The following statement was issued to the media in Cork this morning, on behalf of Cork’s ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group.
A serious issue arises from the weekend’s events in Cork that should concern everyone. A concerted effort was made by officials claiming to represent Cork City Council to stop the activities of the ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group. The group have organised an Anti-Austerity / Pro-Democracy stall in Patrick’s Street every Saturday for nearly a year, distributing leaflets and speaking with the public.
On Saturday, in successive incidents, up to six individuals approached the group’s information table to demand that the leaflet distribution stop, also demanding that the group stop speaking with the public. Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, spokesperson for the group, said that “despite being advised that we were entitled to be on the street the officials demanded that we ‘move on’, they claimed authority from Cork City Council for doing so.”
At one stage the speaker at the stall was man-handled while addressing the public, at other stages the officials lined up in front of the stall, face to face with members of the group – invading personal space in a threatening manner.
Ó Cadhla said, “Thankfully the Gardaí came to the scene and after some discussion they advised the officials that we were acting within our rights and our work continued uninterrupted.”
Mr. Ó Cadhla says that the ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group will be lodging an official complaint and is already in contact with City Hall in this regard.
Ó Cadhla said “apparently City Council decided that last Saturday was a ‘festive day’ and for ‘fun’, our likes were not wanted … street performance was organised for entertainment and public money spent on it.”
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla noted that “the incidents on Saturday follow a number of earlier attacks on our work against Austerity made by Councillors and Management at City Hall”. He continued, “whether these incidents are related or just some officials ‘going maverick’, it remains a most serious matter – either way we want clarification and an apology from City Council”.
Mr. Ó Cadhla asked “Why does City Council feel it should stop citizens discussing the lack of democracy in our country/city and the unjust imposition of policy on the people?”
He also asked “Why does City Council feel that the people of Cork need more ‘festive’ and ‘fun’ days while so many thousands of families are facing destitution?”
Given that the Constitutional role of Local Government is to provide a “forum for the democratic representation of local communities” why isn’t City Council providing such a forum for the people? rather than distract them with trivia and try to silence anyone who speaks out?
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla 086-3805005
Cork for DEMOCRACY! c/o Ionad an Phobail, 99 Sráid na Dúghlaise, Corcaigh.
Note: It is understood that the event organising was undertaken by a Dublin based company, Emergent Events, who were sponsored and assisted by Cork City Council
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are young male models of heroism, duty and self-sacrifice like the Hardy Boys or Tom Swift once were, in an earlier era. They’re the Horatio Whistleblowers of our time.
They weren’t motivated to release secret material by any ideology or mentor. Their motives were naive, moral and direct. In Manning’s statement at his court martial, he said he came in contact with material on the Iran and Afghanistan wars showing how counterproductive they were and thought Americans should have it to think about, too. “For me it’s all a big mess, and I am left wondering what these things mean . . . I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me . . . to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live . . . As I hoped, others were just as troubled — if not more. . .”
This isn’t a traitor or ideologue, his simple good citizen quality couldn’t be starker. He also used his own judgment on the risks of releasing the material. That’s extraordinary in the sense that he just thought for himself, as a citizen in a truly democratic society would; he didn’t want to do damage but felt he could make those difficult choices based on his own good sense and intentions.
Snowden, in his video interview from Hong Kong, said his greatest fear was that nothing would change after his revelations. He’s clearly aware that most Americans — at least in response to a rigged poll question — are OK with the current “balance” between privacy and security. But he’s content to defer to the results of a genuinely informed public debate; he is also citizenly and naive, as if he’s inside a 1930s Frank Capra film like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
If you, too, yearn for a more participatory, “citizen” democracy — instead of just voting and leaving the rest to elected reps who get to know and decide everything that matters — you might ask: what could be done to produce more citizens like these? Part of the answer surely lies in the public educational system, though not in the directions it’s heading in the U.S. right now.
The main trend there is standardized tests. Prepping for them crowds everything else out, depresses students and teachers and has no relation to nurturing thought that leads toward brave acts of citizenship. Another current is privatizing public schools into “charter” schools, using public funds which go to corporations with no inherent motive for instilling a democratic mindset that generates embarrassing leaks. It’s also possible that the rising load of student debt there is meant, as Noam Chomsky recently suggested, to discourage the young from getting too much education. All these trends exist here.
I’m not naive about the public system. It’s always been a conduit for official ideology but it has one excellent thing going for it: it’s public. Everyone has a right to be there solely by being a citizen or resident. Kids can draw democratic conclusions from that, and from the mix they may encounter.
There are however no straight lines to noble citizenship. Both Snowden and Manning had patchy schooling. Snowden dropped out and got high-school equivalency at community college. Manning spent years at school in Wales before returning to the U.S. (I don’t see any evidence, btw, of gender confusion in him, as has been implied; he’s clear on being gay though he’s distressed by reactions of others to his sexuality, much as he was perplexed by his country’s behaviour in the wars that motivated his disclosures.)
Still, it’s interesting to compare Barack Obama’s schooling. He had some early hard knocks in Indonesia but from Grade 5 on, went to an elite Hawaii private school. He attended private universities like Columbia and Harvard Law. His kids are in private schools that don’t waste time on standardized tests. He knows more about the real world than most leaders, but his formal training implies a view of democracy that says: Elect us because we know better than you what’s best for everyone. It’s the opposite of the think-for-yourself citizen democracy embodied in the young geeks now in jail or on the run.
This article was first published in the Toronto Star
Charity starts at home, as the saying goes. So the very least that can be expected of communication consultants is that they are successful at communicating.
And they have been successful – well beyond expectations. They have not only managed to take a front-and-center seat in electoral campaigns, they are now also sought after to promote both government policy and lobbying objectives.
It has become hard to even imagine any ambitious leader, or political party, not making use of their services. Sometimes several are hired – one can’t be too well advised. So the communication business has prospered big time thanks to major or particularly astute public figures and some prestige-building wins.
Along with the leaders they advised, over time the consultants themselves began to become better and better known by playing up their role in the winning or exercise of power by their man – one thinks of Tony Blair’s Alastair Campbell, George W. Bush’s Karl Rove, and François Mitterrand’s (and later Jacques Chirac’s) Jacques Pilhan.
Some communication consultants engaged actively in self-promotion. Jacques Séguéla, co-founder of the RSCG (Havas) communication agency, sometimes made it sound as if he were the one who won France’s presidential election in 1981. Others let others do the talking while never denying rumors about just how great the extent of their influence was. They peppered their conversation with the titles and names of important people, sometimes divulging insider tidbits or referring to the VIPs by their first names to suggest the closeness of the relationship.
Quite naturally, story-telling specialists lend themselves to story-telling, and we have Alastair Campbell (Mark Bazeley) at the side of Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) in Stephen Frears’s 2006 film The Queen, or a fictional, romantic U.S. president (Michael Douglas) constantly being updated on poll results by his closest consultant (Annette Bening) in Rob Reiner’s 1995 film The American President. That’s unless the communicator actually morphs into a democratic hero himself, as in the 2012 Chilean movie No, in which an ad man becomes a principal agent of General Pinochet’s downfall.
Undoubtedly not the least of the successes of communication consultants is having made it via morally ambiguous means. Just as all election campaigners can’t come out the winner, neither can communication consultants – unless they’re also advising the opponents.
Big groups like Euro RSCG can pretend that it’s not the same teams that are “conceiving” rival campaigns. Other consultants – like one who was proud of handling “three presidential elections for 17 candidates” – vaunt advising multiple candidates. Without conflict of interest, of course!
Brains in the shadows
There are still some lingering bad smells associated with the communication business that – like all new and not very legitimate endeavors, particularly in democracies where opinion is supposed to be sovereign and commitment motivated by conviction and altruism – at first prospered in the shadows.
And mystery may indeed be largely responsible for the reputation such consultants have today. After their semi-veiled éminence grise era, they have emerged into the open where they enjoy the ambiguous power-and-cynicism-fueled prestige of spin-doctors. One doesn’t really know if that’s a term of reprobation, admiration, or if it is simply coldly realistic.
The big collective win of communication consultants has been to make people believe. First and foremost – in them. That success is even bigger if you consider that it was won using a very basic vocabulary borrowed from advertising: knowing the market (in this case, citizens); segmenting those citizens politically via polls and focus groups; and applying recipes borrowed from social psychology to present the products – which is to say, candidates, images, platforms.
The activity generated its own success. The existence of permanent yardsticks for public opinion (polls, surveys) requires communication consultants to manage that opinion. Are the polls “bad”? The communicators are at hand to turn “bad” to “good.”
Consultants in political communication can no doubt be seen as part of the long tradition of princely counselors, and in line with the present professionalization of politics, division of political work, and replacement of militants by mercenaries.
Of course, communicators can’t force political leaders to employ them and cannot be accused of the evils from which they benefit. But they can’t be exonerated either.
And having made themselves indispensable, they ask for top dollar – thus increasing the costs of politics to the state and hence taxpayers.
It is also true that political marketing has gone some way to creating disillusionment with democracy. Does it really mean nothing that citizens are treated like consumers, that the procedures of marketing commercial products has been applied to them as “targets” of tactics and cynical calculation?
The objective of communication is winning. But at any price? It comes expensive if you consider the financial costs but even more the moral costs inflicted on democracy.
Effect and outcomes can no longer be ignored as they have been in the past – for example in conjunction with famous ad campaigns like the one concocted by Edward Bernays for American Tobacco. The goal was to break the taboo that forbade women from smoking in public.
Based on the work of a psychoanalyst who associated cigarettes with penises, Bernays decided to create a link between feminism and smoking. At New York’s renowned Easter Day Parade in 1929 he organized a group of women to light up for photographers. The next day the image of the suffragettes and their “torches of freedom” had been circulated all over the country.
Today we know that “smoking kills.”
Alain Garrigou is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre.
Does Democracy and Justice still apply in the USA?
The federal trial against alleged computer criminal Barrett Brown has been delayed by six months. Now the activist once called the “spokesperson” of the Anonymous hacker movement will wait in prison for one full year before being tried.
Brown, 31, was scheduled to stand trial later this month for a slew of charges that have handed down in three separate indictments filed by the government since last September. Per the request of his attorneys, however, legal proceedings have been pushed back for six months, delaying the trial until September 2013.
Doug Morris, a public defender appointed to serve as Brown’s defense counsel, asked for an extension in order to evaluate the evidence against his client, the Associate Press reports. US District Judge Sam Lindsay obliged on Wednesday this week.
The AP adds that Brown’s trial for one indictment is now slated for September 3, 2013, with trials for his second and third indictments scheduled to start on Sept. 23. Brown was arrested on Sept. 12 last year and has been in law enforcement custody for the nearly six months since.
The AP describes Brown as having Brown “once served as de facto spokesman for Anonymous, a shadowy movement that has gotten attention for cyberattacks,” although he says he’s never represented himself as such. Although Brown has aligned himself with the Anonymous movement on several occasions in the past and have spoken broadly on matters relating to the group, he wrote from prison last year, “I am not and never have been the spokesman for Anonymous, nor its ‘public face’ or, worse, ‘self-proclaimed’ ‘face’ or ‘spokesperson’ or ‘leader.’”
Brown’s legal issues began last March when FBI agents raided his Dallas, Texas home with search warrants for computers that contained information pertaining to, among other things, the Anonymous collective, offshoot LulzSec and a number of private businesses that were investigated by both groups as well as Brown’s own Project PM, an independent think-tank he designed in part “to develop new methods by which to use the internet for positive change and to encourage others to adapt such methods.”
One day after the March 2012 raid, Brown wrote the FBI “fully intended to take a certain laptop, and did” when the feds raided his mother’s house shortly after the first incident. He also said that federal agents threatened both he and his mother with conspiracy to obstruct justice for the next few months, spawning Brown to lash out at the FBI in a series of YouTube videos and Twitter posts created in September 2012.
“I know what’s legal, I know what’s been done to me… And if it’s legal when it’s done to me, it’s going to be legal when it’s done to FBI Agent Robert Smith — who is a criminal,” claimed Brown in one of the clips uploaded to the Web. “That’s why Robert Smith’s life is over. And when I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life and look into his fucking kids… How do you like them apples?”
Hours after that video was uploaded to the Web, a SWAT team raided Brown’s Dallas, Texas apartment and placed him in custody for nearly one month before he was charged with threatening a federal officer. Once behind bars, though, Brown’s legal issues escalated.
While in custody, the Justice Department unsealed two separate indictments against Brown: In December, Brown was charged with sharing an Internet hyperlink that contained over 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information and the authentication features for the cards. One month later, Brown was charged with obstructing justice by “knowingly and corruptly conceal and attempt to conceal records, documents, and digital data contained on two laptop computers,” as he hinted at nearly one year earlier.
Attorney Jay Leiderman, who is not representing Brown in this case, wrote on his personal blog when the third indictment was unsealed that the hacktivist could face a century in prison if convicted on all counts.
“He is alleged to have made threatening YouTube videos aimed at the FBI agent that raided his home, he is alleged to have shared a link that contained credit card and access information, and he supposedly hid laptops when the FBI came-a-knocking. That’s right, that sorta stuff could cost you 100 years these days,” he wrote.
Brown is alleged to have shared a link to the credit card details in a chat room after seeing it posted in another. The trove of data contained within the link related to subscriber data pilfered by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a private intelligence company hacked by Anonymous in December 2011. Thousands of emails obtained in that compromise were later given to the whistleblower website WikIleaks and have been subsequently published online.
Upon release of the credit card numbers, Brown disavowed the hack. He said, “Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers, which the hackers in question could not have expected to be as easily obtainable as they were. Rather, the operation was pursued in order to obtain the 2.7 million e-mails that exist on the firm’s servers.”
Jeremy Hammond, a hacker and activist from Chicago, has been behind bars for over one year while awaiting trial for charges relating to the Stratfor hack. Federal proscutors say he spearheaded the hack as a member of the groups Anonymous and LulzSec. He stands to face the rest of his life in prison if convicted.e
Our World is one of rampant corruption and of unmitigated greed, of bankrupt morality and of thriving injustice. Our World is one of disinformation and misinformation, of conflicts of interest and of boundless deceit. Our World is one of celebrated ignorance, of indolent skepticism and of contagious apathy. Our World is one of omnipresent egoism, of distractions both blatant and devilishly elaborate. Our World is one of decrepit institutions, of malfunctioning systems and of an incompetent establishment. Our World is one of political homogeneity, of mass-produced bureaucrats and of depressing hypocrisy. Our World is one of conscienceless capitalism, of deaths both tragic and utterly preventable. Our World is one of counterfeit guardians, of clandestine pogroms and of censored protestors. Our World is one of impotent charity, of scandals too heinous to even believe. Our World is one of the privileged and the unfortunate and of a divide that has now become immeasurable. Our World is one of misplaced respect, of intellectual cowardice and of absent belief. The delusional puppet of the Global Ruling Class, our World is doomed to inevitable failure, regression and disorder.
Enough Is Enough.
“They” gambled with our livelihoods in the hope of inflating their coffers and lining their pockets. “They” refuse to take responsibility for what their avaricious recklessness has created. “They” serve only one another and ignore the demands of the majority. “They” hide behind a serpentine structure that camouflages their fraud and duplicity. “They” maintain that nothing can be changed, that inequality is necessary. “They” prefer to profit than to support social progress and development. “They” mislead and deceive habitually – “they” rarely have time for the truth. “They” gladly sacrifice their integrity in exchange for material wealth and luxury. “They” promote and propagate their secret agendas both subliminally and flagrantly. “They” craft and erect enticing diversions wherever and whenever possible. “They” advocate a culture of self-obsession, of compliance and of consumerism. “They” hail a perverted and disfigured caricature as an example of true democracy. “They” have abandoned substance in exchange for unbelievably tiresome sophistication. “They” promise urgent and fundamental reform but never deliver when they have the power. “They” pretend to be champions of nobility but soon change their colours given the opportunity. “They” manufacture pandemic fear and abuse it for unwholesome purposes. “They” insist that the State be kept as far removed from the Public as is legally feasible. “They” silently amass prodigious fortunes worth millions and billions of any currency whilst thousands perish everyday of causes that are financially preventable. “They” continue to exploit an unjust framework at the expense of the voiceless and the innocent. “They” use land for recreation and entertainment while many are forced to survive without shelter. “They” can afford to bailout broken fiscal systems but pay no attention to the sick or to the hungry. “They” quote national borders as the chief excuse for their negligence and inhumanity. “They” have no desire to improve our lives – unless, of course, they can find a way to benefit. “They” are selling us synthetic freedom and we are giving them international domination.
Enough Is Enough.
The problems of contemporary global society are manifold: biased judiciaries, amoral food and medical companies, an unelected Free Market dictatorship, a self-serving and treacherous Political Class, merciless and ubiquitous corporatism, a spineless and venal Media, a monetarily distended Entertainment Industry, thousands of avoidable quotidian deaths, carefully manipulated news acting as surreptitious propaganda, a veritable dearth of transparency and accountability, ineffective and diminutive taxation for the prosperous, increasingly encroaching commercialism, a Popular Culture predicated on indifference and narcissism, an Economic System that has become cripplingly convoluted, gargantuan unemployment and pressurized emigration, the deliberate suppression of significant public information, discreetly endorsed bigotry and dwindling civil liberties, Multinational Trade Laws that impoverish the disadvantaged, execrable genocides that are uniformly disregarded, spurious democracy and institutionalized inequality, a Global Ruling Class that is both anonymous and totalitarian – the list regrettably goes on and on and on and on.
My friends, this pathetic state-of-affairs has become untenable. From Washington D.C. to Canberra, from New Delhi to Brasilia, from Brussels to Pretoria and from Abuja to Jakarta, too many people are dying, too many children are suffering, too many injustices are going unpunished, too many lies are being told. At present, we live in a world paralyzed by avarice and blighted by duplicity, devastated by vanity and incapacitated by exploitation. Worldwide, the Authorities repeatedly refuse to listen to any of our grievances, to empathize with our predicaments. In spite of our objections, of our calls for change and widespread reform, they have done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the condition of international society.
I say that now is the time for us to stand up for what is right. To stand up for freedom and to defend equality, to resurrect democracy and to protect our humanity. We, the People – the almighty majority, we do not need a Ruling Class to show us how to live and to tell us what to value. Now, I do not contend that I know the “right” way – that I know the solutions to our many and varied difficulties. But what I do know is that the current approach is failing and that it is not the only approach that we as human beings may take. I believe that if we as a society honourably discuss and analyse our problems, if we permit each and every disparate voice to be heard, that we will be capable of finding a better answer to our dilemmas, an answer that is more democratic and egalitarian. For, I feel that it would be more socially prudent and responsible to take a long time to make the correct decisions than to take a short time to make erroneous decisions. I genuinely do not doubt that we, the Population, can find another way to live, regardless of the assertions of the Ruling Classes that change is ultimately impossible. I refuse to believe that the status quo is unchangeable. There has to be a fairer, more humane structure for civilized government.
But none of this is remotely obtainable in our world in its present state. The Global Ruling Class has all the power and is in complete control of society. However, I maintain that this is only because we, the People, have allowed such a dire and dismal situation to gradually arise. With their influence over Politics and the Global Economy, over Popular Culture and, indeed, over the Media too, they have succeeded in distracting us, deluding us and deceiving us. They have succeeded in neutralizing the purity of democracy. But none of that is important if we stand up today. Please remember that we are the majority and they are the minority. In spite of their weapons and their dominance, in spite of their affluence, together, our force is unquestionably indomitable and unstoppable. Every instrument that they wield in their oppression of freedom and equality is but a product ofhuman ingenuity and innovation. Therefore they can be destroyed. Therefore they can be replaced. Therefore we can make a better world if we remain united and refuse to be divided.
And so now I urge you to take all necessary action, to do everything possible to bring about the overdue demise of the reign of the Global Ruling Class. Whether you are a student in the United Kingdom or a construction worker in Angola. Whether you are a farmer in the People’s Republic of China or an artist in Guatemala. Whether you are black or white, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, of any religion, of any race, of any profession, of any sexual orientation, please remember that you are a human being above and beyond anything else, that underneath all cosmetic divisions we are all in fact one and the same. Ergo, you are automatically entitled to Freedom, to Democracy and to Equality, to live in a respectable community, to a world devoid of treachery. Therefore, go forth and sabotage this disgraceful system, demolish this vile edifice of inequity and inhumanity. Take your money out of the contaminated banking network – boycott every foul pillar of monetary impropriety. Go on indefinite strike and encourage others to do the same. March in the streets and in the squares from dawn to dusk until they surrender. Occupy all public space until they submit to our demands. Put up posters and distribute leaflets informing people of this righteous cause. Saturate the Media with our message – with the Truth. Complain to the Ruling Class until they are sick of hearing, seeing, knowing you. Represent those who are unable to express their despair and dissatisfaction. Tell everyone, everywhere of the struggle for justice in our society. Fight until you can fight no more for Freedom, Equality and Democracy.
It is only via these honest methods that our objectives can be eventually achieved. We will not be presented with our goals – we must procure them for ourselves. There are those among us who believe that we must resort to violence in order to fell the Global Ruling Class, but I feel that we owe it to all lost knights of liberty to give peace one final opportunity to triumph. However, I must warn you that irrespective of who you are, irrespective of what your opinion is, irrespective of where you come from or of the reasons for which you may be demonstrating, I can guarantee that “they” will beat you down, that “they” will penalize you, that “they” will not show you any mercy or understanding should you challenge their authority and defend what is good and what is right. Remember Ian Tomlinson. Remember Scott Olsen. Remember the Martyrs of Syria. Remember the Fallen Heroes of the Russian Federation. “They” are an old institution and have witnessed many unsuccessful challenges to their supremacy. “They” will not be overthrown so easily, so rapidly.
And if your conviction begins to waver, if your resolve begins to dissipate, just glance nonchalantly at the world and it will all come flooding back. Wealthy investors being illicitly bailed out with your stolen taxes. Ordinary people being punished for the greed and carelessness of the Ruling Class. Opulent bonuses, pensions and severance packages for unrepentant financial criminals. Supposed paragons of virtue selling death machines to dictators whilst concurrently abusing the vulnerable indirectly. Whitewashed massacres in Mexico, in Sri Lanka and in South Waziristan, to name but a few. Thousands of individuals dying of fiscally preventable causes everyday as mercenary companies post recurrent profits in the millions and billions of dollars. Mendacious politicians using parliamentary expenses to defraud their unsuspecting people while public healthcare and educational services are blamed for corporate and administrative malpractice and incompetence. Celebrities earning obscene fortunes while children starve and remain shelterless, a media too preoccupied with its own debauchery to report on crimes of greater gravity. And, all the while, none but a few intrepid voices in the dark talk of the truly grotesque nature of contemporary society. Don’t worry, my friends, it should not take more than a moment to remember why our degenerate world is in urgent need of a revolution.
What this movement represents, what this campaign symbolizes is inherently and fundamentally incorruptible and virtuous. Nobody can deny that the idea that every human being has a right to freedom, equality and democracy, that everybody is entitled to water, healthcare, food and shelter is, in itself, unreservedly honourable and indisputably commendable. We must never forget this. Regardless of what the Global Ruling Class may say, regardless of what they may do to us, regardless of how many of us may perish in this most valiant and heroic of struggles, this idea can never and will never be destroyed. This idea can never and will never be perverted. This must always be remembered. No matter how many of us may fall, no matter how hard they may strike us, we shall thrive beneath the scythe of their violence, we shall multiply underneath the pall of their tyranny. The greater their oppression, the grander our retaliation shall be. Nothing shall defeat the purity of our virgin aspirations.
And so now I kneel before you in unprotected supplication. I beg of you, every one of you, to resist fell apathy and insouciant distraction. Turn off your televisions. Put down your magazines. Switch off your computers, your mobile phones and your music players. Forget celebrities. Forget all plastic fantasies. Ignore the football – ignore all of their contrived diversions. Think of the future, think of the injustices of the present. How much more money must they take off us before we decide to do something? How many more innocents must die before we decide to say something? Think of your children – think of the thousands starving as we speak. It will never end until we stand up and make our presence felt. They do not care about our plight, about our difficulties. What must they do before we finally say “ENOUGH!”? What must they do before we finally decide to make it end?
Now, I am not a socialist. I am not a terrorist. I am not a conspiracy theorist and neither am I an anarchist. What I am is a humanbeing who believes that people can do better. That the Human Race is capable of building a world of greater beauty. I have yet to read Milton’s poetry. I have yet to see Van Gogh’s mastery. I have yet to savour Mozart’s brilliance. I have yet to behold all of nature’s wonders. But, nonetheless, I am willing to give my life, to sacrifice everything that I have for what is good, for what is just, for what I know to be pure and true. For the deprived and for the dying, for the weak and for the hungry, for the young and for the old, for the sinless children of the future, I can no longer tolerate the wretched state of our society. I can no longer stomach the dishonesty, the avarice. Please, I beg of you to disregard what cold experience may have taught you. Please, I beg of you to believe once more in the virtue of humanity. Please, I beg of you to solemnly trust that this loathsome planet can be changed. Please, I beg of you to join me in this most decent and noble of campaigns. Please.
For Equality. For Democracy. For Freedom.
The Power lies in Our hands.
Democracy or just simply Demopsefia?
A new nationwide opinion poll in Ireland has shown that people are becoming more and more disillusioned with the political process leading one to wonder if democracy (people rule) has simply become demopsefia (people vote). This type of disillusionment is becoming widespread across Europe in general. While no one is naive enough to believe all the promises of politicians, in recent years the desires of the electorate seem to be ever more blatantly subsumed to the financial interests/problems of recent governments.
While in the past clientelism and patronage produced some semblance of benefit to the voters, the deepening financial crisis and unemployment is breaking down the old ways of thinking and behaving. Voters are becoming just that, voters. And as such, are starting to wonder what is the point of voting at all? Thus we have an increase in the third main aspect of the current crisis, emigration. According to Aideen Sheehan emigration is ‘at famine levels’ as 200 leave the country every day: ‘Some 87,000 people emigrated from Ireland in the year to April 2012, three times as many as the annual exodus during the boom years.’ Another source states that: ‘More than half of those who left the country in the 12 months up to April  were Irish and almost 36,000 were under the age of 25, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.’
We have come a long way from the desires of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, whereby, as the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson writes:
‘The motto of The Irish Citizen newspaper, published by the Irish Women’s Franchise League from 1912 to 1920, encapsulates not only the ideals of the campaign for female suffrage in Ireland but the longing of women the world over to be equal and active citizens in their societies: “For men and women equally the rights of citizenship; from men and women equally the duties of citizenship.”’
The sleight-of-hand conversion of the citizen into consumer only works insofar as the consumer has the wherewithal to consume. Another recent survey revealed that ‘Irish consumer sentiment plunged five percentage points in February  as the effects of January sales faded and a deal to restructure a €30 billion government debt failed to boost confidence.’
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that consumer confidence will improve with the range of new taxes being prepared by the government at the moment. The downward spiral caused by taking more and more money out of the economy to pay government debts is reflected in the comment by KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes who remarked that: ‘The Irish consumer is seeing an improvement in ‘macro’ conditions across the economy but their personal finances remain under pressure.’
Yet while consumers become disillusioned and young people vote with their feet, the belief that the democratic system is not simply about voting on who will win/lose their well-paid jobs in the government is alive and well in the growing immigrant community in Ireland. At the Irish Citizenship Ceremony held in Dublin last year almost 4,000 people from 115 countries became Ireland’s newest citizens. According to Charlie Taylor in the Irish Times:
‘Attorney General Máire Whelan SC and retired justice Bryan McMahon presided over four ceremonies at which 3,800 individuals were sworn as Irish citizens, having made a declaration of loyalty to the nation and fidelity to the State as well as undertaking to faithfully observe the laws of the State and respect its democratic values.’
The enthusiasm of Ireland’s newest citizens was evident. ‘I am very excited today because I have been here for so long working hard to get my citizenship’ said Maria Elizabeth Mallo (50) from the Philippines who has lived in Roscommon for the past 10 years.
Is it possible that this enthusiasm for citizenship ignited by a newly globalised population will push the superficial concept of consumer (not to mention its manipulability) over the edge and bring about a return to a national ideology of rights and duties of citizenship? We are not beholden to the state for whatever we have or consume – we pay taxes and uphold the laws that keep the state in existence. To narrow the concept of citizen to the concept of consumer leaves out elites in society who have absolutely no loyalty to any state yet gain all the benefits. By re-defining ourselves as citizens again and re-imagining what kind of society we want to live in, surely we can put our votes to better use?
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes (http://gaelart.net/). His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.
Ireland who Rules?
The ruling class is ruling, the working class is barely working and for the middle class, well let us just say for them it was fun while it lasted. Unbeknownst to them the middle classes are merging into the proletariat but fail to recognize the signs
The new Rulers
The new rulers are the IMF/ECB and the global Corporations which will slowly but surly turn Ireland into an economic concentration camp and we will meekly comply. What great fate Marx had in humanity if he were alive today he would turn in his grave with shame
Future children will say to their Grandfathers… what was it like to be rich?
Grandfather: It was very nice but alas, those days are gone… The days of wine, roses, and song
Child: why do people refer to as an appendage of the machine?
Grandfather: Because they have taken away your character, your value is no more than that of an add-on to the machine. You in fact are of less value than the machine itself. That child is now your lot.
Child: Will we ever be rich again Grandfather.
Grandfather: Maybe, Maybe when we learn to fight and resist the dictate of the global corporations and their various lackeys
Understand child, your struggle is a class struggle. The politicians your parents vote for have become the servants of the monetary powers. Please realise, these people no longer represent the people. Your vote is no loner an exercise in democracy it has become little more than a cruel fantasy of what democracy should be.
They have betrayed us all by belittling and replacing democracy by the illusory notion of a hybrid Democracy to serve the interests of national security. Child you have nothing to loose but your chains.
Child: Thank you grandfather Marx
In the name of the free market, the lives of millions of people all over the planet are now predestined to expropriation, unemployment, destitution, misery, wars, and State repression.
This is done not under the names of your not your government but at the bequest of the IMF/ECB and the global Corporations
“We thought we might dip our toes into trying some small elements of democracy and we might give the people some say in how they should be governed,” Jose Bubbarosso, the senior EU Commissioner for EU Dictatorial policy said at a recent conference.
Democracy is something that is completely alien to the EU but they say they are at least trying to implement it in a few hundred years time.
“We may consider giving the masses some say in the EU but there is still not much chance of that ever happening in our super soviet state because that could be very dangerous to our system of total control,” another unelected bureaucrat said.
Now for a serious point, no irony, no satire:- what’s been allowed to happen in Erris for the last ten years regarding the Shell Corrib gas project has significantly devalued the standard of democracy in Ireland. It is a symptom of a wider malaise, for which we’re paying by selling off our independence, our very status as a democratic state – lack of proper participatory democratic process.
We’ve been lead to this point by a gang of unscrupulous dons, none of whom have been made to even acknowledge their crimes.
Crime has become accepted as the norm in Erris, upheld by the agents of state we are brought up to believe protect and support democratic institutions.
There is a painting by Jack B. Yeats in the Hugh Lane gallery called The Maggie Man. The Maggie Man invites fair-goers to pay to throw stones at a wooden roughcut figure called a maggie – gléas magaidh – to encourage it to fend off evil. Those we have allowed to become our leaders have made a maggie of our democracy. They have reduced us to abusing it, diminishing it piecemeal, paying to do so, with blind faith in its automatic powers, while thinking we are engaged in normal democratic activity.
This is what drove me to write Ailliliú Fionnuala. – Donal O’Kelly
via Shell to Sea.
via Shell to Sea.