The ICTU march and the call for elections to bring about change

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You have a gathering of nearly a 100,000 people, many of them active trade union members, and we are supposed to phone up one delusional Green party leader and try to get him to do our bidding. We, as workers and trade Union members are supposed to have that power to change things. We can do so by withdrawing our Labour! We do not do it by putting through phone calls like we are voting in the X-Factor and praying that our voice prevails.

Elections, reforms, everyone is screaming for change but it's not about to come via the ballot box.

On Saturday probably the guts of 100,000 people took to the streets to inform

  1. This Government that they had no mandate.

  2. That the austerity measures outlined in the 4 year plan – were unacceptable.

And then after the speeches at which there was audible booing for both President of ICTU Jack O’Connor, and the former President of ICTU David Begg. Why? I think it is due to Trade Union members feel distinctly cheated by their leadership. O’Connor has been doing a line in bluster for quite some time even going so far as to declare the recent four year plan a ‘declaration of war’ on the low paid. Well if it’s war Jack then why aren’t you leading one? Why aren't you fighting one?

Was there a call or mention of a General Strike from the platform on Saturday? Was there even mention of a ballot? Instead in one of the best speeches of the day, we were given John Gormely’s phone number; the implication was that we could phone him up and inform him of the correct way to collapse a government that you are in. The answer, just in case he is reading this is

  • You pull out prior to voting in the budget which ties us into financial slavery for the next two generations.

Has it really come to this? You have a gathering of nearly a 100,000 people, many of them active trade union members, and we are supposed to phone up one delusional Green party leader and try to get him to do our bidding. We, as workers and trade Union members are supposed to have that power to change things. We can do so by withdrawing our Labour! We do not do it by putting through phone calls like we are voting in the X-Factor and praying that our voice prevails.

That’s why David Begg and Jack O’Connor were being booed. They are now seen as part of the problem. They’ve constrained agitation to such an extent, in favour of negotiation, that they are now seen as incapable of mounting a fight back. The other great Macguffin which has taken centre stage is the prospect of a general election.

Fintan O’Toole – appears to want us to be listened to as citizens and believes that political reform is crucial. It is a natural reaction after witnessing the cronyism of Fianna Fáil in power over the last 13 years, and how they’ve acted in favour of the ruling elite. The fact that I as a tax payer on €40,000 PA will pay exactly the same amount of tax as one on €300,000PA puts that sharply into focus. This is how Fianna Fáil runs tackle for IBEC and the tax dodgers of the golden circle, and the IMF when it comes to protecting the interests of the bondholders. Let’s not forget that this is a political party which kissed goodbye to our Natural resources for no good apparent reason. There went €540 billion in resources we could dearly use now. I can empathise with everyone who wishes to see an end to this regime. Put political reform is won through struggle. It is not signed for in an on-line petition. It is not born out of necessity; it is born from acting in solidarity.

The official march ended. We were told to go home.  To the ironic sound of ‘Take the power back’ the march was disbanded.

The left bloc (which seemed to have somehow been transformed into the United Left Alternative on the day) had another set of speeches from the base of the Daniel O’Connell statue. From this platform we heard a call for a General Strike. We heard a call for a major demonstration on the night of the budget (7th of December) and Kieran Allen asked for a ‘wall of anger’ to be there as we are sold into financial slavery for the debts of the casino capitalist bankers.

This was a vast improvement on the muzzled approach adopted from the ICTU platform. But again we were subjected to talk of the election and the ‘opportunity it presented’ in voting for candidates from the United Left Alliance.

Oh Brother!

Again as an anarchist I find it impossible to see how my life, the conditions we find ourselves in, or the prospects which face us, are improved by the fact that Joe Higgins, or Richard Boyd Barrett are in the Dáil arguing against the policy which is being implemented by the Government. 

This election will be another carnival. It is a spectator sport. The candidates take to the field and we get to choose who sits in the big house, and it can be entertaining.  It should heartful if it proves to pass that we see Fianna Fáil spectacularly fall into oblivion, but it will not change our objective circumstances. Whatever Government comes into power will effectively be like the receiver appointed to wind up a company and ensure that the creditors get paid. They will appear to be powerless in the face of the IMF technocrats and the ECB. It is not in the job description of any government to change the rules of this game.

How do we see change coming about? We bring about real change by becoming ungovernable. Not by choosing a new government and hoping for the best.

Democracy is not the X-factor.

Democracy is making sure that decisions are made in the interests of the many, and not for the few. Democracy is about that, or it is not democracy.

The distraction of this election is just what Jack O'Connor and his other Labour fans want us to conentrate on.  Come out demonstate, show we are annoyed and then we can put in the Labour party into power and await our glorious future.

We have to set our own timetable.

As O'Casey wrote a long time ago ab out  the 'World being in a state of chassis' so it has come to pass again and amidst all the drama this speech given by a 15 year old youth who was kettled by the Metropolitan police in London brought me the most hope.

Because the next generation have to be street fighters and not voters to bring about the changes we desperaely need. Those changes are won through stuggle. Reforms can happpen when we have system that works in some way.

What we have now is a system that fails in everyway and fails everyone except those at the very top. A system that fails the taxpayer, the worker, the civil servant, the unemployed, the student, the sick, the elderly, our communities, and our children, every single day. You don't reform that, you don't change that by electing someone else, you destroy it and start again.

WORDS: Dermot

Background articles on Anarchism & parliamentary elections

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