There is No Difference!
In the run-up to the 2009 elections, éirígí launched its Spot the Difference? campaign to highlight how few differences there actually are between Ireland’s nine largest political parties.
Despite the petty squabbling and rhetoric, all the main political parties are actually saying the same thing when it comes to the major challenges facing the Irish people today.
A central element of Spot the Difference? is a campaign leaflet which can be downloaded here. éirígí activists have distributed thousands of copies of this leaflet across Ireland.
The British Occupation
While six out of nine of Ireland’s largest political parties profess to support the ending of partition, none of them actively oppose the British occupation.
By supporting the unionist veto, through their support for the St Andrew’s Agreement, those six parties are instead providing the British government with the veneer of democratic consent it has always needed to stabilise its Irish occupation.
Since the time of partition, the political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties has been well placed to assert the right of the Irish people to national independence and freedom. Instead, they have chosen to abandon more than a million of their fellow-citizens to their fate under the British occupation. In practice, this has meant more than 80 years of discrimination, pogroms and sectarian violence against the nationalist population of the Six Counties.
By participating in the puppet parliament at Stormont, the SDLP and Sinn Féin are providing Britain with highly valuable propaganda. When the British government is asked about its Irish occupation, it can now point to the two largest nationalist parties’ happily administering British rule at Stormont and pose the question – ‘What Irish occupation?’
As the world is enveloped in the greatest economic crisis in decades, not one of Ireland’s main political parties is suggesting that the capitalist system itself might be the problem.
Despite the fact that capitalism created the mess that millions find themselves in, Ireland’s largest parties remain totally committed to that system. How can the cause of this social and economic sickness also be the cure? It just doesn’t make sense.
Not one of the nine largest parties has so much as hinted at the possibility that another socio-economic system might be possible, or indeed desirable. For all of the establishment parties, the solution to the current recession lies in a complete embrace of the so-called free market.
Despite their crocodile tears and denials, all of the biggest parties are largely in agreement that the ‘cure’ will include the following elements:
- That, in the interests of ‘competitiveness’, the wages of Irish workers will need to fall.
- That, to attract foreign, primarily US, investment, Irish workers will need to accept poorer conditions of employment.
- That the private banks must not be allowed to collapse.
- That the private banks must ultimately remain private – even if a temporary nationalisation is required to achieve this goal.
- That Public Private Partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives will be central to any recovery.
- That savage cutbacks in the public sector are ‘necessary’, regardless of the impact this will have on education, health and employment.
- That the state should use workers’ taxes to bailout private businesses, developers, bankers and investors.
Populism over Principle
Given that the largest parties are in agreement on the major national and socio-economic issues, it has become necessary to create artificial points of disagreement for them to argue over.
Without such disagreements, people might just begin to question why exactly Ireland needs so many political parties and so many politicians!
Thus, the political discourse in Ireland has been reduced to personality politics and petty squabbles over relatively minor issues. Day and daily, the people of Ireland witness the establishment parties attempting to outdo each other as the party of ‘change’ - while promising nothing but more of the same.
Never before has populism so blatantly replaced principle and never before has the quest for power for the sake of power been so transparent.
If proof is needed of how little actually divides the nine largest political parties then their willingness to enter coalition with each other should provide it.
In the Six Counties, all of the main parties are partners in a permanent coalition ‘government’ based upon acceptance of British rule and the capitalist socio-economic model. In the Twenty-Six Counties, the dogs on the street know that all of the main political parties are willing to enter coalition government with each other if that allows them to reach the magic number of seats necessary for them to access the levers of power in Leinster House.
A Real Alternative
éirígí, as a socialist republican political party, is offering a real alternative for those who want something different to the sham politics of the larger parties.
As an anti-imperialist organisation, éirígí stands in total opposition to the British occupation; believing the alternative to acquiescence to be resistance. To this end, éirígí is actively challenging the attempts of the British government to ‘normalise’ its occupation of the Six Counties. For more on éirígí’s Campaign for a British Withdrawal please click here.>>
As a socialist organisation, éirígí understands that the capitalist system can never deliver a decent and productive life for working people. As a system it operates in the interests of those who have already amassed wealth and power. And, conversely, it discriminates against those who do the work that actually creates that wealth.
éirígí also understands that the current economic ‘bust’, and all of the human hardship that accompanies it, is as much a part of the capitalist system as the economic ‘boom’ that was the ‘Celtic Tiger’. You can’t have one without the other.
Only a new, socialist economic system can deliver genuine equality and ensure that everyone gets their fair share of Ireland’s wealth. Only a socialist system can bring an end to the cycle of boom and bust and deliver the proper, participatory planning that the people of Ireland deserve.
If you are interested in helping or joining éirígí, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org