History of the Belfast Anarchist Group and Belfast Libertarian Group. Michael Hall.




Michael Hall is perhaps better known for his Island Pamphlets series which has successfully served as a vehicle for people from working-class communities in the north to express themselves, engage in and promote reflection and debate. Here, in Island Pamphlet 117 he presents a brief and personal history of the Belfast Anarchist Group and the subsequent Belfast Libertarian Group.

This pamphlet not only uncovers a part of anarchist history in the north it also gives valuable insight into the immense difficulties facing libertarian socialists in building a tradition of working class resistance with truly revolutionary goals in the face of nationalism and sectarianism.

‘In 1968 a small group of young people formed the Belfast Anarchist Group. The group was totally opposed to the inherent sectarianism and authoritarianism prevalent in both physical force Irish Republicanism and reactionary Ulster Loyalism. Sadly, both those forces were too deeply ingrained in the psyche of the population and the clash between them led inexorably to the appalling conflict we call ‘The Troubles’.
For a while the Belfast Anarchist Group struggled against the tide of events but was eventually subsumed. A remnant then formed the Belfast Libertarian Group and once again attempted to open up a challenging debate on the unfolding events. However, by 1974, it too had to admit defeat and was disbanded.
Nevertheless, it was felt that this brief history was worthwhile recording, even if only to highlight one of the dissenting tendencies within the Left which was present right at the inception of The Troubles.’

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