The Enemies of Ordinary People

I left this comment on Stephen Collins’s article in Saturday’s Irish Times, which is titled ‘Signs of Coalition losing nerve as winning post looms’

So Labour’s ‘real achievement’, according to Stephen Collins, has been to minimise the impact of the bailout on ordinary people.

Regardless of whether or not this is even true, the logical corollary here is more to the point: the majority party in coalition and in government, Fine Gael, wants to impoverish ordinary people with its economic policies. And, just to emphasise the point, the bailout in itself is not a bailout of ordinary people but their subjection to the power of finance capital, through the destruction of living standards, the shrivelling of the welfare state, the shift from direct to indirect taxation and the imposition of thoroughly regressive taxes and charges, and so on. Fine Gael sees all these things as good sense, precisely because -as Stephen Collins reveals- they are the enemies of ordinary people.

Stephen Collins, as is his wont, pours scorn on unspecified voices of protest from outside the political establishment whilst urging those in power to continue their policies attacking ordinary people. For people on the ‘hard left’ to oppose Labour’s entering government is, to him, pathological, rather than sustained by any reasoned political analysis. Whereas following the anti-democratic logic of austerity is, for him (and, no doubt, most of the people he corresponds with), the only game in town.

Well, one reason for opposing Labour’s entry to government is the fact that the party’s history -if not its present- is bound up with the broader struggle of working class people to build what James Connolly referred as ‘the sovereignty of labour’ – the removal of political and social inequality and its replacement by social democracy (which is not at all the same thing as the election of a nominally social democratic party), the rule of ordinary working people.

The entire thrust of the bailout is in completely the opposite direction, but the participation of the Labour Party in government serves to obscure this and to lend the impression that there is no need to build forces of democratic struggle. But there is. And the more potent they become, the greater the demonisation and contempt will be from the pen of establishment scribes.

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