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Wednesday June 05, 2013 18:20 by dubaltg8 - Dublin Alternative G8 Committee
This year's G8 promises to be different for a number of reasons. G8s and G8 protests have, by now, become something of a ritual. One where each side already knows the rules of the game. The great and good come together to discuss how they might set the world to right, and the protestors outside condemn them for not doing it quickly enough – or not really intending to do it at all. Charity is promised to Africa, and folks like Sir Bob Geldof will proclaim that a successful G8 has been had. Other folks will throw bricks and bottles at the police, and feel that they have stuck a blow for the cause. What cause exactly is not always clear. The media have a field day – a morning glimpse of presidents and prime ministers, and then spend the rest of the day with the unwashed outside; hoping that they will start a riot – or, at least, do something that looks good on camera and will fill thirty seconds on primetime news. And the general public have a little bit of entertainment to lighten the daily drudge of work, or more and more commonly, unemployment.
So why should the G8 Summit on the 17th and 18th of June 2013 be any different?
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Well, the location is quite different this year. G8 Summits have generally been held in the countries of the great powers, the Great Eight. All of these powers reached their position of “greatness” through imperial conquest, and their populations, be they Left or Right, have the preoccupations of mature economies, which have enjoyed the benefits of huge transfers of wealth from the former colonies, and the continued transfers from the sweatshop economies of the Third World. G8 protestors tend to see the world’s problems in terms of ecological destruction, Austerity, or development aid for Africa. These are First World concerns.
In late 2012, the British government, who host the event this year, surprised everybody by announcing that the G8 Summit would be held in Ireland, more specifically, the six north eastern counties of Ireland, still under British occupation. Within a few weeks, the unusualness of this location became quite clear. Police intercepted a car bomb intended for the Lough Erne Golf Resort Hotel, i.e. the G8 Hotel. Shortly afterwards, primed mortar bombs were found near the Hotel, which sits on a piece of land, surrounded on three sides by one of Ireland’s largest lakes. To add to the bizarre atmosphere, the local police have been taking great pride in telling international media reporters about the hundreds of prison cells they have available for G8 protestors – and that, as an added precaution, they are going to re-open closed British Army bases for the occasion, to make sure they have even more prison space. The last four decades of armed resistance have given the British state in Ireland one great resource – plenty of prison cells.
Clearly, the G8 has been moved from Great Britain to Ireland to avoid a repeat of widespread summer riots in England in 2011. It’s a sign of the times that the British government now considers IRA bombs to be less of a threat than the class anger of English youth. But still, hosting the G8 Summit in Ireland brings a very different colour to the proceedings, or the ritual, as we have called it above – one that is not entirely predictable. Ireland is England’s first colony. It was in Ireland that the Anglo-Saxon first learned to think of himself as the master of men, the bringer of civilisation to the native. The genocidal methods used to exterminate the entire population of Tasmania, and to reduce so many native peoples to abjection, where first practiced and perfected in Ireland. The Elizabethan poet, Edmund Spenser, lamented that the English sword could never do the job that needed doing. Only famine would clear Irish land of the Irish. Centuries later, the US Army repeated this sentiment, when they wantonly shot dead thousands of bison, to starve the Native American into submission - and exile to reserved concentration camps. These are very different methods and ideals to those of ancient empires. Anglo-Saxon imperialism was never just about enslaving and extracting surplus value. It was, always, and at the same time, a religious crusade - a jihad to bring competition and the rule of the market to the lazy native. To make him a respecter and a saver of money – and a saver of sexual energy, wrenched from its natural course and put to the service of profit, as Freud so eloquently noted.
So, when the G8 circus comes to Ireland this June, ecology, austerity and charity for Africa will not take pride of place among all those who intend to give the G8ers a warm welcome. In Belfast, The Irish Anti-Imperialist Forum has been organised by Republican Sinn Féin, for the 14th and 15th of June. Speakers are expected from organisations across the Third World, from India to the Philippines, who are actively resisting Western imperialism. They themselves will tell what they want – and it certainly doesn’t seem to be the charity of those who pollute their rivers, steal their resources, and murder their patriots.
In Dublin, anti-imperialists were not slow to recognise the symbolism of hosting the G8 in occupied Ireland. The message was clear: This land is British land, won by the sword, and held by the sword. Resistance has been defeated, the process of normalization completed. Croppy was lying down, and nobody expected him to get up anytime soon. The Dublin Alternative G8 Committee was established to pick up that gauntlet, and work begun to make sure that the flag of anti-imperialism would fly proudly in Ireland’s capital city, and principal population centre. On the 17th of June, anti-imperialists will gather in Dublin, from across Ireland and from Africa, Iraq, Palestine, the Basque Country, the Philippines, Syria, the USA and from Canada. Not to make any claims of the G8, but to begin work on building a very real and effective network to take on the New Imperialism and the New Scramble for Africa. When we are strong enough, the G8 will have nothing to give us – as we will already have taken everything. On the 18th of June, a National Demonstration will assemble in Dublin to remember the 1913 Lockout, and to present to the Working Class of Dublin, 100 years later, it’s own strength, massed and present, for it’s own inspection.
Ireland is a small island, on the north eastern edge of Europe. World movements do not begin in Ireland, but rather wash over the waves to us. The Celts came from Central Europe, bringing their language and customs. Then Christianity came. Feudalism was brought by the Normans, and Capitalism by the English. While world movements do not begin in Ireland, Ireland has never stayed aloof from them. And so it was when the banner of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, was raised by Robespierre and his fellow citizens. By 1798, Ireland had risen in arms, under the leadership of Theobald Wolfe Tone and with the help of French Revolutionary Forces. That rising was suppressed with a violence that surpassed that of La Terreur in Paris. One of the many mass graves from that year, filled with the bodies of Irish volunteer soldiers, who had faced the English cannon with only pikes in their hands, lies beside the River Liffey in Dublin City.
In 1867, Karl Marx published Das Kapital. In the same year, Irish Revolutionaries called on their fellow working men in England: “You workmen of England, it is not only your hearts we wish, but your arms. Remember the starvation and degradation brought to your firesides by the oppression of labour. Remember the past, look well to the future, and avenge yourselves by giving liberty to your children in the coming struggle for human liberty.” In 1867, those words were not idly spoken. They were sealed in patriot blood.
1913 was to Ireland what 1905 was to the Russians. By then, Ireland had one of the largest rural proletariats, as a percentage of population, in Europe. And it was a hugely politicised proletariat. In the cities, the workers lived in huge ghettos, often with three families to a room. In the summer of 1913, workers were locked out of their places of work because they refused to leave their trade unions. Blacklegs were brought in to take their places. Led by James Larkin and James Connolly, for eight long months the heroic workers held out against starvation, bitter cold, police beatings, and media vilification. Finally, broken by hunger, they returned to work. But the seed had been sown. Between 1916 and 1922, James Connolly was to suffer martyrdom before a British firing squad, for his leadership role in the 1916 Rising in Dublin, the rural proletarians were to take over hundreds of workplaces and declare them Soviets, with the Red Flag flying over them. “We make bread, not profit,” read the sign over the Bruree Soviet Mills, in County Limerick. Limerick City was taken by the people, and the Limerick Soviet declared – which even printed its own Soviet money.
The imperialists, however, would not be beaten. They have had a long schooling in the art of divide and conquer. The British made a dirty deal with the Irish comprador classes. They got their free states, north and south, to better keep Ireland for the interests of British capital. In the south, liquidating the numerous and dangerous rural proletariat became a key priority. They were exiled in their hundreds of thousands, by the weapons of hunger and exclusion, or sometimes, they were allowed to join the ranks of the small landowners, the keepers of Irish conservatism.
In the 1950s, the great Abdel Nasser fired the hearts of young patriots all over the colonized world – not least in Ireland. Before long, the IRA was back in action. The people were not ready, however, and Operation Harvest, as the IRA Army Council had named it, was ended with the dumping of arms in 1962. But, a strong and disciplined leadership, with a good grounding in Socialism and international solidarity was now in place. They did not have long to wait.
1969 was the year when one of the young men, who idolized Adel Nasser, stepped boldly onto to the world stage. That young man was Muammar al-Gaddafi. In the same year, the Irish people once more rose up against imperial domination and discrimination. Young Muammar would not stand idly by as Irish people were beaten off their own streets. He gave the people the means to defend themselves, and take the war to the belly of the beast.
That was then, and this is now. Muammar is dead and the hungry dogs of the New Scramble for Africa have marched across his disappeared body. The dream of African independence has burned in the White Phosphorus inferno that was Sirte, and the full Restoration of the Ancien Régime is almost complete. That extraordinary flourishing of the human spirit, from the French Revolution, to the October Revolution, to the great national liberation struggles of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s – a concrete slab has been slammed down on it. That period is to be regarded as a horrific aberration, buried now, and never to be repeated. These days, Restoration goes by the name of Revolution. Opposition is only acceptable from religious fanatics – who love private property.
Today, the Irish people float like dead fish on a filthy pool that has no prospect of moving. Years of Capitalist excess has hung the millstone of debt around the nation’s neck, and people are too frightened to even think of what might be done next. When the IMF and EU stepped in to relieve us of any pretense of economic sovereignty we ever might have had, many Irish people sighed in relief. Almost nobody protested. England’s old taunt, that the Irish are not capable of ruling themselves, is regularly heard on the lips of Irish media pundits – carelessly stated as obvious fact. The obvious, and horrific, fact that the EU has never shown any ability to lead anything either, is not mentioned.
No doubt, at this year’s G8 protests, some people will rail against Austerity, or maybe even ecological collapse. But, what is the point? Is that not like condemning rain for being wet? This is Capitalism. Its not meant to work for the little people of Europe or America, and much less for Africa. But, maybe, that concrete slab was not slammed down on our heads hard enough. Maybe, as the Dylan song goes, something is still blowing in the wind. In Belfast and Dublin we will find out. And if there is, I doubt that Ireland will be found wanting.
The Dublin Alternative G8 Committee invites all Anti-Imperialists to join us, this June. If you or your organisation wish to speak, or to help with the preparations for the Summit, then please contact us at:
Or visit or website at: