Commentary- Joe Carolan
Recently, I went back home to Ireland with my son to see my family for the first time in two years. The Irish people were great, as usual, but what’s happened to the country has left me shocked, even a month or so later. Ireland is now a failed state, and as it totters on the edge of an IMF cliff, I hope it can follow the example of the General Strikes in Spain, Greece and France.
You might have seen some of the headlines about Ireland- about the collapse of the “miracle economy “ Celtic Tiger, half a million now on the Dole, tens of thousands more emigrating every month, a corrupt Fianna Fail- Green government, and of course, the endless bailouts of the Banks- Anglo Irish being the most toxic of them all. But for me, the most shocking thing was seeing the human cost behind these headlines, and how they’ve impacted on family and friends.
The local hospital in Dundalk- stripped bare, all but shut down. My Auntie, a nurse- three pay cuts, and more to come. Two Uncles still with jobs- in the local dole centre, again, three pay cuts, and more to come. One Uncle, a trade union militant, furious to the point of heart attack at the betrayals of a bureaucracy, who have called off strike after strike, and signed the Croke Park “Surrender” Deal with the rotten Government. The brand new shopping mall where my sister used to work in SuperQuinn- an empty shell. No jobs to be found in two years after its closure. Everyone back on training schemes. The old shopping centre- empty. To Let signs everywhere. The country has gone down the To Let. It’s a ToLetarian state.
Empty houses everywhere. Ghost estates. Brand new houses, empty, hundreds and hundreds of them. Half finished building projects, everywhere. And at the same time, hundreds of kids back sleeping on the streets. The curse of Heroin pulsing through the veins of Dublin again. Gangs of unemployed kids, high on alcohol and drugs, seething with hatred that could lash out randomly. Muggings. Racist scapegoating. Tension. Aggression.
It’s like seeing an old friend again, and when they smile, seeing that they’ve had all their front teeth kicked out.
Anger. Bitterness. Resentment. Fatalism. An ugly mood, festering. But one that could also turn to rebellion, even revolution, with the right spark.
The politicians are hated. Fianna Fail, the ruling party, are considered traitors. The Greens, their coalition partners, will be completely wiped out in the next elections. Before they came to power, the Greens were part of the antiwar and antiglobalisation movements. They sacrificed every single one of their principles, and have savaged the working class. Here is a warning for every small so called "radical" party about the dangers of coalition.
The left has grown- the ‘afraid to be a pale shade of Pink” Labour party is now polling as the largest party in the State for the first time in its history, but beyond that, the radical Left is also emerging as a force, with groups like People Before Profit and the Socialist Party establishing strong local bases in the communities ravaged by the collapse. Within nationalist groups like Sinn Fein, an argument raging about the need to turn leftwards again, and left wing breakaway groups like Eirigi forming.
This is the hope- that the radical left can emerge as a pole of attraction, strong enough to lead a movement from below. Labour may benefit electorally from the huge swing to the left that's coming, but its their leaders in the union movement that are holding back the mood for mass strikes and protests. A radical left can bring the spirit of France, Greece and Spain to Ireland, but they'll have to win the battle in the union movement against a treacherous Labour party.
James Connolly, the great socialist revolutionary who led the Citizens Army into the 1916 Easter Rising, warned-If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.
Capitalism has failed the Irish working class-
The time for a new Irish revolution has come.