From Cork, Ireland:
I first came across future members of the WSA, I guess, long before that particular organisation was formed. This would be in 1982-83.
As a young anarchist from Ireland I was aware of the lack of an indigenous anarchist history; Ireland, due to its history, was even cut off from the anarcho-sydicalist tradition commonplace elsewhere in Europe.
To an extent, via the comrades I met around that early circle of anarchists in New York – Libertarian Book Club – I was able to gain access a part of our radical history and knowledge that I had, until then, only read about. I found many of these individuals who were promoting anarchist ideas at that time to be very honest and thoroughly committed anarchists. I tried to soak up as much as I could in terms of knowledge and reading and I recall one publication, ‘Strike’ – predating the WSA – to be very refreshing. It pushed a type of anarchism that I wanted to orientate myself more to – class struggle anarchism.
In time during various periods spent in the States I attended some WSA protests, meetings and conferences. I’ll confine myself to two main observations:
Firstly, what often struck me about the WSA was that they took their anarchism seriously. They were committed and well able to organise – and they had an important sense of our tradition of ideas and what that involved. The WSA also struck me as being well aware of the steep uphill climb that it had to make. This might have been daunting but it was not off-putting and in that sense they got on with the job of seeking to grow in an often hostile climate – which, as we all know, has deteriorated even more due to the assaults of neo-liberalism.
At one of the conference, I attended, I noted the presence of comrades from many different geographical areas in the States. In itself it was an achievement to overcome and meet in Conference – given the huge distances of separation between branches and individual members. There was always lively debate, a comradely spirit, but also plenty of heated discussions.
The other aspect I want to draw attention to is the WSA’s role in propagating important ideas and offering solidarity abroad. On one level the reporting of disputes and struggles of workers or attempts at unionisation is vital but WSA has also done very valuable work highlight struggles abroad and raising solidarity funds. A particular publication I remember was No Middle Ground – again predating the WSA I think. But NMG was indicative of an interest and a commitment to opened up a very important debate that pointed out that the options in Latin America were not only between the choice of capitalism and state socialism (say Cuba). Anarchists want to organise but they must also want to put their ideas out there and promote debate – the WSA has done this double act many times over.
Finally, comrades, continued good wishes and solidarity you all.