Today the media announced the breaking of two records. The number of refugees in the world has topped 50 million, the highest number since the end of World War Two. The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin last night hit 154, the highest number ever recorded.
We are living in the middle of a terrible human tragedy. From the street outside your door to the fences and seas that surround “Fortress Europe”, the system is failing humanity on a horrifying scale.
Thousands die trying to make it to countries where life is less unbearable. There is a list of 17,306 people who have died trying to travel to Europe from desperately poor and unstable countries. This didn’t happen just because of evil people smugglers who pack them onto boats. It happens because “democratic” Europe has been turned into a fortress with border controls and a militarised border police that exist to persecute poor people trying to migrate. This has led to horrible situations like the mass drowning allegedly committed by the Greek Coast Guard last year. More broadly, it’s because most of the world is difficult to exist in, entirely because of political and economic forces beyond the control of most people.
154 sleep on the streets of Dublin while landlords rake it in through cripplingly high rents and the state creates millionaires through Rent Supplement. This gives the complete lie to the Irish Independent’s stupid line of argument that Dublin city is benefiting more from the recovery than the rest of Ireland:
“In Dublin’s fashionable business districts the bars and restaurants bustle on a Friday night as well-dressed young workers pour out from their hi-tech workstations in search of tapas and craft beers.”
The recovery is one-sided, but it’s not a geographical division, it’s a class division. And it’s not just that they’re powering ahead and we’re struggling. The truth is, our misery is their gain. “Surging property prices” is not a good thing for the vast majority of people. Their “divided nation” feature mostly interviewed business people, and RTE never seems to take its cameras very far from the Grand Canal Docks.
I argue for radical economic and social change – for the economy to be owned, run and managed democratically by working people, for an end to classes. Some people respond that massive changes can result in disasters and upheaval. But look at Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, CAR, Sudan, Somalia. Look at your small town’s dead and depressed main street, or the pair of runners sticking out from under a blanket in some side-street in Dublin city. Upheaval and disaster are not a risk, they are a reality. A great human tragedy and catastrophe is unfolding all around us, and it compels us to take action.