The first and foremost victim of migration is the migrant. They are uprooted from their home country by political, economic or cultural forces beyond their control. Irish people instinctively understand this due to our history of mass emigration. There’s hardly a family in Ireland that doesn’t have an uncle in the United Kingdom or the United States, or a son or daughter or niece or nephew in Canada or Australia.
This is one of the reasons why in spite of mass immigration and an economic crisis, racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant parties have made such negligible impact in Ireland. But every once in a while someone comes along to make a stab at it. On my facebook news feed the other day a new Irish political party featured as “sponsored”. It had roughly 1,000 likes. It was called “Irish Identity”. It made me think of the “Identitaires” in France, racist youth groups who beat up Muslims to protect their “regional and national identity.” So I took a look at their website and here is what I found:
Not a single policy that aims to cause any discomfort to bankers, the super-rich or multinational corporations. Not a single policy that redistributes the vast unearned wealth of the rich. The top 300 richest people in this country sit on over €70 billion that they could not possibly have earned in a hundred lifetimes. They have increased this wealth by €20 billion in the last few years as the rest of us were suffering cutbacks and new double taxes. But there was not a word about these oppressors and exploiters who are keeping the majority of Irish people in the dirt.
On the other hand, Identity Ireland have rakes of policies that are aimed at bullying penniless migrants, making life hell for them, keeping them out or kicking them out on any pretext. Alongside this, rakes of policies that seem to be aimed at getting the guards to beat up and harrass people from deprived neighbourhoods.
Their message seems to be, don’t fight poverty; fight the poor.
To what end has the EU concocted this wicked conspiracy? What evidence is there to support this claim?
On these vital questions Identity Ireland leaves us in the dark.
If your culture and national identity is changing, don’t be alarmed: that’s what cultures do and have always done from the first moment of recorded history. They didn’t fall from the sky at some point, fully formed and written on tablets of stone. Unless you believe that at this arbitrary point in history we should put up a big barricade and say, “That’s it, no more development allowed, our culture must be preserved in its current form indefinitely.”
As for migration, I’ll throw out the “multicultural EU plot” conspiracy theory. Migration happens first and foremost because of the vast differences in wealth and poverty that exist in the world. Anyone who says they want it to stop, but shows absolutely no interest in tackling global poverty, is a complete spoofer who should not be taken seriously.
When economic and political forces beyond the control of any individual are pushing millions of people to take the road of migration, there’s no border fence high enough, no guard dog vicious enough, no depth of human cruelty low enough, to stop migration from happening. A head-in-the-sand policy, an infantile desire to stop things from changing, is not going to change these realities one bit. You can place more and more barriers in the way of migrants, you can shed your scruples in a race to the bottom in “deterring” them, but while you will not stop migration you will certainly lose your humanity.
This is not an exaggeration. 2014 saw 3,000 people die trying to cross the Mediterranean. Over 40,000 migrants have died since 2000. They died because of the border controls that the EU maintains.
Of course, it’s possible to shuck off responsibility for this, to pretend it’s all the fault of evil, criminal people traffickers. But this is an obvious sidestepping of blame. What created the market for these entrepreneurs? Europe’s border controls. The Mediterranean is just the most extreme example. And it is nothing compared to what is predicted in the coming decades.
Far from the picture of an EU plot to destroy culture (for some reason) with mass immigration (somehow), EU countries and EU policies indirectly kill thousands of people every single year in order to deter migrants.
If for some reason you approve of this policy, for instance, if you have concocted some world-view that says that somehow mass migration will lead to a worse outcome than the deaths of thousands upon thousands of migrants, just in order to preserve your “culture” and your “identity”, at least give the EU some credit for its murderous efforts.
Of course, Identity Ireland raise other concerns about migration: “Mass immigration creates greater competition for scarce employment, puts pressure on social systems and can create cultural division and conflict.”
“Greater competition for scarce employment”
If they are seriously concerned about jobs, then why don’t they say one word about campaigning for equal pay? The issue of competition for jobs will disappear if we force employers, through industrial action and protest, to pay trade union pay rates to everyone regardless of where they come from.
It’s not migrants who drive down wages or “take our jobs” – it’s bosses who take advantage of people coming from poorer countries, and use them to drive down wages. The problem here is not the migrant, but the employer, who shows contempt for all workers, migrant and Irish-born alike.
So you won’t find this demand in Identity Ireland’s platform. Neither here nor anywhere else on their website will you find any demand that might cause discomfort to rich people, employers or multinational corporations.
Maybe, like Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, Identity Ireland believe in the dogma that says that rich people are “wealth creators” and “job creators” (in spite of the evidence of the last 6 years), a dogma that has locked our ruling parties into complete subservience to the financial markets and the EU, and into massive taxes and cutbacks.
This brings us to the funniest and most outrageous claim of all:
“We aim to renew the Irish Republic by having a new generation of Irish leaders elected who can clean up the mess cause by decades of mismanagement and misrule of our country.”
You see, they are this new generation. They have superior character, willpower and moral fibre than our current batch of “leaders.” They are better, more courageous, more honest, and less corrupt. We’re supposed to take their word for all this. There is no exploration of what led our leaders to “mismanage” the country.
But a system of massive wealth inequality naturally leads to corruption. A system where we have to cringe and crawl and beg rich people and multinational corporations to invest and “create jobs” automatically leads to businesses being prioritised over people. Moral condemnations don’t really tackle these underlying causes. Instead of exposing the capitalist system and opposing the rich, Identity Ireland’s solution to the present “mess” is: punish migrants and trust us.
“Zero tolerance” for diversity!
Is “cultural division and conflict” a good thing or a bad thing? If Identity Ireland agree with me that it’s a bad thing, then why are they hell-bent on starting cultural conflicts left, right and centre?
They want a “Zero tolerance approach towards demands to alter national life, culture and traditions to accommodate minority held beliefs and cultures.”
Strong language! But it doesn’t chime at all with the beliefs of the vast majority of Irish people. For instance, demands that we accommodate men who want to marry other men, women who want to marry other women, are likely to be met with a resounding “yes” in a few months’ time when the Equal Marriage referendum is voted on.
But according to Identity Ireland, such “demands to alter national life, culture and traditions” must not only be rejected out of hand, but treated with “zero tolerance”. Don’t take my word for it. This is from their own website. This is how incredibly hostile Identity Ireland are, not only to migrants, but to anyone who doesn’t fit in with their idea of what our identity should be.
Except, of course, for that minority group that owns most of the wealth of society, that drags us from crisis to crisis – the capitalist class in Ireland. Identity Ireland are very anxious not to upset them.