Monday, September 8, 2008

Days Like These No9

Who Are The Irish What Do They Want?

By Guest Bolger Gerry Fitzpatrick
We stand at the beginning of a new brutal era as the world’s Empire’s - old and new fight it out for control of the world’s resources. The invasions of Iraq and Georgia show that the pretence about ‘bringing democracy’ to other counties is well and truly over. Iraq and Georgia have the privilege of joining Pakistan, South Korea and Egypt as client regimes no matter how its people’s are ruled. And what are our interests? That’s not just a question for the conservative President of France it is a question for us all and it is not just because a government has again lost a crucial European vote. (It is also a question for a certain young man sitting under a tree in Africa. We all know him and you should keep him in mind as I will return to him later.)

Some time ago our comrade - Dr Terry Eagleton wrote in a rather mournful way about how the new generation of Irish students had appeared to have forgotten Ireland’s own radical history in their headlong dash to be modern. And it worth quoting his words from 1996:

Modernization in Ireland today means a host of precious things: pluralism secularization, flexible notions of sovereignty [but it can also mean] being shame faced and sarcastic about your historical as to as to leap, suitably streamlined and amnesiac, into the heat of the European order characterized by racism, structural unemployment, urban barbarism, military campaigns against the Third World and abandonment of Irish small farmers and working class to a brutally neo-liberal polity.
(Eagleton, ‘The Ideology of Irish Studies’)

It’s odd then that Revisionists and Tories often joke about how the Irish see themselves as being the most oppressed people in the world and they are probably right about that, for it has consequences and effects that are worthwhile. We aspire to invert imperial chauvinism and that is a struggle in itself which, as we’ve seen - we don’t always succeed, but that did not and should not stop us. Because we share a kinship with those who have been brutally occupied and forced into starvation and emigration.
Let’s return to the youngman sitting under a tree in Africa. He’s there to do the simple and the good – build a school, install a water pump, repair a road, put together a transport link – fight hunger and disease. We shouldn’t romanticise him – he is after all probably there on a gap year and I’m sure he wishes sometimes that he never agreed to travel and work in a place where the great powers cut a swathe to their one interest. But he will stay on - for the rewards will far outweigh the discomfort and the doubts. It is a mission and a duty – political quasi-religious in nature but democratic and just nonetheless. And that is whether we like it or not. Our comrade Dr Eagleton may have despaired of the generation that appeared ready to forget that the cause of Ireland is labour. But our relation to Europe and the world doesn’t end with a government giving taxes to support NGO’s and their faltering programmes. The truth is that countless thousands have gone abroad to labour against hunger, disease and oppression. The cause of Ireland is labour - it is not ‘national’ or practiced by nationalists - it is international. For we stand for and with the starving, the oppressed and against imperial occupation. We have said ‘NO’ twice to those in power who think that an economy works best when regulated in favour of the fantastically rich and which pays farmers not to grow food while the cost of meagre rations is forced skyward. These too are crimes against humanity which we must do all we can to fight and work against.

No comments: