At Water charges meetings up and down the country a familiar call from angry crowds was “we are not Left or Right, and we do not want any politics”. This is an understandable reaction from people who have experienced betrayal, lies and broken promises from politicians for decades. The term Right and left goes back to the French Revolution, where people who wanted revolution and a new society stood on the Left and people who supported the monarchy stood on the right in the first French Assembly.
Right wing values are clearly different to left wing values. Right wing politician’s believe in “personal responsibility” and if you were one of the 400 thousand people who lost there job after the banking crisis, that somehow is down to your own personal decisions. They often express similar viewpoints on single parents, immigrants, the environment, people who are obese or who have mental health problems. They ignore inequality and the cruel economic and political system that imposes itself on every aspect of our lives, from vulture fund evictions to the price of bread. None of us can claim to be non-political in a world that so clearly intrudes into all of our lives.
Left wing politics starts from a more holistic humane interpretation of the world. When someone steels a loaf of bread, we say why did he need to do that? When the police turn up in seconds and yet people wait years for an operation we say why is that? When the judge throws him in jail and no banker will ever see a jail we join the dots and come to the conclusion there is an obvious class system that protects private property and the privileged and puts the rest of us at the back of the queue every time. When people oppose the greed of the 1 percent we simply use the word class. This class system is engrained within a capitalist system and no one has ever found a way to manage it on the contrary it bluntly manages us.
The centre does sound like a wonderful practical place to be but we must remember the system that dictates every aspect of our lives is called “capitalism” not “peopleism” Capital is wealth and property we want a system that looks after people not money apeople system, a social system we call it Socialism .
If we choose the same failed comfortable centre ground we have had for decades, by default we accept the interests of the 1 percent are equal to the needs of the 99 percent. The reality we have all seen that at every opportunity centrist and right wing politicians always put the wealthy’s interest ahead of the people. We have had a homeless crisis looming for years and nothing has or will be done to address it. When rich investors wealth looked like been hit during the famous night of the bank guarantee they acted in seconds and fixed the rich’s problems costing us 64 billion, another example of a well-oiled class system.
If we want our interests to be put first we must use our most powerful weapon our Labour. Our labour is what keeps them wealthy, if we withdraw it they quickly have a serious problem .We have seen what extraordinary lengths they go to too demonize and attack anything that looks Left wing, they know if our tactics gather momentum we will win like we did with water charges. Their media demonizes nurses, Tesco workers, luas workers or any workers that dares to challenge them and organize to demand decent wages to provide the basics for their families. If the left was no threat to changing the system they would ignore Paul murphy, Ruth Coppinger, Jermy Corbyn and Richard Boyde Barret but they know the left is familiar with their tricks and has the tools and will to take them on and win.
There is a growing number of independents in Ireland however the vast majority cannot be trusted. Most are ex Fine gael, Finna Fall, labour and there track record shows they are only interested in maintaining the status quo. There is a handful of genuine left politicians such as Claire Daily and Joan Collins who have an excellent track record and have consistently stood with the working class. As a strategy we believe in building huge movements around people power and not top down independents that make their own decisions without democratic consent from the grassroots. Not for a second do we question the integrity of people like Clare Daily but if we are to build a movements where people have participation in democracy, a logical starting point would be a coming together under one umbrella, be it PBP or the AAA. However without a coherent vehicle we are conceding all power and decision making to one independent,that is not what real democracy should be its about togetherness, solidarity and a union of likeminded progressive thinking. You will often hear Richard Boyde Barret saying he has no power and that real power is in the hands of people on the streets not a corrupt parliament.
Strong unions are clearly a left concept that have delivered gains for workers all over the globe and our hated by right wingers sadly most have been hijacked by careerist union officials at the top, who are excellent at sounding radical but like the centrists politicians they too often capitulate to the needs of the bosses. We must take back our unions from right wing fakes and put genuine left wing shop stewards who understand the forces that act against the interests of the working class and won’t settle for crumbs. This needs people with left wing ideas and politics.
Some people suggest we appeal to their sense of morality maybe write a letter or a petition or like what we saw with the occupy movement by occupying public spaces. These are all valid and well intended tactics but they all have failed as they don’t actually affect the pockets of the ruling class, it would be wonderful if it was that simple. We have seen in Greece that European right wing and centrist politicians have allowed millions of families to resort to foraging the countryside for food, allowed fascists to beat up old age pensioners just because they are foreigners and not forgetting allowing thousands to drown in the sea fleeing the same wars they support. We can see how if it’s a choice between the rich been asked to pay their fair share or children to be washed up on beaches, the right and centrist politicians are as inhumane as any drug kingpin or any terrorist we read about. We cannot rely on their morality to do the right things.
Some activist’s fight on individual issues it could be the environment, women’s rights, water charges, Palestine. These issues are all valid and all activism is worthy and should be encouraged. However as a tactic it’s much easier for governments to fight off individual issues, vilify and frustrate them with endless reports and committees not to mention the same police brutality we witnessed at the Corrib gas protests .If we come together in a coherent vehicle that has principals and awareness on a broad range of issues it is logical to conclude that anti water charges activist’s combined with anti-fracking activist’s combined with anti-war activists would be a formidable opponent to any attack by government or big business. People Before Profit and the Anti Austerity Alliance were central in bringing together unions, communities and encouraging self-mobilization on the issue of water charges, saying this we also need to have positions on all issues.
Only the wilfully blind would still believe western governments are working in our interests or we can rely on their systems to deliver real change. Billions have been handed over to the same people who caused the crisis and now they have handed the same people control of our budget. To challenge this we need hundreds and thousands to come together in a vehicle that is aware of this class system, we need to understand and learn from each other and build active branches all over Ireland, Europe and the world. We are living in a historic window to change the world, do we want it to be the same ruthless right wing /centrist world or a left wing world that seeks to put people before profit.
Join your local branch of People Before Profit today www.peoplebeforeprofit or call 087 657 4100