Monthly Archives: May 2014

Por Ahora: Podemos explodes onto the scene

This is a translation of the speech made in the video above by Pablo Iglesias after Podemos burst onto the political scene last night in Spain with over a million votes and 5 seats in the European Parliament.


“There is magic. There is magic tonight.

It’s as though you could touch the hope and excitement [ilusión]

That hope and excitement that has always been the motor of change.

Bona nit [Catalan], gabon [Basque], boas noites [Galician], buenas noches [Castillian].

Few expected a result such as this for us. But allow me to make a call for lament, and to remain on high guard.

The parties of the caste have had one of the worst results in their history.

But I must say that for now we have not achieved our objective of overcoming them.

Tomorrow there will still be six million unemployed, and they will go on evicting families in our country.

Tomorrow they will go on privatising hospitals. There will still be people working under appalling conditions.

There will still be young people forced to go into exile. There will still be a quarter of citizens living in poverty.

There will still be migrant workers who are treated like animals. There will still be unpunished bankers at large. There will still be corrupt bankers climbing into official cars.

Tomorrow, Merkel and the financial powers will go on making decisions against us and against ordinary people [la gente].

We have made a lot of progress, and we have surprised the caste. But the task we are confronted with from tomorrow on is enormous. That is why I want to ask everyone committed to the defence of democracy to be on high guard. Podemos was not born to play a token role. We were born to go out and get them all, and we are going to go out and get them.

(Crowd chants “Sí se puede!”)

Maybe for many people this result is a success. But I want to say that we are not satisfied. From tomorrow on we will start work so that as soon as possible we can celebrate that our country has a decent government, and we will get rid of the caste.

We are going to work for the union of the peoples of the south of Europe, in defence of sovereignty, and of a decent and democratic Europe. A Europe in which no financial power is above the interests and will of ordinary people [la gente].”

(Crowd chants “The people united will never be defeated!”)


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Ireland: Did the earth just move?


Special stuff: will they be back?

Special stuff: will they be back?

When Irish President Michael D. Higgins recently visited the UK on a state visit, and when Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland three years ago, there was an overload of media commentary on the “significance” and “symbolism” of every little gesture and nod, as if every word and image were elegant details on the icing of one big multilayered cake made out of history.

Listening on and off to the Local and European election results coverage yesterday from Ireland’s public broadcaster RTÉ, talk about “significance” and “symbolism” was fairly thin on the ground. Its historian of eminence John Bowman did, however, see fit to speak of a “terrible beauty” born of the fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the two big opposing Civil War parties, might end up going into coalition after the 2016 elections, since 50% of voters were now choosing electoral options that had no experience of government.

But beyond that there seemed an anxious flavour to coverage, as if to demonstrate that things had not changed that utterly. Thus the stunning Sinn Féin performance, and the proliferation of ‘Independents’ were addressed, though not in that order, as evidence of a “protest vote”, of an urge to punish the government, and as typical of the difficulties encountered by a government “mid-term”, as if such difficulties were a universal law, part of the normal order of things. Never mind the West Wing: I was put in mind of The Demon Butcher of Royston Vasey, and his insistence that the town’s inhabitants would come back to his “special stuff” in the end.

Kathleen Lynch, the Labour TD, sought to place the dire results for the Government and the Labour Party in particular as part of a general trend in European politics towards ‘extremists’: the two examples she cited were UKIP and the Front National in France. But there is nothing in Sinn Féin’s success to suggest any growing vote along anti-immigrant, ethno-nationalist lines, as this analysis in the Irish Times shows. If anything, that vote would be located in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and like-minded ‘independents’. Rather, Sinn Féin’s campaign, and its discourse, corresponded quite closely to the description of populism outlined by one of its activists here:

It pits the people against an elite. It values the wisdom of ordinary women and men over the technical knowledge of the expert. Its politics is expansive and participative, not restricted to the world of professional politicians and their well-paid advisors.


The economic and social crisis that has gripped Ireland and the wider world since 2008 has shaken the status quo. Politics has been discredited. People are angry. Their trust has been broken. They no longer believe that the political system has the will or the capacity to respond to their legitimate demands. And they are right.
It is to these people that Sinn Féin speaks. We are trying to convince those most aggrieved by the failure of politics that their concerns can be met, but only if they come together in a truly national popular movement for social, economic and political change.

Simple phrases like “Stand Up for Ireland”, and “Put Ireland First”, which featured heavily in Sinn Féin’s campaign, couched within a broader appeal for social and economic equality and citizen rights, allow people to imagine that “Ireland” is a body of citizens under threat from antagonistic forces, whether in the Irish political establishment or Europe’s elite political institutions. Given Sinn Féin’s presence as a political force both north and south of the border, it is also an implicit challenge to the idea that “Ireland” merely encompasses the inhabitants of the southern state, as expressed by dominant political discourse in the south. As the election results show, it is a very potent approach at a time when the social toll of austerity policies is becoming more visible: in the withdrawal of medical cards from sick children, a housing crisis, the imposition of water charges that will prove unbearable for a great many people.

I don’t like geological metaphors much when it comes to politics but tremors, seismic, earthquake and so on do not seem entirely inappropriate to what has happened in Ireland in these elections. There are real cracks opening up now: the discredit of the established political parties; the utter humiliation of the Labour Party in particular and by extension the trade union bureaucracy that supports it; and a sense that the scare tactics presaging a return to the dark days of violence have reached their sell-by date.

‘The people that walked in darkness’ is more a religious expression than a political one. Nonetheless it does suggest something of Ireland’s predicament. To be immersed in the belief that the only political voice you have is the one you vote for every few years is to be immersed in a kind of darkness, a state of being shut off from a sense of what is possible. The browbeating that came in recent days, with being told that people died for your right to vote, also serves to convey the impression that speaking for yourself is a gross dishonour to our patriot dead.

These cracks -and developments outside Ireland, such as the potential prospect of Scottish independence- may allow for a little light to get in. But there is a tension between greater social mobilisation and dissent on the one hand, and the placing of trust in particular parties and individuals on the other. If a leftward shift in voting patterns has taken place, and the small left wing parties have done very well, that does not in itself lead to stronger mechanisms of accountability between the electorate and the parties, or greater political involvement on the part of ordinary people. There has been nothing in Ireland comparable to the 15M in Spain. This is hardly a ‘destituent moment’, then, and if people have voted against the political establishment, it is not on account of an accumulation of social movements and organisations with strong demands. That means that institutional political power, whether for Sinn Féin or a left coalition, does not necessarily translate into a greater measure of democratic rule. In the cold light of day, the prospects for such a thing are still weak. But that does not mean we can’t be optimistic.

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The Passionate Intensity of #Voteman

Yeats: Omnishambles

Yeats: Omnishambles

There are a few lines and dicta that always come in handy when surveying the political landscape from the point of view of the seasoned observer. “A week is a long time in politics”; “As Zhou Enlai said of the French Revolution, it is too soon to tell”; “Expect the unexpected”. An “old reliable” in this regard is The Second Coming by WB Yeats, a poem about omnishambles. The most common lines to use in this poem are

‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’

And then, after mention of the ‘blood-dimmed tide‘,

‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.’

Generations of bores have interpreted these lines as a commentary on the political scene.

It goes like this: liberal parliamentary democracy is the only real bulwark we have against apocalypse. That requires cool heads, people who keep their wits about them, people who don’t care whether it’s a black cat or a white cat, as long as it catches mice.

Unfortunately, there are other people likely to get sucked into the vortex, and they are the kind of people who get het up about things. People like Joe Higgins and Hitler, the corresponding forces of the extreme left and right, located along the spectrum of liberal representative democracy.

Now, that is usually the spirit in which these lines are interpreted. But to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, though they keep on saying those lines, I do not think it means what they think it means.

You know the bit in the poem before the things falling apart, where the voice says ‘the falcon cannot hear the falconer’?

I think this is an image intended to suggest that the ruling powers can no longer govern effectively.But also, in symbolic terms, that we can no longer exercise our will over the words and images that ought to be under our command.

The falconer, such as he is, ceases to exist, since his relation to the falcon is sundered.

Likewise, whatever it is we thought we were up to that point, whether subjects to a King or slaves of a master or citizens of a State, we are not anymore.

Reading The Second Coming in a democratic society, we might imagine the falconer as the demos: the popular potency that exercises control over political institutions, and we might imagine the falcon as the institutions themselves.

If we imagine things from the perspective of such a society, the problem, right now, is not that the falcon cannot hear the falconer. It can hear it very well. The problem is that the falcon is pecking the falconer to shreds.

That is, the Irish government and others no longer feel bound by the need to pay heed to the demands and needs of the population. It feels bound -or rather, comfortably hitched-   to elite political institutions that bow only to the needs of capital.

The Second Coming is a poem of a situation where the meaning of things is in flux. So to fish out a couple of lines and offer an interpretation such as “This is how it always is! Always these hot-headed rabble rousers undermining order! What we need is responsible parliamentarians prepared to make sober and unpopular decisions when needs must!” is, how shall we say, sustained by far more passionate intensity than it might care to admit.

It is election day. Elections are the linchpin event in the regime of liberal parliamentary democracy.

Voteman: Passionate Intensity

Voteman: Passionate Intensity

There are lots of people defending this regime today in a way that is fraught with passionate intensity. They are saying things like “If you don’t vote today, you have no right to an opinion tomorrow”, and “remember, people died – DIED- for your right to vote!”.

Such passionate intensity prescribes the vote as the only solution for the ‘mere anarchy’ loosed upon people’s worlds in the forms of poverty, deprivation, unemployment, precarity, and fear. Fear of not being able to pay for prescriptions, fear of having your medical card removed, fear of not being able to cover the basic costs of a funeral.

The passionate intensity that denies people an opinion, or refuses to hear their complaint, on account of not voting, also denies people who are already unable to vote the possibility of full participation in political life.

There is a story in today’s Irish Independent about a nine months pregnant woman who was homeless and gave birth in the hospital and left her baby in care since there was no option open to her, and went back out onto the street. I am guessing she did not vote today. Well, she has no right to complain, according to the passionate avatars of democratic decency. Nor, for that matter, do the unpaid workers in the Paris Bakery, currently occupying the premises demanding over €55k in unpaid wages, if they don’t get round to voting today.

But did they vote? Pic via soundmigration

But did they vote? Pic via soundmigration

The passionate intensity that insists people died –DIED– for your right to vote, casts historical memory into oblivion. No-one ever died for the right to vote. To suggest that they did is empty demagoguery. Those who died in campaigns for voting rights did so mostly because they saw those rights as a step towards a more equal society.

Last week I read an article in the organ of respectable opinion in Ireland, written by someone who used to work for the Labour Party. It was about voter apathy. Why are voters so apathetic? It queried the low turnout in the referendum for expanding the Seanad franchise to all university graduates. How could this happen, the article asked, if this was less than two decades after Martin Luther King and the March on Washington?

It was as if voting, in this case to re-arrange the composition of an elite institution that automatically excluded the voices of the majority in Irish society as most people were not university graduates, was part of the same democratic tradition -of labour mobilisation and civil rights agitation- as Martin Luther King and many other radical figures. What planet etc.

In this example and others, the vote is sundered from its particular context, in which it was seen as a tool for the conquest of other rights and the establishment of some basic sense of equality. The main theme of the March on Washington was economic justice, not voting. Now, in the liberal imagination, the vote has become a fetish object, a golden calf. Kneel before Vote!

What we see then, in the unqualified exhortation to vote, in all its refusal to take into account the particular circumstances and possibilities that the vote entails, and even the consequences for voting for particular candidates as opposed to others (such that it is better to vote for the Christian Solidarity Party than not to vote at all), is the sundering of democracy from any sense of material equality. “Vote – or shut up!” becomes a sieg heil for a system where the strictest of separations between the political and the economic sphere is enforced.

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In Politics, Do Not Give Your Emotion A Preference

It’s election time. According to the Irish Times, the multitude of identical faces appearing on lampposts is ‘comforting evidence’ of ‘vibrant and fully engaged democratic structures‘. As a person on Twitter noted, one can only imagine the elation the Irish Times editorial team might feel when confronted with the evidence of such structures on a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

There, people have refined democracy to such a degree that not only is there no need for continuous and widespread citizen participation in all areas of political life, there is no need for complete delegation of such participation to a range of representatives elected once every four years. Indeed, such is the perfection of vibrant and fully engaged democratic structures in North Korea that this wasteful need for a range of representatives has been replaced by the decision taken collectively and continuously by the People to place their trust in the Dear Leader.* And there are posters of him everywhere, showing how well these structures work.

To me this model of democracy is a lot more practical and pragmatic than the model where we should have elections. The problem with elections is that people say things on posters. Not just things, but sometimes bad things, and things that are not true. Personally I prefer candidates who make no claims on their posters, because that way, you are unlikely to be misled about what you are going to get. Or, if they’re going to write things, let it be at least pure information based on fact.

Think Local, Fact Local.

Think Local, Fact Local.

See this example above. Local Man, Local Issues, Vote For Local Youth. All of this information is true. He is a Local Man, even if he does look like he is about to launch a March on Rome. And they are Local Issues, like sports facilities. We won’t have any trouble around here with issues from other places. And, since the sports facilities are for the youth, who are Local, and the sports facilities are going to be located Locally, this is an excellent example of a set of factual and logically consequential statements that do not seek to rouse the vile passions of the ignorant mob, or, what would be worse, use emotive language.

The only criticism I would make here is the way Brian Dennehy is his wingman. It would have been better for the candidate to make it explicitly clear that the Brian Dennehy in question is NOT the American made-for-TV actor Brian Dennehy, but a Local. Unless in fact he really is that Brian Dennehy, in which case he should specify that he is.

Brian Dennehy: Local?

Brian Dennehy: Local?

The danger of making it seem like Brian Dennehy the made-for-TV actor is your running mate is that it could excite the vile passions of the ignorant mob, whose understanding of basic matters of law and order comes from watching afternoon courtroom dramas, frequently starring Brian Dennehy as a lawyer or a judge getting a mother accused of murdering her children off the hook. So this could generate false hopes among the rabble. The best you can hope for is that they ask themselves why Brian Dennehy is standing for election as a local candidate in Balbriggan, and how this might be possible, and conclude that, in fact, no, it is not possible. As I say, we live in hope.

For me the best kind of politics happens when emotion is kept out of things, and things are based on solid facts. Let me give you an example. There was this one time I stood in a hospital corridor and there was a patient lying on a trolley, moaning in pain about something. Some of her family arrived. They were getting emotional. They were cursing the government. I said, this is not logical. We need to focus on the facts. The deficit has to come down. We are contractually bound by this. That means cutting the health budget. That means adverse consequences for people like you. It is all very well for you to howl about your personal predicament but this does not change the fact that this is the best thing in the national interest.

The family started spouting populist nonsense about how the rich were getting away with murder, with no appreciation of how there was a need to make the country more competitive. She continued howling, so I gave her a Vulcan nerve pinch.

The simple fact is, all the political possibilities available to us are contained within campaign literature. There is no need to think about what is going on in your life, in your workplace, your housing estate, or in your local hospital or school. Too much involvement in these things is illogical.

In my experience there are far too many people who try and get political in these areas, and they say things because they feel strongly about them, and not because they are objects of scientific interest. I believe we should take a more measured and pragmatic approach to things. It is a matter of reading these leaflets carefully once every four years, and making our choice.

If we make the wrong choice, it proves that our rulers are smarter than us. That is democracy. It is only once we have evolved our powers of scientific and democratic reason to the degree that everything can be delegated to a single leadership figure that we will have got the democracy we deserve.

*A correspondent writes: ‘Actually, there are regular ‘elections’ in North Korea to the Supreme People’s Assembly, which the same people always seem to win’. I accept this. Things are not perfect in even North Korea, yet.

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Do Not Panic. Smash The Irish State

The writer Julian Gough has a piece in yesterday’s Irish Times, titled ‘The State has no right to take the names of Beckett and Joyce in vain’, which is scathing of the decision taken by the Irish Government to name the next two patrol ships after Samuel Beckett and James Joyce.

He has good reason to be scathing about what he describes as the ‘grotesque wrongness’ of appropriating the names of these writers for the purposes of ‘a branding exercise’, when this is a State with a history of suppressing and censoring writers so as to suppress the truth about the State.

Beckett and Joyce, among other writers, are now consecrated by the State as a sign of the essentially creative spirit of the Irish people. God knows how many meeting rooms in the Greater IFSC area bear the name of some figure off that Irish Writers poster, you know the one. It must be nice for partners in accountancy and law firms to think that they are following in the footsteps of Joyce and Beckett whilst figuring out ways of helping their clients to avoid contributing tax to public hospitals and schools. And of course both of them have been sanitised politically (as well as scatologically), both in terms of their literary work and as public figures.

The central character of Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom spoke of ‘manufactured monsters for mutual murder, hideous hobgoblins produced by a horde of capitalistic lusts upon our prostituted labour. The poor man starves while they are grassing their royal mountain stags or shooting peasants and phartridges in their purblind pomp of pelf and power’. It isn’t the sort of thing you would see inscribed in the wall tiles of a top law firm toilet.

Samuel Beckett gave public support to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, a stance that placed him at odds with the Irish political and religious establishment, which was fervently pro-Franco. He then played a heroic role in the French Resistance. It isn’t the sort of thing Phil Hogan would be big into.

For the Irish establishment to glom onto the literary achievements of these two artists and others by naming patrol ships after them is rather typical, really. It has been a constant feature of its history to expect others to prostitute their labour for the purposes of their ennoblement. And Julian Gough is quite right to point out the stark hypocrisy in the way the Irish State celebrates the achievements of people it could not bear to have around the place, but only once they have made it elsewhere. The rest of the time it just doesn’t want to know.

Where I differ with Gough, however, is the way he imagines that the State can somehow earn the right to use the names of Joyce or Beckett or whoever for its official purposes. I think there is a more general lack of understanding in Irish society about ‘the State’, which is strange, given the fact that the word seems to crop up in public political discourse in every second sentence.

Let us break it down a bit more: does the State have the right to do anything at all? To imagine that it does is to confer it some kind of political credibility. But should it have any? Gough rightly notes the lengths the State went to in order to suppress the kind of creative thought vital to a democratic society. And the way the State has established itself has been through institutions that rely on coercion, subordination and violence. So: why should the State get the right to do anything?

That is before we even consider the State as an instrument for class rule: as long as there is capitalism, the State will be capitalist and there will be wage slavery for the majority. Thus the right of the State, if such a thing can exist, is really the right of the ruling capitalist class.

As long as we imagine the State as somehow detached from capitalism, that it is somehow ‘our’ State –or as long as we ignore that the State we are talking about is a capitalist State- it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to us that the State should capitalise on Beckett or Joyce or whoever.

But why shouldn’t a capitalist State seek to maximise loyalty and legitimacy by identifying itself with the cultural achievements and history of those it calls its people, or to present the history of these people as indistinguishable from the history of the State? (Also, why shouldn’t it create the category of ‘diaspora‘, mentioned in Gough’s piece, in the service of internal racial logic, outward expulsion of surplus population, and inward flows of cash?)

This doesn’t mean we can have no objection when it does such a thing. On the contrary, such crass expropriation and cultural incorporation ought to be resisted at every turn. But not because you want to build a better capitalist State where the ruling class gives culture its appropriate place.

That is what bothers me about Gough’s suggestion that he would have no problem with Michael D. Higgins giving a speech about Joyce and Beckett and naming the ship because he is a far more appropriate figure than a gom like Enda Kenny. Of course Higgins is a far more cultivated and democratic figure. But for him to do such a thing, we do not need to imagine any seismic revolutionary shift, no explosion of popular democratic mobilisation; just a letter from the Cabinet inviting him to do so. For if Joyce and Beckett can be brandished as signs of the cultural refinement of the Irish State, so too can a poet ensconced in Áras an Uachtaráin delivering exquisite speeches on this and that whilst market forces run riot everywhere else.

What Gough’s piece shows, for all its scathing anger directed at the right targets, is how deep the stranglehold the Irish State has on our collective political imagination, how deeply we identify with it in our view of the world, as if it were ours, when in actual fact it is only ‘ours’ in so far as a group of slaves might speak of “our” master. According to this view of the world, history is not made by peoples, but through the State, with the State and in the State.

There is only one solution for this stranglehold. It must be smashed.

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Another Note On Diarmuid O’Flynn’s MEP election campaign

I’m returning to this because I think it raises important political questions. Diarmuid O’Flynn has expressed an anti-abortion stance as part of his campaign. In my view this stance is incompatible with genuine democracy, freedom and equality.

There is nothing in the world that would make me change this view. Just as water is wet, a State that compels women to give birth and deems them incapable of making decisions about their own bodies is anti-democratic, despotic and anti-woman. Therefore I can find no reason for voting for any candidate in the European elections who espouses such a stance. This applies to Diarmuid O’Flynn and it also applies to every other candidate with a so-called ‘pro-life’ stance in these elections.

In the abstract, there may be certain circumstances, at particular times and places, where it may be necessary to vote for a candidate who espouses such a stance. This would be when you judge the outcome of not voting for that candidate to be appreciably worse.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case in the European elections. If Diarmuid O’Flynn had not expressed such a stance, there might have been useful propaganda value in O’Flynn reaching the European Parliament, given his campaign track record and his public profile. It might have sent out a valuable political signal regarding the Irish debt burden.

But given the public stance on abortion he has expressed, voting for him, and elevating him to MEP would send out an entirely different signal: that it is OK to ditch women’s rights in the pursuit of ‘national sovereignty’.

Though his views as expressed on his blog seem particularly harsh and ignorant with regard to women who are suicidal on account of a pregnancy, I think it bears stressing that O’Flynn’s views are not that different from the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, or from the vast majority of TDs in the Dáil, whose stance on allowing abortion in the event of a risk of suicide took no account of what any woman might think herself, as illustrated by the absurd expert apparatus proposed to oversee authorisation of an abortion in just such an event.

Whilst I oppose his stance on abortion, it doesn’t seem plausible to me that his views on abortion had a bearing on his decision to campaign in the way he has done over the last few years.

It seems a lot more plausible to me that his campaign -and I think it’s important not to confuse a part (Diarmuid O’Flynn) with the whole (all those who have participated in the Ballyhea campaign), as some people have done- is motivated, first and foremost, by a genuine concern about the effects of the illegitimate banking debt on Irish society.

I don’t, as it happens, think he is some sort of sleeper candidate for the Catholic Right who has been unwittingly rumbled. As one of his campaign team told me, they are not professional politicians. They are not surrounded by a team of experts that can weigh up the effect of every public utterance in advance and tailor remarks accordingly.

A person might display admirable qualities in certain actions and dreadful qualities in others, but the whole point of being a public representative is that you intend to represent a constituency. This constituency is then in turn represented by you: in the representative realm, this constituency has no voice of its own, merely the words you put in its mouth. A ‘pro-life’ candidate, then, has the effect of representing a ‘pro-life’ constituency, even when no such constituency really exists, and even when the candidate doesn’t actually make any declaration or vote on any legislation regarding this matter.

And so there is no way of separating the admirable qualities from the dreadful ones in the representative realm.

In other circumstances, people may be open to persuasion, they may reach points of common action on some things and irreconcilable divergence on other matters. In the representative realm, however, stupidity, cowardice, ignorance and bigotry become real and essential characteristics. A vote for a bigoted candidate is a vote for that candidate’s bigotry, with all the symbolic violence that comes with this.

In other contexts, these are only stances adopted by people, and people’s stances can be changed through dialogue and interaction and finding common cause. Taking this possibility seriously -and the possibility one might fail- is what politics is actually about. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts through the realm of representation for this. There are no blind eyes that can be turned. That is a useful lesson, I think, with regard to what is still an urgent matter of building the broadest and strongest possible coalition against illegitimate debt.


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A Note on Diarmuid O’Flynn’s MEP election campaign

The other day I was asked by Diarmuid O’Flynn’s campaign to translate a profile of him published in El País. I was happy to do so because I think the Ballyhea Says No campaign has shown exemplary opposition to the illegitimate debt burden placed on Irish society as a consequence of the bank bailout, both by its continuous protests and the way it kept track of the figures involved.

I also think that the private banking crisis transformed into a sovereign debt crisis, and the austerity policies imposed as a consequence, constitute the most urgent political matter facing not only the population of Ireland but of Europe more broadly. I believe the broadest coalition possible ought to be forged in order to break this deadly stranglehold of debt. Such a coalition would inevitably entail being on the same side as people with whom I have little in common politically, and whose political stances in other areas I might even find anathema.

However I must make clear, in light of this Broadsheet post, and comments on his blog, that I do not endorse Diarmuid O’Flynn’s campaign, and I believe people should not vote for him.

He has said that he will oppose any potential moves emanating from the European Union to liberalise Ireland’s draconian abortion laws. He says he will do this based on the principle of national sovereignty, that it ought to be up to the Irish nation to decide on their laws in this regard, and not the EU.

In effect, he is saying he will use his seat to maintain Ireland’s draconian abortion laws, upholding the power of the Irish State to compel women to give birth. His ‘national sovereignty’ argument in this regard is based on a conception of a nation that can do with women’s bodies as it pleases. Such ideas fly in the face of basic principles of equality and justice. For those who genuinely support such principles, no such nation can be allowed to exist.

A vote for him would be in effect an endorsement of the violation of women’s rights. There is no way, as he suggests in his blog, of ‘prioritising’ the issues he highlights in his manifesto over his stance on this issue, as debt-driven austerity and the liquidation of women’s rights are inextricably linked. To do such a thing would be especially dangerous in light of developments elsewhere in Europe, in particular in Spain, where the implementation of the austerity policies promoted by the Troika goes hand in hand with the re-introduction of restrictive abortion laws. This development is part of a horrifying reassertion of ‘national sovereignty’ on the part of the Spanish government, meaning sovereignty over women’s bodies.

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