UPDATE 2 : I was asked on to RTE Liveline to discuss an anarchist perspective on the visit i wrote about below. You can listen to it here
UPDATE: Sunday 15th 9.23 am. In a decision i can only describe as nuts, the irish state has invited leaders of the UDA/UFF, a paramilitary and vigilante organisation from the north, to take part in celebrating the Queens visit to Ireland. Cameras really prepare for flash…..
“People who talk about revolution & class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love & what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.” – “Never before has a civilization reached such a degree of a contempt for life; never before has a generation, drowned in mortification, felt such a rage to live.” R. Vaneigem
George Orwell was bang on folks. Not only do we have to stump up €30 MILLION in security for the visit of Liz Winsor and Barrack Obama, but its pretty clear that the state is yet again actin’ like a gin soaked headmaster from the 1950’s trying to ensure that his pupils are on best behaviour for visits by the Bishop.
Currently not content in the covering our capital city with the most grotesque mass graffiti imaginable, (there are X’s sprayed every where around town) the police have taken to removing posters and stickers from that express any dissent about the Queen or Obama’s visit. And to make matters worse police have just announced that they are shutting down freedom of movement around our capital city for 4 days. Your going to be asked what you are doing, where you are going, and you and you possession searched. Failure to comply may lead to your arrest.
€30million would buy a lot of medicine. Not as much medicine as perhaps we could have bought for it before Mary Harney pushed through changes demanded by her lobbyist husband and the pharmaceutical industry, but a lot of medicines all the same. Or it could have fixed up a lot of school rooms for kids. More directly its could properly fund the national data collection programme for child sexual abuse and rape. Instead multi millionaire Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the HSE are slashing that programme in a decision decribed by the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland as “the worst possible outcome for child protection.”
This is Dr James O Reilly who live in a 13 bedroom mansion on a 150 acre site, subsidised by our taxes. Yep you read that right 13 bedrooms on one hundred and fifty acres. Thats like all of Stoneybatter and well into Cabra. The place is that big people pay into it to get tours around its. Its pretty sick that we seem to get a series of health ministers not only completely detached from us lesser spotted plebs, but intent in doing us harm.
So its tough if you are a young kid getting raped, or a potential victim in the future. Sorry we no longer have the resources to keep stats on that kinda thing. Thats nothing to do with the rising figure either I’m sure. On the other hands its quids in if you’ve got rich minister friends and more at the HSE, pushing through you privatised data gathering service. It must feel pretty powerful when one week you make decisions to cuts the service that might help protect the vulnerable, and then offering your spacious pad for Obama the next. You might even begin to feel like royalty yourself but maybe not quite as good as a dear old lady with a limp wrist and and 62 million serfs paying her way for her. Im not sure why it surprises me that we have money for the “celebrating” of rich and powerful elites but dont have it to protect children who are being raped and abused. Maybe something to do with the fact that the State has done a pretty good job of setting up institutions of abuse itself since its inception. Ireland is not unique in being an anti woman and child state across the decades. In fact its the commonality across borders everywhere that one sees the links between class, gender, capitalism and patriarchy. But i digress…
Now the gards have taken to scraping stickers of lamp posts too, just in case Liz Winsor catches a glimse of any images or words that might make one feel that there is anything other than pure childish joy, as she moves through our streets broad and narrow singing cockles and mussels. Thats a pretty impressive take on democracy when we are paying the police force to carrying out acts of cultural street cleansing more associated with North Korea or the Olympics. But WTF is the Queen gonna make about all those X’s on the ground?
Police have also been spotted taking down posters for this years Anarchist Bookfair and many more are missing. Dublin City Council have already denied it was any of their workers. Whatever your take on an in breeding elite who collect taxes as tribute from subjects and hard working folks, its pretty nuts that the Irish public is not allow to legally show its discontent and refusal to consent to such madness and flagrant misuse of our taxes. If people are not carrying a bomb or a gun and have no intent of doing any physical harm to anyone else, there is no reason why they should not be allowed to assemble and make public that they personally do not consent to this waste of money.
This isn’t even about being churlish to a slighty dim old lady who im sure if rather charming in her own right, but about the fact we seem to be extending invitations to heads of states who have just royally fucked us ordinary plebs over. How? Well consider this…..
The UK ‘lent’ the Irish state €3.7 billion, with economists saying we should be greatful. Except this isnt a friendly dig out at all. With interest at 5.9% the UK state will make €46o Million out of this “special relationship”. Doesnt seem that friendly really does it?
Obama is even less of a friend. His Treasury Dept, via US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner recently vetoed a plan cut Irish debt by €30 Billion. €30 BILLION, you get that €30,000,000,000 in cash that we have to come up with our sweat, that cannot now be used for preventative health, for education, for carers, for providing some notion of equality. So when you hear all the site about american inward investment make sure a start of with a minus €30 billion before you get dazzled by sums.
Why are we welcoming these people as some sort of ‘special friends’. Why has the mainstream media adopted a complete uncritical approach to either visit. Ive already written here about other reasons we shouldn’t getting starry eyed about the stars and stripes. Now we are meant to jack off about the union jack? Talk about of post colonial bollix and pulling of the forelock. Sorry but this aint any type of democracy I think is worthy of the name. This is a conscious choice to keep their mouths shut,a complicity in the problem.
Its like they really want ‘us’ to riot. And the chances are they just might get it too. Why do I think this? Well we have been hear before, with the scaremongering and lies. The anarchist boogie man Today we had the treat of listening to a former Deputy Garda Commissioner, who is now a private security ‘analyst’ stating on RTE News at One today that special branch officers where spying on “anarchists” amongst others. So are they spying on me? Its my view that the police want a riot. In fact the state needs a riot to let [people off some steam, and also prove to the state that it is up to the job of keeping dissent under control. We have been hearing drip drip drip all year about police training for ‘public order’ out in the Curragh etc. And riot cops the world over want nothing more than a riot. Its what they do. When the last time you saw a riot anywhere where there wasnt riot cops. The only reason its called a riot is the assymetry of ‘legitimate’ violence against sets of people.
Large scale and sustained public expression of anger and for systemic change is an inevitability at some points anyway over the coming years, regardless of what the chattering classes think. The combination of factors for major social unrest – including rioting but also occupations and other more considered civil disobedience opening up possibilities for genuinely systemic change – are all lining up very nicely in the medium term. And this is nothing to do with armed ‘dissident’ republicans, who I personally think are on the road to nowhere, have zero politics and even less idea of how to be involved in transformatory political and social movements. Almost every party in the state considers themselves real republicans of some strand, where I grew up was pretty republican and nationalist. Neither republicanism nor nationalism (or indeed authoritarian socialism) are ideologies/frameworks in and off themselves can resolve the global hegemonic nature of capital, power and patriarchy in the times we live in.
So in part im writing this both an attempt to understand and vocalise a perspective on street confrontations with the state, in the form of its Riot Cops and to place it in another broader – id say proper- context, rather than a tailor made establishment/mainstream media context. A bit like the Love Ulster riots a few years back, its all to easy to dismiss people as either thicko republicans or underclass scum. It avoids asking difficult questions. Like at what role does a violent aggressive and authoritarian police force play in shaping particular street situations? How much abuse and economic slavery must will we take before we say enough?
And how much easier it is to avoid such questions was that for alot of folks a few years back who think of themselves as middle class. However that security of mind – and lets face its thats the main, but not only, divide between the recently middle class and the working class, how people think sbout themselves – such security no longer exists without effort. In austerity we quickly find that lots of us are expendible to capitalism requirements, our percieved security is founded as much upon faith as any material facts. In times like this its much easier to see that class is not a merely a ‘thing’ or a social position but rather its is about relationships between ourselves, others and capital/power. And at the minute those relationship are playing out in ways that are wrecking havoc stress and real pain in people lives. We can’t step outside of this relationship – Australia will be a desert before too long- we can only decide what we are to do to shape and radically transform them.
We have a massive unemployment in what is traditionally manual ‘unskilled’ labour (their term not mine) but also increasingly high jobless amongst people who have been through a higher education system. Every time in history you have a large segment of the population who know that their personal and collective aspirations are being squashed by the very system that seek to maintain itself at all costs, then that’s when institutional power is at its most vulnerable. Thats when it needs water cannon, men masked up in sticks and heavy black suits. The state reveals to all that it insist that only its violence against our bodies can be considered legitimate. And in essense they are making the same mistake as paramilitaries. They believe that the stongest force you can have is groups of men willing to beat up on people. As has been said before, you cant blow up, or beat down a social relationship. Those of us serious about meaningful social change know the strongest things we have are our empathy with fellow humans, commitment to learning from history and each other and solidarity. It might take years to work it out, and for people to coalesce into strong, diverse, coherent social movements -and that is what its all about – but when that happens its a game changer.
There are a section of the population who basically have never had much to lose and lots to gain. This section is most ‘available’ as it where and often willing to respond very quickly and directly to large scale confrontations as a manifestation of both anger and empowerment. Dublin in particular has a massive high concentration of communities that have been shat upon, ignored, harassed and bullied. Its never been higher than now. At times of converging crisis, its can take small sparks to see proper street conflict.
The other angle here is the states provocation/response. The state has always acted as like a belligerent alcoholic macho head master when face with a non compliant population. De Valera thought he could look into the Irish soul by looking in the mirror, actually having proper public conversation or even notions of particpatory democracy continues to be seen as a weakness from an elitest perspective. “So guys like thats the wrong result in the referendum, do it again please”. Whats most annoying is that these people are the exact products of past irish society, trained to be visionless technocrats with a slavish impluse to authority.
Our police force reflects this totally. The police force style of ‘public order’ is much closer to the Italian police than the UK. Vicious brutality, no accountability, almost no independent overseer (the Garda Ombudsman is useless as written here) and generally conservative and right wing media that rarely does anything other than reprint Garda Press office releases. Lets face it, any time in the past there where minor uprising against the churchs abuse, or when women and children tried to escape from state insitutions where they where simply imprisoned for being both poor and “immoral” the Irish police force was completely complicit. But this part of our history seems to be airbrushed out by many. Those who serve at the most highest ranks of the police force, and in the most senior positions, come from a generation of people used to keeping their mouth shut about injustice. But they seems perfectly capable of opening thier mouths with a little dark humour. “Give me your address or I’ll rape ya”. Ha Ha Ha indeed. One feels very safe about the culture within a police force (and indeed some commentator within the press) with seeks to normalise such behaviour as simply stuff that happens as part of a stressful job.
Reclaim The Streets (video above) Rossport, recent actions against the bailouts, student demonstrations in Nov, Mayday 2004 and the regular incursions into working class communities when young men and women are harassed daily all occupy part of living memories. We are not terrorists, we are people who can very clearly articulate why we take to the streets. They are a growing number of us across allsections of society who can mane the root causes of our problems. we want to have power and meaningful control over the decisions that affect our lives. When we call for “radical” change we mean radical in its original sense. We want to change “the roots of” the problem, not sticking plasters that have little to do with real democratic control
New social medias and networks, as well as citizen journalism has increased the public’s awareness and visibility of this in ways not possible a decade ago. And as such it is a strategy of militarising public situations of popular dissent is doomed to failure in the long term.
But the biggest factor are economic realities of the situation we are in, and the political and economic choices taken by the state itself. Its attacks the most vunerable and leave the most powerful untouched. There is nothing about love care emapthy or democracy in these chioces. We live in a state that absolves it self from respondsibilty yet refuses to devolve responsibility for our lives to the population as a whole. The state seems to see direct democracy as mob rule.
Its is increasingly likely that there will be no economic recover for the vast majority of the population. Export led growth is growth on paper with the money going in to a few pockets that are already quite full. We are fucked, really fucked. Combine that with coming energy crisis, rising food and commodity prices, because of speculation by the likes of Goldman Sachs who are currently betting on starvation. Add the geo-political implications of climate change, mass migrations and climate justice movements and over the next 20-40 years as there is no end in sight to crisis. One has to wonder at what point the 10’s and 100’s of million who face death from the policies of EU and USA and global financial speculators will say fuck this and . The movements of the global south are much more versed in how the world works. Our struggle is alongside theirs. Increasingly the option for many is revolutionary, for a total and lasting change in social relations, with democracy, equality and empathy center stage, not some kind of polite after thought tacked on to an economic policy.
No politician, no economist and no social commentator has yet grappled with the illusory promise of infinite upward economic growth on a planet of finite resources. It is thee most central contradiction of capitalist ideology – one that most 14 year year olds with any notion of resource sustainability can grasp but one that institutionalised group think provides cover for intellectual dishonesty disguised as economic “common sense”
Ive yet to hear David Mc Williams, or any of our other celebrity radical economist speak to this fact. Yet we continue to look at economist as some kind of useful expert on the world, rather than indoctrinated seminarians whose faith is increasingly questioned by the worlds population at large. Its like living in the land of the Wizard of Oz after the green curtain has been pulled back. The emporer is naked yet everyone is suffering from weird catholic sexual repression where no one can actually bring themselves to say “get your fucking nuts out of my face”. So in some sense the only interesting questions left are around what are we going to do about it?
That the queens visits Dublin 37 years to the day after the Dublin Monaghan bombs, and herself is to be a few hundred yards from where annual commemorations are held by the families of the victims sense is nothing if at the very least insensitive – an could be preceivedby some as provocative – as the state suggest that the families may not be able to hold a memorial service because of the queens visit. These are families who are still waiting for the Irish state to come clean to its own citizens killed in the street while shopping, playing and walking around. Killed by bombs planted by serving members of the UDR and British Intelligence. People in my village across the border can tell you who from the Glenanne gang was involved, as can the families themselves yet no one has ever been charged. Successive goverments have fudged the issues of collusion, in passed years not wanting to upset the peace process being a familiar refrain. Yet somehow it is the families of those killed and those who intended to stand with them in solidarity and dignity are made feel as if they are somehow a quaint embarrassment to wider Irish society, rather than being people within our society worthy of our empathy, support and solidarity. A bit like the children I mentioned ealrier, if you are no use to power, power has no interest in you
If it does kick off when the queen or Obama is here, think a little bit past the Joe Bufftys, Kevin Cryers and Paul “IRA’ Williams of this world. Maybe start asking how do we start taking back power in ways that last, not just on the street for a few hours. How do we work together to make equality and democracy more than nice ideas. If its simply people out on the streets armed with nothing more than rage and anger, sure see its limitations and condemn it if you must. But if your happy to spend the rest of you days silent and complicit within a society that is being run into the ground your condemnations are little more than empty chatter and gossip. The problems we face are systemic, institutional and cultural, and they need involvement of 10’s 100’s and millions of us if we want to live as equals. I dont believe that people fighting with the cops on the street provides us with any lasting answers. But I also know if you put men in masks and baton and watercannons into a crowd of people whose live have just got much more insecure, whose futures are more than uncertain and who are already angry and unsure where to put that, you are either provoking a response or totally stupid.