The Irish General Election results are showing that there has been no radical change in Irish politics. The general election results are evidence of the political and ideological stagnation within the working class. The evidence produced by the elections shows that the Irish working class is politically and ideologically stagnant.
Despite its disastrous record leading up to and including the world 2008 financial crisis Fianna Fáil has electorally won back much of the working class and lower middle class. The increase in support for Sinn Fein is merely support for another bourgeois party by the working class and other social strata. It is ironical that the Socialist Party has been describing the Sinn Fein party as an “anti-establishment” party. There is nothing “anti-establishment” about Sinn Fein. Indeed it has been going out of its way to demonstrate how pro-establishment it is. Increased support for the mix bag of Independents is largely support for other bourgeois political elements.
The modest support for the Left is of no real significance. Indeed much of this Left has been becoming increasingly more moderate. Much of their political interventions are little or no different from that of much of the Labour Party of yore. As it sniffs the power it will move further to the right. This Left is largely opportunist and will cut its cloth to increase its popularity.
Given this, overall, there has been no significant shift to the Left. The politics and ideology of the Irish working class is as it was in the days before the 2008 financial crisis. Essentially taking place is a reconfiguration or recalibration of bourgeois politics in Ireland to meet the present class needs of the bourgeoisie. The effect of this is to block off the working class from becoming more politicised thereby posing an increasing challenge to the existing system.
Any modest gains made by the Left, given its opportunism, will further encourage it to focus on electoralism to the detriment of more radical activism. Emerging from the new political situation will be a tendency by this Left to fetishise electoralism. There is now a strong possibility of the Left joining together to form a new party. Such a new party may even unite with relatively “radical” elements within the existing Labour Party. Such a party will descend into a crass opportunism in the style of the present Labour party. This will bring us back to where we started.
Ultimately the source of the problem is the existing character of the working class movement. It is a stubbornly politically stagnant working class. It is a class scurrying about since the 2008 world financial crisis seeking out diverse political elements that it mistakenly thinks will prevent it from loosing “ its benefits” of one sort or another. Consequently it will go to bed with any political element that, it believes, can protect its “welfare” –even with former terrorists. It lacks a class morality. It fails to understand that under capitalism the coalition government was compelled to cut back on the living standards of the working class and the lower middle class. The only other solution is a communist revolution. Despite their claims neither Sinn Fein nor the Left can solve the problems of the working class from within capitalism.
The southern Irish working class has not shifted in a leftward direction. Instead it is still essentially politically and ideologically stagnant. It was the world financial crisis that generated the shake up in Irish politics –not the working class nor parties such as Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party nor the SWP. Indeed it was the crisis that rendered them more popular. This is the power of capitalism. Needed, more than ever, is a principled communist movement.