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Remember the vote to give away our gas?

category national | politics / elections | opinion/analysis author Wednesday April 25, 2007 22:22author by Joe King - Workers Solidarity Movementauthor email wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

DO YOU remember when we voted to give away the €51 billion Corrib gas field to Shell and Statoil? No, well maybe you remember the day we voted to join the Iraq war by allowing US warplanes to re- fuel at Shannon? Or the time we voted to give tax breaks to private hospitals for the rich? It’s amazing how few decisions we are allowed to take. We do get to vote in the very occasional referendum and about a dozen general elections in an average lifetime, and that’s it.

This year’s election is about choosing which small group of politicians will rule over us for the next few years. Their promises and pledges are not too important; any of them can be forgotten as soon as the last vote is cast. Indeed the fact that the six major par- ties are all prepared to go into coalition with at least some of their rivals shows that nobody should expect any of them to challenge the existing order.

Even if some are serious about radically changing things, anarchists do not believe any real socialism can come about through the good actions of a few individuals. If a few can grant us freedom then a few can also take our freedom away. Anarchism is about real participative democracy - based on delegation rather than representation, with delegates being elected only to implement specific decisions. Delegates would not have the right to go against the mandate of those who elected them. Delegates would enjoy no special rights or privileges and, unlike TDs or MPs, would be subject to instant recall and dismissal if they disobey their mandate.

This idea is obviously the complete opposite to the parliamentary idea. We do not seek a few leaders, good, bad or indifferent to sort out the mess that is capitalism. Indeed we argue constantly against any ideas that make it seem such elites are necessary. Because we are for real democracy – the idea that we should all have control over the things that affect us at work, in our communities, nationally and internationally – we will not be taking part in the Tweedledum or Tweedledee contest with Bertie, Enda, Pat and Trevor. A choice of rulers is of no interest to those who want to abolish the division of humanity into rulers and ruled, bosses and workers.

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qi2h_WCYBA
author by tactical voterpublication date Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fianna Fáil said quite clearly that they were going to change the rules on royalties for oil and gas prior to 1992. Anyone who voted for them later than 1989 was complicit in this change. Anyone who supported them (for example -Labour were in power with them after the 1992 election) was part of the problem.

In my opinion, anyone who did not vote against them, and thus gave them a free ride on this and other issues, was and is part of the problem.

The WSM may have a way of changing the states oil and gas licensing and royalty regime by local action, but we've yet to hear it. A change of government next month would certainly send a signal that people are unhappy with the current arrangement, and the election of parties which have argued against the present system would ensure that there is a voice for change being heard.

Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party have a good chance of getting TD's elected, but in all cases by tight margins, so every vote will count. Absenting yourself from the voting process will help Fianna Fail retain power. It's as simple as that.

Local action may be a part of the solution, but only a part.

author by Chekovpublication date Thu Apr 26, 2007 15:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The WSM may have a way of changing the states oil and gas licensing and royalty regime by local action, but we've yet to hear it.

First of all, where are you getting this 'local action' stuff from? It's not something that the WSM counterposes with voting. What we actually counterpose to voting is activity in areas where there is some space for genuine democratic input - trade unions, campaign groups, community groups and so on. Personally I think it's obvious that well-organised and militant popular extra-parliamentary movements are always more effective at putting pressure on governments than the election of oppositional politicians who will waste away in the irrelevant talking shop that is the dail.

For example, do you think the nurses would have been better off going on strike for their demands or should they have just concentrated on canvassing for a labour government? If you want something, you have to fight for it - no matter who the government is, they respond to pressure from the population.

In the case of the oil and gas regime, if the government was to find itself confronted with a large popular movement which adopted direct action against the giveaway of resources - strikes, blockades and so on, they would feel much, much more pressure than they would from oppositional voices being safely ignored in Leinster house.

Of course we don't have a sizeable popular movement capable of doing this on a national level at the moment. But neither do we have a parliamentary movement that is within an ass's roar of threatening the dominance of right wing politics in parliament - which one should people put their energy into building? The complete absence of anything approaching a sizeable radical parliamentary movement in Irish history, which is littered with mass, popular, militant movements also suggests that it's actually easier to build such movements compared to the difficulties of building parliamentary groups, which have had a hugely consistent history of selling out, or disintegrating long before they get anywhere near power.

A change of government next month would certainly send a signal that people are unhappy with the current arrangement

That's fantasy land. A blue-shirt led administration would probably be even more driven in privatising and giving away our wealth. That's the only realistic prospect for a new administration. It is also obviously true that it would be invalid to equate any election result with a particular point of view about natural resources - we vote for politicians, not policies and politicians are free to interpret their mandate any way that they want.

I will bet you any money that you like that, regardless of the outcome of this election, the next government won't even consider trying to recover the given away resources - it won't even be on the table.

and the election of parties which have argued against the present system would ensure that there is a voice for change being heard.

A voice for change is being heard - it's being heard on the ground in Rossport. We know it's being heard, because the state sent in hundreds of police to suppress that voice. If you think that a few opposition politicians waffling on in the Dail, would make this voice louder - dream on. Is the media suddenly going to start focusing on the thrilling speeches of irrelevant back-benchers when they have decided long ago that the near-daily physical confrontations on the ground are not newsworthy?

author by Manuspublication date Thu Apr 26, 2007 20:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Strange that you try to pick apart the contribution above but you leave out the following paragraph: "Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party have a good chance of getting TD's elected, but in all cases by tight margins, so every vote will count. Absenting yourself from the voting process will help Fianna Fail retain power. It's as simple as that."

What's the matter-did you not see it?

In Dublin Central in 2002, Nicky Kehoe missed out on a seat in the irrelevant talking shop that is the Dáil by 74 votes. Instead of a Sinn Féin rep, the people of Cabra and the North Inner City got a second Fianna Fáil TD to help fill the government backbenches. It'll be as close-if not closer- this time. What is the WSM advice for young voters in Cabra- ignore the whole sorry mess and let Sinn Féin lose by 74 votes again?

Make sure Clare Daly loses for the Socialists in Swords as well? And Dessie Ellis and Larry O'Toole should forget their hopes of representing their constituenties in the Dáil. Let more Labour, FF and FG drones in - all people who voted for the gas giveaway...

Bertie must love the WSM.

author by dpublication date Thu Apr 26, 2007 20:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the Dail is an irrelevant talking shop, then what does it matter who gets elected?

And are you saying that SF or SP have a chance of threatening the Government?

Your argument is incoherent: if we elect a few people who will end up in oppositon it will stop the current government remaining in power. What?!

If your focus is on a change of government then surely you should be voting for the blueshirts or Labour, and Chekov dealt with this point of view in his comment. If you think it's more important to vote SP and SF, and get a strong opposition then Chekov has also dealt with you.

author by voterpublication date Thu Apr 26, 2007 20:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just because you don't understand something doesn't make it incoherent.

But I'll simplify it for you:

Do you believe the people of Cabra were better off having Dermot Fitzpatrick as a TD than if 74 more people had voted for Nicky Kehoe in the last election?

author by Chekovpublication date Fri Apr 27, 2007 00:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Do you believe the people of Cabra were better off having Dermot Fitzpatrick as a TD than if 74 more people had voted for Nicky Kehoe in the last election?"

No, I reckon there wouldn't have been any concrete difference for the people of Cabra. Every single vote in the dail and in every single committee would have had exactly the same result, all government policy would have been exactly the same and I doubt that a single word that he uttered in the Dail would have been reported in a single media outlet.

Perhaps you can give me a single concrete difference that might have been experienced had Nicky been in the Dail for the last 5 years and explain how exactly him being in the Dail would have made it happen.

author by leftcommiepublication date Mon Apr 30, 2007 13:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If lefties think they are not getting elected because the WSM believes class struggle can't be built through parliament then they are either fooling themselves or aknowledging that the WSM are more in touch with the working class than they are. Are they not voting for you because they have taken up the flag of anarchist communism? Or is it just that you're not relevant.

author by Joe - WSM - Lucy Parsons - personal capacitypublication date Mon Apr 30, 2007 15:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Leftcommie you have a fundamental misunderstanding of WSM politics.

The reason we reject elections is because we have no wish to lead the working class either electorally or by any other route. The road to revolution does not lie through workers selecting better leaders, it lies through self organisation of ourselves as a class and a rejection of all who would lead us. The WSM objection to electoral politics is that by design it can only be about trying to convince the class that your man (or women) has the answers and things can be changed by ticking the box next to their name. The best of the electoral parties (SP, ISN) understand this problem and seek ways to overcome it but we are unconvinced that this is possible - leadership cults are created by those outside the party as well as those in it.

author by leftcommiepublication date Mon Apr 30, 2007 16:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was just pointing out (badly?) that parties of the left think anarchism is not relevant - in which case what anarchists say about elections shouldnt matter. Blaming anarchists for their own bad turn-outs in the polls is pretty funny.

Frankly - if another government gets elected that isn't entirely socialist I'm blaming the WSM.

author by Joepublication date Mon Apr 30, 2007 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On re reading your comment yes I misunderstood it first time around. Apologies

author by DVpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 00:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here's a reply to the asinine WSM video that really says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDUyZatcUfk

author by Do Votepublication date Sat May 05, 2007 11:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Those who are telling us not to vate will be the very ones at the polling sttion @ 8 0 clock am voting labour & F/G F/F
We are not simpletons. Evyone vote , an then when COUNCELLORS come once again to your door asking you to vote them, then YOU will have the upper hand? VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE i BUT VOTENDEP PREF.BUT VOTE

Figure that one out.

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