1. We have a parliament and democratic elections. If people want change they can achieve it without breaking the law.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are funded by business, Labour are funded by the cosy clique in the leadership of the trade union movement. Then they also give themselves millions in state funding.

So you have the right to vote every few years for parties with millions to spend in running and massively promoting a huge number of primarily party hacks and careerists.

2. So if the government bans corporate donations, will you be happy then?

Firstly, they won’t. Secondly, even if they do, parties supported by the wealthy will still get bigger individual donations. Fine Gael fundraisers involve having golf or dinner with a TD for €100 or more.

Thirdly and most importantly, these politicians admit that they can’t represent us. Their capitalist dogma requires them to treat “wealth creators,” multinational companies and billionaire speculators like royalty, even if it means trampling on the rest of us.

They are more concerned with satisfying credit ratings agencies and “the markets” than with satisfying the disabled or the unemployed. Nobody can deny this.

3. You can still vote, protest, petition and run for office. Count your blessings. 

No. If you don’t control the economy, you don’t control the conditions of your existence and you have very little say in the running of your society.

If you agree with our politicians and leave the economy in the hands of business, with some greater or lesser role for the state, you’re leaving over control in society to a tiny minority. Your job, your education, what you do if you get sick, how safe your streets are- all these things depend on an economy that’s beyond our control. That’s not democracy.

4. We live in a democratic society with a free press. 

You have freedom of the press, if you have access to the massive, complex, expensive operation required to print a newspaper, promote it, pay the writers and distribute it to every newsagent in the country.

If you are lucky enough to be stinking rich and have this freedom of the press, you can then print a lie, a slander, an exaggeration or a distortion on a piece of paper that millions of people will read.

5. You’re lucky you don’t live in X or Y country, where you’d be locked up for saying these things. You’re lucky to live in a society so tolerant and liberal.

Yes, most of the world’s population live under dictatorships or else very repressive regimes.

And guess what? The clothes you and me are wearing were made by those people, in those countries. The fuel in our cars probably came from a place where women can’t drive. Dictatorship is a fundamental part of our society, even if people in the advanced capitalist countries aren’t the ones worst hit by it.

Our Taoiseach refused to condemn the Chinese totalitarian regime when one of its figureheads . He didn’t want to scare off investment.

6. Why do ye talk about working-class people all the time? What about everyone else?

A member of the Kazakh security forces in Zhanaozen, where an unknown number of striking oil workers were shot, beaten and tortured. Liberal defenders of Capitalism never seem to realise to what extent the system relies on murder, violence and terror. The moral of the story for all the Liberals out there is: drop liberalism or drop capitalism.

Labour is the only thing that can transform natural resources into commodities we can use and trade. Labour operates machines and runs all vital services. As such the working class is the only real creator of wealth in society.

Workers have great power- if they are organized and act as one, nothing can happen without their say-so.

The working class is the most exploited but the largest and potentially the most powerful class in a Capitalist society. That’s why Socialists seek to place that class in control.

7. Socialism doesn’t work because greed is a natural part of human nature and it’s no good trying to force people to go against that. 

Who the hell knows what “human nature” is? It operates differently in different countries, different times in history and different classes.  Human nature is defined by its circumstances.

People are often greedy because Capitalism rewards and encourages greed.

Under a system which rewarded and encouraged cooperation, people would behave differently.

8. History shows that extremes of left and right are both equally bad. 

The far right have given the world racism, prejudice, war and industrialized genocide.

The “far left”, meaning revolutionary Socialists, have always been in the frontlines of the struggle for democratic rights; for the welfare state; for labour laws and trade union rights; against fascism, racism, sexism, LGBT discrimination and sectarianism.

There really is no comparison, no way of equating these two “extremes” with each other.

9. Hang on, what about Russia?

We have achieved planned economies in Russia, China and elsewhere, which have transformed the economies of those countries, adding decades to the average life expectancy. Even the horrors inflicted by the dictatorships cannot cast a shadow over the massive achievements of the planned economy in huge parts of the world.

10. You’re defending and justifying dictatorship!

No. Genuine Socialists have always been uncompromising opponents of the Stalinist dictatorships. We defend the planned economy. This means we sought the overthrow of the dictatorship which was a parasitic growth on it, but also opposed the restoration of capitalism in the early ‘90s, which saw living standards in Russia drop by two decades in two years.

11. But it’s best to be moderate rather than extreme.

Being “moderate” just means supporting the most powerful force in a given situation. What’s considered “moderate” at any given time is not dictated by “common sense” but by the business-controlled media.

We don’t live in an academic paradise where all things are equal. We live in a deeply class-divided, dysfunctional, fucked-up society. Letting everyone do what they want just means letting the richest and the most evil do what they like to everyone else. This means that most of us, never mind doing what we want, can’t even do what we need.

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Comments
  1. Note from the author: That statistic about the collapse in life expectancy in 1990s Russia is inaccurate. There was a massive collapse in life expectancy, particularly for men, but it was not as great as two decades in two years.

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