Introduction to We Only Want the Earth

My name’s Andrew and this is the pilot I
guess for a new podcast I’m going to be producing, it’s also a YouTube channel
which I’m calling ‘We Only Want the Earth’ I’ll talk about that in a moment and
basically it’s going to be offering political analysis from an anarchist
perspective. I’ve been an active anarchist since the late 1980s mostly
here in Ireland and you can tell I’m in Ireland because I’m getting rained on as
I record that. Yes that’s one of the perils of doing outdoor shoots but also
in the United States, Canada and Britain – London in particular. I’ve also taken
part in events in Chiapas, the Spanish state in Prague, in France, the Netherlands, Norway, quite a range of experiences and conducted speaking tours probably done
about a hundred meetings outside of Ireland. So that’s a bit of context as to where
where I’m coming from and why I might have some interesting things to share
with you. In terms of what I want to do with this podcast there’s a couple of
goals, one thing I want to do is interview other anarchists and not just
do it on a kind of basis of interview about a particular topic or expertise
but also an interview with them about the anarchist life, if you like. I think
that’s important because I think the thing that motivates us and keeps us
active isn’t just what we fight for but how we fight for it and the people we meet
along the way and this will be a way of talking to people about that. The other
thing I intend to do is as I said analysis. I’m not going to particularly focus on
Ireland because I’m essentially trying to appeal to an international audience
with this So I’ve already recorded one episode that’s looking at climate change,
why I’m very alarmed by climate change Extinction Rebellion and what I think
are some of the shortcomings with Extinction Rebellion, most notably its
failure to take an anti-capitalist perspective and it’s almost complete
blindness on colonialism. So if you’ve watching this go and have a look and
you’ll find that. The rain continues. So the name I’m using for the podcast is
We Only Want the Earth, that’s actually from a poem or song by James Connelly.
Connolly is probably best known because he was executed in 1916 by the British
because he was part of the group that staged a rebellion in Dublin against
British rule. He was somewhat different from the rest of them, he was part of an
organization called the Irish Citizens Army and that had actually formed during
a huge strike in 1913 to protect the strikers from police attacks. There were
several strikers killed in the course of that 1913 struggle during police baton
charges. Connolly is a significant figure as well because although he’s
often thought of as an Irish nationalist in fact he was born in
Scotland of Irish parents and had done the time with the Industrial
Workers of the World in the United States. The IWW which still exists, is
a revolutionary syndicalist trade union and so if you actually read Connolly’s
writings they’re quite heavily infused with the ideas of revolutionary
syndicalism. He’s an interesting figure from that perspective in terms of
understanding the left today, he doesn’t simply sit in any one place.
The other purpose of the name We Only Want the Earth, what was his
original purpose, the point he was making in the poem, was when people were telling
him he needed to moderate his demands The demand he had was most moderate,
We Only Want the Earth. But in this era of climate change there was another angle
to that as well and that is the destruction that we’re all facing, as
capitalism destroys the climate and We Only Want the Earth is also therefore a demand, this We Want the Earth, we don’t want to see this planet destroyed. And
then the last thing I want to mention in this introduction is why I’m doing a
podcast in the first place. As I said earlier I’ve been active since the 80s,
I’ve done an awful lot of writing in that time, I probably have published over
500 pieces I would imagine. Some of those have been translated, I think into
about 14 languages altogether, and for a very long time if I was trying to
explain complex ideas to people I’d use the written form. But I’m kind of quite a
keen student of history, revolutionary history in particular, and one of the
things I’ve been fascinated by is the way that the modern idea of revolutions,
kinda republicanism initially then socialism, anarchism in all those forms
was very dependent on writing as an ability to communicate ideas from one
person to a lot of people. And that only became possible really you know in in
the 17th century like in 1760, 1770s due to technological change in form of the
invention of the printing press and also a kind of ideological shift which came
with Protestantism and a desire to read the Bible. And what that actually meant
was that for the first time there was quite a segment of the population were
literate, at that point it’s not huge it’s about no more than 5%, but 5% was
enough so that everybody would know somebody who was literate. And also that
the process of publishing became cheap enough that it was possible to produce
many copies of a pamphlet and for those to be somewhat affordable to
ordinary people and indeed one of the early reactions of those with wealth and
power to that is they put a tax on pamphlets to try and make sure they
weren’t affordable. In those day then, that early period as
I said maybe 5% of people were literate so not everybody could read this but there
was a whole culture around coffee shops if of you read accounts of the
American Revolution, French Revolution, 1798 in Ireland you’ll see this where
basically people would go to coffee shops and the people who were illiterate would
read out the revolutionary press and that’s how you found out what was going
on. And that’s interesting in comparison with what came later because it also
meant that you automatically had a group discussion around those ideas you know
somebody would read it out and then other people go well I’m not sure about
this ,what about that, and so that created a culture of revolutionary
organization alongside it. Fast forward into the 20th century
you got the invention of radio which actually is really important amongst
other things in terms of the rise of fascism and then later on television. And
initially those are ‘one to many’ forms of communication that only rich people
could use, rich people, or powerful people or people the state or very rich
people want to put on television or radio. But of course with the internet
revolution, particularly with the arrival of YouTube in 2007 / 2008 very recent I
think, it suddenly became possible for this sort of ‘one-to-many’ communication
where you know essentially what I’m doing here, there is no real budget, I’m
using my phone to record it and a kind of hundred euro microphone
I bought but it’s theoretically possible for putting this on YouTube, for it to
reach reach vast amounts of people and I think that has actually shifted the way
political communication works. I think it’s now the case that people coming
into radical politics are absorbing their ideas through videos, they’re absorbing
ideas very obviously through podcasts and that rather than long-form writing is
it’s what’s key to reaching people. I don’t intend to give up on the writing
but that’s why I’m kind of switching to doing some of this podcast stuff.
I have previously done quite a lot of work in both photography and video and a
certain amount of audio work but there’s a story that the early days of the
cinema, the, if you look at those films what they basically consist
of is somebody putting a camera in a theater and following what’s happening
on the stage and you know a film is basically a stage play acted out in front of the
camera. Where as, if you look at film nowadays, it’s very much more complex and
makes all sorts of assumptions about what the audience understands that is
nothing to do with the stage. But also you’ve got technologies that enable you to do
things that you couldn’t do in theater. And so what I’ve done previously in
terms of video and audio has very much been you know setting up the camera
setting up a microphone pointing at a meeting that’s happening anyway or march
that’s going past, recording that and uploading it and you know got quite a lot of
traffic and view’s out of that but with this I wanted to do something different
which is actually tailor what I’m doing to the fact that it’s actually going to be
video. I’m not just happening to record a meeting or a talk I’m actually doing
this and it’s deliberate sense. So that’s another aspect of what I’m going
to be doing with the podcast / YouTube channel as I move forward, I have no idea how
successful this will be , I’ve no idea how good I’ll be at it, I’m kinda deploying
what skills I have in the way I always have, you know, I learnt web design
way back in about 2001 for similar reasons. I was using Usenet before
that, you know, I shift along with the technologies as they become available
and every now and again can get a bit of a breakthrough. I’m a little bit
late to podcasting I think but we’ll see how these go down. If you like it do
remember to Subscribe, Share this and if you post a comment I will respond. I’m
quite interested to know what you think about it and with that the rain is dying
down of course, and the shoot is finished.


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