They Cannot Represent Themselves: Comment

This is a comment I left on a Journal piece titled ‘Column: Criticism of Eamon Gilmore has been very personal and extremely unjust‘, dated Monday 8th April. It was in response to the observation that ‘Opinion polls come and go but the people are sovereign. They have an opportunity every five years to choose who should govern them and what direction the country should take.


It’s a strange form of sovereignty if you only get a say once every five years in how the country is run. Who decides on things the rest of the time?

Doesn’t the Labour Party hierarchy -including the person defended here- continually justify cuts to public spending and dismantling of welfare state provisions on the basis that ‘sovereignty’ has been lost and must be regained?

Well, if sovereignty has to be regained, that means that the people are not sovereign. We could go further: it means that whatever it is that the Labour Party wants to see regained by attacking social, political and labour rights, it is not popular sovereignty, because the whole point of sovereignty is that it cannot be taken away.

So either the Troika and ‘the markets’ are sovereign, or the people are sovereign, but it cannot be both. But given the fact that the direction of the country is being decided by the Troika and ‘the markets’ in order to prop up the financial sector, it is plainly not true in fact that the people are sovereign.

Unless, of course, what the people really want is to be poor and miserable and live in a starkly right-wing society with no control over their lives.

They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented.” – The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Karl Marx 1852′

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