Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Does the Irish working class have the leadership it deserves?

There is a big problem facing the Irish working class.It is an ideological and cultural problem.The consciousness and culture of the working class is persistently bourgeois. It sees the capitalist system as the natural society. Consequently it sees all economic and social problems as solvable within the framework of capitalism.It has been under the illusion that it can have an indefinite affluent existence under capitalism.It cannot see that most of the problems that beset the working class are a product of the inherent limits of capitalism. It thinks problems can be solved outside of the need to engage in class struggle.Indeed much of the class don't even see themselves as forming part of a class.

This is why it supports bourgeois parties such as the Fianna Fail party, the Fine Gael party and the Labour Party and their satellites such as the Green Party and others.The political and social consciousness of the Irish working class is effectively bourgeois. Irish capitalism has a bourgeois working class. This is why too the Irish,dare I say, proletariat have a trade union leadership that collaborates with the government and the state in general. Indeed the Irish state is a neo-corporate state in which the labour organisations are integrated into the state. Given the way in which developments are proceeding there is no need for fascism. The growing authoritarian neo-corporate Irish state fortified by the EU does the job well enough for capitalism. No need for fascism.

The Cowan government has successfully made cut backs in the living standards of the working class on an unprecedented scale. Yet there has been little resistance from the workers. A few squeaks here and there --nothing significant. About a year later the "organised working class" looks like its going to mount mass pressure on the government.And even this was of a rather limited character.The demands,being made by the leadership of the planned protests and strikes, had a distinctly reformist ring to them. It must be remembered too that much of the working class is not even "organised" in unions.This appalling is a product of disillusionment with these bureaucratised labour organisations that,much of the time, collaborate with whatever government happens to be in power. It is also a result of the lack of political class consciousness of much of the working class.This is partly a result of the relatively generous welfare benefits and assistance that has been provided by the state.It is intended as a sop that keeps the class quiescent.Many working class families contain one or two young adults that are availing of these hand-outs by the state. Many of them have been obtaining handouts through fraud that render many of them relatively comfortable.But then you have others who have worked hard and obtain few,if any,of these handouts. Clearly they cannot feel much class solidarity for the scammers (lumpen elements) who have little or no interest in working class politics.

Many workers see the Fianna Fail government as incompetent and unscrupless.But Brian Cowan has been showing quite some leadership. He has succeeded in pushing through massive cuts in the living standards of the working class and only meeting with very marginal resistance. Generally speaking "moaning" on the Joe Duffy show is about as far as the resistance has gone. The Joe Duffy show is the modern substitute for popular resistance.Indeed the Cowan government succeeded in demobilising mass protests that were to be mounted over six months ago. He is trying it again by engaging in current talks with the trade union leadership. Don't they just luv when Brian calls them in to talk with him. How they suck up to him.

In short there is really nothing positive that can be said about the working class in the Irish Republic. It is bourgeois,egoistic and even reactionary.It has little interest in subversive politics and never really questions anything.It is not even religious. It is in many ways just nothing.It exists, in a sense, from the shoulders down.Formal education is just seen as a matter of getting a good job.

It is because of the impoverished character of the Irish working class that the radical left in Ireland is correspondingly so weak and impovershied. It is almost all cut from the same cloth --little diversity.
Paddy Hackett