Dashed Expectations: Comment

This is a comment posted on the Irish Times website on an article by Vincent Browne headed ‘Expectations of political change have been utterly dashed’.

Clearly the expectations of political change were misguided. So where did those expectations come from? Well, here are a couple of pointers. It takes a neck like the proverbial jockey’s ballbag to crow about a democratic revolution at the very moment when control over macroeconomic policy is formally ceded to the Troika. A similar neck is on display in the claim that the only way to wrest sovereignty back (it appears such a thing can be ceded and regained, like a pawned watch) is to sacrifice health, education, social welfare, wages and working conditions, that is, democratic gains won through long decades of struggle.  

 What these things tell us is that neither of the parties that went into government at the last election has any commitment to democracy. Nor does RTE or the Irish Times or oligarch-owned media, all of which systematically present each Troika-backed measure intended to preserve the health of a parasitic financial sector as a self-evident necessity, and haven’t the slightest compulsion to question the legitimacy of such measures, beyond the odd token voice of dissent. One need only consider the amount of media attention given to politician expenses by comparison with the tens of billions of public money paid out to private bondholders to see whose side these institutions are on. 

 We can go on at length about why this is so, but unless it’s accompanied by an awareness that the parliamentary system is subordinate to the needs of capital, and capitalism is antithetical to democracy, then a hiding to nothing, or to Freeman woo, awaits us all.  

 Perhaps the most harmful expectation afflicting Irish society is that political change can come from the ballot box alone: that there is no need to protest, no need to create alternative media outlets, no need to educate, to agitate or to organise. Nothing can be done, so shut up and take your medicine until the right ballot box choice comes along. That is an expectation fostered systematically by Ireland’s media, and this article does its part in fostering it too.

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