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The Scariest thing in Derry this Hallowe'en

category derry | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Thursday November 02, 2006 15:45author by Jim Keys - FEIC Report this post to the editors

The Scariest thing in Derry this Halloween
“Last night I watched our city stagger out of the bars and clubs. Broken bottles and cut eyes. Girls in bright clothes taunting boys with gold rings. I stood there for hours listening as it turned blunt and angrily cast around for the wrong look or a flicker of fear to attack. It lingered to jeer at a girl boking against the wall of a bank and moved on. The whole street seemed to be lurching and scowling in sullen expectation....”

The scariest thing in Derry this Halloween I am afraid is Derry itself, the belching consumer-monster we are becoming unchecked by war or principle. Why do I feel that now? Why is this Halloween different from last Halloween?

The violent political conflict here became a stalemate that froze political and economic development here. The full ravages of consumerism were kept at bay as the mass movement for progressive change within Northern Ireland (civil rights for the working class) was transformed by the reactionary nature of the state (its resistance to change through violence) into an anti-colonial armed struggle against British involvement in Ireland. I would argue that as we move away from the use of political violence to solve our local differences, and seek to rebuild our economy, the ultimate test of what has been won by the war, for those who saw it as necessary or what might redeem it, for those who saw it as folly, is the vision and type of 'peace' we are now shaping up to build for ourselves.

In this context the arrival of Raytheon in Derry has been a gift. It offers us a way to judge the wisdom of what’s been learned. The Derry City Council motion of 7th January 2004 with its vision of a region opposed to the arms trade and committed to ethical and sustainable development seemed to indicate that in Derry at least, something had been won and redeemed from years of war. Derry would not build its 'peace' on profits from wars abroad. It appeared on the face of it to be a progressive synthesis of the SDLP's peace tradition and Sinn Fein's anti-imperialist tradition position shaping a vision of the region that would set us apart from the consumerist politics of 'jobs at any price'. Our soul was not for sale. Our way of life would have purpose beyond a blind cycle of work and ever more consumption with its total disregard for the human and environmental cost. To have pride in our city required policies to make us proud. We would proof our development plans and waste management strategy for sustainability. We would say no to Raytheon if it was proved that its work in Derry was of a military nature. Bloody Sunday had taught us what being collateral damage felt like.

The scary thing is it looks like our city council may be all words and no action. The revelations that Raytheon are developing weapon-systems-software for the British were discussed on the 24th October and will be discussed again on the 16th November. This fact did not provoke outrage that a private company had reneged on apparent assurances made to council that it would not be involved in military work here. Council have not yet withdrawn their welcome to Raytheon. Rather they have attempted to duck responsibility to their own policy.

Unlike the demons and ghouls on Derry’s streets the other night Raytheon is no phantom evil. It represents the worst example of man's inhumanity to man, a company that promotes and profits from war. But given the apparent cross party acceptance for Raytheon doing war work here the distinction between us and them fades. That’s what is really scary!

And what do Derry’s consumers as opposed to its citizens think about council’s capitulation to corporate power.

"Who cares as long as there's some craic the night! Who cares as long s there's some steam! Some give it to me now so I don't have to think about the grind in the morning! Some give it to me now so I don't have to remember how much of the future I've pawned! Give it all to me now! The craic's ninety the night! Here's me walking the streets of paradise! "

Quotes taken from Derry Frontline's 1992 play Threshold which warned about the usurpation of our political culture by consumerism.

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