Posts Tagged ‘Fianna Fáil’

 

Over the last few days the Irish Independent has been releasing taped phonecalls between the bosses of the toxic bank Anglo-Irish, made at the time of the bank guarantee in 2008, when the government decided to bleed the country dry to bail them out.

As we might have guessed, the bankers – David Drumm, John Bowe and others – laugh and joke about the whole thing, revealing that the bailout figure of €7 billion was “pulled out of me arse”, that they knew they were conning everyone, that they looked forward to the government taking over the bank and turning them into civil servants.

The Independent harps on endlessly about this “damaging our reputation overseas”, a reputation Enda Kenny had been “painstakingly rebuilding” for us from its previous “shattered” state. But the only things the Anglo tapes have damaged are stupid illusions. They show the whole world that when we try to be “poster child for austerity”, “taking the medicine” without a fuss, we’re just being pathetic chumps, running our country into the dirt to save a class of bankers, speculators and bosses who sneer at us behind our backs.

What came between 2008 and now was five years of vicious cutbacks and new taxes. When the bankers sniggered over the phone at how they were scamming the country for tens of billions, they knew very well that they were sniggering over the hundreds of thousands who would soon be plunged into unemployment. They were laughing at people dying in underfunded hospitals; at people unable to get an education; at people living in misery and drudgery; at people losing their homes; at people being forced to leave the country. Hearing those laughs over the phone lines echoing from the beginning of these five merciless years provokes a serious anger in anyone who listens.

Politicians play innocent

Politicians from all the major parties are now demanding inquiries of various kinds. Eamon Ó Cuiv, a long-standing FF leader, thinks if we spend a few million on a good strong inquiry, we’ll “find out” what went wrong and then make sure it never happens again. But we know what happened; the rich fucked us over again, and their buddies in government let them do it again. We only need to listen to the bankers’ voices to gain a greater insight into the crisis than any inquiry could give us.

An inquiry, for f**k’s sake, wouldn’t start for years and would take the guts of a decade, and end with nothing substantial. It will make millionaires of some barristers and solicitors and instead of satisfying the demands of justice it would serve to “quarantine” the Anglo scandal, to seal it off from the whole system that is tainted by it, shaving the tip off the iceberg. It would take the anger people feel at the Anglo scandal, and exhaust it all in a boring and inconsequential saga of legal wrangles.

Compared to this, the image of a lynch mob hanging the Anglo executives from the Ha’penny bridge starts to look very attractive. Of course that wouldn’t solve anything, but the image is attractive because in it the people are centre-stage; a lot better than a government of shysters using our money to fund a bunch of rich lawyers to politely nit-pick the Anglo issue until today’s new-born babies are growing stubble and getting ready to emigrate.

The whole damn system is a scandal; the era of “free markets” ended with such a massive crisis that governments have been forcing enormous pain on workers just to prevent the capitalist system from collapsing. A system that’s become so monumentally fake and useless is being desperately maintained with the wealth of a society it does not serve but rules over.

The letters page in yesterday’s Indo is a showcase in the battle between people’s anger and people’s resignation. One letter compares the contempt of the bankers to the attitude of French aristocrats before the Revolution; the comparison is appropriate because in each case we’re talking about a ruling elite that’s lost the ability to provide anything for the people, but maintains the ability to take from the people endlessly.

Solidarity and struggle, not some lame inquiry

The Anglo Tapes provide the shock to make us realise what we’ve known all along: austerity serves the interests of the rich, and fleeces the rest of us. We give everything and we get nothing back. The last five years were a massive con.

The best course of action is to organise and fight. Against the power of money we have the power of solidarity and numbers. We need to reclaim our unions from the sellout bureaucracy who have had the power to lead the fight for years but have failed. We need to resist the imposition of new taxes and charges on working people. With over half the people of the country determined to vote for independents & others or else undecided, the vacuum in the electoral field desperately needs filling; the CAHWT electoral slate can be an electoral voice for working people in June 2014.

What we need to fight for

Vague appeals to “stand up and be counted” and innuendo about the fate of French aristocrats only go so far. We need concrete demands.

–          We are still paying through the nose for AIB, BOI and Permanent TSB. These dysfunctional banks – they lost €500 million every month last year – need to be properly nationalised; we can open their books and decide who among their bondholders is more deserving of funds than a school or a hospital, and write off debts to everyone else. Then let’s get the banks lending again.

–          More than 100,000 households are in arrears of more than 3 months. Let’s allow people to pay for the bricks and mortar they live in, not for the predatory, inflated prices generated by a ridiculous bubble.

–          The 300 richest people in Ireland, who are growing richer every year, now sit on €66 billion. The essence of the crisis is that these and other wealthy people are not investing because the rate of profit doesn’t look inviting enough. We can’t politely wait for them to start investing again, as we’ve been doing for five years. We need to tax the hell out of this wealth and use it to create jobs, infrastructure and services.

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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.

Comment-surfing can be good craic. Look at any political song on Youtube, especially rebel chunes, and you can follow word-for-word these endless, vitriolic arguments that range through every register from friendly political pub banter to

@MrMickroach what are you on about you fool my family have been on this land for more than 2000 years ya fool this country is ours and that goes for the 6 county’s. learn something ya dumb bastard and stop checking wiki links to try find the right thing to say ya sap. your knowledge of this country is like your knowledge of women you 40 year old virgin.
burnthebrits 1 week ago

If you take ten minutes to follow these things they can become compelling- as heated and as dramatic as any TV miniseries. Epic battles are played out. Characters emerge (MrMickroach featured, on this thread, as a thoroughly despicable character. His comeuppance here was sweet, made bitter and overshadowed by the sheer viciousness of his vanquisher burnthebrits). The endless repetition of boneheaded arguments and swift descent into insult-slinging chaos can be deliciously farcical, but after a few comments you just can’t take it anymore. Besides, we all have better things to be doing.

But those who write

you sir are a fucking idiot. if America didnt help the english out in ww1 and ww2 you fucking pussy’s would belong to germany. if we didnt send troops to france in ww1 the english would have been slaughtered..how is that too late? you are a fucking tool… so stop commenting on peoples posts because you dont know a single thing asshole.
uptheIRA93 2 weeks ago

soon graduate to indymedia.

There is on that website a serious article by a long-time left activist written in the bitter days of the wind-down of the bin tax struggle. The article concerned political and tactical differences and accusations of unprincipled manoeuvring. The 104 comments on the article read with all the bitterness of defeated forces- the bin tax was through, and blame was flying around.

The anonymity the internet gives you makes such a comment thread the perfect arena for such a bitter little squabble, for all the grievances and grudges to come out in force. It’s scary. The fact that all these comments seem to have been added in the space of one week in April 2004 gives you some idea of the viciousness of it all. The experience is shocking and depressing.

Anger is the best cure for this kind of depression. One comment seen by chance (no, I didn’t care to read them all) cured me:

Meanwhile in the sewers…
by Brian of Nazareth! Luan Aib 26, 2004 23:06

The Judaean People’s front (AKA the SP) are on their way to kidnapp Caesar’s wife in protest at the hated bin tax…

On their way they encounter the People’s front of Judaea (aka the SWP)…

“Brothers, surely we should fight together against the common enemy”!!!

“THE JUDAEAN PEOPLE’S FRONT”!!

“NO, the ROMANS!!!!”

Christ, it’s so laughable how the far left fits into this mould perfectly. Let’s not fight the tax, let’s fight each other! Perfectly sensible!

;-D LMAO

Unless the author of that comment was, in fact, one of the pythons, s/he gets no credit for quoting that film at tedious length. If it was, somehow, one of the pythons, I would tell him all the same to mind his own business.

The shrinking world of the information age gives people the ability to mumble from sidelines however distant and be heard as if they were roaring right beside you. When some bored spoilt teenager (or wannabe teenager) posts an ignorant comment between wanks, it’s very easy for a serious, committed working-class activist to overreact. The internet builds bridges between people, but we should beware of trolls lurking beneath them.

All the same, the “Life of Brian” references are worth responding to- not because of their value as arguments, but because of how often we hear them.

Why are the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers’ Party different organizations? Why were a bunch of anti-bin tax activists arguing so bitterly over bin taxes? Is it because individuals at the top are hypersensitive and power-hungry?

No. The opposite is true.

It is very easy for people without principles to come together. Look at the major political parties in any country. Careerist machines based on unity in strength for careerist or naive politicians- the strongest principles of unity (from party whips to outright bribery) and the weakest principles of politics and democratic accountability. Unity is harder the more you value your principles.

The major questions at stake in the article were as follows: whether solidarity action in estates where non-collection was not being imposed was advisable; whether “broad” alliances of the left should be formed; to whom elected representatives of an organization should be accountable; what are the best forms of democratic organization. Whatever side of the debate you take, these are all questions of vital importance. Life of Brian references are definitely not applicable. We’re not knifing each other in the sewers beneath Pontius Pilate’s house; we’re thrashing out vital issues.

Some seem to think that the Left has no right to debate or difference. Socialist Party, Socialist Workers’ Party, Workers’ Party, Workers’ Solidarity Movement. Haha, confusing names. The same people generally seem to take for granted debate and difference of an equally acrimonious character between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The names of the two major parties in the USA, the Democrats and the Republicans, are nothing but the Greek and Latin phrases for the exact same thing- something neither party represents in any case. SP and SWP certainly have more to disagree with than these careerist right-wing electoral machines, who manufacture a debate whenever it’s election time, and clap each other on the back when the votes are counted- like it’s a soccer match between friends. Further, the evidence of many a coalition, especially the present one, tells us that SP and SWP definitely have more between them than Fine Gael and Labour.

Still, now that the stakes are high the Left has pulled together. Proposals for greater unity on the left didn’t get so far in the mid-00s. Socialist Party wasn’t on board. This and other conflicts, together with defeat in the bin tax struggle, meant  a lot of people’s blood pressure skyrocketed. Now, on the basis of a huge crisis of international capitalism, the right moment has come. We launched the United Left Alliance and three months later we had 5 TDs. If we’d just blindly launched ourselves into alliance in 2004, it would have been a waste of energy and a jettisoning of principles.

The spiteful, petty and power-hungry caricature does apply to some on the left. We’ve all run into those people at one time or another…

However, that caricature does not represent the divisions and the arguments that exist.

We can reasonably expect that these arguments be conducted in a fraternal way that isn’t personalized. Of course, this is a serious struggle, not a debating chamber or a parliament, and the blood can really boil sometimes. Sometimes it’s even necessary to do and say things you wouldn’t if you didn’t have to. However, manageable issues can be made into deal-breakers by little snubs and insults. Everyone in the world must have some experience of this, political or otherwise.

One final point: message boards and comment threads aren’t a suitable arena for discussion on serious politics. All you get is a few dozen people sitting at their computer screens unable to see each others’ faces, blasted and broken down into pure spite, with a few trolls thrown in.

Having said that, comment away on this blog post…  but @MrMickroach, Brian of Nazareth, burnthebrits and uptheIRA93, if you got something to say, say it to their face…

(wow, there are at least 93 “uptheIRA” profiles on Youtube)