The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: Capitalism as Democracy



Illustration by ec

I left this comment on Fintan O’Toole’s article in today’s Irish Times, which is titled Three sorrowful mysteries of the Garda taping saga and deals with the unreliable official account of events in relation to Garda taping of phone calls.

Is there not a fourth sorrowful mystery underpinning the other three here? I am referring here to the mystery that binds us to believe that ‘the Cabinet, the Dáil, the Civil Service, the courts and the Garda’ are all components of a supreme entity that Fintan O’Toole names as ‘our democracy’.

It would appear, by Fintan O’Toole’s lights, that for ‘our democracy’ to exist, these components need only tell the truth.

But it looks to me as if all these things, since their inception, have operated primarily on behalf of the moneyed class in Irish society, whilst claiming to operate on behalf of society as a whole. And so: economic policy decisions are concentrated in the hands of a few men, the Dáil offers up a grotesque spectacle of parliamentary back-and-forth whilst never endangering the absolute primacy of individual property rights, the Civil Service does sterling work in making sure private interests hold sway over health, education, finance and natural resources, and the courts and the Garda give the disciplinary backbone to the whole operation.

The mystery, to my eyes at least, is why Fintan O’Toole refers to this thing as ‘our democracy’ when, in the cold light of day, it looks rather more like ‘their capitalism’. Hence I am wondering what kind of truth he expects from these august bodies.


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