Monday, February 28, 2005

Becoming a comrade

The word comrade seems so archaic. Its not an identity that I would use to talk about or towards a mate who I'm organising with. This past November at the beyond esf in London I started to hear people use the term in all seriousness. In meetings with people from all over Europe, people from Greece or Italy were referred to as our Greece comrade or Italian comrade. I was intrigued and started to ask people if they used the term and what it meant to them. The consensus was that they didn't generally use it but would here it. Basically it seemed to mean someone that you are united in struggle with - the terms was suppose to cross boundaries of nationality, gender and so on. Fair enough.

So when I was walking around trafalger square in a constant process of attempting de-arrests of anarchist from all around Europe I was startled by the socialists speeches on the stage talking about how we were all united, how we should basically pat each other on the backs for coming together and spend too much money to be part of a commericalised talk shop. As the libertarians surrounded a line of cops demanding that an Italian comrade be released. I heard the speaker on the big stage call to everyone as "comrades and sisters"

huh? Is there a difference, if the archaic term is being used at all, should be not use to for the propose of united everyone and not separating the women from the comrades. I walked away thinking how disconnected the speeches were from my reality. They were up there talking about being united, while they take no notice of the police brutality and oppression was happening all around them.

It wasn't till four month later when I met Ray O'rielly did I ever consider the term as a compliment and think about using it myself.

Three weeks ago the forum bar at UCD was taken over by the student bar. To many students that meant losing the perks of Jim as the manager - perhaps a few less free drinks and it meant that asshole security guards hassling them for there student cards although they have been drinking daily since September this year and beyond. But the real problems had to do with the staff. We all knew that there would be changes and five of the staff left immediately and another one since then.

The four of the original staff realised quickly that they were being screwed over, that the new manager had no concept of equality or labor law for that matter. So what to do . . .Unionize!! To tell the truth, I had been waiting to join for a while, but it is easier to convince a staff to join with you when they see injustice in there face.

We considered mandate, the bar staff union. We thought about siptu the large, well established but bureaucratic and impersonal union. And we finally went with the Independant workers union. As ray himself says "This is a radical union, a radical organisation", which is music for your ears if you are ready for a fight!

Although ray and I are coming from different places . . . after our first chat he called me comrade. For the first time I smiled at the sound of the word. It brought excitement to the process of fighting back. It gave me confidence that he was serious about his radicalness, and as superficial as it is, it did make me feel that he took me serioulsy.

Since our first meeting ray has agreed to do a talk both at the grassroots gathering and for the anarchist society. He has talked to me about anarchism and wsm. Everytime we talk now he always refers to me as 'comrade' I haven't got to the point of calling him or anyone else that term. Honestly I think I would burst our laughing while saying it. But in the meantime I am happy to be a comrade with someone who takes his struggle seriously and doesn't differenciate between comrades and women.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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