets, public meetings, demonstrations and pickets and blockades.

Having said that all the main left wing party's (SP, SWP) did have good coverage on their own websites. The WSM also had good coverage on their website too.

Overall most of the online activity seemed to happen here on Indymedia as this issue got it's own category even.

Hopefully in the future there can be better integration between the Internet, the use of txting on mobiles (using the free texts for example up to 200 a month!) and information on door to door leaflets.

The theory is that even if you have a group of say 5 or 10 people, if one of them is reading stuff online, then there is a chance they might inform the non online people about whats happening. We don't have to have 100% people on mailing lists or whatever, just enough maybe 10% -who knows, for this information to spread. When the figure is too low, say < 1%, then it's likely it's not effective. Basically it's like advertisiing, the more eyes seeing the ads, the more sales. For us, the more people aware of the issues and what's happening, the more action. This of course totally explains why the councils went out of their way to tear down our campaign posters advertising public meetings.

The government know that choking off the information supply is the key to stopping little germs from growing into big trees / campaigns.

Related Link: http://www.stopthebintax.com/
author by hs - sp (per cap)publication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 12:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the campaign really went further than that and in fingal anyway was able to directly leaflet people's homes at a moments notice, in this sort of campaign a good leafletting network is more important. Indymedia too played a good role with many updates to the campaign everyday and a good way of keeping in touch with the city wide movement.

Ex militant, did you read the document? There was more than nit picking it compared the city to the fingal campaign organisation, the positions on and more importantly out come of the elections. And the thing was written far too politelyy to be peter hadden!

author by Curiouspublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 13:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A question for HS and other SP members here: who did write the document that has been posted? I find it rather odd that no name is attached. After all, the SP frequently berates 'anonymous' posters here. But this document did not write itself - someone fired up the computer to compose it. If not, Hadden, who - Boyd/ McLaughlin et al?

author by SP Member - SP/CWIpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 13:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin McLoughlin on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party.

author by Red Alert - Humanitypublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 15:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In relation to the 'document', I would advise readers and contributers that they try and find out as many sides of the story as possible before jumping in with comments. It will be difficult - maybe impossible- to get all the facts unless you are aware of all the underhanded goings on by the Socialist Party that took place during that period in the anti-bin tax campaign.
For the benefit of the readers, will you, Kevin McLoughlin, outline the involvement of your members/former election candidates in the campaigns in Dublin city and at present?

The anti-bin tax campaign in the city council areas never stopped, thanks mainly to Councillor Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly and their activists in Crumlin etc, members of the SWP and individuals in the North Inner City, East Wall and other areas.
Non-payment is very high in certain areas of the city and this will be the backbone of the campaign.

author by worn outpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 15:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

30,000 words is a helluva lot. Especially when written in the deadly prose style of an intellectual robot, long nurtured in the Hadden environment of an irony free zone. May I offer a free pint to the first person who can, in all 30,000 words, find one example of
1. An intentional joke (thus, hilarious breast beating assertions of intellectual omnipotence do NOT qualify)
2. An admission of error
3. A non-sectarian statement regarding the rest of the left

author by authorpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 18:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The document was written my Kevin Mc Loughlin but is in reality the product of much discussion in the SP. Kevin McLoughlin may have written most of the words but the issues raised were those agreed upon by the party.

author by Billy Joe Armstrongpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 18:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The anti-bin tax campaign in the city council areas never stopped, thanks mainly to Councillor Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly and their activists in Crumlin etc, members of the SWP and individuals in the North Inner City, East Wall and other areas. "

I think you would be more accurate to say that the campaign in the city council never started mainly thanks to Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly SWP et al. The campaign exists in a quarter of the city council area at best.

"Non-payment is very high in certain areas of the city and this will be the backbone of the campaign."

Non payment may well still be high in some parts of the city. But the point is that in order to defeat the council and non collection it has to be strong in ALL areas. From the start the leadership of the city campaign chose not to organise huge swathes of the city council area, so you now have a case of having a backbone but all other organs are withering or dead.

author by Binmanpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 19:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Billy Joe Armstrong wrote this lie "I think you would be more accurate to say that the campaign in the city council never started mainly thanks to Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly SWP et al. The campaign exists in a quarter of the city council area at best." Billy Joe Armstrong or whatever the hell your name is this is b***hit. And you know it. No sign of the Socialist Party or their members on any of the various monthly protests taking place at junctions across Dublin in places such as Coolock, Finglas or Ballymun. No, it's ordinary people with no political affiliations that have made up the backbone of these protests.

author by hs - sp (per cap)publication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 19:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

you may not have noticed but links to all sides have been added, also links are supplied throughout the document when making points. It is in fact quite easy to get your hands on it. People can also just ask those involved.

I have myself read all the proceeding documents including dermots.

Incidently no one has actually commented on the content of the document, just commented on the fact the document was written. As you have done yourself. You seem more bothered the document was realeased than anything it has to say.

The document is for discussion and I would personally ( and I'm sure lots of others) would like to hear all sides in the argument, including your own (if you have something to say that is, beyond bitching).

Personally I still think it's a shame that joan wasn't backed as a candidate and she and dermot felt they had to leave the party. But that doesn't take away from alot of the sp arguments on electoralism.

Now what about your ownself will you tell us your points and your party affiliation if any?

WORN OUT?

the text wasn't written for your entertainment and why don't you reply to the points against your party instead of complaining.

author by Billy Joe Armstrongpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 21:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am not a liar, it is a fact that there are huge parts of the city that are not organised. By organised I mean real compaigns, with reasonably regular meetings and an extensive leaflet network. I do not mean the phantom 'campaigns' that the SWP like to spout on about.

In saying this I do acknowledge that there are real campaigns in a large part of the city, you have cited some examples, I am not demeaning these people, I am not saying that these people's activity is a waste, I am giving a legitimate and honest assesmentat the campaign. if you want to build a campaign you have to base yourself on reality and look at your weaknesses in order to improve the campaign. It is not helpfull to lock yourself away in an SWP fantasy world

You should maybe ask yourself this question, if we decided tomorrow to drop a leaflet around the city council area, how many houses would be covered with the lefalet network?

author by recorderpublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 21:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The campaigns in Finglas, Cabra and East Wall are firmly based in those communities and have a fair capacity to mobilise people to resist non-collection. The 'motor' in the last two are members of the WCA and in Finglas the ISN. These groups have put real effort into the anti-bin tax campaign and unlike others have'nt abandoned it when its no longer sexy or some other issue pops up.

author by Mark Ppublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 22:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Like HS I am a bit disappointed in the level of discussion so far. Little or nothing has been said about the actual points made in the article. Instead there has been some bickering about peripheral issues.

To give an example, the point made by "recorder" doesn't contradict the argument made by the Socialist Party. The argument about the reach of the City Council Area campaign is precisely that, while there are some well-rooted local campaigns in individual suburbs, these well-rooted campaigns cover only a small fraction of the Council area. Pointing out that there is a solid campaign in Cabra or in any other individual suburb for that matter doesn't address that at all.

The Socialist Party article, while placing the whole struggle in the context of the battles of September 2003 particularly in Fingal, makes a number of critical points which are well worth thinking about. In particular it argues that:

1) The City Council Area Campaign did not and does not have the kind of area coverage which it needs to wage the fight against non-collection and to build non-payment on a firm basis.

2) This is linked to the placing of too much emphasis on the existence or otherwise of a small layer of left group activists in a locality. Thus there are whole swathes of the city, where no solid campaign exists. The SWP's phantom campaigns, and the willingness of some others to give credence to them, have played a significant part in this problem.

3) At the key moment in the struggle so far, elements of the City Council Area Campaign, particularly in its leadership, played a conservative and negative role. During the height of the battle in Fingal, as people were just beginning to be sent to jail and as the bin service was being grounded, it was vital that the struggle be extended across the whole city. If the other campaigns sat on their hands and waited then Fingal would be ground down and the Councils would move along to picking off the next area.

4) Sections of the leadership of the City Area Campaign placed too much emphasis on the courts, council votes and local elections as opposed to the real battle against non-collection.

5) All of the above as well as the overstated analysis of the left's electoral results is best understood as part of a slide towards electoralism and political opportunism.

Now it is possible to disagree with elements of this general analysis or even to disagree with it all, but it is a serious contribution to discussion of the bin tax struggle. I would welcome any serious attempts to engage with what it says, positively or negatively.

author by Mark Ppublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 22:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Other issues dealt with in some depth are those of the bin workers and the trade union movement. The central responsibility for the pushing back of the anti-bin tax campaigns around the end of 2004, lies not with mistakes made by any of the forces which were involved in the campaigns but with the role of the trade union bureaucracy. One consequence of the attitude of the trade union bureaucracies was that the likelihood of industrial action from the bin workers was significantly diminished.

Throughout the peak of the struggle, the SWP took the view that it was all important not to "alienate" the bin workers. By this they meant it was vital not to hold serious blockades on any route where all bins were still being collected. In fact the closest the bin workers came to taking action in those areas was at the height of the action by community protestors at the depots. The point being that in circumstances where it was obvious that there union would do nothing to support them, the best way of encouraging action from the binmen was for the community protestors to take resolute action themselves. "Meeting and greeting" the bin men, or making appeals without significant action from the campaigns amounted to little more than a forlorn hope that somebody else would fight the campaigns battles for it.

author by Mark Ppublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 22:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

2003 obviously, not 2004.

author by RS - Nonepublication date Sat Aug 06, 2005 23:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have a serious question for Mark, which has been raised already, unfortunately in a sectarian way, by some previous posters. As a socialist who is not a member of any party or group I respect the Socialist Party a lot for their hard work, correct perspective on many issues and orientation towards the working class but I am very wary of the tendency of left groups to exagerate the mistakes of their rivals and downplay or ignore any mistake they make. I would take organisations that are ready to admit mistakes and learn from mistakes much more seriously.

Since the pamphlet dwells at length on Dermot Conollys/SWP mistakes/failures, it is fair to ask Mark what mistakes he thinks the SP made during the campaign or does he believe that they were 100% correct all the time, as the pamphlet implies? This isnt a childish 'ah caught you' question. In my experience there is a serious flaw in an organisation which claims some sort of infallibility while pointing out the mote in everyone elses eye. Personally I agree with some of the points made in the pamphlet about tactics adopted by various elements in late 2003 but I also think the SP made some serious mistakes in the aftermath of the jailings and later.

author by Red Alertpublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 15:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

First of all, I haven't made any comments on the 'document', simply because I haven't read it. I gave a good piece of advice to potential readers, ie; you may never get all the facts. But I am aware of certain facts and before I read the document I know I will spot falsehoods, or lies if you'd prefer that term.
I will read the document/links in good time, but as far as having all the answers to whatever points are made, well that can't be done without having access to all the facts.

As for the guts etc of the campaign not being there with the backbone, you're wrong. Non-payers are the guts and backbone etc of the campaign. If you don't have a backbone, it's impossible to stand up and people are still standing strong, very strong, against this double tax. They are consolidated in certain areas by the likes of Joan Collins etc.

The SP (like a lot of other so called revolutionaries etc), thought they were in a sinking ship and saw land, looked for greener pastures and just deserted the campaign. Maybe you are slating Joan Collins and Dermot Connolly because they saw through the (SP) tactics of trying to control the campaign. The SP didn't get they're way and made stupid predictions and jumped ship! It's unfortunate that the good people at the SP 'round table' seem to be outnumbered.
But we live in hope.

The campaign can be re-enforced, it takes belief, energy, will and committment to support the non-payers and any workers households affected by this double tax. If you dessert the campaign, you dessert working class people. If you do that, not only are you tactically defficient, but you're also a hypocrite and a liar, among other things.

There are lots of lessons to be learned from all of this. Remember the water charges are on the way.
I't's not over 'til it's over!

'Bitching'? Well what can I say? All intelligent replies welcome!
I prefer to remain anonymous.
Over and out, for now.

author by Mark Ppublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 19:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not going to waste much time on the contributions by Red Alert. All they've amounted to so far have been a series of entirely unsubstantiated smears. For the record, the Socialist Party is still very much involved in the anti-bin tax campaign. We initiated all four of the campaigns and have been doing patient work on the issue, on a scale nobody else on the left can even come close to matching for more than five years now.

RS asks a more serious question and therefore deserves a considered response. I think that on each of the key questions in the anti-bin tax struggle, the Socialist Party had broadly the correct attitude. These include, amongst other issues:

a) How to build non-payment and spread the campaigns.
b) The militant tactics needed to fight non-collection.
c) The attitude to take towards elections and council votes in general, as well as parties like Labour.
d) What approach to take towards the bin workers and towards the unions.
e) How much emphasis to put on court actions.
f) The need to spread the battle across the city and not let the Councils pick off the campaign area by area.

Now, it has to be said that some others in the campaigns agreed with us on these issues. It also has to be said, in the words of the new article, that "everybody and every organisation make mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable." Similarly, it correctly points out that "nothing ever works out exactly as planned and the Socialist Party knows very well that a campaign can never be perfect and the work of our party certainly isn't."

The Socialist Party very definitely made mistakes. One of those, although it won't make me popular with various anonymous contributions here to say it, in my view was bending over backwards to accomodate Dermot Connolly which stemmed from the extreme reluctance in the organisation to take disciplinary action against anybody. On a related point I think we tolerated the serious weaknesses in the City Campaign too long and should have been checking up on the SWP's phantom campaigns much earlier. In addition there were mistakes in this or that tactical decision during the battle itself, from holding a truck in the wrong place on up.

author by RS - Nonepublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 20:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with Mark on the phantom campaigns, not only the SP but almost everyone else was lax in challenging the SWP (except the WCA) on these until the worse time possible ie the height of the battle in the City.

Ill trow in my tuppenceworth viz. mistakes made by the SP. I think the SP made a number of mistakes after making a strategic decision that the bin tax campaign was on the retreat. This took the form of withdrawing precipitously from the broader campaign in Fingal, leaving some people disillusioned (ie one contributory factor in the formation of Communities United grouping. BTW Anyone heard what happened to them?). In the same vein the decision by leading SP members to give a commitment to the City Council not to engage in further blockades was problematic. I understand the logic behind it but the SP initially denied that this had happened, leading many activists to be very suspicious of what the SP were up to. The SP should have been open about this decision and argued their point rather than denying the truth for ages.

I also get the feeling from the reduced level of involvement by SP members in the various campaigns that the SP has concluded that the bin tax campaign has been largely defeated, even in the city, but unlike the WSM, they have not said this openly for fear of appearing to abandon the campaign in the areas where it is still strong. By the way I think this conclusion is incorrect and that the WSM were wrong to pull out but at least they were up front about it.

Finally on the slate question I think that with negotiation a reasonable slate could have been agreed but again I honestly think the SP did not want a slate which included the SWP. Given the votes they got, there would have been no harm in people like Richie Browne being on the slate as opposed to the Kevin Wingfields. I cant say I bame the SP given the usual antics of SWP but it would have been better for the class if there had been a slate.

author by SP member - SP/CWIpublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

including his comments relating to the failure to take disciplinary action against Dermot Connolly. For too many years the SP has bent over backwards to accomodate individuals who shoould have faced internal disciplinary action. Remember that the SP is a Marxist revolutionary party with a democratic centralist structure. If individuals, particularly those as experienced as Dermot Connolly are not willing to abide by these structures then disciplinary action should be taken against them. His only defence is that because himself and Joan Collins were long standing members of the SP their loyalty should not be questioned. In a revolutionary organisation an individual's commitment should be challanged daily. Indeed there have been many occasions in the history of the CWI where Dermot dismissed the idea that someone's standing within the organisation should somehow protect them when they break the rules of the SP.

What amuses me is that individuals here, who are now defending Dermot Connolly ,had previously attacked him when he was in a leading position within the CWI. In reality they would still be attacking him now if he were still an active member of the CWI, but because he has now left the organisation and publically attacked it from the outside he is held up as an example of how badly the SP treat individuals. As with others in the past, he did a disservice to the SP and to the left in general by failing to argue his case within the SP (despite being given numerous opportunities to do so) and waited until he had left before making his comments (something he was critical of himself when a memebr of the SP).

Finally, the document produced by the SP is intended as a discussion document. The begining of the document states that it is not ment as a definitive history of the bin-tax campaign. As a discussion document then it should be read and discussed. BY doing so everyone, including the SP, can learn from a full and frank exchange of views.

But for individuals like 'Red Alert' who claim they can comment without reading it because he is 'aware of certain facts and before I read the document I know I will spot falsehoods, or lies if you'd prefer that term.' then your remarks do not merit a response. The SP has absolutely no obligation to defend itself from criticisms of this character.

author by Former CWIpublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 20:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have no idea whether or to what extent Dermot Connolly raised his problems with SP policy within the organisation - or whether, from his own elevated vantage point, he was able to conclude that any attempt to do so would only invite character assassination, marginalisation and expulsion. Maybe he would like to comment on this.

But I do know of at least one CWI leader who did do precisely this. He wrote position statements, spoke up at conferences, talked to other members, tried to raise these issues within the SP in Ireland. Was he met with applause for using the organisation's superb machinery for handling debate and dissent? Was he hell. He was however expelled for his pains. The man's name? John Throne. Maybe, I say maybe, Dermot took a long, hard and perhaps belatedly critical look at what happened to JT, and thought: 'I have better things to do than go through the same nonsense.'

author by Mark Ppublication date Sun Aug 07, 2005 21:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The situation in different parts of Dublin varies. The strongest areas organisationally for the Socialist Party, Fingal and South Dublin, are areas where non-payment has been crushed. We fought as hard as we could - mounting a struggle which with all due respect I don't think anyone else on the left would be capable of organisationally or politically - and we got beaten. Campaigning against the bin tax in those areas is for obvious reasons at a much lower tempo. Things are very different in the City area. There is still a real struggle to be fought, but to have any chance of victory the Campaign will have to reorient itself. Part of the reason for releasing this document now is to provoke a serious discussion about what exactly has to be done in the City area.

On the issue of a slate, I think the document deals with this subject clearly and well. Firstly, the Socialist Party did not and does not share the preoccupation with the importance of elections which has come to characterise parts of the "revolutionary" left. That may in part be because we have some experience of doing well in them and we know at first hand how ultimately hollow election wins are.

In the context of the anti-bin tax campaign, we felt that too much emphasis was being put on the council elections by some in the City campaign and that was dictating a relunctance to do anything which could potentially cost votes. We did not think that the elections were going to be a particularly significant part of the struggle and we were certainly relunctant to play along with electoralism. However, we do take elections seriously, as we do every aspect of our work, and we absolutely would not be involved in the kind of deception of the working class which endorsing people who had not built the campaign would entail. This was a point of principle for us. We would not be involved in lending the authority of the struggle which had been waged to various SWP candidates who had nothing to build the campaign or worse still had been involved in the phantom campaigns. We put forward a slate which included all of the serious candidates. Nobody has ever given a good reason why that slate did not go forward. I take the view that it is for the people who thought a slate was so vital to explain why our proposal wasn't to their taste.

As a final aside, it never ceases to amuse me that whining about John Throne can make it onto almost any thread on Indymedia. No doubt the man himself will be along with another of his identikit contributions in the near future. For the record Throne was not a member of the Socialist Party at the time concerned, nor had he been expelled from the SP. He was a member (then ex-member) of our American sister organisation, which had every right to expell him without us deciding to let him back in through the back door. But I have absolutely no intention of commenting further on that issue and derailing what can hopefully be a useful discussion. There are already enough threads dealing with the woes of Throne without this one taking a detour.

author by hs - sp (per cap)publication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 01:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think you mis understood me I was simply pointing out the fact that the other arguments have been supplied, including dermot, joan's and the swp's. There for everyone to read as is the point, also throughout the document links are supplied to the relevant leaflets and parts to dermots origanal document. In fact the document begins by advising people to read dermots document first. I don't think the nec could have done anymore than that. To say there are "lies" before you even read the document is kind of putting a marker down isn't it?

When you read the document you will see it argues not that there was no campaign, and certainly not that people were paying the tax, but that the campaign wasn't strong enough to support fingal during non collection. And the document goes on to say that the organisation of the campaign was at fault.
. As you know the SP wanted a city wide campaign when the non collection began in fingal. Others argued against this as the campaign wasn't strong enough.

The problem wasn't with non payment, (the document never claims this) but rather when fingal cc went on the offensive and started non collection. The the document argues (agreeing with dermots infact), the campaign wasn't strong in the city enough to have a city wide blockade in support of fingal. Although non payment is the backbone of the campaign what do you do when the council refuses to pick up your bin? This is the question.

So the fingal campaign was defeated and is now finished. (that's not saying the city council one is). it will now be easier for dublin city council to take on the city campaign, in other words dividing up the city piece by piece. This according to the sp was the central pointt. It then goes on to say there was a conservatism and electoralism in the leadership of the campaign that led to this.

Now thats the guts of the sp side. In 'bitching' I meant i would like to hear coherent responses from anyone who disagrees with the document. And why they disagree with the document. Rather than simple political rivalry, probably not the best word to use i'll admit. But what I meant was people arguing against the paper for what it says rather than because they are in a rival party and are point scoring.

It may suprise you to know some of us would like to hear all sides of the argument, i am especially interested as I was outside the country for most of this and as I said before I believe joan should have been backed as a party candidate as the differences were tactical. I know I'm in a minority view here and I can understand people in the party may have been angry during the heat of the campaign.

The reason as I asked for your party affiliation (or none) is that it is important because often political opportunists use an issue simply to score points.

(some of dermots greatest online supporters had no time for him until he left the party and would be happily attacking the sp for being to conservative if he was still in it!)

Telling us your party affiliation is simply being honest. And it does not effect you being anonymous. For one example a swp member lecturing anybody on jumping from campaign to campaign would be laughable, and is why I can't help but suspect that's why you won't tell us your party affiliation.

author by hs - sp (per cap)publication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 01:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another point of view here, as far as I remember it says the campaign should have concentrated on bin workers rather than non payment (correct me if i'm wrong it's been months since I read it)

http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/OnlinePublications.htm#Bintifada

author by Red alertpublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am not in any political party, and will in good time put my name to my responses.

The SWP? Well as an organisation I would call them kangaroo Socialists, but there are some very good individuals in there. Unfortunately not enough in strong positions -yet - to make a real difference to their party's ways.

There are some very interesting comments above since I made my first contribution.
No less so than from the SP members? I'm not going to respond to all of them yet.

The SP made a monumental blunder in not backing Joan Collins. It was obvious to anyone that looked, with even a dot of political cop on that she was going to get that seat.
How did the SP not see this or did they want to see it?

Consider this 'comrades', why have so many good people of long standing left the SP in recent years?

Just to finish, the SP are an amateur, dare I say it, 'undemocratic' organisation.
Great on theory, but when it comes to real action....?
What was it Karl Marx said?

I can anticipate some of your (the SP's) 'reactions'.

Talk to you soon.

author by ex-CWIpublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 15:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SP claims to be a party of and for the working class, interested not just in winning immediate battles but in building a new and infinitely better society than what we have at the moment. Now, this means that people will look at what they do, not just what they say - and it means that such 'ethical' issues as how they handle dissent and treat their own members looms large in whatever context they operate.

It is therefore revealing that when people raise issues of injustice in their own practice it is dismissed (see Mark P above) as 'whining about John Throne.'' Concern about democracy is 'whining?'

This tells us us much about life inside the SP/ CWI, and how miserable life would quickly become in the thankfully unlikely event that they ever acquired state power.
Throne, of course, was a member of their US affiliate - BUT. He was a key founder of the SP in Ireland way back in its Militant Tendency days; the CWI is one international organisation, and unless the SP in Ireland wishes to distance itself from its own supporters in the US it takes responsibility for them; CWI statues give people expelled by one section the right to appeal internationally, and to other sections.

Mark P magisterially tells us that the US section is entitled to expel people if it wishes. Well, yes. But - within the labour movement there is such a thing as natural justice. When this is violated, their formal right to expel people tells us that there is something rather sick in the organisation's culture.

And I say that a party attempting to lead a movement on the bin tax or anything else thoroughly deserves to have its internal regime subject to the most detailed and public scrutiny. When it behaves as badly as the SP does, this behaviour will follow them into every forum in the labour movement and elswhere.

author by Mark Ppublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 17:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Predictable rubbish from our anonymous friend of John Throne. The man was removed from the leadership of our American sister organisation by its dissatisfied membership. He refused to accept that so they kicked him out entirely. In turn he refused to accept that and tried to use his previous role in Ireland to help him get around the democratic decisions of his own organisation. Quite rightly we would have nothing to do with that. Ironically enough if the Socialist Party had helped him ignore the decisions of the members of our American sister group some of the very same people would be giving out about how "undemocratic" we were to side with that groups former leaders against its rank and file. Now, if you are quite done with your whining about about the woes of Throne, perhaps you can take it to one of the couple of dozen other threads filled with such moaning. This is a thread about the bin tax - something which has nothing at all to do with your hobby horse. I suppose that's the cue for more posts along the lines of "the martyrdom of John Throne reveals very important blah blah blah" but you won't be getting another response from me.

author by John O'Neill - ISN personal capacitypublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 17:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Personally, I welcome the article by the SP. I wonder is it really important who actually wrote the document as it is clearly an analysis of the Socialist Party and therefore reflects their understanding of the campaign.

I think its a little early to pen such a document as the campaign is still been fought and I would see more value in waiting for the outcome to learn any lessons.

I am concerned that, since the campaign seems (please correct me if I am wrong) to have petered out in Fingal the SP has become less active in the campaign although SP members are still at the forefront of the campaign in Finglas in particular John McCamley who has been the backbone of the campaign from its inception.

On the question of the 'slate' for the local elections the ISN were willing to a limited slate, excluding areas where we knew there wasn't really any grassroots campaign. This was our position, however we were part of a broad front so we also agreed to abide with the decision of the majority of activists in Finglas and the majority (bar none) had similar views. I don't know if this was the correct decision or not maybe a slate would have increased the left/anti bin tax vote in Dublin, I don't know. Activists in Finglas were adamant that one particular area should not be included on the basis that we knew it only existed on paper as we had to regularly travel to this area to show a presence for the campaign.

I would also argue that most areas where one particular group had total control of the campaign didn't work as well as the areas that had some level of co-operation between groups.

Finally, I was disappointed that the WSM decided to end their involvement in the campaign as they had been a positive force in the fight, but I respect their honesty in making this decision clear to all involved and I wonder if the SF commitment could have been stronger on the ground as they (in Finglas at least) would have the largest membership. SF councillor Dessie Ellis has shown real commitment to the campaign but I was surprised how few SF members from Finglas became active. The WP in Finglas largely stayed away from the campaign and ran their own seperate one which was disappointing as they have some effective activists in the area that could have strengthened the campaign.

author by Enragedpublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 18:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SP knew that Joan Collins would probably win a council seat. Yet they decided not to endorse her as a candidate because for the SP political ideas and party democracy are more important than council seats. If the SP were political opportunists like the SWP they would have backed Joan Collins and ignored her political shift to the right and ignored her refusal to accept democracy. The SP asked Joan to be a candidate on the condition that she would abide by party decisions - she refused!
Also you describe the SP as amateur. The only battle so far against the bin tax has been in Fingal which was led by the SP. The GAMA workers achieved an historic victory - this dispute was led by the SP. The water charges campaign, the poll tax campaign etc etc. These examples of the work of the SP expose your claims of amateurism for what they are - pathetic and childish slander!

author by Mark Ppublication date Mon Aug 08, 2005 18:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While it can be difficult to ignore the posting of anonymous attacks, it's best not to get to wound up by them, "Enraged", and certainly best not to respond in kind. Let's try to keep the discussion as calm and measured as possible.

I note that no supporters of the SWP have openly contributed to this thread or made any comments on the document. I suppose that their party will issue a statement or leaflet eventually, but I personally would be interested in the views of rank and file SWP members. (I say "openly" because you can never really what agenda various anonymous contributors really have, and I would have my suspicions about the affiliations of at least one of the people on this thread).

Finally I'm pasting the extract from the Irish Socialist Network article on the bin tax which deals with the political divisions in the campaign below. I would have my disagreements with parts of the article but this section I think is both accurate and clear. The whole thing can be found as the third link down on the original feature.

------------------

It is often said that the real nature of political groups are revealed in the heat of struggle. The bin tax campaign has highlighted the organisational and ideological strengths and weaknesses of the various far left groupings. Perhaps more importantly it has indicated more clearly their relationship with the working class. At the height of autumns struggle most far left organisations and individuals were engaged to some extent in the campaign and a clear difference of perspective emerged. On the one hand the Socialist Workers Party, backed by Sinn Fein, argued for a campaign based on mass meetings and demonstrations with blockading and other forms of direct action being seen as measures of last resort. The basis for this view was that the decisive battle would be the local elections of summer 2004 where anti-bin tax candidates could make a breakthrough based on the work done over the years in the different localities. This position was somewhat undermined by the fact that in certain areas where the Socialist Workers Party claimed to be organising the campaign, only shadow campaigns, lacking a popular base, existed. The perception was that they had adopted this position because they were unable to deliver the goods when it came to mass direct action. There was a degree of truth to this perception because the majority of Socialist Workers Party activists are of middle class origin, many of them students who had no real connection with working class communities, though individual members, such as the jailed activist Brid Smith, had played an important role in limited number of areas. Sinn Fein on the other hand had failed to play any significant role outside of Finglas and seemed to view the campaign as an adjunct to their target of making a major breakthrough in the local elections.

On the other hand the Socialist Party and three smaller left groups active in the campaign on the north side of the city (Working Class Action, the Workers Solidarity Movement and the Irish Socialist Network) advocated mass direct action, especially after the jailing of the activists. In areas dominated by these forces frequent blockades of trucks and depots occurred. The areas where these groups were dominant tended to be the best organised and the most deeply rooted in the community. Public meetings attracted hundreds while dozens of people engaged in blockading action. There was little patience from this wing of the campaign for the more cautious, election orientated strategy. There was, however, a certain degree of suspicion amongst the smaller groupings that the Socialist Party saw the campaign as their property, to be led from above and switched on and off as it suited.

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 11:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this discussion in particular to whoever wrote the original document. It is real insight into the campaign which clearly was about attempting to use ordinary people in the advancement of your political creed rather than a genuine attempt to advance their wellbeing.

author by Interestedpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't leave it at that. You say:

"Finally I'm pasting the extract from the Irish Socialist Network article on the bin tax which deals with the political divisions in the campaign below. I would have my disagreements with parts of the article but this section I think is both accurate and clear."

What parts do you disagree with? BTW it's good to see the SP reengage in the debate on the bin tax after such a long time.

author by Bullshit watchpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The Socialist Party has operated honestly and in the best interests of this campaign and the struggle. Our members have been present when the struggle was difficult, whenever serious issues needed to be addressed or when purposeful activities were taking place. We have put forward the truth as we see it about the difficulties in the campaign but have consistently tried to point to the ways the campaign can be taken forward."

What about the secret meetings - the Shakespeare pub to mention one. I bet Mark P and hs don't get to hear about things like that.

"When, where and who took the decision to remove the Socialist Party from the Officer Board of the campaign has not been explained. That such a manoeuvre took place without due process or notice (no serious attempt was made before or after to communicate with Diarmuid Naessens) is disgraceful and puts those responsible at odds with the basic democratic procedures that are necessary in working class campaigns."

Why don't you ask Helen and the other woman from Finglas (don't know her name), they were at the meeting that the decision took place at. Not a word from them let alone an objection.

The SP do spin that Alistair Campbell would be more than proud of.

author by Tom Joadpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For selling out working class people
thank you for exposing the real face of labour
thank you for the bin tax
thank you for being you

author by Paraphraserpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 14:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"When, where and who took the decision for a Socialist Party member from the Officer Board of the campaign to sign waivers has not been explained. That such a manoeuvre took place without due process or notice (no serious attempt was made before or after for Diarmuid Naessens to communicate to the officer board) is disgraceful and puts those responsible at odds with the basic democratic procedures that are necessary in working class campaigns."

author by Robbie S*n*o*tpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 14:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I’ve read Part One of the lengthy link, and broadly agree with the SP’s analysis of the real reasons behind the imposition of the bin tax, and the planned strategy of resistance. However, apart from accurately identifying lack of public confidence in success as a deciding factor, your post-mortem seems to be little more than a political hatchet-job.

Might I suggest, that one way forward for the left or a ‘new left party’ would be to move on from old sectarian battles and try to avoid new ones; preferring instead to focus energies wholly on the systemic corporate injustice that surrounds us.

The SWP for instance, seem to have taken a more inclusive approach since the turn of the century, and in public at least, no longer differentiate between reformists and revolutionaries: they work with anyone and seem to view every social problem/issue as an opportunity.

There ought not to be anything wrong with this dialectical approach from a Marxist perspective, but, for revolutionaries, the collapse of ‘capitalism’ depends on the immiseration of the masses; so campaign victories now won’t necessarily auger well for whole-scale revolt.

The anti-bin tax campaign is defensive (i.e., trying to protect rights already won). If it has failed, what chance for the winning of new rights, or better still, system-change.

A truly revolutionary movement not only campaigns for a new order (and the SP is theoretically good in this respect), it spends as much time implementing its vision in practice. Sometimes, I think the Left in Ireland is more about keeping the dream alive and defending the good parts of the old order, rather than using its imagination to create new freedoms and spaces.

Politically, you can tell more about a group by its everyday actions and behaviour than from any manifesto or statement it might care to put out. To this extent, the means and the end are inextricably linked, and your attempt to bury former dissidents in verbiage is a distraction to any progressive activist or onlooker in Ireland. Such a hatchet-job is not even political opportunism, because it looks bad to everyone else. Why shoot yourselves in the foot with such needless and fruitless efforts?

As for ‘electionism’, does the SP not engage in this, even if just by standing candidates in areas it thinks it can get most votes, rather than in the areas of the worst poverty.

Also, for all your professed care-free attitude to elections, I have never seen a party concentrate so much of its message around elected personalities (i.e., Joe Higgins “T.D.” and “Clr.” Clair Daly). Not that there’s too much wrong with this, since Joe is one of the few signs of integrity in the Dáil, but you’d think – if you really insist on firing at your own side – that you’d remove such glaring inconsistencies from your criticisms.

Forgive me for not supplying my full name, but I fear being denounced as a counter-revolutionary and hounded with all the organizational zeal and muster that the SP has shown it affords to critics.

author by Mark Ppublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 14:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interested asked me what parts of the ISN article I disagreed with. From memory, (I haven't reread it to answer the question) I wouldn't entirely go along with the wider analysis of the Irish left. The sections on the bin tax itself seemed pretty good.

I was going to respond to Dermot Lacey's slime, but I think Tom Joad has already summed him up quite adequately. At least he has the honesty to state clearly where he is coming from when he is making his snide comments however, which is more than can be said for some others. The two anonymous contributors above are quite clearly associated with some other element of the left yet they have neither the honesty nor the decency to say it openly. This may come as a shock to "Bullshit Watch" and "paraphraser", but it would actually enhance your currently non-existent credibility.

I shouldn't even bother to address the entirely apolitical points you make, but I have a few minutes so I will. Plenty of people gave undertakings not to continue their role in the protests either in court or by letter. This was both a personal choice, dependent on people's individual circumstances, and a tactical choice, dependent on the needs of the struggle. I'm not sure if "paraphraser" actually disagrees with that or if he thinks that there was some kind of moral imperative on everyone the Council threatened to march off to jail regardless of circumstances or what purpose it would serve at the time.

As for Bullshit Watch, the Socialist Party has every right to meet with anyone it wants whenever it wants, so I'm honestly baffled as to what point you think you are making in the first half of your post. As for the second part, you might be more credible if you gave details of the precise meeting you are talking about, who was there, what the precise motion was etc.

I note, of course, that neither of our anonymous critics from other groups makes the slightest effort to deal with the central political points of the article. They prefer to snipe around the edges. I wonder why?

author by BS Watchpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 14:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was only replying to this:
"The Socialist Party has operated honestly and in the best interests of this campaign and the struggle. Our members have been present when the struggle was difficult, whenever serious issues needed to be addressed or when purposeful activities were taking place. We have put forward the truth as we see it about the difficulties in the campaign but have consistently tried to point to the ways the campaign can be taken forward."

If you think meetings like the Shakespeare were honest well so be it. Of course the SP has a right to meet whoever it wants but save me the holier than thou sanctimonious waffle.

"As for the second part, you might be more credible if you gave details of the precise meeting you are talking about, who was there, what the precise motion was etc."

Ask Helen and the other Finglas SP member. I don't have to be credible but two SP members were at a meeting where a decision was taken to reconstitute the Dublin campaign. They didn't raise a murmur. Aren't they credible - don't your comrades report back on meetings that they attend. Or has that meeting been 'airbrushed' out of history.

author by Dpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 15:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

From the onset to regulars -please do not give my name as it will get me into serious trouble presently. Thank You

I have to say I am really interested in this, and have read most of the various documentations. I am surprised though that the SWP have not come back on various allegations, which I presume the SP would not have printed if they could not back them up. So presently I take such as facts unless disputed.

I do think it is important to record such important moments in recent Southern history. Similar has been recorded in the North in relation to the NIPSA dispute and the {rank and file lead actions} the Anti Sectarian rallies, the Anti Globalisation Movement, the Anti War Movement, The Anti Racism Movement and the Anti Poverty Movement to name just some. These again like the Bin Tax in the South etc, are some of the most important activist and working class moments and movements, in the North’s recent history - over the last decade.


I must say though through reading some material in depth I can see that the SP {in the South} have played an essential part of Resistance and Solidarity in the last decade with the Water charges, bin tax, Gama workers etc. Although in the North this has been to a far lesser extent - in relation to initiating or being to the forefront of such movements and moments in time. Although it must be said that they had did some good work in NIPSA - but when it came to the most important actions in twenty years - well that can be read elsewhere and will be revisited in the time ahead.

I do agree though with some points raised re- the SWP. The SWP do jump from campaign to campaign though less so presently. They also have made the most monumental political somersaults I have ever seen in my life – then go on to try to deny it. And yes their membership can be ‘perceived’ as mostly middle class. And this will grow as they now shift their interest towards students again, as seen in the North - as very few genuine and key activists now will work with them. Therefore they most go after the youth who know little of their recent history.

On reading the documents I am interested in the issue of Joan Collins and Dermot and indeed Throne and others and I do see a pattern there which I will write about in time, as limited presently. A pattern that is little different in most such organisations.


It is also raised of the underhand tactics used by the SP and SWP – and I believe if raised by genuine activists then answers should be given. I must say though it is my experience in reading Indynedia that the SP is more forthcoming in taking on such issues than the SWP, who attempt to brush such issues under the carpet in hope that it goes away.

I had said time and again that such behaviour and along with other issues and factors would have a detrimental effect on the SWP if they continued - and indeed that is increasingly the case as they still fail to acknowledge and learn from such mistakes. Indeed I think that they are now presently collapsing in on themselves because of it -and in doing so, doing merely to do and exsit



I also have great respect for the so call smaller parties who I read of in this dispute and more importantly of the local citizens who stood together.

It is good that each activist Network and Party etc has recorded and should still record this issue. In doing so one can cut past the bullshit and get a complete overview of the dispute and in doing so draw ones own conclusion of what it is all about and what really happened. Indeed there are quite a few organisations who dislike this ‘new age’ of technology etc as now activists at a touch of a key can click on and read anyone’s and everyone’s views and with that draw their own conclusions. I am to read the rest of the documents in relation to this before moving on to the SP – SWP correspondence and the ‘mini Book’ Peter Hadden had written in response to that correspondence several years ago. –

This as both parties had stated points or raised issues that were factually incorrect and I will put my own points to those ‘facts’ – again as so people either presently or in the future can draw their own conclusions from all such quarters.

I think this debate is interesting and more importantly healthy, and it was good to see all the relevant links attached by the original poster.

More of It!

author by City activistpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 16:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"1) The City Council Area Campaign did not and does not have the kind of area coverage which it needs to wage the fight against non-collection and to build non-payment on a firm basis."

As good if not better than Fingal. Still collecting throughout the city. Not beaten yet. Funny that of the three areas were bin trucks were blocked by the Fingal campaign on a lenghty basis, one was manned by city activists by and large. We'll see what support we get from the Fingal and SDCC campaigns when we need it.

"2) This is linked to the placing of too much emphasis on the existence or otherwise of a small layer of left group activists in a locality. Thus there are whole swathes of the city, where no solid campaign exists. The SWP's phantom campaigns, and the willingness of some others to give credence to them, have played a significant part in this problem."

Didn't take long for the Fingal and SDCC campaign to disappear into smoke. The city campaign no matter how haphazhardly is still going.

"3) At the key moment in the struggle so far, elements of the City Council Area Campaign, particularly in its leadership, played a conservative and negative role. During the height of the battle in Fingal, as people were just beginning to be sent to jail and as the bin service was being grounded, it was vital that the struggle be extended across the whole city. If the other campaigns sat on their hands and waited then Fingal would be ground down and the Councils would move along to picking off the next area."

Nonsense, certain elements of the campaign did play a conservative and negative role but they didn't win the day. Blockades took place and funnily enough Dermot who the SP criticise so much was one of the activists who went to jail for two weeks (didn't sign a waiver). One of the problems was that the SP showed a contempt for democracy during this critical period. They called demos, called them off and on again at their own whim.

"4) Sections of the leadership of the City Area Campaign placed too much emphasis on the courts, council votes and local elections as opposed to the real battle against non-collection."

This one I love and wish I could go into more detail about. The SP showed a scant regard for ordinary people during this stage. The only people who really wanted to use the courts were the SP. They wanted as many people in the dock as possible. Wanted as many people as possible in the dock to refuse to purge their contempt. This was their strategy.
And a book will need to be written on their dealings with the 'campaign's' solicitor who just happened to be Joe's and the SP's. Tawdry stuff really. But it can wait. As for the council votes - only SF were in a position to think of that one and you got to be joking if you think the SP were not playing the election game as well.

"5) All of the above as well as the overstated analysis of the left's electoral results is best understood as part of a slide towards electoralism and political opportunism."

There were some very good votes for the non SP left in the campaign which has led some to look at combining our work and your taunt of the 'slide towards electoralism and political opportunism' well just smacks of 'dial a cliche'.

author by Bob Avak - SP 'personal capacity'publication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 17:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am glad to see an SWP supporter or two take part in this debate but Robbie if you are going to argue the SWP line, use SWP language and praise the SWP it would make you look a bit less shifty to just state your support openly. For some reason only people from the Socialist Party (and John from the ISN, fair play) have been honest enough to just come out and say what angle they are coming from.

I do not see any reason to try and hide that I support the SP. I am proud of it and anyway the rest of you could work it out from the politics I am arguing.

There are two big problems with Robbies post. One is that he gets wrong what electoralism is. It does not mean that you stand in elections or that you take doing so seriously. It means prioritising election results over the real needs of a struggle. In the bin tax fight the campaigns had to take militant action. Most including the Socialist Party prioritised trying to do what had to be done to win. Some did not, in part because they lacked confidence in the ability of the working class to understand what had to be done and in part because they feared damaging electoral potential. Plus it was clear from way out that these same forces were looking towards the Council elections as perhaps the key event in the struggle, when in fact the best they could have been is an assistance to the real struggle which had to be focused on.

Secondly he misunderstands the point of discussion and debate. Writing a critique of a campaign or of the politics of some elements of a campaign isn't being 'nasty' for the sake of it. That is an attitude which is fundamentally apolitical. It is about clarifying and learning from political divergences. Take the issue of electoralism discussed above. There is a real political difference between socialists on that question. Take the issue of escalating action across the city versus sitting and waiting for the Councils to get to us, that is a real political difference too. Take the issue of if it is time for a 'new left' as the SWP would have us believe or if this is an overblown perspective as others would have it, again real political difference. Socialists have a responsibility to learn from experience and you cannot do that unless you look honestly at past events and draw a balance sheet. For that very reason it is not good enough to sniff about hatchetjobs. You have to explain what exactly is wrong with the analysis or the conclusions drawn if you want people to pay attention.

author by Bob Avakpublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 17:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was going to reply to the other anonymista/lets guess which other left organisation person too but as he/she addresses the points to Mark I will leave him to do it. One unrelated point though Mark 'apolitical' had better be a real word!

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 18:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was going to go home and watch a re run of "The Life of Brian" tonight but you boys have just made me laugh so much I have no need to now. What did the ( insert your party or sect or group of choice) ever do for the "Bin Tax" campaign ? pity you you don't put the same input into real issues. But then that might involve having to take a few stands on issues that might not win you popular votes. However in my experience the electorate prefers bit of honesty.

author by RS - Nonepublication date Tue Aug 09, 2005 18:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A belated thanks to Mark for responding to my questions. However you did'nt respond to the one serious mistake I identified in the SPs behaviour during the campaign:

'the decision by leading SP members to give a commitment to the City Council not to engage in further blockades was problematic. I understand the logic behind it but the SP initially denied that this had happened, leading many activists to be very suspicious of what the SP were up to. The SP should have been open about this decision and argued their point rather than denying the truth for ages.'

author by binnerpublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 01:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah Dermo, you really are a clown aren’t you? While the sado’s from the left are really amusing most people ignore them. BUT, most people will always remember you for supporting the Bin Tax against the alleged opposition of your party. You’re stint as lord mayor will always be remembered for the front page of the Evening Herald showing you being heckled by anti bin tax protestors.

author by binnerpublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 01:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

City Activist, two important points in reply to your post. The legal support from the campaign solicitors has been scandalous but the SP can hardly be blamed for that. They might be Uncle Joe’s friends but Dermot Connolly was the city contact and he simply wasn’t up to the job.
I would be very interested in your analysis of “very good votes for the non SP left ”. Actually, I’d be interested in any examples of very good votes for ANY lefts (excluding Sinn Fein)!!

author by Mark Ppublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 01:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think I did deal with your point RS, earlier on in response to somebody else. On a related point, contrary to the extremely odd claims by "City Activist" above, the Socialist Party had a correctly cautious attitude towards jailings. It didn't want any to happen at all. When the state clamped down, and it became necessary to display that the campaigns wouldn't buckle, SP members led by example. Both the first and last people to be imprisoned are in the SP and more SP members than those of all the other political organisations put together went to jail. Even then the intention was to minimise jailings. The correct attitude towards undertakings, in court or by letter was to demonstrate at key moments that activists wouldn't be cowed, not march off to prison for the sake of martyrdom.

The rest of City Activist's post is just as strange. He (or she) claims that the coverage of the City campaign was "as good if not better than Fingal" and then claims that it "didn't take long for the Fingal and SDCC campaign to disappear into smoke."

This is the equivalent of finding yourself in an argument with somebody who thinks that the world is flat. It is a fact that the Fingal campaign had leafletting networks covering almost the entire Council area. Unlike the City Campaign it didn't have to build them from scratch. It is a fact, demonstrated on a number of different days that the Fingal Campaign had the on the ground organisation to ground the entire fleet of bin trucks in estates. It is a fact that the Fingal Campaign demonstrated the capacity to wage probably the most intense campaign of non violent direct action Ireland has seen in many decades over a period of weeks.

Unfortunately the City Campaign can cover only a small fraction of its households with its leafletting networks. Across whole swathes of the Area no campaign to speak of exists. On the positive side there are some suburbs with very strong campaigns, but that isn't enough.

It's important when we are discussing the errors made by some conservative elements in the campaign not to lose sight of the bigger picture. The central blame for the defeat of non-payment in Fingal and SDCC lies not with even the most conservative elements but with the inaction of the trade union bureaucracy. Still, when the battle was raging in Fingal, the failure of some to help spread the struggle did real damage. This is something the document deals with at length and very well so I will post a short extract from it below. It's from part four, but I think that in many ways the entire second half of part four is key to understanding the discussion.

http://www.socialistparty.net/pub/pages/bintaxdoc05/5.htm

author by not labourpublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 01:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"What did the ( insert your party or sect or group of choice) ever do for the "Bin Tax" campaign ? pity you you don't put the same input into real issues"

Bins are real issues dermot - most people have to deal with their bins. You did something more than these groups for the "bin Tax" campaign? What was that dermot?

author by SP documentpublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 01:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dermot says it was agreed in general to respond to non-collection "with mass protests to block the bin lorries." However, when limited non-collection was implemented in the city he says: "There was only two areas where the campaign could respond with community protests". Why could the campaign only respond in two areas? It wasn’t because the campaign in the city council area only had a base in two areas. Dermot himself decided to amend, interpret or limit the general position on blockades and disruption to say - that the campaign in the Dublin city council area can in reality only protest in areas where actual non-collection takes place! The support for blockades against non-collection by the city council campaign was changed in favour of limited action in only the areas immediately affected by non-collection. This was also the position of the SWP.

Disruption needed to be escalated not limited

Forget for a moment about the overall battle, the events in Fingal and the jailings. Even from the point of view of the Dublin city council campaign the position of Dermot and the SWP makes no sense. They argued for blockades only where bins are not being collected and to let the truck go if an agreement is reached that the truck will lift all bins in that area at that time. The city council was testing the city council campaign. In a struggle a weak, indecisive response to an attack invites more attacks and aggression. It is necessary to hit back hard and indicate that you are prepared to go further. The best way to stop even limited non-collection would have been for the campaign in the city council area to organise serious disruption in its stronger areas or at the depots. Anyone intent on fighting the battle to its fullest would have advocated such a course of action.

However the situation in the city could not be separated from the developments in Fingal. Put in the context of events in Fingal and the jailings in both Fingal and the City, the support by some leaders in the city campaign and the SWP generally for only token blockades made no sense and seriously weakened the struggle at the crucial time. If workers involved in serious industrial action adopted a similar approach, it would have terrible consequences.

In fact the city campaign had a vested interest in doing everything in its power to assist in Fingal. The two were completely interdependent. The situation regarding the bin tax in Dublin could be compared to a boss who divides his company into four separate sections each with a separate management but all at the same location. The workers are located in separate parts of the building but are fundamentally connected and have the same pay and conditions. It is known to all the workers that the boss and the management are intent on imposing a drastic pay cut for all the workers. It transpires that they decide to take on the most militant section of the workforce first, who in turn engage the management in a huge battle. Should the other workers just verbally or in some other tokenistic way support the workers who are on strike but continue to work themselves or should they take serious action and possibly strike themselves in solidarity and in defence of their own conditions? Of course the mood of the other workers would have to be taken into account but it is clear what course of action the leaders of the workers should fight for.

Giving any credence to the idea that working class people should only act when they themselves are immediately and directly affected by an attack goes against the basic lessons of working class struggle. But by their arguments and actions at that crucial time in the campaign, the SWP and Dermot Connolly caused confusion and tail ended the struggle. Why they adopted such a position is dealt with later. Their position brought a geographical, parochial element into a class struggle. You blockade when non-collection is imposed in your area. Is that anywhere in your council area, is it your broader community area, your estate or on your own road? When exactly do you take militant action?

At the same time in the height of battle in Fingal bin trucks were being stopped everywhere. What Dermot Connolly and the SWP argued when the battle was on was actually a step back from the solidarity blockades that some activists in the city had already been implementing in support of Fingal at the time. The campaign and the disruption needed to be pushed forward not back.

http://www.socialistparty.net/pub/pages/bintaxdoc05/5.htm

author by green teapublication date Wed Aug 10, 2005 02:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

of this issue.

The left of greens greens were strongly represented in the campaigns but the green party just handed over control of rubbish and recycling ultimately to private business without protest despite the smell in ringsend.

Way to go protecting the environment greens!

author by Johnpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 00:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dermot ,before you try to appear as if you are engaging in this debate and then go on to treat contributions in such a dismissive manner ,with what you perceive as your view being expressed in a coherent political analysis from a left perspective (shudder at the thought).Perhaps you should try and be a little more introspective about your own party's affairs

I would suggest your constant struggle in your mind to justify why you support and continue to support the bin tax was not a politically principled positon. Perhaps it was (ie: it meant that the middle class in Donnybrook would vote for you as you did not call for radical action against an unjust tax against the working class).

Rather than you feeling some sort of smug satisfaction in percieving those on the radical left as having self serving motives in drawing different political analysis of the bin tax, which you so smugly feel justifies your betrayal of working people in Dublin.I would suggest rather than you rush home to enjoy the DVD version you have of the "Life Of Brian", ironically a comedy full of irony, that maybe, just maybe you should reflect for a moment.

Perhaps your engagement in this debate would be better served if you could give your opinion on the irony of the debacle that surronds the affair in Sligo of which Declan Bree is the centre of.

Perhaps your too engrossed in your toffee popcorn and coca cola(remember take away the c in chips and what do you get? hips, irony Dermot).How about maybe you hire out a Jane Fonda workout video, considering you aint been seen on too many demos, I'm sure you feel the need for the exercise Dermot.Given your love of Monthy Python and satirical and ironic humour Dermot I am sure you will smile at the ironic tone in which these comments are posted.

Still, can't wait to hear what you got to say about the Sligo affair Dermot. Will you be to busy looking at another DVD to engage further in this discussion?

author by Robbie S*n*o*t - pers. cappublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On the Defensive Nature of the Irish Left:

I didn’t state openly my allegiance to the SWP because I am not a member. In fact, what I wrote about them was neither praise nor criticism; just observation. Indeed, like Marx himself, i am not even a Marxist. It wasn’t so long ago that SP had members who were not Marxist, and it’s a pity, but not a surprise to hear that the party now describes itself in these terms.

Apart from your reverence for Messiah Marx, your playing the player, not the ball is precisely the only problem I have with what I read of the document, and it’s certainly evident in SP contributions to the thread (including yours). You even found cause for disparagement in my name  - you took the bate - point proven.

Is it any wonder there are so many anonymous posters with so many achasáns about? I didn’t use the word “’nasty’” earlier; rather, I thing such carping is sad, sordid, even tawdry.

One lesson you might learn, is that labeling people and engaging in attacks on personalities is divisive, and not conducive to solidarity. The lesson you seem to want us to learn, is that the SP was right all along, and everyone else had a flawed understanding of the true nature of class consciousness – and by implication, that everyone else should come under the all-embracing wing of the SP if we’re serious about anything.

All Marxist parties have the arrogance to think that each has a monopoly on the truth – perhaps updated since 1883 with the help of some prophets and whatever Hegelian zeitgeist is amongst them in the close cabals where the real party decisions are made. (Such is the nature of hierarchies, even professedly democratic ones).

Let me do some sooth-seying of my own. The conceit that the ‘working class’ need you alone (as “vanguard”) to lead it, is a condescension destined to remain a myth. You will, hopefully, continue to play a part; albeit in furthering social consciousness and occasionally, forcing reforms.

You didn’t answer my question on the defensive nature of the Irish Left in my previous comment.

On ‘electionism’
I take your point to some degree re the priority of the struggle. In my brief knowledge of Joan Collins, she showed a willingness to have principles in the context of understanding the real issues and perspectives of her community. Maybe this didn’t sit well in the SP’s greater picture of things, but such listening is a quality the it would do well to retain in its arsenal, and JC would’ve been a good asset in this respect.

Joe Higgins stood for Dublin West in the 1996 by-election, in no small part because of his activist standing in communities thereof – especially Mulhuddart. Joan Collins’ wanting to stand in Crumlin for strategically good reasons in 2004 was no more electionist or opportunist.

You haven’t demonstrated how Joan’s election in Crumlin in 2004 could have been a set-back for ‘the struggle’, apart from some slurs about not being militant enough – something not apparent in Dermot Connoly’s document.

In sum:
To say that the Fingal battle was lost because of lack of commitment from the SWP, JC and DC is to overestimate even their powers, and merely an indulgence in a blame game – something best reserved for the real foe.

Communication also involves listening, and you’ve demonstrated a reluctance to do this – perhaps seeing it as an admission of weakness.

On the up-side, this is probably as close as we get to a transparent internal review or soul-searching within the SP. I suggest you look at more positive or constructive ways of engagement in future. The blame game is rancorous.

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John,

Let me be straight and clear with you since you do not seem to understand. I do not agree with your analysis. I do not share the agenda of the SWP, SP, ISN, CWM etc etc. I am a Social Democrat. I am opposed to the policies of the far left as much as I am opposed to the policies of the far right.

I favour a strong Local Government system which I believe is in the best interests of working class people - of which I am one. That of necessity will mean independent finance raising powers and responsibilities.

I suspect I was on demonstrations and protests long before you were John and perhaps more effectively. I still go on those that I support but am not part of the "rent a crowd" who probably do as much harm to the causes they claim to be supporting.

For a variety of reasons I am not in a position to respond about the issue in Sligo. I hope you will simply accept that for very real reasons I will not be entering into any dialogue on the matter. I will ask you to note that on any occasion that issues relating to Travellers, Refugee Hostels, etc etc, I have stood by those people - again my record will show that.

author by Veteran Protestorpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I first heard the term "rent a crowd" used in the sixties by sections of the british press and members of the conservative party. It was used at that time as a slur against people who were protesting against the Vietnam War. So Dermot, if you feel comfortable using that term it tells us a lot about you.

author by SP Member - SP/CWIpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1) The SP is a Marxist party, and always has been. In the past there have been members who may not have been Marxist and there may even be now. Very few activists become actively involved in politics as conscious Marxists. The SP has always outlined its Marxist nature.

2) The SP do not claim to be infallible, never has, never could. Marxism precludes any notion of always being right. The SP makes mistakes and attempts to correct them at the earliest possible opportunity. See some of the posts above.

3) Th SP have never claimed that the election of Joan Collins was a 'set-back' for the struggle against the bin tax. The SP supported Joan Collins and SP members living in her ward voted for her. Joan Collins should have been elected as an SP candidate. Unfortunately she felt unable to abide by the rules of the party in relation to the election, rules she had accepted for many years as a union branch officer in the CWU. The SP does not distinguish between council seats, trade union positions or any other elected position. The problem with electoralism is based on the fact that elements within the city campaign were placing the emphasis on the local election and the political possibilities that might result from the election rather than attempting to build the campaign within communities. The elections were an important aspect of the campaign but very much secondary to the mass involvement of the communities in opposition to the bin tax.

4) There were many reasons for the defeat of the campaign in Fingal, but a significant factor was the failure of the city campaign to actively engage with the Fingal campaign in spreading the blockades across the city. Unfortunately given the weaknesses in the city campaign in terms of not having built community groups across the city it would have been very difficult for them to actually implement this strategy. As a result the perspective of some of the leadership of the city campaign shifted. Unfortunately DC, JC and the SWP played a 'conservative' role in this process.

5) The campaign in the city is still in the process of bing fought. It will be difficult to win, primarily because of the fact that the campaign still has not been spread across the city and the 'conservative' leadership will still not answer the criticisms outlined by the SP.

It has surprised me how little concrete discussion there has been on this document here. As I outlined earlier, this document is a discussion document, written by the SP to try and learn from the positive and negative aspects of the campaign and the lessons to be learned. That is why it is entitled 'The Role of Socialists in the Working Class Movement'.

author by Been at it for 28 years off to another protestthis afternoonpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You can accuse people who turn up to demonstrations of having lots of different motivations -try consistency for one- but to imply that they are being paid is weird. A bit like George Bush accusing suicide bombers of being "cowardly".

In a democracy public expression of political opinion would be an ordinnary daily event. It's only in a place and time like this one, when people have been asked to abandon citizenship for consumerism, that people attending demonstrations with any frequency are seen as having any weird motives. To accuse them of having profit motive tells us more about the accuser (as with chicken-hawk Bush & cowardice accusation and his track record during the Vietnam War ).

Don't know this guy making the "rent a crowd" accusation but it could tell us something about him as well!

author by Bemusedpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It has surprised me how little concrete discussion there has been on this document here. As I outlined earlier, this document is a discussion document, written by the SP to try and learn from the positive and negative aspects of the campaign and the lessons to be learned. That is why it is entitled 'The Role of Socialists in the Working Class Movement'."

A 30,000 word - roughly 57 pages of A4 that you deem as a discussion document, give us a break. More like a tautological rant from Chairman Kev. Makes Socialist Democracy seem sane and concise. Some of us have more important things to be doing like fighting the Bin Charges Campaign.

author by Colm Breathnach - ISN-personal capacitypublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 13:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think it is a good thing for all of us to look at our past tactics to see what we got right and where we went wrong but this thread seems to have degenerated into a sectarian dog-fight. As for the SP booklet, I've just had a chance to skim it, so I can't comment in detail, but I am a bit wary of such a concentration of the perceived political flaws of two individuals, DC and JC, who have recently resigned after long careers in that party. It is understandable that socialists outside the party would believe that the parting of ways might have distorted the objective nature of the analysis. Surely everyone recognises that, like any campaign, many tactical blunders were made by all concerned, including the SP (and the ISN!). The important point is not to use these as an chance to point score but to learn from them and get on with fighting the bin tax. Much of this debate has been premised on the unstated assumption that the campaign is dead, when in fact the mood to fight is strong in working class areas of the city. Last night the Finglas Campaign held a well attended public meeting which boosted our efforts following the councils attempts to force people to register their bins, and I know the campaigns in Cabra, Ballyfermot, Crumlin, East Wall etc are currently fighting fit! Im all for debate and discussion but I hope the more vociferous contributors are putting as much energy into organising the campaign in their own areas as they are at sniping at each other.

As for Dermot's comments, I have challenged him before on two of his presumptions about the 'far-left' : that we are all piggy-backing leninists taking advantage of credulous working class people and that he, unlike the rest of us, has a monopoly on 'real politics' which apparently is confined to political activity related to elections or carried out by public reps. Wrong on both counts in my opinion but I suppose that argument is another days work!

author by John O'Neill - ISN Personal Capacitypublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 14:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I cannot understand why so many rise to Laceys contributions on this topic. He opposes the campaign. Why he feels it necessary to comment on a discussion on the tactics of the campaign is beyond me. As for his belief that he is a 'Social Democrat', I think he must feel extremely lonely in Rabbitte's Labour Party that is now using the English 'New Labour' template that has abandoned traditional social democratic 'values' and embraced neo-liberalism.

author by Mark Ppublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 19:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More than 60 contributions in and nobody other than Socialist Party or ISN members have openly identified where they are coming from (not counting Mr Lacey, who's presence is best ignored). Does anyone really believe that the various anonymous contributors are all "independent activists" who just happen to hold very strong and snidely expressed opinions of all of this? Or that not one SWP member has commented on this thread?

Robbie's contribution strikes me as very confused. Its two main points each attribute positions to the Socialist Party which it doesn't hold. Firstly nobody that I'm aware of has described Joan Collin's election as a setback from the struggle, far from it. Secondly the document is very clear that primary blame for the defeat of non-payment in Fingal and SDCC lies with the trade union bureaucracy rather than with the mistakes of anyone in the campaign. Perhaps he should try engaging with the points we actually are making about electoralism and conservatism within the campaign rather than inventing arguments for us.

Colm's contribution is more interesting but I think fundamentally mistaken. The people within the campaign who receive the most criticism in this document are the SWP. However Joan is the most high profile person who was on the conservative wing of the camapigns because of her public position. More importantly, Dermot's lengthy polemic against the Socialist Party represents the most detailed laying out of the approach of that wing of the campaign. It would be very strange if the Socialist Party was to produce a document dealing with political divisions in the campaign, partially framed as a response to Dermot's piece, which did not deal in some detail with their role and arguments. At the critical stages discussed they were key figures in the City area campaign.

I quite agree with Colm that mistakes should be something we learn from - and this document, far from being just a list of the mistakes made by the conservative wing of the campaign, is exactly an attempt to learn and draw correct conclusions from experience. Where do we go from here? How do we fight the rest of this struggle? On what basis should the left approach elections? How do we build the next community campaign? When are militant tactics most useful? These are vital issues and the experience of the bin tax campaign so far provides a very useful starting point in discussing them. Perhaps when Colm has had a chance to read the document he will comment on where his own answers agree and disagree with those of the Socialist Party.

By the way, in a much abbreviated form Colm made some of the same points about conservative elements in the campaign in his own article (linked to above).

author by *publication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 19:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

green tea / not labour = non-party aligned imcer

but non aligned don't count - right?

author by MPpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 19:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Of course people who aren't in a political organisation count. The majority of people in the anti-bin tax campaigns are not involved in any group. The point I was making is that it is far too common for people here who are vociferously arguing from the point of view of particular groups on the left to try to present themselves as "independent activists" who just happen to have certain views. It's dishonest and it doesn't help clarify discussion at all.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 19:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You're playing the player not the ball. The ball that green tea is playing with should be what you're kicking -- not green tea.

author by an imcerpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 20:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"is that it is far too common for people here who are vociferously arguing from the point of view of particular groups on the left to try to present themselves as "independent activists" who just happen to have certain views"

Well that sounds like an argument for the suppression of the views of those who for reasons of principle do not involve themselves or primarily describe themselves as members of a political party or group.

Who exactly provided a communicatons infrastructure for activists of all hues during bin tax battle?

Was it the fairys?

I'll give you a hint. Most were the 'independent activists' who you are happy to sideline thus creating a virtual and ideological version of collateral damage.

It's more commonly known as shooting yourself in the foot/biting the hand that feeds/cutting off nose to spite face etc.

author by MPpublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 20:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The last two posts have nothing at all to do with what I said. I didn't attack green tea in any way that I can see, R Isible. In fact I didn't even mention him/her. Nor did I call for the suppression of anyone's views or dismiss those of independent activists, imcer.

The point I am making is that Indymedia threads, and in particular threads dealing with various left groups, are overrun by people who are in various left groups but who pretend otherwise. I would have thought that was so glaringly obvious as to be beyond dispute. Isn't it?

author by R. Isiblepublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 20:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MP. "GreenTea" posted as a non-aligned person. That is, as an "independent". You argue clearly that all "independents" are in fact trolls acting on behalf of various left-groups of which they are members. This is probably not true.

While there probably are people doing some of that, it's worth bearing in mind that a post from a known-activist with their own name on it carries much more weight in the mind of a reader than an "anonymous" post.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of non-aligned/"independent" people out there.

author by green teapublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 20:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The point I am making is that Indymedia threads, and in particular threads dealing with various left groups, are overrun by people who are in various left groups but who pretend otherwise. I would have thought that was so glaringly obvious as to be beyond dispute. Isn't it?"

It used very much to be the case but thankfully prety much all lefty activists who post here have wised up but I am of the firm belief that the vast majority of pseudonyms on this thread are not in various left groups and pretending otherwise. This thread is by no stretch of the imagination overrun.

What is the sp feeling about greens? Were any approaches to them or debates with them conducted publically or otherwise?

You blame the unions. I think the greens are as deserving of criticism if not more - so for the reasons outlined in my comment above.

I would also make the constructive criticism that the campaigners with a lot of honourable exceptions lacked a focus on outward looking communication strategies.

leaflets work for a local campaign but I don't think as a primary strategy they work on a national level. This was a national fight. It was on rte etc every day so that makes it national to my way of thinking.

Did the campaign or sp have a communication strategy to control the spin on a national level?

I don't think so. But if it did i'd love to hear about it.

author by Mark P (MP)publication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 20:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"You argue clearly that all "independents" are in fact trolls acting on behalf of various left-groups of which they are members."

What?

Just to make this clear I do not argue the above and I have never argued the above. It would be a pretty daft sentiment. There are obviously plenty of genuinely unaffiliate people who use indymedia, just as the majority of people in the anti-bin tax campaigns were not members of any group. What I do argue is that on threads like this there are always a substantial number of posts from members of political groups trying to give the impression that they are "independents". You don't seriously disagree with that do you? I don't think there is anything the IMC can do to prevent it without causing worse problems, but I do think it's a dishonest way of arguing, showing little political confidence and I think it's perfectly reasonable to comment on it.

Greentea -

I would agree with you that the Greens played a vile role on the issue. They were amongst the strongest advocates of double taxation and they helped the government and councils give this attack on working people an "environmental" cover. One of their TDs even went on the radio claiming that privatisation would be the fault of non-payers and people like Clare Daly - something which flies in the face of all the evidence from around the country of privatiation following the succesful introduction of a bin tax.

That said, I wouldn't overemphasise the importance of their role. The Greens just don't matter all that much. They were ineffectual proponents of the bin tax and I suspect that they would have been ineffectual opponents of it too. The force that really could have made the difference was the trade union movement. Unfortunately the bureaucracy which controls the unions does its best to stifle all working class struggle and the bin tax was little different in that regard.

author by Mark Ppublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 21:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Greentea raises an interesting point about communication strategy, although I don't necessarily agree with his/her assumptions.

The campaigns tried to use the media as much as they could, writing articles, putting out press releases, trying to get spokespersons onto radio and television programmes. There are limits to that however - the mainstream media is generally hostile to working class struggles and was never going to give us a fair crack of the whip. Some outlets were more sympathetic than others, and some just had more need to fill space which also helped but the underlying point remains. Web outlets were also used, from offical campaign sites, to this site, to sites produced by supporting organisations (the Socialist Party for instance has an absolutely vast archive of bin tax news and articles on its site). But while useful, the internet can't substitute for other forms of communication.

Leafleting networks, postering and local meetings were incredibly important. A leaflet may in some ways be a local thing, but the Fingal campaign for instance had the capacity to get a leaflet or newsletter into pretty much every door in the Council area very quickly. Local meetings, whether they were mass meetings around captured bin trucks or regular meetings in a local pub gave the campaign the ability to talk to its key supporters, the people who would in turn talk to the rest of their neighbours, take part in blockades or leaflet their street.

All communication methods are limited by circumstances but I would be interested in hearing opinions, from green tea and others, about what you think could have been done better in this regard.

author by green teapublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 21:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'll have a good think and get back to you on that.

I think you are way too dsmissive of the greens.

their leadership may be so paranoid about appearing reasonable (neo-liberal soothsayers) that they hardly open their mouths about anything anymore.

Their supporters are a far more complicated and generally progressive lot (and there are a lot of them). They were the victims of a disinformation campaign by their own leadership.

I find it telling in a more general way on left communications strategies that nowadays three groups on the left take a hands way off stay well away approach to this site. Greens, swp, labour.

Now y'd think that they would all be in favour of an independent and democratically controlled media from their bumf wouldn't you?

Sorry . . rambling . .tea boiling . . . will be back later or tomorrow

author by green teapublication date Thu Aug 11, 2005 22:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They are locked out by a hostile media and even by a hostile inside beltway democratic leadership. They are practicing fightback techniques focusing on communication. I think it's interesting and relevant to here and this discussion how they are doing so:

http://www.ndnpac.org/npi/blogreporthtml.html

I found it here - a very interesting left liberal site worth observing and considering in terms of political communication in a hostile environment: http://www.dailykos.com/

and no I'm not a democrat or even a deanocrat abroad ;-)

author by A SIPTU Activistpublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 03:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets cut out the attacks on eachother, as much as they might be warrented.

My beef is with my union leadership (or lack of leadership).

SIPTU have as a policy a total and outright rejection of the bin tax.

What have they done in support of the campaign, provided the campaign with facilities such as the free rental of Libery Hall for public meetings? .Given space in their various publications for the campaign to outline their views?. Provided financial assitance to the campaign to print leaflets?.

Like f*ck they have done any of the above.Lets call a spade a spade SIPTU have a policy of opposition to the bin tax but I ask again , what have they done to oppose the attack on their own members?

What are they doing? I will tell you what they are doing.

They are actively engaged in a process with managment in negoitating a package for its members in council depots for the introduction of the bin tax.

Whle I am at it come on SIPTU get deep down and dirty in this debate or will you simply adopt the whinging position that you always get attacked on this site.

Are these comments unfair?

I await SIPTU's response

author by green teapublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 03:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"They are actively engaged in a process with managment in negoitating a package for its members in council depots for the introduction of the bin tax."

Could you explain what you mean here a bit more? It's a little technical the way you put it.

author by Non-SIPTUpublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bin crews on wheeled bin routes are paid an allowance of €63 each per week on top of their basic pay, plus eating on site allowance plus travelling time. They received a lump sum of approx € 700 each , on account, in June for complying with pay by use system. Allowance was negotiated by unions who are seeking further increases for their members.

author by seedotpublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I read the piece and tbh the focus on two activists and large amount of rhetoric may have obscured much of the value of the 30,000 words.

Mark P says
"All communication methods are limited by circumstances but I would be interested in hearing opinions, from green tea and others, about what you think could have been done better in this regard."

I think this could be a more fruitful discussion.

e.g. Dismissing the greens is foolish. Not because they have some large machine that could have swung into action but rather the cover that "environmentalism" provided to those pushing the bin tax could have been exposed.

This sort of sums up a lot of the communication difficulties - slogans like 'No Double Taxation' which worked in the estates when building up the campaign were badly exposed when they had their run on the national media.

The blockades of depots - presented in the SP article as a calculated show of strength that lasted for two days was a media disaster - there were no demands, it was not stated that they were for two days - rather they seemed to be open ended and then collapse and on the ground they were riven by arguments and confusion. (e.g. I took a day off work to help on a picket - which was deferred at the last moment to the following day). This was the nuclear option and it's use was a disaster.

The campaign did cover most of the relevant points somewhere in that vast amount of material that Mark P talks about but the media performances were inconsistent and generally either a) focussed on the unfairness of the tax (from a campaign which wanted a tax based system rather than a pay by use system) or b) jumped into condemning privatisation with poorly articulated links. TBH this confusion reaches a peak in the SP document where JC is attacked for stating that she favours a tax based system - even if this means more taxes (which of course it would).

One thing that I have never seen is a description of a proposed bin tax system. Saying the large producers should pay is not a proposal - it's a principle.
How would the charge be levied on them?
Would there be any link between waste disposal and cost (accepting that recycling in general is a good thing, how is encouraging it included in a waste management system)?
What should happen to Repak?


Maybe the campaign needs to have a think about what exactly it is fighting for before going onto how this can be achieved. There are suspicions that even the SP, which I will admit was perhaps the most effective organised force in the campaign, was engaged in a struggle to build a revolutionary fighting class rather than coming up with an agreed way of collecting the bins.

author by Robbie S*n*o*tpublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 17:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seedot's comment just above is the best I've read yet, and I hope this doesn't impede it. But this concerns communications lessons from engagement in such forums as this, as well as being a right of reply.

Apart from mass-media tactics, some SP members might take a look at the way they use the democratic media. I’m tired of seeing this reactionary labeling and floundering about; this trying to guess people’s identity rather than addressing what they say.

This schematic shooting in the dark by some SP-members is sectarian trolling, not meaningful communication. It is a waste of everyone’s time unless you like being bilious for the hell of it.

I have not posted anonymously and my reputation (honesty, integrity, and even sanity) have been impugned by two SP-members, (outright claim and insinuation respectively).

I’ve refuted the outright claim that I disguise my political identity, but it seems the slur lives on in insinuation by Mark P. How can I prove a negative? To defend my character and to publicly dispel one of Mark’s fallacious assumptions, I’ll have a go.

I am an activist on community radio and am a particle of DGRN, I am NOT a member of any other group. I try to get SP spokespeople to air their views and give analysis on many issues, and the quality of such contributions are far better than what most audiences are served up generally speaking.

An apology to me for the unjust slander (Bob Avak questioning my honesty) and a retraction or clarification of Mark P’s insinuation, would be evidence that SP can admit mistakes and move on. Other abuses are probably best left ignored in deference to seedot. Sufficeth to say here that “very confused” is very patronising, and a mirror might be employed.

There is a fine, but noticeable line between robust debate, and reactionary bullying of perceived opponents into quietude and/or submission. In real world forums people can be more easily labeled and shouted down; more easily made answerable for who ‘they are’ than what they say; more easily silenced.

Virtual forums on the other hand, are a revolutionary political development, in part because, they provide an environment where the substance of an argument can be read without baggage. Dissent is more difficult to control or purge when individuals can’t be ridiculed or marginalised. The voice of the voiceless is becoming more equal at the expense of would-be gate-keepers.

Perhaps, some Socialist Party members might learn the difference between engagement and defence; between dialogue and attack.

ps: Among other things, this thread, especially with seedot's insight, is an advertisement for anonymity - so, let the righteous trolls dispense with that particular red herring.

author by Mark Ppublication date Fri Aug 12, 2005 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Robbie, I can't talk for Bob, but my point about people who are members of political organisations pretending otherwise on this kind of thread was a general one and not targeted at you. If you found it personally offensive, I apologise for that. I do not apologise however for referring to the content of your last post as confused. Its main thrust was to attribute views to the Socialist Party which we simply do not hold - the most recent examples being about the election of Joan Collins and where the primary blame lies for the defeat of non-payment in Fingal and SDCC. I didn't just describe these points as confused, I went on to explain exactly what was confused about them. You can agree or disagree with me as you choose.

On the points raised by Seedot and to a certain extent echoed by Robbie:

The first point I would note is a general one - I think that both of you are focusing too much on the media. That's understandable given where you are both coming from, but I think it is a misleading angle. It's all very well to talk about how the campaign should have been hammering away on point x, y or z. But in most cases the mainstream media platform the campaigns got was limited in time and was "hostile" in tone. When you are only given the opportunity to bang out a soundbite you have to concentrate on your strongest card - and in Ireland over the last couple of decades that has been the slanting of the tax system against working people. It's that issue which came up again and again from the floor at public meetings. It's that issue which mobilised the tax marches. It's that issue which mobilised non-payment in both the water tax and bin tax struggles.

That said, it wasn't the only issue the campaign raised by any means. Even in the mainstream media, spokespersons quite often got to raise the issue of privatisation - an issue which doesn't have the same public resonance at the moment but which was absolutely key in terms of trying to mobilise support amongst the bin workers and amongst trade unionists generally. The issue of sham-environmental excuses for the tax was also raised regularly, particularly by Joe Higgins and in press releases. The campaigns produced vast quantities of leaflets and newsletters which could make all of those arguments at length and were distributed on an enormous scale. It's certainly fair to say that the full detail and coherence of our arguments wasn't always portrayed in the mainstream media, but really who's fault is that? I would have expected activists with such a strong critique of the way the corporate media works to be rather less prone to blaming other activists for the media misrepresenting their arguments. Given the extremely difficult circumstances I think that the campaign did an excellent job of getting its message out.

When seedot talks about the depot blockades, I think he misses an important point. He is right to say that this was at the time the biggest stick the campaign had available to it - but in the circumstances the campaigns had no choice but to use it. We should be clear about this. This was five or six weeks into the all out struggle in Fingal. The campaign there was coming to the last stages of being able to mount any effective resistance to non-collection. The union bureaucracy was effectively smothering assistance from the bin workers. There had been solidarity action in the other council areas, but not on the scale necessary to really spread the fight. The choice facing the campaign was simple - escalate across the city or just watch non-payment in Fingal die as activists and residents were exhausted. There was no serious third option.

From the point of view of all of the campaigns, standing back while Fingal was bled to death would have been a disaster. Quite apart from undermining a basic principle of solidarity in struggle, it was very clear that if Fingal fought, was isolated and lost that it wouldn't be possible to mobilise the same scale of resistance anywhere else for the forseeable future. The truth of that contention was soon seen in South Dublin, and frankly if the City and DL/R Councils had been smart enough to move when South Dublin Council did then there wouldn't be a campaign left at all. The escalation of direct action may have had chaotic elements to it but it was necessary.

On the issue of alternative ways of raising funds, seedot raises an interesting point. The campaign sought to hammer home the need to tax the real polluters - ie big business. That I think was the most important aspect of this issue, but I agree that it could have been a good idea to work out what kind of rise in corporation tax or business rates we were talking about. Having a firm figure to throw around wouldn't have been massively important but it might have been a handy propaganda point.

Finally, this is a document which was written to encourage discussion about the bin tax campaign and about the lessons to be drawn from it, particularly concerning how socialists should work in a movement. It doesn't mince its words when it comes to criticising the real mistakes which were made within the campaign - an over concentration on elections, an underestimation of the ability of working class people to understand the need to fight, a tactical conservatism. That might offend some people and it will certainly lead to a certain amount of moaning about how we should all concentrate on the real enemy. But these are important issues. The Irish left is slowly entering a period of opportunity after a long period of defensiveness. There will be many more struggles, including ones which will dwarf what have been the key fights of recent years. It is vital that all of us think about the basis we want to see those struggles carried out on and the role which socialists and other activists should be playing.

author by seedotpublication date Sat Aug 13, 2005 02:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

" this was at the time the biggest stick the campaign had available to it - but in the circumstances the campaigns had no choice but to use it."

This immediately begs the question - what do you mean 'at the time'? The answer probably shouldn't go on a public forum.

The view from Fingal and the view from the city was very different. At the times the battles were raging in Fingal we had friendly solidarity blockades in the city - a first chance for the campaign to go out on the streets and show some strength. Relations with the bin workers were relaxed, collection was in place and support was high and fairly generalised. When the depots were blockaded the mood changed instantly as the campaign was put on the back foot without a clear explanation getting through of what was happening, why or for how long.

The city is very different to the other council areas, especially to Fingal which is probably the most homogenous. Large numbers of rental, retail and different waste schemes meant that the campaign did have spottier coverage. But activity in the city area also has a different impact than in other areas of the country. Bags in our streets will be passed by all the national media makers who will make it an issue. The campaign from Fingal, I believe, misunderstood the impact of using that nuclear button.

When people who were vaguely supportive of the campaign suddenly didn't get their bin collected and the radio and the newspapers and the television told them it was because of the campaign - the council was ready to collect bins, this had an impact. I don't believe any amount of organisation could have covered every household with a leaflet and an invitation to a meeting. In SWIC where I live we had meetings and all the rest and withstood the pressure. But people I worked with, people I knew socially didn't get this and, I believe, because of poor understanding of the formation of mass culture in our atomic city centre on behalf of 'elements in the campaign' they didn't get the information otherwise.

But the media is not the most important tactic, any more than elections. IMO this, if focussed on the bin tax rather than the 'struggle', needed a plan to win - what were the core elements of a victory and how to achieve them. There were too many silver bullets proposed (the unions, blockades on the streets) and not enough coalition building and negotiation.

The money that goes to the waste service - what fund does it come out of?

How is money collected / administered?

How do we plan for increased population numbers right along the waste chain?

Is there a difference between urban and rural waste?

What did we learn from the plastic bag tax?

How do you overturn the 2003 act that removed the responsibility from councils and the right to a bin collection as a public good, the 2001 act introducing charges, the various council estimates that include charges?

I got the impression that the SP did the spadework but were very late in doing the policy work. Again I will mention the greens - alienating them early was a major hindrance to claiming the high ground on policy.

Perhaps we could talk about the bin service for a bit before we get too caught up in you did she said they didn't. Although I assume we'll see a few more bouts of that before we deal with the inherent contradictions that exist in some of the campaigns policies and principles. (not all and not so much that it is insurmountable).

Next time, lets figure out were to apply the pressure properly.

Cos I never figured out who was going to make what change to win last time.

bye for a while.

author by Jimbopublication date Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think Seedot is coming at this from a very different perspective to revolutionary socialists.

We don't believe it is up to us to work out a better system for the capitalists to implement a bin tax. We are not in favour of making sacrafices elsewhere in PAYE etc. in order to make up for the bin charges, and to get involved in indepth discussion on this or that option would have derailed the debate over the bin tax.
The key points that needed to be stated were:
* Opposition to bin tax as a double tax on working class people.
* Exposing the fact that this tax is an attempt to make the service profitable, paving the way for privatisation.
* Making points about big business' role in the creation of massive amounts of waste and therefore the unfairness of a system that didn't target them.

But our answer isn't really some convoluted complicated alternative tax. It is:
Nationalise the big companies under democratic workers' control.
Plan the economy to meet people's needs not for profit, including massively cutting down on packaging etc. and encouraging people and giving them the opportunities to recycle.
The cost of recycling etc. could then be paid for out of the resources gained from a planned nationalised economy.

Call me ultra left!:) But I just don't think it is our job to come up with alternative ways of making working class people pay for services. That's why it was a mistake of Joan C to say what she did on the radio.

author by Litter Lillypublication date Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Next time you go to a supermarket. Pull up a second empty trolly when you are about to load up the car. Remove any or all packaging that you dont want and leave it in the empty trolly. Park it neatly out side the shop - they dump this problem on us so lets give it back to them.

author by realitypublication date Mon Aug 15, 2005 21:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets face it, Collins and Connolly have actually abandoned socialism altogether. Nowhere on her election literature did she mention being a socialist, remember she publicised herself a an independent not as an independent socialist. Nowhere in her leaflets and newsletters does she mention socialism or even anything in that direction, it is all bin tax and playgrounds - what about the wider issues?

This is not a tactical thing. She along with Dermot have abaondoned socialism altogether and are more akin to the old Labour party reformism, that is not socialism

author by Mark Ppublication date Mon Aug 15, 2005 23:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That may be your view "reality" but that isn't the view of the Socialist Party or my own. The original document refers to all of the people it criticises within the campaign, both the SWP and Dermot and Joan as "socialists and members of the revolutionary left". It's fair enough to comment on the absence of the "s" word from Joan's election literature but its a bit of a leap from that to baldly stating that someone has entirely abandoned socialism. It's one thing to criticise what you see as political mistakes and to try and draw lessons from that. It's quite another to just shout "reformist", something which without a detailed argument around it would serve more to cut off debate than encourage it.

author by Truth makerpublication date Mon Aug 15, 2005 23:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The last post is just such a big fat lie, so blatantly untrue that most members of the SP who criticise Joan would not dare to repeat it. Joan produced an election manifesto jointly with another independent Pat Dunne in Greenhills and John O Neil, the ISN candidate in Finglas, which clearly indentified the candidates as socialists. In fact it contained a host of immediate demands such as the abolition of the BIn Tax, combined with general socialist demands such as the call for a new workers party. This manifesto also called amongst other things for a vote for that well known reformist Joe Higgins in the European elections.

Its one thing accussing Joan/Dermot of making mistakes but to claim they are not socialists is rubbish. 'Reality' is a dishonest troll and if he is a member of the SP his comrades should have the decency to distance themselves from his attack .

author by green teapublication date Tue Aug 16, 2005 00:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

* "Perhaps we could talk about the bin service for a bit before we get too caught up in you did she said they didn't. Although I assume we'll see a few more bouts of that before we deal with the inherent contradictions that exist in some of the campaigns policies and principles. (not all and not so much that it is insurmountable).

Next time, lets figure out were to apply the pressure properly.

Cos I never figured out who was going to make what change to win last time.

bye for a while.

add your comments

Administering the tax
by Jimbo Monday, Aug 15 2005, 10:06am


I think Seedot is coming at this from a very different perspective to revolutionary socialists."*


I just don't see the logic of campaign demands that are utopian in any kind of short term.

People will fight for things that are practical things that are important and achievable.

Making sure rubbish is dealt with and a healthy and egalitarian way that encourages recycling and puts the producers of said rubbish in an informed position where they think rightly that the collection of rubbish should be a key function of a healthy state and should remain a state function (which as voters they would have some level of control of) is important and achievable.

'Nationalise the big companies under democratic workers' control. . .. . .The cost of recycling etc. could then be paid for out of the resources gained from a planned nationalised economy' is important granted but unachievable in any kind of short term.

It seems to me that broad campaigns can't and shouldn't be based on utopian demands taken more or less wrote from the politics of one of the groups involved. Realism and an attempt to achieve gains for a more democratic and informed participation is healthier for communities in the short term and long term.

I hate the smell of burning rubbish. I smell it all the time last year or so in kildare.

People need to be educated about waste and shown clearly that if the state gives up to the market their responsibility on waste it'll get worse (especially during anything resembling a market recession) and people will have to go to court against civil to vindicate any of their rights r.e. dumps legal or illegal, damage to water, lack of policing, smell, etc if waste companies and shadowy subeconomies whose simple stated purpose is profit really take over.

This backed up with rational agreed achievable short term demands broadcast clearly should be the simple argument on the bin tax advanced as a campaign.

Be impossible, demand the reasonable!

That's what the Ringsend heads are at - no bad smell wanted and the state is ultimately responsible legally with general consent. If they called for sewage plant out now it would be obviously not a reasonable short term demand on which to base a generalised revolutionary set of demands. Everybody as far as I can see understands the issue and supports the people saying - the state is responsible and should be held responsible.

If private companies are allowed to get heavily involved then people could literally end up in the situation for trying in any way to vindicate their right to a clean local environment they could end up in the situation of the rossport 5 without ever so much as lifting a hand to anyone. Coherent demands come from a rational set of short term demands widely seen as achievable.

No Bin Tax - No burning rubbish.

:-|

author by seedotpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 02:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think Seedot is coming at this from a very different perspective to revolutionary socialists.

I'm not sure what this means - the article in question only has any meaning for revolutionary socialists? The discussion on the article / bin tax campaign should be held between revolutionary socialists only?

I am not in your party, nor am I in another that could be classed as revolutionary socialist or otherwise.

We don't believe it is up to us to work out a better system for the capitalists to implement a bin tax. We are not in favour of making sacrafices elsewhere in PAYE etc. in order to make up for the bin charges, and to get involved in indepth discussion on this or that option would have derailed the debate over the bin tax. The key points that needed to be stated were:
* Opposition to bin tax as a double tax on working class people.
* Exposing the fact that this tax is an attempt to make the service profitable, paving the way for privatisation.
* Making points about big business' role in the creation of massive amounts of waste and therefore the unfairness of a system that didn't target them.


This is gobbledegook. What is a tax? How will removing the bin service from governmental control and making it an optional service that those who can afford it will be able to buy from the market be a tax? On the final section - what is the system that would target business and pay for the collection of waste? After some prison reading Repak was introduced into the campaign but then faded as the campaign offered no solutions and seemed to embrace stalemate.

But our answer isn't really some convoluted complicated alternative tax. It is: Nationalise the big companies under democratic workers' control. Plan the economy to meet people's needs not for profit, including massively cutting down on packaging etc. and encouraging people and giving them the opportunities to recycle. The cost of recycling etc. could then be paid for out of the resources gained from a planned nationalised economy.

See this is my problem with the involvement of many people in the bin tax campaign.

I support a campaign opposing the waste management charges that were introduced, understand their importance in the assault of global capitalism on our public sphere and want to beat the bin tax.

Thats all.

When I gave bits of paper to my neghbours saying not to pay their waste charges it was to beat the waste charges - not advance some overarching, world changing scheme I subscribed to. I think it is dishonest to say here that the way to win the bin tax is to achieve a nationalised economy under workers control - while building a campaign of mass non-payment amongst people who may not subscribe to that philosophy. When you handed out leaflets, as I assume you did, you were making a commitment to the people you gave them to that you would do what you could to beat the bin tax. Those who handed out leaflets and then decided the campaign was lost and gave up, broke that contract. But those who handed out leaflets in order to build a movement rather than win a campaign are guilty of the type of dishonesty that gives you revolutionary socialists a bad name.

Call me ultra left!:) But I just don't think it is our job to come up with alternative ways of making working class people pay for services. That's why it was a mistake of Joan C to say what she did on the radio.

Nah, ultra left is some type of badge of honour that you choose to wear. I could think of other words but i wanted to use the occasion of the article from the SP to discuss the bin tax campaign not to score points.

If it is not your job to come up with alternative ways of delivering services, what is the point of your politics? Waste management is changing - this is a good thing or did you not read the notice where they pointed out all this green stuff. We cannot produce or dispose of waste in the volumes and manner we have been doing. There is a set of proposals on the table for the new way to organise waste management. Here's a description of how they come into being.And a stab at outlining the plan. You joined a campaign with people from a whole range of political viewpoints who opposed these changes at some level. Yet when there is an analysis of the campaign there is no attempt to put a new set of proposals on how waste management should be organised. no examination of where allies could be found, of the impact of legal and regulatory frameworks, of what tipping points could be utlised to win the battle.

You support the collection of bins I presume. you support the workers who do that getting paid. you believe that some central way of allocating resources to waste management is the solution.

Maybe some of the 30,000 words could have been about some of that. Rather than a load of rhetoric and (false) truisms wrapping up a pretty pointless article of sectarian point scoring and generalissimo ego stroking. And maybe the discussion here could have answered queries about the media campaign or the points of convergence within the campaign on what could be won and should be sought. You know, debate - rather than saying the media wasn't as important as me or Robbie thought it was or that you wouldn't be a party to administering capitlaism or other such reformist horrors.

There will be change. there was a time when you would have felt part of a progressive movement that could achieve change by debating how things should be. Not any more.

author by Non-payerpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great rebuttal to ostrich politics.

author by Mark Ppublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 13:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Point 1:

" But those who handed out leaflets in order to build a movement rather than win a campaign are guilty of the type of dishonesty that gives you revolutionary socialists a bad name."

That's a rather unpleasant bit of insinuation there seedot. There is no contradiction between trying to win a campaign and trying to build a stronger working class movement. Winning campaigns is exactly part of building a stronger movement. Nor does a commitment to building a movement make opposition to the bin charge somehow less sincere. The reasons I oppose the bin tax flow from exactly the same outlook as my reasons for being a socialist activist - a class analysis of society, opposition to capitalism and so on. The Socialist Party is committed to defeating the bin tax and has done everything we can to win. We also, like everyone else, have a wider agenda and we are completely open about that.

Point 2:

You complain that queries about the media campaign have been unanswered. I believe I already addressed this point above, explaining the options open to the campaigns in the circumstances and how campaigners tried to use our limited platform in the media. If there is some query you feel hasn't been responded to and which you think is important, please repeat it.

Point 3:

I think that you summed up much of our disagreement in one sentence, when you argued that "There were too many silver bullets proposed (the unions, blockades on the streets) and not enough coalition building and negotiation". The statement is however quite vague. Who exactly are you talking about building coalitions with? Who could we have negotiated with and over what precisely? The issue here is how exactly do we win?

As far as the Socialist Party was concerned the key way to beat the bin tax was to make it unworkable. This was to be achieved through mass non-payment, a strategy which we had succesful experience of in the campaigns against the water tax and the poll tax. If working class people simply refused to pay up, there is little the state can do about it except try to crush non-payment. The battle therefore as we saw it was centrally about defending non-payment. This was our focus. Without non-payment we have nothing to "negotiate" or "build coalitions" around. Privatisation and local taxation are important elements of the establishment's political agenda, they won't be talked out of it.

If you have some alternative, better way to beat the bin tax, feel free to outline it to us.

author by Chekovpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 13:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SEEDOT: "When you handed out leaflets, as I assume you did, you were making a commitment to the people you gave them to that you would do what you could to beat the bin tax. Those who handed out leaflets and then decided the campaign was lost and gave up, broke that contract"

I don't think this is accurate or fair. I handed out leaflets and knocked on doors for a good 2 years before the bin tax became big news. I did what I could to defeat the bin tax. To me, it was just a matter of honesty to tell people the truth when I thought that the campaign had been defeated. I never made any contract to labour endlessly on in pursuit of something that I thought there was no chance of winning. Even today, if I thought there was any strategy being proposed which had the slightest chance of defeating the tax, I'd happily do what I can again. But I'm not a martyr. I don't see the point in pouring my time and energy into something that I see as a lost cause.

Of course, others take a different approach and, while acknowledging privately that the campaign will not win, they see they residual anger at the bin tax as being something around which they can build a movement. That's all very well, but it isn't the contract that they made with people and it is much closer to the 'contract breaking' that you speak of. In fairness, there is also a current of thought that believes that lingering resistance to the bin tax will slow down the introduction of other local taxes (water). I'm more inclined to believe that this is likely to exhaust people and create an air of defeatism that would hamper a campaign that will be much easier to win than the bins was.

To sum up, I really don't think that it is a good idea to claim that people have a duty to remain fighting in campaigns that they believe have been defeated. It's substitutionist, martyristic and bad strategy.

Sorry to interrupt the trot fight. As you were.

author by joepublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 14:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It is intended to be read by anyone with an interest in the socialist movement or the struggle against the bin tax "

...in Dublin.

"One of the most significant struggles to affect working class people in Ireland in recent years took place in the autumn of 2003. This battle was between the anti-bin tax campaigns and the combined power of the four councils covering the whole of Dublin, the Fianna Fail/PD coalition government and the Irish state."

You guys will never become big outside of Dublin until you start portraying the campaign as national.

author by Peterpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 15:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The one thing the WSM (publically) and the SP (privately) seem to have in common is the view that the campaign is a lost cause but why so?
There are great pockets of resistance throughout Dublin City. It strikes me that people viewed the seeming lack of interest in meetings as proof that the campaign was over. The fact of the matter is that nearly two years after the resistance in SDCC and Fingal ended there is still widescale resistance in Dublin city. A case is going to the Supreme Court, non-collection has not been attempted, there has been an increase in attendance at local meetings across Dublin recently and most importanly non-payment is still high.
For some of us the campaign continues.

author by Chekovpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 16:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Firstly, I have no interest in helping the council to impose the bin tax and helping to demoralise people who still believe that it is winnable and I could very well be wrong in my estimation, so I am a bit reticent about fully explaining my thinking.

However, the thing is that for the WSM, the bin tax campaign was not about 'resistance' - it was about victory. Given the conservative politics predominant within the trade unions at the moment, the only real way that we could defeat the bin tax was through mass non-payment. This was the only really important way to estimate our strength rather than meetings, pickets or anything else.

In Autumn of 2003, non-payment was well over 50% across the city. Both the WSM and the SP, having vaguely realistic analyses of class society, the state and its workings, realised then that if we couldn't successfully face down the non-collection threat, the future of the campaign would be a slow collapse in rates of non-payment with resistance being slowly isolated into a small number of areas and even these wouldn't be able to hold out for ever as the council would be able to progressively apply pressure and whittle away at the figures through all sorts of intimidation. The council has forever after all. This has happened. (note, since the council has much more accurate figures on non-payment than I do, I'm not telling them anything they don't already know).

Up to the blockades of Autumn 2003 there was a clear and well understood strategy for victory within the campaign. This was entirely based around building non-payment. The thinking was that, as had happened with the water-tax, the state would not persist with a law that was being openly defied by a majority of the population for too long. Since the defeat of the blockades (much of which was self inflicted) I have been unable to find a single person in the campaign who can elucidate an even vaguely plausible strategy for victory. Resistance seems to be the heights of the ambition (note I am all for resistance, but the campaign was always aiming for victory). I commend the people who carry on the resistance, but I have plenty of things to resist and, having limited time and infinite demands upon that time, I prefer to concentrate on the ones where I think victory is realistic. But as I say, both myself and the WSM could be wrong and on this occasion I would _love_ to be proven wrong.

Finally, I should note that none of this implies any agreement with the SP tract that is the subject of this article. I was genuinely shocked that their major public pronouncement on the bin tax battle was that Dermot and Joan were wrong - in 30,000 words (the swp were just tacked on as a crowd-pleaser). At a time when their star was on the rise, with the great publicity that Joe Higgins and the Gama dispute had given them, this pamphlet is a stunningly inward looking, dogmatic and bitter testament to their lack of ambition and communication skills.

author by Confusedpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"However, the thing is that for the WSM, the bin tax campaign was not about 'resistance' - it was about victory"

Yes of course, that's why the WSM page on the bin tax say's the following:
'This page contains articles about the RESISTANCE (my emphasis) to the introduction of refuse charges in Ireland from the Workers Solidarity Movement. The articles chiefly concern Dublin and Cork.'

And there's:
RESISTANCE (my emphasis) Pays ... Cork Anti-Bins

Bin Tax - what has been going on
The campaign against the bin-tax in Dublin has seen an upsurge of community RESISTANCE (my emphasis) to the government

Council on the run over bin bill (WS61)
RESISTANCE (my emphasis) to the introduction of Bin charges in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

Related Link: http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html
author by chekovpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 17:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An anonymous contributor picks up on a phrase in my comment and uses it to imply something or other bad about me/WSM.

I correct my hastily written comment to say "the goal of the bin tax campaign was not "resistance" but victory.

Of course, winning things requires resisting the state and so on, but that is a means and not an end in itself which was the point that I was trying to make. Hopefully this was clear from the context to the non-sectarian trolls among the audience.

author by dermot connolly - dublin city anti bin tax campaignpublication date Mon Aug 29, 2005 19:04author email dermotjoan at utvinternet dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you to the Socialist Party for picking this time to launch a 30,000 word attack on the Dublin City Anti Bin Tax Campaign. This campaign of working people is facing a major assault from the City Council, probably in the next few weeks, in the form of non collection of bins, backed up by the use of the Gardai and the threat of jailing of those who offer resistance.
We already see the glee with which sworn enemies of the campaign, such as Dermot Lacy, have responded to the publication of this document. No doubt the City Council management have been made aware of it, and will read it far more carefully to try and detect campaign weaknesses than any of those who have contributed to the "discussion" on this site.
Attacks of this type on the campaign are to be expected from certain quarters, namely that the campaign does not have widespread support or real roots in working class communitties, and the issue is being used by unrepresentative elements for election purposes. That after all was the line of Ahern, Cullen, the council managements and various right wing hacks in the bosses media.
The SPs 30,000 word "analyses" can do nothing better than come up with the same shite. For anyone who is actually interested in being involved in this struggle (unlike the SP who have abandoned it ), contact the campaign through Cllr Joan Collins @ 086 3888 151.

author by Joepublication date Tue Aug 30, 2005 04:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Socialist Party in Dublin are generally viewed, among people who know them, as a 'Dubs 'r' us' party.

Whatever about the disgraceful FF/FG parties- they are still viewed as national parties- they have craoibheanna throughout the country.

Some SP members are like many FF/FG members- in the party for what they can get out of it.

They have no consideration for rural people, or people from outside their own estates for that matter.

Their 'Dubs 'r' us' mentality is a microcosm of other petite mentalities.

The dichotomy betwwn Joe Higgins and some of the party is immense.

Who is the one with the intellingence to keep a Dáil seat?

author by seedotpublication date Wed Aug 31, 2005 00:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MarkP

Point 1.

I didn't name anyone in my bit of insinuation Mark but will happily apologise to anyone who felt it was aimed at them.

I consider myself part of a movement (the one that made this thing we're talking through) and will admit that I thought of the bin tax in terms of how it would impact on Indymedia, how Indymedia should relate to the campaign and whether it was doing well. But I also tried to figure out the bin tax separate to the particular movement I was part of (this is my indy bin tax blog). People posted on the threads at that link from all types of viewpoints and political background and generally from a standpoint of supporting the broad campaign and understanding many of the larger issues at stake.

It annoyed me that the socialist party had so little analysis that interested me in that document but I took on the invitation to debate it in the spirit that I am sure it was meant. To then be told that all analysis must start from the revolutionary socialist, statist belief set of Jimbo or else be not worth having distracted me from the path of constructive, co-operative debate. I am sure that their have been other words written elsewhere and here who's authors have felt the same.

On that basis I'll apologise since I handed out loads of indymedia fliers at bin tax things.

Point 2

I think my media point was somewhat wider - there were not specific queries rather than a - well where did that go wrong type of question. Of course the campaign had limited media access and what there was generally had a high filtration content. But for two days you had as much clean media available as you wanted and completely lost.

Now we may differ on the importance of media but I could list campaigns which were won with nowhere the media coverage that was available. A campaign which had broad agreement on an alternative system and a coherent rationale for the action that was taking place could have presented a strong message and achieved at least some aims. Do you seriously mean to tell me that people who led a group of workers out on strike in the same manner the blockades were put on - no concrete demands to be gained, no negotiations, no idea who is going to make what statement that will mean a vicory - should not examine themselves somewhat critically. Jimbo may have wanted to stop the bin collections until the politburo took over the IFSC but I just wanted all the bins collected. Bills shmills, they'll have a hard time getting the money - but I wanted all the bins collected. Who was going to make that announcement and how likely was it before the bin collection was stopped in the city?


At the very least the campaign could have been saying this instead of repeating earlier slogans.

Point 3

But the campaign could have been saying much more.

Waste management is an environmental issue. Because the greens supported the polluter pays principle they supported a bin charge that has been found in court not to be polluter pays. Yeah, I know, but a platform that catered for polluter pays in some way could have won greens over - it should have been discussed and publicised. While the party may be shedding its nicer attributes, the green movement will still hold sway and as stated the environmentalism provided cover for a disastrously planned and delivered bin charge.

Local democracy is based on the bins. The councils are not just some type of sectarian headcount and source of photocopying resources - there are councillors who believe they should be in charge of waste and other local services. Motions will not do much - but passing them and talking about them outside the council chambers would be a form of mobilisation for those who believe this.

Waste management is national. Our waste gets brought out of Dublin, there are different requirements nationwide. By not having people in the country expressing solidarity the issue was portrayed in the media as a Dublin only issue feeding into an anti-Dublin bias.

The argument about public services was lost for a simple reason - they cost money. Don't mind that Eddie Hobbs shite Mark, this is a low tax economy and it is because we have a government that doesn't believe in public services. By attacking those who make an argument for increased taxes to pay for services that otherwise are being privatised you lose the ability to make the public services argument coherently and to seek allies on this basis. Jimbo may await the glorious day when we nationalise the banks and all wages are paid by the government but until then public services mean taxes.

If you want to continue then waste management is a planning and conservation issue, a public health issue, a trade union issue and of course a class issue. Again, allies to be found in all these places - but on their terms.

As far as I can see the SP had an understanding of how to build to apply maximum pressure and where the 'establishment' would focus it's attack. But they missed seeing how many groups could be broken off the establishment line and how this then could have been used to halt and gradually roll back the bin tax. This campaign will go on and on since a win in Dublin would not have the instant domino effect that some might believe.

To win

non-collection must be beaten. That means all bins are collected on each individual weekly route.

the bin tax must be changed in the estimates of each council.

the 2003 waste management act needs to be changed or scrapped.

arrears must be cancelled.

Each of these steps must happen for each council area - and then we have to remove the provisions relating to article 133 in the Nice treaty or the whole thing could be force privatised after we've wone everything else back. We could be working on these things.

In the middle of all that I fail to see how publishing an attack on people who have given most of the last few years of their lives to this issue can be of much help - but i do see loads of individual pressure points.

Every wednesday I put my bin out. I have never registered it. I have never paid any waste charge. My bin is collected by workers who are employed by the state to drive down my street and do this job. I understand that solidarity is needed to get this for the street next to mine and so on. A bit of strategy and coalition building and negotiation is also needed.

I have written code for a living. In software a silver bullet is the new technology or methodology or cola drink that will solve all the problems mysteriously but effectively. Jimbo has his picked out. Complaining that if only the trade unions had done this, if only the blockades or the march or the leafletting was bigger is just seeking a silver bullet. Maybe I'm feeling superior because I don't believe that free and open media will win the bin tax campaign. I do believe it is winnable. Guess what - it will be a struggle.


Chekov
Do you reckon I should pay my bin tax?

author by Chekovpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 01:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"do you reckon I should pay my bin tax".

I don't think that my opinion on what taxes you should pay has too much to do with it (it's a very short list). A better way to illustrate my point is that two years ago, even if you had non-collection imposed on you and your yard was full of rubbish, if you had paid your bin tax I would have been quite disappointed in you.

Today, unless you lived in a small number of areas (which you may do) I wouldn't count it against you, as I think that there are only a small number of areas where the campaign can defend people who are victimised by the state for non-payment. In my area, for example, it would be irresponsible for me to call on people to stand up to the might of the state when I have no way of defending them and many of them are in much more vulnerable positions than I am.

author by Peterpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Today, unless you lived in a small number of areas (which you may do) I wouldn't count it against you, as I think that there are only a small number of areas where the campaign can defend people who are victimised by the state for non-payment."

Small number of areas perhaps (Cabra, Ballyfermot, East Wall, Crumlin, Finglas , Walkinstown) but with high density and to this day - high non-payment.

"In my area, for example, it would be irresponsible for me to call on people to stand up to the might of the state when I have no way of defending them and many of them are in much more vulnerable positions than I am."

Depends on where your area is. In some areas I can't imagine even with a more successful campaign that the call would have been listened to.

author by Terrypublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 14:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the comment just above titled: co-operative socialism?, Seedot raises some good and valid points relating to failures within the Bin Tax campaign.

I wish to add my 2 cents worth here too. I felt that the total focus on this being a double taxation problem with almost no mention of the other wider aspects of this issue was a bad decision from the start.

The distinct impression I got was that the bin tax was hurting the "workers" because it was going to cost so much. This then seem to translate into, we will ignore middle class concerns (since the middle class won't complain since they are likely to be able to afford it, even if they just moan a little) and we will just focus on the less well off areas where the real working class workers in the historical sense live. And real workers are not concered with namsy pamsy green issues. Not only that, the message had to be made very simple with no complications for the workers.

Thus I felt this was the real reason that none of the wider green, conservation, health, recycling and national issues were hardly mentioned in the campaign. To some degree the governments approach backs this up, because they specifically sliced off the middle class by feeding them the nonesence that the bin tax was pro environment.

And as Seedot points out, these were the very set of tools with which the government was able to divide and conquer with. Also as Seedot explained it meant that support was lacking from pretty large sections of the population.

The bin tax issue had come up in many conversations that I had with people and in practically all cases, those who supported, always gave the argument that (paying) was good for the environment because of the polluter pays principle which as we know it wasn't. What it does show is that the government ran an very successful propaganda campaign and pretty much won it, even if it was all lies.

I will concede one point though that in some of the areas the green argument was taken on board towards the end of the campaign, but unfortunately the government had already thrown the mud and it was still sticking. In the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (CASC) campaign for instances, towards the end of the campaign some of these issues were raised in leaflets and a delegation even went to the local Tesco in Dundrum to bring back their plastic waste and packaging.

To go foward though from here, there are still many areas where non-payment is quite high.

The campaign still has some chance. What we need to do is get non-payment figures back up. We can still bring on board groups that so far have not sided with us, like those opposing incinerators, pollution, the state of our health system, the general rip off, and so on.
To do this, we need in all our leaflets, press releases and whatever else to raise the issue of health, pollution, non-sustainable living, excessive packaging, recycling, composting, incinerators and the whole lot. We should stop making this a single issue campaign because it is not a single issue campaign.

As I indicated above, the impression which I got from the campaign and not necessarily believed by individuals in it, is that green issues and the like are of no interest to the working class. We have to give up on these outmoded historical stereotypes. People are interested and people do want answers, but not simple answers. So we have got to present the full solution.

If we got everyone in Dublin to dramatically increase their recycling and composting rates, then the volumes of waste heading to the landfill and potentially to the incinerator would fall. This alone would worry the government and private companies alike.

The next big thing affecting Dublin is the pending construction of the incinerator in Ringsend. There is a campaign there, but they seem to have no web presence or Indymedia presence. The Bin Tax campaign must link up with this.

We also know that McDowell is against the Incinerator in Ringsend because it is so near Dublin 4. Instead he wants two smaller incinerators somewhere along the M50. My guess is that he might just be sucessful and this means people in Tallaght + surrounds and Ballyfermot, Finglas + surrounds should be worried and doing something about this now!

Related Link: http://www.StopTheBinTax.com
author by seedotpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

[chekov]In my area, for example, it would be irresponsible for me to call on people to stand up to the might of the state when I have no way of defending them and many of them are in much more vulnerable positions than I am.[/chekov]

Thanks for the answer Chekov. This is one area that I think the city campaign can be very proud of - it has continued to defend non-payers against court actions in relation to arrears, with more success then they thought they would. While this has been expensive and consumed a lot of energy it has resulted in the council being forced to appeal to the supreme court and has more or less stopped any real effort to collect arrears.

Also, even in areas where non-collection has been forced through there are people who have held firm, in some cases for years. Isolation is weakening this in certain areas, but as an anarchist would you not see a value in withdrawing from the service all together. Or is that too lifestylist a solution for you ;-).

Main debate:
While waiting for the comrades in the SP to come in, can I just expand on something Terry talks about. One of the things that really struck me about the bin tax campaign was it's impact on knowledge of recycling in the area I live. It was a strange experience sitting in the local community hall talking about dealing with nappies and where the best compost bin is etc. etc. and then hearing people talk about the campaign as anti-environment or whatever. As Terry says, it's somewhat insulting to the working class neighbourhoods who have been the backbone of this campaign to parrot the same few slogans and not deal with the fact that working class people are teaching each other an awful lot about the waste system. It's yet another of those paradoxes that should be teased out in the campaign (another is the court victory for polluter pays mentioned above, and the whole issue of taxes and public services).

Can I also mention the solidarity messages from the incinerator campaigns that were received at the time of the march earlier this year as a sign that these links are being formed.

Finally - of course as many people as possible not paying the bin tax is key. And the main way the council have of combatting this is by not collecting the bins of non-payers and leaving rubbish in our streets. Now that the weather is starting to get cooler and the public health danger and smell will be lessened the council is likely to have another go in the city shortly. By next year we are into election season again, the summer is the wrong time for non-collection on any large scale and the supreme court is likely to have handed a huge victory to the campaign wiping out 2 years bills. So, if people are not willing to constructively examine strategies for victory in the next phase, would they not be better off leaving the field all together at the moment rather than continuing the type of harping contained in the SP document.

author by Chekovpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 20:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

[Seedot]Also, even in areas where non-collection has been forced through there are people who have held firm, in some cases for years. Isolation is weakening this in certain areas, but as an anarchist would you not see a value in withdrawing from the service all together. Or is that too lifestylist a solution for you ;-).[/seedot]

If i thought there was a possibility of setting up a collectively run alternative, that would be great and I would throw myself into the campaign. Unfortunately, my experience of the campaign showed me that it was difficult enough to get people involved in leafleting and decision making and so I really don't think that the much more difficult and demanding task of setting up an alternative was ever a realistic possiblity and I remain constrained by reality (sadly :-)).

Withdrawing from the service on my own wouldn't make any sense as I see it. I can't see it doing anything other than making my life considerably harder (I already recycle whatever I can). Even if there was some practical use to it, it would be too individualist for me. I think that it is pretty obvious that big social problems (environment, wealth distribution etc) need collective solutions. Attempts by individuals to make themselves live perfectly within an imperfect world are often little more than using privilege to buy a soothed conscience.

author by Greenbackpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 20:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Article on Indymedia today sheds light on why the government is pursuing strange approaches to waste:

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=71766

author by Confusedpublication date Thu Sep 01, 2005 23:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you criticise the Socialist Party

'for picking this time to launch a 30,000 word attack on the Dublin City Anti Bin Tax Campaign. This campaign of working people is facing a major assault from the City Council, probably in the next few weeks, in the form of non collection of bins, backed up by the use of the Gardai and the threat of jailing of those who offer resistance.'

then was it also an inap[ropriate time for you to write a 12,000 article attacking them just a few of weeks before the local elections. Also the SP document is not 'a 30,000 word attack on the Dublin City Anti Bin Tax Campaign' unless you regard a section of the leadership (i.e. Yourself, Joan Collins and the SWP) as the Dublin City Anti Bin Tax Campaign. It is an 'attack ' on what the SP regards as the incorrect strategy adopted by a section of the leadership.

As you stated yourself this is not really new, but a more appropriate response would be to reply to the document (it makes significant and detailed criticisms of your role) rather than saying ' same old shite' and I'm off to build the bin tax campaign. The SP clearly would say ' you should have done the building a couple of years ago'.

author by boyrangerpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 00:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So 'Confused' whats the SP line on the bin tax campaign now? I know what the internal line is: 'the campaign is dead' ,cos Ive heard it from three different SP members but Im just wondering if you've got the honesty to say this openly. At least the dastardly anarchists have the honesty to say in public what they say in private. BTW Is there anywhere in the country where SP members are actively involved in a real bin tax campaign now rather than a phantom campaign resurected when it suits?

author by Confusedpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 00:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

author by boyrangerpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 00:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

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author by Confusedpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 01:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...

author by boyrangerpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 01:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

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author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Mon Sep 12, 2005 21:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The campaign started with nothing but the bin tax. I haven't read the 30,000 word document or the document released by Dermot Connolly.
I do know this though, as I've said before, the longer this bickering about who did what and when to whom, the louder the laughter will be from the likes of Lacey, Fitzgerald the minister concerned and the rest of the enemies of the campaign.
The most important figures are the non-payment figures and the amount of people still resisting this double tax.
Look at what the city manager is thinking at this minute - "what's my next move"? - the campaign is also thinking the same way.
Get back on board, rejoin the fight and leave the real debate about the campaign until it's won or lost!

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Tue Sep 13, 2005 19:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to inform one of the contributers above. The North Inner City is still resisting the city council, not in as great numbers as before, but resisting none the less. A pocket of resistance, that is tenants from James Larkin House through Summerhill etc and on up to Dorset Street and beyond.

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Tue Sep 13, 2005 20:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Remind me Michael - you contested the Local Elections the same as I did. You put your case to the people - the same as I did.
I accept the result - you should too.

Every action I have ever taken as an elected Public Representative has been done in the what I believe is the best interests of Dublin City and the people of Dublin. You may not agree with that - indeed I am sure that you do not - but is a fact.

author by SHpublication date Tue Sep 13, 2005 20:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lacey since you are keen to accept results why aren't you pushing for a referendum on the bin tax in Dublin?
. Would you be afraid of the results?

You seem to think that the people of Dublin are supportive of the bin tax which they are not. You do realise that don't you? or do you honestly believe that the people of Dublin support this stealth tax?

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 01:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The referendum that is needed is one in the Labour Party, to get rid of the hypocritical leadership that is continuing to warp the minds with poison of potential genuine Socialists.
Lacey is a ballboy (he got a plaque for it) in the Labour Party, if Rabbite asks "how high can you jump?" lacey and his types response is, "how hard can you kick me?"

The Labour Party have their stall set out for the next general election. There will be none or very little changing of party policy between now and then. My hope is that the electorate that have been fooled so many times before, won't take the bait this time, especially now that they are going into coalition with a right wing party -again!
Somewhere over the rainbow?

author by questionpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So are you telling us you put the bin tax in your manifesto and campaigned for it locally? If you did, fair enough. if you didn't, what you say doesn't count. And if you opposed it before the election and switched sides after, you are no different to Finnia Fail.
from what i heard there was alot of shifty politics going on within labour on that front.

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 10:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fair point Question so let me answer it straight.

Even by the reckoning of the Anti-Bin tax Brigade I would have thought that my position on the Charges was absolutely clear prior to the election. It was referred to and reported to a huge extent in the media.

In fairness to Michael Gallagher and others they also made their position clear.

The election was held. The people voted and I accept the result. Perhaps Michael and Co might move on to other causes such as the scandal of the housing lists and the recent connivance of ICTU in protecting the Government on this.

author by seedotpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 13:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The candidates stood in the local elections.

Successfull councillors met in city hall and voted that all bins should be collected.

Thats democracy isn't it Dermot?

Oh no, I forgot - that vote was just a trap and can be ignored. Lets all just move on.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 13:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I try when I contribute to this site to inject some humour with my comments, but you Lacey are hilarious! This debate will go on until the anti-bin tax campaign is won or lost. We ARE moving on, and the campaign will move with us. All the issues that affect working class people are debated on this site, so anything is relevant and they are being commented on at the moment. So if you wanna 'talk' about housing go to where the debate is now about the homeless people that were found dead last week.

Your party has laid out it's stall again.
The Labour Party and the other former government parties have had an unfair crack of the whip down through the years since the end of the civil war.
We are still hurting.
The times they are changing.

author by Dermot Laceypublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 16:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seedot you should learn something as to how Local Government works. In the first place thanks to you and your comrades and on this one your allies in FF and the PD's all waste management issues are now outside the remit of the elected Councils.

Childish abuse hidden - ed

author by seedotpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 16:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm just fascinated by your constant call on anti bin tax activists to use democratic channels just as you do, but your dismissal of a vote of the very chamber you tell people to stand for, get elected to and use to make a difference.


A new slogan for you Dermot:
"Voting - if it made a difference they'd abolish it."

(BTW, if the reference to FF and the PDs is about the 2003 waste management act - is this the new approach of the labour movement? Don't oppose them, it'll just annoy them. Lets compromise.)

author by SHpublication date Wed Sep 14, 2005 17:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You should have also included the slogan
"The Labour party - willing to put Fianna Fail back in power"

author by Buckpublication date Sat Nov 12, 2005 04:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SP should be aware that their increase in votes, in a couple of wards, in the last local election was mostly a result of the rise in profile of Joe Higgins since 1999.

In my view not many people (who vote anyway) took the bin charges into consideration.

Remember the last leaflet of the SP a day or two before the elections- " A personal appeal from Joe Higgins TD..." "This is a very personal appeal.."(to vote for the candidate)?

Other party leaders don't give a "*very* personal appeal".

Even the SP ad on TV was for Joe Higgins. He didn't even mention to vote for SP candidates.

Sadly, many SP members know deep down that Joe Higgins is the rock that the SP in built upon in Ireland.

The disguisting thing is that many act as if he isnt and come out with stupid things like... he isn't their leader...

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